In the Beginning

By Gabi-hime (pinkfluffynet )

A/N: Gabriel is mine, Duriel is less mine and more Ali's. She rewrote some of his dialogue beautifully for this story, so props to her 3. HW stuff from the AoC .org 3.

Summary: How do you make someone fall in love with life? You introduce them to her. Gabriel/Duriel HW meeting fic.


Dinner was at five bells for her now, she had to remember that. There were so many new things to keep track of as a second class angel, not the least which was her new lunchtime. She looked down at the heavy book in her lap again, all bound in crackling leather with gilt pages and wondered just what it was that Raziel expected her to find. She'd been studying the page he'd left open for her for a good twenty minutes, but honestly all she could make of it was a simple conjuration of doves, and she wasn't sure how this was supposed to teach her a fundamental lesson about the great library, as he insisted it would.

She was seated in a hard wooden chair, one of the half-sized ones usually reserved for the very young. All the other chairs were taken up with stacks of books and rolls of parchment, save the one very cushy one that Raziel had explained was for his bottom only, unless of course she wanted to sit on his lap. Her blush had shot up and she'd turned blood red before he'd waved his hands and clarified that he was just joking. Really, she wasn't too sure, and when he'd trotted off to assist someone, she'd been almost relieved to be left alone in his alcove.

She sighed, and slumped over her book. It was really starting to make her legs hurt and she squirmed, trying to get it into a more comfortable position. She was not at all aware that anyone else was in the alcove with her until he spoke.

"I would assume then, that the Master Librarian is out?"

She turned sharply at the sound of his low, gravelly voice, and in doing so the heavy book finally spilled out of her lap and onto the floor. The gentleman standing to her direct left was tall and angular, a man with no soft edges. Even standing in the library at ease he was all tensed - a coiled wire wrapped up in a crimson tailcoat. His eyes were dark and intense and trained directly on her and the arcane book she had just dumped so gracelessly onto the floor. She flushed with shame and her voice wavered slightly as she spoke.

"He's out attending, Sir."

"...I see. I'll wait," he responded curtly and turned away, and as he did, she noticed that he was carrying a heavy black lance. She desperately hoped that he wasn't part of the library enforcement team, here to give her a solid whack for disrespecting ancient texts. As she worried over this possibility, a little squeak escaped from her and she was once again faced with his intense eyes.

"I beg pardon?" he asked, although it was clear that he did not beg anything from her, or anyone else likely. She blushed again and pulled her knees to her chest as best she could in the small chair and then squirmed.

"I didn't mean to drop the book. I promise, sir. You won't tell, will you?" she bit her lip and fidgeted. She had no idea what her Mentor Raziel was like underneath his cheeky exterior, and she certainly did not want to get a hiding on her first day out. That would be a positive disgrace and she wouldn't be able to go back to the dormitory and face Matron ever again. The muscles around her eyes trembled slightly, and the book on the floor was suddenly not the only one lying open to read.

The gentleman raised one eyebrow, "Young lady, it is none of my concern. Fling them far and wide. It may well prompt him to organize in some way that someone else might understand."

"Have you ever considered that my organization of the very restricted books in this room is a security measure, Duriel?" Gabriel turned, eyes immediately back on the door and found her mentor, leaning there lazily, arms folded into his sleeves, "After all, knowledge can be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands."

The other gentleman might have responded to this had Gabriel not impudently giggled, "It can also be dangerous if it falls on your foot. I'm sorry Master Raziel, but I dropped the book and I think its scuffed your floor. I spent a long time with it, but I think the only thing it taught me other than how to summon doves, was that books like this are too heavy to hold on your lap."

A smile quirked on Raziel's mouth, and for a moment he seemed to be looking over Gabriel's head at something very interesting behind her, then he turned his attention fully back to her and smiled indulgently, "Excellent. Then you have learned the lesson that desks are invaluable to those of a scholarly bent. I am sure you have also learned that your own chair is terribly uncomfortable. You are a prodigy, then. It usually takes apprentices three or four days to figure this out. I am not sure I have much more to teach you, clever thing."

Gabriel blushed and beamed. Perhaps Master Raziel wasn't as bad as she'd thought. Now he seemed positively genial. She was about to open her mouth and ask what she was to set herself at next when suddenly a throat cleared behind her and she turned sharply to look at the other gentleman who was still standing almost directly behind her. Oh raspberries. She'd forgotten he was there. That probably broached some bit of angelic etiquette, so she tried to look suitably penitent, but if he noticed, he gave no sign.

"Raziel, if you have a point concealed somewhere in that mountain of books before the young lady, may I /humbly/ request that you get to it, and leave off wasting my time?"

"In time, in time," the master librarian responded, steepling his fingers for a moment before folding them back into his sleeves, "'We start at the beginning, knowing nothing, for in ignorance is the purest form of grace.' Quotation, apprentice?"

Gabriel started up, not expecting to be called upon so suddenly, and almost stuttered as the answer came rolling off her tongue "Omaiel, Virtue of Esoteric Wisdom . . . I . . . think," she laughed nervously, one hand behind her head.

