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The next months were almost too busy for Dean to appreciate that little flower buds were starting to show up in their backyard. Back when he had been a child the appearance of the first flowers of spring had been a magical moment to him, that he had always kept track of almost obsessively, sticking his fingers into the soil, looking for the green treasures. And even though he hadn’t been able to look out for flower buds since college for lack of a garden, he still didn’t really have the time to enjoy it now. Work was challenging but also exciting, with their first big project coming up. And so the first flowers showed up in their garden and all of a sudden it was Spring when Dean left the house one morning to go to work.

Dean had been looking forward to March with both anticipation and apprehension. One of the biggest LARPing events of the country would be taking place this month and Cas had insisted that both of them take part of it, so Dean could actually enjoy what he had been working on so hard. Cas took a couple of days off of work and Dean’s presence was expected by both the Queen and Dr. Badass anyway. The idea was for them to spend the entire campaign there and participate in as many events as possible. Dean of course would still be doing some behind the scenes delegation but he hoped to keep them to a minimum, especially with the added distraction of his boyfriend trying out LARPing for the first time.

Since Roadhouse was the main sponsor of the event, Dean had seen set designs, he’d done all the community outreach together with his mentor Jo so he knew exactly what to expect, and yet when he and Cas were standing at the gates that led them into Moondoor, he still couldn’t quite believe how amazing it was.

“Wow,” Cas said, next to him, his voice awed. “It looks like a movie set.” The gates into Moondoor looked like a proper town gate, with dressed staff members checking tickets and giving information. The entire wide-reaching area was fenced off, to make sure it would be a super immersive experience and while non players were welcome to attend the renaissance fair part of the campaign, they wouldn’t be letting in anyone (not even the camera team Dean had organized) who wasn’t at least somewhat dressed for the occasion. For the integrity of the scene, Ash had claimed. Dean hadn’t been particularly happy about that as the sales and marketing director, but as a player? It sounded awesome! And now that he saw that nothing was burning (figuratively) and that it really looked as amazing as he had hoped, Dean could admit to himself that he was slowly starting to relax a bit and look forward to the next couple of days.

“Okay, let’s check in and get into character,” Dean said, slapping Cas’ ass to get a move on. Cas still seemed somewhat intimidated, but eventually he nodded and followed Dean. They both got registered separately and met up again once they were inside. And it was amazing inside. Dean had seen his fair share of renaissance fairs and LARPing events, but this one really felt like he had stepped into a fantasy movie. He and Cas, still dressed like normal people, did stand out here. There was a sign post pointed them towards the dressing rooms and the various Moondoor relevant locations. When Dean sent Cas a look, the poor guy looked pretty overwhelmed, clutching his little welcome pack with maps and rules to his chest.

“Well, let’s get dressed. I’ll have to go see the Queen to prepare for the opening ceremony,” Dean said and checked his watch. “You’ll have to go through one of the tutorials with your guild as a newbie, so we probably won’t see each other until the ceremony. Will you be alright on your own?”

“Yes Dean, it’ll be fine,” Castiel promised with a smile. Dean was somewhat unsure about it even though Cas had told him beforehand that he wanted Dean to enjoy himself and not have to stick to Cas’ side all of the time. Truth to be told, Dean was really excited to get back into his role and pick up where he left off all those months ago.

They went to the changing rooms which were located in what looked to be stables and a little post office attached to it serving as a waiting room. Dean and Cas each took one of the changing rooms and Cas sent him a little wave before he closed the door behind himself. Dean pulled his suitcase and his props into the room and locked the door. He looked around, appreciating the nice decoration and attention to detail even in here. He grinned into the mirror feeling his excitement growing. Time to become Spears.


It always took Dean a while to get dressed and he expected that Cas would have to wait for him. He wiped the long hair of his blonde wig out of his face, then pulled his suitcase with him into the direction of the waiting room, where some people were sitting around, looking at their phones for the last time because they got locked into the “vault” along with their luggage. Cas had been super secretive about his character and even though Dean had pestered Charlie for information, she had also been tight-lipped. Dean wasn’t entirely sure what he should be looking for. Would Cas have on a wig? Be painted red in Moondoor colors? He knew that Cas had ordered something online, but he hadn’t seen more than a midnight blue cloak. So he looked out for that and eventually did see Cas sitting on a bench, studying the welcome pamphlet with a very intense look. Dean approached him with an easy grin, not yet in character, but he was surprised as Cas looked up. He wasn’t wearing a wig, his hair charmingly tousled as always, but he had pointy ears on.

“You’re an elf?” Dean asked, almost in disbelief. Cas got up from the chair, giving Dean a good look at his costume. He had on black trousers and leather boots, a white shirt and a vest over it. And of course the cloak with the phases of the moon across the shoulder blades thrown over the outfit.

“Yes?” Cas asked, clearly unsure how to interpret Dean’s staring. “It seemed like the most interesting race. I can be a human in real life.” Dean had to laugh at that. “Why are you surprised?”

“I don’t know. I just thought you would want to hang out with me, at least at the end of the day,” Dean said. A crease appeared between Cas’ eyebrows.

“Yes?”

“The different races have different quarters. And the elves aren’t staying in the center of Moondoor. They’re in the Arcane Forest.” Cas’ face fell. Dean felt kind of bad for his boyfriend. “Sorry buddy.”

“You mean we won’t be sharing sleeping quarters?” Cas asked.

“I fear so. I can’t just let an elf come close to the Queen’s quarters like that. Not unless you’ve sworn your allegiance to the Queen of Moondoor. But if you go through your newbie tutorial, you’ll find it won’t be too easy,” Dean explained. And then, putting on a very serious expression, he added: “You’re an elf now, Cas. I’m a man.”

“That’s very unfortunate,” Cas decided with a grumble but Dean wasn’t too worried that Cas was truly upset.

