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Life's For The Living

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At the Demon Lord’s Castle

Barbatos calmly prepares tea for himself and Lord Diavolo in the Prince’s private study. By his demeanor and spotless, perfectly pressed clothes; no one would guess that he and his Lord had spent the past hour and a half in the dungeons, interrogating demons and sorcerers alike. 

Lord Diavolo has also changed into clean clothes, however he struggles to keep up the same reserved appearance as a storm of volatile emotions swirl within him. He’s furious about the attack, angry with himself for thinking that there were none left who would dare oppose him this way. He also can’t help feeling a little bit of relief, knowing that Lily won’t be marrying Solomon, even though he knows she’d hate him for thinking it. 

He’s frustrated by the arrival of Lily’s friends, he doesn’t know why Barbatos would bring them here. It’s just another complication. He’s glad that Lucifer won’t have to be without Mammon, but now there’s this new Solomon, and Leila and that boy too. Powerful Sorcerers who don’t like or respect him. They could prove to be a huge hindrance to his dreams and the progress he’s been making in the Human World. 

This new Mammon struck him too, it was obvious where his loyalties lied. For the first time, in a long time, he felt completely out of control, as if his dreams could slip through his fingers just like that. No, these newcomers have no business being here in his reality!

“Why did you bring them here?” Diavolo finally growls out impatiently when Barbatos sits across from him, calm and stoic as ever. “We have enough problems on our hands, right now.”

“They are needed-” Barbatos begins to say, his disposition ever patient. 

“They don’t belong here.” Diavolo growls out, cutting him off. “That unbelievable story they spun…” He waves his hand as if he can dismiss it as easily. 

Barbatos’ eyes narrow on his young Lord shrewdly. “They told the truth.” He speaks in a tone that captures Diavolo’s attention. “Do not blind yourself to your own potential. You’ve always been destined for greatness, my Lord, but there are always two sides to every coin.” He explains as Diavolo resigns himself to listening. “You’re a fool, if you think you can ignore your bloodline and the history of our people. You are capable of great evil, if you allow yourself to succumb to it.”

Diavolo’s jaw clenches, his mouth drawn in a tight line. It’s not often Barbatos speaks to him this way and sometimes he resents the way it fills him with shame, as if he’s still a mere child that has to be lectured. Barbatos had never led him astray though, he has to remember that above all else.

Seeing that his young Lord is going to listen to him now, Barbatos continues. “When Solomon accidentally sent Lily to that reality, our threads of fate became entangled. Without them, we likely face a similar fate. It’s true that they could become your enemies, but that all depends on you, my Lord. Prove yourself to be nothing like that worst version of yourself, and they will see to it that your dreams come to fruition. Because they desire this, as well.”

Lord Diavolo doesn’t like the idea that he needs to prove anything to anyone, but he keeps his childish complaints to himself and let’s Barbatos say his piece without further interruptions.

“Solomon will be an essential ally in the war to come. With the reemergence of the cult, he’s vital to keeping my Grimoire safe. Today, our enemies came very close to destroying everything we’ve built.” He warns his Lord and Diavolo can’t help but feel shocked by that news. It didn’t look like that to him at all, but he also knows that Barbatos wouldn’t exaggerate the facts. “You’ll need to forgive Mammon for his slight against you. It has always been essential to keep the seven Avatars loyal to your cause since the day you brokered that deal over Lilith.” He reminds. “Leila and James will be essential to establishing harmony between the three realms with Lily.”

Diavolo sits back in his own chair in resignation, some of his irritation and anger has cooled, enough for him to hear what Barbatos is saying, whether he likes it or not. He knows it makes sense. Humans are the key to his dreams. 

Barbatos stands as their conversation is coming to a close. He rests a firm but gentle grip on Diavolo’s shoulder. “And if I may be so bold…Let her go. She doesn’t have a future in the Devildom.” He squeezes his shoulder once, before leaving his young master to his thoughts.

Diavolo’s nails dig into the arm of his chair. He knows what Barbatos is really saying, she doesn’t have a future with him. She doesn’t belong with him, no matter how much he wishes for it.  Pushing aside his feelings on that subject, he shifts his focus. He’d have to speak to this new Solomon about what they learned about the Sorcerers’ Society and the deadly weapons they had made. However the cult was solely his responsibility and he vows to himself that he won't stop until each and every one of them is wiped from existence. 

