The sky was growing darker, grey clouds covering any sign of blue as the sun sank below the mountains. They were ancient, taken apart by wind and rain until the cliffs and crags became smoothed down and covered by soil. The stone was cold, the soil damp, and frosty winds rustled what few leaves remained on the trees. Quiet birdsong had trailed off before vanishing, replaced by crickets and the occasional frog. In the early winter, the land was unkind during the day, and even more so at night. To an outsider, it was near inhospitable.
Hubert sat on a fallen tree, too tired to stand and unwilling to leave himself in the wet dirt. He thought he had shaken all of the dirt and leaves out of his clothes at this point, but somehow he kept finding more. The air only grew colder and colder as the light faded from the sky, and in exhaustion he put his head in his hands. More dirt shook out of his hair, silent as it returned to the forest floor. He did not know if he could die in this state, but it was a possibility. Or perhaps that was part of his punishment, to wander the earth eternally, cold and broken.
He was–well, he had been–an angel. He hadn't exactly matched the ideal image of an angel, appearance grim and rarely smiling. He preferred to keep his own company, his exchanges with others short and curt. Maybe that was one of the reasons they had not said anything when he was cast out. Though in the end, their opinions hadn't mattered. He had gone against what Seiros had ordered, and he had been damned for it. And no one could disagree with Seiros but the Goddess herself.
He let out a long breath, watching it fog in front of him before disappearing. The color in the landscape had begun to melt away as darkness set in, and Hubert saw nothing familiar. He had not spent very much time on earth, and had never had much of an interest in it or the humans that occupied it. It hadn't seemed relevant at the time, though now he was beginning to regret it. He was equally unfamiliar with pain, something angels rarely felt, though after his fall from heaven it was about all he could think about. When Seiros had cast him out, she had broken his wing to mark him as no longer one of them. He was unsure how much of it was left, but it burned fiercely, and he couldn't bring himself to try and look.
The sound of a branch snapping broke through the chorus of insects, and Hubert jerked his head upwards. This was foreign terrain, and Hubert was unsure what could be lurking between the dark trees. Whatever it was, it sounded large.
Hubert pushed himself to his feet, wincing as the movement strained tired muscles and pulled at new wounds. He hoped an animal might sense he was not human and would leave him alone, since he had nothing to defend himself with. This wasn't how he wanted to find out whether he could perish or not.
Leaves crunched nearby, closer now, and Hubert tensed, turning in that direction. This time, though, it sounded more like a footstep. A human footstep.
He still couldn't see anything moving in the gloom, but at least he could communicate with a human. Steadying himself, he called out in as strong a voice as he could manage. "Show yourself!"
A shape emerged from behind the trees, a human-like shadow. But as it grew nearer, Hubert could sense something was off. It moved too fluidly, too quietly through the leaves, and unconsciously Hubert stepped back, bumping into the tree behind him.
Rather quickly its form became more clear. It appeared to be a man, with broad shoulders and long orange hair held up in a high ponytail. He wore a robe of some sort, though it quickly became clear he had nothing on underneath, a simple sash tied around the middle to keep it on. It was far too cold to wear such revealing attire, only adding to the strange atmosphere around the figure. Quickly becoming more distracting than his odd outfit was the fact he had two horns growing from his head, and a long, thin tail that flicked behind him. Hubert realized what he was just before the figure stopped in front of him. Without thought his wings splayed behind him threateningly, but what remained of his left wing pulled on torn muscles, and he nearly fell to his knees at the sudden, sharp pain. He steadied himself on the tree, baring his teeth. "Stay back, demon."
The demon held his hands up placatingly, stopping there. "I do not wish to hurt you," he said. His voice had a pleasant cadence to it, words clear and crisp around the edges. "I saw you fall, and, well... I was curious, really." His eyebrows drew together in concern as he looked over Hubert. "You are hurt. Your wing..."
