And if we feel the silence
Holding this all inside us
Everything means more now than
Words could explain
He can feel them coming. His siblings. His family. He knows what Lucifer expects of him, what the Plan says he should do. He won't do it. He can’t. He was Her healer. He can’t fight. Can’t kill. Not ever. And especially, not them. He drops his blade. Dark armor follows, piling at the feet of this body that has already been broken and re-formed to Lucifer’s will. He may be Falling, may have already Fallen, but he isn’t going to fight in this war.
By the time they arrive, he ’s wearing only his robes, black wings limp behind him. He spreads his arms, and welcomes his own destruction.
When it’s over, they throw his body from Heaven, expecting the boiling sulfur below to destroy what is left. He closes his eyes and lets his soul fade into oblivion.
I STILL HAVE PLANS FOR YOU RAPHAEL
His body slams into Hell, sinking, burning, down and down into the roiling pit. Fire consuming blood and bone and flesh. Soon nothing will be left.
LIVE, MY FALLEN SON
He opens his eyes, body taking a deep gasping breath. Sulfur floods in, burning, cauterizing, changing him again. It hurts. It burns, and he screams and screams again.
The first thing he notices is the silence. An empty, ringing nothingness where once there had been six bright voices. He strains his ears for the happy chatter of Gabriel’s thoughts. The steady calm of Michael’s words. The bright sunny glow of Uriel’s dreams. Even the angry mutterings from Sandalphon. Nothing. Just silence, his own thoughts echoing in the emptiness. He reaches for the place in him that ties his siblings together, and brushes the raw bleeding wound that remains. He screams, and unconsciously tries to project his anguish through the bond. His mental cries increase the pain in a feedback loop that nearly drives him insane. There’s physical pain too, half-healed wounds that tear open anew at his thrashing. He remembers the feeling of blades sinking into flesh, of the ones he called family casting him out, of burning and dying so desperately alone. It’s all around him, within and without. He cannot tell where pain ends and he begins. He is pain, screaming, alone into the aching Silence. It could be minutes, hours, or even years that he lies there in the dirt, stuck in an endless cycle of anguish.
“Oh dear. You’re not supposed to be here.” A voice. A voice outside his own head. He keeps his eyes firmly shut, fighting the disorientation. He Fell. They cast him out. His siblings cast him out, throwing him down into the pit with the rest of the rebellious Fallen. He isn’t in the pit now. Somehow, he climbed out. He doesn’t remember that. His new body is burned in places, especially the underside where he crawled across the burning sands of Hell. It hurts, but the pain is secondary to the raw wounds in his mind.
Cool hands pick him up and he squirms, afraid. Where they touch, the hurt fades. He shakes from the shock of it, the sudden absence another kind of pain.
“Poor thing. It’s alright now. You’re safe.” The voice is soft, kind. It’s warmth flows over him, soothing the ragged edges of his shredded bond.
He opens his eyes. His physical form has become small, scaled, long and limbless. A snake, he realizes. Fitting, he supposes. Snakes had always been his symbol. A forked tongue darts out from his mouth, tasting the air. The sweet greenness of Eden surrounds him, with something else, something that tastes like electricity. Like lightning. An angel. He’s being held by an angel. An angel, who is running those cool, gentle hands along his scales, easing the burns with a touch. He moves his head, and through the dizziness he sees a face. He squints, looking at the angel’s Grace through watering eyes. It’s hard. His eyes don’t want to focus. But soon they clear, and the true nature of the angel becomes visible, infinitely familiar and as dear to him as his former siblings. He hisses and recoils in shock. Of all the angels that could have found him like this, it had to be that one.
“What’s the most important part of being a principality?” Raphael asks, leaning forward and catching the attention of the young angel.
Aziraphale frowns at him, not, seemingly, intimidated by the sudden intensity of an archangel ’s focus. “I don’t know! That’s why I’m asking!”
Raphael shakes his head and grins. The Principality Aziraphale has been asking that question of every higher-ranking angel he met since he’d been given his title. The archangel has been watching him for hours now, consumed by curiosity. It’s a flaw, he knows. He’s not meant to be curious. Be he wants to know so much, about everything. And right now, the thing he wants most to know is the answer that will satisfy the new principality.
“Didn’t your teachers tell you?” he asks. He lets his gaze drift over Aziraphale’s Grace, seeing him as he is and not just as he appears. The angel shifts uncomfortably under his gaze but doesn’t back down.
