Disclaimer: I do not own the original canon nor am I making any profit from writing this piece. All works are accredited to their original authors, performers, and producers while this piece is mine. No copyright infringement is intended. I acknowledge that all views and opinions expressed herein are merely my interpretations of the characters and situations found within the original canon and may not reflect the views and opinions of the original author(s), producer(s), and/or other people.

Warnings: This story may contain material that is not suitable for all audiences and may offend some readers. Please exercise understanding of personal sensitivities before and during reading.

Author's Note(s): I don't know where exactly I was going with this, except that I love Rowena and I like the idea of her meeting the Winchesters when they were children.

Challenge/Competition Block:
Stacked with: QL (Season 8); MC4A
Team (Position): Wigtown Wanderers (Keeper)
Round Info: Season 08 – Round 09
QL Prompt(s)s: n/a
Individual Challenges: Bonjour-Hi; Writing with Music; Magical MC (Y); Immortal MC; Rian-Russo Inversion; Small Fry; Tiny Terror; Claimed; Booger Breath; Lunar Era; New Fandom Smell (Y); Above Average Natural; Skittles [Aromantic]; Short Jog; Greatest Gift
Other MC4A Challenges (Prompt): SpB [1D](Fertility); TrB [5D](Just in Time); SuB [3A](Red); Chim [Arcadia](Gold); Fire [Hard](Nontraditional Family); Hunt [Sp Con](Water)/[Su Item](Bed); Garden [Chore List](Singing/Chanting)/[Plant Types](Strangers)/[Garden Tools](Pebble(s))/[Word Song](Fantastic)/[Rose Types](Who Watches Over You)
Representation: Sam & Dean Winchester & Rowena; BC Use
Primary & Secondary Bonus Challenge(s): Lovely Coconuts; Trickster's Union; Creature Feature; Second Verse (Ladylike; Not a Lamp; Persistence Still; White Dress; Found Family; Nontraditional; Sneeze Weasel; Middle Name; Nightingale; Spinning Plates; Unwanted Advice); Chorus (Odd Feathers; Pear-Shaped; Machismo; Peddling Pots; Mouth of Babes; Tomorrow's Shade; Eternal Boredom; Larger than Life); Demo 1 (Lyre Liar; Under the Bridge; Muck & Slime; Queen Bee; Civil Disobedience; Grease Monkey; Easy Zephyr); Demo 2 (Surprise; Some Beach; Misshapen Pods; Head of Perseus; Strange Potatoes; Abandoned Ship; Sitting Hummingbird)
Tertiary & Generic Bonus Challenges: TY (Ntaiv; Avasa; Enfant); War (Orator; Sanctuary; Ennui); O3 (Orator; Oath); SN (Rail; Spare)
Word Count: 1791

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Who Watches Over You
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Sam was really sick.

Dean had to admit it now. This wasn't something that was going to pass in a few days of rest and canned soup. He didn't have a thermometer, but Sam felt hot enough to cook an egg. Dean didn't have any kind of medicine to give Sam, either. Sam's cough had lessened from the great hacking things that shook his entire body to weak things that reminded Dean of hiccups, but Dean had a bad feeling that it wasn't because the cough had gotten better.

He had already called Dad and left tons of messages, but there was still no answer. He had about a dozen other numbers in the phone that Dad had left. They were mostly other hunters with a couple of other resources, but Dean had never met any of them. Dad said they were going to met one of them—an older hunter Dad called Bobby—after this hunt, but the hunt was already lasting longer than Dad said it would and Sam had gotten sick…

Dean just didn't know who to call.

He was supposed to stay in the room, too.

But the ice machine was just two doors down, near the stairs to the floor above them. It wasn't far, and in the movies, adults sometimes gave people with fevers ice baths. Dean picked at his cubicles as he watched his brother give hiccup of a cough. He had to do something to help Sammy.

It wasn't far.

Sam didn't wake up when Dean tucked the blanket tighter around him. Sammy didn't notice when Dean picked up their ice bucket, despite how much noise it made when it scraped against the desktop. Sammy didn't wake up when Dean opened the door either. He knew because he looked back one last time, refusing to acknowledge the fear inside him that whispered that it might already be too late.

The twenty feet to the ice machine seemed to stretch farther than possible. Even worse, the button was just barely out of his reach. His fingers could brush the edges of it but not enough to press it hard enough to get any ice. Trying to balance the bucket on the machine's little alcove didn't make it any easier. Dean gave a hiccuping of his own that definitely was crying because he wasn't a baby like Sam.

"Do ye need help, little one?" a feminine voice asked. Dean spun to face the new threat, the few pebbles on the sidewalk near the machine scattering with the motion. The ice bucket hit the concrete sidewalk with a clatter. The finely dressed woman pursed her lips, which were as shiny and bright as her ruby hair, before making a visible effort to look kind. "Ye look like you're struggling just a wee bit."

"I need..." Dean trailed off. Dad always said not to trust strangers, because a monster could be hiding in anybody. He knew monsters were real. It was why Dad kept training Dean between hunts. Then again, even Dad called in other hunters when something was too much for him alone. Decision made, Dean continued. "I need ice. A lot of it. My brother's sick."

"Oh, you poor bairns," the woman said. She scooped up the bucket. Her hand looked strange wrapped around the handle, like it wasn't used to a mundane task like that. Dean took the bucket when she held it out. Her voice was impatient when she continued, a bit like Dad's when Dean messed up his shot. "Well, are you waiting for an engraved invitation? Bucket up, dearie."

