Only Love Remains

Once missing, angels never return. Not even their shadows remain. Like whispers in a crowd or smoke in open air—that which seeps through windows and doors and dissipates in the night—these moments are gone forever. Not their Maker, nor their lovers, can save them. Every time the sun falls below the horizon, another passes. Most often they are alone when the call comes. As creatures born unheralded, they pass the same way. Never celebrated, never remembered. But not this angel, not my angel, not Marius. His name sends shivers through me still.

                When we met, all I saw at first was light. A brightness with substance, that danced and flirted on the wind. There was more there than I could see, somehow this I knew. A laughing presence, a playful life. And he sensed I was different. I was curious about him in a way most humans never were. Driven by the same impulses that drive us all, the fear of crushing loneliness, he allowed himself to be seen. Almost unheard of with his kind.

                Marius was beautiful. Skin smooth and cold like stained glass, blown and dyed a dark burning ochre. His smile was a beacon in the night. His eyes were smoldering coals, and in his glance you could feel their heat. His body was slim and taut, and hid a considerable strength in its slimness.

                "What is this?" I asked him on our first night together. The question pointed towards his nature, the nature of our circumstances together, my feelings for him and vice versa. Despite the indefinite character of our relationship, still I was pulled by the human need to bring order to a world tending toward chaos, to understand a love that belied comprehension.

                All he would ever say, no matter how many times, no matter how pressingly, I asked: "This is something that cannot last. I will leave you someday, though I will be sorry to."

                Our love blazed in an instant, furious and fragile. Our flame burned under a meager lean-to, constructed hastily in the rain. Circumstance contrived to consume us. And so we were consumed. But not before loving each other more fully than either of us thought possible. Not before knowing brief happiness in a world full of pain.

                His last words he spoke curled up in my arms, sweating, a-shivering, drifting to and from sleep. His wings, seeming such fragile things, fluttered against my chest. Each time they waved, they left tiny cuts, but each healed before a single drop of blood could spill, such was the nature of his magic.

                "Tonight," Marius said with calm certainty, watching the moon through an open window. He would not sleep unless a window was open, and somehow, even on the stillest nights, there was always a breeze howling through, tousling his hair as he slept. "Tonight…"

                "Are you sure?"

                "We always know. We never… we never fall unawares."

                "And there's nothing I can do-"

                "To stop this? No. In general? Hold me. No one wants to be alone on a night such as this, not even the likes of us."

                I tried to stay awake but, perhaps by the dint of some unknown enchantment, within minutes my eyelids flit and were drawn shut by some unknown weight. I did not feel the changing, I did not hear him hiss in pain, if indeed he made a sound. I only woke to birds chirping in the gloom that comes just before dawnbreak. My arms were empty, and as I looked down I saw my sheets covered in dust. He had passed in the night as they all do, quiet as they all were.

                Grief, somehow, even in death, his magic makes me immune to it,. My days are remarkably free of pain. Only in the nights sometimes do I wake, tears on my face. Even then I do not remember crying. Even then I am not sad. Even then, only love remains.