A/N: IMPORTANT - I HAVE REWRITTEN CHAPTER 1. It does not change the end result but it goes about in a better way. It may take a moment to replace though.

Dean yawned softly, wiping a hand across his face as he looked around the interrogation room he'd been placed in. It had all the markings of a run-down police station in a no-star city; cracked tile walls, dirty, scuffed floors, and a two-way mirror with several dents in it. Certainly, it was not the worst one he'd been in.

The door opened and he looked up, sitting a bit straighter as two cops entered. Both were lacking uniforms, which likely meant that they were technically detectives, not cops. One was a woman with dirty-blonde hair and the other was a dark-haired man with an ugly sneer painted on his face. Good cop and bad cop then.

He offered them a falsely sincere smile, opening his handcuffed hands. "Come on in," he greeted, "make yourselves at home."

Neither responded, just standing there. The man was still sneering so Dean decided to ignore him, turning to look at the woman. She took the silent cue and took a small step forward. "Dean Winchester?" she asked, though it was less of a question. She didn't wait for an answer. "My name is Detective Diana Ballard. You're being held here under suspicion of breaking and entering and homicide. Do you want to make this quick and confess?"

Dean cocked an eyebrow at her and continued to smile, not deigning to answer.

She shrugged. "Alright then, hard way it is." She grabbed the back of the chair opposite him and pulled it out, taking a seat in it and folding her arms neatly before her while her colleague stayed lurking behind like a shadow. "You were found in the home of Karen Giles, after she called the police to report an intruder, literally with blood on your hands. And we just retrieved your brother from the motel where you were staying; he is being brought in for questioning as well."

At that Dean sat up straighter, the phony smile wiped from his face. "Sam?" he questioned. "Just him?"

Diana cocked an eyebrow slightly and smirked. "No, we brought in your son as well. However, he isn't being held by us and has been moved to a temporary guardian until we sort this out."

The handcuff chain clinked as Dean's fists curled tighter, the only reaction he gave. "Sam and Harry were there all night. I dropped them off at the motel after dinner, there are security cameras—"

She held up a hand to cut him off. "We have the footage which is why Sam hasn't been charged with anything. We're just holding him for now." She glanced over at her partner for a moment. "You, however, are not so easily alibied. So I need you to tell me what happened last night."

Dean didn't speak for a long moment, just staring at her evenly before finally opening his mouth. "I want to talk to Harry."

Diana sighed softly and shook her head, leaning back in her chair. "That's not going to happen, Dean," she answered with more than a touch of annoyance. "You won't get to see Harry or Sam until we get the full story and either charge or release you."

The man in the back made a small noise at the word 'release', though Dean paid him no mind.

"Harry's my kid, isn't it considered kidnapping if you take him without my permission?" Dean still hadn't raised his voice but there was more than a touch of hostility in his tone.

Diana continued to meet his stare with a level gaze, though the man growled at Dean's words and spoke up. "We don't ask permission from wanted felons," he snapped, leaning forward enough for his features to be put into the light, menacing shadows stretching across his face. "For all we know you'll just kill the kid just like you did Karen and Tony!"

Dean jerked back at the man's words, eyes widening for a moment before they narrowed and his lips curled in disgust. "I don't know what you're talking about," he snapped, clenching his jaw.

Diana held out a hand to stop her partner but he took another step forward, ignoring the way she reached for him. "Oh yea," he breathed, eyes gleaming, "we found the warrant issued in St. Louis, Dean." He hissed Dean's name like a curse word. "Does the name Emily Priester ring a bell?"

Dean bared his teeth, voice rising as he spat right back, "You don't know what you're talking about!"

The detective mimicked the gesture, revealing his own teeth. "I bet you don't."

"Pete!" Diana finally cried, silencing them both with a fierce glare of her own. She stood and grabbed the man—Pete—'s arm, tugging him away from the table. "You are way out of line Pete," she whispered, though not quietly enough to keep Dean from hearing. "He's just a suspect right now and we won't even have confirmation of the St. Louis thing until they finish exhuming the body and running DNA tests. So you need to back off."

Pete scowled darkly, shooting a glare back towards Dean, who returned an equally fiery one. "You're right," he finally admitted, looking back down at her and taking a deep breath. "Tony was a friend of mine. I guess I just got a little too worked up."

Diana nodded, grabbing his arm gently. "Why don't you step outside? I can finish this myself; take a breather."

He nodded, though clearly reluctantly. "Alright, good idea. I'll do that."

As he passed the table Dean scowled at him, continuing to glare until the man had closed the door behind him. "Real charmer, that one," he muttered, turning to look back at Diana.

