He had hoped that once the Dark Lord was killed, that he could finally live his life.

What an idiot he was. A loveless marriage, endless stalkers and paperwork, and he never had a moment to himself. Everything he did was scrutinized and taken apart.

It was like he was their personal toy to pick up and throw around like it was nothing.

So in his twenty-sixth year, Harry James Potter said enough was enough.

When he had first inherited the three markers of Death, he had considered them a curse. He knew using the stone in particular would come with dire consequences. But at this point he could care less. He couldn't take this life anymore.

So he circled it three times with his index finger, which was how he had used it all the other times when he wanted to speak to his parents.

Only this time he wasn't trying to summon anyone in particular.

There was a man before him. Harry felt as though he should know him, but he didn't know why.

"Who are you?"

I am Death. You did summon me didn't you?

"You're Death? Why don't you look like Dumbledore?"

Last time you were dealing with a particularly dense angel named Micheal who thought you would feel more comfortable talking to that form. I believe your punch was more than sufficient proof you disliked your mentor, said Death dryly.

"So um..."

Why did you use the stone this time? Trying to see your family again? Death inquired. It wasn't like he cared, more like curious.

Harry decided that since he had him here, perhaps it was time to get some answers. Including to one he wanted to know very badly.

"Is reincarnation possible?"

Death blinked. That wasn't what he expected his so-called 'Master' to ask.

It is, but it requires my special permission. Why?

"I can't stand this life anymore. Everywhere I go I feel like someone is watching me. Analyzing my every move and thought. It's a nightmare! And I have tried to leave, but they always drag me back, reminding me of my 'wife' and my kids."

Death blinked. Then a slow idea formed in his head.

He was not pleased with how things were going to head in a few years, and he would love to piss off heaven and hell in the same move. A plan formed in his mind, one that amused him greatly.

And it would give this poor wizard a chance at real love, not this farce that he was living with. Ginny didn't love her husband, she just used him for his fame and money that came with being 'Lady Potter'.

Harry Potter had never felt real love in his entire life. Not after his parents were killed at any rate. It was time someone gave him something he deserved.

I can give you a second chance at family. Real family, not this mockery you have now. But you would have to give up everything that made you Harry Potter, last of the Potter family.

"Meaning what?"

No fame, no titles, no vaults full of gold. Your magic may be tied into your soul, but you would have to live without remembering your past life unless something rather drastic happens.

"Fame? Fame has only brought me headaches. I've never used my titles, and gold is a poor substitute for what I really wanted. I would give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant a fresh start."

I must warn you. If you do this, your life will be just as hard as it was in this one.

"But I won't be alone, will I?

No. The place I have in mind for you is not alone. You will have a brother and father that love you. But it will be a life of darkness and pain.

"My life has been nothing but darkness and pain since that thrice-damned prophecy was made. How will this be any different than what I have already dealt with?"

Are you absolutely certain of this? There is no going back once I do this.

"I would give up anything you ask if it means I'm never alone and empty like this again."

Death held out his hand. He seemed more real at that moment than he ever had before.

Harry briefly paused, a moment's second guess at this decision, before he firmly shook the Horseman's hand. He felt his mortal shell die and disappear. His soul, firmly held by the spectre, was sent flying back, past time and space, until it shrunk into what appeared to be a new born soul.

Death smiled at the tiny spark. The one who had been unlucky enough to gather the Hallows wouldn't remember his previous life. Not immediately anyway, but it would heavily influence what he did when he 'grew up' a second time. At least this time the soul would know what having a real family was like.

It was the dream again. The one that always came after the nightmares that weren't caused by the knowledge he had about what they hunted. He always hated those dreams.

Sammy, his baby brother, had finally learned the truth about what their father did. How he hunted the monsters and left them all alone. He would have spared Sam that knowledge if he could.

Damn John Winchester. Dean would never admit it, but he hated his biological father with a passion.

Yes, hunting the thing that killed their mother was important, but not at the cost of their innocence. It wasn't right, forcing him to act as the male role model in Sam's life. Bobby tried, oh how he tried, to give them a childhood, but as long as their father had custody, they would be forced to move from state to state while he hunted anything and everything down. The only friend Dean had was Sam, and he struggled to keep his brother safe.

Dean waited until Sam had cried himself to sleep, before he went to one of the nicer houses to steal some presents in hope of at least preserving some of Sam's childhood. His was a lost cause ever since their mother was killed, but he would protect Sam even if it killed him.

He was about to break into the house when he saw someone next to him.

Hello Dean.

Dean froze. This was clearly something supernatural. Every instinct his father had drilled into him since that night screamed at him to kill it, but he had no idea who or what this thing was.

Don't be afraid of me Dean. After all, you alone know what I truly am.

Dean noticed with shock that time seemed to have stopped entirely. He was alone with this creature, something so powerful there wasn't a chance in hell he could stop it.

If you wish to give Sam a better Christmas, I would advise trying the house three doors down from this one. The child that lives in this residence is a female.

Dean took a deep breath and gathered his courage.