"Enough," Hubert snarled, teeth grit in pain and frustration. "I have nothing for you. Leave me." It felt as if he couldn't get any more unlucky, landing in such a forsaken place and then immediately being found by a demon. The creature surely wanted some of his power, whatever he might have left. His feathers and blood both had value on earth and elsewhere.
The demon made no move to leave, putting his hands on his hips. "I do not wish to take anything from you. In fact, I would like to help you. You seem to be in a lot of pain."
Hubert bristled at the audacity of the creature. "Your kind are not helpful. Save your lies for someone more gullible and leave this place."
The demon looked more annoyed now, and crossed his arms. "I was here first, you know. And I am being serious. I have never seen an angel up close, and if you insist on seeing me as selfish, that is enough payment for me to help you."
Hubert began to respond, refuse him again–when was a demon ever satisfied in an exchange? But what was left of his wing burned more intensely, the falling temperature only making every bruise and cut more painful. If the demon truly did help him, it might be worth whatever price he would inevitably ask.
The demon seemed to sense his acquiescence and smiled, one far too pleasant for a creature like him. "I know of a place nearby where we could get out of the cold," he said, just as evenly as before. "It is a human dwelling, one the owners only use in the summer months. There is a fireplace and a place to rest."
Hubert let out a sigh, feeling the frigid air prickle at his skin. There would be frost forming soon enough, and already Hubert was having trouble seeing his surroundings in the dark. "Fine."
The demon grinned. "Thank you. Follow me, I will lead you there."
The demon had told him that the cabin was not far away, but the cold had crept deep into Hubert's body and every step only made his new wounds hurt more. The demon didn't seem bothered in the least, introducing himself eagerly as "Ferdinand." He had paused in his step then to look expectantly at Hubert, and Hubert only replied in kind to keep them both moving forward.
The cabin wasn't very large, but it was decorated in a way that made it feel cozy, like a hideaway from the outside world. The walls and floors were made of wood, with large beams crossing the ceiling. The main room that Hubert found himself in seemed to be the centerpiece of the cabin, with a small hallway leading somewhere into the back of the house, and a narrow stairway going up to what appeared to be a loft area. To the left of the front door along the wall was a fireplace as the demon–Ferdinand, he reluctantly corrected himself–as Ferdinand described. There were a few scorch marks on the stone around it, and charred lumps and ash filled the inside. A couch faced the fireplace, with a small table that had a top made of glass between the two. There were a number of magazines strewn across the surface of the table, seeming to show local attractions and advertisements for businesses in a nearby town. Hubert didn't care to look too closely at them.
Ferdinand had begun to put new wood into the fireplace, but paused and glanced behind him at Hubert standing next to the couch, looking a bit lost. Again his eyes caught on Hubert's wings, his expression telling Hubert he appeared rather pitiful in that moment. Hubert glared back. He had been able to hold back from shivering in front of the demon, but try as he might his wing still trembled, no matter how close he pulled it to his body.
Ferdinand turned back to the fireplace, positioning the evenly cut pieces of firewood to his satisfaction. "You should sit down. I am sure you are exhausted."
Hubert stared at the clean couch. "... I would get the furniture dirty," he said, a weak excuse to not do as the demon asked despite the sense it made.
Ferdinand waved a hand. "That is not important right now. I will deal with it later, if you insist."
Hubert sighed in defeat and gently sat down on the couch. It was softer than it looked, and he naturally leaned back, though the second the cool fabric touched what was left of his wing he shot back up. He couldn't feel it well, but in that moment it had felt like he had stuck it in the lit fireplace.
Wincing, Hubert squinted against the sudden bright light. The room was tinted orange now, and Ferdinand surveyed him again from beside the fireplace, hands on his hips. His gaze softened as Hubert's gaze met his, only making Hubert's expression sour. "I believe there are basic medical supplies here," he said, finally looking away. "I am unsure what I can do, but I am sure it will be better than nothing."