She just sighed and returned to her seat, once again folding her hands in front of her and meeting his eyes straight-on. "Now let's start from the beginning, Dean. How did you know Tony Giles?"

Harry's bag felt heavy in his hand as he looked around the room he'd been given, trying to use the surroundings to distract from how he'd landed here. It was a simple room, rather bare but clean, with two beds against either wall. The furniture was worn but stable-looking and there was a conspicuous lack of personal items.

The tightness in Harry's throat increased slightly and he swallowed, trying to force down the bundle of nerves that kept him standing beside the bed, unwilling to sit or lie down even when his entire body was aching to sleep. He was worried that, should he fall asleep, he would wake up to find everything crumbling around his ears.

A knock came from the doorway and he turned so sharply that he dropped his bag, it landing on the carpet with a soft thump. The owner of the house—an older lady named Ms. Fields—was standing in the opening, smiling at him slightly, her grey-streaked brown hair done up in a bun similar to Professor McGonagall's. "Are you all settled in then?" she asked, taking in the bag on the floor and the clothes he had been wearing all through yesterday and last night when she picked him up at the police station. If she had any opinions she didn't share them, just smiling wider at him. "I thought you might like something to eat after the night you had. I was going to make some breakfast."

Food was the farthest thing from Harry's mind, his chest too tightly wound for him to consider eating, but still his traitorous stomach growled at the word and he blushed slightly in embarrassment, glancing down at his feet. Ms. Fields seemed to take that as a yes because he saw her nod, and she said, "Alright then, it should be ready in ten minutes or so. I trust that you know your way to the kitchen?"

Harry nodded, not answering or meeting her eyes. Instead he stared at the crack in the plaster just to the right of the doorway, hoping she would leave him be.

She seemed to take the message and nodded once more. He could see her smile from the corner of his eye—sad but compassionate—and as she left he felt a little bit guilty for being so rude to her. It isn't her fault, he reminded himself. She is just nice enough to let me stay in her house until this is over.

Unfortunately that didn't make him feel any better as it only returned his attention to the reason he had ended up here. Harry turned away from the doorway and walked over to the bed, giving into the ache in his legs and sinking onto the mattress, though he refused to allow himself to fall asleep.

He hadn't slept in over a day. The last time he'd been able to was last night when he was in the motel room with Sam, but they'd chosen to wait up for Dean instead at Harry's request. Sam had spent the time telling him stories about Dean when they were little; the time Dean ate three whole pies and got sick in the middle of school, the time he first tried to drive the Impala and backed it into a dumpster, and once when he'd accidentally drunk their father's beer and gotten so drunk he thought he could fly. It was fun to listen to the stories; no one had ever told him about what James and Lily were really like beside how much like them he was (which seemed to be untrue), but Sam was all-too-eager to share.

Sam was just as nice as Dean was, which Harry hadn't expected to be possible. Even if he'd only known him for a little while Sam had already far outranked the Dursleys if only because he never tried to make Harry do work, and in fact seemed vehemently opposed to the mere notion. He and Dean constantly joked with each other and it felt so much… happier than anything Harry was used to.

And yet…

Harry sighed to himself, looking down at the dusty old carpet, digging the sole of his ratty trainer into it. Everything seemed so good, perfect even, and then this happened. He kept telling himself that it wasn't anything bad, that it was just a mistake or something, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was very wrong.

Sam and Dean had been arrested by the police. It all happened so fast it was a blur; one moment Sam was teaching him how to play Go Fish, the next he was being pushed into a police car and brought to the station.

Too agitated to sit still any longer, Harry pushed himself off the bed and began to pace, hands worrying the hem of his shirt. His imagination was unhelpfully supplying questions he didn't know how to answer. Are they alright? What happened? Why won't they tell me? Where was Dean? And, most troubling; what do the police think they did?

Harry gnawed on a fingernail for a moment as he tried to think of something he could do. Unfortunately nothing came to mind; this was a lot different than sneaking through the castle under his Invisibility Cloak or trying to help Hagrid get Norbert to Romania. Sam and Dean could be in real trouble and he had no idea what he was supposed to do to help them.

Harry continued to pace back and forth across the small room, trying and failing to think of a plan; that was always Hermione's specialty, not Harry's. She would've known what to do right now. She would've remembered some obscure law or something that made them listen to her, or known some trick to finding out answers—

Harry paused suddenly as he heard voices, train of thought derailing. He frowned but walked towards the door, curiosity peaking as he leaned his head around the corner to listen.