With a heavy sigh he grabs pen, paper and his official seal. It’s been many centuries since he’s had to close RAD but with enemies moving against them he has little choice. Lucifer and his brothers will need time to heal, if he asked them to leave Lily now he’d only be setting himself up to be defied. He’ll give his Avatars one month, one month and then RAD will reopen. One month to crush the Cult of Barbatos. 

 

Lucifer POV

I’ve just noticed that Belphegor is missing from the room but before I can inquire as to where he’s gone, he comes shuffling back into the living room. His arms are piled with blankets and pillows, I can’t even see half of him. More surprisingly, he’s using magic to carry even more behind him. While I know Belphegor has the capacity to be as adept with magic as I am, his slothfulness impedes him. I rarely see him expend energy on it unless it’s to make my life more difficult.

“What are you doing, Belphegor?” I ask him as he starts arranging pillows and blankets on the living room’s large, plush rug.

“I’m sure our guests are tired.” He shrugs. “We don’t have any guestrooms ready and they probably want to stay together tonight.” His voice is apathetic, as if he doesn’t actually care about what he’s saying. Not that he can fool us with that act. Not anymore. 

I don’t love the idea of them having a slumber party on our floor after the horrific events we’ve all been through. They deserve to be in comfortable beds and get a good night's rest. But I let my brother have his way, we don’t have beds big enough to fit four or more persons and I doubt we’d be able to separate our newcomers even if we tried. As long as my own brothers have no ideas of joining them, Mammon excluded of course. I know I wouldn’t let Leila and James out of my sight if I were him. 

Regardless of where we are all sleeping, I have a feeling we’re all in for a restless night.  

 

That first night…

Solomon sits in his chair. The day is almost dawning. He has been watching over the group of people sleeping in the living room of Serenity Manor all night. He has cast a sleeping spell over everyone in the Manor. They needed rest. They all need rest after what everyone has gone through yesterday. Himself as well, but he can wait. Tonight, for his own peace of mind, he had to watch over everyone.

Despite everything that has happened, all Solomon can feel is relief. Relief that his family still lives. Of course he knows his granddaughter is feeling heartbroken. He never wanted for her to experience the same horrors he experienced himself hundreds of years ago. But she’s safe. And she’s not left alone, she still has her James and Pandora and himself. And she will survive this too, he will help her get through this. He will help them all, this whole broken family of demons, angels and humans. Whether they will want it, or not. If they will notice it, or not. They will all be safe, he will make sure of it. 

He’s carefully inspecting the arrow that is floating in front of him between his hands. It is not only enchanted to always hit the heart, but also laced with Gremlin blood. This type of poison changes into the deadliest kind of poison for any being when it mingles with their blood and the enchantment on the arrow makes sure it spreads immediately. Anyone getting pierced by this, dies almost instantly. Though the enchantment has worn off after hitting its target, the poison is still on the arrow. His granddaughter found some of this extremely rare and dangerous poison on the witch way back then. It seems in this reality it has found its way into the hands of the Sorcerers’ Society, because he found this arrow in the garden when he was cleaning up. This one has Mammon’s blood still on it. Dried now, but he knows it as being demon's blood. He removed the other arrow from the chest of his counterpart before Karasu appeared. It has his own blood on it. He won’t let it go to the Devildom. But this one…

“Karasu.” He says quietly, after wrapping the arrow in some cloth, knowing the spy demon is still around somewhere in the living room. “Bring this arrow to Barbatos tomorrow with my findings…”

“I ain’t your servant, human.” Karasu comes flying over silently and lands on the back of his chair, making sure he wakes no one. “Why should I obey you?”

Solomon chuckles. “Good question, why indeed.” He holds out his arm invitingly and Karasu hops onto it to look Solomon in the eyes. “You’re an interesting character, Karasu.”

Was that a compliment or an insult? Karasu can’t tell. “And you’re still an odd one, no matter where you’re from.” Karasu caws indignantly, tilting his head to look at Solomon. He feels a bit curious about this new Solomon. Not sure if he likes him or not. Probably a bit of both.

