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Happy Holidays, Sailorptah!

Title: Heaven Enough

Recipient: sailorptah 

Author: hsavinien 

Rating: PG, warning for Agnes's antiquated English

Wordcount: 2144

Author's Note: The prompt was: Heaven. Not a postmodern deconstructionist "well, it's very pretty, but kind of boring and sterile" heaven, or a cynical "actually a horrible sanctimonious Stepford city" heaven, but an unironic happy place full of love and joy. Get as creative as you want with the particulars, and go crazy with the characters. Any rating. I hope this suits. I took the liberty of indulging my own fondness for sensual description. Footnotes are added for informational purposes, rather than entertainment's sake, and need not be read until the end.

Summary: Agnes decides to do a little double-checking.



On Earth, it was Sunday. Heaven, being a rather different sort of place altogether, didn't quite count time in the same way. For ease of translation, though, in Heaven, it was very nearly the next best thing to Sunday.


Agnes always packed carefully for her days. Being a witch had little to do with sickening farm animals and quite a lot with wearing sensible shoes and always having some string and a book of matches on your person, or in Agnes's case, a flint and tinder. Agnes's bag was large, riotously patchworked, and meticulously organised.


Today it contained:


1 pair of binoculars

a set of 2 chiming iron balls

1 Hebrew manuscript

1 copper leaf the size of her thumbprint

1 paperback copy of The Madonnas of Leningradi

1 canteen of lemon-water

a packet of 3 cucumber and cress sandwiches

the aforementioned flint and a few dry sticks of wood

and her knitting.


Tying her shoes in firm double knots, Agnes shouldered her bag, caught up her walking stick, straightened her hat, and set out, waving to Elspeth Pulcifer next door. “Telle thy man that his featyures insulteth the moste homely of garegoyles!” she called over the fence. Elspeth waved her gardening shears cheerfully and went back to her tulips.


Agnes approved of the highways of heaven rather more than she had expected to. While there were certainly angels and miscellaneous souls flitting about on wings in every shade of the rainbow, a steady stream of beings walked along the grassy roads, some purposefully, some meandering. Agnes enjoyed walking. It gave her a sense of time and movement and the ground beneath her feet was firm enough not to make things a trial, but soft enough not to bother her arches. It had been a good long time since she had had a living body, but her soul-memory remained intact and occasionally reminded her about arthritic aches and thumbs caught in cupboard doors. The highway was gentle on her feet, though, and the air was tinged with the scent of sun-warm heather.


When she reached the top of the hill, Agnes looked out over the Silver City. The tall towers glinted color and musical chords and the smell of cinnamon, stretching high enough to pin a few fluffy clouds in place against the sky. Pulling out the binoculars, she scanned the airspace above the market until a familiar pair of lavender wings flashed, cupping the air as their owner descended into the Plaza de las Aves. Good. She was just on time, as usual. Agnes tucked the binoculars away and began making her way down the decline.


The tree at the center of the plaza was full of a rainbow of birds, chattering melodiously. Urielii stepped out of the shop on the corner, followed by the sharp smell of vinegar.


Goode morrow to thee, Angyl.”

Uriel's teeth flashed white against her dark skin. “Good morning, Agnes. Have you some business with the bellmaker today?”

Nay, not wyth she, but thee. I have fownd thee a curiose thyng.” She produced the chiming balls and pressed them into Uriel's hand. “They are pleasaunt and once thou hast satysfide thy interest, shalt gift them to thy verdant-wyngéd healer. Raphael doth worry ouermuch and shalle divelop paynes in hyr stomack, Angyl or no.”


A little mystery and a gift. Thank you.” Uriel rolled them in her hand to hear the muted chime, then tucked them in one of the many pockets of her orange-striped trousers.


'Tis naught. How withe the messaunger? As colicky as ever?”


You know Gabriel. She wouldn't be content without some crisis to shout about and organise meetings to sort out.”


Aye. And Michael? These late fewe dais must bee a tryal to hyr and no mystake.”


Uriel giggled. “Storming around in circles grumping about demons and the holiness of the Ineffable Plan and moulting. Red feathers everywhere.”


Agnes flipped her long, greying-brown braid over her shoulder. “Thatte is humans for thee. Free wille ys a bugger.” She smoothed her purple shawl just a little smugly.


True enough.” Uriel wrapped a wing and an arm around her shoulders for a quick hug. “Now you wouldn't by any chance be visiting the Library today?”


Aye. I shalle dilyver thy booke for thee.”




The Library was literally as magnificent a building as book-lovers everywhere could dream the Library of Heaven might be, with sweeping glass windows, warm wood fixtures, and the squashiest of comfy chairs. It was convenient to all of heaven and contained every book it needed to. Anne Carroll Mooreiii was finishing a storytime in the children's section with Ted Geiseliv waiting to read some of his work for a group of fascinated young souls and angels. Angels and souls wandered the long stretches of shelves and lounged on soft blue and green upholstered couches, examining books, manuscripts, scrolls, tablets (wax, metal, stone, clay, and wood), braided and knotted string, cassettes, magazines, newspapers, and discs. One reader sat tucked into a corner on the diamond patterned carpeting, her falcon-patterned brown and cream feathers wrapped around her, alternating between a pile of primary-colored superhero comics and a thick leather-bound anatomy text.


