Chapter 1: Chapter 1
All humans had daemons. That was a fact of reality. Humans, who had immortal souls which could be seen outside of their body, had that soul in the form of some creature, representative of the individual. It was, considering the huge number of species of animals across the Earth, very unlikely that one human would ever meet another human who had the same daemon as them.
However, angels and demons did not have daemons. Angels and demons are immortal souls themselves, that sometimes resided in a corporation, so there was no need for daemons. Especially for demons who often had an animal which they were connected to, such as having one themselves, or, in the case of Antony J. Crowley, being able to shift into an animal. Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and a demon who had resided on earth since the Beginning of Humanity, had never had any issues passing for human. They did not interact with humans long enough for them to be concerned about their apparently lack of daemons.
However, this was about to change. And this is where our story begins; about fifteen years before the End of Days.
Aziraphale hates being called to Heaven. It either means he is in trouble or Gabriel has some annoying new idea which Aziraphale knows will not work because he is the one who lives around humans, honestly. But it is a cold Monday morning as he is summoned back to Heaven, by note. So, he goes. Annoyed but never showing it. There, as usual are the four angels who always greet him, the archangels Gabriel, Michael, Uriel and Sandalphon. He wonders if they have forgotten over these long years that he, whilst remaining peacefully on earth, is a Principality. He outranks them all.
“Aziraphale!” calls Gabriel in that terribly annoying enthusiasm they have. Aziraphale is enthusiastic, but Gabriel’s joy always feels false, not infectious like it should.
“Gabriel,” he replies, inclining his head to the other angels in acknowledgement. “To what do I owe the pleasure? The summons said it was urgent.”
“Ah yes,” says Uriel, their voice rough and nasal. “There is a source of corruption in a university not far from where you reside in London. You are required to investigate it and end it.”
“But,” chips in Michael, smirking unhelpfully. “This is to be done quietly, Aziraphale. No quick little miracles. It is going to take infiltration, time spent with humans and likely posing as one. I’m sure you can do that.” Aziraphale gives a slightly strained smile.
“It is what I have been doing for a while. What is the university?”
“Oxford University,” replies Sandalphon, grinning in that way that Aziraphale hates. “We don’t know very much else, only that the corruption is bad. Possibly demonic. Or maybe just terrible humans.”
“And that’s where you come in, Aziraphale. Get rid of it. Quietly, efficiently, no frivolous miracles. We don’t want Down Below getting wind of anything,” says Gabriel sharply.
“What about daemons? All humans have one; I shall be awfully obvious without one.”
“That is your problem, not ours,” Gabriel continues, smiling in that way they have which is completely insincere. “You have your assignment. Off you go.” And with a wave, Aziraphale is dismissed and the angels walk off in the opposite direction. Aziraphale sighs, trying not to let his frustration at the unhelpful nature of Heaven show. He heads back to Earth with a pout, shuffling huffily back to his bookshop.
Aziraphale is wallowing in the confusion of what to do, how to go about this frustrating task Heaven have concocted for him when the door of the bookshop, which he is sure he locked, swings open.
“Angel?” comes an exceedingly familiar voice and Aziraphale smiles, just little. He gets up and comes around to the front of the shop.
“Crowley,” he hums happily, taking in the sight of his best friend. Crowley is dressed in all black as usual, skinny jeans and his leather jacket, with his shades covering those piercing snake eyes. “What can I do for you today?”
“Thought I’d see if I could tempt you to a spot of lunch? I was feeling rather bored.” Aziraphale pauses for just a second before nodding. Perhaps Crowley can help with this dilemma he is having concerning Passing As Human.
“Of course, dear boy. Where were you thinking?”
“We can go to that sushi place you like?” suggests the demon, shrugging ever so slightly. Aziraphale nods excitedly at that thought, hand already in his pocket to find his keys so he can lock back up after they have left.
“Oh, excellent. Shall we go along now?” Crowley nods, hiding a little smile but Aziraphale has known him far too long to be fooled by that. He really is rather glad about that.
The sushi place in question is small, family owned, and they have known Aziraphale by name for years. He and Crowley sit in a comfortable little booth and speak quietly. Well, Crowley is doing more of the talking currently, which doesn’t bother Aziraphale at all. He rather enjoys listening to Crowley’s voice. As the waitress brings over a bottle of sake for them, her hummingbird daemon perched in her hair, Aziraphale decides to speak.
“Heaven want me to go to Oxford for a while.” He watches Crowley’s eyebrows raise slightly, his head tilt in that exceptionally snake-like manner he has.
“Oxford, that’s not far. An hour or so. But they want you to stay there?”
