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A Study in Ineffability

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The Archangel Raphael sighed. He’d been up here guarding the gate for days and all that had changed was the position of the sun in the sky. Dreadfully dull work. He didn’t even know what he was guarding the garden from . Michael had slapped a sword in his hand and told him to “go stop some trouble”. 

Psh. What kind of trouble could even happen here? The world hadn’t even heard of sin yet.

That was when he heard it. A sort of stretchy, slithery, shaky noise that he hadn’t heard from his garden in all the days he’d been stationed there. But he wasn’t technically supposed to leave his post…

Oh, bugger it all.

The Archangel Raphael turned around, just in time to see Eve, First Lady of Eden, as she took a bite of the apple of knowledge.

“Oi! Eve! What do you think you’re doing?”

But it was too late. He could see the furrowing of her brow as she realized what the concept of ‘bad’ was. She’d really done it. And here she was, handing the blasted thing to Adam?

“For Heaven’s sake.”

Raphael fluttered his six wings and was in front of the first humans.

“Er, hello master Raphael,” Eve stammered, avoiding eye contact with the celestial being. “Lovely weather today.”

Raphael narrowed his golden eyes as something in the bushes caught his gaze. A black snake slithered through the underbrush. He didn’t remember that specific snake being native to the garden.

I suppose that was the trouble Michael was talking about.

“Well, Eve, I was doing quite well until I noticed my charges taking a bite of the explicitly forbidden fruit,” Raphael said sternly.

“Oh, sorry. Want some?” Adam asked earnestly, holding out the offending object.

Raphael turned on him. “No, I bloody don’t! I cannot believe you two. One rule in this whole garden. One! What is so hard to understand about ‘Do Not Touch’?”

Eve pouted. “It was the snake’s fault. She said if I ate of it I could be like God, or something.”

“So we’re listening to snakes now, are we?” The angel rubbed a hand over his face to hide a smirk. Lovely creatures, humans were, if absolutely daft beyond belief. “Next thing you’re going to want clothing I bet.”

Adam and Eve looked at each other.

“Really. Really?” Raphael let out an exasperated exhale. He shouldn’t have been guarding from external dangers afterall. It was these two idiots he should have been worried about. “Fine. Fine! The Almighty’ll be down soon to tell you lot off, I expect. You won’t be allowed to stay here now- oh don’t give me that look! Actions do have consequences- but anyway,” he held out his flaming weapon, “take this. Won’t do me much good now. I’ll bless you to grant you safe travels but other than that you’ll be on your own.” He looked imploringly at Eve. “Love, do remember this. Bad choices do not bear repeating. Learn from this. For your old pal Raph. Good luck, both of you.” He put a hand on each of their shoulders and nodded gravely at them, before waving his wings and miracling himself back to his post on the wall. From there he watched as they were excommunicated from the garden and set off into the desert. 

Poor bastards, he thought, before laying down on his back to watch the sky darken. The first storm was coming, and it was going to be a good one.

~~~

Slithers the snake slid up the wall of Eden, trying to get at the angel stationed above. He had been formerly known as ‘The Principality Azzy-something-el’ 1 but upon his arrival in Hell he was encouraged to come up with his own name. Thus, Slithers came to be known. He was supposed to be a snake now, it was only fitting. Even if it did feel a little silly.

The snake made it to the top of the wall. The angel was laying on his back, deeply in thought. The wind mussed at his long auburn hair. 

Weird , the serpent thought. It wasn’t supposed to be windy in Eden.

The angel turned his head to watch Slithers shift into a human form. The demon ended up standing above the angel, which didn’t feel quite right, but he didn’t know what else to do. So there he stood, hands folded, while the angel laid beneath him.

Raphael sat up and put his legs over the side of the wall, patting the spot beside him as a gesture for the demon to sit down.

“Well,” the angel muttered as Slithers gingerly sat. “that went down like a lead balloon.”

“Pardon?” the demon was taken aback by how easily the angel gave himself to conversation.

“I said,” Raphael clarified, “that went down like a lead balloon.” Seeing the demon nod in agreement he continued, “Can’t believe those humans. They’re so clever but at the same time they’re so utterly stupid. I mean really,” here he gestured to slithers, “who in their right mind trusts a snake? No offense, of course.”

“None taken,” Slithers felt the wind ruffle his black wings. “I wouldn’t, if I weren’t one. Honestly didn’t expect it to be so easy. Part of me hoped they’d put up more of a fight.” Slithers paused. “Don’t tell management I said that.”

The angel chuckled. “Wouldn’t dream of it.” He held out a hand. “Raphael. Archangel of Healing and the Ex-guardian of the Eastern Gate.”

Slithers met it with a hand of his own. “Sli-” now that he was saying it out loud, to an archangel, he felt the need to make a better impression. If he could just remember his old name… “-erm, Ezra. I’m Ezra. Demon. Pleasure.” He gave the angel a warm smile.

“Ezra, hmm? Doesn’t sound very hellish.” Raphael smirked.

“It was better than the alternative.” That wasn’t a complete lie, at least.

Raphael raised his eyebrows as he held back a chuckle. “Alright then, Ezra.” His brow furrowed. “Hold on. Ezra. Sounds familiar. I could have sworn I knew someone once…”

Sli-erm-Ezra cleared his throat. 

“Quite right. Didn’t you own a sword once too? Where has that gotten to?”

“Oh, that.” Raphael smiled sheepishly. “Gave it away.”

“You what?” Ezra’s jaw dropped.

“I gave it away! Poor wretches had to leave without even the clothes on their back. What else was I supposed to do, leave them to die? There are lions out there for Her sake!” Thunder rolled at this exclamation. 

“Oh. I suppose I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Suddenly Ezra’s heart weighed heavy with guilt.2

“S’alright. Your lot isn’t supposed to.” Raphael smiled warmly at Ezra, something the demon was not at all used to. “That’s why I’m here, demon. To thwart. Clean up your messes and all that.”

Ezra wasn’t quite sure how to respond, so he looked down the side of the wall at his feet. It was quite a way down. 

Raphael assessed the demon as lightning cracked in the distance. The poor thing looked solidly out of his depth. The angel couldn’t help but pity him. 

Raindrops began falling around them. Raphael noticed the demon cower away from it. On a whim, he spread a large white wing over Ezra.

“It’s gonna be alright, you know. It’s ineffable.”

Ezra looked up at the angel, former guardian of the eastern gate, now guarding him.

“Ineffable?”

“God’s Great Plan. It cannot be explained. There’s nothing we can really do about it, so no need worrying about our mistakes. It’ll all be okay in the end.” The angel’s face was many things, but to Ezra, right now, it was overwhelmingly kind. The demon knew he was safe here. Safer than he could ever be in Hell.

“You really believe that?”

“Yeah, demon.” Raphael’s golden eyes held more warmth than a pair of suns as Ezra snuggled the smallest bit closer. “I really do.”


 

  1. The more time passed between him and The Fall, the less he could remember about his previous self. All he really remembered was how bad it felt to let Heaven down.
  2. He had a bad habit of putting his interests above everything else, without even considering the possible consequences. It had gotten him into a lot of trouble. The ultimate amount of trouble, one could say.