Aurelius was my first ever main character.
He was originally meant to be the protagonist of the story Grey Wings, but early on Jason overtook him. This was in part due to Jason’s easy going nature despite his tragic situation and easy way he seemed to connect with my readers.
Despite falling into second place, Aurelius was still my personal favourite character to write, all of his scenes were fun. I have an enormous soft spot for grumpy b*****ds especially the petulant ones and Aurelius fits right into that box as if it were made for him.
Aurelius is an angel; he starts the novel living in Heaven. He loves his home and is disgruntled to see humans changing it to suit themselves (installing plug sockets and wifi). He is a firm believer in the old ways are best and fights back in his own petty way (disrupting the technicians). His pettiness was not an accident, in Grey Wings version of Heaven angels are being cast down for minor infractions and Aurelius is well aware of this. He lashes out at the world around him in a way that won’t get him banished (but it ends up doing exactly that) but lets him voice his complaints.
Shortly into the story, Aurelius finds that his own particular brand of rebellion is enough to get him banished but not quite sufficient to get him banished to Hell. He finds himself on Earth surrounded by everything he hates, and the only way to get back is to reform him.
SPOILER WARNINGS STOP READING HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED THE BOOK
While it is Jason who is responsible for Aurelius’s slight change of attitude, Aurelius doesn’t manage a comprehensive reform by the end of the story.
This was another deliberate action on my part. The original ending had Aurelius sacrifice himself, fighting Mephastohilis, so that Jason could get home safely and while this was the traditional learns-the-error-of-his-ways ending it just didn’t fit with Aurelius at all. I rewrote the ending so many times till I lost patience and scrapped it altogether. I played with the idea of Aurelius going willingly with Mephistopheles deciding that eternity with his friend was better than dissolution or life on earth, but that didn’t fit either. Aurelius had no love for humans, but he was not a fallen angel, he did not belong in Hell. So Aurelius remaining on Earth with Jason quickly became apparent was the only option available.
He is not good or evil, he is good natured but flawed. He is a shade of grey in a world of black and white.
Grey Wings: Chapter Two Excerpt
Today would always be remembered as the day Aurelius fell from Heaven.
Aurelius, who had spent his entire life amongst the clouds, would remember it as the day he was pushed, kicking, screaming and cursing from Heaven. It would be the day when everything would change. A monumental day which started as monumental days often do, very quietly.
The entrance to Heaven was still, the only sound as whisks of warm cloud rolled over the soft, light coloured wood floors was the faint resonance of the Heavenly Chorus. The gold railings that make up Heaven’s Gate are taller and more ornate than any structure built by man. In front of the Gate Saint Peter’s podium towers above any who stand before it. On a normal day the calm face of Saint Peter would look down and smile upon those who wished to enter Heaven. But today a different face looked down with irritation on those who come before Heaven’s Gate.
“Is there something wrong?” The woman who stood in front of the podium was fidgeting as one of the last remaining Angels in Heaven read her life story. She looked down when he paused in his reading to glare at her. He was smaller than a grown man, looking more like a teenage boy. He was delicately built with small wrists and dainty hands, a mop of blond curls fell to his shoulders and into his face. Great white wings arch from his shoulders, his name is Aurelius and he is glorious despite his foul mood.
“Unfortunately no,” he pushed the big green button on the podium. Heaven’s Gate opened and the woman scampered into Heaven.
Aurelius watched her go then turned and considered St Peter’s desk which was littered with a typical collection of workplace toys. He heaved a sigh and with a graceful sweep of his arm all of the toys clattered to the floor, only one did not break, a plastic cup with writting expressing a strong dislike for Mondays. With that petty revenge dealt Aurelius turned to the Book and let his eyes skim over the lives laid bare before him. About half way through the second paragraph he gave up.
With his elbows resting on the desk and chin in his hands Aurelius looked out at Heaven’s Welcome Center and was unimpressed. The tan coloured wooden floors edged by white cloud gleamed in the gentle light. Wrought golden benches made up the waiting area all of them stood empty.
“I miss my cloud,” Aurelius mumbled “even protecting Heaven from a threat that no longer seems overly interested in being threatening has more purpose than this.”
The abrupt sound of an electric drill caused Aurelius to wince. He turned sharply to glare at the source of the noise and spotted a Soul wearing the blue uniform of a union handy worker, her name badge read Wanda. Aurelius instantly regretted knocking the toys to the floor, it meant he now had to climb down to get ammunition. He clambered down and lifted most of the broken fragments from the floor, with a beat of his wings he hopped back up the podium and perched on the back of the chair. Wanda turned at the sound of wing beats and groaned when she saw him.
“Is Peter on holiday again?” She asked gritting her teeth, Aurelius did not answer and Wanda went back to her drilling. She had a length of coiled wire over her shoulder and a small tool box at her feet.
“What calamity are you forcing upon us now?” Aurelius snapped after a couple of noisy minutes.
“It’s not a calamity, it’s just a plug socket,” Wanda put on headphones and went back to work.
“Go away,” Aurelius hissed, he always thought it best to keep his instructions simple when speaking to Souls.
“Not until I finish this,” Wanda answered purposefully not looking up. A few seconds later something small and hard struck the back of her head, she looked at what had hit her and recognised it as part of a plastic bird. Another hit her and she turned to see Aurelius sneering, his hands loaded down with broken toys.
Ten minutes and all the broken fragments later the Soul had taken refuge at a safe distance and Aurelius was searching for more ammunition. Finding nothing he launched himself at the Soul. He lacked any real weapons, (Heaven had a policy involving those) all he had were his small needle claws and heavy wings, but they were enough. The Soul fled before he could reach her. Aurelius watched her go, then returned to his chair to admire the peace. His peace was very short lived however.
“There he is Darren,” Wanda’s shout made Aurelius glance up and groan.
“You beat last year’s record by nearly an hour, harassing my workers again?” Darren snorted.
“It is not harassment,” Aurelius rolled his eyes, “go away,”
“Back home you’d have been arrested by now, for that little stunt you pulled when we were putting the satellites up for sure.”
“It is not harassment,” Aurelius said through his teeth.
“No that was assult,” Darren smiled, Aurelius snarled.
“You enjoy torturing me,”
“I love my work lad, always have. Even when putting broadbund hubs on clouds for ungreatful angels such as yourself,” he waved the paper he was holding in Aurelius’ face, “restraining order number…I forget, how many is that now?” Aurelius refused to answer, Darren smirked.
“So I can work now?” Wanda broke the silence as she peered around from behind her protector, “he can’t try to hurt me?”
“Nope sweetness, he can’t come near you. If he does he has to answer to the Big Boss,” Darren continued to smile but stopped when his back pocket vibrated and a sound resembling a tin can being hit across metal posts rang through the air, drowning out the Heavenly chorus. He reached for his phone which stopped ringing before he could answer.
Jason is stranded in a dark city, and is in desperate need of help when he has no idea how he will get home. So, when he collides with Aurelius, an Angel only in the mildest sense of the word – who has committed a crime worthy of great punishment, but has been handed a rare chance at redemption – Jason can see a way home. However, their journey will be hampered by Fallen Angels, Earth Spirits, and Griffons – and none can say if everyone will make it home.
Praise for Grey Wings
“Relatable and funny”
“There is a natural charm to the book that makes it hard not to love.”
“I welcomed the tug on emotions throughout the story.”
“A great story with a gripping plot.”