“It’s not a difficult thing I’m asking of you, Karasu.” Solomon tells him. “You might be a wilder, ancient demon, but I’m used to demons. So is Leila by now. I’d like you to be her friend.” He gently strokes the feathers of the large bird. “She’ll need all the friends she can get.”

Solomon being nice to him? Karasu makes an odd sound in the back of his throat that eerily sounds like laughter. Being his granddaughter’s friend? The other would never ask that of him. But... Hm, maybe... Some humans are worth it to befriend. Lily is one of them. Leila and James probably too, or Mammon wouldn’t have made pacts with them. Besides, the girl was sweet to him. She’ll be fun to tease too. 

“Sure, she’s a pretty one, ain’t she?” Karasu says, expecting Solomon to react defensively. “The great Karasu will take good care of her for ya!” He blinks one of his crow eyes as if he’s winking at the sorcerer.

Instead of the reaction he expected, Solomon just snickers. “You better watch yourself with her, Karasu. Don’t make her too angry. She’s fought Lord Diavolo himself.”

Karasu ruffles his feathers, he can’t believe that. But before he can ask more about it, they suddenly hear someone softly crying. 

Solomon leaps immediately into action. The sleeping spell on Leila has worn off and now her dreams are filled with the images of her mates dying. Her heart still feels as if it has been ripped apart and the loss of her demons in her soul is unbearable. And because there is nothing to do in her sleep to keep her mind occupied, she can’t help crying again. It will take a long time before she’s healed, Solomon knows. He embraces his granddaughter warmly and lets her cry. She probably won’t cry often in the presence of the others, but as long as she lets it out in other moments it will be good for her. 

Once she’s calmed down a bit again, Leila whispers to Solomon. “I can’t live here, Solomon. It’s too much…”

“Yes, I already thought that would be the case.” Solomon whispers to her, gently rocking her. “You don’t have to live here, Leila. I can prepare any house you want for you and Pandora to live in. You need time to learn to be happy again…”

“I don’t know if I ever can be…” Leila starts to say, but she’s interrupted.

“You can…” Solomon tells her. “Because I will make sure of it. You will all be happy again. But you don’t have to rush anything. You can be unhappy for as long as you need…” It took him nearly 500 years, before he was ready to start a family again. But Leila is stronger than him, because she won’t be alone.

A cat comes sneaking into the living room. Shado escaped Satan’s bedroom and now comes to check on his Leila. He settles in her lap, loudly purring. He missed her, he barely got the chance to cuddle with her yesterday. Pandora lets out a soft cry, waking up from a good night's sleep. Solomon gets up to change her and then gives her to Leila so she can feed her in peace this time. Chimera lands on Leila’s shoulder, giving her good morning kisses and Leila smiles slightly again. There is still enough to care for.

Karasu lands on Solomon’s shoulder and caws. “Okay, I’ll bring your report to Barbatos today.” He doesn’t exactly know why, but for some reason he doesn’t want to be excluded in this. He still won’t be obedient to this human, though. Definitely don’t think that… Solomon smiles slightly at him and just instructs him to be careful with the arrow. The poison can still harm the demon spy.

 

Lucifer POV

I slept well, despite all the circumstances. We all did, strangely. I suspect this new Solomon is to blame for it. It doesn’t sit well with me that he must have cast some sort of sleeping spell on all of us. One that was strong enough that even I couldn’t resist its power. I woke up sooner than everyone else. But it was already almost dawn. 

Lily had spent the night in Mammon’s room. She was crying on his bed when Belphegor and I found her. We both decided to stay with her. I don’t remember anything afterwards and I don’t like this sensation. 

Lily and Belphegor are still sound asleep. I suppose I understand why Solomon cast this spell over everyone. We all need enough rest to help us recover, but still… I don’t like the liberties all Solomons across realities are apparently taking with my family. I need to have a word with him about that. 

I’m about to leave when I notice one of Lily’s hands resting on Belphegor’s chest, it looks red and swollen. I carefully uncurl her hand, she winces in her sleep yet doesn’t wake. Her palm looks cracked and blistered. I’m angry at myself for not inspecting her thoroughly after the attack, angry that she didn’t say anything and angry that I have no way to heal her myself. Irritated that I’ll have to ask Simeon to heal her later. But I will let her sleep for now.