“Yes, something about corruption in the university there, they want me to go investigate and ‘deal with it.’”
“Mind if I come along for the ride? I haven’t been to Oxford since the 1640s when Cromwell’s army marched through there,” muses Crowley, taking a long drink of the sake.
“Of course not, dear boy. It would be a nice change of scenery, I suppose. We have lived in London for a long time,” Aziraphale replies lightly, trying not show his happiness at the idea of the demon joining him for this.
“That we have. So, what does Up Top want you to do, exactly?” asks Crowley, as they both continue to make their way steadily through the sake.
“They want me to infiltrate the university and find out what is going on. I thought I could pose as a theology professor? But I’ve run into a snag.”
“And what is that?” Crowley sounds far too amused for his own good.
“Daemons,” sighs Aziraphale and Crowley’s glasses shift as his eyebrows raise.
“Oh shit, I hadn’t thought about that. You can’t very well pass as human without one.” He takes a long drink of the sake and sighs a little. “Perhaps you could get a little mouse or something and pretend it was your daemon?”
“I think the lack of ability to speak may give a normal creature away,” says the angel testily and Crowley huffs unhelpfully.
“Well, sssorry angel,” he hisses, his serpentine nature in the sound.
Then it hits Aziraphale.
“Crowley!” he exclaims. “I’ve had a great idea, but you’re not going to like it.” The demon raises one eyebrow questioningly.
“Oh really?” Crowley’s voice is flat.
“You can be my daemon. You enjoy hanging around my bookshop as a snake anyway, and all you would do is be a snake and no one would question it,” Aziraphale says, excited by the entire prospect.
Crowley looks less enthused.
“No. That’s awfully demeaning. Besides, who would believe that you, angel, with your softness and your smile, would have a snake as a daemon?” he points out sharply.
“Snakes are rather lovely creatures,” challenges Aziraphale, his cheeks reddening. “They’re affectionate and were considered good luck and gifts from the gods in Ancient Greece. Besides, I don’t care if they question that. I just need to pass as human.”
“I’m not doing it!” whines Crowley, taking a long drink. “I’ll have to hang around your boring classes all the time and, and…” Crowley tails off and Aziraphale frowns. The demon looks very conflicted and the angel takes a second to focus on the demon’s aura to see if he could sense the emotions. Mainly frustration and want but those are things which make up Crowley, but there is something which feels different. It feels like Hope. Hope is so easy for him to sense as an angel, a brilliant, bright emotion which humans had a habit of clinging to. He has never felt Hope in Crowley before.
“Please, Crowley,” Aziraphale says, his voice soft in a way which could be a little manipulative, but he needs his help and, well, he wants to spend time with the demon. Crowley gives a heavy sigh and mutters,
“I suppose I still owe you for the 60s and the holy water. Fine, fine! But you will owe me one.” He waves his hand imperiously and Aziraphale quite literally beams, his eyes crinkling up with joy.
“Thank you so much, Crowley! I will make it up to you, I promise.”
“You better,” hisses the demon but there is no venom in his voice.
Aziraphale lets his smile become fond. Oh, this certainly would be an interesting assignment from Heaven. And working on it with Crowley will be certainly a lot more enjoyable than doing anything alone.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
So, the great charade of Crowley-is-Aziraphale’s-daemon begins. The poor theology students of Oxford won’t have any idea what hit them.
Hey! Really hope you are all enjoying this! Thank you all so much for all your lovely comments, they’re very much appreciated.
Sorry I don’t have much of a schedule for updating; I’m currently on an archaeological dig in the middle of nowhere so internet is hard. But doesn’t mean I won’t write!
Hope you like this chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The little flat, which Aziraphale has quietly gotten his hands on in Oxford, is comfortable. It is expensive to rent, but money means little to beings like him and Crowley. It is cosy, full of bookcases crammed with his beloved copies of bibles and topped with verdant green plants, which Crowley had been insistent on bringing. The idea of living with Crowley is far more appealing than Aziraphale would ever let on. He doesn't know what it is about the demon, maybe his glittering snake eyes or the amount of time they have spent in each other's pockets over the last 6000 years, but he is very happy with his presence. After all, Crowley really is a very nice demon. Habitual at causing minor discomfort, sure, but never truly evil. He's gentle, kind, especially to Aziraphale and generous and by all of the Angels in Heaven, he really should stop thinking.
The demon in question is currently lounging across the bed. It is right beside the desk where Aziraphale is sat, reading a lovely copy of The Picture of Dorian Grey. Crowley looks tired, his yellow eyes half lidded.
"Rest, my dear," says Aziraphale. "For tomorrow this whole charade begins.
