A/N: First of all I have to thank amazing gallifreyanoceansoul from tumblr for beta-reading. I wouldn't post this without her.
I literally dreamt of this fic, and upon waking up I spent a good portion of time trying not to forget it. At first this story should've been, like, 20 lines long, but I got carried.
Also, this IS slash, nothing graphic, but if this is not your cup of tea, don't read. You've been warned.
It was after Castiel re-united with Dean after Purgatory, when the angel stumbled into the other-world for the first time.
It was a curious gateway, to say at the least. He prodded and pocked, but the way was stable, and somehow demon-proofed. So Castiel walked into the vast expense of green valley that stretched almost as far as he could see, with the great ridge of mountains on the west. Back and forth the wide road ran, and the angel, without thinking, started walking along it.
A few hours later he met a man. He had an old, wizened look about him, with a long grey beard and hair, clad in a worn grey cloak and clutching a wooden staff, which also gave off an ancient aura. But at the same time he was timeless, and he seemed to give off a powerful atmosphere, the origin of which Castiel couldn't decipher.
"You are not from around here, boy," "the old man said, and somehow Castiel didn't feel irritation at being called a boy.
"I am not. I do not believe I belong in here."
"Then why are you in the Middle Earth?" Offcourse the man instantly knew that Castiel was from another world.
His question made Castiel pause. Indeed, what was he doing in here? However, he soon somehow found that the guilt didn't loom so painfully over him on the road, and that he wanted to simply converse with this stranger.
"I think I'm doing penance. For everything I've done," he paused for a moment, unsure if he should continue. "Is there any way I could help you? Even the sightless."
The man sagged on his staff and his expression became kind, like when Dean was remembering of how Sam used to be as a child.
"My dear boy, you can freely go between two worlds, and yet you want to help an old man with his affairs?"
"But you are not just an old man."
"Indeed I'm not," the man hummed. "I am Gandalf the Grey, one of the five wizards of Middle Earth."
"I am Castiel, angel," Castiel bowed his head slightly in greeting. "And I would be delighted to help you in whatever you need."
"That is a fancy way to say 'at your service'," Gandalf laughed and his eyes held a mischievous glint. "Tell me, Castiel the angel, would you be willing to help the dwarf king in exile to retake his kingdom?"
And so Castiel found himself walking between two worlds, helping occasional people in need in his own, and being the part of the Company in the other. The Company consisted of thirteen dwarves, all of which were barely high enough to reach his shoulder, and a hobbit, who was just a bit above his elbow. Gandalf claimed not to be the part of the Company, but accompanied them nonetheless.
It was the old wizard, who gave Castiel clothes which looked common for the place, telling that he had to blend in. The angel smiled, remembering almost exact words being said to him multiple times by a certain hunter.
It was also the old wizard, who led Castiel into a hobbit-hole full of dwarves and a hobbit.
"You asked me to find you a burglar and I found you one. Bilbo Baggins has a lot of abities you all have no idea about. Including himself," the wizard assured the dwarves that Bilbo, indeed, was someone they needed.
The angel looked at the stunned creature, and had to agree with the wizard. There so much to uncover in that small halfling.
"And what about the Man? We never bargained for a Man," a bold dwarf barked, looking at Castiel.
"Castiel isn't a man, nor he is an elf," the wizard answered calmly. "But I would very much like it if you decided to take a fifteenth companion."
There was a murmur of disagreements and protest, but then Thorin leveled him as one might level a soldier, a cold counting stare.
"What weapon do you use?
Castiel produced his angel sword from thin air, which earned gasps from everybody, except for Gandalf and Thorin.
"And how many did you slay with it?" It was plain as a day that the dwarf didn't take seriously his weapon.
"More than I want to remember," and this was entirely a truthful statement.
There was a thick silence in the air.
"Very well. You will have contract written by morning. And meanwhile, Balin, give the halfling his."
And then Bilbo was reading his contract, Bofur teased him into unconsciousness, and later the dwarves started singing their song, and Castiel could hear that their desire to return their home was just as strong as his desire to make amends.
It was really easy, to walk between two worlds. A day there, a day here. Sometimes he spent longer in one world, but always returned to the same moment he left in the other one.
It was surprisingly easy to explain the company what he was, and of what he was capable. They accepted him with his awkwardness and strangeness.
"Don't mind, angeling, cause Middle Earth is a strange place, and I'm sure yer find it yerself soon," the kind dwarf whose name was Bofur smiled at him broadly.