"Yes, ma'am," Dean said as he hurried to comply. The woman gave a small, mocking laugh as she pressed and held the button. The machine protested its use even as it spat out the chunks of frozen water. Once the bucket was heaping, she lifted her hand.

"Now let's see this brother of yours," she said, the Scottish burr in her words warping the edges. Her gold bangles caught the light as she gestured for Dean to lead the way back to the room. Dean hesitated only a moment before obeying. "Say, how old are ya, dearie?"

"I'm eight, ma'am," Dean answered. The hair on his arms and the back of his neck raised up as the air began to feel like it was full of static. He looked over his shoulder at the woman, just to check that nothing hinky was going on with her. She looked angry until she noticed him looking. Then her expression softened again. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing, my dear," she said, lying in the same obvious way that Dad did when he didn't want to scare Sam. "Nothing at all. How old is your brother?"

"Sammy is gonna be four next month." Dean tensed as the woman looked mad again, even if it was for just a brief moment. "Why are you mad?"

"Perceptive thing, aren't you? That's fantastic!"

"And that's not an answer," Dean told her, eyeing her suspiciously.

"No, it's not," she agreed. She smiled again, but something about it reminded Dean of a bear trap. "Where are yer parents?"

"Dad's working," Dean said. The lie slipped off his tongue as easily as it always did, but this time the words tasted a bit like ash. His heart pounded fearfully in his chest, especially since they were now right outside their room, and Sammy was in there, or maybe it was too late. Dean began to babble, his voice getting higher and higher as he went. "I've tried calling him, but he's not answering. He's late, and Sam—he's sick, really, really sick, and he's not getting better, and I don't know what to do!"

"Oh, dearie, of course you don't," the woman said. She crouched down to get on eye level with Dean, her sage-colored eyes sparking like a fire. She smelled like herbs and candle wax and something flowery that wasn't roses. Dean wanted to curl up next to her like he could barely remember doing with his mom, like he regularly did with Sam. "I know things seem insurmountable at the moment, but Auntie Rowena is here now. So let's see to your brother."

Sam had managed to kick off the blankets again. That was the first thing Dean noticed when he got the door open. He rushed to the bed, setting the full ice bucket on the nightstand between the beds, so that he could fix it. Afterwards, he turned back to Rowena who had followed him.

"Oh, dear, he is sick, isn't he?" Rowena said. She brushed a limp curl off of Sam's forehead. The caress made Sam stir, just a little. Unfortunately, that also triggered the cough, which was even weaker than it had been before Dean had left the room. Rowena frowned again. "Poor lamb. And you say that your father is just at work? He just left you two alone while Sam was sick?"

"Sammy wasn't sick before he left," Dean defended, unaware of how much he was revealing. Rowena sat on the bed next to Sam and continuing to run her fingers through his hair. Dean only vaguely remembered his mother doing the same thing when he was sick. "The cough started the day after. I thought that he would get better before Dad got back, but he's only getting worse and, and, and—"

"And you're scared," Rowena finished for him as she pulled him against her other side. Dean knew he should be strong, but he leaned into the half-hug, seeking the comforting warmth that he had lost in the fire. "It's alright to be scared, love. All I can promise is that I'm gonna take care of you both now."

"What about Dad?"

"He'll just have to deal with it, won't he?" Rowena's voice had a bit of steel to it, like one of Dad's throwing knives. "Because I'm not going anywhere, and I promise ye that I'm a real witch to be reckoned with when I'm riled."

"Dad says that the only good witch is a dead witch."

"Does he now?" The steel in Rowena's voice sharpened. Dean tilted his head up to look at her face. Her smile had gotten sharp, too. She tweaked his nose when she noticed him looking. "I dare say he has never met the likes of me then, has he?"

Rowena bent over to press a kiss to Sammy's forehead. When she pulled back, she hovered over the spot with her lips barely moving. A purple light flared before rippling out to cover all of Sammy. Immediately, his breathing eased and the flush from the fever began to fade.

"Dean," Sam whimpered as he stirred. Rowena shushed him gently, her fingers carding through his curls again. Sam settled back into sleep just as easily as he did when Dean comforted him after a nightmare.

"You're a witch?" Dean asked when Rowena met his gaze again.

"Good thing, too," she said, "because your brother was very, very sick. I fear that if he might have been beyond mundane help even."

"But he's okay now?"

"Well, he might need to rest a bit and recover his strength," she said, "but he's not sick any longer."

Dean hugged her tight. She gave a little grunt but soon was hugging him back just as hard. He realized that he was crying only because of how Rowena began making that shushing sound again.

"Sor-sorry," Dean managed through his tears. Rowena shushed him again.

"Don't apologize, dearie," Rowena ordered fiercely. "Never apologize for feeling scared or worried or anything else. Emotions are powerful things and to deny them is foolish."

"That's not what Dad says," Dean whispered against her stomach. Rowena chuckled.

"Then it is a very good thing that your Auntie Rowena is here now, isn't it? Your father needs to have a great many things explained to him, don't he?" She frowned as she looked around the room, filled with various piles of things that Dean hadn't been able to clean because he needed Dad's help. Her green eyes narrowed at the trashcan that was full of ramen packets and empty cans of ravioli. "When was the last time you boys ate that was actually cooked?"

"We cooked the ramen in the microwave," Dean said even as his stomach growled.

"The microwave!" Rowena exclaimed as if that was the most offensive thing she had ever heard. "That's not cooking! Does this 'ramen' even have vegetables? You're growing boys!" She took a deep breath before pushing him gently away from her so that she could examine the room more closely. "This is unacceptable."

Her green eyes glowed with the same purple light that had healed Sammy.

"We can do better."

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An Ending
…or a new beginning?
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