“Should I have a look at your character sheet? Maybe I can give you some tips before I’m heading to the Queen’s tent? Though I’ve never played as an elf,” Dean offered, but Cas shook his head.

“It’s fine, Dean. I will figure it out,” Cas promised.

“If you’re sure,” Dean said, which got a nod. “Well, then I guess we’ll take our stuff to the vault and show up at our respective camps,” Dean suggested. Cas nodded, trailing after Dean towards the building where they could exchange money into the Moondoor currency. Since Cas was a newbie and didn’t want to “cheat” he started out with very little money, just the recommended amount for new players to get through the tutorial and low-level quests.

“Sleeping quarters are free, unless you sleep in the inn,” the elf at the vault explained, while Cas was carefully putting his Moondoor money away in a little satchel that he hung to his belt. “Every day you’ll be allowed to get a small amount of items from Dr. Badass’ medicine tent, so unless you go on quests above your level, you shouldn’t have to spend much money on items. You will be able to earn money with quests or by offering your services and you can always come back and exchange more money if you want.”

“Thank you,” Castiel said with a nod, then he followed Dean outside. It was still chilly, with the wind blowing. Castiel wrapped his coat around himself but otherwise looked on stoically. The sound recording of church bells rang through the air, signaling the time now that anything looking like modern watches were banned.

“I guess that’s my sign,” Dean said, then he studied Cas who tilted his head at him. “Well, one last act that’s out of character and then I’ll be gone.” Dean reached out and pulled Cas close, kissing him softly.

“Are you telling me I won’t get to kiss you again for the duration of the event?” Castiel asked the moment Dean had withdrawn enough to see Cas’ frown. Dean laughed, but didn’t answer, instead he winked and turned around. “See you around, elf!”

“My name is Arosa,” Cas called after him, a beat later. Dean turned around, studying Cas.

“That’s a weird name,” he said but Cas’ warning look told him to better get going.


Dean took his time walking towards the Queen’s quarters, enjoying the atmosphere of the early campaign days. They weren’t having a battle campaign unless someone declared war, so Dean expected to be doing quests, instead of battling orcs and defending the queen’s reign. There were plenty of stalls this year, selling all kinds of goods, and he also spotted players having claimed some empty stall space in order to earn a bit more Moondoor money. He walked past the medicine tent, which had an open front, giving Dean a good view of Dr. Badass lounging about.

“Spears! I haven’t seen you in a long while!” Dr. Badass called the moment he noticed Dean. Dean rolled his eyes and walked up to him. “I feared that you were rotting away in some Shadow Orc’s dungeon!”

“Doctor,” he greeted and Ash winked at him, before he reached into the apothecary’s shelf behind him. His tent looked nice this year, properly decorated, a clear upgrade to what he usually had. Dr. Badass handed Dean a couple of healing potions.

“Your rations, handmaiden,” Ash said, then he looked Dean up and down. “Where’s your other half?” Dean put his potions into the bag he wore at his belt.

“What other half?” Dean asked.

“Right, you’re always in character, I forgot,” Ash said, then he lay back down on the bed reserved for his customers. “Well, wake me when the festivities start.” With that Dean was dismissed and he made his way to the Queen’s tent. As expected, Charlie was full of energy, shrieking in delight when Dean came into the tent.

“Handmaiden! I’m so happy to see you!” she exclaimed and gave him a fierce hug. She was dressed in a regal looking robe, not the usual more casual soldier uniform she preferred.

“And I you, Queen,” Dean said, earning himself an immediate grin. “What are your plans?”

“First I’m going to fill you in on all the things you have missed while you were trapped in Shadow Orc dungeons!”

“I was NOT trapped in Shadow Orc dungeons! Don’t make up story lines for me!” Dean grumbled, but Charlie was undeterred by his protests.

“Opening ceremony in a bit, then I was thinking we could do the prep for the Shadow Orc quest if you’re up to it? I wanted to do it last time but without my handmaiden it’s only half as funny!”

“Also because your other team members are incompetent,” Dean offered with a small grin. Charlie huffed.

“Hey now, that’s mean!” she objected. “But yeah, I guess.”

“I’ve already stocked up on potions at Dr. Badass’, but I haven’t picked up any other items.”

“Great! So we’ll do that! Oooh, I can’t wait, Spears! This is going to be so much fun!” Dean smiled at her, then – dutiful handmaiden that he was – he helped her get ready for the big opening ceremony.


Dean didn’t see a lot of Cas on that first day of the campaign. He kept his eyes open during the opening ceremony but while he spotted Hinnerk the Valiant, the current leader of the elves, he didn’t see Cas’ blue coat in the mass of people. After the ceremony he and Charlie had some food at one of the many stalls, before they started doing the preparation for their quest. Dean had missed a lot of things that had happened since his last LARPing event, so while he was going around the booths to stock up on potions and magic and other items, he often got side tracked by conversations.

“Handmaiden!” Dean had just managed to break free from a long, involved conversation about hair care (wig styling really) when someone else called for his attention. Boltar the Furious was stomping up to him, as always with his sour expression.

“Boltar,” Dean said mildly, but the herald only frowned at him. Clearly, he was still sore that the Queen wasn’t into him and the whole “she’s a lesbian, Gerry” hadn’t really gotten through to him yet.

“I have a message for the handmaiden of our Queen of the moons!” Boltar announced, sounding very important. “An elf by the name Arosa has requested a meeting with you at the inn.” Having delivered his message, the herald eyed Dean suspiciously.

“A clandestine meeting with an elf? Fraternizing with the enemy, handmaiden? Are you going behind our queen’s interests? Hm?” Boltar asked, almost shoving his rolled-up scroll into Dean’s chest accusingly.