It was Ms. Fields, soft voice echoing through the quiet house to his ears. "…of course officer," she was saying. "Not much yet, but it's understandable. It's usually difficult for children even of his age…"

Feet moving almost of their own volition Harry crept out of the room and down the hall, taking slow steps in case the floor creaked like the Dursleys' did next to the couch. As he made his way around the corner and towards the kitchen the voices got louder and he could understand more of what she was saying. She's on the phone, he realized with a flash of disappointment. He'd been hoping that maybe the police officer was back to bring him to see Dean and Sam, but no such luck. He made his way forward until he was just outside the kitchen and pressed himself against the wall.

Ms. Fields had paused for a moment and Harry couldn't make out the voice on the other end. Then she spoke up. "It's shocking no matter the circumstances. Harry's twelve; he's old enough to question what is going on." She paused to listen to the voice on the other end. "I understand that you can't tell him all of it, but doesn't he deserve at least some answer as to why he was yanked from his family so abruptly?"

Harry pressed himself more firmly into the wall, heart beating so fast he was amazed that Ms. Fields couldn't hear it even from across the room. They were talking about him. And, more importantly, what had happened last night.

"Detective, I know you're just doing your job but please try to see it from his side. This isn't just about the justice the victim deserves, this is about the justice that the Winchesters deserve as well."

Harry barely managed to stifle a gasp at the word victim. Did they think that Dean did something to someone? Hurt someone?

Luckily neither voice paused at the sound of his gasp. "I know how this works," Ms. Fields continued, "and I know you will need to hear his side of the story just as much as theirs. I only ask that you give him the answers any family member would get. Even if you can't tell him that his father has been arrested for murder, you can at least tell him…"

The voices faded to a buzzing and Harry's breath caught in his chest. His heart seemed to skip a beat and he stood, still as a statue, the words that he had just heard spinning around his head like a Ferris Wheel, one phrase standing out above all others.

Arrested for murder.

He was going to be sick.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Ta-tap.

Dean looked up as the door swung open with a loud creak, cutting off his monosyllabic version of Smoke On the Water halfway through the intro. He gave Detective Sheridan a bright smile as he walked in. "Oh, hiya Sherry."

He could see the veins in the man's neck pop out as he clenched his jaw, but the man just gave him a tight smile and took the chair opposite his own, tossing a small pile of papers onto the table. He leaned back in his seat, placing one hand on the edge of the table and levelling Dean with a flat look. "You're pretty cocky for a guy about to spend the rest of his days eating mush and getting cozy with guys who aren't so fond of wit as they are a pretty face."

Dean just shrugged, unfazed. "Yea, well, you know what they say about humour covering up the fear and all that." He flashed another fake grin. "Oh wait, that's just me actually having a sense of humour, not being a stick-up-the-ass junkless like yourself."

Sheridan's eyes narrowed and Dean absently noted how dark the man's irises were, almost black. "Think you're real smart, don't you? Well you were stupid enough to get caught at the murder scene twice now, and this time you won't be getting away."

Dean leaned back, placing his handcuffed hands behind his head and tilting the chair back onto its back legs. "Uh-huh. You keep telling yourself that."

Sheridan continued to stare for a long moment, and Dean was about to make another comment when suddenly the man smiled. It wasn't a nice smile either; it made him look strangely inhuman and almost hungry. He reached forward and grabbed the papers he brought in, turning them to face Dean.

He dropped his chair back onto all four legs and leaned forward, frowning as he read it. As his eyes skimmed down the page they widened slightly, and when he reached the bottom he looked back up. Sheridan was grinning now, showing way too much teeth. "A confession?" Dean asked, blinking slowly. "You expect me to sign a confession?"

Sheridan's grin widened and he nodded slowly. "Not just for Karen, but for that girl in St. Louis too. Maybe even throw in some of the victims we've found between here and there in the past few weeks; enough to get you locked up forever, if not the death sentence."

Dean leaned back in his chair, shaking his head in honest bewilderment. "And why the hell would I sign this?" He snorted and cocked an eyebrow. "Man, that lady of yours is really aiming downhill, isn't she?"

Yet still Sheridan's eerie grin remained fixed in place, and that caused a shiver of foreboding to creep up Dean's back. "Oh, you'll sign it," he retorted, "because you won't like what'll happen otherwise."

"What's gonna happen?" Dean leaned forward across the table.

Sheridan cocked his head to the side. "Your brother Sam hasn't been charged with anything, but I can change that. We found some partial prints at the scene-they are inadmissible in court but only if the judge knows they're partial prints. Breaking and entering at the very least."

Dean stiffened and clenched his fists, voice lowering, "You wouldn't be able to do that, Sam's a law student, he'd be able to get out of that without breaking a sweat."

"True." Sheridan raised an eyebrow, taunting. "But Harry isn't."

