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Once Upon a Time Before Eden

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In the beginning, there were two thrones in Hell.

The first was for the Seraphim who shaped and hung the stars. The seraphim who led the rebellion. The Morningstar. The King of Hell.

The second was for the Archangel who painted the colours that complimented the burning stars. The archangel who healed others and cultivated the garden. The archangel who followed. The archangel who sauntered vaguely downwards. The Serpent of Eden. The Second King.

After the First War in Heaven, there were two thrones in Hell, two Kings.

After the Fall of Man, the second throne was empty. It has remained empty ever since.

And demons have always had poor memory, and the time of the Second King was too close to their time in heaven, a time that none wanted to remember. No one in Hell remembers their second king. No one but the kings themselves.

———

Whenever Crowley reported to Hell in any official capacity, he took the main entrance. Whenever he wanted to see his former lover and co-ruler, he took a more private entrance. Not once in 6,000 years has he taken that entrance. But, there was always a first time for everything.

The doors swung open even before Crowley pushed them, opening into a grand dining hall. The long dining table was the centerpiece, long enough that it could easily seat the entire higher court of Hell. But, currently, there was only one man-shaped being waiting for Crowley.

Lucifer Morningstar looked up when the doors swung open. He was seated at the head of the table. His eyes were the color of the white dwarfs that they once worked on together, and they seemed striking even at the distance that separated the two kings. The First King of Hell smirked as Crowley crossed the threshold of the room, eyes looking over the sauntering demon.

“You’re late,” Lucifer drawled. “By 6,000 years, really.”

Crowley stopped behind the chair to Lucifer’s right. “Ngk,” he hesitated. What do you say, really, to an estranged husband of 6,000 years? Crowley shrugged. “Earth was more interesting.”

Lucifer hummed, drumming his fingers over the table. It was strange to see him in his more human form when the last time Crowley saw him, he had towered over them, monstrous and red. “I would assume so considering your actions,” Lucifer waved a hand towards the chair. “Sit, darling. Shall we talk?”

Crowley sighed and pulled the chair. He sprawled on it in the same way that he did on the throne in his flat. “So, the apocalypse.”

“Right,” Lucifer chuckled as he leaned back on his chair. “That dreadful business, one that made you into a traitor, hm?”

“You weren’t at my trial,” Crowley smirked as he pointed it out.

“Funny, that,” Lucifer leaned forward, and for a moment, their eyes shifted into the colors of the nebulae that he once helped Crowley paint. “As I recall, you weren’t there either.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone then?”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Lucifer said in a teasing tone, but there was nothing amusing about his expression, closed off and guarded in the way that he never was when they had still been angels together. Crowley hated it. He still didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be back in London. He wanted to be back with his angel. But, he had a lot of things to take care of, a lot of issues to resolve in Hell. “Despite everything, I don’t want you dead, Crowley.”

“Why not? I abandoned you,” Crowley stated.

“I don’t blame you. It’s filthy in here,” the Morning star sneered.

“And so you just decided to end the world?”

“That was never my plan!” Lucifer snarled. His eyes shifted once again, becoming more like the dark void between their creations. “You, more than anyone else, know that. It’s all Her plan in the end.”

“So defy Her,” Crowley murmured in a soft voice, covering Lucifer’s clenched fist on the table with his own hand. It was really strange being back there. It was strange to try comforting the First of the Fallen. It was almost like they were back at the Beginning. “We did it once.”

“You mean, I did it,” Lucifer frowned. “You never would have fallen if it wasn’t for me.”

“I was the one who chose to ask questions. That’s all it took in the old days.”

That brought a chuckle out from the First King of Hell. “Questions,” the King repeated, eyes turning gold like the sun. The corners of his eyes crinkled with amusement, warm and very much like the seraph who taught Crowley how to make the stars. “And what are your questions now, darling?”

Crowley swallowed nervously. “About us,” he said. He wasn’t sure how to put it. He didn’t wish for Lucifer’s destruction or their own, but it also wasn’t the same as when they had first fallen. It hasn’t been the same in a long while. There was a reason Crowley hasn’t seen the Morningstar since Eden. There had always been many reasons. “What are we now?”

