"Man, when I find that witchy bitch!"
Sam looked up from the bookmark he found slipped inside the encyclopedia earlier. He hadn't noticed before, but there was a lion stitched into the silk. Sometimes, when he lifted it up into better lighting, he could swear that it moved. A whisker twitching or a paw brushing something, yet he could never be entirely sure.
"Calm down, Dean. She didn't do anything to us and she probably saved us from that Dementor thing. Maybe she's a nice witch."
"Sammy, there are no nice witches. Only the horrible, disgusting ones dripping bodily fluids and chucking hex bags everywhere. And we hunt those," Dean replied, kicking the waste-basket by his bed. "She probably summoned that thing to suck out kids' souls. Sounds like her M.O., so why not?"
He sighed before getting up from his seat. Tucking the bookmark back into his jacket, Sam strode to the door. "I'm getting some lunch. Want anything?"
"Uh, if they have the newest issue of Busty Asian Beauties, that would be ace. Ooh, and bring pie back."
Another sigh escaped Sam. Giving his brother one last glance, he shut the door behind him and shoved his hands into his pockets. Sometimes he wondered if Dean was really the older brother.
A couple minutes later, he saw a relatively promising diner and he went in. The scent of grease, grilling meat, and milkshakes danced through his senses before his stomach gave a grumble reminding him of his actual mission here.
"Hello, my name is Sarah and I'll be your server today…"
He barely took a glance at the waitress before catching sight of curly brown hair in the booth a few yards away. He ignored the woman's recommendations of what to order as he squinted slightly to see the familiar pale skin and pink lips of Hermione Potter.
"Uh yeah, sorry, a chicken sandwich and I'm here with her," Sam said to the waitress while pointing at Hermione.
The server looked a bit put-out at his words, but redirected him to Hermione's booth anyway. She handed him a menu before offering the man sitting several seats away a new cup of coffee.
"Ahem," Sam coughed a bit to get her attention.
"Oh. Hey," she said absentmindedly after she looked up for a second. "Hang on, I've got to translate this last bit here…"
He waited for a few minutes until she put down her pen.
"Er, you're Sammy, right?" Hermione looked up at him awkwardly when she realized it was him. "The hunter."
"Yeah, it's Sam actually," he laughed nervously. "But I'm not here to hunt you. Just curious, actually."
He took out the bookmark from his pocket. "This is witchcraft, right? It moves."
"Ah, my bookmark. Was wondering where it went," she remarked. "It's not witchcraft, really. It's a magical artifact, though not really what comes to mind as actual magic."
"So… You said you're born a witch?" he asked. "We haven't come across any of those. Just ones who sell their souls for magic and then hell."
"Well, the born-ones are a bit too clever to be hunted down, you know. After the witch-trials all those centuries ago, they learned to stay out of the way. These demon affiliated ones are new at this and also corrupted by demonic essences, so they're really different from people like me," Hermione said. "People like us."
"What did you mean by that?"
She sighed. "You're descended from Squibs. Those with magical blood but no outward abilities. Still human, but something else."
Sam's eyes darkened as he remembered his demonic blood. "Just to be clear, you didn't sell your soul for magic to a demon, right?"
"Yeah," Hermione agreed. "I'd rather die than hand my soul over to a demon, power or not."
A plate of pancakes and eggs suddenly split their conversation.
"Go on, sorry for interrupting," an elderly lady with dyed red hair winked as she put two straws in the chocolate milkshake Hermione had ordered.
Both of them blinked before realizing that they'd been edging closer and closer together as they talked. It had been a subconscious desire to keep their conversation secret and away from unwanted ears, but they realized that it could've been interpreted as something else completely by those same unwanted ears. Almost immediately, they returned to their original postures even though they still felt strangely more comfortable with each other than they should've been.
"Is there any magic you can show us? Stuff that doesn't need a demonic chant or hex-bags?"
Glad to have broken the awkwardness her meal's arrival had given, Hermione nodded. "Yes, but I can't show you anything in front of Muggles. It'll break magical law in at least my country; I'm not sure how American wizards deal with showing magic in front of Muggles. I'm sure there's at least some sort of punishment, however."
They agreed that Hermione would show him a few tricks later in the Impala or the motel room if Dean wasn't too intrusive. Unfortunately the tail-ends of their conversation caught the ears of their server, who placed Sam's sandwich and a generous slice of pie on the table.
"On the house," she smiled knowingly before adding several piles of whipped cream. "I know how young couples enjoy... dessert."