Castiel was mesmerized how easily he was let into the Company. Not by Thorin Oakenshield, no, but by the dwarves and the hobbit. Bilbo would have endless conversations with him, Fili and Kili would tease him mercilessly, Balin and Dori would ask him questions about his world... and so on.
After Samandriel's death Castiel for a long time couldn't let himself go back to... anything. There was this inkling that told him to stay away from Winchesters, from Dean who... And he couldn't let himself go back to the Company, as if afraid he would do something wrong. He had no idea what, or from where this fear was born.
After all, he did go back, and was in time for a battle with three trolls, and wasn't it fun to lose himself in battling alongside dwarves against a big, if stupid, enemy.
After Naomi was murdered, Castiel was free. He could do whatever he wanted and knew that no one controlled him. But one look at Dean's wet green eyes, and Castiel fled.
Fled straight into the mad run from orcs, who wanted to slay the travelers so soon after three trolls almost ate them.
Gandalf led them into Rivendell, and Castiel was mesmerized at how much the place reminded him of Heaven before Gabriel had left, and how much the elves reminded him of how his siblings should have been.
They all, except for Gandalf, but he wasn't a part of Company, not really, gathered in the spacious hall, and prepared for sleep. Castiel's mind was heavy; he was worn to the bone, so he decided to join everybody in resting.
He woke up to his own scream, so loud he though for a moment he was screaming with his true voice, but it were four figures huddled around him, who, he realized, woke him.
"Castiel! Castiel!" Bilbo, Fili, Kili, and oddly Thorin, were leaning around him, various stages of concern on their faces.
Fili pressed his palm to the angel's face and whispered:
"You are crying."
Bilbo started carding his small hand through his hair:
"Tell us what is troubling you."
And just like that, to the rapt attention of every dwarf, Castiel told his story, from the moment he decided it would serve him right to stay in Purgatory, of how after everything he was manipulated, and how he couldn't bear to think that now Dean might not want him around, because he, Castiel, let him down again. He betrayed him, after Dean found it in his heart to forgive him.
"You did it unknowingly, surely Dean knows that," Balin kindly said, but the angel shook his head.
"It doesn't matter. It doesn't. He will never be able to trust me again."
Only after the Misty Mountains, after Azog, after the eagles, after Thorin embraces Bilbo like there's no one else on Earth but them two, Castiel dares to go back to Dean.
For past weeks he watched as the longing grew in both Oakenshield and Baggins, and none of them brave enough to approach the other about the emotions they were feeling. The angel could practically taste the parallels.
Castiel watched them and was jealous, cause he could have just the same, but had mucked it all away.
But after the dwarf's first words upon his awakening were the halfling's name, after he clutched him to his chest, after the relief and happiness on the hobbit's face, Castiel left them for the time being, deciding to finally face Dean.
"Cas," when he appeared in a motel room, Dean cleaning his gun and Sam nowhere in sight, Cas didn't dare to hope for anything but harsh words, but the human surprised him yet again.
He strode towards the angel, and hugged him very much like only minutes ago Thorin Oakenshield hugged Bilbo. Castiel felt the tension he didn't know he was in leave his shoulders, and clung to Dean just as tightly.
After a minute of embracing each other, Dean pulled away. But he didn't step back. He put one hand on Cas's nape, and other on his shoulder, squeezing hard and forcing Cas to look him in the eyes.
"It wasn't your fault that that bitch manipulated you," he told him sternly, conviction burning in his eyes. "I don't blame you. I don't, you hear me, you stupid son of a bitch?"
"Dean," Cas breathed, but Dean didn't let him say anything. Using hand on his nape he guided him closer and firmly kissed him in the mouth, hungrily lavishing it. Castiel clutched Dean's arms and returned the kiss with all the ferocity he could muster. When they breathlessly separated, Dean hid Cas's face in the crook of his shoulder and hoarsely said:
"I was afraid I'll never have courage to do this. Or that you would refuse me."
"Dean. You thickheaded hunter," Castiel laughed against his shoulder. "I love you."
Lying later in Dean's arms (after passionate, needy and so long waited sex), Castiel thought that he could spend every day like this.
Castiel was spending more and more time with Dean, blissful in the love they were sharing. But he still didn't forget about the contract he signed, so he always came back to the Company.
