Raphael considered himself to be a good man, a righteous man. He was a high ranking seraph, an archangel of the Lord. Honor and justice coursed throughout his veins. He was a model angel, an example for the others, a guide for lost human souls. From the outside, Raphael had the ideal life. He ranked highly in Yahweh's court, controlled a faction of Nirvana's strongest soldiers. He had been given his Father's good blessings. He had a beautiful wife and twelve strong, healthy children. The seraph proudly wore his wings and spread the Lord's good word. Raphael was a saint.
But no one expected Raphael to be caught in a scandal such as this.
Nirvana was shaken. Lucifer had been cast down from the Lord's left hand. For the first time, paradise was no longer. For the first time, the citizens of Nirvana had realized how fragile their lives truly were. A land of freedom, love, and warmth soon became a wasteland of rebellion. Angels were just as paranoid as the humans were. They had been exposed to sin, to uprising. Their pure minds had been tainted with selfish thoughts, dangerous thoughts. There was no tolerance for rebellion. If one put a single toe out of line, they were to be cast down. Being cast into Hell, the kingdom of darkness, was horrifying. Angels knew that losing their wings, losing the light of the Father was a fate worse than death.
Little did Raphael know that he would be casting someone down this evening. Someone precious to him.
His own wife.
Naamah was a good woman, a just woman. She had remained by Raphael's side and had bore him many strong children. He recalled the day they had been mated. He saw her face for the first time that day. Her soft, periwinkle eyes sparkled in joy as they gazed upon his own glistening, icy blue pair. Her pale, porcelain cheeks were dusted with pink, her soft lips turned into a perpetual smile. He never forgot that day, her face never faded from his mind.
That face looked nothing like the Naamah that stood before him. Her once shiny, curly brown locks now hung in her face, dull, lifeless, and unkempt. Her lips were pale, chapped, forever etched into a permanent frown. Her eyes, the beautiful periwinkle hues that Raphael loved so much….were no more. No longer did her eyes sparkle. No longer did they look at him with love and joy. Her eyes were dim, glassy, as if they were a doll's eyes rather than her own. They were tear-stained, refusing to look anywhere other than down at the floor of her husband's home.
And in her arms rested the cause of this. A small, fussing infant.
The child wailed and cried, desperately reaching out towards his mother for comfort, but Naamah refused. And Raphael ignored the child.
"Naamah….what is the meaning of this?"
She remained in silence.
"I have not fathered this child. You have broken our union, you have broken our Father's laws."
Not a sound came from the woman even still.
"You have brought shame onto this family, shame onto yourself, and shame onto me. You understand that you must be punished for your sins, Naamah, the same way that all sinners must pay."
Naamah simply clutched at the child in her arms, holding the small boy against her breast. As silence fell between the two, the smallest utterance could be heard from the woman's lips.
Raphael's ice colored eyes widened, such an audacious request. Naamah was a sinner. Naamah broke one of the Lord's most egregious laws. She had committed adultery. She had given herself to the wayward sins of man and of Lucifer himself. She had given into lust. And she expected mercy?
"I cannot oblige. It is my Father's will. Sinners must be purged. You have broken his commandments, Naamah. I cannot give you mercy. You must be punished."
"No…" she protested, speaking loud enough to cut him off. Silence filled the room once more. And with all her strength, Naamah looked up at her husband, tears rolling down her cheeks, dripping from her chin onto a small puddle on the ground. The babe remained close to her chest, holding him as tightly as she could.
"Not me. Have mercy on the child."
A chill ran through the room, encircling Raphael. Have mercy on the product of sin? Michael and Gabriel would never allow the child to spend his days in Nirvana. The child was impure. But Raphael was different than the other archangels. When he looked at the wailing child in its mother's arms, something within him began to stir. A chill ran down his spine, it entangled his stomach and dropped his heart into his belly. It was a feeling the humans called guilt.
Any other seraph would have sent the child to his death. Such a product of sin was impure. But Raphael... He took pity on the child. Was it right and just to place judgement on a child who could not control the means of his birth? This child was no different than his own children, but his mother's sin would never leave him. To punish an innocent for simply existing, it was where Raphael drew the line.
With a deep, defeated sigh, the archangel approached the woman, reaching out his arms to her, expecting the bundle in return. "It has been decided. I shall care for the child in your stead. I will raise him as my own and I will protect him, But you may not escape your punishments."
Naamah lowered her head once more, handing the child to her husband reluctantly. "….Thank you." For the first time that evening, Raphael saw something that he hadn't seen in years. He saw her smile. A weak, pained, tearful smile.
Taking the whimpering child into his arms, he addressed her once more. "What is the child's name?"