Crowley glanced at the flower in his hand, embarrassment engulfing him instantly. He wanted to run away, but he had already knocked on the door of Aziraphale’s bookshop (ignoring, of course, the ‘closed’ sign which was intended for clients). He heard the angel’s steps and a few seconds later Aziraphale’s smiling face greeted him.
Crowley knitted his eyebrows as they greeted each other. The best he could do was hide the flower behind his back, hoping that he looked as blasé as ever (he was glad his new, trendy sunglasses covered half of his face).
Luckily, Aziraphale just smiled more warmly and opened the door in invitation, pushing up his reading glasses as the demon passed him. Crowley walked in rather comically as he tried to conceal the large peony flower from Aziraphale. He marched up to a desk and sat down on it, making sure the flower couldn’t be seen from behind his back. The demon didn’t realise that his strange behavior was more cunning than he walking in with a bouquet so large that it would barely fit through the door.
Nevertheless, Aziraphale leaned against a bookshelf and just smiled placably, as one would do when one discovers a child in the middle of a mischief. Crowley’s face soon turned as pink as the peony he had finally taken out.
“I brought you this,” the demon said, trying to look nonchalant, but the trembling of his hands as he twirled the flower’s stem gave him away.
How stupid of him to say such a thing! Since when do demons give presents to angels?
“I actually stole it from someone’s garden,” Crowley specified. “You know, they have been working hard in their garden for a year and I just went in and took their most beautiful flower.”
Crowley straightened his back proudly, expecting a good scolding from Aziraphale, but the angel just raised an eyebrow, a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. Something broke inside the demon when he saw that his plan didn’t work and he admitted indignantly:
“Okay, okay, the truth is that I bought it at the florist’s.”
As suddenly as it had come, Crowley’s indignation vanished and he bowed his head and stared at the floor. He remembered how he walked into the florist’s with the clear intention of buying something for Aziraphale, but at the same time he was shy and hesitant about his unexpected decision. He looked around in confusion; he didn’t know what the angel would like, but his eyes glided over the red roses. Those didn’t match his angel.
The florist, a lively young woman, noticed his dilemma from the first moment.
“For someone special?”
“I beg your pardon?” Crowley asked.
“The flowers – will they be for someone special?”
“Yes,” Crowley replied without hesitation. “That is, for a… uh, friend. Sort of. A good friend, yes.”
The florist smiled knowingly. Right. Friend.
“How is he like?”
Crowley was so deep in his thoughts that he didn’t even question how the woman knew the gender of his friend.
“He’s…” Crowley rubbed his face, sighing. “He’s kind, very knowledgeable and forgives all the stupid things I do.”
He fidgeted with the button on his suit. “He’s also a huge snob and I think his book worship is out of proportions. But he’s my friend and that’s no little thing.”
The florist turned away, touched by the demon’s words. “So your friend would appreciate something with a story?”
“Definitely,” Crowley approved.
“Something simple, yet beautiful.”
The florist disappeared for a moment and returned with a pink peony.
“There are so many legends about peonies. One of them says that Paeon, a physician in Ancient Greece, was turned into this flower so he would live forever.”
“I know, I was there,” Crowley muttered, but luckily the florist didn’t hear him.
“Peonies are said to mean good fortune,” the woman added with a smile.
Crowley was roused from his remembrance as soft fingers pried out the stem from his hand. Aziraphale leaned in and smelled the delicate perfume of the peony. His blue eyes looked up at Crowley from the magnificent pink petals. The demon just stared at him, bewitched.
Aziraphale stepped even closer to Crowley and pressed his lips against the demon’s hot cheek. Crowley turned his head slowly, incredulously, and his nose bumped into Aziraphale’s.
“Thank you,” the angel whispered, his words caressing Crowley’s lips.
Aziraphale stroked Crowley’s cheek and nudged him with his nose, encouraging the demon to do something that both of them have been craving for forcenturies. Crowley looked down at the angel’s plump lips and then back in his blue eyes. He leaned in and captured the angel’s lips between his own, a pleasant tingling running down his spine.
“If I had known that a flower has such an effect on you, I would have bought one sooner.”
Aziraphale chuckled. “It’s not the flower, my dear boy, but the thought behind it.”
Crowley blushed, but he did not have time to be embarrassed as Aziraphale kissed him again and again and again.
Visitors of Aziraphale’s bookshop would always see a beautiful pink peony flower in a vase on his desk that somehow magically never ever wilted.