“Since you have announced it for all of Moondoor to hear, it can hardly be called clandestine. And last I knew the elves were not our enemies, Boltar. There are various reasons why one of them might seek out my company,” Dean answered. Boltar narrowed his eyes.

“Things could have changed while you were the Shadow Orc’s prisoner!”

“I was NOT-“ Dean started but Boltar talked over him.

“I am watching you, handmaiden,” he warned, but then his attention swayed away. “No cellphones in Moondoor! Go to the time loop tent if you must use your witchcraft!” he shouted and rushed off to bother some poor newbie.

Dean heaved a relieved sigh when Boltar was gone. Cas must have figured out the rules of the campaign to know that if he wanted to get a hold of Dean, using one of the heralds was the best option. Of course, Cas could have tried to stroll up to him, but it was likely that someone (most likely Boltar) might have stopped him from getting into the Seat of the Queen part of the camp. There were quests you could do or levels you could reach to give you free movement even within locations that were technically off limit to you, but Dean doubted Cas had levelled that much in just one afternoon.

“Queen? I have a meeting at the inn,” Dean said once he found Charlie flirting with a vendor. Charlie managed to disengage from the conversation and turned to look at Dean with a grin.

“Oh? Do you? At the inn, one of the places where people of different races can easily meet? That inn?” Charlie asked with a suggestive wink. When Dean just looked at her with an unimpressed face, Charlie laughed. “Always so serious, Spears! But alright! We will continue our preparation for the quest tomorrow, before the tournament! Don’t be out too late, Spears!”

“Of course,” Dean answered, then he was on his way to the inn. Roadhouse had built a temporary building with a functioning kitchen and some dormitory rooms for the occasion. It looked deliberately run down and shady and Dean loved it. Of course, it was clean and comfortably warm inside, with low music playing from hidden speakers. Castiel was sitting in a corner, the hood of his cloak pulled into his face. All he needed was a bit of dirt and a pipe and he would make a good Aragorn impression. But the moment Cas spotted Dean, his face lit up and he lifted his hand.

“Hello, Dean.”

“Who’s Dean?” Dean retorted, mostly to annoy Cas. “Come on, be in character. We don’t know each other.” Cas pouted but then he waved his hand at Dean.

“Fine, go to the bar,” Cas grumbled. Dean had to laugh but was curious what Cas was going to do so he complied. He saw Cas get up out of the corner of his eye and before long he approached him, his expression very serious under the edge of his hood.

“Hello stranger,” Cas said, sounding somewhat wooden. “Do you come to this fine establishment often?” Dean almost burst out laughing. “What?” Cas grumbled, so clearly some of Dean’s amusement must have shown.

“Are you Arosa?” Dean challenged. “Boltar has sent me your message. It said that you wanted to meet.”

“Yes,” Cas said but he wasn’t forthcoming with anything else, clearly not having thought of a particularly character driven reason why he wanted to see Dean. Dean decided to have mercy on him.

“Well then, Arosa. Can I buy you something to eat?”

“Yes please. I find myself low on funds,” Cas admitted and then studied the menu with Dean. They ended getting meat pies, much to Dean’s delight, and retreated to a little table with their food and drinks.

“Mm, it’s good,” Cas said and Dean couldn’t quite stop himself from brushing his knee against Cas’ under the table.

“How are you liking it so far?” Dean asked, deciding they could drop the role playing for the moment.

“It’s entertaining,” Castiel said.

“Yeah? Any quests you did?” Cas narrowed his eyes at him.

“I have been sworn to secrecy by my tribe,” he said enigmatically, which had Dean laugh. Of course, Hinnerk would do that. “But I have also done the introduction quest. It was a bit like a scavenger hunt all over the campaign grounds. I enjoyed it.”

“That’s great. I was hoping you would,” Dean said with a smile.

“What about you? Is your work as the handmaiden demanding?”

“No, it’s fun. I’m preparing to go on one of the higher-level quests with Charlie tomorrow. And we will also train some people for Charlie’s guard. Which is basically just some fake sword fighting, which I’m rather good at.” They chatted a bit more, Cas giving his comments on the organization for the newbie quest. Once they were done eating and out of the inn, night was already falling and it was getting cold.

“Can we still spend some more time together? Maybe I could come watch you sword fight tomorrow?” Cas asked.

“Nope, the rules are the rules,” Dean insisted. “I can’t just bring an elf to the training of the guard! Not before you have won the favor of the Queen!”

“But I can’t do that. My level isn’t high enough to even request an audience,” Cas whined, which Dean found very endearing. Cas huffed in annoyance, but then he stared up at Dean. “Spears, you are very beautiful and your hair shines like… starlight.”

“Uh, thank you,” Dean answered, taking aback by Cas’ awkward flirting.

“It is cold. We elves are less affected by the weather than humans. Can I offer you my coat?” he continued.

“That is very chivalrous of you, but I am the handmaiden of the Queen. I can handle the evening air,” Dean said, even though it was getting chilly. But he certainly didn’t want Cas to give him his coat and walk back to his tent without it.

“Then allow me to accompany you to the boundaries of your home,” Cas offered and it was clear to Dean that he didn’t want to say good-bye yet. Which Dean got. He didn’t really want to say good-bye either. So they walked towards his tent, close enough to almost brush shoulders.

“This is as far as you can come, elf,” Dean said, but before Cas could pout, Dean decided to break character so he could kiss Cas. Cas leaned into the kiss, pressing another shorter one to Dean’s lips when Dean was drawing back. “Just so we’re clear; that was Dean kissing Cas. Spears is not that easy to win.”

“Hm, alright,” Cas answered with a soft smile. He reached out to squeeze Dean’s hand, his palms soothingly warm. “Good-night, Dean.”

