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I. 

     Lucifer is born in the morning, a twinkling star on the pink horizon, crawling about the cosmos, carried about Heaven on the back of a Lamb, fat hands and caterpillar fingers tangled in His thick wool. The baby’s hair comes in as golden as the first rays of sun, and the puffy feathers on his growing wings match it. Once his flesh evens out from the natal pink of him, the freckles on his cheeks spell out the constellation Taurus. He is a creature of extremes, shrieking, screeching wails balanced by sweet smiles and screaming giggles. He is the first to wake and the first to sleep, conked out on his belly out in the woods beneath a fat leaf. He grows quick and tall, and Gabriel bets that he will be the tallest of them all by the time he is fully grown. Michael tells him that it is impure to gamble. His curiosity is all-consuming and obtuse, leading him into business that isn’t his, and the Angels try not to grow impatient with the toddler as they return him to the Father. He quiets with age and inherits his duties as a Virtue with grace, though he is most often found on the heels of the Archangels. The Father loves all of His creations, but this one is different. This one is special. 

     He tucks behind a boulder, ugly, molting wings pressed against him. His chest rises and falls, and his mouth is dry from panting, his lungs burning from running. The boy peers around the slate of the boulder and looks out at the tall grass the same shade of gold as his hair. The tufts of seeds at the top of the long stalks wave in the idle air. His eyes glide atop them. A few of them flick suddenly, and disappear down into the thicket. Lucifer’s eyes widen. His knee comes up beneath him and he shifts slightly, hands growing damp against the stone. A few more stalks go down nearer to him. The boy jumps up and runs, crashing through the grass. He can hear footfalls loping behind him, and it spurs him on faster. 

     The grass dissipates to rock and suddenly, the ground gives way beneath him. Lucifer gasps at the clouds below, and the faded ring around the Earth, far below Heaven, minor celestial bodies wandering in the wake of the duty of the Virtues through the void that separates them, the void with its jaws wide open to devour the boy. A chill runs through him as he suddenly realises the presence of a whole unexplored world beneath him for centuries now. Why did no one tell him about it? What was down there? What is that place? Lucifer’s curiosity cuts short as he realises, not for the first time since he has been hanging here, that this is not the way to find out. To fall from here would be unimaginable, and he decides against it profusely. His toes scrabble for purchase on the edge, curling so tight his achilles threatens to cramp up and be his demise. Lucifer turns to look back and is faced with the Lion, the massive razors stemming from His paw hooked calmly in the linen of his tunic. 

     The Lion lets him dangle for just a moment before He drags him back to the boundary of the grass, with a reprimanding huff from His nostrils. Lucifer laughs with uncertainty as he scurries away from the edge. The Lion’s paw comes to swipe over his head reassuringly, and his smile turns genuine. He grabs the Lion’s mane tightly and swings himself up upon His back, his bare feet nearly brushing ground. He tucks them up as the Lion bounds back to the centre of Heaven, leaping through the tall grass. Lucifer lays low, his hands buried in the mane while he lets his wings unfurl to skate along the air as it whizzes by. For a moment, they look like one indistinguishable being, a winged beast, the gold of the Lion’s mane the same shade as the gold of the Angel’s wings. 

II.

     The highest branches of the redwood whisper in the strong gusts as Lucifer pulls himself up to the very crown of the tree. He can see the mountains in the distance, the stretch of the woods, as well as the Garden in the small clearing of it, and, just beyond it, the snow white columns of the Kingdom of Heaven. His bare feet curl around the branches, and sap sticks his last two toes together. He stretches his auriferous wings, trying not to hit any branches, and a ladybug crawls along the broad, streamlined flight feathers at the very tip of his left wing. A few patches of downy fluff still remain from his fading childhood around where they connect to his back, sprouting out between the slits of his brown tunic. A few years before his wings had been covered in the stuff, and the only flying he had been able to do was to glide down from branch to branch under His close watch, supporting weak branches where Lucifer made poor decisions. From there, he graduated to leaping from the thick branches around the middle and sailing along the hypotenuse to the cool forest floor. And now, it was time to retire from gliding and floating to rise instead of fall. 

