Summary: Castiel makes a choice that sends Dean to another place, another time. The girl, witch, Luna, is she the one Dean's here to meet? Dean/Luna. Season 7 spoilers.
Prompt/Prompter: Luna_del_Cielo prompted a Luna/Dean story – "She wasn't human. At least, he didn't think. And Dean didn't mean the fact that she was a witch. No, there was something...ethereal about her. Her facial expressions reminded him of Cas and her passion for life reminded him of Anna - and that glint in her eye when she was slyly joking with him? Definitely Gabriel."
Warnings: SPOILER for Supernatural Season 7, Episode 1!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Supernatural. The definition is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
A/N: Picks up post Deathly Hallows and at the end of episode 1, season 7 of SPN, where I veer off in AU and then…well, we do the time warp into pre-series (damn angels). Just go with it. This short story decided that it wanted to be posted in multiple parts for some reason—they have a mind of their own, I tell ya—but it should only end up being a few chapters long.
: clearness of thought or style
: a presumed capacity to perceive the truth directly and instantaneously
Winchesters weren't allowed happy endings.
Dean had told himself that over the past few weeks, made it his mantra. Low expectations equal less disappointment—only the disappointment was as heavy as ever. And it wasn't just about Cas. Not really. It was directed at the world, God, but mostly himself…Because if anyone could have saved the angel, it should have been Dean friggin' Winchester, right?
Then, for the briefest of moments, as the wounds healed and Castiel's eyes fluttered open, breath at his lips—alive, damn it, alive—for that moment, Dean let himself think the mantra might have been wrong all this time.
Stupid, Winchester. Stupid.
A few utterances, a few exchanges. Relief thinning the air. Then: "I'm going to find some way to redeem myself to you."
"All right." Did he still think himself God? Did he still believe his promises absolute? Dean brushed it off. Brushed Purgatory, and Crowley, and the bow-before-me-little-ants off. Later. It could wait because alive-damn-it-alive was more important than redemption in the Winchester handbook. "Well, one thing at a time. Come on." Dean held on, let himself believe… "Let's get you out of here. Come on."
"I mean it, Dean."
Dean heard him, didn't let it soak in. New mantra: alive, alive means we can fix it, alive, where the hell is Sam, alive, alive means we can fix it.
Were there other words? Dean was sure he was in the middle of muttering some sort of urgency when it happened, when Castiel moved to pull away and paused, some forced intensity on his face as his body, his jaw, trembled. As if he were holding something inside: pain, fear, and something more tangible. Something that didn't want to spill out. Something that wanted to claw out.
The wrongness of it all was a kidney punch. Dean took in the change in a split second, but froze. He expected to hear a scream from the angel, a plea, a, "Run!"
But those things didn't happen. Instead, Castiel reached up, ignoring whatever Bobby was asking, ignoring that intense pain. The angel's blue eyes were solemn, certain. Whatever strength he'd been using a moment earlier to keep the thing inside, was now in his gaze. Power. Power there, all that remained of it, and it was a matchstick in a black cavern.
"My last redeeming act, Dean," Castiel said, and touched two fingers to the hunter's forehead.
Dean Winchester fell, dead. And evil entered the world.
The sun was setting, setting fire to the sky in shades of lavender and coral. Dean stared out at it, transfixed by the colors. The lawn chair beneath him cradled his body perfectly, letting him lean back, enjoy the cool touch of the bottom of a glass bottle on his thigh. He thought about taking a swig of the beer, but didn't bother, pleased to simply have the view. A light breeze brushed over the grassy hilltop, and when it ceased, someone was at his side.
Something about this felt familiar. Dean wasn't sure why. He couldn't remember ever being here, in a place like this. He couldn't recall ever watching the sun go down alone, ever having something besides the Impala or a cooler beneath him when he had the company of another at twilight.
"Is this my dream?" Dean asked.
Castiel took the necessary step to put himself in front of the sights, block Dean's view. The glow above made a halo at the top of his head.
"Not all of it." The angel wasn't enjoying the view, didn't seem to notice any of it, his piercing, unblinking eyes on Dean. "There isn't much time. I'm not here right now. I haven't taken this vessel yet…" He patted the sides of his coat, as if unsure. "I am called elsewhere, not on Earth, so it is difficult for me to remain as I am."
Dean blinked up at him. "Dude, could you vague that up for me a little more? It was almost as clear as mud."
Cas straightened. "I'm dead, Dean. The Castiel in the time we just left is dead, or might as well be. As are you. I killed you."
Dean felt like standing, but he didn't, heaviness at his chest holding him down. "Are you serious?"
Cas shifted his weight from one foot to the other, unsure. "Murdering you was the only way to save us, Dean. I hope you can understand. Now that it's done, we can make things right."
