He knelt before his Queen, dressed in knightly raiment. She smiled beneficently upon him, right hand raised in the sign of redemption. The Queen of Angels occupied her throne like a dove its silver cage: all beauty and whiteness, she was thronged by the purest of seraphim, ringed by soft wings and power. And she, their sun, fed them her manna of light. “Oh Michael,” she said, voice like a clarion bell. The blond stone chapel she occupied echoed with her presence. Michael gazed upon her, clad in heavenly blue and all the beauty of the cosmos. Even he, most ancient of all, lost his breath each time he saw her. Her crown was her humility, her queenship boundless love.
She pressed her fingers to his brow, face tender as she looked upon his wounds. Cool softness flowed through him as she healed her champion, most high of angels. It was only with her the archangel wore the ghost of a smile. “You feel broken, Michael,” she said softly. “Let down your burden. Be at peace.” Her angels raised their voice in song. Like Aphrodite’s Graces, their tune painted the air with flowers, liker the sweetness of lost dreams. It was a perfume of the moon and desert nights. It wrapped around him like a cloak, filling him with light.
“Thank you,” he whispered, sword resting on his knee. He took his crimson sash, pressed it to his cheek. It smelt of her- the promise of redemption. He carried it with him always, like crusaders their ladies’ handkerchiefs. Its end was wrapped around her wrist, the symbol of their bond.
He remembered her in the moonlight, in the windswept hills of Lorraine. She’d worn the form of a maiden then, old memories washed like dirt from a blouse. All the stains of eternity had been lifted from her. Michael had reeled, struck with awe, at his Queen who did not know her name. The innocence he never dared to see again played across her fragile face, like ripples of sun on the sea. Her cheeks bloomed in the cool air as she laughed, chasing a stray lamb.
He almost hadn’t appeared to her, wanting to let that beautiful girl run into eternity, through golden fields that had never seen blood. He cared not that the Host dressed black in mourning, bereft of their beloved. As long as she was happy. It was Michael’s driving force.
He could not forgive himself. He’d given that cross up long ago. He paused in remembrance: he had come to her after the Fall, stained her robe with his blood as he wept into her arms. Their tears had formed the Euphrates and all the rivers of Eden. And so he took Lucifer’s place, as her confidant and warden. He killed in her name, bore her hatred as he executed the harsh choices she was too pure to make. He bore her rage, too- suffered her anger in silence. Nothing was more painful than that. It had bit his skin as the flames licked her flesh. Her tongue had poisoned him as she wasted away in a dank prison cell: “Michael, Michael, my light. You have betrayed me. I did everything you asked of me. You said I would be free. I am too young!”
She would always be too young. The youngest sister of the angels, the Host’s crown jewel. He had embraced her on her pyre. “I’m sorry, girl. I’m sorry.” She could not hear him through her rage. It was then that the archangel knew what Samael had suffered when his human was torn from him. That death, the death of his Queen, changed Michael irrevocably. He finally saw the face of mortality: it was repulsive. Like flies.
The reaper appeared at the charnel grounds. He watched her murderers placidly. “Maggots,” Samael called them, eating his wormy pomegranate. “Like larva they crawl from the water, molt into mayflies, then die.” He looked pensively at the rotten fruit, which had withered since humans had tasted it. He had come to collect her soul.
“Do not take her.” Michael seethed, spitting at his twin.
Samael shrugged. “You would have me defy Her will?” He smirked, looking at the skeleton Michael clutched.
Michael wept into her charred remains. Loathing himself, he released her soul. For a moment, Samael and the Queen were reunited, like the primordial days before. For a moment, she did not recognize him “Lucifer?” she sighed. “Take me home.”
Just like Gabriel’s laugh became darker after he walked among men, something in Michael cracked. He smiled coldly at Samael. “Enjoy her grace while it lasts. But lay a hand on her, serpent, and I will flay you.”
Samael laughed roughly, ferrying her soul into the void. “I wouldn’t dream of it. I no longer need grace.” He said the word like a curse.