“Night, Cas,” Dean whispered back. Cas reluctantly let go of his hand, but after he had, he pulled his hood over his head and made his way back. Well, he might struggle to act, but he did look pretty convincing as he stalked away into the night.

“Dork,” Dean said to himself, smiling fondly.


Dr. Badass shot Dean a disapproving look as he and Charlie showed up at his medicine tent.

“So… you are telling me that the Queen’s handmaiden got poisoned in an orc attack? And neither of you thought to bring antidotes with you?” Dr. Badass asked and both Dean and Charlie looked at the floor sheepishly.

“We had enough potions to keep Spear’s life up,” Charlie said defensively. Dr. Badass shook his head, playing up his disapproval.

“I always tell everyone to go on quests with a full inventory! Antidotes belong in a full inventory! Ergo, not having an antidote in your bag means that you have not done your quest preparation properly! I respect the daredevil attitude, it’s fun and our local necromancers need a job, but it’s not what I expected of you two.”

“Alright, Dr. Badass. We get it. What now?” Dean asked, trying to get this moving along. He handed Ash the sheet where they were tracking their progress and stats during the quest. Monty the Orc, who was filling in the role as quest boss, had really dealt them a lot of damage. Ash made a big deal out of studying it.

“Well, it looks like you were severely poisoned. It will administer the antidote and then you’ll have no other choice but to recover. Which means you’re on quest timeout for the rest of the day!” Ash declared. Dean groaned in displeasure.

“I’m sorry, Spears,” Charlie said with a small laugh, clearly not feeling all that sorry that Dean would have to wait for the time to pass before he could go on another quest. It wasn’t horrible, considering there were still a lot of things to do, but it threw a wrench in their plans.

Charlie decided to sit in the tent with Dean and Ash for a while, discussing the pretty difficult quest and what they could do better on their next attempt. But after a while Charlie decided she wanted to participate in some games and Ash had other “patients” to treat. Eventually, Dean got bored and decided that he might as well go to the time loop tent to catch up on the outside world.

He made a detour to the town square, where he found an elf lady who was willing to take a message back to the Arcane Woods, so Cas knew what was happening. Then he grabbed a burger at one of the food stalls and made his way to the time loop tent to get on the computer. He might as well do some work or answer to messages while he was here.


It was early evening, the sky still bright and the sun warming Dean as he sat on one of the benches, butt comfortably cushioned by the wool thrown over the bench, and kept toasty warm both by blankets and the cup of mead in his hands.

“Handmaiden!” Dean groaned internally, but he turned to where Boltar’s voice had come from. He was surprised to see that Boltar had company. Castiel was keeping in step with him, until Boltar stopped, putting his hand out to keep Cas from going on. “Wait here, elf of no name!”

“I do have a name,” Castiel told him, clearly not impressed by the hand Boltar was pushing against his chest. Dean wasn’t particular thrilled either that Boltar had his hands on his boyfriend.

“Handmaiden, this elf has requested to speak to you. I will send him away from the premises, to protect your integrity, if you so wish” Boltar said.

“Boltar, calm down,” Dean said with a roll of his eyes. He put his cup down on the bench, leaving the comfortable cocoon of warmth. “He’s my boyfriend,” Dean told Boltar in a whisper.

“Oh, alright,” Boltar said, only quickly breaking character. “I do have to stick to the rules. He is an elf, and you’re the Queen’s handmaiden.”

“That’s alright. I find it amusing,” Castiel assured them both. After a beat, Boltar cleared his throat, shifting back into character. “I will keep my eyes on you, elf! If you misbehave then you will be sent to the stocks!”

“Understood,” Castiel said but he had his eyes on Dean, intense as always and Dean was tempted to falter under the hot look and just make out with Cas right there and then. But no. He was Spears, not Dean. “I have received your message that you have been poisoned. I was worried,” Cas said, somewhat stiffly. “I am glad that I find you here instead of in the necromancer’s den.”

“Dr. Badass has administered an antidote. I will recover in time,” Dean answered with a shrug.

“Still. When I learnt of your affliction I did my research,” Castiel said and reached into the bag at his hip. Dean saw it was empty but for one thing, Cas apparently having used up all his daily potions. He pulled out a plastic coin, which he presented to Dean.

“The Hollow Tree Token,” Boltar commented from the sidelines. Dean had forgotten that he was even there.

“The what?” Dean asked. Boltar rolled his eyes and opened his scroll, which contained a list of all items that could be bought or won on the quest. “It’s a reward that Moon Elves of the Cleric class can win. But it’s a pretty difficult quest, requiring at least a medium level.” Boltar eyed Cas. “Did you get it on the black market by a Shadow Orc dealer?” He rolled up his scroll and then pointed it at Cas’ face. “Suspicious!”

“No, I won it for De -  I mean Spears, the fair handmaiden of the Queen.”

“You can drop the fair,” Dean grumbled. “And you chill out, Boltar. You won the Hollow Tree Token for me?”

“Yes,” Cas insisted, holding it out to Dean again. “This is a healing charm. It will free you from your sickbed and make you immune to poison.” Dean eventually took the token.

“Thank you. Though now I find myself honor bound to offer you a favor in return,” Dean said and put the coin in his bag, to be later put on his stat list. Castiel’s mouth ticked up into a smile.

“Then I would like to require an audience with the Queen,” he said, then he tilted his head. “And your presence at the inn again tonight. If you are willing?”

“Fine, you have yourself a deal,” Dean said. “I will inform you of the Queen’s decision later tonight.” Castiel nodded, then he turned around without another word and left.

“What could he possibly want from the Queen?” Boltar mused, but then he sent Dean a very exaggerated wink, before he too left, probably to bother someone else.

Thinking about it, this was actually pretty sweet of Cas to go through all the trouble of earning this coin for him. He just hoped that Cas hadn’t used his real money to buy stuff on the black market.