Dean's breath stilled.

"We dug up a whole lot about him, you see. School records. Medical records. You know, that adoption of yours had a whole lot of holes in it. Holes it would be all-too-easy to pick at. Even if we don't nail you I can make sure you never see him again."

Dean's fists clenched so hard his knuckles turned white.

"And who's to say he wasn't in on it, too? I bet a good psychologist could argue Stockholm Syndrome, get him under psychological review. I have a friend who does that. And if they think the home is unsafe, well…" He paused and fixed his eyes on Dean's. "He can be removed. Permanently."

"I'd like to see you try," Dean spat out, all humour gone from his voice.

Suddenly Sheridan let out a short bark of a laugh. "I'm the oldest detective on the force, Dean. I go golfing with the Chief every weekend, the state judge has known me since I was in high school." He bared his teeth like a dog. "I have all the cards here."

Sheridan rose from his chair, spreading his arms out across the table and leaning in towards Dean, whose face was as still as stone. "Or maybe Harry needs to be locked up in juvie, for his own safety of course," the man whispered, nose almost touching Dean's. "I know just the place. I know a guy who works as a guard there. And he would just love to meet a boy as pretty as Harry-"

There was no warning as Dean leapt over the table like a wildcat, hands closing around Sheridan's throat as he flung him to the ground, straddling him, shouting "Bastard!" at him as he smashed his head back against the floor again and again. "You touch him you fucking piece of shit and I'll rip you apart with my bare hands-"

Cops swarmed the room, grabbing Dean's arms and legs and prying him forcefully off of Sheridan. It took three just to dislodge the choking grip he had even with his handcuffs, and all five to pin him to the floor even as he struggled to get up, swear words dripping from his lips as he glared at Sheridan with enough heat to melt steel.

"Pete?" asked one of the other detectives as he entered, "What happened? The mike was off, someone forgot to turn it on, I couldn't hear a thing."

Sheridan looked down at Dean, offering him a fleeting smirk, managing to look triumphant even with the bruises covering his neck and the blood flowing from his nose. "I offered him a chance to confess and he didn't like it. Attacked me when I told him that he needed to tell the truth."

The other man nodded slowly, taking every word at face value. "Sick bastard," he spat, looking down at Dean, who was glaring up at him with murder in his eyes. "Lunatic has no humanity, does he?"

"No," said Sheridan as he turned away, "I guess not."

The door swung shut before Sheridan's smirk, Dean's litany of curses silencing as the door closed with a snap.

Diana took a seat in the living room, a cup of coffee steaming slowly on the table in front of her. Opposite her, seated on the worn blue couch, was the boy who was unmistakably Dean Winchester's son. If she hadn't been on the scene when they arrested Sam and took both in she would've surely been convinced now.

Harry looked well, all things considered. His hair was messy and unkempt but that seemed to be its natural state. His green eyes appeared a touch brighter than Dean's, a contrast due to the dark circles under his eyes. He seemed a tad pale but it could have also merely been his natural look.

Analysis complete Diana offered him a small smile, leaning forward and relaxing her shoulders to create a more trustworthy figure. Harry's eyes flickered slightly but he remained as stiff and uncertain-looking as he'd been when she got here; as if someone had placed an ice cube to his spine.

"Hello Harry," she greeted, "my name is Detective Diana Ballard. I work for the Baltimore Police Department. I met you briefly before but I didn't get a chance to officially introduce myself." She held out her hand in greeting.

Harry started at her hand for a long moment as if uncertain before setting his jaw (much like Dean had done) and shaking her hand. "Hi," he greeted, his voice a tad hoarse. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, shifting back and forth, before looking up at her. While his posture was still stiff his eyes were a clear window to his emotions, and she could see the worry and hope within. "Are you the one who is talking to Dean?"

The question ended with a hopeful tone, making it clear that Harry was hoping to find out something from her. She just smiled and nodded. "I am. Not just me, but I am the lead on his case." She cleared her throat and sat up a bit straight. "Now Harry, I need to talk to you about last night—"

"You think Dean killed someone?"

Diana's words died in her throat along with any other questions she planned to ask. She simply blinked for a moment, caught off-guard by the abrupt question, and only when what he'd asked registered did she speak. "Where did you hear that?"

Harry didn't answer, instead just staring at her, piercing green eyes intense. Whatever he was looking for he seemed to find because he suddenly slumped in his seat and fell back against the back cushion, face crumpling like his posture. "Dean wouldn't kill someone," he said, voice barely above a whisper. "He wouldn't. He… he's not like that."

She was torn. Part of her wanted to dissuade him, try to find out how he'd heard that, but at the same time… "Do you know what my job is, Harry?" she asked him. He looked up at her, confused, and she continued. "A lot of people think that detectives hunt down criminals. That's not true. My job is to find the truth. Facts. It's not to pin the blame on someone; it's to find the answers."

"Dean's not a murderer," Harry stated. His voice was firm but there was a distinct waver to it, and it was clear that he was trying to convince himself just as much as her. "He's nice, and funny, and…" He took a breath. "He's not."

Diana didn't know what to say to that, and so kept her mouth closed. She wanted to console him, to tell him that he didn't have to worry, but giving false hope like that would only do more harm than good. Because if Dean was the killer then Harry would be the one most hurt. And for his sake she dearly hoped he wasn't.

"You mean the kid had nothing to say? He didn't see anything?" Pete asked, face pulling into an irritated scowl. "He's only twelve, how can he be that oblivious? Or maybe he was just lying?"

Diana frowned at him and leaned back slightly. "What's got into you Pete? Are you alright?" She reached out and grabbed his forearm to stop his walk down the hall, meeting his eyes. She made sure not to hold him too close or risk getting called out for unprofessional behavior in the workplace.

He held her gaze for a moment and she could see the frustration and anger lurking beneath. He'd been getting angrier and angrier recently and it was really starting to worry her; he had used to be so calm and kind, but now it seemed like he was constantly frustrated.

Then he smiled and she felt a little bit better, Pete moving his hand to catch hers and hold it. "Yea, sorry. It's just this whole thing, this case. Tony and Karen were good people and the thought of this guy getting away with it doesn't sit right with me." He sighed and ran a hand over his face. "Did you get anything from the big one?"

Diana sighed. "Sam's story matches Dean's to the last detail."

"Hmm. Yeah, well, these guys are good. I'll give 'em that."

"If we don't get either of them to flip we have nothing but a lot of circumstantial evidence."

Pete frowned for a long moment. "Have you considered that the kid might be in on it? Pulling the big eyes and lying to get them off the hook?"

Diana shook her head in disbelief. "I don't think so, Pete. He's twelve, his uncle and father just got arrested, I doubt he has enough presence of mind to even consider lying. He was genuinely shocked to find out what was going on." She shot him an odd look for a moment. "Besides we have the surveillance of both him and Sam getting dropped off at the motel at the same time the coroner says the murder would've taken place."

"But Dean is nowhere to be seen after that," he pointed out. "We've got Dean at the crime scene with blood on his hands. Juries have convicted for less."

"Yea but-" Her brow furrowed and she crossed her arms, "I mean, where's the murder weapon? What's the motive? He had a kid and a brother a mile away. You talk about reasonable doubt…" She shook her head.

"Diana." Pete touched her chin, pushing her head up so he could look her in the eyes. "I'm telling you, this Dean guy is our guy. We just keep leaning and someone will break, either the kid or the brother." He paused for a moment in thought. "What if we offer the squirt a trade of some kind?"

"A trade? What do you mean?"

"You know." Pete shrugged again. "Try to get him to spit it out. Tell him that if he gives something up we can let him go home with Sam."

"The Chief would never go for that, Pete. Forty-eight hours for both, he said."

"Yea-" Pete smirked. "But Harry doesn't know that."

Diana frowned, concerned and a little bit uncomfortable that Pete had even suggested that. "Pete," she began slowly, "Harry is completely innocent in all this. He doesn't need to be lied to for answers. It will only hurt him."

The smirk on his face slid away to a frown, brow creasing, and just for the briefest moment she could've sworn that he was angry at her—but then it was gone and he was his normal self, sighing and running a hand over his head. "Yea, I guess you're right." He gave her a tired smile. "What would I do without you?"

Diana sighed and rolled her eyes, banishing the uncertain creeping sensation still lurking under her skin. "Go finish your paperwork, I need to go to the restroom, alright?"

"Alright." Pete leaned in to give her a kiss, but Diana startled herself by jerking backwards.

"Sorry," she blurted out at his confused stare. "I just… sorry, not feeling so good. I, uh, don't want you to get something from me."

His frown lingered but he nodded reluctantly. "Oh. Okay." He nodded and smiled. "See you later then?"

"Bye," Diana answered as he walked away, trying to ignore the goosebumps on her arms where he grabbed her. Shivering, she turned and walked down the hallway, trying to put it from her mind.

By the time Dean finally unlocked the handcuffs and let them fall into the dirt beside the corpse of Detective Pete Sheridan, the sun was already peeping its edge over the horizon, bathing the trio in morning light.

"I think that's the last we've seen of this ghost," Dean commented as he wiped his hands off on his jeans and turned to the other two. "So, uh. What now, officer?"

Diana sighed, turning to look at the cooling body lying in the dirt. "Pete did confess to me. He screwed up both your cases royally. I'd say that there's a good chance that we could get your cases dismissed."

Sam's eyes widened in surprise. "You'd take care of that for us?" he asked.

"I hope so. But the St. Louis murder charges? That's another story. I can't help you." She looked over at the van, still wedged in-between two trees, and a thoughtful expression appeared on her face as she turned back. "Unless... I just happened to turn my back, and you walked away. I could just tell them that the suspects escaped. "

Sam jerked in surprise. "Wait, are you sure? I mean, you could lose your job over something like that. "

Dean shot Sam a Shut up! look but his brother ignored it.

She just sighed and shook her head. "Look, I just want you guys out there doing what you do best. Trust me, I'll sleep better at night knowing you're keeping innocent people safe."

"Hey," Dean chimed in, stepping forward, "speaking of innocent people, where's Harry?" While it may have been phrased as a question it was clearly a demand.

Diana just smiled slightly. "I can go get him. It wouldn't be a good idea if you guys were seen so soon after the arrest."

"Wait," said Sam, "won't you be incriminated if someone asks what happened?"

A smirk slid across her face and she winked at him. "Don't worry," she said, "I have a friend who owes me a favor."

Sam smiled back and looked over at Dean, who gave her one of his own. They took a few steps towards the road before Dean paused and turned. "Hey, you wouldn't happen to know where my car is, would you?"

"It's at the impound yard down on Robertson." She paused at Dean's calculating look and scowled. "Don't... even think about it."

"It's okay, it's all right, don't worry. We'll, uh, we'll just improvise. I mean, we're pretty good at that."

She laughed once. "Yeah. I've noticed."

Dean and Sam shared a smile and turned, heading back over to the dirt road they'd arrived on. As they began their trek back to civilization Sam tapped his brother's shoulder. "Hey, Dean, what are you going to tell Harry about all this? I mean, he'll want to know what happened, and if they try to come after us…" He hesitated. "What are you going to say?"

Dean let out a long sigh, looking up at the rising sun before turning back to Sam, setting his jaw firmly. "What I should've told him from the beginning. The truth."

It seemed like hours before Harry was finally back in Dean's custody and they were speeding along the highway, away from Baltimore. They had about a day's head-start and had every intention of making full use of that. They drove for two hours straight before Dean finally deemed them far enough away and began to look for a place to grab a bit and hash out the full story.

The diner they ended up in was a quaint little mom-and-pop's just west of the Maryland/West Virginia border. Since it was still before noon the Winchesters were pretty much the only customers, and had seated themselves in a booth in the back, away from prying eyes or ears.

Breakfast was an awkward affair. Harry had been quiet ever since Dean picked him up, and any attempts to engage him in conversation were answered with shrugs or one-word replies. It didn't take a genius to figure out that Harry was still in a state of uncertainty after everything that had happened, and while it dug a little into Dean's chest that Harry might think he actually did have something to do with all the stuff that happened, he was also aware of the fact that his son's trust in him was probably not so secure to blindly have faith. So he barely managed to wait until they had finished their food before nudging Sam's foot under the table and nodding briefly.

Getting the hint, Sam put down his utensils and pushed his plate away. "I'm all finished," he said, wiping off his mouth with a napkin. "You guys finish up, I'm gonna head out and finish switching out our plates."

Dean hid a wince at the lie as he watched Sam slide out of the booth and make for the door. Mentioning 'switching out plates' probably didn't send the most trustworthy message to Harry. But Dean didn't say anything until Sam was out the door, leaving just him and Harry. Harry clearly understood that Sam's leaving wasn't just coincidence and his shoulders had tensed slightly, body language marking him as uncertain and a little bit scared. Very similar to what he'd acted like that first day he met Dean.

Dean sighed and pushed his own dishes to the side, folding his arms and leaning against the table. Harry met his eyes but the uncertainty was bright and noticeable.

"I know you're probably confused about what happened," Dean began, going for earnest. "I'm really sorry that you had to go through that, Harry. I never wanted…" He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Let me start over. I'm sure you have questions?"

Harry simply eyed him for a moment, teeth worrying over his bottom lip. Then he spoke. "They said you were arrested for murder."

Dean couldn't hide the wince this time. "I was," he admitted, deciding that, like Sam said, it was better to tell the truth outright than lie and hope it wasn't discovered. "The police thought that I killed someone."

Harry's frown increased. "Did you?"

