It pained him to think how long it had been since Elua and his Companions had brightened the world with their presence. Elua, with his beauteous smile and his trail of flowers, tempered by the stern glower of the perfect companion at his back. It was the angels that taught them to love passionately and without shame, not because it was the right thing to do but because it was in their nature to love and the acceptance of that nature – no matter how dark or painful the love – meant more to them than words could ever express. Alcuin never thought he would come to fear his love for Anafiel – the kind of fear that paralyzed people at the precipice of a very long drop.
And just like someone about to leap down the deepest and darkest well of human emotion, he squeezed his eyes shut and cringed away from it as though the soft feathers and fragile bone of the angel's wings could protect him from himself. “My Anafiel...” He whispered like an unheard prayer. “My Anafiel was a scion of the wise old Shemhazai, with his vast libraries and his clockwork automatons from an age long since forgotten. He believed that all the world's problems stemmed from ignorance and hubris – and that any problem could be solved with just the right application of knowledge and understanding.”
“His mother taught him compassion,” his voice was taut with emotion. “He never forgot her – not even after she grew old and died, not even as the centuries passed him by. He never forgot his debt to the scion of Eisheth, but it was Shemhazai that taught him how best to be compassionate.” A tear rolled down the bridge of his nose and dampened the feathers at his face as the angel leaned over to kiss him. The words that passed the angel's lips then had not been spoken for quite some time, for they were sacred, and he knew all at once that he had not been played false. Namaah, too, knew something of compassion.