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Fanfic / The Sacred and the Profane

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"Suffer the little children to come unto me..."

Somewhere else, the happy ending was different.

The Sacred and the Profane by Afrai is a retelling of Good Omens canon with Aziraphale as the one who fell instead of Crowley. Don't worry, they're still instantly recognizable to anyone who's read the original book: Zirah is still a kindly, smiling bookseller, and Caphriel is still a sunglasses-wearing Deadpan Snarker dedicated to his job. They've just been translated through a dented mirror. The plot, while rather condensed, is largely faithful to the events of the book, but with a couple of necessary tweaks to match Zirah and Caphriel's characters.


Maybe you should worry. And keep a box of tissues by your side while reading.

It's still an excellent read for those who want to see the original canon in a whole different light.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

This fanfic contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Zirah is a genuinely friendly and well-mannered individual who just so happens to have no problem with killing babies. This does not detract from his creepiness, at all. If anything, it makes him creepier.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: Set in a world where Aziraphale fell instead of Crowley — and the results are not pretty.
  • Always Someone Better: As demons, Hastur and Ligur think they're pretty scary and pretty good at their jobs. Zirah blows them out of the water in terms of scariness and sheer evilness.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "... Caphriel had a bizarre tendency to get upset over the slightest things, like murder and rape and duck torture."
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  • Axe-Crazy: Zirah, who'd murder a newborn for no reason other than it's easier than calming the child down, all with the sweetest, most paternal smile on his face.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Zirah was up on earth because Hell didn't want him there, they're all scared of him.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Caphriel means "God is my redemption."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Heavy emphasis on the "bitter." Armageddon is prevented and Caphriel intervenes before Zirah can murder Adam, and Anathema, Newt, Caphriel and the Them all survive. Zirah, three of the Four Horsemen (you can't kill Death, for obvious reasons), and the spare baby from eleven years prior aren't so lucky. Oh, and Caphriel killed Zirah for the good of the world. On the upside, though, the epilogue implies that there's hope for Zirah yet, especially now that he's Aziraphale again.
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  • Dark Fic: If you ever wondered why the "Good Omens" fandom doesn't do many fics of demon!Aziraphale and angel!Crowley... this fic is why. It's seriously depressing, and has almost no humor to take the edge off.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Caphriel. Being sarcastic is his main means of survival.
  • Deconstruction: Of "what if Aziraphale was the one to fall" fics in general. Aziraphale/Zirah doesn't fit quite as well into the demon role as Crowley did, nor is he nearly as harmless, and Crowley/Caphriel is quite depressed as an angel.
  • Determinator: Caphriel can't afford to give up.
  • Disappointed in You: Zirah says this to Adam, right before trying to kill him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Zirah is ridiculously calm and cheerful, no matter what horrific thing he does. Unlike Crowley from the original, he doesn't even understand why someone would be upset with him for murdering somebody.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Death isn't exactly cuddly and friendly, but he's still understanding and cordial to Zirah at the end, in spite of everything.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first things Zirah does in the story after falling are, in order: serve Hastur and Ligur tea and make small-talk with them, coo over how cute the baby Antichrist is, and then attempt to murder said baby when he won't stop crying. He does the third while barely changing expression.
  • Eyes Never Lie: Both Zirah and Caphriel have this.
  • The Fettered: Caphriel has limits to what he's willing to do for the greater good. Zirah does not.
  • For Want of a Nail: Had Aziraphale/Zirah not had the wrong thought at the wrong moment, none of this would've happened. Yikes.
  • Friendly Enemy: Of course, but in a much more painful, conflicted way than in the original. (They're sleeping together in this version, which doesn't help.)
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Not that he was ever a pinnacle of sanity in the first place, mind you... Zirah doesn't realize he's a demon, having somehow convinced himself he never fell. When he finally is forced to accept it, he... doesn't take it well.