“They told me we’re meant to guide Her creations. That we must keep them on track for the Great Plan.”
Raphael makes a face. The Great Plan. Lucifer has shared what he knows of the Great Plan with Raphael, despite Her orders not to. The archangel still doesn't know how he feels about it.
“They’re wrong,” he says.
Any other angel would have gasped and looked shocked before politely pretending he hadn't said anything. Aziraphale just nods and smiles. “What is it then? The most important part of being a principality?”
Raphael leans in, like he ’s telling a secret. “You care,” he tells him. “You care about the people you’re sent to guide. That’s the most important part of being a principality.”
Aziraphale considers his words for a moment. Raphael watches, prepared to see his answer discarded like all the others the principality has gotten so far. Instead, Aziraphale smiles, frustration clearing from his face. “Yes,” he says, relieved. “Yes, I think you’re quite right. I won’t get anywhere with them, if I don’t care about them. Thank you, this makes me feel a great deal better.”
Raphael can ’t help but match that smile. “Happy to help. That’s my job, after all. You lot get to do the guiding of Her creatures. We do the guiding for you.”
“And the caring?” the younger angel asks. Raphael laughs - a bright, clear sound of joy that rings across Heaven. Though neither of them know it, it is the very first time an angel has laughed in all of Creation.
“And the caring,” he agrees, and laughs again. Unnoticed by either angel, a very specific form of caring has taken root in Raphael’s heart, so swiftly and so deep that even his Fall will not destroy it.
“Oh, oh dear, I’m sorry, did that hurt you?” Aziraphale asks, hands stilling and then resuming the gentle caress of his scales, the touch as light as a feather. “Hang on, just a little more and you’ll be done.” Where he touches the newly made demon, the angel leaves a trace of healing magic, soothing the burns of hellfire and the singed and blackened wounds from his sibling’s swords. Aziraphale talks as he works, soft, calming words that wash against the echoing silence and drive it back, holding it at a distance where the demon can feel its presence but not the ragged pain of it. The relief is so complete that he almost doesn’t realize when Aziraphale finishes healing his body.
“There,” the angel says, setting him down carefully on a sun-warmed rock. He aches again at the sudden loss of touch, of connection. “That’s better, isn’t it?”
Anger boils up in him, far too quickly. The new, aching, bitter part of him rages against the careless way Aziraphale just picked up and healed a demon. Doesn’t the angel have a shred of self-preservation? “You sssssssshouldn’t have,” he snaps, hissing around the words. He can’t do things like that. What if it had been a different demon? “Don’t you know what I am?”
“You’re a demon,” Aziraphale replies calmly. “That’s not a reason to not help you, though.”
He laughs. It’s harsh, angry. So far from the bright sound he used to make, like shattered glass in his throat. “Angel,” he says, “that’ssss the only reason.”
“I’m a principality,” Aziraphale tells him. “I’m supposed to care about everything. I don’t see why that doesn’t include demons.”
Oh Aziraphale, he thinks. You haven’t changed a bit. The rush of fondness is too much, on top of everything else. He can’t do this. Can’t sit here, and talk to Aziraphale like he’s just some demon that crawled into the garden. Can’t let the angel care about him, when everything they’ve ever been taught has said he shouldn’t.
“Don’t,” he snaps, uncoiling. “Don’t- hsssssss- don’t care about me.” He slithers off the rock and into the greenery of the Garden.
“Wait,” the angel calls after him. “What’s your name?”
He doesn’t answer.
He doesn’t know how to answer.
Raphael died at the end of the war, killed by the four remaining archangels. The demon that survives has no name. She didn’t take it back. Oh, no, She isn’t kind enough for that. The old name hangs, heavy, on his heart. It will get him killed, should the demons know it. And if an angel sees it… he knows all too well the pain his Fall caused his siblings. Better they think him dead. Better Aziraphale never knows what truly happened to the archangel that taught him to care for the earth. He thinks about it, as he slithers farther from the angel. The problem takes his mind from the ache, the burn of the silence that screams within him where Aziraphale’s soothing hands cannot heal. Crawly, he decides eventually, when he’s crawled into a small cave near the forbidden tree. It’s what he does now, after all. And it’s so far from his former name, no one will even think to connect the two. He takes the old sounds, the syllables, the sigil that marks him as Raphael, and buries them deep within his heart.