     The angel sits on a branch, leaning against the massive trunk, to catch his breath. His feet sickle and kick out at the air. A tuft of downy feathers falls from his wing and slowly float down to rest on another branch. Lucifer gulps, the forest floor seeming to stretch farther and farther downwards; when did he climb so high? His face pales, the ichor draining from his head. He considers struggling back down the way he came and saving flight for another day. A beam of light filters through the leaves, landing on the crown of his head. As Lucifer looks up, it shines in his eyes. His face screws up, his hand coming up to shield his face. Along with it, a gust of wind kicks up, and all the leaves point due east–the exact direction Lucifer faces. He sighs and stands, gripping the tree trunk. “Alright, I’m going.” A nightingale perches on a higher branch. Its snow-white belly draws his attention up, and through a clearing of leaves, he can see two dark shapes in the sky, travelling alongside each other. Archangels, most likely; no other order of angel would fly at such a height unless they were travelling. Lucifer can make out Gabriel from the wing shape, but not his compatriot. A longing to be alongside them surges in him with awe. The Archangels are low in order, penultimate in fact, but dizzyingly high in status. Their strength and bravery is tempered with a stoic reverence and a penchant for humble greatness. Lucifer places them as the most honourable of all the angels. Another gust of wind pushes at his back, and his clammy hands rub at his tunic nervously. “I said I’m going!” 

     He rests his weight on his back foot and pushes off hard, taking as many powerful steps as he can along the branch before he leaps. The sun glistens on his back, warms his long expanse of feathers and the golden hair on his head, drawing forth a shiver from him. His stomach flutters as he feels the easterly wind behind him run out with one final push from the Father. For a moment, he soars, his black silhouette fluttering over the silvery grass, and his reflection shimmers across the surface of a pond, his visage placed in the skies, the sun gleaming past his hair and creating a halo around his head. Lucifer’s wings rise above him and push down, but suddenly, he can’t find any purchase. 

     He beats them again and finds nothing there for him. Lucifer gasps and his shock destroys his equipoise, which leaves him floundering in the air and tumbling down to the ground. Angels cannot die, surely, but that isn’t to say that they cannot hurt, cannot bleed, cannot break. They are as much physical beings as they are spiritual, which means nothing good to Lucifer. His stomach leaps into his throat, sweat pours from him, and, with his great worry, a feather detaches itself from the rest of him as if it has decided to prematurely abandon ship. Lucifer falls, plummeting to the ground. His wings collapse inward, no longer able to protest against the force of his fall. Re-opening them is impossible. He’s falling, Lucifer is falling.

     A massive updraft stuns him from below, causing his wings to snap open suddenly with such ferocity it nearly strains the joint that connects them to his body. Lucifer barely has a moment to wince as he shoots upward, and his chest can hardly expand to let him breathe. His eyes open, one by one. The wind rushes through his hair. With a grit of his teeth, he pushes his wings down against the current beneath him. They crest above him and push down once more, his wingtips whispering quietly as the gusts run above and below them. Lucifer angles them down and pushes up, and up, climbing into the blue expanse dotted with the cosmos, each star like a pinprick in the silk sky, a place for him to explore. He bursts through a cloud and his hair sticks to his brow, cold and dripping with water. Slowly, Lucifer levels out and dips below the cloudline. Everything in God’s dominion is spread out for his eyes, the darkening of the Heavenly void above, and the misty side of his home leading down to Earth, which spins slowly below. In the distance, he can see two Angels flying side by side, and Lucifer wonders when he passed them. As he basks in his own glory, there among the clouds and the stars, the majesty of his body, and the liberation of his youth, Lucifer never wonders when he stopped feeling the wind beneath his wings.

III. 

     The sun has not come up yet, but the sky has already grown light. The morning star gleams brightest upon the horizon, dipping low this time of the year, and winking from a million years away. Mist leaks out to the sandy dunes from the thick treeline of the woods. Within the forest, it hugs the thick trunks of the trees, whispering against the moss and ferns, flicking up when the shiver of a mouse disturbs it. The birds are still nestled in their hollows and bundles of sticks in the crooks of tree trunks, and the rabbits still burrows beneath the soft soil. It isn’t light enough yet. An owl’s head spins, and its eyes land on the youth walking silently among his trails, his feet falling softly as if he does not wish to disturb the undergrowth. An arrow is nocked along his bow. A tree a few metres away bears his last one, stuck solid in a target shoddily painted with a smearing of crushed raspberries. His chest barely rises, his eyes barely blink, as he wanders to his next target in his meditative trance. The lean muscle on his arm twitches with the echo of the strain of pulling the bowstring back. Raphael strung it too tight, but Lucifer isn’t about to comment on it. 

