“Wherefore beware who so euyr bere lyons or a lyon in armys, that he do not ayen the nature and kynde of a lyon.”
And therefore let him who bears lions or a lion on his coat of arms beware: let him do nothing contrary to the nature and kind of a lion.
John de Bado Aureo, in Tractatus de armis (A tract on arms/heraldry), written for Richard II’s queen Anne of Bohemia (Bodleian manuscript Laud misc. 733, folios 5v-6r). In reference to the noble, king-like qualities supposedly possessed by a lion, and therefore by any knight or house or lord who had a lion as their emblem. This idealised lion, of course, was purely a creature of heraldry – of symbols and legends – with little or no reference to the way a real lion lives his life.
Pairings: Sex scenes are Dean/Gabriel and Castiel/Dean. Other established relationships exist - most importantly, as Gabriel is the alpha of the flock, he and his two betas are in an established sexual relationship with everyone else in the flock (including each other), excepting the underaged characters.
Genre and tropes: Slash. Alpha/beta/flock fic. AU: all angels. Knotting, biting, heat, first time.
Word count: 30k.
Summary: Even at fifteen, slim-winged and slim-bodied and with bruises on his face and body that Gabriel didn’t have to ask about, Dean hadn’t been the kind of person you could laugh off when he made you a demand like that. Gabriel had given his promise, to this bedraggled bull-headed kid who’d walked into his land and told him what to do; had given it even though he’d known better than Dean what it meant. Come back with us. Challenge another alpha, one who’d made violence and power a way of life. Kill the angel who'd killed John Winchester. Step up to the plate in another broken flock, this one almost entirely made up of strangers who had no reason to trust Gabriel or to tolerate his mistakes (strangers to whom an alpha was a dangerous thing), and try to pull them together again. And never, never screw up. Never let down a single person.
Warnings: Wow. This list looks heavy. See the notes below for a bit of context on how these things are handled and how they fit into the tone of the story. I promise it’s not actually as angsty as this makes it sound. Meanwhile, hover over underlined text for (spoilery) specifics about character and circumstance, if that’s likely to be a dealbreaker for any of these warnings.
The could-be-a-trigger warnings: Reference to past consensual sex between under-aged participants (both fifteen), and to past non-con and attempted non-con between under-aged participants (15) and an adult in a position of power. Sex used as a means of social dominance – negatively in the past, positively in the present, although there is a sense that it always has the potential for accidental or intentional abuse. Sex as a biological imperative (heat, in which the body demands sex with the flock alpha and/or betas).
The maybe-not-your-cup-of-tea warnings: Fraternal incest in a socially permitted context (between the alpha and his betas as a means of sealing social bonds). Alpha/beta/flock dynamics, including knotting, self-lubrication (in all sexually mature male characters), heat, biting and marking (sometimes breaking the skin, so slight bloodplay), sub/dom moments in sex scenes, and other negotiation of power dynamics (though with significant attempts from the leader of the flock to set up a system that eases the biological power imbalance). Virginity (more or less). Scenes of caring for infants, and one scene including some of the less dignified aspects of aged care.
Notes: ... So. This world got away from me and grew Issues. The fic explores some of the problems of power dynamics implicit in the alpha/beta/flock social model, especially where sex can be used as a tool for emotional and social control. The characters are, therefore, working to find a balance between biology and culture, the innate and the learned, the body and the mind. Because I like my characters and I didn’t want to go that dark, all actual abuses of that power are firmly in the past, and the character who perpetuated them is dead. However, the central characters of this fic, and the community in which they live, are still working their way through the after-effects of this. The overall tone is a combination of porn-with-plot and fluff with bonus angst and protective-boys – no one is as badly broken as they are in canon or suffers from PTSD – but there are definitely references to past events that could be triggery for some people, and some of the characters’ ways of dealing with their history may also be difficult to deal with for anyone recovering from childhood or sexual abuse. (Sam, Castiel, and Dean were all minors at the time, and the effects of it on them were mostly to emphasise or develop character traits that we see in them in canon – Sam’s difficulties with trusting anyone outside his immediate family despite having charming and easy manners, for example, and Dean’s over-protectiveness when it comes to people who are ‘his’.)
Originally written for the Team Free Love Secret Lover exchange, for sharys-aogail.