The women ran from the tomb as the angel chased after them, flapping his wings sharply.
‘Wait!’ Zadkiel ordered, catching Sariel’s wings in his own.
‘But they don’t believe me! They are running way. They won’t tell anyone. They are too afraid.’ Sariel’s words tumbled in breathless panic. ‘They do believe you. They will believe you. You just need to wait.’
Sariel watched the women as they ran across the hill, and his wings dropped. ‘But it’s never been like this before. My wings flap, and my word is effective. My wings close, and it is done.’
‘Yes, with death.’ Zadkiel said gently, ‘But when the word is life, it takes longer. They have to choose…’ Sariel looked disappointed. Zadkeil went on: ‘You knew that it would be different now, yes?’
‘Yes.’ Sariel whispered, a bit embarrassed. ‘So what do I do now?’
Zadkiel pondered. He knew he had to slow Sariel down.
‘Do you remember — in the beginning? Before you learned to close your wings: what was it like then?’
Sariel was reluctant. He had blocked that memory for a long time. He could feel Zadkiel prowling about in his mind, uncovering the loss of it.
‘It was simple. No one was afraid. The blossom died to give way for the leaf. The leaf died to nourish the root. The root gathered strength to send out a new branch. Most of the time we just played.’
‘Yes.’ Zadkiel said, realizing how simple Sariel’s complexity really was. ‘So help them remember.’
Sariel looked for the women, and saw that they had stopped running. They sat with their backs against cool stone, catching their breath. In front of them, there was a tree in blossom, which they didn’t see.
‘There. The tree. I can show them.’
Sariel gathered his skirts and began to run.
‘Wait!’ Zadkiel cried, slowing him down again. ‘You need to go gently. Don’t show yourself at first.’ Sariel was getting impatient: ‘But you always do.’ ‘Yes, but I’ve been living with them a long time. I know how to fit in. Don’t show yourself at first; just touch them with your wing.’
Sariel stood back from the women, and stretched his wing till the tip brushed Mary’s arm. He saw her shudder, and drew back in alarm. ‘It’s all right.’ Zadkiel said, ‘they take fright easily and are slow to let it go. Go gently.’ So Sariel tried again.
He stretched out his wing and willed Mary to look at the tree. He focused all his being on blossom — on his desire for her to see. When he shook with the strain of it, he felt her move. She bent her neck and brushed her hair from her eyes, then looked up.
Zadkiel saw her eyes soften as they fell on the tree. ‘Good,’ he said to Sariel. ‘Very good. Now: fill her mind with something familiar. Sing her a song.’
Sariel reached — naturally enough — for a Sanctus: sharp as glass, with refracted rhythms.
‘Wait!’ Zadkiel cried again. Sariel fell silent and looked perplexed. Zadkiel continued: ‘That one is too hard. She needs something familiar.’
Sariel thought for a moment and summoned a fiddle:
Tra -li- laa, la-li-laa, l’ laa.
‘Better.’ Zadkiel said, as he took up the song.
They sang till the gold light shimmered. They sang till the women relaxed. They sang till they drew breath and dropped their shoulders and turned their faces to the sun.
‘Now,’ Zadkiel said. ‘Tell them again.’
Sariel stepped forward and let himself be seen. The women flinched only a bit.
‘Do not be afraid. He is Risen. Go and tell the others what you have seen.’
Mary reached out, tentatively, and let her hand trail down the dark shimmer of his wing. Her eyes widened, and at last she understood.
Jophiel was watching, now, too as Mary stood and ran quickly toward the town. Sariel deserved his Sanctus.
Jophiel nodded and the choir began. Light shattered the last darkness, and Sariel stood amazed as his wings turned bright.