Author's Note: No words. Just read.

Okay, I lied. Check out my author page for a special photo manip.

amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost but now am found
was blind, but now, I see

Calm eyes stared up at him, wide and trusting. So vibrant in color and in innocence that even the mighty angel of the Lord felt humbled to be in its presence. He was power and grace leashed to one vessel, a hurricane wrapped in a shuddering quake. With one hand, he could command the elements, alter the flow of time, raise a soul from the depths of perdition. Words alone were not testament enough to what he was ultimately capable of, and yet… he gazed down, enchanted—rooted to this one life—powerless to look away.

The eyes blinked at him, and a little head tilted. It was curious of him.

Castiel reached down into the crib slowly and gingerly, extending a finger. There was a nervous buzz in the pit of his stomach, one he couldn't account for or ever recall feeling. Then, in a gesture that stole his breath away, tiny fingers reached up and closed around his index. Not quite squeezing, but not letting go either. Just holding.

Castiel, in spite of being overwhelmed, smiled. "Hello." The eyes studied him, quiet and patient, and the angel reveled in the splash of warmth that shot straight to his heart from where they touched. "You are my daughter. I am your father."

He thought maybe she was processing this new information, because the eyes turned thoughtful. He allowed his own gaze to travel over the small form swaddled in blankets, from the tips of her hidden toes to the apple face, and to the dark tuft of downy curls. There was a fairness to the porcelain skin, but rounded cheeks were rosy and dimpled. She looked so delicate and breakable. For a long time, he'd been worried that simply standing too near would cause her some kind of harm. The thought soon passed, because even a human being would be able to see that there was something very different about this child.

She was special.

"You are the first of your kind, you know. I don't mean to concern you, but there will be some with intent to have you for themselves because of this. They'll look to weaponize you, or to destroy you. Demons, angels, and all that's in between." The angel frowned with the news, and it brought him great dismay to speak it aloud. "I'm… sorry, for this. I regret that this was the world you had to come into. I wish circumstances were different. But…" The fingers gripping his suddenly squeezed just a little tighter, a gesture remarkably akin to comfort. Castiel hesitated, struck with an unexpected emotion he couldn't identify.

Someone more attuned would tell him it was called love.

"But don't be afraid. I am here. I will not let anything unpleasant befall you, if it's within my power to prevent. I'm a soldier, if you didn't know. I would kill to protect you, if that is the cost. And, if the cost is my life, I will surrender it to keep you safe. You have my word." This child would be put through the worst, and he knew exactly how that felt. What it did to a person, whether human or otherwise. He wasn't even sure what he could do, but there was no resource, no effort he wouldn't exhaust on her behalf. Softly, voice hitching, Castiel whispered, "I won't let anyone hurt you."

He continued to watch her attentively, never once taking his eyes off of her. In case something bad should happen, he told himself. Because it wouldn't be long, certainly. Bad things always happened, especially around him. The angel had never had anything like this before. This intrinsic need to protect. Never anything that was his, his responsibility. He had no orders from on high to look after this cherished little creation. That alone was one of the most terrifying thoughts he'd ever experienced.

"You realize she has no idea what you're saying, right?" came a voice from the door. Castiel felt Meg slip up beside him, and he eased. "All she understands right now is how to cry, the ubiquitous need to eat, and how to make an atomic mess of her diaper." The demon bumped her shoulder against his. "It's your turn, by the way. Last time she smelled worse than the Pit."

Castiel ignored her for the most part, still unable to tear his eyes away from the small thing in the crib. "She has your nose. And your smile."

"She hasn't smiled yet, Clarence."

As if volunteering his own ability to on her behalf, the angel's lips tugged softly apart. "She will."

Meg smiled a little at that. "I guess the pep talk was a nice touch… the kid's gonna need it, huh? What with the reeking cesspool she's been dumped into." Meg leaned over the crib's railing, staring down with dark eyes glittering appreciatively. "Damn, look at those eyes. Just like her daddy's. She's gonna be a boykiller, mark my words."