  • Heel Realisation: When Zirah finally realizes he's a demon. The straw that didn't just break the camel's back, but Zirah's sanity.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Caphriel is a nice guy, he's just also very morbid and creepy, which doesn't endear him to people.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Caphriel's terribly cynical, but he wants to protect humanity. And Zirah.
  • Love Martyr: Caphriel goes through a lot of shit for Zirah's sake.
  • Mad Love: Caphriel and Zirah do not have a healthy relationship.
  • Meaningful Name: As noted above, "Caphriel" means "God is my redemption". The one thing that Zirah has been looking for all along.
  • Mirror Universe: Instead of Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel, our main characters are Caphriel the angel and Zirah the demon.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Caphriel wears sunglasses and a long black coat and just wants to help people. This doesn't leave the best impression on humans.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Zirah's go-to solution to almost everything is "kill them."
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Caphriel gets slapped for trying to help a crying child.
  • Noodle Incident: "When had he got the stick, anyway? In the fourteenth century, hadn't it been — he'd been given it by a carpenter he'd helped in a small matter involving a priest, three goats, and a rosebush."
  • Original Flavor: It's written in a very similar style to the original novel — which, if anything, makes a lot of the events more disturbing.
  • Only Sane Man: Caphriel is the only character with his head screwed on right at all times.
  • Poisonous Friend: Zirah isn't the best influence on Caphriel.
  • Psycho Supporter: Zirah again. He'll support Caphriel's cause to prevent Armageddon, no matter how many people he feels he needs to kill to do it.
  • Role Swap AU: In this fic, Crowley is an Angel and Aziraphale is a demon instead of the other way around.
  • Shoot the Dog: Caphriel's killing of Zirah. Terrible as Caphriel felt afterwards, it really had to be done.
  • Slash Fic: No Homoerotic Subtext here. It's just text.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Zirah has no morals whatsoever, but he's a protagonist.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Zirah never raises his voice, no matter what horrible thing he's doing. Though he'd probably take offense if you called him a sadist.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very cynical when compared to the original.
  • Stepford Smiler: Zirah is incredibly cheerful and friendly, which hides the Ax-Crazy interior. It's mostly to convince himself that he never fell.
  • The Stoic: Caphriel isn't too keen on outwardly showing emotion, though inside, he's quite emotional. The facade finally breaks when he kills Zirah.
  • Time Abyss: This is why Caphriel wears Cool Shades in this universe, his eyes are older than his face and reflect the suffering of millennia.
  • Too Broken to Break: Played for horror and tragedy with Zirah. There's really nothing the other characters can threaten him with, because over the course of his millennia-long existence, the worst has already happened. He's been kicked out of Heaven, gone insane, committed countless evils, and lost all empathy for everyone. He's ultimately undone by the one person he genuinely cares for, and who still cares for him: Caphriel, who is able to get the drop on him and douse him with holy water.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The whole fic is a long stretch of Caphriel going through every horror imaginable.
  • Truth in Television: Caphriel's reasoning behind wearing his sunglasses all the time is terribly similar to that of mild agoraphobes or people with social anxiety.
    He felt a little better with their comforting weight on the bridge of his nose. They were a sort of protection against the world.
    • Making his self diagnosis with clinical (suicidal) depression all the more awful.
  • The Unfettered: Zirah. There's nothing you can do to him that would be worse than what has already happened and there's no Moral Event Horizon he won't cross.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Zirah loses what little sanity he has when he realizes he's a demon.
  • Villain Protagonist: Zirah's a complete psychopath with a murderous streak, but he's still in the spotlight.
  • Wham Line: It's not clear just how insane and broken Zirah truly is until you get to the line, "I'm a demon."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Zirah. He wants to stop Armageddon. Killing God knows how many people, including children, will help him do that.
  • We Will Meet Again: Death promises Zirah that they'll cross paths again. They do.
  • Yandere: Zirah truly loves Caphriel, and would kill for him. Or in spite of him.
  • You're Insane!: Zirah and Caphriel both accuse the other of being insane at least once. Caphriel's entirely correct.


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