"Understand?" Dean dropped the beer. It faded away instead of landing on the ground. Dream land. Dean shook it off. "You're saying you friggin' killed me? That isn't exactly a stop on the road to redemption, Cas!"
"Right now, in the time we left, Bobby is standing over your body, mourning the loss. Soon Sam will join him. The image will drive him to true madness. I will not be mourned. My body has been taken by the beasts of Purgatory. They will escape their vessel and take over the world." Cas' voice broke, his gaze straying. "I cannot be the cause of that, Dean. I will not."
Dean felt the heat prickling at his eyelids. He blinked it away, ignoring the rest, going back… "What do you mean, 'in the time we left'? Cas, what did you do?"
Cas reached out, tentatively, and gripped Dean by his arm, right where he'd held on when he pulled him free from Hell's grasp. "I used all that I was, all that was left. There was not much…the beasts, the Leviathan, were gluttonous…but enough of me remained, and I sent you back, Dean. As far back as I could for it to do any good."
"How far back, Cas?"
Cas shook his head. "I hope it's far enough," he replied. "And I moved you to another location. There's someone you should meet, before things go too far, before we allow the end to begin. Maybe…there's still a chance to stop what's happened."
Dean's eyes widened. "Stop how much? Is this…Are we before I made the deal? Before Dad… Before Mom?"
"As far back as I could take you." Cas let him go, took a step back. "I didn't have enough left in me to send your body back, and it wouldn't have mattered. There cannot be two Dean Winchesters in one time. It would more harm than good. Only your being, your soul, will be different."
"What does that…?" But Dean let that question drop, going back a step. "You think I can stop everything that's happened to us? To me and Sammy? You think the angels will allow that? God? Fate, The Killer Librarian, and her sisters?"
Cas frowned. "You might not be able to stop it all. You might not be able to break your own curse, Dean. But if things happen again, as they did once before…Try at least to stop—" He paused, hesitant with his words.
"I'll stop you," Dean promised. His throat was full of the words, ones that had once been whispered in his ear, and they became his own. "And, if I can't save you, I'll kill you."
A twitch of the lip, a smile. "I believe you will," Cas replied. He took a breath, readying himself. "I believe you can save us, Dean. Don't prove me wrong."
Already, the sun was cutting through his image, the form of him fading to nothingness. Dean reached out for him and missed. "Cas—wait! Who's supposed to help me? How will I know what to change? Cas!"
The angel was gone, not in a stirring of wings, but on a breeze, and the dream shattered in his absence.
Dean groaned, one hand clawing at the soil, the musky scent of the dirt in his nostrils and adding sand to his already dry throat. It was chilly, and his cheeks were numb, the rest of him shielded by a coat that felt as comfortable as a second skin. He was sore, too. Worst still, he couldn't remember why he was sore.
"That was weird," he muttered, rolling onto his side.
He could feel bruises along his ribs at the movement, so he stayed put, staring out at the thick, tall blades of browning grass. The same, he realized, as his dream. Only it appeared mid-day, the sun high, the weather not as nice. Also missing was his comfortable chair. His non-spilling beer. The angel he used to know.
The conversation, his last, or his first, if he was considering the "after I was already dead" part, started to circle back through his mind. He was back, but back to when?
Sometime after his birth, since apparently Cas had shoved him into a Dean-Winchester-shaped body. Dean ran his hand down his side, careful with the ribs, and glanced his denim knees, dirty boots. An adult body, then, his adult body. Which was far more convenient than being stuck as a whiskey craving ten-year-old, but also meant he had less time to fix whatever he was supposed to fix. His exact age eluded him. Bruised and beaten weren't very good indicators; those were a near monthly occurrence in his life. His trick shoulder ached, ever so slightly—after age twenty and the red cap hunt, then. He curled his hand into a fist, felt the stiffness of his pinky. It had taken a bad break when he was twenty-three, but it seemed well healed now.
"Older than twenty-three." But before I went to hell and got all my old scars washed away and new ones put in their place. That was as close as he was coming to an exact estimate without dragging his ass up out of the grass. "Shit, this is nuts. I'm dead. Again."
Only he wasn't in heaven or hell or any in place between—not that Sam or Bobby would know that. He was circled back in time, to relive it all. To see it all in techno-color. To feel that pain all over again. Panic seized him, making him jerk with short, loud breaths. No, no, no—I'll fix it before it happens. I'll fix it. Like Anna tried to? Before Michael ripped her apart? This is different. Cas knows… He heard laughter in reply to his thoughts. It was Lucifer; it was Alastair; it was Zachariah; it was ol' Yellow-Eyes. They all found his self-comfort absolutely friggin' hilarious. And they all whispered words that meant the same: destiny, cursed, Winchester.