He walked off to some other room in the cabin, any sort of scathing response from Hubert silenced by the warmth of the fire. He could still hear Ferdinand rusting around behind wooden walls, and he tried to relax. His eyes fell shut, and he flexed his fingers as the cold seeped out of them.
When he opened them again, more items had appeared on the table in front of him, piled on top of the magazines. Bandages, wraps, tweezers, and a bottle of rubbing alcohol were tossed haphazardly. Ferdinand appeared again and set gauze on the table as well, placing it more carefully on top now that Hubert was eyeing the mess with some judgement.
Ferdinand sat on the edge of the couch, making Hubert automatically lean towards the other side. "I have some experience in taking care of wounds," he said. "So you do not need to worry." Hubert did not move, and Ferdinand sighed. "If you want my help, you will have to be a little closer. And you will need to remove some of these layers as well," he added, looking him over.
Hubert froze where he sat, coming to terms with that statement. Perhaps this too was part of his punishment for defying Seiros.
Hubert grit his teeth and reached for the sash that held his pauldron on his shoulder. He had never thought much of his clothes; many of the other angels had far more complex designs, fabric artfully woven together into patterns Hubert couldn't and didn't care to replicate.
While the demon seemed confused by the numerous layers Hubert wore, Hubert only focused on his task of removing as little as absolutely necessary. First, his pauldron. Then the short cape that covered his right shoulder. It had a cut up the back that allowed his wing to move freely, though as he reached over to remove it the movement stretched his left shoulder, pulling on what remained of his wing on that side. He stopped with a hiss of pain, and Ferdinand immediately shifted closer, sitting directly next to him on his left.
"Do not strain yourself," he said, earning another glare from Hubert. "Please, let me help you. That is why you are here, yes?"
Hubert knew what help from the demon would entail, and yet he had foolishly thought he would be able to make it out of this without having the demon lay hands on him. He dug his fingernails into his palm, joints still stiff from cold, and turned to face Ferdinand. "Fine."
Ferdinand took a second to look at the cape before reaching out and easily undoing it, pulling it off and setting it on the table where Hubert had put his pauldron. "I do not understand why you are wearing all of this," he said, making a face. "It seems rather complicated. Unnecessarily so."
"I wouldn't expect you to understand," Hubert said as condescendingly as he could manage, "considering your... outfit." With Ferdinand sitting right next to him, his distinct lack of layers was all the more obvious. His robe was tied so that it fell open around his chest, the sash tight around his slim waist. Hubert wanted to blame it on the cold or maybe his injuries distracting him, but he knew neither were the reason his gaze hesitated there. He should not be surprised that a demon would be attractive, given that was how they lured humans in, but he found he could not look away. The robe was short over his legs as well, and now that he was not in the darkened woods he noticed what appeared to be a tattoo of a snake curling its way up his thigh, disappearing under the fabric somewhere along his hip.
Hubert realized he was staring and inadvertently glanced up to Ferdinand's face. Ferdinand raised an eyebrow, the corners of his mouth curling up. He was obviously enjoying the attention, and with an irritated huff Hubert turned his gaze back to the table, pretending the medical supplies were suddenly more interesting than Ferdinand.
Ferdinand reached next for the sash around Hubert's waist, and Hubert nearly felt his heart stop in his chest. It was bad enough he was going to have to take his shirt off for the demon to examine his wing. Going any further than that was more than he wanted to think about. Hubert stopped him with a hand around his wrist, and Ferdinand looked up at him, confused. "That's not necessary," Hubert said, glancing aside, feeling warmth climb up his face. "The... the back of the shirt has buttons. To make it easier to remove." His ears burned with embarrassment, though Ferdinand seemed to find no problem.
"I see," Ferdinand said, having the decency to look serious. "If you could turn so your back faces me, I will unbutton the back while you do the front. I will be careful with your wing, of course."