Dean didn't let his face show how much the question kicked him, that Harry would ever think... "No," he answered instead, shaking his head earnestly. "I didn't kill her. I just couldn't help her in time." He took a deep breath, steeling himself for what was coming next. "Harry, you need to know something about what Sam and I do. We're not… we don't work for the government or anything, like I told you. I lied, and I'm sorry; I shouldn't have done that."

The frown increased even more and Dean got the sudden feeling that Harry was at his most decisive right at this moment; that whatever he felt right now was going to determine a lot.

He cleared his throat. "Sam and I are hunters. But we don't hunt animals. We hunt monsters."

Harry blinked. And blinked again. He leaned back, frown replaced with a wide-eyed stare, and didn't seem to know how to respond. "Monsters?" he asked slowly.

No doubt so far. That was good. "There's a lot more to the world than most people know about, Harry. Stuff that the rest of the world isn't ready to know about." He paused for a moment to gauge Harry's reaction. He expected some sort of disbelief or confusion but Harry was just staring, neither emotion present.

Harry swallowed, not breaking eye contact. "What kind of… stuff?"

"Ghosts," Dean said simply. "Werewolves and vampires. Demons. A lot more, too. Monsters. They hurt innocent people and it's our job to stop them."

"Stop them?"

Dean hesitated for a moment. He knew that he needed to be completely honest, but telling Harry that he was a killer, even if he hadn't killed Karen, was still something he knew might not be taken well. "Forcefully," he answered instead. "Whatever we need to do to keep them from hurting other people."

Harry frowned. "Ghosts hurt people? I thought they..." He trailed off and shot Dean a tentative look, as if doubting what was coming out of his own mouth,

Dean nodded. "Sometimes. When a ghost died because of something bad, a lot of times they come back to hurt people other people, and when that happens they're monsters."

It was rather strange how well Harry was taking this. Dean had expected disbelief, fear, even anger, but Harry merely seemed deeply curious about what he was being told.

"Why do they hurt people? Do all of them do that? Aren't any of them… you know, good?"

Dean thought back to what Sam had told him, about the vampire, Lenore. "Yea," he answered, discarding what his brother had said. There was simply no way a vampire could still be a person. They were bloodsucking monsters, that was it. "They can't help it. Most are like animals, they can't fight the instincts. And then some of them are downright evil and hurt people just for the joy of it."

Harry's face was unreadable. He didn't seem scared, angry, or disbelieving, which Dean considered a plus, but he also didn't seem completely accepting. "And…" he began hesitantly, almost seeming worried. "They're not… people?"

Dean shook his head. "We don't hurt people," he stated. Harry really was very much like Sam at that age. Both so concerned about others, even when they didn't necessarily deserve it. "Monsters aren't people. Then he paused, remembering the few humans he'd met who were little better than monsters. "Well, most anyway."

Harry cocked his head to the side. "Most?"

"Yea. Most monsters are just freaks of nature, they can't really help it. But some people are so twisted that they choose to be like that. They're still human but they are nothing more than monsters with magic."

Dean missed the way Harry stiffened at the word magic.

"Witches are people—men or women—who sell their souls for power." He grimaced in remembrance, shaking his head. "They use demons to get power and then use it to hurt other people whenever the demon tells them to. All kinds of twisted spells with human bones and—" Dean cut himself off, not wanting to traumatize the kid. "Anyway, they're the worst because they betray their own species. They're traitors. But we don't run into them a lot because most people aren't stupid enough to think that magic is worth your soul."

Harry's eyes were wide, and he looked a little pale, but Dean reasoned that it was just the fact that all these things existed really setting in. "And..." He began, licking his lips hesitantly. "You… hunt them?"

"If it's not human or if it's a human messing with freaky magic, then we stop them. Permanently." Dean nodded. "Our father got started doing it when my mom died. She was killed by a demon when Sam and I were little."

Harry swallowed again, clearly taking it all in. "S-So when they thought you killed that woman..?"

"That was a ghost. Well, a ghost didn't kill her but it was a ghost who helped us find the killer. I was tracking it and was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Harry nodded, though he didn't seem to be entirely focused.

Dean reached over the table and grabbed Harry's shoulder, jolting the boy out of his thoughts so he could focus on Dean. "You alright?" he asked. "I know this is a little hard to take in and you might not believe me—"

"No," Harry interrupted quickly, clearing his throat. "No, I-… I believe you. It's just," he shrugged and gave a weak smile, "a lot to take in."

Dean relaxed and gave him an understanding smile. "I get it. But don't worry, I promise I won't keep anything else from you. I don't want to lie to you." He patted Harry's shoulder. "You're my son and I love you, no matter what."

Harry gave him a smile in return but said nothing, his eyes not meeting Dean's.