Castiel slid her a dubious glance. "I presume that is a figure of speech."

Meg grinned wolfishly down at their daughter, never one to miss an opportunity to get under the angel's skin. "It can be."

Castiel huffed, probably wondering why he had to end up falling for a demon, but he nudged up against her nevertheless. Fingers brushing gently over the back of Meg's hand, he said, "She is beautiful. I've barely just met her and I'm overcome with the sense that I would do anything for her."

"Pushover." Despite the dig, Meg was leaning back into him. She sought out the physical contact lately. Affection wasn't something she was used to, but she was learning. Lifting her hand a little, palm up, she waited. Castiel didn't disappoint and grasped it with his. "I can see who the disciplinarian is going to have to be in this partnership."

The angel still couldn't shed his fascination. "What's her name?"

They'd been apart for a stretch of time, hiding from enemies, looking for new ones. Meg, for the most part, was still in hiding. Crowley was hounding her of course, but the King's perseverance had taken a hit, so that was at least one worry filed away. A dozen more rose in its place, however. And yet, the angel found himself harboring the trivial desire to have something to call the child.

The demon shrugged. "Haven't really thought about it yet."

Castiel looked down at her, brow furrowing. "She's nearly six months old. Shouldn't she have a name?"

Meg thought, mulling it over silently. Eventually, a crooked smile quirked the corner of her mouth. "I like Cassie."

She could almost feel the celestial's quizzical stare. She might as well have told him she wanted to name the precious thing after a rock.

"Why on earth should she share my name?"

Meg elbowed him lightly in the ribs, cozying closer. "Come on. It could be short for Cassandra."

That only seemed to make it worse. "You can't possibly expect me to agree to that, knowing what the translation of Cassandra actually is." At the demon's vexing silence and apathetic stare, Castiel's feathers seemed to ruffle. "Do we really wish to have our child christened as a prophet of doom? She'll have enough to face already without a terrible name to contend with."

So this marked the first of the 'No child of mine…' speeches to come. "Alright, miss fuss ass," Meg griped, shooting him a narrow-eyed glare. "What do you propose we dub the little diaper queen?"

The angel peered down at the child, pensive and encompassed once again by the influx of awe he felt every time his daughter met his eyes. His daughter. How strange that two simple words, innocent enough when alone, would be his undoing in such a blessed way. He felt a great swell of joy, and could swear that in that moment, the hint of a smile passed fleetingly over tiny pink lips. So peculiar for a child her age to not have smiled yet. From the window on the right side of the room, sunshine slid through and bathed the crib and its contents in warm light. It gave the occupant the illusion of a halo, catching off the mobile of shiny pop tabs and car parts the brothers had put together as a welcoming gift.

Castiel watched as the baby girl blinked up at the rotating arms, mesmerized by it. He smiled. "Grace."

Meg rolled her eyes, but there was affection weaved into the dry gesture. "Fine. But I'm calling her Gracie."

Her angel craned his head to look down at her, quiet delight in his expression. "This is a blessing."

Meg grunted. "You wouldn't be saying that if you were the one who had to carry the little runt around for nine months."

He saw right through her, as always. Dipping his head, he left her with a kiss. "They're calling. I won't be long."

Meg let her lips travel to the corner of his mouth, down to his throat in a fleeting brush. In a sense, she wanted to repay the happiness she felt because of him, though she would never admit it out loud. "Later, stud. Just don't take too long. You get to watch her while I take a powernap the second you get back."

Castiel was smiling down into the crib again. "Anything you wish." He reached in, stroking the side of the child's face gently. "Goodbye, Grace. I'll return to you soon."

Grace gurgled appreciatively, watching her father go. It wasn't long before the sight of a woman replaced his tall form. Meg arched a dark eyebrow at the inquisitive blue eyes and tiny face staring up at her. The child maintained their connection, not looking away for a second. She knew this woman.

This was Mother.

"Hey, kiddo."

