Lucifer is walking through the snowy streets of Munich at three am when he hears the sound, ringing like church bells and reflecting off every fractal of ice in the air. It shoots through his spine and pulls his heartstrings taut as a lyre. He stands stone-still on the sidewalk, cigarette burning down to ash between his fingers, boots sunk ankle-deep in the snow, and listens. Someone is singing.
He ducks down an alleyway wedged between a church and a pawn shop and slips onto the next street. A young woman is standing under the yellow glow of a streetlamp, bundled up in too many skirts and scarves to count, singing with her her face tilted towards heaven. Snow catches in her lashes and her fingers curl through the air, aching for the divinity just out of reach. Lucifer knows the hymn, an old Protestant folk standard in the original German. But he’s never heard it like this before.
He pulls a handful of euro coins of out his pocket and throws them in the hat at her feet, and the jingle breaks the spell. He eyes flick open and she turns to Lucifer, who is standing very close, watching her with hands in his pockets.
“Dankeschön,” She says, regarding him with wary black eyes. Lucifer smiles back. He can see grace glittering on her skin, feel holiness radiating off her body, smell the heavy fragrance of frankincense and myrrh caught in her hair.
“I usually find your type behind a church pew,” He says in her language.
“God’s church stretches beyond parish walls and encircles the entire world. Besides, hymns are better use to those you can’t find in a cathedral.”
Lucifer grins. Definitely a prophet. She speaks in a low, soft voice that warms him and soothes something in him that he didn’t realize was restless. Her round cheeks are scrubbed pink from the cold and for some reason Lucifer is bewitched by this little display of humanity, this fetching insight into her fragility.
Her breath catches and flutters in her throat for a moment, then words come tumbling out.
“And I don’t usually find your type in such untroubled places.”
Lucifer arches an eyebrow, even more intrigued.
“You know what I am?”
“And who. I can see the true nature of all God’s creatures whether they want me to or not. It’s a gift.”
Silvery tears are starting to gather in the young woman’s eyes despite the courageous set to her mouth, and Lucifer finds himself troubled. Usually he relishes mortal fear, and someone actually recognizing him while he walks abroad in the human world is a genuine treat, but for some reason he feels compelled to comfort her, to draw her out and look upon all her softness and bloom. He wants her to trust him. So he makes his voice as gentle as possible.
“It takes a keen sort of insight to see through my glamour. If you’re sharp enough to see that you should be able to tell that I don’t wish you any ill will. I don’t have any demonic hordes waiting in the wings and I haven’t come to try and strike a deal for your soul. This is in all earnestness a chance encounter.”
The young woman still looks skeptical, so Lucifer rolls his eyes and lifts his hand up through the air, and as he does so, the crucifix necklace tucked into the prophet’s shirtfront rises of it’s own accord to hover before her face.
“You’re already spoken for, dear. There’s little I could do to you even if I wanted to.”
To his delight, she doesn’t seem frightened, only transfixed as she watches the golden crucifix catch the light.
“Amazing,” She breathes.
“I can do more than that, if you’d like to see,” He murmurs as the crucifix lowers itself into her outstretched palm. “But I’ve got to ask. What gave me away?”
The girl takes a deep breath, her breath turning to steam in the air, then straightens up and examines him more closely. To Lucifer’s surprise she approaches him tentatively and reaches out with a shaky hand to press her fingertips against his chest. As soon as this initial contact is made, all the rest of her fear melts into curiosity, and she began to circle to him, muttering to herself in wonder.
“The shadows don’t sit on you right, and you’re radiating heat, even in this weather. I smelled burning as soon as you walked over here, like a woodfire.”
“When your earthly body is a construction to house your celestial being, you can keep the heat on all the time if you want,” He chuckles. He turns to face her, and her cheeks grow even pinker as she realizes how close they are. Still, she doesn’t draw away, only reaches out to touch the silver serpent pinned to his lapel as though it holds the secrets of his existence.
“Tell me your name,” Lucifer says, and it’s the prophet’s turn to chuckle.
“No, Morningstar, I will not. You have no good use for it.”
Lucifer reaches out to touch her face, and thrills at the electricity of God’s blessing crackling around his fingertips.
“I could call you by it,” He says, and she looks at him with eyes full of wonder. Lucifer leans in to kiss her, their cheeks brushing and breaths mingling, but the girl pulls herself out of his arms suddenly. She does not look frightened or scandalized, only sad.
“Why not?” Lucifer asks, and the prophet empties her tips into her pockets and screws her hat back on her head.
“Because you don’t love me. You love He who lives in me. And that is your tragedy.”
He is stunned, too stunned to protest when she kisses his cheek.
“You can keep chasing echoes of God’s handiwork or you can surrender yourself to the real thing. It’s your choice. It always has been.”
With that she turns from him and starts down the cobblestone street. As the hymn resumes and then fades behind him, Lucifer curls his fingers into fists, and suddenly, he feels very cold.