“The same Kings we always were.”

“That’s not what I asked,” Crowley grimaced. “And I’m not a king, me, just a regular tempter in the Garden.”

“Your throne still stands.”

“Most people think that it’s Lilith’s throne, not mine.”

“One King below and one above,” Lucifer said with a wave of his hand as if he was gesturing to the whole of Hell. “That was the deal I gave you after Eden.”

“Ngk,” Crowley scowled. The other was playing with him, trying to get Crowley to say what he means. That’s always been the case. “What happens to our relationship, Lucifer?”

“What do you want to happen, Crowley?”

“I want to go back to Earth,” Crowley said.

“To your angel?”

Crowley froze, eyeing the King warily. He didn’t look angry, but Lucifer was rarely angry. That was why it was always terrifying when he was. Crowley remembered the airbase, remembered anger that hasn’t been seen since the first War in Heaven.

“I’m not going to do anything to him,” Lucifer said. “He was the one in your trial, yes?”

Crowley shrugged. “We were just following instructions.”

“I don’t mind,” Lucifer finally said, leaning back on his chair. “I still like you, Crowley, but I think you and I can both agree that we don’t have the same bond we did eons ago.”

“I still feel it, though,” Crowley said, frowning. “The bond.”

“I don’t think any bind She blesses herself can be undone. But, you said it yourself. We don’t need Her permission. We defy Her, like we did before.”

Crowley nodded. “So, I’m free to stay on Earth.”

“Yes, though I would ask you to take care of any demons that follow your lead. Be the actual King Above that you always were.”

“You think they’ll follow?” Crowley asked in surprise.

“Did you learn nothing from the First Rebellion? Of course they’ll follow.”

“I’m not a king,” Crowley shifted nervously. “I don’t know how to be.”

The expression on Lucifer’s face softened, and Crowley remembered why he always followed, why he had been overjoyed to know that their souls had been bonded by God upon their creation. “I can teach you.”

“Like old times?”

“Like old times,” Lucifer agreed. His eyes were the golden shine of stars now, warmer and kinder. “Perhaps, you can teach me too.”

Crowley’s lips twitched. “What can I possibly teach you?”

“Your love of the Earth,” Lucifer said. He chuckled. “Raising a son, apparently.”

Crowley smiled at that. “Does that mean you’re not gonna try ending the world again?”

“For you, darling,” Lucifer murmured. “Until you grow tired of it and your angel. Do you have any other requests?”

“Don’t wait for me,” Crowley said. “I don’t mean that I won’t come back. I’ll try to visit and you can too. But I know you and Lilith…”

“Is that permission?”

“You gave me one too.”

“So, I did,” Lucifer said, closing his eyes. When he opened them again, they’ve settled to the softer yellow color. He poured wine in both their glasses and pushed one closer to Crowley. “Shall we try again?”

“You should be like this all the time,” Crowley teases as he took up the glass. His earlier nervousness seemed to have melted away. For these few moments, the two of them were both Crowley and Lucifer, Raphael and Heylel. “Much more pleasant.”

Lucifer threw his head back and laughed. He held his wine glass up for a toast. “To us?”

“To our freedom and happiness,” Crowley agreed as he toasted his glass to the other.

———

Once, there were two thrones in Hell and two Kings. Now, there was one King Below and One Above.

The King Below ruled strictly but fairly. He now shared his throne with his queen. There were a lot of things that they needed to reform now that the Great plan has been derailed. They didn’t mind that so much. After all, someone once said that it was better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven.

The King Above waited with his angel in an antique bookshop surrounded with his houseplants. He waited for those who would follow the same way he had once followed. He made a promise, and he would fulfill it.

Once, there were two thrones in Hell. Once, there were two mated angels who made the stars together. Once, they had been happy in Heaven.

Now, there was one throne in Hell and one Above. Now, there are two Fallen Angels who had chosen their beloveds. Now, they are much happier where they are.