"Er, thanks?" Hermione said helplessly as the woman floated away gleefully. "I don't understand America at all."
Sam smiled weakly. "This isn't really normal in America. But I guess it's better than being mistaken as a couple with Dean – that's been happening a lot more often than I'm comfortable with."
"Why? There's nothing wrong with that," Hermione said curiously.
"He's my brother. That's pretty wrong," Sam replied.
"You don't act very alike, but then I've seen a couple siblings who acted pretty differently back at school," Hermione recalled the likes of Fred and George compared to prissy Percy.
"School? Normal school or did you have a magic school?" Sam inquired interestedly.
The thought of her academics and school-life seemed to brighten her smile. "I attended both, since I'm Muggle-born. My parents are both dentists. I had magic since birth – turning my hair bright red and levitating books and breaking the china accidentally – but they didn't know about magic until I turned eleven, which is when I received a letter invitation to Hogwarts, the best school of magic there is in Europe."
An hour or two passed by as they exchanged a few stories about their respective childhoods. They didn't stray beyond too many personal lines, but both found themselves enjoying the conversation immensely, which was rather ironic and unexpected due to their statuses as hunter and witch.
Sam had nearly forgotten the time until his phone buzzed in his pocket, his brother's name flashing angrily on the front screen.
"Excuse me," he said to Hermione, who had been explaining what Arithmancy was and its relations to mathematics. He turned away slightly before speaking into the phone. "No, they didn't have Busty Asian Beauties. No, I didn't forget. I'm just hungry. Dude, I didn't get lost. Listen, I found Hermione and she agreed to show us some magic. No, I'm not insane. Okay, Dean, calm down. She fought off that Dementor thing, maybe she can help us with that. God, don't sharpen the knives! Okay, fine, bye."
When he turned back, he saw Hermione's lips quirk in an amused fashion.
"Shall we go?" she asked, gesturing for a different server to give her a takeaway box for the pie.
The matchmaking waitress returned, chiding Sam in a motherly way when Hermione decided to pay for their meal together. It frankly made Sam a bit uncomfortable, even if it was a completely accidental meeting and not a date at all, to have her pay the bill, but she'd insisted quite fiercely by claiming that it was her booth they were both sitting in.
His only advantage was that she wasn't quite as familiar with American dollar bills as with her natural currency so the few seconds of her delayed counting was just enough to slide his fake credit card to the beaming waitress covertly.
By the time they left the diner, the sun was just hovering along the horizon, painting the skies a lovely violet and orange. Something about the light made her eyes glow a whiskey or golden colored hue. He supposed that it should've reminded him of the Yellow-Eyed demon, but hers were warm and unearthly like a celestial being's. There didn't seem to be anything demonic about her, contrary to the other witches he had encountered on his hunting adventures. It was really strange, how something like her could exist in the supernatural world, where he had once been certain only evil reigned. Of course, there were angels he'd met, but the only apparently decent one had been Castiel and even he had his questionable moments.
They walked alongside each other companionably, chatting a bit about everything – Shakespeare, theories of evolution, wizarding law, her parents, and his studies at Stanford – and before they realized it, they arrived at the motel where both Winchesters resided.
Sam was going to open the door for Hermione before swiftly realizing that Dean would probably aim another gun at her the moment he saw her.
"Oh, hey Sam, I found Magic Fingers again – Wait, why is she here?"
She looked at him, unimpressed at the rifle he had aimed at her head. "I'm only here because Sam asked me to be."
"And why would he do that?" asked Dean even though he lowered the gun a bit.
"I wanted to see how she performs magic. She has a wand and we've never seen other witches use wands," Sam explained. "It's best we know how it works and looks like in case we see another of her kind again."
Hermione smiled gratefully before her face turned grim. "Not every witch or wizard of my kind is good or kind to Muggles or other non-magical beings. They won't have made deals with demons, but they're going to Hell when they die just the same."
Something in her face reminded Sam of Dean, of his father, and of himself. A pair of eyes darkened with the taint of death and unspeakable things, a being who has experienced the blackness of what life could bring. It wasn't a mark he found often in faces, especially civilian ones, but he could tell she wasn't a bystander or an innocent. Dean's jaw tightened and Sam could tell that Dean suddenly reevaluated the witch, a newborn respect growing hesitantly in pale green eyes.