Something about this felt terribly inappropriate, Hubert thought, reaching for the buttons of his collar with shaky hands. No one else had ever seen him like this, and the fact that the first would be a demon filled him with revulsion. While so far Ferdinand had been honest enough, he was still a demon. It was possible that this was all a trick to convince Hubert to let his guard down. Demons were inherently untrustworthy, and just because Hubert wanted him to be kind did not mean he would be.
Ferdinand undid the buttons at the back of his shirt, and while the cabin air was warm from the fire it still felt cool against his bare skin, and Hubert didn't quite manage to suppress the shiver it sent through him. Ferdinand was silent as Hubert undid the rest at the front. Hubert shut his eyes as he continued, scowling. He felt like he was being scrutinized, evaluated in some unknown manner, and he hated it. His wings must have been shaking again, as Ferdinand put a gentle hand on his back between them, warm through the fabric of his shirt. Soon enough that barrier would be gone, and Hubert hated that thought as well. He hated relying on someone else, he hated having to trust a demon, and he hated the way the hand on his back stilled his trembling. He hated all of it, but he had no choice.
He was almost done with the buttons, the process greatly slowed by the stiffness in his joints and the scrapes on his fingers, though he stopped when he felt Ferdinand shift and ever so gently touch the feathers of his good wing. Immediately Hubert stilled while Ferdinand ran his hand over them slowly, almost reverently, brushing dirt out from between the feathers. He smoothed a few back into place that had bent at odd angles, something Hubert hadn't even felt with the way his other wing burned. He felt he should tell Ferdinand to stop, to return to the task at hand and fulfill his promise to help, but he was silent. There was something comforting in his movements, an indication of not just curiosity but true concern, and Hubert let him do as he pleased as he pulled apart the final few buttons.
Hubert began to pull his shirt back over his shoulders, though stopped when the fabric caught on some broken feathers on his bad wing, causing it to sting fiercely. Ferdinand reached out and took the edges of his shirt below where Hubert held it. "Let me," he said simply, and Hubert relented. Ferdinand pulled the shirt off his left side carefully, maneuvering it so Hubert only felt it brush by. After what was left of his wing was out, Ferdinand paused, clearly unsure how the whole wing was meant to fit through the shirt. Hubert turned back and met Ferdinand's eye, and wordlessly Ferdinand let Hubert take it back and pull it off as he normally would, stretching his wing so it fit more easily through the cut in the fabric.
Now that it was off, Hubert could see how the entire left side of the back was covered in blood, some parts sticky but most of it already dried, stiffening the fabric and staining it dark red. It smelled like iron and dirt, and it finally began to sink in how bad the injury was. He knew his wing was mostly gone, had heard the bones snap under Seiros's fingers, but he hadn't been able to see any proof of it until now. He set the shirt with the rest of his clothes he had removed, hands shaking.
Somehow he felt cold and hot at the same time, watching Ferdinand reach for one of the pieces of gauze he had set out. Pressing the gauze to the opening of the bottle of rubbing alcohol, he quickly soaked it through. "From what I can tell," he said, turning back to Hubert, "it seems like the only severe wound you have is your wing. You have some scrapes and bruises, as I am sure you know. I can help clean the scrapes at least." He paused in speaking, and Hubert could tell he was examining his wing again. "There is quite a bit of blood around your wing, so I will clean it off to see it better." He sounded almost apologetic about the whole thing.
"... Thank you." Hubert had to force the words out, but he thought at this point Ferdinand deserved at least that much.
Ferdinand didn't respond, instead focusing on wiping away the dirt and blood that clung to the remaining few feathers on that wing. The disinfectant felt like ice against his skin, burning when it touched an open wound. Hubert held himself still anyways, not wanting to make anything worse. Ferdinand set down the gauze he had been using, now stained bright red, and took another, adding more rubbing alcohol before continuing. Torn skin and broken feathers alike were cleaned, and a few dirty white feathers drifted to the floor. Hubert glanced down at them, though Ferdinand didn't seem interested despite the value they had to him.