This whole charade being the fact that Aziraphale has managed to miracle up a new theology professor's job in St Peter's College, Oxford. Obviously, the faculty remembers hiring a Professor Ezra Fell about a month ago, to start today, at the beginning of the new term. Really, Aziraphale thought it was a job well done.
"Yesss, okay," grumbles Crowley from the bed, exhaustion elongating his s's. He changes into black silk pyjamas with a wave of his hand and he rolls over. The demon is asleep in seconds and the angel tries not to smile affectionately. Maybe this mission from Heaven wouldn't be so bad after all
Katie Green is excited. She's meeting the new theology professor today, and she is hoping it will go well. St Peter's does not often get new theology professors and as one of the few theology PhD students who doesn't want to be a vicar, Katie is always excited to meet other people in her field who also do not want to be vicars. But she knows that Professor Fell will have a lot of meetings and organisation to do in the two weeks before terms starts, so she heads up to see him 3 days after term begins formally. It's late afternoon when she takes a tray of tea, hoping that he likes tea, up to his office. One, two, three times Katie knocks and there is a pleasant,
"Come in!" from inside. Katie's sparrow daemon, Orzin, chirps reassuringly from her shoulder as she pushes open the door. The room is cosy, filled with books and papers and there is Professor Fell, sat at his desk on a highbacked chair. He isn't what she had been expecting. With a name like Ezra Fell she had been imagining a dashing young man, likely of Mediterranean origins, with windswept dark hair and deep entrancing eyes and, okay, maybe Katie's love-life has been a little slow as of late.
Professor Fell is actually a short man with golden curls which are almost artfully tousled and bright blue eyes which are a little too piercing. He's maybe in his early forties and his daemon is nowhere to be seen.
"Oh, well, hello," he says cheerily, and his accent is definitively RPG British style. "How can I help you, miss?"
"Uh, hi, I'm Katie Green. I'm one of the PhD students here," she replies as she brings over the tea tray. "I thought I had better introduce myself."
"Oh, lovely to meet you, Miss Green. Is that tea for me?"
"Yes, I do hope you like tea." Professor Fell laughs like that is a stupid question and suddenly his chair moves. The black and red backrest shifts, revealing itself not to be a chair, but a twelve foot long anaconda. It opens its yellow eyes to stare right at her and Katie can't help but shudder. Professor Fell notices this and chuckles, reaching up to pet the snake's head.
"Oh, don't mind Crowley; he wouldn't hurt a fly."
"That'sss a lie," hisses the snake who must be Professor Fell's daemon. "I ate a fly this morning. Not tasty." Professor Fell just laughs.
"That's on you, dear boy." Orzin on Katie's shoulder relaxes, knowing that this massive snake would not attack them. But Katie can't say she isn't a little perturbed by the sheer size of Crowley. And she never did like snakes. She places the tea on the desk.
"Well, I should be getting on, Professor. Lovely meeting you."
"It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Green."
"Katie, please," she corrects him as he takes a sip of tea.
"Katie it is. Then call me Ezra. I'm sure I shall see you soon." Katie nods, smiling politely as she shuts the door.
As Katie Green shuts the door, Crowley sighs. Well, as much as a snake can sigh, which is just a soft hissing sound.
"Poor girl looked terrified of me," he says, curled up against Aziraphale's neck.
"You are rather imposing, dear. Being so large and everything."
"You wanted me to pose as your daemon! I can't change my form," he whines and Aziraphale scritches at his scales, which is rather comforting, honestly.
"And you're doing a fine job. Stop complaining," soothes the angel, letting Crowley coil gently around his body.
"Honestly, Zira, I'll be surprised if any of the people we've met have actually believed this charade," he gripes. Mainly because he feels like it is his job to gripe. He's really rather enjoying this. Aside from the terrified humans, which for a demon, he's not actually that fussed for, he gets cuddles from Aziraphale constantly. And he gets to nap whenever he wants which usually means he has more energy to annoy Aziraphale in the evenings when they get back to the flat. It's only there that Crowley takes his usual form. It's only been a couple of weeks, but he's liking the new dynamic. Living with Aziraphale is comfortable and reassuring. He likes waking up to the sound of the angel making coffee and tea in their little kitchen. He likes lazing on their lumpy sofa with his legs thrown over Aziraphale's as they both read different books. He likes the way the plants and the books look together in the space.
Not that he would ever say that to Aziraphale. Aziraphale is an angel, able to sense positive emotions very strongly and he has never once mentioned the excessive amount of love that Crowley must have been giving off since around 4004 BC when he met the not-so-perfect angel. He knows he can sense love. Aziraphale has said it before.
