“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.”
Federico García Lorca
There was a time before angels, before humans, monsters, and demons. It was a time before beauty, before nature, before the first human, and the gods. It was not long after Oblivion settled and not long before Amara turned sour. It was a time when the brightest light beneath The Light was The Star and the youngest thing in Creation was The Voice.
It was a time before they knew names, a time before true language, a time of openness and connectivity.
It was a time without time, and it was raw and beautiful, but there was one thing The Voice always saw above The Light, always favored a sibling above the rest. In a time before they comprehended favoritism The Voice found her favorite, and she grew to care.
Her favorite was above The Soldier, above The Breath, -in her mind-, and whenever he came near her Spirit lit with joy. The Voice adored The Star and it should have scared her, but it didn't, instead she embraced it. During the timeless time she would cling to her elder brother, she would follow him across the stars of creation when The Light assigned The Star tasks and during those times they would play, their Spirits converging and disconnecting.
It had been bliss.
Until The Dark refused to allow The Light further creation. The Voice had hidden behind The Star when the fighting began, and when she would reflect on it later she would realize it had always been there. Things had drastically changed with the dawning of Earth. When The Light wanted to make more than The First Beings.
It was the first time in her existence that The Light had ordered The Voice to communicate with The Dark's own creations, the beings He had given the first true names, Selaphiel, Jegudiel, Barachiel, and Phanox. Beings that would later be known to a very small portion of Heaven as Archangels, the Archangels of The Dark.
The Voice had felt the first fear on that day, when she had arrived before her counter, Barachiel, she had felt true fear. Never once in her existence had she considered The Dark as more than another being. That had changed when she saw the other creature, the black wings and the malevolence his Spirit radiated when she arrived.
That was The Fourth Day. The day that The Light declared war on The Dark. The day The Voice learned why her sister was The Soldier, the day she learned she was not a fan of war.
The Voice was named at the Dawn of Humanity, however she was the last named of her siblings. The Voice received her name after Michelle and Lucifer, even after Raphiel who she was far from fond of. The Voice remained The Voice until the end of The Fifth Day, until the Dawn of the Sixth when God came before her and named her Gabriella, Archangel of God and Messenger of The Lord.
Gabriella was never fond of her name, but took it with gratitude before fleeing to her brother.
"Did She name you, Voice?" Lucifer asked her when she landed on the farthest planet from the Earth. Gabriella leaned into her brother's wings when the bright limbs engulfed her smaller form.
"Yes." Her answer was small, her voice careful and collected as she restricted her vocalizations that were meant to carry The Light's words.
"Can I hear?" Her brother asked and she nodded, bowing her head under the intense stare of her elder sibling, of The Star.
"Gabriella." She said softly, "Archangel of God, Messenger of The Lord."
Lucifer was quiet next to her and Gabriella felt her Spirit prodding at his, a question flying across the contact that made her breath stop for a moment.
"Why would Mother keep you as Her voice when The Dark is gone?" Lucifer never spoke the question, it singing across their Spirits like a song.
"We are not meant to question Her, Brother." Even if it was a question that had grazed her consciousness after being named.
"I am going to speak to Her." Lucifer answered as he rose from his place beside her, unfurling his glorious white wings behind him. Wings that had been the brightest and purest in Heaven, until The Mark had been placed on him, until he had been assigned to handle the single most dangerous object in existence, Gabriella hated it. Hated seeing The Star marred by The Dark's being, an eternal reminder of the task God assigned him.
Gabriella rose from where she was seated but it was too late.
Gabriella stared after Lucifer, The Mark glowing a dim orange light against the base of his wings.
It is not supposed to glow. Her mind whispered unhelpfully.
Later she would reminisce on this moment, on watching her brother fly away to confront God, and she would recognize it as the moment she saw a different side of Lucifer, the moment that The Star stopped being The Star and he started being Lucifer.
In that moment however, she simply watched, fascinated by the strong wingbeats and the way his wings glowed.
It was that moment that she was completely blinded by her adoration for her brother, and perhaps the moment she fell for him.
Gabriella wasn't present for the Cath incident. Gabriella didn't hear about the Cath incident for a long time. What she was involved in was the Ada and Steve incident. When that happened she was in Heaven's Throne Room, teaching the newest angel to walk. It had broken her heart just a fraction when her Mother's voice rumbled through her, when she had been forced to leave Castiel to join Michelle and Lucifer outside of Eden.