     He drops to his knee among a congregation of mushrooms, resting his back leg far behind him to balance. His body is still and stable, moving with a divine precision, as solid as the trees around him. Lucifer can see his next target a distance a way, the red making itself known through the mist, which steadily grows thinner and thinner as morning threatens. He raises his bow and slowly, thoroughly, pulls the arrow back to his cheek. His elbow falters just for a moment before a deep breath evens it out. He can feel his musculature shifting, each tendon, each molecule altering with the slightest pressure to capture the red ring in his sight. Lucifer takes a deep, thoughtful breath, and he shakes a millimeter. He exhales, and it straightens out. As his lungs release the last of his air, his fingers release. The target disappears and Lucifer flinches, recoiling. The air flies, and a deer rises from where it had been grazing on the grass growing on the forest floor. The arrow makes its mark deep within the flesh of the creature, and Lucifer goes cold.

     The deer lingers for just a moment before it crumples to the ground with a thud. Lucifer’s lips part, and his throat closes, his chest seizing quietly. He freezes where he kneels. His muscles tremble violently with the strain of the bow, but he cannot bring himself to move. This isn’t real. This cannot be real. The horror freezes the ichor in his veins and stiffens his bones until he feels like any movement might shatter him to pieces. Clouds start to stir above and thunder rolls low in the distance. The trees shiver. Lucifer breaks himself from his stance and sprints across the woods, branches and brambles striking him, dragging across him. His wings beat weakly, and his bare feet skip above the surface until he comes to the deer.

     It lays on the forest floor, crushing a patch of ferns, its barrel belly rising and falling shallowly, quickly, causing a dark, viscous liquid to pump out around the wooden shaft of the arrow. Lucifer kneels beside it. His trembling hand rests on the warmth of its neck. Slowly, tentatively, it moves to the protrusion and his fingers dip in the liquid. It’s hot, and, as Lucifer turns his hand over, he finds that it has stained his fingers red. The whites of its eyes flash wildly, and its legs kick out. Lucifer breathes heavily through his lips, and his breath comes hard and his eyes are wide. He wants to move away, to run, to hide, but he can’t tear his gaze from the creature. As he stares down, tears spill forth from his eyes, hot and blinding, and his lips quiver with terror. All of a sudden, the deer’s legs still in mid-air, the muscle still taught, but the movement ceases. “Father!” He screams, he cries, wails. The sound of a thousand birds fluttering rustles through the woods. Lucifer feels the air move beside him, allowing a being to be present there. He shivers. “Father,” he whispers, and runs his hand over ears as smooth and silk. “Why won’t she get up? What’s wrong with her?” 

     She is dead.

     “I don’t know what that means,” Lucifer says around a sob, his hand tightening in the deer’s coarse fur. 

     It is best that you do not.

     The deer stares blankly at Lucifer, and the blood dries on his hands. “I did not mean to make her dead, it was a mistake …” He wants to go on, but the presence beside him is no longer there. Lucifer is alone.

IV.

     It is a long way to fall. The fires raging in Heaven bleed down to Earth in the form of dark, foreboding clouds that shroud the empty world from the shame of its betters. Lucifer can see it all. A column crumbles before the Palace, and the realm trembles with a distant boom. Flames engulf the woods, and skate across the plains, and the sky is a sickly yellow ; dawn never came this morning. 

     His body is limp cutting through the air, his wings fluttering beside him, feathers burned black being ripped from them, leaving patches of charred gold behind. He leaves all that he has ever known behind, all he has ever loved, all he has ever been behind. What does that leave behind for him to determine anything at all about himself? Lucifer has spent so much time in a place that was not for him, pretending to fit in a mould he became tired of forcing himself into that he doesn’t know where to begin to define himself. They call him the Angel of Evil, the Fallen Angel, the Prince of Darkness, the Father of Lies. His Father calls him Satan; adversary. Lucifer supposes that if He created him once, he has created him again. 

     It doesn’t feel like falling, even as the jutting mountains rise above him, even as Heaven disappears behind the clouds, even as he knows there is no returning without another war, even as he knows that what his gaze searches for has never been, and will never be, his home. He still just waits for his Father to catch him.