The angel opened its eyes.
It was not morning, because mornings hadn't finished being invented yet, but if they had it would have been the kind of perfect morning, where the rising sun meets a band of clouds at the horizon of a cerulean sky and paints them a thousand glorious colours*.
*Including those shades of hot pink and neon orange which have irritated artists down the centuries because any attempt to reproduce them only ends up looking tasteless and improbable. God likes a good laugh as much as the next ineffable being.
The firmament was full of heavenly beauty. There was an overwhelming sense of love and joy and quiet busyness, as of innumerable beings getting on with serious and important but nevertheless fulfilling work.
After contemplating this for a while, the angel began to wonder whether it oughtent to be doing something as well and started looking around for someone to ask.
It was just beginning to feel rather worried when a shining being with tumbling black curls came plunging out of the sky and alighted nearby.
"Hallo" he called.
The newcomer looked round. "Hail and well met, brother. Art thou newly created?"
The angel nodded. "Yes, I mean, yea. Verily. I was just,um, wondering if there was anything I ought to be. You know. Getting on with."
"Well" said the other angel, in the confident but vague tones of one who has only marginally more idea of what's going on than his companion, but is going to milk that superior knowledge for all it's worth, "I heard that the Archangel Michael's going round assigning Heavenly duties, but right now we're meant to be Serenely Basking in the Glory of the Presence."
The angel brightened. He felt he was certainly capable of basking, and could probably muster a respectable amount of serenity into the bargain.
"Incidentally"said his new friend "Hast thou tried out thy wings yet? They're rather good."
The angel shook its head and stretched out the long muscles arching out from its upper back, giving the pinions an experimental shake. The feathers were white, but they shone silver and gold in the Heavenly light.
"Come on then" said the other angel encouragingly, grinning and executing a lazy half-roll up into the air.
He smiled, and jumped, letting the great wings spread and catch him. A wild laugh caught in his throat as the wings bore him up, the sky streaming over them. They soared and swooped, turnng somersaults for the sheer exultant joy of it. Beneath them a world was being made, and the sky was filled with angelsong.
"What is thy name, brother?" called the dark-haired angel, as they coasted lazily under a newly-formed cloud bank. "I am Hastiel." he added, with the satisfaction of someone who hasn't had a name for very long, and is quite proud of it.
The angel had never thought of that, having its own name. It had been too caught up in the wonder of the ineffable Name that that suffused its being. But as soon as he thought of it, there it was, the knowledge clear and sound in his mind like the pealing of a bell.
"Listarael" he said, tasting the sound of it. "That's my name. Listarael."
They spiralled up through the white mists, and flopped down onto the cloud bank, willing it solid with a thought.
Listarael looked over at Hastiel and burst out laughing. "Your feathers are all fluffy."
"Well, so are yours" Hastiel said, smoothing down his pinions.
Listarael brought his wings around and craned round to look at them.They were indeed a rumpled mess. If pigeons had been invented the sight would have brought to mind the image of one flying through a hedge backwards, but they hadn't, so it didn't. He brushed down the front and then tried ineffectually to smooth out the wingfeathers at the back. It was like trying to lick your own elbow.
"I can't reach" he said.
"It's easier if you get someone else to do it," Hastiel said, looking out through a curtain of white. "Sit down and I'll-"
Listarael, who had been trying to get his wing at a similar angle, fell over. Hastiel laughed. "I didn't mean quite that fast."
Listarael tried to give him a righteous glare, but he'd never done it before, and ended up grinning instead. Hastiel came round behind him and began smoothing the long feathers back into place, zipping them shut and at the same time pulling out tension in the delicate muscle that Listarael had not even noticed until it was gone. Being groomed, he decided, was even nicer than flying.
Hastiel was finishing the left wing when a sound made them both look up.
An angel was singing.
This in itself was not unusual. The air was rich with the melodious voices of the heavenly host.
But this angel, spiralling upwards on golden wings, pale throat arched up to the sky, was singing not a melody but a harmony, an ululation of notes that wrapped around the refrain and lifted it up into something that was not merely beautiful but sublime.
"Who's that?" Listarael whispered in awe, as the figure soared higher and higher.
"That's Lucifer" Hastiel whispered back, his fingers stilled, not taking his eyes off the shining creature. A new concept appeared in his head and he tried the words out experimentally: "Son of the Morning".
"Lucifer" Listarael repeated reverently, as the angel rose out of sight, the last notes pealing crystalline in the clear air.
It was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen.