The Winchester boys never did return to Singer Salvage Yard with their father, John. Instead, both reappeared with crushed hearts and festering wounds, long after Bobby had returned with the Impala. Upon gazing at the destroyed family car, Hermione knew the circumstances were dire, but it wasn't until the boy's returned that she and bobby realized how deep the devastation ran.
Bobby and Hermione worked in tandem to keep both Winchesters well fed, while they healed from the injuries and processed John's death. The boys regained their lost weight, and it took no time at all for Dean's anger to boil over indiscriminate of the direction it spilled. Bobby growled at him, Sam shrank into himself, and Hermione relished each fight, often reducing Dean to threats of "shooting the witch." In those moments, Dean would catch Sam struggling not to smile while he watched Hermione banish or summon Dean's guns away before hitting him with a stinging hex.
While Hermione provided Dean with a much needed outlet for his anger and grief, Bobby focused on Sam. The younger Winchester had always been more introverted of the family, and Bobby wasn't about to leave the boy up to his own devices. Rather, Bobby began giving Sam the responsibility of phone duty and within the first hour, he was buried in research. Bobby couldn't help the surge of pride when Sam would rapidly fire off lore over the phones to hunters actively working cases or lie to the law about a hunter's fake credentials.
Hermione was curled up on Bobby's front porch swing with a book and a beer when Sam stumbled out with his own bottle. He silently stalked over to her and lifted her feet before sitting down next to her and dropping her legs on his lap. They drank in silence while Sam rocked the swing with his feet. When his beer was nearly three-fourths empty, Hermione absentmindedly refilled it with her wand.
"Neat trick," Sam said looking at the bottle in his hand.
"Rufus propositioned me after he saw me do it," Hermione told him earning a laugh from Sam.
"He probably imagined you supplying him with a lifetime supply of his favorite whiskey."
"It was a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue," Hermione confided in him. Sam began laughing harder, to the point that he had tears leaking out of his eyes.
"I'm shocked he didn't propose."
"Honestly, knowing Rufus, he probably was," Hermione said as they both laughed. "Hunters don't strike me as all that romantic."
It was refreshing to see Sam laughing for once this week. Hermione watched the weariness melt off his face to reveal true joy, even if it didn't last long enough.
"I always knew he'd die hunting," Sam said staring out into the junkyard. "Dad's always been reckless, to the point of stupidity really, and rarely considered the consequences of his actions. I've seen him use people as bait and not even tell them."
"Wow" Hermione mouthed silently.
"Yet, i never thought he'd be gone this soon. I keep waiting for him to call Dean and order us to some new city for a case he can't be bothered to work himself. I just talked to him about already calling Bobby about hauling the impala back here, and then he was collapsing. It just doesn't seem real." Sam lapsed into silence, and Hermione allowed him to, knowing he needed to process.
"I hated the man. Hated hunting, never getting to stay in one spot, never getting to experience one school longer than a few weeks, or celebrating holidays. I mean what kind of parent abandons his kids for weeks at a time in a motel room?"
"ABout the same as a parent who locks a child in a cupboard under the stairs and calls it their bedroom," Hermione answered, "Or a parent who forces their child into indentured servitude. One of my classmates endured utter hell because of his father's choices. He forced Draco to torture innocnets, often at the threat of his mother's life. Draco hated his father, but still sobbed when Lucius was executed for war crimes.
"Don't berate yourself for mourning your dad's death. You had very real reasons for feeling angry at him. Regardless of how you feel, just let yourself feel."
"I just can't believe Dean and I are alone. I mean where do we go from here?" Sam asked.
"Well that's just utter bollocks," Hermione scoffed. "Bobby would box your ears if he heard you say that, or have you forgotten that 'Family don't end in blood?' You're a pillock if you don't realize Bobby views you and Dean as his own kids.
"Well isn't this a chick flick moment," Dean interrupted, glaring at the two of them. "Snuggled up with the witch?"
"Dean" Sam said wearily.
"No it's fine Sam," Hermione interrupted. "The tosser's got his wand in a knot and can bugger off."