Dean walked to Dr. Badass’ tent to convince the doctor of his miraculous cure and to get his stuff back. Ash eyed the token curiously, but in the end he shrugged and released Dean from his time out. Charlie was more excited when Dean showed her the token.

“That is so sweet! Do you think Arosa did the quest for you? Even though it’s so dangerous for inexperienced people?” Charlie said.

“Boltar thinks he got it off the black market,” Dean suggested when he and Charlie went through their inventories more thoroughly this time, to give their quest another go. “By the way, in exchange for the token, he asked for an audience with you.”

“Oh, did he now?” Charlie asked with a grin. “Maybe he wants permission to court you! How sweet! But it will be a blow to the many suitors you have!” Dean rolled his eyes. “We’ll squeeze him in tomorrow before we swear in the guard!”

“Sounds good to me. I’ll let him know,” Dean decided, then he checked his inventory again. “Ready?” Charlie grinned and lifted her sword.

“Ready!”


Dean made his way over to the inn later that day for his dinner date with Cas. Cas was there already, brooding in the corner of the room. Or not actually brooding. Cas looked cheerful, especially once he spotted Dean. He pulled his hood down and Dean was hit again by how cute the dude was, with his little ears and the little glued on pointy teeth, making them look almost as sharp as an alpha’s. It would be hot, if Cas wasn’t grinning so widely, showing them off.

“So, you earned your fangs, Rosa.”

“It’s Arosa,” Cas reminded him. “With an A.”

“Sure,” Dean drawled easily. “The Queen granted your request for an audience. Tomorrow, at 2.” Castiel’s smile widened and he seemed victorious.

“Thank you,” Cas answered. Dean nodded at him, then he motioned for him to get up. They went to the bar to order something to eat and then sat back down at their table with their plates loaded with burgers and fries.

“How did you manage to do a medium quest on your own? You haven’t levelled that much yet, have you?” Dean asked, dropping the acting for a moment because he was curious. “Did you get it off the black market?”

“No,” Cas answered and watched Dean steal a fry off his plate even though there were plenty of fries on Dean’s. “It turns out accountants make good strategists. With the proper status altering items and spells it was doable even with a low level. I used up almost all of my money and items though.”

“Hm. Impressive,” Dean said.

“Apparently,” Cas said though there was no hint of boasting in his tone. “I did get into trouble with my superiors for not presenting the charm to one of my own,” Castiel admitted and Dean looked up at him in surprise. “I was put into the stocks for half an hour, though it wasn’t too bad. I took the time to explain my strategy to winning the quest to some people, so that was nice. I feel I contributed something to the wellbeing of my tribe, despite my insubordination in the name of romance.”

“Aww, Cas. You’re such a rebel,” Dean said and ruffled Cas’ hair fondly. “And all that trouble for me.”

“Of course. I didn’t want you to get bored,” Cas said, smiling at him.

Once their plates were mostly empty, Cas spoke up again. “I will grab my phone at the vault and then head over to the computer tent later. I want to know how Jack’s doing. What about you? Do you have to go back soon?”

“Nah, I have time to come with you,” Dean said.

Dinner completed, they headed over to the time loop tent. They face timed Jack, who was excited to see them in costume and then started a lengthy explanation of what he and Maggie were doing for their group project in one of their classes. Dean opted out of the conversation after a while to hang out on the internet, catching up on news. A couple of minutes later he felt Cas’ hand gently on his shoulder before he sat down in the chair next to Dean, leaning in to look at the computer screen.

“And? Jack’s doing alright?”

“Yes, he’s alright. He’s going to Grandma Millie’s tomorrow together with Maggie for lunch.”

“Good boy,” Dean said approvingly and Cas agreed. He seemed somewhat sleepy, his head dropping to Dean’s shoulder. “Do you want to head back to camp?”

“Yes, I guess. I have to shower before bed,” Cas sighed, then he got up and stretched. “I do notice that I’m not as young as I used to be. My back hurts from lying on those cots.”

“Yeah, it’s LARPing, buddy, not glamping,” Dean said and logged himself out of the computer.

“I don’t know that that is,” Cas said, then he pulled his hood over his head once they left the tent.

“You’re so cute when you try to be mysterious,” Dean admitted. He reached out and took Cas’ hand in his, pulling him close.

“I’m trying to play a role,” Cas said, content to have Dean wrap his hands around his waist underneath his cloak. “And I bought this cloak for a reason.”

“It looks good on you, babe,” Dean admitted and leant down to kiss his forehead, then his cheek.

“And I do like your hair. Maybe you should let yours grow a bit,” Cas said, petting Dean’s wig. It was getting a bit tangled and Dean was always quick to remember why he didn’t like the damn thing all that much, even though it looked nice.

“That’s not gonna happen,” Dean said with a laugh, then he kissed Cas on his lips, gently nibbling on them.

“Get a tent!” someone shouted at them, followed by a whistle and laughter. Dean groaned but pulled away from Cas, who seemed disgruntled about the interruption.

“I suppose we should head back,” Dean suggested, “before we get an even bigger audience.”

“Fine,” Cas said with a heavy sigh. “See you tomorrow, Dean.” Cas gave him a chaste good-night kiss, then he was on his way back to the vault to lock up his phone.

Dean watched him leave, then he returned to his own tent he shared with Charlie. She was still out, so Dean got out of the clothing and the wig. He rubbed through his flattened hair, then he turned towards his bag with his clothes to put on his custom-made nightgown and nightcap, featuring the Moondoor logo. Maybe, if Cas would swear allegiance to the Queen, he’d get him one too.