"Lucifer." Her voice was high and the quarreling siblings stopped in the midst of their fight, wings bowing as they knelt before her, though Lucifer wasn't looking at the ground, his gaze was riveted on Gabriella. If it wasn't for her being used by their Mother she never would have been able to open her mouth again, the stare so intense it hurt.
"Mother." Michelle said softly.
"I am tired of your defiance. Your treason against Heaven and My Word. I warned you to leave humanity to itself and you betrayed that."
"I did nothing."
"I am not going to listen to your deception, Lucifer."
"I never deceived anyone, Mother." Lucifer bit back and Gabriella felt God's anger burning against her Spirit.
"You know exactly what you did, Lucifer. As of this moment you are banished from Heaven. Any angel that is to come into contact, or attempt to assist you will become Fallen. I will give you a realm, a realm where the consequences of your actions against humanity will inevitably go to. I am done with you, Lucifer, just as you are done with Heaven." Gabriella collapsed to her knees as her Mother left, as God left.
Then she stared as horror crossed Lucifer's expression, as a desperate cry tore from him, "Mother, please!" Lucifer's voice rang across them all, all of The First Four and Michelle fled the scene, gripping a protesting Gabriella by her wings and pulling her along. "Gabriella!" Lucifer cried desperately and Gabriella lay lax in her eldest sister's grip, trying to comprehend what had just happened.
It wasn't until later that Raphiel explained the fall of humanity.
It took her an Earth week to accept that Lucifer would never return to Heaven.
It took her less than two Earth hours to sneak out of Heaven.
The realm that their Mother had given to Lucifer was hot and dark, something that almost completely countered Lucifer's bright and chilled form.
A form she found sitting on a crimson throne. A form that scared her because where Lucifer had once had the brightest wings in existence, been the purest form in Creation, was a dimmer darkness. A darkness that Gabriella knew was being caused by The Dark, except it was wrong and a cry escaped her when she realized why.
It was gone. Lucifer's attention shot to her and her brother crossed the space in a flash.
"Luce, what did you do?" Gabriella asked, backing away a fraction from her brother.
"I gave it to a human. It was a burden, Sister." A whine slipped past her lips and she shook her head, staring at the dark look in her brother's eyes.
"God ordered you-"
"God abandoned me." Lucifer bit back and Gabriella flinched away from the hurt tone in Lucifer's words.
"She did what She believed was justified. You corrupted Ada and Steve."
"I did nothing, Voice." Lucifer bit back harshly. "What did they tell you? Did they tell you I deceived the humans? That I corrupted them? I did nothing. Nothing that Mother never would have planned for. You are a lot of things, Gabriella but you are far from ignorant. If Mother wished for the apes to remain ignorant they would still be ignorant. All I did was follow Her will."
"Did She tell you to corrupt them?" Gabriella asked, focusing on the brimstone floor rather than her brother, Gabriella didn't know if she could look at him.
"Not in words." Lucifer answered, a hand coming to rest against her shoulder made a shiver ripple across her, her wings curling into her back. "Gabriella, Voice, please stay with me. You know me, you know I would never harm anyone that did not deserve it."
Which was true, when they had fought The Dark's angels The Star had asked for peace between them, not in the same way The Voice had begged for it, but he had still asked.
It was more than The Breath and The Soldier had done.
Even then, Lucifer was right, she was far from ignorant. Even in her moments of doubt, she knew Lucifer had acted out of line, and she loathed it. Loathed that she was unable to be angry at her brother for his actions. Something had to be wrong with her, no angel should have been able to forgive Lucifer. God's orders were clear.
"I cannot stay." That was the closest to the truth she could give, if she stayed then God would cast her out, if she remained with her brother it would break her apart. She knew it would happen. It was dangerous to be there. The fact that she had actually come was a dangerous action, but staying, it was a flight risk. It was a mistake.
"Please, Gabriella." Lucifer flipped in an instant, wings wrapping around her smaller form and Gabriella cried out in panic as something unfamiliar rushed through her at the contact.
"No." She said sharply, falling back onto brimstone and staring at her brother in horror as she tried to comprehend what had just happened.
She shook her head rapidly as she scrambled to her feet, taking flight and cutting through the realms to Earth with panic burning through her. Inside her Spirit was tugging at her, begging her to return to Lucifer.
But she couldn't. When she stared at her reflection in the ocean at herself she saw something she knew was wrong, a tinting of pink at the tips of her wings.
What was that?
