If Heaven had any particular weather to speak of, one could say it had been nice on the day Raphael met Aziraphale.
As far as humidity went in a supernatural plane of peace and prosperity, it was fairly mild, and there wasn't a drop of sweat or an ounce of discomfort to be found - at least, on a surface level. Delving deeper, one could find all manner of tiny sorrows, although acknowledging these was dangerous thinking. She had created a perfect world and darkness befall any who dare suggest otherwise.
Raphael was happy.
He had his job, his office, his role amongst his brothers and sisters (and siblings who weren't particularly much of either) in Heaven. He may not exactly fit in with Gabriel or Michael or any of them, but he was good at what he did, working with a steady hand and undying patience. He filled his days with colour whenever he could, appreciating the stunning flowers in the many gardens surrounding Heaven, or swirling his hand through the fountains of holy water and admiring the slight golden sheen that followed his hand. He simply chose to ignore how often his evenings were spent under the spiteful glare of his big brother Gabe, or how Sandalphon would grip his arm and push him against a wall in frustration whenever he missed a meeting - which, he was probably not as ashamed as he should have been to admit, happened a lot. He was happiest when he was creating, and that was that. It surely couldn't be his fault if the Almighty had just run out of jobs that suited him?
He'd been wandering about the spacious paths of Heaven's halls on this particular day, staring up at his best-loved canvas. He truly missed creating the stars. Out of anything She'd made yet, they were by far his favourite. They filled the sky, colours and light painting Heaven all manners of colours, day or night. Even during the day they were visible here, glimmering valiantly in a desperate song, begging to be seen. It had been the utmost honour to be bestowed with the continued task of creating them, after she'd started. He counted his favourites as he walked, meandering from corridor to empty rooms, further and further into areas of Heaven he was less familiar with. Alpha Centauri, Polaris, Orion's Belt, he loved them all. His very skin was painted a pale dusty blue, similar to how his sister Uriel's was in gold, to mimic his fondest creations. They felt intrinsically his, as much as Gabriel insisted none of them owned anything and everything belonged to Her.
He'd never say so, but he was beginning to envy the lesser angels. They had so little to fear in comparison to an archangel. He'd realised that was exactly what it was a few weeks back - fear. He had no choice of voicing his dislike for tiny miracles when Gabriel made them sound horrifically shameful.
He felt out of place and unnatural, unhappy in the one place in the universe which was designed to make its inhabitants happy. It was almost written in the name, intrinsic in the definition of the very word 'Heaven'. It was a place of goodness, not individuality, and Raphael knew he didn't fit into that.
It was frightening. He couldn't talk to his siblings about feeling this way, nor could he voice these fears to the Almighty herself. He'd certainly thought about it, of course. She was his Mother as much as everyone else's and her Love practically thrummed from every rock, leaf, and polished marble floor in Heaven. It flew from butterflies' wings, rippled in rock pools.
The fear wasn't in question of Her love, however. He'd simply never seen Her angry before. Funnily enough, he'd never seen anyone question her before, either, and the two flew too closely in each other's circles to make Raphael feel at all safe.
His jaw quivered as he wandered through stone arches into a new tier of gardens. Here, plants bloomed lusciously, waving even without any breeze. They all but glowed, some flowering and providing nectar for lorikeets and hummingbirds.
One or two had split leaves, and Raphael tenderly ran a finger over their stems, miraculously mending the broken tissue.
He liked the plants. They didn't judge him.
He came across a plant with broad leaves towering high above him. A newt rested happily on a low-hanging leaf, but that wasn't what had attracted his attention. Several of the higher leaves had snapped stems, crinkled leaves and one of the poor souls had a tear from the bottom of its leaf right to the top. The two cut halves swayed in the non-existent breeze. Raphael bit his lip.
He tilted his head to the side, letting his curls cascade over his shoulder, and took a leaf into his hands, gently working its limp form into something resembling a healthy leaf. He struggled to heal the broken stem but eventually managed to sculpt it back to life.
"There you go," he breathed, letting his smile crinkle the skin by his eyes and shift a lock of hair back over his ear to hang over his face.
"Hello?" a voice called from somewhere in the garden.
Raphael looked up, rather taken by surprise, and found himself more nervous than he'd anticipated to be caught out here when there was most likely some meeting or other to be sitting in. He span on the spot, trying to find the owner of the voice, but saw nothing, until between the dark leaves of plants which hadn't quite been named yet, he saw a tuft of white bobbing about.
More than a little intrigued, he decided to investigate. He had to wave his hand to distract a particularly offended hummingbird who'd taken a disliking to him walking too close to its favoured flower patch, but he made it around to where he'd seen the white without much difficulty.
There, he saw an angel - a lower-tier angel, clearly, but they were still one of them. They had stark-white hair and matching robes, and wings which looked soft, but slightly unkept, with some feathers sticking up entirely the wrong way and even some flight feathers in bad nick. Their aura tingled strongly with new energy - they must have been a newly-created angel, then. They were trying to peek over a tall plant to where Raphael had been standing just a few moments before by the damaged plant, clearly not realising that he'd prowled away to try and find them. A flutter of something he didn't quite recognise yet (but would one day come to understand as mischief) grew in his chest and a new grin split his face in two, and he lowered himself slightly, creeping up behind this white-haired newcomer.