"But as a witch of the Light, I do believe that I should show you some of the most fascinating pieces of magic I've ever seen. When I was eleven, I was terribly shocked and pleased with myself when I learned to do this," Hermione grinned before giving her wand a graceful swish and flick. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The pie box in Sam's hands suddenly lurched from its position and floated up towards the ceiling. She twirled her wand and the box followed the patterns it carved into the air before it landed softly by the bed Dean was sitting on.
"Whoa, that was awesome!" Sam exclaimed, his face smiling boyishly in awe. "What else can you do?"
Dean hesitantly prodded the paper box before opening it and seeing his beloved slice of pie inside, somewhat disfigured and soggy with liquefying whipped cream.
"Sammy, did you bring a fork?"
Hermione waved her wand again before a silver fork dropped into Dean's lap.
Curiously, Sam asked, "You didn't say an incantation just now. Don't you always have to?"
Hermione looked down a bit bashfully before saying, "Non-verbal spells are more difficult to execute effectively so not many witches and wizards are skilled enough to always silently cast enchantments. I'm fairly good at non-verbal castings, but when I need an extra boost of strength in a spell, I say it aloud. The floating spell from before was more of a demonstration."
"Could you show us how you got rid of that Dementor?"
Dean, despite himself, looked curiously at the wooden stick in her hand as she raised it.
"Expecto Patronum," she murmured before a beam of silver light left the end of her wand and began forming into a small otter.
Both brothers flinched as the wee creature approached them playfully but the pure happiness it radiated was infectious and they soon found themselves smiling fondly at the otter's looping and gliding along the walls.
"A bit of a show-off, my Patronus," Hermione said exasperatedly before deactivating the summoning. "But it does chase away Dementors so I can't complain much."
"It only chases away those things?" Dean asked her, a scandalized expression forming on his face. "That Dementor could be out there sucking souls out of innocent people right now!"
"Patronus charms chase away the Dementor, weakening it, so it wouldn't be able to do anything to anyone as of this moment," Hermione soothed him. "But I'll have to find it again and have my department secure it for removal later on. I'm actually here to find the Dementor breeding grounds. My sources have all said that this particular town is dangerously close to where a spawn-den is located and so there might be more than one Dementor."
"More than one?" Sam echoed, remembering how helpless he felt in the Dementor's presence. "You do have backup, right?"
She shrugged. "I'm the only one here for now, I guess. I'm more of a scout but as the best of my department, I'm also assigned to most of the field-work. Meaning I'm going in on my own."
Even Dean seemed skeptical and possibly concerned. "Are you sure? We can help."
"That would be lovely," Hermione began. "But you're liabilities if you can't perform a Patronus, I'm sorry to say. Magic is needed to battle against them."
Sam frowned, uncomfortable that a small girl – witch or no witch – was going to face these hellish things alone. "We have this knife that can kill pretty much everything. Maybe it'll be useful."
Dean scowled as Sam mentioned their secret weapon to a near-stranger.
"To be safe, I don't think you should come," Hermione told them both firmly. "Even if you have this enchanted knife, we're not even sure if a Dementor has something substantial beneath its robes for you to stab. You read the encyclopedia, I assume? I don't want you to be empty husks because the Dementor Kissed you."
The three stared at each other with similar platitudes of stubbornness before Hermione reached into the beaded bag hanging from her shoulder.
"Is it alright if I stayed here for a few days? My own hotel seems to have messed up my arrangements and I no longer have a room there," she asked them while digging furiously into the purse. Her arm was swallowed entirely by the mouth of the bag, leaving both a horrifying and a comical image for Dean and Sam to see. "I was planning to camp out instead, but I think I'd prefer being inside and physically hidden. I'm also going to be in close proximity to town. This way is almost normal."
She seemed to give up before flourishing her wand again. A bag of poles and canvas flew up and landed on the floor near Sam's double bed. Another quick flick and the metal poles set themselves under the canvas, propping the cloth so that a rudimentary tent was formed.
Dean gave her handiwork an incredulous stare before turning to his younger brother and mouthing, "Almost normal?"
Sam could only shrug helplessly back as he saw the tent straighten by itself.
"I'll be pretty comfortable here, actually," she chirped cheerfully, after she stuck her head out from the tent flaps. "Plenty of room, if you don't mind sacrificing some of your space for me. Well, I'm a bit tired and would like a bit of rest now. Good night."
There was a zipping sound and then complete silence.
"Sammy… You really know how to choose 'em," Dean snorted before he retrieved the conjured silver fork and the pie. Magic apparently did not stop him from consuming the dessert.