Grace tilted her head, slowly reaching up a hand in hopes of a touch. She'd liked when Father did that. He was warm; a presence both strong and benevolent. Having him close, the itch at her nose to fret as infants so often did was gone. Father was a bold presence like the sun; Father meant she was safe.

"I know you can't still be hungry. You eat like a linebacker, little honeybee. You'd better watch that. And don't give me that look. It's all gravy now, but when you're older and you end up weighing three hundred pounds, I'll be the one saying I told you so." Meg shook her head, impassioned with the laying down of ground rules. "Don't think I'll be hauling your cute little ass all over Creation with a crane out of the goodness of my heart, either. I have an agenda to maintain. Not to mention an image. You're not gonna see me on MTV with a Hey, My Kid's Fat reality show."

Grace felt a tingle in her belly, the first stirrings of a giggle budding in her little throat. She liked Mother. Mother was funny; sweet, in her own way. Mother would never let anything happen to her, either. She had a pretty voice, dulcet, and Grace loved hearing it.

"Nothing like picking a name straight out of the Good Book," the demon ranted, reaching a finger down to play absently at the child's stomach. Grace wiggled appreciatively. "Your daddy's a big old fashioned cloud muncher, bee." At this, Meg's own head tilted, her eyes softening in the light. A smile slid across her face, affection laced with her usual snark showing through. "But momma kinda likes him."

Grace had taken the demon's finger captive, chewing on it absently. Meg chuckled, feeling the sharp prod of immerging teeth.

"You're gonna have a stinger like momma, aren't you, bee?" Blue eyes stared up at her, bright and shining with their own reserve of angelic grace. There was more to her than Heaven's genetic offering, but her tiny form was a veritable beacon of light, all its own. More than Meg had ever seen. A true, genuine smile formed on her lips then, a warmth spreading in her chest without her permission. Meg didn't mind so much. She held the little hand in her own, knowing that Castiel was right.

A blessing.

"Gracie," she whispered.

That night, while Meg was asleep in the armchair next to the crib, the flutter of wings announced the return of Castiel. Quietly, so as not to disturb either of his sleeping girls, the angel bent to kiss Meg on the forehead as he drew a blanket over her. Then, he stood sentry over the crib, keeping vigil in the dark until morning came.

In the moonlight, two shadowy wings awned protectively over the crib like a shield, providing a canopy of safety no amount of verbal assurance could.

When Meg awoke, it was to see the tall, imposing form of the angel standing at the window in the light, Grace cradled treasuredly against his chest. He whispered to her about the things outside; what they were, the purpose they served, and how it all came together in beautiful harmony when there was nothing around to spoil it.

Meg smiled to herself. She sat there watching them for a long time until Castiel finally noticed she was awake. That alone spoke how enraptured he was with the humble little bundle.

"Do you need anything?"

Meg was caught somewhat off guard by that, having just barely heard him. She expected him to look after Grace like a mother hen, but even after their time together, his constant doting still threw her. Meg knew she had feelings for him—scary, daunting things. She was a still a demon after all, and a demon falling in love with an angel was… many would say misguided. Meg just thought it was stupid.

"I'll protect the both of you, you know."

What a strange turn of events, the last couple years. Strange, and somehow beautiful. She was a killer by nature, and yet she'd gone against it on account of him. He didn't think he could ever begin to repay her for that. He only knew that he would never allow any harm to come to either of them. So long he'd been searching for his own purpose, and now… he'd finally found it.

Meg felt his stare, and, meeting it with her own, felt that familiar warmth settle into the pit of her stomach. It burned with a delicious ache that she'd used to hate. She didn't so much anymore. "Yeah, I know," she said quietly. He believed in her when no one else did; not even herself. "I trust you."

This was home, now. The thought might have frightened her out of her wits most days, but… Meg realized she wouldn't trade it for anything.

That day, Grace smiled for the first time.

how precious did that grace appear...
the hour I first believed

Author's Note: Because Cas would be freaking precious with a child. That is my only excuse. And also, because reasons.