Why did it feel so wrong, and in the same instant, why did it feel so right?
It was Raphiel that taught Gabriella about sex.
Gabriella had always been curious about humanity though she tended to hide from them. It was a safety measure, a fear she would agree with Lucifer's views on humanity. But one day about five hundred years following the banishment of Lucifer, Raphiel took her to Earth and ordered her to take a Vessel from one of the stronger bloodlines.
The experience was strange. In her angelic form most of the aspects of her being were the same, two legs, two arms, a head, but other aspects were different. Only having two eyes was discerning, but the lack of wings was completely disorienting. Though her angelic form was under the skin and she knew she could project her wings through her Vessel Raphiel made it clear that she was not allowed to do that.
The strangest part of the experience was that her Vessel was a man. Angels weren't sexless, nor were they all female as the humans had made a common misconception, they had sexes and the object between her legs was far from something she was accustomed to. Gabriella was almost certain that Raphiel chose the Vessel to disorient her in that aspect.
"What are we doing?" Gabriella asked her brother quietly when they arrived outside a building.
"I am educating you in humanity, Gabbie." Raphiel answered vaguely and she frowned at the answer. It wasn't often Raphiel answered questions like that and for a moment she was concerned. Until she remembered this was Raphiel, the one who guided humanity.
She had to trust her sister, even if she was trapped in a male body and uncertain how she felt about it.
"Educating me in what?" Gabriella asked uncertainly as another set of wings fluttered next to her and she froze.
"A brothel, Raphiel? That's your plan?" Gabriella stumbled into her sister and stared at Lucifer who was confidently wearing a man who looked much like her own Vessel. They were probably related.
"You are on Earth, sisters, and more importantly about to enter a brothel. I would never pass the chance of witnessing this."
"We are not witnessing anything." Raphiel bit back and Lucifer scoffed.
"Oh, yes. We are simply taking our baby sister to a den of iniquity."
Gabriella finally pieced together what they were discussing and despite herself she felt her entire Vessel turning red from what she knew was embarrassment.
"Raphiel." Lucifer interrupted and he gave her sister a hard look.
"Behave as you would have before, brother. We are not meant to be interacting with you." Raphiel finally surrendered and Lucifer outright grinned.
"I have never betrayed my sisters, Raphiel. I love you each almost as much as I love Mother."
Then Gabriella was pulled through the front and whisked away to a backroom. It was hard to believe this was happening, that Raphiel had brought her to Earth and that the elder Archangels were communicating so easily. It brought her mind back to a time not so long ago when they were all close, a time when they were truly happy.
"How did you know we were here?" Gabriella asked suddenly as she was sat down on a bed, Raphiel disappearing through a curtain while Lucifer took a seat, propping his legs up on the table.
"My demons monitor these places for angels. Without The Host I am alone, sister, so I do what I must."
"You make them Fall."
"No." Lucifer responded, meeting her gaze. "They all come willingly. That is the beauty of free will, God's gift to mankind, they can choose."
"Her gift to humanity, not to us."
"Yet we all can exhibit it. Azazel, Ramiel, Dagon, and Asmodeus came willingly. They are the first of many, I am sure. They chose me over Her because I was right, humanity is tainted and corrupt. It is an abomination and I know you see it."
"They are imperfect, it is what makes them good, Lucifer."
"We could discuss this all day and get nowhere. Besides, your prize is here."
Before Gabriella could open her mouth Lucifer disappeared in a flutter of wings. Moments later Raphiel entered the room with a sparsely dressed woman in tow.
"My brother possesses no experience with women and I wish for you to change that." Raphiel spoke easily in the girl's native tongue.
"Of course." The woman said softly. "You may leave, I promise to take care of your brother."
The woman did as promised, Gabriella had never felt so alive, nerve endings she didn't know existed lighting up under the careful ministrations of the experienced woman. Gabriella fell apart and was pieced back together over and over again and it was amazing.
Then she had changed to a female Vessel and the experience had been different, natural to her own celestial body. The experience had been glorious.
Terrifying, because with the arousal the man that took her in her female body coerced from her human body came a flare of desire energy that lit up her angelic portion, a feeling she recognized far too late matched the feelings her brother's wings touching hers had caused.
It was on that day she discovered a dark secret about herself that she barely understood, it was on that day when the prostitute took her like his life depended on it that Gabriella realized that she was lusting after her brother.
It was also the day she began denying herself sexual attraction, a day too late.