Hubert turned his gaze to the fireplace, refusing to consider such matters any further. If the demon wanted them, Hubert would let him take them as payment. Anything else, he would figure out later.
After a few very long minutes, Ferdinand reached for the bandages on the table and began to unravel them. "It does not look great," he said carefully, "but it does not look terrible either. I am going to bandage it, which will stop any more bleeding and let the skin begin to heal. Your shoulder has a scrape on it, so I think the best way to do this will be to bandage your wing and shoulder separately, and then secure those by wrapping it around your chest."
The idea of letting the demon stay close to him even longer, the thought of his hands on his body–it all seemed agonizing, though his wing hurt even more so. Hubert didn't have the strength to argue anymore, and feeling rather defeated he turned away, nodding so Ferdinand knew to continue. He must also have looked rather miserable, because Ferdinand hesitated before adding, "I will be quick with your wing, of course. I am sure it is not very comfortable. Um... If you like, I can search for painkillers as well."
"I don't care," Hubert said under his breath. He lifted his arm so Ferdinand could begin bandaging it. He did not want to think it, but Ferdinand was correct. He was feeling absolutely miserable.
Ferdinand began to wrap the bandages around his shoulder, keeping them tight but not overly so. He was quick about it like he promised, and after about a minute he put his hand on Hubert's arm to tell him he didn't need to hold it up anymore. Hubert flinched when Ferdinand took his broken wing in his hands, and he could practically sense the deep frown Ferdinand had on his face as he looked at it closely.
"If I may ask..." Ferdinand murmured, making Hubert tense up. "What happened?"
Hubert scowled at the floor. "Are you familiar with Saint Seiros?"
"The founder of the Church of Seiros?" Ferdinand paused in his bandaging. "While I am not overly familiar with the religion, yes, I know of her. Did she have something to do with this?"
"She did it," Hubert muttered, remembering the look of disdain she had in her pale green eyes before tearing him apart. The pain of his wing being wrapped up was a suitable distraction.
"Seiros?" Ferdinand asked in disbelief, clearly not expecting that answer. "I thought she was supposed to be gentle and kind! Or at least that is what humans say about her."
Hubert chuckled despite himself at Ferdinand's strong response. "She can be quite cruel in the name of her own justice."
Ferdinand finished with his wing, fingers lingering over the bandages before shifting even closer. "Turn your back towards me so I can finish. Why would Seiros do something like this to you? Did you do something terrible? If so, you can be honest with me. I am a demon, I have heard worse."
Hubert shut his eyes as Ferdinand began near his shoulder blade, successfully holding back a flinch this time when Ferdinand's hand pressed against him. While he knew the touch was coming, it still felt unexpected, though once Ferdinand stilled there was something pleasant about it. "There were humans who were worshipping one of the saints rather than the Goddess," Hubert explained. "Seiros wished to punish them, but someone close to me wished to try to guide them in the right direction. Against Seiros's wishes, that is what I did. I do not know if I was successful, as Seiros found out rather quickly and cast me out." He sighed. "And now I am here."
"Someone close to you?" Ferdinand asked in a manner that made Hubert turn to glare at him.
"She is like family," Hubert said rather sharply, "though perhaps you choose poorer company."
Ferdinand did not look offended. "I chose you, so I do not think you can say that in good faith." Ferdinand leaned over his shoulder to wrap the bandages around him properly. "Either way, Seiros sounds quite cruel," he continued, ignoring the way Hubert startled at his proximity.
"Ironic, hearing that from a demon," Hubert muttered with a smirk. Ferdinand's body brushed against his good wing, and he pulled it in against himself.