"Charming. I could get to almost tolerate your company Gabriel, given the chance. I am afraid we must all fall from grace now, as it were, as I expect Duriel will soon have my head on a platter, o daughter of Jerusalem. Well now, let's get to business. Gabriel, introduce yourself."

Gabriel scrambled to her feet a little awkwardly, considering she was still sitting in the tiny chair. When she finally did manage to make it to her feet she curtsied, pulling her skirt a little wide and falling slightly as she did, "Gabriel, angel second class, assigned to Master Raziel. They weren't quite sure what to call my sphere when I was assigned. I can make things ripen and grow, and they say with time I might even be able to dull pain, and sometimes I see what people have gone through previously, just by touching them - "

She sounded as if she might rattle on about herself all morning, so Raziel raised a restraining hand, "That will do, Gabriel. I'm sure Duriel doesn't want to hear your entire life story the first day out, no matter how fascinating it may be."

Gabriel's eyes widened and she looked as if she'd grievously offended them. She bowed in an attempt to cover her rudeness, and then very importantly offered her hand to Duriel, "I'm to be the Angel of Compassion."

For a moment, he just stared at it, as if entirely unsure what to make of it - as if it were a stone that had suddenly announced it was a dog and then barked. Finally, he took it, very briefly.

"I see. It's a pleasure then, Gabriel," he said, although she wasn't entirely sure how much of a pleasure he really thought it was. He looked disgruntled at this whole affair and was stubbornly silent after he dropped her hand.

"Very good then. Now Duriel, be so good as to return the favor," chided Raziel, ill concealing his amusement.

"I see no real point in it. You have already been tossing about my name like it's a party favor, Raziel. What more could she possibly need to know?"

"A great deal, possibly," his smile was sardonic, as if he was enjoying a great laugh at their expense, "I often find it so in such cases."

"In /what/ cases, Raziel?"

Raziel pointedly ignored the other virtue and turned his attention back to Gabriel, "You must forgive him, but I'm afraid he's always this way. He works himself up in knots you see, and of course that's where you come in, but then I'm getting ahead of myself, as always. 'Step not too quickly or you shall surely pass the object of your intent, cast off as if rubbish,' or more simply, 'Slow and steady wins the race, always.'"

"Omaiel again, sir?" she asked, trying to keep a giggle out of her own voice, still spinning from his sharpness.

"Raziel, Virtue of Arcane Mysteries, that, I'm afraid, spring rose, so perhaps yet I have things to teach you. It really is a shame, but then, this is Duriel, Virtue of Clemency."

"Raziel," it was one word, sharp and without rather loud, and it drew both their attentions back to the other virtue, who looked as if a vein might pop in his forehead. Gabriel bit her lip again.

"Are you all right, sir? You look upset and that can give you ulcers. I can do a little to lull that even now, if you want," she started to dutifully pull of one of her gloves as Raziel chuckled again.

"And that is exactly what I was counting on."

"Gabriel, keep your glove on. I need no such thing. Raziel, explain yourself immediately," Duriel had raised one hand to ward of Gabriel and brought the other to bear on the librarian, index finger extended and clearly tired of being toyed with.

"Wit really is lost on you, Duriel," he shrugged, folding his arms back into his sleeves, "Well then, if you demand ham-handed directness, then I shall oblige. Duriel, this is Gabriel, Angel of Compassion."

"I know that Raziel. I heard her clearly the first time."

Raziel ignored him yet again and turned back to Gabriel, "And this is Duriel, your new mentor. I've already filed all the paperwork. You suit each other wonderfully. Clemency and compassion - there are few things that could possibly be more intended."

Gabriel looked up, eyes wide, expression akin to if she has just discovered that her roads were paved with ice cream and marked with candy canes, "Really, sir?"

Raziel nodded, smiles once again indulgent and self-satisfied. Gabriel immediately turned back to Duriel. He did not look pleased.

"Oh I promise, you won't regret it! I'll be so good and listen so well. You won't ever have to say a sharp word to me, not that I think you would. Thank you so much, sir. The truth is, I really didn't want to be a librarian. You will take me, won't you? I promise I won't be trouble - well, perhaps just a little bit, but oh please!"

Duriel was silent for some moments, before finally folding his arms over his chest.

"If the paperwork is already done then there's no reason to change it again," he said flatly. He shot Raziel a look over her head at she almost didn't catch. It looked like he had shot pure murder, but then that couldn't be right. Master Raziel and Master Duriel were friends, weren't they? Of course they were.

As she was still pondering this mystery, Duriel shouldered his lance and brushed past her, and quite out the door. She stood blinking, watching him go.

"Now off you go, little soldier, and feel free to drop by here and tell me how everything is working out. 'My door is never locked to those who bear the key,'" Raziel finished, shooing her out the door with one idle hand even as he settled into his chair.

She scurried off obediently, unwilling to be left behind and found wanting in her first few moments of reassignment. At his door, she turned back and smiled.

"And that's Isranael, Angel of the Tree."

He looked up from his work to affirm, but she was already gone. He chuckled again even as he began to clear a space on his desk.

"Quite so, and you, my little girl, are heaven sent."