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A Simple Life

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They’re poor and cold and hungry, but Anna doesn’t mind at all.

She runs away with her brother when they are both sixteen years old, fleeing the village they grew up in with nothing but the clothes on their backs and each other. They walk for days before a man with a cart sees them on the side of the road and offers them a ride.

“Where are you two goin’?” he asks when Lucifer helps her clamber into the back of the cart, the dirty hay adding new spots to her already stained dress. She stays silent and looks at her brother, who shakes his head and sighs.

“Anywhere. Just away from here.”

He smiles softly at her and says that everything will be alright; they will find a place far away from their home village where no one knows them as brother and sister, that they can find a house and a way to live.

Anna presses her lips together and doesn’t tell him the truth.

.

They travel constantly for almost a year, heading south, always south, in an effort to get as far away as they can. Her brother does whatever work villagers give him to buy them a few days at the inn or enough coin for a meal. She helps the innkeepers and sews for the local women and tries to keep the memories of Heaven at bay. Lucifer doesn’t remember their real father, or their home, or even his real name. To the rest of humanity he is simply Luke, a farmboy traveling with his young bride to find a better life.

To her he is still the Morningstar, still that bright, beautiful angel who refused to love anyone more than their father.

She thinks their shared heritage is the reason they’re drawn to each other, even on Earth and in the bodies of human siblings. It’s wrong in every way imaginable and she knows that, knows that brother and sister are not meant to live as husband and wife on the mortal plane, but she can’t stay away from him. She thinks that he unconsciously remembers Heaven and they bond they shared there, and that’s why he can’t stay away from her, either. That those long-buried memories are the reasons why he slipped into her bed at night and stole her away from the house when she was to be married, refusing to let her go.

But Anna doesn’t care about the reasons, she just cares that she has him.

.

They decide to stop travelling in a little village near the coast, where she can hear the ocean rolling through the window in the small, one-room cottage that he buys with the money he’s saved from their travels. He raises pigs, and she sews for the women in town and tries to grow what she can in their little garden. They’re hungry and cold and poor, but it doesn’t matter to Anna as long as they’re together.

When she does go into town to deliver her sewing or buy supplies they’ve scraped the coin together for, the women ask why she doesn’t have a child yet. She tells them she doesn’t know, that it must be her fault, that she must be barren. They coo and sigh and suggest remedies and herbs that she thanks them for but does not use. Instead, she grows the appropriate plants to keep a child from taking root in her, smiling each time her blood comes and ignoring the slightly disappointed look in her brother’s eyes.

“We can’t, and you know that,” she says quietly one night in bed, bellies full for the first time in years from a butchered pig.

“I know, but I want one,” he sighs, pulling her close. “A little girl with your hair and my eyes to crawl into my lap, a little boy to sit on my shoulders. I do.”

You’d treat them better than our father real father did. You wouldn’t send them away for loving you, she thinks. But he does not remember their shared past, the years whittled away watching humanity rise and build and fight, so she says nothing.

.

He remembers on their twenty-third birthday.

Anna can tell by the way he stiffens behind her and grips her harder, the arm flung over her middle digging into her skin with bruising force. She turns in his grip and smiles softly, running her fingers over his cheek and sighing.

“Hello, brother,” she says quietly. “It’s good to have you back.”

“You knew,” he accuses. “You knew and you didn’t tell me.”

“I couldn’t. You’d think I was insane.”

He leaves without saying anything and walks down the dirt path that leads to their cottage, hands in his pockets. She feeds the pigs and works in her garden and tries to decide what to make for dinner.

He returns just as the sun is setting and rages, destroying their small cottage. He smashes furniture and plates and shreds the curtains she’d painstakingly sewn to try to keep the cold out. She lets him take his anger out on their home, not caring. They can easily find replacements.

“It’s okay,” she soothes, holding his head to her breast when he finally quiets. “It is okay, Lucifer, it is.”

“How long have you known?” he asks. “When did you remember?”

“When we were nine years old and I fell and cut my leg,” she whispers. “You remember, right? We were climbing trees and you tried to catch me. I saw all the blood and suddenly I knew. I couldn’t tell you. I’m so, so sorry.”

“Why did you follow me?”

“I loved you,” she answers, as if it’s the simplest reason in the world. To her, it is. “I still love you.”

“I hate Him for what he’s done to me, to us,” Lucifer spits. “We’ll find a way to get back, Anna, we’ll find a way to fix this, I’ll-”

“You don’t mean that,” she interrupts. “You’re just angry at him right now. That’s okay. We’ll go back one day, you know. We’ll be with Him again. We just have to wait. He wanted you to learn, and you are learning, aren’t you?”

He says nothing, but lets her lead him to their table and eats the food she’d made, anyway.

.

“I don’t love humans more than I love Him,” Lucifer says years later, curled up behind her in their shared bed in another village. A sheep bleats outside the window.

“That’s okay.”

“I love you more than I love Him.”

She stiffens and rolls away from him. “You mustn’t. You can’t.”

He kisses her quiet. “I do. Thank you for falling with me.”

She settles back in his arms and doesn’t tell him the truth, even now.

I love you more than I love Him, too.