"I am not cruel!" Ferdinand exclaimed, suddenly pressing close and leaning over Hubert's shoulder to meet his eye. "I may cause trouble sometimes, but I can understand humans making mistakes!" He finally moved back, tearing the bandage and tucking the end between Hubert's shoulders. "If it had been me, I would not have cast you out for that."
Ferdinand had caught him off guard with his response, though at his final comment he couldn't help but laugh, turning his head and covering his mouth with the back of his hand. "If you had been Seiros, I imagine many things would be different," he said once he had the breath. Glancing back, he found Ferdinand watching him in surprise, eyes wide. Again, he found he couldn't look away from the demon. "Well," he said a bit distractedly. "I appreciate the sentiment anyhow."
Ferdinand stared for a moment longer–at what, Hubert didn't know–before turning to the supplies on the table, lips pressed tightly together. "How does the bandaging feel? Do I need to fix anything?"
Hubert carefully moved what was left of his wing. He couldn't stretch it far, but the bandages held it in place with little pain. The wrapping around his arm was a little more awkward, though as long as he didn't stretch it completely out it felt fine as well. The bandages were an unfamiliar sensation, but not necessarily uncomfortable. He did not think there was anything worth fixing. "It's alright," Hubert said. "As good as it could be in the circumstances, I think."
Ferdinand laughed quietly. "I suppose that is the closest I can get to a compliment from you. I am glad that it helped."
The demon went silent, and his fingers tapped against his knee as he seemed to think something over. "Forgive me, but I would like to ask for–if I could receive something else in exchange for helping you."
Hubert frowned and couldn't help but roll his eyes. He had finally begun to think maybe the demon had been honest in all he wanted, but he should have known better. "I cannot say I am surprised. If you want a feather, there are a few scattered across the floor. Though if you want a better one, you'll have to bandage that too."
Ferdinand chuckled as if Hubert had suggested something foolish. "Oh no, nothing of that sort. If I had wanted a feather, I would have taken it earlier." Hubert had not noticed he had shifted back until he leaned in close again, though this time Hubert was facing him, and Hubert moved back without thought.
"I have nothing else," he said, unsure now where the demon was going with this. "What do you..."
Ferdinand reached out and put his hand on Hubert's face, cupping his cheek. A motion between two familiar people, which they certainly were not. Hubert jerked back instinctively, though Ferdinand's touch was gentle, and he forced himself to still. His palm was warm against his skin, and again he felt warmth creep into his face, up to the tips of his ears. Demons were supposed to smell like sulfur, hellfire and brimstone, but this close Hubert could smell the firewood he had held earlier, warm smoke and pine. "You may refuse if you like," Ferdinand said quietly with a teasing smile. "But in return for my help, I would like a kiss."
Hubert stared, idle thoughts forgotten. Ferdinand could surely feel the way his face grew hot at his words, though he held Hubert's eye, waiting for his response. "... I don't understand."
Ferdinand frowned, almost a pout. "What is not to understand? It is quite simple, yes?"
"I don't understand why you would want that," Hubert said, at a loss.
"Because I like you," Ferdinand said, corners of his mouth curling upwards again. "I like talking to you and I certainly like looking at you." While he spoke his hand slipped back to the back of Hubert's head, fingers brushing through his short hair. A shudder ran through him, one different from the injured trembling of earlier. Ferdinand's expression softened into something fond. "So, what do you think? Is it a fair exchange?"
Ferdinand seemed to have a particular talent for scrambling Hubert's thoughts, and he took a second to get them in order. It did seem quite simple, really. It was easier than a feather, or some of his blood, which Ferdinand had had ample opportunity to take earlier anyways. In this exchange, he wouldn't be losing anything at all.
And perhaps it was because he was a demon, but there was something terribly inviting about Ferdinand. His tail flicked slowly behind him almost like a cat's as he waited with eager anticipation. His eyes were bright, one of them lit bright orange in the firelight, the other cast in shadow.