He marveled at the sight of Beorn, the skin-changer, and at his house he discreetly put a hand on Oin's shoulder, ensuring that by the end of the year the dwarf would have his hearing back. There he helped Ori to draw his true form, the best he could. He laughed with Kili and Fili, taking part in their fooly errands, and learned to help clean the weapons of Balin and Dwalin. He didn't see much of Thorin and Bilbo, but when he did, both of them were close to each other, Thorin always having a protecting hand around the halfling's shoulders. He witnessed them share kisses, and had seen both of them looking at each other without the layers of walls they both had built inside their minds.
When Castiel returned to Dean, he could see the same vulnerable unprotected look in Dean's eyes directed at him. And off course he looked at the hunter just the same.
Thranduil tilted his head in a way that was oddly reminiscent of his own, the angel thought. He grimly looked at the Elven King when he all but graced around his captives.
"Why, why would Thorin Oakenshield go through my forests? Is he seeking of my friendship again?" The elven creature was mocking everybody present, Castiel could see it. He also could see Bilbo, hidden form everybody by magic ring. Castiel looked at the halfling and whispered in his mind, which made him jump:
"We will get them out, I promise you this."
Bilbo nodded solemnly, eyes dead set when he looked him straight in the eyes.
"And what are you?" Thranduil now danced towards the angel and put his hand on his cheek, his fingers only ghosts of the touches. "A peculiar thing you are. Not an elf, not a man. What are you?"
Castiel glared at him, because he knew how powerful his glares were, and how intimidating he could be when needed. He was going to use his divine wraith to scare the elves tonight.
It was really a sad revelation that even if elves in the Rivendell reminded him of the angels as they should be, the elves of Mirkwood were more like Zachariah's goons. It would serve them right to...
To darken the day and conjure a lightning bolt and, after showing the great black shadow of his wings, disappear into the thin air.
To reappear in Dean's room, completely in the Middle Earth attire.
Dean sleepily looked up at his from his pillow, mouth hanging open at the surprise, before he gather the words to say something.
"Why are you in a larping costume?" He rasped, voice thick with sleep. Castiel felt the hunger uncurl inside him.
"Why not," he simply shrugged. Dean looked at him with confusion a moment longer, then shrugged himself. He raised up the blanket, revealing his bare chest.
"Are you coming?"
Off course Castiel was coming.
For Castiel and Bilbo it wasn't hard to get the dwarves out. Both of them crept in the castle of Elvenking, both invisible to anyone but each other. Bilbo led the way, Castiel made the guards fell asleep, and both of them carefully picking locks of the doors. By the end of the first night of captivity the dwarves were free again.
"It was a scary move, angeling," Dwalin told him later.
"It was nothing. Just a mere shadow of what I am," Castiel answered calmly, looking from the corner of the eyes at Bilbo being squeezed by the Durin line from all the sides.
Only minutes later two young princes were hugging him:
"Castiel! It was amazing!
"Can you do that again?
"What else can you do?"
"Did your Dean ever seen this?"
Men of Dale, Castiel quickly decided, weren't much better then humans of Earth. Just the same confusing, lying lot with ulterior moves. And while Castiel dearly loved Dean (and Sam, and Bobby, and Ellen and Jo, and Jimmy and his family), the humans always made him tired and annoyed.
For that sole reason he preferred dwarves and hobbits. (And angels. Not all of them. Just Gabriel, Anna, Balthazar and Samandriel.)
The same greed was burning in Thorin Oakenshield's eyes as once burned in Sam Winchester's. The same misdirected sense of rightness, of higher purpose. The disease born from the ever waiting evil.
Castiel could do nothing with Sam's addiction of demon blood, at first because he was forbidden, and later because he wasn't strong enough, and it was one of the biggest regrets he had. But he could heal Thorin's mind before the king made decisions that wouldn't be much different from starting the Apocalypse. Castiel put his hand on the proud dwarf's head and burned out the goldsickness.
The Battle of Five Armies came. For one Castiel let himself be completely lost in the battle, not forced to look behind his back to check for the treacherous blade, or calculate the best backing-up scenario. He simply fought, relinquishing in the feeling of the bones being broken and slides by his angel sword, which no one seemed to credit before. He enjoyed the mindless fighting very much.
It wasn't hard at all to heal Fili and Kili wounds from distance when they became too dangerous for his comfort. And it wasn't hard at all to look after Thorin and Bilbo, fighting side-by-side and healing them just as well.
Years pass on the Earth before Castiel goes to Middle Earth again.
He is happy with Dean, and Dean is happy with him. They don't give up hunting, even if Sam finds himself a pretty Alice and they settle in Utah. Dean is an amazing uncle, and Castiel is proud to say that he's not half-bad himself.
