Summary: After the war Hermione's happily ever after is rudely interrupted and on her intercontinental chase to find the culprit she meets up with the Winchester brothers, only to find there might be more left for her than she ever imagined.

Chapter 17

Hermione gripped the window sill so tight her knuckles were white. She squeezed her eyes closed and leaned her forehead against the panel of glass in anticipation of the inevitable explosion from Sam and Dean. All there was was quiet though. No footsteps, no shouts of outrage, no anything. The silence was its own condemnation and Hermione wasn't sure if it was any better than outright rejection.

Sam looked over at his brother. There was a strange kind of tortured longing on his face as he looked at Hermione. He could understand to an extent, he had always wanted that normal white picket fence kind of life and he wouldn't be surprised if for all his denials, Dean wanted it too, especially with someone like Hermione.

Sam had wanted that dream fiercely once upon a time too, but somewhere between Jessica's, his Dad's, and even Dean's death it stopped feeling like an option. In fact, feeling anything at all, but grief had started feeling like a dream. Hunting had felt like the only thing left for him. So, he had hunted and found release in Ruby and demon's blood. Now, his brother was back and Hermione was here and he didn't know if he was strong enough to give up Ruby and all that entailed, but he felt ashamed of his lifestyle in Dean and Hermione's presence.

"I'll leave. Return to England, maybe-" she started panicking when they didn't say anything and for all her Gryffindor courage she couldn't turn around to look at them.

Dean could only stare dumb founded at Hermione's back. He didn't really understand what all of that had meant, but he did know that being stuck with Hermione for the rest of their lives didn't even remotely scare him like he thought it should. He had a lot more questions certainly, but this didn't sound nearly as bad as most everything else he had been involved in as a hunter.

Dean made long strides across the room and turned her around mid-sentence. He held both of her soft hands in his and waited for her startled eyes to look at him. He could see the nervousness and fear shining through her warm brown eyes.

"Princess." He started softly, "We're supposed to be the ones worrying and panicking over marriage talk, not you. Calm down. We can figure this out. " He guided her over to the desk where Sam was sitting and hefted her up and set her down on the desk top in front of Sam. He frowned to himself and noted that she was still too thin and didn't weigh nearly what she should. It didn't seem as bad as it had when they had first met, but he would say something to Sam and get his help.

"I understand the vow of protection, but what do the other two conditions mean and how can we avoid them?" Asked Sam with a frown prevalent on his face.

Hermione flinched and took a deep breath to calm her nerves. "I don't actually know. I never did any research on it, because I assumed it was the myth of where the wizarding marriage ceremony came from. I had initially assumed that the vow of protection was the part in the ceremony where witches and wizards vow to take up their magic in defense of their spouse and home. I thought the sacrifice of blood was a reference to the consummation of the marriage."

Dean cocked his head and interrupted, "What do you mean?"

Hermione felt her face warm as she was sure a blush worked it's way onto her face. "Well the wizarding world is still very old fashioned, so I figured it was a reference to virgin's blood. Many of the books still use some kind of euphemism for anything relating to sex and many of the old families are Victorian in their views on relationships, so the wording of the book has likely been the same for centuries."

Dean grinned, "Really virgin's blood? Isn't that a little cliché? Do all witches still wait for marriage then?"

Hermione sighed, "There really aren't any witches that still wait for marriage. Virgin blood isn't really used anymore. It's considered blood magic and it's dangerous, not to mention illegal now, but there was a time when the Wizarding world was very concerned about Virgin's blood. There are several rituals that use the blood. A couple of the rituals are for the strengthening the bloodline and cleansing of one's magic, but some of the rituals are downright despicable."

"As fascinating as that is, that should be an easy thing to avoid as long as we don't sleep with each other. What about the sealing? What do you think that is?" Sam asked trying to get them back on topic.

"Well in a wizarding marriage ceremony there is a spell that seals the magic of the individuals together at the end of the ceremony. Like I said, I assumed that the story was based off of the ceremony, but it's possible that the ceremony is actually based on this story in which case I haven't the slightest idea what constitutes for the other two steps, except what I've assumed," Hermione explained.