Hubert could not help but look at his mouth, wonder what it might feel like against his. He didn't know if it was a fair exchange, but it was one Hubert would take. "It is," Hubert murmured, low in the space between them.
"It's a deal, then," Ferdinand responded, just as quiet, and he leaned in and pressed his lips against Hubert's. Like with everything else, he was gentle, careful like Hubert were made out of glass, as if Ferdinand hadn't just wrapped up the broken edges of him. The feeling it brought was unexpected, warmth filling his body far more effectively than the fire, a softness he had never felt but found himself wanting more of.
By the time he realized he liked it Ferdinand pulled away with a warm puff of breath against Hubert's lips. He opened his eyes–when had he closed them?–and found Ferdinand looking quite pleased with himself. "It seems like you enjoyed that as well," he said teasingly. "I am feeling rather generous. If you desire another kiss, I think that I would give it to you for free. No exchange necessary."
He punctuated the statement with a flirtatious wink, and Hubert remembered where he was and who he was talking to. "Don't get ahead of yourself," he said with a frown, voice oddly rough.
Ferdinand's smirk faded, though his tail still waved in self-satisfaction. "If you say so." He lingered for another second before standing, stretching his arms above his head. "Well, I am sure you have had enough of me at this point, yes? I will leave you for the night so you may rest, and I will return tomorrow to check your bandages."
"Oh," Hubert said. He had not considered being alone again. He had thought it was the fire, but maybe it was Ferdinand's pretense that he found comforting.
"Well, if you would like me to stay with you for the night, I would be more than happy to," Ferdinand said, smile returning.
Or maybe Ferdinand was more trouble than he was worth. "That's unnecessary," Hubert said with a glare. "I will be fine."
"I have no doubt you will be," Ferdinand replied. "However, if something does come up, take this." He turned his hand and suddenly he held a piece of paper in it, as if he had pulled it from thin air. He offered it to Hubert, who took it with a doubtful look. It was a thick piece of paper, something not easily bent, and on it was a symbol scrawled in dark green ink. After staring for a second, Hubert recognized it as the crest of Saint Cichol, inverted.
"You can use that to summon me," Ferdinand explained. "Unfortunately it does require blood, but just a drop! Smear it across the symbol and call my name, and I shall appear before you."
"You said you would return tomorrow," Hubert said slowly. "So why are you giving me this?"
Ferdinand shrugged. "If your wing has more problems, or if the bandages come off, I can come help you right away so your injuries do not become worse."
"...I see," Hubert responded, examining the card more closely. It was similar to ink, but he was not quite sure what substance the symbol was made of. There seemed to be some sort of power clinging to it, likely what was used to summon the demon when he was called.
"Of course, if there is anything else you would like, I will be happy to oblige," Ferdinand said with another wink.
Hubert was already looking away. "I will see you tomorrow," he said curtly.
He glanced back in time to see Ferdinand laugh quietly with a soft smile. "Goodnight," he said, and quite suddenly he was gone, and Hubert was alone.
The room was quiet but for the crackling flame, and the aches and pains of the day truly set in. Angels did not need to sleep, but Hubert recognized the feeling that suddenly washed over him as drowsiness. He did not feel like moving from the couch, and very carefully he positioned himself to be lying on his right side, facing the back of the couch so his injured wing wouldn't bump into anything.
He sighed, letting his eyes fall shut. Ferdinand was not at all what he expected from a demon. Helpful and kind–far more than Seiros had ever been to him. There had been times he felt he had not belonged in heaven, that he had not fit in with the perfect image Seiros wanted, and he had not felt that once with Ferdinand. He was loath to admit it to himself, but he looked forward to seeing the demon the next day.
He did not know how long he would remain on earth–an eternity seemed a rather long time. Though if Ferdinand stuck around, it would surely be interesting. With the flames dying down in the fireplace, embers growing dull, Hubert drifted off, thoughts of his punishment forgotten and replaced by the enigmatic demon.