I decide to go to the kitchen and make breakfast. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Solomon thinks he can ‘help’ us by making breakfast too, once he wakes up. I better prevent that disaster from happening. 

A scratching on Satan’s door distracts me from my thoughts when I walk down the hallway. It’s followed by some demanding meowing. Oh, right. That cat. Satan must have taken it to his room last night. I need to think of a solution for that cat too… And the other animal they’ve brought with them. There is absolutely no way I can allow beasts to run rampant in my household. 

But for now… Before it wakes up everyone, I open Satan’s door just a bit to let it out of his room. It circles around my legs once - I suppose in a sort of gratitude, but I can’t help frowning at the gift of hair it’s left behind on my trousers - and then swiftly makes its way outside through a window. Satan apparently didn't think about making a cat toilet when he took it to his room. This is exactly why I can’t allow him to have animals!

It has already returned to the Manor before I start making breakfast. It slips into the living room to be with its mistress. I hear the soft talking voices of Solomon and Leila in the living room when I set the table. I’m not really hearing what is being said, but somehow it gives me a bad feeling.

 

Despite Solomon giving Karasu orders back to the Devildom, as if he has the right to call the shots around here, breakfast has still been chaotic! Even more than usual. It seems my brothers display no consideration with the situation and Lily is unable to silence them, being in the state of utter despair she is now. I know they care for our humans, but they try to distract everyone the way they think is best. Which it is not. For a change, Mammon is the only one not shouting, but quiet. Which makes things even worse, in a way. It means he’s not feeling at home.

On top of everything, James has the cat on his lap. At the breakfast table, mind you. Feeding it scraps, absentmindedly. And the little strange creature scurries around all over the table like this is totally normal. I also have a bit of discomfort with the sight of the baby, drooling as it sits and babbles on Leila’s lap. Admittedly, it is a beautiful, adorable baby. And also a descendant of Lilith. But what are we supposed to do with a baby? I hadn’t even come to terms with the fact that Lily might bring a baby into our world a few years from now. The manor isn’t baby-proof and with my brothers, well it’s a hazard zone, I’m sure!

“How come you look like that now, Luke?” I get distracted from my concerns when our own Luke asks the taller new Luke this question softly. The angels have been ignoring the chaos my brothers and Leila’s animals cause, much like the humans have. “I mean, I figured we wouldn’t be exactly the same, but you look so much different than me…”

New Luke shrugs, much like a sulky teenager, frowning. “No idea…”

“I might have some idea about the subject.” Simeon explains. “As you know, angels grow up differently. Experiences in life can sometimes have them make large leaps in aging until they reach adulthood. The experience Luke went through when his reality was destroyed, the fact that he lost his Celestial light, all those factors made him change into his current appearance when he was in the void outside of time and reality.”

“If he’s a fallen angel, how come he’s not a demon?” Satan asks the insensitive question that is still on everyone’s mind. “I mean, that is how it usually goes…”

“Luke wasn’t sent to the Devildom when he fell.” Simeon explains patiently. “So no demonic spirit could fill the emptiness in his soul to make him demonic. In essence, Luke is now an empty vessel. He is a powerful immortal, but no spirit has claimed him. No darkness and no light. Unless he chooses to become a demon, he can never go to the Devildom in this state.”

Older Luke grimaces at the very idea of that. He would never choose to become a demon out of his own free will. “Is that why you gave me this ring?” He asks Simeon and now I notice that he wears Solomon’s Ring of Wisdom. 

I suppose it’s an angel's right to give away that Celestial item, but we all feel for Lily as she looks at it in shocked silence. Solomon must have taken it from his counterpart's finger when he was preparing the caskets. I know he was right to do this, as a powerful magical item like this must not fall into the wrong hands, but still… To see her confronted with the reality of things yet again, it hurts.

“Yes.” Simeon nods. “It is a Celestial item and it will protect you like a talisman. It won’t work the same way it did for Solomon. You are not a human, after all. But it will help you and protect you, while you are in this vulnerable state.”

