could've been worse

all we need of hell

a familiar tranquillity greets the angels on the way into the kingdom of heaven, but with impending punishment hanging over their heads like a heavy cloud, their hearts know nothing of peace. entering the gates of the citadel, leliel tracks blood across the marbled ground, earning gasps and stares from saints and other denizens. violence is a mere concept to them, and witnessing two angels of the highest order worn down by a battle is a shocking sight.


they would have opted to take a different path away from common folk but with how heaven is built, nine sections encircling one another, there is only one way into the house of the seraphim, and that requires a stroll through the heart of the innermost circle. sahaquiel buries her shame under a hardened gaze while leliel keeps her head low, disgraced is a mere understatement for what they are. 


while heaven is peaceful compared to hell and the mortal realm, it is never this silent, there's always a chatter that brings this place to life. now, the only sound that can be heard comes from the gentle rushing of waters in the canals around the city. they would have preferred whisperings of any kind, anything to give them a clue as to what their punishment would be, but everyone knows better than to gossip about a seraph.


taking large strides, leliel hastens her pace. the house of the seraphim is a large compound that sits high above the city, though it rests just below the empty throne of god. simikiel, the angel of vengeance, awaits them at the entrance with her double-edged blade sheathed on her back, judging from her expression, it's safe to assume that the other seraphs are aware of the situation.


"let raphael look over your wounds before you stand before the council." she mutters, her tone laced with hostility, "angels of the lowest order have been sent down to clean your mess."


the two bow their heads and allow simikiel to leave them in the courtyard. while the seraphim obey a hierarchy ranking them from age, simikiel has no regard for those that break rules. 


sahaquiel taps her companion lightly to be let down and leliel obliges. she's wobbly on her feet but with support from the angel of night, they make their way to the corner of the compound where raphael's residence is located. large marble pillars line the corridors with vines snaking around them, the house is surrounded by a luscious garden with all sorts of trees and flowers, some unknown to humanity. a light breeze kisses their skin while they take slow steps through the grounds.


they are silent for the most part, leliel thinks about how she would frame the truth to the council of seraphs while sahaquiel wants her to be acquitted from this. in the early days when she began to watch joohyun, leliel tried to talk her out of it, but she was stubborn and look at where that has led them.


stopping in front of the double doors that lead into raphael's quarters, sahaquiel turns to face her most trusted angel. she forces herself to look at the taller angel in the eye and orders softly.


"you will let me take responsibility for my actions, that includes telling joohyun the truth."


placing a pair of arms on sahaquiel's shoulders, leliel shakes her head with a light scoff. "if the council decides to strip you of your rank, i would willingly give mine up as well. we are in this together, always have and always will be. i thought you would know that by now."


"you had nothing to do with this at all, leliel."


"i spent ten years with you as byulyi, i've had my fill of fun and sin when i should have tried harder to stop you." the angel of night whispers tenderly as she slips a hand into sahaquiel's, "i cannot give the council an answer that they want to hear because i don't regret it in the slightest. i was an accomplice to your crimes the moment i took on the name byulyi, but i will always be your partner regardless of name. come hell or high water, lucifer must have hit you hard in the head if you think i would ever leave you."


sahaquiel tightens her jaw to bury her guilt alongside her tears and she has to cast her gaze to the ground. if they should relinquish their duties as seraphs, she swears she will never hold back any kind of affection. alas, they are still bound to heaven, and affection is frowned upon.


the least she can do is take leliel by the hand and guide them into raphael's home.



the angel of healing takes them in without judgment, tending to their injuries with a gentle hand and warm magic. leliel's eye is wounded beyond repair, which sends a sharp stab of guilt to sahaquiel's chest. the angel of night reassures her with a lighthearted joke — i have three eyes and that's still one more than what you have.


the rest of her wounds close up with raphael's magic, leaving her with unblemished skin, which is a relief in some ways.


the atmosphere turns tense when raphael begins to examine the damage on the soul of the angel of the sky, the soft collapse of her expression tells the duo what they fear. lucifer's fire has left irreparable damage on her soul and all the arcane magic in heaven will not be able to heal it.