Or maybe he was the one whispering those words. He couldn't be sure.
"…Wrackspurt, most likely. But they're rarely fatal."
Dean stilled, just then noticing that there were now bare feet standing in the grass at his eye level. He followed pale legs up, found a ruffled yellow dress, waist-length blond hair, and then a face. The woman was young, mid-twenties, lithe and round cheeked, so fair and washed with light she looked like she belonged in a fairy tale. Her eyes were wide, a particular, almost silver shade in the light shining down over head, casting a glow over her skin.
Dean would admit it wasn't his most charming greeting, but she gave him a soft, courteous smile. The expression was familiar, if only slightly, or perhaps it was just the mischievous glint in her gaze. It reminded him of someone, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Out of instinct, he let his hand brush the back of his belt. No luck. Dean sent a mental curse at his younger self—how the hell did he not have a weapon on him?
"Wrackspurt. They're invisible. They crawl into your ear and make your brain go fuzzy. From your incoherent rambling, I assumed you might be suffering from an infestation." She cocked her head, eyes still wide as she kept his gaze. "Last week, I wrote an article on their increased numbers in America. Do you read The Quibbler?"
Dean pushed himself up onto his elbows. The mention of "America" let a few more details slide into place. Like the girl's accent. And the little stick, straight and polished, hanging from her fingertips. Was that a drumstick? She didn't strike him as the rocker type.
"Uh, looks like my GPS took me a little off course here." Like a continent or so. He plastered on a crooked grin, hoping it distracted her from the apparent lack of a vehicle in the field. "Mind telling me where I am?"
The girl blinked, confused, but her expression lightened after a moment, as if a question had been answered. Dean figured it had something to do with a con-worm thing called a Wrackspurt, but he was going to let that go for the moment. "Ottery St. Catchpole." At Dean's raised brow, she added, "Devon…Devon, England."
Dean frowned, a muttered, "England, Cas? Really?" at his lips. He pushed himself up onto his feet, his world spinning a moment. When it stopped, he realized the woman's hand was on his arm, holding him up.
"You expected to be somewhere else?" she asked.
"Lady, I have no clue what I was expecting."
Dean was beginning to get unnerved by that stare. It was as if she were constantly surprised, constantly curious. Reminded him a little of the way Cas always held himself when forced to socialize, as if he were hoping to understand humans just a little more by watching them closely.
She broke the moment of silence between them. "I often find myself exactly where I'm supposed to be, by accident. Perhaps you're the same. I'm Luna, by the way. Luna Lovegood."
Dean skipped to the last part, and smirked. Wackadoodle. Sam would have elbowed him for the mere thought, if Sam were there instead of mourning over his corpse. "Well, that's a seriously awesome name, Luna Lovegood." Then he did something he hadn't expected. "Dean Winchester." The words slipped out on their own, and he was certain he'd said them with a question mark on the end, as if he were unsure of their accuracy.
Luna let her hand slip down his arm, catching the tips of his fingers in a squeeze, then releasing him. The intimacy of the quick gesture set him on edge instead of comforting him, and he took a quick step back.
"Who else would you be but yourself?" Luna asked.
"Good damn question." He was starting to wonder if he'd also left his brain in his dead future-self. "Listen, this is going to sound strange, but…What's today's date? What…what year is this?"
"You really are lost, aren't you?" There was so much pity in those words that Dean felt that old dread coming back to surface. It brought with it panic, that he was already too late, that somehow she knows he's late and doesn't want to tell him. Luna studied him only a moment longer and let out a soft sigh, as if this wasn't the oddest question she'd ever been asked. "October 1st, 2005."
Then Dean froze. Because this was it. This was the week his father left on his hunt for the demon. And didn't call. Didn't tell Dean the truth. This was the week that turned into two, then three, then him in his brother's apartment, dragging Sam off to a hunt on Halloween. Jess dying two days later. This was the week that chapter of his life began.
Luna leaned forward, watching his eyes dart back and forth from one memory to another. "Let me take you home, Dean. You need to rest."
"Home." The lack of one made his decision for him. He disregarded every hunting instinct, the inner dialogue that said to not follow weird people who talk in circles and appear out of nowhere, his dad's voice noting that there's something not quite normal about her.
Dean let her fingers grab his again, lead him slowly away, through the grass, careful not to speed him or his burdened lungs. He figured, if she, all ethereal and strange and named, seriously, Lovegood, was some kind of fairy creature, at least he'd die before everyone else, this time around.
Before everyone but Mom.
He knew Cas wasn't listening, but he said it anyway, "You didn't send me back far enough."