His love for Dean never lessens, and the same goes for Dean. They spend nights together, either hungrily devouring each other or slowly worshiping each other, later falling asleep together in a mess of tangled limbs. And it was never enough for either of them.
When Castiel walked back into the Middle Earth, carefully sealing the way back to Earth behind himself, Dean and Sam were both perished, both dead not from monsters, or demons, or his own kind, but from old age.
Castiel had his place in Erebor. Chambers he had no use of, except for carefully keeping there things that once belonged to Dean or Sam, or were linked to Earth. Like his tren chcoat. Or Dean's favourite jacket. The leather-bound hunting journal (he lent it Ori for a few days, and poor dwarf was ecstatic to read it)... Many other things which were so very important to him.
Once or twice he accompanied Bilbo on his journeys back to the Shore, for the hobbit missed his home dearly. And it was when Castiel was with him once more when Bilbo was forced to return to Erebor with a small hobbitling.
Castiel along with Thorin, Bilbo and Gimly, son of Gloin, pledged their alliance to Frodo Baggins when he said that it would be him who would bring the Ring to it's place of creation and destruction, to Mount Doom in the middle of Mordor, of Hell itself.
Not a month later the Fellowship of the Ring, consisting of twelve Ringbearers, left from Rivendell.
Moria was a horrible place for Thorin, Castiel could see. It was hard to see Balin's tomb and Ori's and Oin's corpses. The three members of the Company present now all felt hard grief overtake them, but they didn't have time for showing their respect to their dead friends, for the orcs were coming.
And then they lost Gandalf to the demon, one of those who were too much of the fire to ever posses a vessel, and then they were stumbling from the old dwarven kingdom into the valley of Azanulbizar, and Castiel could clearly see that Thorin was reliving the horrible battle of the past again. Bilbo understood that as well, as he took the shaking dwarf in his arms and held him tightly, while he was desperately clinging to his back.
The angel looked away from them and helped Aragorn rouse everybody to their feet again.
"You shall find what you seek most" Lady Galladriel whispered in his mind when they were leaving Lotlorien and gave him an empty notebook. "Make sure you will have more memories of your good deeds then the ill intents"
With startling hope Castiel felt that he might have the chance of forgiveness.
The mad dash through the Rohan lands after Uruk Highs, who stole Merry, Pippin and Bilbo, wasn't easy. Castiel didn't want any of his friends die, and he could feel the cold fear that was making Thorin run fast, as if he was young again. The angel could easily understand him, for far too many times he felt the same when Dean got himself in situations he, Castiel, didn't approve of, but unlike for Thorin, there were anybody to lend his diminishing grace strength.
Thorin once or twice suspiciously glanced at him, when he was outrunning young Gimli, but never said a thing. It wasn't like he could complain, and he wasn't going to mention anything. But Castiel could feel his gratefulness for landing him some strength.
Battles and hardships of the last war against Sauron aren't as hard on Castiel as they are on his companions. Of course, he's still the angel, he's still fire and ice and divine wraith when it is needed, but his powers had always been different in here than they were on Earth. He couldn't leave his vessel, and he couldn't freely appear and disappear wherever he wanted. It was both tiresome and easier, knowing that no one would depend on his measures of travel. Castiel could still heal rather easily, and could chase the ghosts out of shadows.
He was often mistaken for an elf at the first sight, for, as Boromir put it, he and Legolas had the same bloody blue eyes that looked straight into one's heart.
But Castiel wore his hair short, just the same way Jimmy had cut it all those years ago, and as soon as he put his hood off, he was just an odd Man to anybody, who didn't know what he was.
Sometimes he longingly though of how loud Dean would laugh at everybody who called Castiel just man. But Dean was just a memory, the dearest one, but the memory nonetheless.
The Ring is destroyed. The world is saved. Apocalypse averted.
And it is such a relief that, even if he still was a very important part in this war, he wasn't the crucial one. The role falls on Frodo.
The angel looks at the young halfling and sees Sam, the same Sam who jumped into the Pit with Satan himself, the same Sam who had was slowly burning out in the mental institution when the hallucinations became too much to bear. Frodo Baggins has the same broken look, but he hides it well around his hobbit friends, though his uncle can easily read him.