Luke frowns again. Hearing himself being called vulnerable and an empty vessel and the likes, must be painful to hear. But he doesn’t say a word about it. Instead he surprises us with a statement.

“Since I’m no longer the same as I was before, no longer the same as Luke, you could say that I’m reborn. Correct?” He asks and when Simeon confirms with a nod, he continues firmly. “In that case I want to be named differently. And my birthday will be yesterday, when I came out of the void.”

Our Luke looks a little surprised, but for now has nothing to say. I can only imagine how he might feel about having his own doppelganger here, no matter how different he looks. It’s not supposed to happen.

“Are ya sure ya wanna be doin’ that?” Mammon questions.

“It seems like an awfully big decision to make so soon..” Asmodeus adds. 

“Perhaps you should give it some more time?” Simeon says with concern.

“I think it makes sense.” Leila is the only one speaking up in a supportive way. She must have always been very close with Luke or whoever he is now.

“Yeah. Let him do what he wants.” Satan growls. “It’s his life and his choice to make.”

“How do you want to be named?” Leila asks encouragingly.

Older Luke suddenly smiles brightly at her, despite all the circumstances. Her support must mean the world to him. “How about Lucien? It still means the same as Luke. But it is still different.”

“I think that’s beautiful.” Leila beams at him and, if only for a moment, it seems like the sun has just begun to shine now. Simeon agrees with them with an approving nod. So does Luke, who gives his reality twin an encouraging smile. “It means Light. No matter what happened to you, Lucien. I know you still have your angel core. Just like Mammon.”

Angel core? I’ve heard the mention of that before. But I dismissed it as something ridiculous. Is that what Mammon’s powerful transformation was, when he came out of the void? I wonder.

“You really think so?” Lucien looks a bit doubtful.

“I’m sure of it!” Leila nods determinedly. “And I will try to figure out a way to find it in your soul too and bring it to the surface.”

Now that there is some level of calm descended around the breakfast table, thanks to this strange conversation, I feel that it is finally the time to discuss some of the more practical matters. The matter of accomodations for the new family members, the animals, the needs of a baby that none of us has a clue about. But how will I say this…?

I see Lily wince  when she lifts her glass to her lips, reminding me of her injury. “Lily.” I try to keep my voice soft but my irritation clearly shows. “Why didn’t you tell us you were injured? What happened to your hand?” I demand to know. 

She looks up at me startled and then shifts her focus to her hand, looking at her palm as if she’s just noticed it for the first time. “I...I…” She blinks and I regret asking her, she’s clearly reliving memories she’d rather not. 

“She screamed when she pulled the arrow out….” Asmodeus answers for her, looking guilty, “I didn’t realize she was injured.” 

“Simeon..” I begin to ask but Leila is already moving beside Lily and inspecting her palm. 

“This looks like the effects from Gremlin blood poison…” She says softly, I can see how her touch doesn’t hurt Lily, but seems soothing. “What do you think, Solomon?”

Solomon barely glances up before he confirms. He did mention to me this morning that he already inspected the arrows, so it isn’t really a surprise. I’m still a bit irritated by his apparent lack of care for Lily, but instead shows pride for Leila. This will take some getting used to for all of us.

“It’s a good thing it didn’t break her skin. The poison didn’t enter her bloodstream, so I think I can heal it.” Leila then says to my surprise. “But Simeon, would you want to give me guidance while I’m doing so? I never had to deal with healing this sort of poison before.”

“Of course.” Simeon moves closer and Leila starts healing our Lily’s hand. 

The Celestial glow that starts emitting from her hand reminds me a bit of how brilliant Lilith used to be. A true descendant from my sister. It makes me feel proud that Leila will become part of my family now. I hear my brothers whispering with some excitement as well. Simeon only gives some pointers, but when Leila is finished, Lily’s hand looks perfectly healed, without any scars left. Leila settles back into her own chair. And with Lily’s hand now healed, I move on to the other matters we need to discuss. 

“We’ll hold the funeral rites three days from now.” I say in a low voice that captures everyone’s attention. “Aside from those preparations we have a lot to get done around the manor.” Leila has a queasy sort of expression when I direct my attention to her. “Leila, I will need your assistance. I will need a list of your needs, both for yourself and your baby.” I instruct her, “We’ll figure out a way to make due during renovations.”

