New Hope

Castiel was pleased.

Actually, he was feeling, well, downright smug.

He had felt a glimmer of hope when he heard Dean cast up his prayer. He answered, not knowing what he was going to do or say. He had felt a torrent of emotions course through him as he listened to Dean's pleas for help and then the angry venom when Castiel had said he could do nothing.

He couldn't. There was the prophecy. He could not do anything to change it. He orders were only to protect Dean, to keep Dean safe. Nothing in his orders had to do with Sam.

Castiel was no fool though. In just the limited time he had spent with Dean Castiel knew that with Dean there was also Sam. You could not have one without the other. It did not matter how angry they were with each other or even if they believed the other was wrong. They were each prepared to sacrifice themselves for the other, no questions asked.

Dean had said that he wouldn't fight without Sam. No in those words, but his meaning was clear as he walked away from the angel. Without Sam at his side Dean was willing to allow the world to burn. It was beyond Castiel's comprehension.

And yet… it wasn't.

Castiel could not help find himself understanding this complex human more and more. While his motives were often baffling, Castiel couldn't help admire him. And he also could not help but agree with him.

But he couldn't intervene….

Well… not directly…

Castiel had told him the truth, and desperately hoped Dean would grasp the true meaning behind his words.

And he had.

Now Castiel couldn't help but feel overjoyed at what had happened. The experience had been confusing to the point of being terrifying for the angel. He had orders to follow. Orders that he was not to sway from.

But he had.

Castiel had made a decision.

He had made a choice. On his own. No one had told him what to do. There had been no order from above. It had been entirely of his own doing.

Castiel walked through the quiet forest, recalling the events that had taken place. He was proud. Proud of his charge for not only finally grasping the importance of his role, but also finally stepping into the role. Dean was finally willing to try. He was willing to try and save mankind.

And Castiel had made his first decision. And he liked it. A lot.

"You are quite pleased with yourself, aren't you, Castiel?" A voice called out.

Castiel turned to see Zachariah emerge from behind a one of the trees and walk towards him.

"I don't know what you mean," Castiel replied calmly.

"Oh no?" Zachariah stopped just a few feet away. "Let me refresh your memory. Dean. The prophet. Lillith. The archangel. Does that help?"

"Oh, you mean that."

"Yes, Castiel. That."

"All I did was explain to Dean the reasons as to why I was not able to intervene. I had no idea what Dean would do with that information."

"So you weren't aware that Dean would bring the prophet straight to Lillith, putting him in harm's way?"

Castiel innocently shrugged. "I was not aware, sir. Dean has a tendency to do what he will with the information I provide him. Although, in this case it worked out well for all. And no harm befell the profit."

Zachariah stared at Castiel for a moment, and then a smirk touched his lips.

"Yes. No harm befell the profit."

He took a step closer and lowered his voice.

"Tread carefully, Castiel. Whether you realize it or not I can see the effects being around that human has had on you. Your orders are only to keep him safe."

"And I have done so."

"So far, yes. But that is your only job. You are an angel of the Lord. He is nothing but a human and a tool we need in order to win this war. After the war has ended he will go back to being nothing but a human, nothing extraordinary. You need to remember that, Castiel. You need to know your place and who you choose to keep company with. And not just with the human. You might want to reconsider the company you keep with a certain angel, a certain lesser angel."

Castiel flinched and looked startled at Zachariah's words. Zachariah nodded his smirk widening.

"I see more than you think, Castiel. Perhaps you would do well to remember that."

Castiel's gaze dropped as he listened to the flutter of wings disappear, once again plunging him into the stillness of the forest. Suddenly, he didn't feel quite as pleased with himself as he had just a few moments before.