"Listen here witch -" Dean's voice cut off, though it was clear from the movement of his mouth that he was still talking.
"Dean?" Sam asked confused, until he heard Hermione snickering next to him.
"Sorry Dean," the witch laughed. "I can't read lips. If you want me to hear you, you'll have to speak up!"
Sam couldn't prevent the laughter that erupted from him at the murderous look on Dean's face. He grew concerned when Dean went to pull his gun, only to laugh harder when Dean realized it wasn't on him and began to frantically patted himself down.
"It's with Baby," Hermione told him before Dean stormed off in the direction of the Impala.
"How'd you manage to steal his gun?" Sam asked when he could breathe again.
" I didn't," Hermione admitted. "Bobby pick pocketed him earlier."
The admission only served to make Sam laugh harder.
The next morning, while Bobby was working the hunter phone lines and Hermione had gone to buy groceries, Sam approached his older brother. Unsurprisingly, Dean was laid out underneath the Impala, trying to breathe life back into the family car.
"How's the car coming along?"
"Slow," Dean answered without stopping his work.
"Yeah?" Sam asked. "Need any help?"
The thud of a tool hitting the ground, was answer enough, but Dean added, "What, you under a hood? I'll pass."
Sam smothered an exasperated sigh, "Need anything else then?"
"Stop it Sam," Dean ordered before he climbed out from underneath the vehicle.
"Stop asking if I need anything. Stop asking if I'm okay!" Dean answered. "I'm fine, really. I promise."
"Alright, Dean," Sam muttered before a spark of irritation hit him. "It's just...we've been at Bobby's for over a wee, and all you've done is work on the car and fight with Hermione."
"Don't talk about her," Dean growled.
"You haven't even mentioned Dad once!" Sam said.
"Alright," Dean said. "You know what, come here, and I'll lay my head gently on your shoulder. We can cry, hug, maybe we'll even slow dance!"
"Don't patronize me Dean! Dad's dead, the Colt's gone, it seemed pretty damn likely the demon's got it. Yet you're acting like nothing happened at all!"
"What do you want me to say Sammy?"
'Anything!" Sam bellowed. "Aren't you angry or do you just like yelling at Hermione? Don't you want revenge for Dad's death?"
"Revenge huh?" Dean asked, ignoring the jab Sam made.
"Sounds good. Quick question, do you got any leads on where the demon is?" Dean asked. "Better yet, have you been able to make heads or tails of dad's research? Because I sure haven't, but if you do finally figure it out and find said demon, as you've pointed out, the Colt's gone. So have you come up with a new idea on how to kill him?
"No? Shocking! We've got nothing Sam, nothing alright? So guess what I can do? I can fix this car and fight with Bobby's witch!"
Sam swallowed his retort about Hermione, and instead focused on the original reason he'd decided to talk to Dean this morning.
"I cracked one of Dad's voicemail passwords."
Predictably his brother turned at the statement.
"Listen to this," Sam said shoving the phone towards Dean.
"No clue, but I've got her address," Sam said.
"Ask Bobby if we can borrow a car," Dean answered.
Bobby was pouting on the front porch when Sam and Dean returned to Singer Salvage Yard from their trip to meet Ellen. Both boys eyed him speculatively before walking up the steps.
"What crawled up your ass?" Dean asked.
"Mia," Bobby groused, earning disgusted looks from the boys. "Not like that ya idjits."
"Finally realized you need to gank her?" Dean asked trying to shake the image of Hermione and Bobby from his head.
"Dude," Sam swore at him before turning back to Bobby. "Did you have a fight?"
"No," Bobby muttered petulantly. "She reorganized my study."
Sam and Dean broke out into laughter at how grumpy the older hunter spoke.
"I can't find anything now! She tossed a bunch of my stuff too. Girl didn't even bother to ask before she did it. Witch distracted me with a freshly baked pie, and waltzed away with half my stuff. Should've known there'd be a price for a homemade pie."
"Pie?" Dean repeated. Without waiting for an answer, he barged into the house.
"Witch?! Bobby said there was pie!"
Sam heard his brother cursed and laughed some more as he heard, "Fuck! Where's this pie woman?!"