I can see my own brothers’ eyes light up at the prospect of our new family members staying with us. James and Leila don't seem as thrilled, but I understand they are still processing a grievous loss. Just then the little rodent scurries over and tries to steal food from my plate. The audacity! I pinch it by the scruff between my thumb and index finger with a grimace. I’m very gentle with it but it still has the nerve to make the most indignant noises at me.  

“I received word that Lord Diavolo is closing RAD for a month and we’ve been given leave to remain here in the Human World during this sabbatical. It’s not much time, I know, but we will finish the renovations in that time.” I explain, “In the meantime we’ll have to find somewhere for these...animals to go.” I shake the little thing between my fingers for emphasis. “Perhaps we can construct some sort of pen in the garden for them..” I finally release the rodent and it scurries back to its owner, Leila, who is looking very angry at me for some reason? I didn’t hurt the thing and I will let her keep them, she has no reason to look at me this way.

“They aren’t wild or farm animals, they’re my beloved pets.” Leila tells me with some fire back in her eyes. “They aren’t going to live in a cage or a pen in the garden!” 

“Leila.” I tell her sternly, standing up. “You can't expect us to live with dirty animals roaming the Manor freely. There’s enough chaos as it is.”

Leila stands up from her chair as well, looking defiantly at me. “You’re right. I don’t expect you to.” I begin to smile at her words - at least she can see reason - until she says, “That’s one of the reasons I won’t be living here.”

What? She can’t be serious! I’m even more troubled when James stands next to her, taking her hand. He looks relieved? Did he not want to stay here either? “We appreciate the offer…” James begins to say in a more reasonable tone, but he refuses to look at any one of my brothers or me. “But it’s just too hard to stay here.” He glances at Lily, as if giving her an apologetic look, maybe feeling guilty about leaving her behind. They’d probably invite her to go with them but that I will definitely not allow. 

“Solomon has promised to prepare any of his homes I want. For me, Pandora, James and, if they want, Mammon and Lucien as well.” Leila explains with a slightly trembling voice, but she still looks determined to go.

“I forbid it!” The words tumble out of my lips unbidden. The anger I feel over having my family split into two, spills out. 

A foolish tactic, considering the way Leila’s eyes now blaze as she meets my stare. “You have no right!” She seethes. “No right at all to forbid us anything, Lucifer!” 

Somehow her words do something to me. I feel stunned. Never has someone talked back to me like this and walked away unpunished. Not even Lily. But I still let this child of Solomon talk to me like this?

Then she continues, calmer this time, with a voice that wants to reason with me as an equal. “Look, Lucifer. I understand how you must feel about the situation. You’re not used to having a baby in the house. You couldn’t prepare yourself for this, like your counterpart could. You are not used to having my pets around, who are normally well behaved... I sincerely apologize for not correcting Chimera today. But it doesn’t mean that their lives, my life, have to change even more because you are not used to my ways.”

Mammon stands up and wraps his arms around his humans. “I go where my humans go.” He states firmly. Well, that’s no surprise. 

“Me too.” Luke, or Lucien I should say, speaks up too. 

My brothers, who had seemed dumbfounded before, now begin shouting and arguing over one another. Some are accusing me of chasing them off. Even though I did no such thing!

“Leila…” I start. I need to make her see reason, but she cuts me off. Another thing that usually never goes unpunished and yet I let her. Why? Because I don’t want things to escalate? Or because I have no choice?

“Besides, James is right.” She tells us with a choke in her voice and I feel my heart go soft for her. “It's too hard for us to stay here. I’ve seen Satan and Belphie die in my arms. Felt the life leave their bodies. Seen their souls leave their eyes. Every time I see Satan and Belphegor or hear their voices, I relive that moment. I can’t even look at them now, without thinking how unfair it is.”

Everyone falls silent now. I can tell this is hard for my brothers to accept, hard for me to accept. The arrival of this other Mammon doesn’t take away the hurt of losing ours, but we are eager to accept him all the same. His arrival is a blessing for our family to be whole. Humans handle their grief differently, it’s not as easy for them to come to terms. 