The front desk gleamed with smooth wood and brass inlay and the muddle of copper feathers behind it sorted itself out into a quietly beautiful angel as she approached. Agnes returned Uriel's copy of Coalv and the Hebrew manuscript carefully to Iofielvi. “I thank thee for the yuse of these.”

“Not at all, Agnes. Did you enjoy the sage's writing?”


“Aye, he wryteth well enow. His predyctchons be notte wat they could bee, butte that ys the way of thyngs.”


Iofiel laughed, her auburn curls bouncing around her face. “Well, not everyone has your gifts. Speaking of, did the language take?”


“It were notte a tryal to reade the charackters or the wordes, so I think yt did so. Wilt thou teache me Tibetan necxt? There be a holye woman whose wordes I woold have in hyr oun tongue.”


“How about the day after tomorrow? I'll be at an emergency planning meeting tomorrow evening and I need to spend the day preparing.”


“That wille sute me fyne. Is yt a meet withe Gabriel? I heared that there was botherre ouer the events yestereven.”


“The major non-event? Yes.” Iofiel frowned thoughtfully. “It's odd, but I got a glimpse of some of the humans there when the Metatron popped down and one of them looked a bit like you.”


Agnes smiled. “I sharl see thee in two dais, then.”




The mountain was higher than she had remembered. Sahaquielvii liked heights a little more than necessary, Agnes thought as she sat down on a fallen tree to rest again and take a sip of water. She didn't need to, but it was pleasant and the sort of bodily habit that she didn't see the point in breaking with when she wasn't in a hurry. She liked mountains, aesthetically if nothing else. They were still something of a novelty after rolling English downs, and she always found something new, like the tiny blue and white alpine flowers that clung to the moss above the treeline here. The air was crisp, dry, and slightly chilly and the sun sparked off of exposed rocks and tiny patches of snow. After a few more minutes admiring her surroundings, Agnes levered herself up.


Sahaquiel's workshop was noisy with the crackle of fire and ping and clang of metal on metal, with the occasional hiss and whoosh of steam when one of the artisans plunged their work into the water barrel. Three smiths were chatting in a corner, clutching mugs of tea or coffee, and waved when she greeted them. One dainty woman soul hummed as she carefully wrapped thin silver wire around the handle of an ornamental sword. A portly man soul was shaping on a miniature girder with a diamond-tipped graver, glancing from it to a tiny model railroad bridge as he worked.


“Goode day, Isambard. Where ys Sahaquiel?”


Isambardviii nodded toward the forge and returned to his work, squinting carefully at the angle his tool was making.


Sahaquiel, buttery-yellow wings winched in to avoid sparks from the fire, was tapping a tiny hammer against a tinier silver ornament. Agnes waited for a pause, then remarked, “I see thatte the armyes of Heavaun masse no longyr and thou beatest no more ploushayres into speares.”


Sahaquiel gave the pendant one more tap, then looked up. “No. The Metatron apparently got told off in front of the other angels of the Presence and she was the one really pushing for it. It seems the whole thing's off for the mo.”


“Imagyne thatte,” Agnes said. “Welle, thou shalt at leaste hafe more tyme for other projeckts...” she trailed off invitingly.


“Did you bring me something?” Sahaquiel drawled pleasantly, extending a sooty hand.


“Juste a lyttle pattern.” Agnes presented the copper leaf. “Yt is a nice replicka of a leafe from a Heartease flouere or Viola Tricolour. A very healthsomme plant.”


“Oh, I like that.” The angel traced the edges. “More interesting than roses or lilies or shamrocks. I do those all the time.” She held it up to the light, thanking Agnes absently. Agnes nodded magnanimously and slipped out of the workshop.




There was a fine outcrop of rock a short walk down the mountain. Agnes sat on a well-shaped stone and ate her lunch, immersing herself in her book. When she'd finished, she crumpled the sandwich paper and built a little tripod of kindling around it. She worked on her knitting for a while. It was a little blanket done in zig-zags of fuschia and sky blue and Agnes had been knitting it slowly for several years now. Occasionally, she stopped to take a break, pulled out her binoculars and check the sky. Some time in the afternoon, she put her knitting away, struck flint to the steel of the belt-knife she'd never got out of the habit of wearing, and lit the fire. Peering down into it, she looked over the situation at Jasmine Cottage and smiled at the joy there. Anathema looked truly happy and her young man might be a bit hopeless, but his heart seemed to be in the right place. That was that, then. It seemed they would be safe for the time being.


As she watched, a small dog and a young boy ambled across the field. The boy looked up at her thoughtfully. Agnes winked, then doused the fire.


He would do as well.




Elspeth passed the biscuits. Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery glowered in the corner and Agnes nibbled smugly at a ginger sweet.