Snow fell softly outside the window of the motel room, layering a soft coat of white over everything. All was silent, the winter night blanketing everything with a quiet calm.

Inside the room, the lights were off and it was just as quiet as it was outside. Dean's soft breathing filled the space, one arm dangling off the side of the bed nearest Harry's. However, the other bed was empty, its occupant having moved to the single chair beside the window, looking out over the parking lot.

What Dean had told Harry today hadn't left his mind. He'd be relieved at first, to know that Dean hadn't been a killer, and a part of him was even excited when Dean told him about his real job. Werewolves, vampires, ghosts—those weren't the sort of creatures an ordinary muggle knew about. He'd been hoping, perhaps a bit prematurely, that he would be absolved of his fear and that Dean would show an openness to the possibility of magic that the Dursleys had never possessed.

But Harry was wrong. Very wrong, because what Dean told him made the Dursleys look almost kind. Dean didn't just know about magic, no, he hated it and the people who used it. He'd called them traitors. He'd called Harry a traitor. And he talked about killing them like he was doing a good thing.

Harry took a shuddering breath, casting a glance back towards Dean's sleeping form. After the revelation his skin wouldn't stop crawling, as if he somehow expected Dean to sense his magic and turn on him. Obviously that wasn't the case but that knowledge didn't stop the worry curling in Harry's gut, knowing that he was only a few feet from someone who would kill him without a second thought.

Would he though? Harry's mind chimed in curiously. Dean told him that he loved him, no matter what.

Don't be stupid, Harry chided himself silently. Dean said that witches sold their souls to demons for magic, and that his mother was killed by a demon. Harry didn't even know that demons were real, aside from his aunt always calling him one, but Dean undoubtedly would think he'd done the same. And Harry had enough experience trying to convince unfriendly relatives that he wasn't defined by his magic.

It figured that when he finally had a real family, one who didn't hate him, that they would hate what he was. And what's worse possibly kill him for it.

Harry looked out the window, watching the odd car speed down the road, headlights piercing the dim. He could run away, he knew. It might be a good idea; take his wand and his Cloak and just sneak away and find some way to get back to Hogwarts. If he didn't have to worry about Dean finding out, then what was the point in pretending? Staying here was just a bad idea; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday Dean would find out the truth and come after him.

Harry leaned his head against the cool glass. As much as he wanted to, he wouldn't. Because he knew that, even with what Dean said still burning into him, that he cared about Dean and Dean cared about him, and that if he ran away it would hurt them both. But he also couldn't tell Dean because he knew that would only end badly.

He sighed softly, his breath fanning across the window. If only he had someone to talk to, someone to tell him what to do. He needed help. He needed a friend. He needed—

A sudden loud thunk startled him so badly that he nearly fell from his chair, he jumped so hard. In bed Dean grunted and rolled over, shifting slightly. The cause of the sound was a large dark shape that had rammed into the window at a high speed, and which was now lying on the snowy pavement in front of the window. Harry instantly recognized the outstretched wings and talons, heartbeat picking up as he realized what it was. He stood from the chair and crept to the door, keeping a watchful eye on Dean. He thanked his lucky stars that Dean was dead-tired from the long day as he gently pried open the front door, much like how he used to creep out of his cupboard, and stepped outside. The cold bit into his bare feet but that was easily ignored as he looked at the creature lying in front of him.

The owl was speckled brown, a bit bigger than Hedwig. It would've reached up to Harry's knees if he was standing beside it, and appeared utterly exhausted. Large patches of feathers were missing from its body and Harry was positive he didn't imagine the way it was taking large heaving breaths, clacking its beak wearily. But it still managed to hold up its feet, in which a small package was clenched. The moment Harry grabbed it the owl slumped back down onto the ground, unconscious.

Clearly the owl was in a less than ideal state of health, and normally Harry would have been concerned, but at that exact moment any concern was overruled quite strongly by excitement at the realization that he'd been sent something by someone from his world. Perhaps Dumbledore had decided to check on him, or Ron and Hermione got worried, or-

That train of thought cut off quite abruptly as Harry peeled back the paper on the package, confusion overpowering the previous excitement. He checked the inside of the paper once more, hoping that he'd missed an envelope addressed to him, but he found nothing. So, a frown decorating his face, Harry turned his attention back to the only object contained within, and he held it up to the light outside the room to see better.

The notebook was slim and dark, its surface smooth and unmarked. He flipped it over and found nothing, then turned it back to the front and opened up the cover. Inside, written in faded curling letters, was a name.

Tom Marvolo Riddle.


And now you know why I've been dying for this chapter. Also, no offense to people who live in Baltimore when Dean called it a no-star city. He's kinda an ass.