He lifted a smooth, lightly freckled hand before gently poking the angel on the shoulder and letting out a playful hiss. The newcomber almost shrieked and jumped out of their skin, whirling around to face Raphael.
"Who are you?" he asked, strangely defensive, and Raphael smiled, chuckling at what had so clearly been an excellent joke. He tried not to notice the stricken look on the other angel's face.
"Hi. Sorry. Couldn't help it, you know. You could have just, you know, introduced yourself. I could hear you pretty well from over there."
The angel blinked, seemingly taken aback by Raphael's nonchalant babble.
"Yes, well," they (he?) mumbled. "Quite certain it could have been rude. I'd hate to be rude."
"Don't worry about it. I don't care. Gabs would, probably, but you don't need to worry about him. He's too busy to notice much of anything going on around him. Keeps his helpers busy, even, especially that Bee."
"Bee?" The newcomer asked, frowning.
"Beelzebub. Nice dude, pretty neutral. Goes by 'they' and gets pretty touchy about it, so watch that if you ever meet 'em."
"Oh! Sorry. Haven't told you who I am. Awful rude of me, 'specially when speaking to someone with manners." Raphael chuckled and extended his hand. "Raphael."
"A-Aziraphale," the newcomer stammered. "'He', I think... are, are you-"
"Yeah, I'm a 'he' too. At least, today. Changes sometimes. Depends on the day, really."
"No, no, I meant... sorry, I just mean..."
Raphael cocked his head, noticing the flush on Aziraphale's cheeks. He looked flustered and still appeared to be recovering from the shock of Raphael's sudden appearance. "What's up?"
"Are... are you an Archangel? I've heard of you..."
"Ah," Raphael bit his lip, feeling his own cheeks burn. "Yeah. Kinda hoped you wouldn't know that, really."
He regretted saying that the second Aziraphale's eyes widened with panic.
"Oh, my, I'm so sorry, of course stating your rank would be unsavoury of me. Please, forgive me."
"No, no!" Raphael babbled, trying to recover the situation. "Please, don't stress. It's all fine. Really, I'm not strict. I'm not like Gabe."
"Gabriel. My brother."
"Ah." Aziraphale examined Raphael. His eyes - bluer than the crystal clear rock pools scattered about the gardens - lingered over his hair, before resting on the floor. "So sorry. I really, really must be going. If you could just... I mean, well..."
"Everything alright?" Raphael frowned.
"If you would be so kind, could you... point me the way out? I'm still, well, new to the area, and..."
"Oh, right!" His head cleared with sudden understanding and he nodded. "Of course. This way." He turned on his heels and glided out of the little corner he'd found Aziraphale in, trotting back towards the exit. The angry hummingbird from earlier had disappeared, to Raphael's luck. He smiled warmly at the plant he'd been healing when he'd heard Aziraphale cry out, his chest filling with warmth as he noticed how it appeared to shiver with gratitude as he passed it by.
"You're new here, then?" he asked over his shoulder when he noticed the angel in his tracks had gone silent.
"Y-yes," Aziraphale mumbled. "New in general, I suppose."
"That's fair. We all start somewhere. Just be glad she kept you on, I guess. If you make it this far, you've made it to stay."
"I... beg your pardon?"
Raphael waved a hand. "Often times she'll keep an angel in purgatory for a bit, after making 'em. Those which don't impress her never see Heaven. She smites 'em on the spot."
"I don't remember anything like that..."
"No." Aziraphale's voice was troubled.
Raphael shrugged. "Probably erased the memories, or she just brought you right here. That's a good sign. Means you're something special."
"Yeah. I wouldn't worry." His hazel eyes slid back over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of the angel following him. "Any idea of your rank?"
"I'm a Principality. I believe."
This made Raphael stop in his tracks, and Aziraphale walked straight into him, uttering an ooph!
"Oh, oh, oh I'm so sorry! Please, forgive me, all my fault, I-"
"Aziraphale!" Raphael whirled around, lightly grabbing Aziraphale's arms. "That's wonderful! You're a Principality!"
"I, um... yes?" Aziraphale's skin was pale with fright.
"You're going to go to the Garden! You get to see Eden, you get to see the world!"
Little did Raphael know that someday he would walk by Aziraphale's side on Earth. But those days were a long way away and for now, he faced a path that would divert him from his heavenly brothers and sisters forever.
His struggles were only beginning.
I know, I know... Forever and a Bit isn't finished. I've just had this AU in mind for a long while now and I just had to get it down. I'll continue FaaB if I feel like getting to it, but right now, this has more of my attention. I'm also a full-time student now in a very intense course so most of my time is dedicated towards that! I absolutely love writing and I try to do a bit of it every day, but schooling will always come first.
I hope you enjoyed this! This will be a fanfic about how Raphael met his downfall and became Crowley. It'll likely be pretty sad but my goodness I just had to try it. I've had this idea about Prefall!Crowley being a pretty upbeat, chattery, babbling dude - basically Crowley, but without any inhibitions or fears regarding his goodness, who just freely lets himself make others happy. It's a very personal view of him for me to write and I absolutely love it. Enjoy!