“I thoghte that went most plaisinglye,” she said, taking her tea and stirring in honey busily. “Well donne to yeer dessendant. And our Anathema of cowrse.”


Adultery glared. “Alle thye devinings have comme to naut. Whyfor clayme ye vyctory at this houre, harridan?”


Agnes laughed, “Bee notte a stubborn foule. Canst notte see it? That were a vyctorye for alle humankind.” They bickered companionably, with Elspeth awarding biscuits to whoever made the better point until the Heaven darkened around Agnes's little house and the Music of the Spheres softened to a sweet hum.









iThe Madonnas of Leningrad is a novel by Debra Dean about an elderly Russian woman reliving/remembering her youth as a caretaker at the Heritage Museum in Leningrad during the German invasion in 1941.

iiUriel, “God is My Light,” is sometimes considered one of the four archangels and associated variously with poetry, mystery, the Earth itself, the south wind, repentance, the sacrament of Confirmation, and whatever else needed a patron at the time.

iiiAnne Carroll Moore was one of the first directors of library children's services in North America. She worked at New York Public Library and championed the idea that children and their reading should be taken seriously.

ivTheodor “Ted” Geisel is more well known as the author/illustrator Dr. Seuss.

vCoal is a collection of poems by Audre Lorde, a Caribbean-American feminist.

viIofiel/Jophiel, “the Beauty of God,” is listed in Cabalistic texts as a guardian of the Torah and Wisdom itself. She taught languages to the souls at the dawn of creation and was a guiding, teaching inspirer of the pursuit of wisdom.

viiSahaquiel, “Ingenuity of God,” is called the angel of the Sky and is associated with the positive aspects of business and wealth, charity, and dignity.

viiiIsambard Kingdom Brunel was a brilliant Victorian civil engineer, particularly known for his work on bridges and dockyards and the construction of the first British railway.

viiSahaquiel, “Ingenuity of God,” is called the angel of the Sky and is associated with the positive aspects of business and wealth, charity, and dignity.

Happy Holidays, sailorptah , from your Secret Writer!


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 11th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
That is wholly adorable. Love this look at Agnes; love the care that went into her dialogue; love the contentment and peace of heaven, and the glimpses back at the world below. And I rather adore Elspeth and the glowering Adultery!
Dec. 12th, 2010 06:11 am (UTC)
Thank you. ^_^ I enjoy Elspeth.
Dec. 12th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
Ah, Agnes is always a treat, and you do her nicely here. "Free wille ys a bugger." :D Delightful!
Dec. 12th, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
Heehee. Thank you.
Dec. 12th, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)
Ah, I'm afraid the footnotes didn't quite work as I hoped. Sorry about that.
Dec. 12th, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
Lovely, and the fact that Adultery is Agnes' neighbor in Heaven shows that Heaven has a sense of humor. I love the interaactions with the angels, and how peaceful Agnes days seems
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:14 am (UTC)
Of course he is. *grin*
Dec. 12th, 2010 11:02 am (UTC)
This is beautifully done. Your Agnes is quite the busybody, but a kind and useful one :)
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:18 am (UTC)
She is a witch, after all. ^_^ Thank you.
Dec. 12th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
Oh that was lovely! I love your portrayal of Heaven, and the idea of an Agnes that speaks Tibetan (and Hebrew, and probably a number of other languages) is wholly amusing and seems pretty plausible.

And she keeps tabs on her descendants! <3333 What a wonderful ancestor!
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:15 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! If you're going to be anywhere for eternity, you've got to keep your mind busy.
Dec. 13th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
Spot on characterization and amazing setting, giving us a glimpse of something... else. Other. I love it :)
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:16 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you approve of the characterization. (And I like your icon.)
Dec. 13th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
Agnes' insults are the best.

I love all the random little details in this. I love that Dr. Seuss is hanging out at the Heavenly library. Elspeth's rewarding-with-cookies thing is charming. I'm glad to see angels with angels female pronouns for once (too often "technically sexless" seems to mean "default to male"). The ground sounds tempting, but it's the flying and the apparently infinite capacities for learning that make this sound like my kind of heaven.

Thank you so much, secretperson :D
Dec. 14th, 2010 06:15 am (UTC)
She has got rather a long time to perfect them.

I'm very glad you like the details! The angels have feminine pronouns because that's how Agnes sees them. It's all a matter of perspective after all. I am happy that my heaven pleases you.

You are entirely welcome.

(I did try to write genderbent Them, but I couldn't make the interpersonal dynamics work, unfortunately. I'm glad this turned out.)
Jan. 19th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
This has got to be one of the most cheerful views of Heaven I've ever seen, and I love it. :D

The library! Now that really would be Heaven for me. :D I love that Heaven here really is a thing of beauty, that the souls and angels mingle, that the angels aren't lofty beings too holy for humans, but are friendly and know them by name, and the mention of Michael as female and moulting had me giggling. XD

And your Agnes is awesome. :D
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. That was the idea. It had to be a Heaven that would actually seem like a really good, pleasant, interesting place.

Thank you. ^_^
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


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