"I am afraid for him," Bilbo confesses one evening. Three of them, the part of the Company that was now in Minas Thirit after Aragorn's coronation, were enjoying the last weeks in peace, because soon the hobbits will head back to the Shire, and Bilbo with Thorin – to Erebor. Far too long the Lonely Mountain had been without its King. And though Castiel knows that Thorin trusts Fili and Kili with everything he has, there's no guarantee that those two energetic dwarves won't destroy the Royal Hall to the last stone.
Thorin draws his hand around Bilbo and pulls him closer to himself, and Castiel for a moment loses the thread of the conversation, for he can feel phantom hands on his own body, tugging him closer and soft hot kisses pressed to his lips.
"Frodo had seen far too much for someone so young," the dwarf agrees with his Consort. The hobbit only nods.
"I was twenty years older when you lot came and whisked me to slay a dragon. And a dragon, even as scary as Smaug was, isn't Sauron."
"He will be alright," Castiel finds himself saying. "Sam and Dean... They were just humans, and no one ever took them into the count. The things they had done, the things they had been through... They managed to go through them and be whole in the end. I believe that Frodo is just as strong.
Bilbo's eyes glister with unshed tears when he smiles at his angel friend.
"You miss them, don't you? Especially Dean?"
The angel doesn't answer, just merely looks in the sky.
"The elves are leaving Middle Earth," Thorin says, in a pained voice, which suggests he doesn't know whether to be happy about the ordeal, or try and sound sad. "I think Gandalf is going to leave as well. I think that you might want to come with him."
"I might? "Castiel doesn't hide his surprise.
"Yes. You had always been to... eerie for Middle Earth," the dwarf King tells him. "I think that even if they are full of elves, the Valinor would suit you more than this White City, Shire, Rivendelle or even Erebor itself."
Three years had passed since that conversation. For the most part Castiel spent them traveling the now peaceful land, with some long stays in the Lonely Mountain, for it was the closest thing he had to home since Dean died.
He met Gandalf on the road once.
"You are not from around here, boy," the White Wizard said in form of greeting. Castiel felt amusement rise within him at the use of the phrase that had been the first their meeting.
"I am not. I do not believe I belong in here," he answered the same as before.
"Then why are you in the Middle Earth?"
And again Castiel stopped to think this question over. Strangely, his answer didn't change much.
"I think I'm doing penance."
"My dear angeling," Gandalf smiled kindly. "I am sure that over the years since I've met you not far from the Shire, you made amends to your every wrongdoing and more."
"Then what do you suggest, Gandalf?"
The old man sagged on his staff, now completely white.
"Lord Elrond, Lady Galladriel and I are leaving the plane. We invite dear Frodo with us. And off course, there's an honourable place for you."
In the end, Castiel goes to the Lonely Mountain one last time to say goodbye to his friends. Both Bilbo and Thorin are old, are so very old, but Thorin's handshake is as strong as ever, and Bilbo's eye are just as sharp. Fili and Kili aren't the dwarflings anymore, but both of them hug him with the same ferocity as when he got them out of Mirkwood. Nori is hugging him too, just as Bofur and Bombur. There aren't many of them who are still alive, but those who are still there, are both sad and happy for them. It warms Castiel to know that those dwarves, those friends he had never wronged.
He leaves most of his possessions in his chamber, including his Middle Earth clothes. For the first time in many years he's dressed in Jimmy's black suit and white dress shirt, blue tie askew, and the beloved trench coat. Dean's old amulet (once given by Sam as a gift) lays on his chest.
When their ship arrives to the Valinor, Castiel is greeted by a man. This man has many faces and names, including Chuck Shirley and Allah, Chronos and Mahal, Aule and God.
"Father," Castiel breathes and drops to his knees, because he can't stand being upright in the presence whom he once so wrongly impersonated. He's surprised when his Father hauls him back to stand on his legs, and then firmly clasps His hands on his shoulders.
"Castiel, you had done good. You had done far better than any other angel, even better than Gabriel. You had fully went the human way, with all the trials and errors, and good intentions which lead to hell. But in the end you are just as good and pure as the moment I created you."
"But I killed so many..." Castiel is shaking his head, but his Father interrupts him:
"I forgive you," and then He smiles. "We will have time to talk about everything. We will have all time in the world for that, but now, I believe, there's someone waiting for you."
He slightly nudged Castiel to go behind the elves who greet other arrivals.
"You took your time. That's good," Dean is standing there, so utterly out of place with his spiky hair and plaid shirt with worn denims, but Castiel isn't a role model of Middle Earth clothes himself, what with his trench coat.
The angel and the man embrace each other, and if there's suddenly an allergy in Dean's eyes, well, it is just the way it has always been.