“I’m sorry… I don’t want to think like this about my friends. You are all my dear friends. But I find it hard to be around you, right now…” She tells us all, as she’s again avoiding to look at the two of my brothers who love her the most.

Solomon stands behind his granddaughter, his hands on her shoulder in a show of support. “Lucifer, you don’t have to worry about them. I’ll make sure they’re safe. My residences are well warded.” He speaks to me as if he can soothe me. My jaw twitches as I press my mouth into a firm line. 

“Please. You have to let us go, Lucifer.” Leila pleads and suddenly it feels as if it was a command. 

It is as if I can feel all her pain from her final hours in the other reality. Her humiliation when their Diavolo assaulted her in public. Her fear for her family when he threatened them. Her guilt that she feels responsible for all that had happened. Her new fear that if she stays around us, it could happen again. So many emotions. I can also sense how vast her powers are. How her character is. How much she cares. I sit back down again and just stare at her now. Is this how it feels to have a pact with Leila? It’s almost overwhelming. 

“For now…” I hear myself saying, as I obey her command. She gives me a relieved smile in return. It almost makes up for my defeat.

My brothers look just as shocked as I feel. To them it probably looks like I gave up too easily. Satan and Belphegor are silent, I can tell Leila’s words stung them and they are trying not to hurt her more by voicing their complaints. Leviathan and Asmodeus seem to have a million questions though. Where will they live? How often will they be able to see them? And so on.

“The London townhouse isn’t really big enough for all of you…” Lily’s soft voice breaks me from my thoughts and observations. Even my brothers quiet down to hear what she has to say. “Even so, I should probably remove my things…”

“You don’t have to worry about that, right now, Lily.” Solomon tells her, not unkindly, and Lily stiffens in her chair, hearing him speak directly to her, saying her name. The same way, but without the love in his voice we all have come used to. Still she looks at him for a moment in gratitude. What Leila feels, is how Lily and James must feel as well, I now know. “I will let Leila have a sweep through my residences to find your personal belongings.”

I watch as Lily nods at him and stands, her face is sad, resigned but also full of compassion. She walks over and squeezes James and Leila’s hands as she gives them both kisses on their cheeks. “I understand...just...don’t be strangers.” She tells them, essentially giving them her blessing. As she leaves the room, I can’t help thinking that for the first time she looks like a woman and not a child. It crushes me that this tragedy is what brought about this change. Or maybe I’ve just been too blind to see it until now?

 

“So…” Asmodeus asks when I’m alone with my five brothers and Lily. Luke and Simeon have finally left the Manor as well, after Solomon made a portal for James, Leila and the others going with them to the residence where they will be staying. Away from us. “What happened there, Lucifer? You gave in to Leila so easily…” He pouts.

I want to glare at him, punish him, but I don’t. Instead I just answer him. “It seems that somehow I have forged the pact with Leila.”

“What?” Belphegor asks, suddenly looking more awake and also annoyed. 

“How’s that possible?” Satan can barely keep the snarl from his voice. I try to be patient with them. I know how they feel about Leila and I can imagine how raw her rejection of living here with us, for now, must have made them feel.

Leviathan is oddly quiet, with no game console or phone in his hands for once. Just holding Lily’s hand. He’d probably never admit it but I’m sure he’s the most affected of us by Mammon’s death. They may have fought like cats and dogs, constantly, but they were close.

“It seems that the pacts they made with our counterparts are still connected to their souls.” I try to explain what I think must have happened. “And are now waiting to become our pacts. When they are ready to accept us.” 

Lily looks at me somewhat stunned. She doesn’t look ready yet to renew her connection with Mammon. I understand how she must feel, now that I understand how Leila feels about losing everyone. 

My brothers are excited to hear it, however. I hear Asmodeus babbling something about how he felt the same thing happening to him yesterday with the new Solomon, but somehow I think it was hardly the same experience. Leila is a unique sort of human. Her soul is extremely sensitive, but also strong. I have to admit, I find myself to be honored and grateful to know that Leila has accepted me. That she opened herself up to me. To know that eventually, when we are both ready for it, she will return to us to become a true member of my family. My new sister.