Even though Dean had been remarkably nervous about letting Cas see this somewhat unusual hobby, he was really enjoying himself now. That Cas was trying to participate in the things that brought Dean joy was very sweet and he seemed to have a great time here too, independent of Dean. And just thinking of Cas, carefully making his character, with his adorable ears and dorky cloak, and apparent expert understanding of game strategy, filled Dean with a warm happiness and love.

“What’s with that sappy smile?” Charlie asked, breaking through Dean’s thoughts. “Did you make out with Cas?”

“What? No. And you’re one to speak. I saw you with that girl behind the showers,” Dean said, feeling slightly embarrassed. Charlie on the other hand had no shame. She grinned cheekily. “But I was thinking about how nice it is that Cas wants to share my hobbies with me.”

“Yeah, it is cute. He doesn’t really seem like the kind of guy who would enjoy this. But then again, most of us don’t.”

“Ash does,” Dean shot back and Charlie had to laugh. “But yeah… I didn’t really think Cas was the kind of dude who would be into this either. He’s… you know… a dad.” Charlie snorted. “I don’t mean this in a bad way! But Cas has been so busy just being a dad, that he hasn’t really allowed himself any hobbies. Now that Jack’s at college, Cas is still looking for who he is outside of fatherhood.”

“Like you. Who were you outside of Sandover?” Charlie challenged but Dean didn’t even have to say anything in his defense, so he shrugged his shoulders. “It’s good that you both are trying to figure this out. It’s healthy. And it’s fun.”

“Yeah,” Dean admitted, then he got into his cot, happy about the luxuries of being the Queen’s right hand (and the director of marketing and sales for Roadhouse). His bed was really comfortable. Poor Cas was probably sleeping on straw. “Cas is really cute too as his character. And he got those little fangs to glue on his teeth. You know the early level attack boost item? He seemed really proud of them.”

“Aw. You’re so smitten, it’s sweet!”

“Yeah, I am,” Dean admitted proudly.


The Queen holding audiences was always a fun event because while it was introduced as a prompt for people to do story progression for their characters, most players invented ridiculous things to bring in front of the Queen for fun. Like squabbling about imaginary chicken or advocating for the rights of some made up fantasy creature. And Charlie was excellent at playing along, quite a bit better than Dean who struggled not to break character when something particularly funny happened. The entertainment value of the whole affair was also why there was always a crowd. Even though there were so many people around, Cas was easy to spot in the group of people who were here requesting an audience. Charlie elbowed him in the ribs.

“I saw him,” he hissed at her. Charlie was sitting on a throne out in the open, wearing her dress and her crown.

“Who wants to speak to the Queen next?” she called into the crowd and Boltar was right there with his important looking scroll.

“The elf Arosa is requesting your audience,” he said. Cas got up from his bench and stepped forward. Dean could see that he was somewhat nervous, considering how he was fumbling with his cloak when he pulled it away from his face.

“What is it that you desire, Arosa?” Charlie called, sounding very regal and important.

“I want to pledge my fealty to the crown of Moondoor,” Cas said and as always, when he was acting, it came out a bit stiff. But most of the people here weren’t stellar actors, so he wasn’t really sticking out.

“Interesting! And do you aim to aid us, even if it our path turns us against your own tribe?” Charlie challenged, which Cas rewarded with a confused frown.

“I will be loyal to you, but I will not be sharing my tribes’ sacred secrets,” he eventually said.

“Well, well. I have a feeling that you are only doing this to win the affection of my handmaiden,” Charlie said, which was rewarded with some whistling from the crowd. “The crowd loves a good interspecies romance,” Charlie told Dean, loud enough for the front rows to hear it and laugh with her. “Well! I think I will have to keep a very keen eye on you, to figure out your loyalties!”

“Uhm…” Cas said when it was clear that his audience was over and Charlie had already spoke her verdict. “What does that mean?”

“It means that you can get the rogue status now. There’s more info in the pamphlet and you can get a patch that shows your status if you want,” Boltar explained. Cas shot Dean a look, but eventually he nodded and sat back down in the crowd, pulling his information pamphlet out and studying it. And the audience continued on.

After the audience the swearing in of the guard happened, which meant they were performing some show battles, led by Dean before Charlie formally accepted players into her guard. Once Dean was done going through the choreographed battles, he watched on some other play fights from the sidelines. This was when Cas chose to walk up to him.

“Impressive fight,” he said and Dean couldn’t quite keep back the out of character grin. “You looked very elegant.”

“Thank you,” Dean said. “And? Figured out if you want to be a rogue?”

“I suppose. It’s the only way to be close to you,” he said earnestly and Dean wasn’t sure if Cas was still playing. “It does seem somewhat uncomfortable though. I have to give up my resting place in the Arcane Woods but can also not sleep here. My only options are paying to sleep in the inn, or sleeping in the wild.”

“It’s still tents. You won’t have to sleep outside in this weather,” Dean explained. “But the wild gives you a couple of negative stats that you take into quests.”

“That sounds unpleasant.”

“Tough luck, buddy,” Dean said, but he did reach out to pat Cas on the shoulder.

“I suppose it is worth it,” Cas answered, again with that honest, adoring look that made Dean feel weak in the knees.

“Uh, well. Maybe,” Dean said, trying to get back into character. “Since you have been so honorable, I will put in a good word with the Queen.”

“Thank you, fair handmaiden.”

“Just say Spears, man,” Dean grumbled, then he gave Cas another pat on the shoulder before he went back to Charlie’s side.

“Alright. Thank you, Spears. See you at dinner?” Cas called after him.

“Sure,” Dean said with a laugh.


Tonight’s dinner was a fish pie, which Dean eyed somewhat warily even though he knew that he had nothing to fear from the cooking staff. Cas however made no complaints at all, happy for Dean to pay again.

“I do have some money to pay for a night at the inn, but I will have to find some means to make money tomorrow,” Castiel explained, digging into his food. “Mmm. Good.”