some of the seraphs have similar injuries, leaving them without a need to adorn a ring of restraint. in the war of heaven, while lucifer battled god, baal and beelzebub, put up a good fight against their fellow seraphs. baal went directly for their souls, disabling them by burning their souls. it was a vicious and cruel way but if they didn't disable multiple seraphs at once, the revolution would have crumbled before the might of the seraphim.


some healed with time while others watched as their strength became limited. unfortunately, sahaquiel falls into the latter. even if lucifer is weaker now, her hellfire is not to be trifled with. despite raphael's words, sahaquiel tries wielding her spear only to feel the pain in her chest flare. she forces a bitter smile to reassure leliel, but being unable to even hold her spear is an upsetting fact to take in. 


the angel of healing deems that there's nothing more that can be done, but encourages her to have faith that time will help ease the pain.



the council of seraphs await them in a large circular room with a glass ceiling arching high above them. sunlight falls upon the angels, though it is nothing compared to the glow of their halos. stained glass portraits of each of the seraphs line the walls around them but three are replaced with regular arch windows. 


the seraphim sit around a big crescent-shaped table and sahaquiel and leliel find themselves standing in the middle of it to await their punishment. uriel, the angel of truth, wastes no time in starting their trial, listing everything they have both done to meddle in joohyun's life, and their continuation even after lucifer took her on as a charge. with the truth laid out before the seraphim, it doesn't look good for either of them, especially when it's brought up that sahaquiel took pity upon lilith's soul. most of the council hold a grudge against lucifer and lilith, so this is no minor mistake.


the two waste no time in pleading guilty, sahaquiel demands a punishment almost immediately, stating that she would take on leliel's as well. they ignore her latter plea, firmly reminding her that they will ensure fair judgement above all. this is a delicate situation and no seraph shall get away with crossing a line.


their crimes against lucifer and joohyun lie in a grey area, with nothing similar of this kind, the council of angels debate over what would be considered a fitting punishment.


seeing as sahaquiel has suffered a grave injury, they deem that it is part of her punishment. alongside that, they revoke her rights to descend to the mortal realm, which should give her plenty of time to think about her actions before the throne of god. 


leliel gets a penalty of equal weight; she is to put on more rings of restraint, leaving her with just enough power to serve a mortal charge and nothing more. their punishment would last for a millennium, until which, they will be stripped of their ranks as seraphs, suspending them from their duties entirely.


with their punishment out of the way, the council moves on to deliberate upon the matter of joohyun and her sister being aware of the existence of angels. overall, there's a mixed response from the circle of angels, but leliel states that both mortals have demons by their side, which would make an assassination harder than one thinks. on top of that, this is the soul of lilith they are dealing with, one wrong decision and they could spiral into another war.


the unwillingness to start a war forces the council to decide upon letting the mortals go. with that, they close the trial by cuffing more golden bracelets onto leliel's wrists.



"it could've been a lot worse, don't you think?"


leliel comments when she follows the angel of the sky into her home, attempting to put aside the stress of the trial. she thinks they got off easy, and it's an optimal outcome for joohyun and sooyoung, it would be a lot worse if the council decided to kill them all and start another war.


"we're both powerless, leliel," sahaquiel sighs tiredly, "how is this good?"


shedding herself of her celestial form, a smile appears on her cheeks as byulyi takes the angel's hands into hers, "we can pretend to be mortals all over again. that wasn't so bad, was it?"


it wasn't, not in the slightest. 


sahaquiel hesitates, staring at byulyi for what feels like an eternity before she follows suit, stripping away her celestial body. "we're technically not seraphs anymore." she nods with a growing smile.


"glad we're on the same page, yong."


the angel's gaze flits from byulyi's eyes to her soft lips, and despite being home under the throne of god, she gives in to her desires. freeing her hand's from byulyi's, yongsun grabs her by the shirt and pulls her in for a quick kiss. a mere peck on the lips. if simikiel, or azrael saw them, they would be joining seungwan soon. her heart threatens to jump out of and she backs away slightly. with their noses brushing against one another, she asks in a nervous whisper.