"Well it's not as if you can accidentally have sex or cast a sealing spell, so we should be safe from the rest of them," said Dean.

"Are you sure? It would be safer if I wasn't anywhere near either of you. I could leave. Try to make a go of it back home," Hermione said as she bit her lip.

Sam stared at her mouth as she worried at her plump bottom lip. He tore his gaze away as he spoke, "To be honest, it sounds like we are going to need all the help we can get and I can't even think of anyone else who would be able to help with angels nevertheless whatever the angels need help defeating. Besides, like Dean said, now that we know what the next steps are it would be hard to accidentally complete them."

"Alright, but only if you're both sure. I don't want to be here if you don't want me here." Hermione said. She wasn't about to be a third wheel. If they didn't want her there she would find some other way to help or go back to hunting the demon that killed Ron.

Sam easily waved away her concern, "It will be fine Hermione. Do you know why us? Why us three have this bond?"

Hermione glanced toward the book she had left on the window sill. She knew what the book said, she had translated the original tales on that terrible Horcrux hunt all those years ago, but she wasn't sure she could ask Sam and Dean to believe that it was destiny. That they would always be drawn to each other. She wasn't much of a believer in divination or prophecy so she wasn't sure that she even believed destiny was the true reason for this bond. She would have to check the rest of the literature to see if there was a less nebulous answer.

She felt guilty about deceiving them, but she was already asking them to accept the concept of angels and the fact that they could potentially be stuck together for the rest of their lives today. She didn't think they could or would accept that it was fate tying them together with a scarred-up witch. Dean and Sam hardly trusted other people besides each other, let alone people with magical powers who called themselves witches.

She looked down at her hands and answered, "No, I don't and I don't think this is something we want to be asking other people about. Completing the bond would not only bind us together, but also increase our power. I'm not sure how that works for you two, but I can already feel that my magic is different and that there is more I can channel. "

"Not even the wizarding government?" Asked Sam.

Hermione shook her head, loosening several tendrils of hair from her ponytail. "No, especially not them. I have enough enemies in the ministry already without them knowing about this."

Dean could see how having that kind of power could put her in danger, not only in her world, but with the monsters and demons they hunted as well. Dean exchanged a serious look with Sam. Sam gave a distinct nod in acknowledgement. They would do everything they could to protect her.

Dean grinned and put a hand to his wounded heart. "Are you ashamed of us already sweetheart?"

Hermione furrowed her brow. "To be honest, I thought you would take this news much worse," she said.

Dean shrugged, pulled out a knife from seemingly nowhere, and began to fiddle with it while he spoke, "An angel just pulled me out of Hell and told me Heaven has plans for me, that's something I'm worried about. A marriage to a pretty woman that might never actually happen isn't something that even registers on my radar."

"To be honest, I think we should be focusing on what the angels what from us. Did they tell you what they wanted at all?" Sam interrupted as he began to leaf through pages of lore books again.

Dean shook his head, "No, that Castiel character didn't give us any other details."

"Where did Bobby go?" Hermione asked as she looked around the room for the other hunter.

"I think he escaped to the kitchen for some whiskey as soon as we stopped talking about monsters and started talking about magical forms of marriage," said Sam with a wry grin.

"Any chance he would bring some out to the rest of us?" Hermione joked weakly. This had been one hell of a day for cataclysmic revelations.

"I don't know if he's willing to share sweetheart, but I will certainly go fight him for some of the good whiskey I know he has lying around somewhere," Dean said as he swiftly made his way to Bobby's kitchen to retrieve them some much needed relief.

Castiel walked down a long white hallway in Heaven. He had reported to Zachariah that the Winchester Brothers' had a witch as a bond mate. However, Zachariah was not interested at all in this new development. He didn't even care to ask about the witch's name before deciding that she was unimportant to the plan. Zachariah had waved a hand and told him that there hadn't been a witch knowledgeable or strong enough in centuries to assist in Heaven's plan.