“You don’t seem particularly worried,” Dean said.

“It’s a game, Dean. So no, I’m not worried,” Cas said with a small laugh. Dean shrugged. He ate some spoons of his fish pie (which was good, but shouldn’t call itself a pie), then, as casually as he could, he decided to bring up what Charlie had told him earlier:

“The Queen has given her permission for you to court me, if I wish to be courted. And if you wish to court me,” he said. Castiel blinked up at him.

“Is there something particular that has to be done for a courting?”

“Not necessarily. You can give me tokens of your affections for example and there’s a pretty fun lover’s quest you can go on to win my affection. Though I’m not sure even you would be able to pull it off at your current level and with an empty inventory,” Dean told him. Cas’ nose scrunched up adorably at that.

“Can’t you go on a quest to win my affections? You are on a higher level than I am,” he argued. Dean laughed.

“Nope!” he decided. “And I won’t promise to accept your courtship either!” As expected, Cas pouted at that, though it was clear that he was only playing. His smile was back in place pretty quickly.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” he admitted. “Thank you for letting me play.”

“Uh, sure,” Dean said.

“And if you don’t want for our characters to be together, that’s no issue either. I won’t push for it. I want you to be comfortable and to continue to have fun too,” Cas told him.

“It’s fine, babe. I’ll give you a signal or something if you’re doing something I don’t like,” Dean assured him, gently rubbing Cas’ shoulder. “Alright?”

“Alright,” Cas answered with a smile. “But does that mean you don’t mind me courting you?”

“Well, you can try. But you’ll have to work hard for Spear’s affections,” Dean said with a wink.

“Oh, I don’t know about that. This is the third dinner that you’ve bought me after all,” Castiel answered cheekily, then he leant in to give Dean a quick kiss.

“Very daring of you,” Dean said but he was grinning too.


Getting ready for a day full of quests, Dean spent extra care packing his bag for the day. It was filled with potions and items, such as Arosa’s hard won token. There was another token he was turning around in his fingers now, while Charlie was still snoring on her cot. After a while he put it into his pocket not yet decided if he would come to use it or not, then he had kicked the leg of Charlie’s bed, waking the Queen.

“The Caves of Despair are waiting for us, your Majesty,” Dean announced with a big grin. Charlie squinted up at him, but then she groaned and turned around, showing Dean the middle finger. But she did reluctantly get up.

This was going to be their last day on the campaign and Dean planned to make the most of it. He knew Cas was going to do some souvenir shopping for Jack today, so even if he wasn’t going to level up so he could start the lover’s quest, he was probably entertained as well. Dean decided to just have as much fun as possible before he had to head home.

Somewhat around midday when he and some of the people who had joined him on the latest quest were sitting around to talk through their performance, Dean spotted one of them coming back from a toilet break with a piece of parchment.

“What do you have there?” Dean asked and the woman proudly held up a painting of a very familiar looking potato. Or guinea pig. Or whatever.

“A rogue elf is selling these on the market place. It’s really cute! And he seems to be quite popular!” she explained with a grin.

“Ah, Arosa? The one who wants to court Spears?” the guy to Dean’s right asked.

“Oh! That’s him? How cute!” the proud potato painting owner cooed. “You should go and buy a picture too!” Dean refrained from saying that he already had a collection of potato shaped artwork lying around his house. There was one stuck to the fridge, which was Cas’ attempt at a cat, though Dean was pretty sure that Cas was drawing badly on purpose by now so they had a reason to playfully argue about it.

“Hm, maybe I will,” Dean mused and got up from the bench. The market was busy today, with everyone getting last minute things done. But it wasn’t hard to find Cas, who had set up a small table where the players were invited to set up and offer their services.

“I see you are keeping busy,” Dean said once he approached the table. Cas looked up from what he was drawing at once, his face surprised.

“Spears,” he said, sounding partially delighted but also somewhat embarrassed. “Welcome to my business.” He made a sweeping gesture over his table, where a selection of drawings was displayed. They were all done on thick paper and Dean recognized the watercolor set he used as one of the cheap ones they had organized for the blacksmith tent (where people could go to fix their costume and props). Most images on display were potato shaped, though Cas had brought some variation into them.

When Dean didn’t comment, Cas added:

“I found life as a rogue somewhat challenging. It puts a stigma on you, which I do not appreciate. But like this I can make some money and raise my reputation.”

“And is it working?” Dean wondered.

“It is. People are enjoying my artwork,” Cas insisted. “I was able to raise the price already. And once my art rises further in value and is sought after in Moondoor, it will make a good present for a potential love interest.”

“I see,” Dean said and Cas smiled up at him, showing his little glued on fangs again. He was so cute! Dean had to pull himself together. “It seems you still have a long way to go though. I don’t even know what I’m looking at.”

“Insults will not get you one of my artworks, only coins,” Cas insisted coolly.

“You keep your potatoes, Rosa,” Dean said but it was said lovingly. “I have to get back to my duties, but I suspect I will see you at the inn?”

“Of course,” Cas told him warmly, then he waved his hands at Dean. “Now leave, you scare away my customers!” Dean laughed, but he did step away and left Cas to bring his potatoes to the masses.


Dean dropped by Cas’ stall a couple of times, just to see how he was doing. Since the lover’s quest was pretty long, it was clear to Dean that Cas wouldn’t be able to finish it during this campaign and he would also not be able to get into the Queens’ good graces yet.

“I think I have to continue this next time,” Castiel admitted to him, though he seemed a bit shy when he did. “If it’s okay that I’m coming back?”

“Of course you can attend again,” Dean answered promptly because he didn’t like the insecure look. “Babe,” he continued, dropping the role for a second. “I’m absolutely fine with this being our couple’s thing.” Cas’ face lit up right away.