"are we still on the same page?"


tucking a stray strand of pink hair behind her ear, byulyi nods, "always, regardless of what forms we take."


relief floods her soul and with all the reassurance she needs, yongsun pushes her against the wall and crashes her lips onto byulyi's. they may be powerless now, but with it goes away the burden of their duties. for the first time ever, they have a taste of what it's like to love without restraint. 


their punishment of a millennium might be too short because yongsun wants this to last for eternity.



word travels fast in hell, but gossip spreads like wildfire. her fight with sahaquiel was witnessed by a couple of demons who returned and started rumours that there was going to be a second war of heaven. seungwan hopes it would die down but within hours, the news makes headlines in the local paper and the devil has to call for a meeting with her kings.


joohyun and sooyoung tag along as well since the only demons they're comfortable with are all going to be at the meeting. with ryujin still recovering, there's no one else the trio trusts enough to not be a creep.


when seungwan mentioned a meeting, joohyun expected it to be a lot more formal than just a crowd of twelve demons of varying sizes in a large room that resembles a man cave. a pool table, a bar, arcade machines that line the walls along with dart boards — joohyun could go on, but the point is, this room hardly looks like a productive meeting room.


the mortal sisters stick close to each other while seungwan barks for everyone to gather, which they do in various spots around the room. some settle on a large couch, others on bean bags or the carpeted floor, one finds a seat in a massage chair and a charismatic demon tries to approach the mortals only to be yelled at by seungwan — byleth, get back here!


joohyun and sooyoung sit by the bar to the side while they watch the demonic meeting unfold. seungwan barely gets a sentence in before someone asks if they're going to war again, and the devil pinches the bridge of her nose before muttering a tight-lipped no. she updates the kings on the current situation, but with no word from the heavens, the demons question her decision to sit around and wait.


arguments ensue until seungwan materialises a colorful spinning wheel, seems like the demons all know what it means. they protest against it until the devil whips out an archery target board instead. they decide the stakes fairly quickly; anything but a bullseye means they'd go to war, a bullseye means that they would prepare for a war but wait for heaven to land the first strike. it hardly seems fair but seungwan rolls with it.


joohyun casts a doubtful glance at sooyoung who seems to be amused by the demons' antics. with seungwan in charge, naturally, the demons under her would be equally as ridiculous. 


setting the target across the room, seungwan pulls out her bow and lights the tip of her arrow with a bout of hellfire. she doesn't forget to throw a wink at joohyun before letting the arrow fly, hitting the target dead center and setting the board ablaze. the meeting is declared over but seungwan leaves them with a reminder that any attempt to start a war will end with death by yerim's hand. it's a threat that has always worked since none dare to challenge a fallen seraph.


the kings begin to disperse as a lower demon stumbles into the room, handing a sealed scroll to the devil and leaving quickly with a bow.


"a message from heaven?"


seungwan nods as she eyes the familiar insignia on the seal. breaking the wax seal with ease, the devil lets the paper unroll with a flick of her wrist. she skims over the words with an uninterested hum — heaven's messages always have a ton of unnecessary words. by the time her eyes run over the main paragraph, she understands what this is about.


with her face still buried in the parchment, seungwan consolidates the information and begins talking, "heaven says they're sorry for ing us over. sahaquiel and leliel are serving punishments lasting a millennium and they will excuse joohyun and sooyoung for having knowledge about the angels."


without reading the rest of the message, seungwan lights the scroll on fire and looks at the disappointed faces around the room.


"sorry guys, no war this time."


end notes:

feels like a filler chapter because i wanted to talk about heaven, but at the same time i think moonsun deserves a little sumn. if there's one thing i love writing, it's two people prioritising their duties over love. (aot au still remains one of my faves for this sole reason) buuuutttt, i guess i'm doing the exact opposite now. 

anyway, angels in this chapters, i pictured jiu/minji as simikiel and yoohyeon as raphael. i'm undecided on the rest but wheesa is definitely part of the seraphim, don't really wanna drop names unless i'm gonna do something with them.

also, i wrote an extra scene for seungwan's pov in chapter 18, when she hears joohyun through the ring. if there are anymore outtakes, i'll thread them in the same post. no need to follow me whatsoever, i'll link it in the next chapter if i do add more.

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it's been 30 chapters and they haven't kissed, is this counted as slowburn?
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