That didn't make sense to Castiel, who had seen this witch-ling stand up to him. He didn't think it was false bravado either, something about the way she looked at him made him think she was serious and could deliver on her promises. He didn't have enough information though, so he was on his way to look in the Hall of Records. Heaven kept records on all humans, it helped them decide who went to heaven and what their individual rooms in heaven looked like. It contained all the events in each person's life in an easily viewable form that anyone in Heaven could look through.

The Hall of Records was a cavernous room with one book for each human and it was arranged by alphabetical order. Castiel nodded to the scribe angel at the desk who was adding information to the large tomes and putting away some that had been left out by other angels. He did not know this angel very well and decided that he would find Hermione Granger's tome by himself. He was not sure what he would find, but the higher up angels wanted to keep the details of his mission secret, so it wouldn't be a good idea to involve random angels he didn't trust in his search for information.

There was something about the way the witch stood and challenged him that convinced him that she wasn't just anyone. She had already known about angels even though no angel had revealed themselves to another human in nearly two millennia and she still had the guts to stand between him and Dean Winchester. His instincts told him that Zachariah was wrong; that Hermione Granger could help, but first he needed proof.

The angel folded his soot-stained wings a little closer into his body so they wouldn't damage the books as he searched for the tome he needed. In Heaven his wings weren't just shadowy projections, they were tangible and if he smeared the books with the soot that was still on his wings from hell there would be several unhappy scribes.

After several minutes of perusing the section Castiel found Hermione Granger's tome. He raised one brow. It was bound in dark brown leather and was unusually thick for a human that was less than twenty-five earth years. He smoothed a hand down the cover of the book and traced the loopy cursive letters of her name on the front cover before opening the book. The pages were made of parchment and as he tapped the first page he could watch her life unfold on the page.

He flipped through page after page as he watched the most important parts of Hermione Granger's life. The first eleven years were fairly normal, if not a little lonely as she was ostracized for her intelligence and the accidental magic that happened around her. After she went to school though he watched astounded as she set a teacher on fire to save her friend and helped save the philosopher's stone from a possessed professor her first year. Her second year she had brewed a potion that was years beyond what she should have been capable of brewing, left enough clues that her friends could figure out a basilisk was the monster terrorizing the school, and saved another student from the monster before they were both petrified.

The rest of the book was the most interesting part though. She saved an innocent creature and set Harry Potter's Godfather, also an innocent, free her third year. Fourth year showed how dedicated she was to her friends when she poured over spells so she could learn them and teach them to her friend who everyone else had abandoned. It would have been easier for her to go with popular opinion but she had stuck with her friend. That year he watched as ruthlessly trapped a reporter in a jar and blackmailed her into leaving her and her friends alone.

She was incredibly loyal as the next year she organized defense lessons and walked into what she knew was a trap at the ministry to fight fanatic supremacists who would sooner kill her than look at her. He watched over and over as she kept her friends alive even through a war. He watched as she writhed and cried on the ground as she was carved up and tortured with a curse he wasn't sure angels could have withstood without breaking and still protected her friends. He saw her impersonate the dark witch that had held her down and break into a bank to steal a dark artifact and then fight in an all-out pitched battle to defeat the darkest wizard in centuries.

Over and over he saw her risk her life, protect her friends, and outsmart her enemies. This was a witch who Zachariah didn't consider gifted enough? She was the brightest witch in generations and she was battle tested. She was steadfast and fierce in her protection, he had no doubt that the vow he witnessed earlier would be carried out to the best of her considerable abilities. If he thought Zachariah would listen he would march back with this book to show him this Hermione Granger. Perhaps, if the situation got desperate he would remind his superiors of the witch and how she might be of assistance, but for now they seemed certain that heaven would win without any other help.

A/N I'm still writing this even though updates are super slow. I'm always happy to receive suggestions, requests, or critiques. Thank you for reading and reviewing.