"Why tell me?"

Sam is the one thing most precious to you in this entire world, and I agreed to give you a second chance once before. Back when the world was too much to take.

"Who are you?"

Ask me that when you remember what this symbol is.

Dean saw a strange triangle that had a circle in the center and a line through that. He felt as though he should remember it, but he had no idea what it was.

Still, he had to make sure Sam's Christmas wasn't entirely ruined, so he took the creature's advice and snuck into a house a little bit farther than the one he had originally planned to break into.

Outside it looked normal enough, but inside was a different story altogether.

Dean found a few presents that looked about right for a kid, and grabbed them. He also took the weird foot-long stick that was polished from the table. It felt strangely familiar to him, like that symbol had.

Sam woke up to a crappy tree, but several presents.

Dean was more than secretly relieved that most of them were for a boy, at least he hoped they were.

John didn't notice the stuffed dog Dean had 'acquired' for Sam, or the stick Dean kept. Bobby, however did confront Dean about it later that week, but he didn't punish the boy for trying to keep his brother from losing even more of his innocence than he already had learning about the true nature of what they hunted.

John Winchester, despite what many would think, was not as oblivious as his sons believed. He noticed the many weird things that happened around Dean more often than he could count. The only thing that stayed his hand was the fact that Dean was entirely loyal to his little brother and would never dare do anything to bring him to harm.

But the older Dean became, the more paranoid John got.

So, one week he left Sam with Bobby and took Dean out on a hunt. He wanted to see whether or not Dean really did have some strange power...and where it came from.

He very nearly shot his son the second he saw the shield spring up between him and the werewolf. He barely stopped himself from the act, but the damage was done. Dean had seen the look in his eyes, and John saw open fear in his son.

Dean knew that John suspected something about him, and was afraid. He wasn't a monster, like everything else his father hunted. A monster wouldn't care about whether or not their little brother had a happy Christmas, or try to keep them safe from things that would eat them.

A monster would have left a long time ago.

Dean was fed up. Ever since that 'hunt' with his father involving the werewolf and the moment his dad nearly shot him, Dean had been walking a thin line between hunter and hunted. John seemed to focus far too much attention on him and Sam, and it scared him.

He didn't want that drunk of a hunter to one day turn his gun on his brother. So when John was out looking for clues, Dean tried to find other hunters, or at least someone aware of the truth.

He had no luck. And he was too afraid to tell Bobby why he wanted to find other hunters. He didn't want the man he considered his real father to know why he wanted to take Sam and never come back. He was terrified Bobby would tell their 'dad'.

If only he were old enough to live on his own! He had three more years before he could kidnap Sam and live on his own. He hated this.

Sam was aware of the unspoken tension between Dean and their father. He had already tried running away twice, just to get away from John.

"Pack up. We're heading to Bobby's," said John gruffly.

Dean gladly packed their things. They were safer whenever Bobby was around. He always picked up on the subtle queues John gave off whenever he was about to start on them.

It took them three hours to get to Bobby's, and he was waiting for them.

"What do you need Winchester?" asked Bobby with thinly veiled distaste. He cared for the boys, but John was a man who left much to be desired when it came to parenting. He was an excellent hunter, there was no mistake about that, but as a man and a father he failed spectacularly.

"Can I leave them with you while I get supplies?" asked John bluntly.

Bobby made a noncommittal grunt, and the two brothers went inside while John went to get gas, among other things.

Bobby came downstairs and found Dean looking through his address book. For what, he had no idea, but he had several suspicions.

Ever since Dean turned eleven, John had been acting...well strange, around the boys. Particularly Dean.

It was almost like he thought the kids were dangerous monsters he had to hunt and kill, and as Bobby could honestly say having babysat the two more often than he cared to count while John recovered from a nasty hunt on his spare bed, they were innocents.

Well, aside from the fact John insisted on turning them into hunters for some bizarre reason. Every other hunter Bobby had met who had kids at least waited until they were old enough to hit puberty to teach them about hunting. John Winchester was the first hunter he knew who taught his sons since before they were old enough to attend first grade. If it weren't for Bobby, Dean and Sam wouldn't even know what it was like to have a proper childhood.

And if he was right, then Dean was definitely trying to find a safe place to run to with his brother to get away from John.

Above all else, Dean made Sam his priority. If he thought John was a threat, then his first reaction would be to get his brother to someplace safe before he even considered dealing with the issue.

John opted to stay the night and research his next hunt rather than to head out immediately after shopping.

So Bobby decided to test his theory that Dean was trying to get away from his father. He left the page open to Ellen Harvelle's number, along with a random book. Dean was a smart kid, but for some reason he always downplayed how smart he was. Everyone believed Sam was the best researcher in the family, but Dean was equally as good at finding information... he just had this weird habit of seeing to it that Sam found it instead.

Two months after that, John came back to his house looking rather frayed asking if he had seen Dean or Sam.

Bobby didn't need to be a psychic to know what happened.

Dean had taken the hint and run off with his brother. He only hoped that they made it to the Roadhouse safely.