Gabriella hated Heaven sometimes, not because it was Heaven, but because she had confined herself to it. In the past few Earth years Michelle had grown to hate her and even Raphiel kept her distance as of late. The fledglings were fun to play with, sometimes, it just wasn't the same as playing with the Archangels. The younger angels were weaker and her Spirit liked overwhelming the fledglings with attention.
Something that infuriated Michelle beyond all belief.
"Gabriella." She dropped the fledgling Castiel who she had been playing with and spun around to meet her eldest sister's hard gaze.
"We were playing."
Michelle shoved past her and lifted the dazed fledgling from the ground. "You need to control that Spirit."
Gabriella flinched away, her Spirit burning with hostility towards Michelle.
"I do not control it."
"You need to. The fledglings are overwhelmed! Can you not see what you are doing to them?" Gabriella clenched her teeth together and shook her head, spreading her wings out.
"Can you not see what you are doing to me? You and Raphie both!"
Michelle sent away the fledgling and stepped back. "You chose to isolate yourself to Heaven. You made that choice. You do not have to be here."
"Except I do. If I go to Earth then he will find me again and…Michelle, I need you and Raphiel. I need my sisters." I am afraid of how I feel about Lucifer now and afraid to return to Earth because of this fact. I know what I feel is wrong and am afraid for all of you to learn the truth. Especially him. With all of her strength she made herself barricade her thoughts from her eldest sibling who narrowed her eyes.
"You are insufferable." Michelle responded bitterly. "Go find Raphiel. She will make time for you."
Gabriella bowed her wings, her eyes burning at the lack of care in her eldest sister's tone.
"And return that Vessel to Earth. It looks ridiculous on you." Then Michelle disappeared and she looked down at her human body, having forgotten she was still wearing the thing. With a thought she returned the body to Earth and took flight through Heaven, trailing after her connection to Raphiel's Spirit until she arrived in The Garden.
"Gabriella." Joshea greeted, bowing formally and Gabriella rolled her eyes at the formality.
"Where's Raphiel?" Gabriella asked and Joshea frowned.
"Praying. I heard you were training the fledglings today."
"Michelle said I was being rough with them." Gabriella responded curtly.
"With all due respect, you can be rough with us, ma'am."
Gabriella decided to disregard that comment, strolling past Joshea and making her way to The Tree. "Raphiel!" She called out across The Garden, mostly to pester her elder sibling as she found her moments later next to The Tree with her wings wrapped around her body.
"What do you want, Gabriella?"
"To spend time with you." Gabriella answered, sitting in front of her sister and crossing her legs. "Why are you praying?"
"Mother is on Earth." Raphiel answered, moving her wings to her back carefully. "I have heard rumors she is going to take a longer trip to Earth."
"Rumors? Do you mean that Michelle told you something she was not supposed to?"
"Michelle never does such a thing. The rumor is being spread by several of the Fallen to the younglings. They are concerned."
"Considering Mom is rarely around anymore it is nothing more than an attempt to cause fear among us."
"What if it is true, Gabriella? What if Mother leaves?"
Gabriella reached across the space and took Raphiel's hands in her own. "She will not leave us."
Raphiel stared at their connected hands. "Ever since Lucifer defied Her Mother has been so angry. I worry She will leave and stay gone."
Gabriella's wings twitched behind her. "Mother has no reason to leave."
"She has every reason. Do you remember how angry She was after I took you to the brothel?" Gabriella flinched slightly, burying her emotions carefully as her Spirit curled in on itself.
"You spent time among humanity. Parents become angry with their children."
"We broke a rule. We did what Lucifer did."
Gabriella tightened her grip on her sister's hand. "We did no such thing. Raphie, if we had then we would be where he is now."
"We broke a rule."
"It was a small rule. She told us to love humanity, and the best way to do that is to experience what they experience."
"Gabriella, I am afraid to lose Mother. I cannot break rules anymore."
"You are afraid to lose someone who is rarely here. I am not saying for you to go out and kill hundreds of humans, I am asking you not to become afraid of the rules."
"It scares me, Gabriella. When Michelle heard Mother's anger she told me I was short-sighted. That introducing you to that was as good as me handing you to Lucifer."
Gabriella's breath caught and she looked down, staring at her legs and making herself stayed in control of herself. It was no secret that she favored Lucifer, there had been an openness among the Archangels in the past that allowed that.