“Really?”

“Of course. I’d also be fine doing it as a family thing if the kid ever wanted to join in. Though I guess he’d be more interested in a Star Wars themed event.”

“Yes, I suppose he would,” Castiel agreed with a soft smile. “Thank you, Dean.” The temptation to just go to him and kiss him was nearly overwhelming, but he managed to control himself. He would have to keep at least a little bit of his character’s integrity up. Dean showed Cas a thumbs up instead and then stepped to the side when potential customers were approaching, giggling with delight at Cas’ potato art. Cas sent him one more soft smile, before he turned towards the customers. Dean watched him for a moment, but then he touched his pant pocket. Maybe it was too early, but he had a token for Cas too, to show him his affection. Without pulling it out of his pocket he turned it around in his fingers, admittedly nervous. Later, maybe.


Even though the thought of the love token was constantly in the back of Dean’s mind now, he continued to have an absolute blast doing a couple more quest and just messing around with LARPing friends he hadn’t seen in months. The ringing of the bells that warned them that the closing ceremony was starting in an hour took him by surprise and he and Charlie scrambled back to her tent to get ready. The event still continued on after the official ceremony, as a regular renaissance fair that opened up to the public for the rest of the weekend. But quests would be closed until next time and Dean and Cas had decided to head on home after the ceremony.

After the closing ceremony and before his team would be getting into the mead, Cas found Dean hanging out by Charlie’s tent, sorting through his inventory.

“Handmaiden,” Cas called and Dean looked up.

“You should not be here, elf,” he chastised, but he wore a smile on his face.

“Did… did you not ask to meet me here?” Cas whispered, leaning in slightly, and Dean laughed. Castiel narrowed his eyes at Dean, but then he straightened back up. He reached into his coat and pulled out a parchment. It was one of his potato pictures, though Dean was pretty sure he was looking at a peach.

“For you, as a token of my affection,” Castiel said. “I’m still a lowly rogue elf, and this is not much, but I still want you to know you have my heart.” Dean took the picture, studying it and then Cas.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice coming out a bit strained due to his surprisingly strong emotions. He looked back down at the image, mostly to gather his nerves. “I… actually have a token for you too.”

“You do?” Cas asked, his voice sounding both surprised but also excited. Dean nodded and put the potato picture down on the decorative barrel next to him. Then he reached into his pocket.

“But it means different things inside the game and outside,” he warned Cas gently. “And I’m saying this as Dean, not as Spears.” He pulled out the token, holding it out to Cas. He watched Cas’ eyes widen, his surprise written all over his face when he looked up at Dean’s face. But Dean also very clearly saw excitement build up quickly in Cas’ expression, so he got down on his knee.

“I… actually I don’t have a speech prepared. I have been carrying this ring around for weeks, ever since it hit me in January that I wanted nothing more than ask you. And it just feels right to give you this now. You’re wonderful, Cas. You’re cute and gentle and you’ve been such a great support to me this last couple of months. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me and I love you more than I can say. And I want to ask you if you want to be mine. Marry me, mate me. I’ll proudly wear your ring and your bite.” Castiel’s bright smile almost made Dean want to cry, but he swallowed it down for now.

“Yes, of course, Dean,” Cas answered promptly and pulled Dean up to his feet so he could wrap him in a crushing hug. “That was very romantic.”

“Eh, I’m not so sure about that,” Dean said. Cas drew back, his eyes clearly shining, and kissed him.

“Yes, Dean. It was perfect,” he insisted and then he stepped away enough to hold out his hand to Dean. Dean grinned and slipped the ring on Cas’ finger, glad that it fit.

“Well, the potato art was also really romantic. I have a very talented fiancé.” Castiel rolled his eyes fondly, then he pulled Dean in for another, much longer kiss.

Charlie of course, hawk that she was, spotted the ring almost immediately when Dean brought Cas to the informal Moondoor crew closing party.

“He is a rogue elf-“ Boltar protested.

“He’s wearing a ring on his ring finger now, Gerry! That’s new!” Charlie shouted, then she turned back to Dean and Cas, hands clasped. “You guys!!!”

“Yeah, we got engaged. At a LARPing party. God, Cas, we’re such nerds,” Dean said, putting his palms over his face. Cas rubbed his back soothingly.

“If you had told me, we could have prepared something nice!” Charlie said and she almost spilled her cup of mead in her hurry to wrap both Cas and Dean in fierce hugs. “I’m so happy for you two! You’re my OTP!”

“What?” Cas asked.

“Better don’t ask,” Dean whispered, wrapping his arm around Cas’ waist. “Just let Cas sit with the gang and maybe treat us to a round of mead, and that’s all the celebration we need, Queen.”

“Of course! Mead for Arosa and Spears! Moondoor’s cutest couple!”

“We’re not yet a couple in Moondoor,” Dean reminded her, but Charlie was already pouring mead from the little cauldron into two mugs.

“Cheers!” Charlie announced and the entire group toasted Dean and Cas.

“Thank you,” Cas said, then he looked up to Dean. “Thank you, Dean.”

“Thank you,” Dean corrected, then he kissed him.

It was difficult to extricate themselves from the party, but Dean and Cas still had to drive home. Reluctantly, they said good-bye to Charlie and the others and  went to get their stuff from the vault.

“We should take a picture to commemorate the occasion,” Dean said, “before we get undressed. So we can show our future kids how embarrassing we were.”

“The word you’re looking for is romantic, Dean,” Cas insisted, but he did happily pose for a couple selfie, showing off his engagement ring.

“That’s going into the family chat later,” Dean decided, then they went to get undressed.

A long, wonderful couple of days was ending, but Dean was happy to leave the gates of Moondoor behind. Arosa and Spear’s story could wait. Much more interesting things lay ahead of Dean and Cas now.