"If I intended to follow him I would have done it by now. I am sorry if you doubt me but I swear on Mother that I will not follow Lucifer." Raphiel tugged on her hands until Gabriella crossed the remaining distance, crawling into her sister's lap and resting her head against her chest.
"I miss you, Gabriella. I hope you know that. You just are a handful."
"I try not to annoy you."
"You do a poor job." Raphiel responded with a light laugh, stroking her fingers through her feathers carefully and settling the wings.
"I did try to help with the fledglings."
"I heard." Raphiel responded dryly and Gabriella flinched. "I know you are trying. Neither me nor Michelle could ever keep up with your insanity."
"Just Lucifer." Gabriella sighed, shivering slightly as Raphiel's fingers brushed a scar from their battle against The Dark.
"I wish things had gone differently with him."
"I miss him." Gabriella admitted, Raphiel's breath came down in her hair.
"I know you do. I miss him as well. If he would redeem himself I would gladly welcome him into Heaven again."
"So would I." Gabriella whispered, wings twitching away from Raphiel's fingertips. I can never see him again. Not knowing what I know now.
"I am sorry, Gabriella. I know how much you love him." The moment their Spirits touched Gabriella knew that Raphiel knew the truth, and it should have scared her, but it didn't. Instead she leaned into the hold of her elder sibling and basked in the warmth from her body while their Spirits curled around each other comfortably in a way they hadn't in years.
The panic in Heaven in the days leading to the birth of Christ was raw. Everyone was afraid because none of them understood what was going to happen. Those days wouldn't be the ones Gabriella would remember in the end. The ones she would eventually remember came following the crucifixion. When the final war in Heaven began.
When Gabriella left.
'Gabriella, meet me in The Garden now.' Gabriella spread her wings and took flight through Heaven, arriving before Michelle and kneeling formally when she saw the other gathered angels. Lieutenants.
This was not good.
"You are to organize the garrisons, Gabriella."
She bristled, her Spirit rising up and spreading through her in an instant. "You do not order me, Michelle."
"I am acting under Mother's commands. Her final commands."
Gabriella glanced over to see Raphiel bowing her wings and head behind Michelle.
"What are you talking about, Michelle? I speak on Her behalf, not you."
"Mother was concerned about your reactions to these orders seeing as your loyalties are far from stable." Gabriella bared her teeth slightly, unsure why she was doing it but not feeling the need to do something.
"What did Mother say?"
"She is leaving. I am to place Lucifer in a Cage until the day that his and my True Vessels are born."
"You cannot do that to him." Gabriella breathed, fear coiling through her Spirit as the words clicked together in her mind. No.
"It was Mother's orders, Gabriella."
"That is shit and you know it!" Michelle flared her wings in warning. "I love you Michelle but you have crossed a line and I will not watch you take our brother to war!"
"You will do as told, and you will watch the language."
"I will not." Raphiel shot her a silent plea that she tossed away as she spread her own wings wide.
"Would you join Lucifer?"
"No." Gabriella answered. "I would never dare to do that. However, I will never stand with you. Not here, not now. If you choose to do this I will not stand with Heaven."
"I am choosing nothing." Michelle retorted stubbornly and Gabriella laughed sharply.
"It is your choice to follow God's Will. When was the last time Mother ordered anything worthwhile? When was the last time that Her Spirit touched you and you felt warmth? No. You are choosing to do this to Lucifer and you know it is wrong."
"Go, Gabriella. If you are going to be defiant then you need to go."
Gabriella caught her breath at the cold tone in her eldest sister's voice. Was Michelle…
Was she being forced to leave Heaven? By her sister?
"Go." Gabriella stared at her sister before adjusting her wings for flight.
"Raphiel, I beg you."
"Michelle is right." Raphiel said softly, something broken in her tone.
'I love you, Raphie.' She said across their connection before taking flight, fleeing Heaven and trying to comprehend what had happened, what had changed, why she was on Earth. It was wrong. Everything was wrong and she still barely understood why they were there, what had happened. It had been cooling down after everything, or so she thought, but Michelle's words told a different story. What had she missed?
How had it come to this?
She had to warn Lucifer. She couldn't not tell him. He had to know, then she would have to disappear, because if she didn't then Michelle would come after her and only her Mother knew what would happen.
The hardest thing she ever did was refuse to join Lucifer's side when she warned him, then she fled North, seeking out the Pagans and a potential new future, an idea given to her by her brother.
No, what she felt for him was something else entirely different. Something she never wanted to put into words.
Something she couldn't risk putting to words.