But he has never mentioned it in relation to Crowley.
So, he must not reciprocate Crowley's affections. And the demon had accepted that long ago. It's just getting harder to remind himself of that with them living together.
"Crowley?" Aziraphale says, surprising the serpent from his thoughts.
"Yesss, angel?" He hisses, gazing up at him.
"You remember that I'm giving a lecture tomorrow, yes? You have to behave."
"When do I not?" he huffs and Aziraphale's eyes go soft.
"Never, dear, obviously. Never. Just reminding you not to frighten the students too much." Crowley huffs again.
"Fine, fine. What's the lecture on? Will I be bored?" Aziraphale's smile is ever so slightly wicked.
"My dear boy, it's on the Beginning of All as considered by different scholars and religions." Crowley laughs, his forked tongue making the sound far more sinister than it is.
"Oh, angel. I will not be bored."
Crowley is right. He isn't bored. He sits draped over Aziraphale's shoulders in his favourite spot, watching the students feverishly take notes, their own daemons at their feet; in their hair; on their shoulders etc. Aziraphale gestures idly as he discusses the Garden of Eden and the other mythologies surrounding creation myths. The angel can't help but add tidbits like:
"The Garden really was quite lovely, you know? Lots of exciting species."
"The walls of the Garden were very high though, to keep out predators."
"The Serpent wasn't really evil, really. He was just doing a job like the rest of us- them."
It really was fantastic to watch the students scramble to note down everything being said, desperate for this new insight. As the lecture ended, Crowley listened to the students talk as they left.
"Best lecture I've had in a while."
"Prof's a bit of a madman though. Did ya see his daemon? That giant fuck off snake?"
"He spoke like he was actually in the Garden of Eden!"
"Comes of reading so much, I reckon. Think he knows the bible cover to cover?" And Crowley has to stifle a laugh. Know the bible cover to cover? Aziraphale practically wrote parts of it. He sidles up to his ear, hissing softly,
"Job well done, angel. You've got the students on side."
"Oh, I do hope so," hums Aziraphale happily as he pets Crowley's head. "Let's go back to my office, yes? I have some reading to do." And so, they head back. Crowley remains coiled around Aziraphale's shoulders as they travel through Oxford, occasionally hissing at passers by who stare too long. Aziraphale rolls his eyes but he never challenges the serpent. Oh, yes. Crowley could, quietly, get used to this.
Okay yes this is set in Oxford for 3 reasons:
1. Oxfordshire is pretty important for Good Omens right?
2. The His Dark Materials series also begins in Fantasy Oxford.
3. I actually do go to uni there so like I know it pretty well, not the theology department particularly, but like; the System.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Aziraphale and Crowley continue with their somewhat routine lives now. Tutorials, lectures, accidentally terrifying humans, searching for evil powers. Just the usual, you know?
Okay like, I have no idea how long this is going to be. 5 chapters may have been over-optimistic. Maybe 7 or 8? Eh, I never know.
Anyway, thank you all so much for reading and your lovely comments! I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Aziraphale is starting to enjoy Oxford. The students quite like him and Crowley, even if they found their match a little odd. Crowley loves tutorials a little too much, especially with the first years. He just enjoys scaring them. In fact, Aziraphale has a tutorial with his first year theology students, Eric and Lennie today.
“Crowley?” Aziraphale calls, looking up from the book he is reading that morning. The demon in question has only just woken up, still splayed out across the bed in his usual long-limbed form.
“Ngk, angel?” he responds, the sound muffled by the pillow.
“We have to go in 10 minutes. I have tutorial this morning, remember?” Crowley makes a happy hissing sound and sit straight up.
“With the babies? Oh, how could I forget? Think Lennie has gotten over me stealing sips from her coffee cup yet?” Aziraphale chuckles, remembering how Crowley had snuck up on the poor girl last week in their very first tutorial.
“Probably not,” he replies with a smile. “You’re a little mean with them.”
“They scare so easily; can you blame me?” asks the demon, clicking out his spine and stretching so he can comfortably take his snake form.
“Menace,” admonishes Aziraphale with absolutely no venom in his voice. He could never truly tell Crowley off for his antics. They’re always completely harmless. The demon just gives him a sly grin in response before slipping into his serpentine form. The angel scoops him up, settling the snake around his shoulders and shivers slightly; Crowley’s scales are always so cold when he transforms.
“I’m going to check out the Classics Faculty today,” says Aziraphale calmly. Most days for the last 3 weeks that they have been living in Oxford, they have gone to another one of the many buildings within the university. They have been attempting to scope out this evil influence. It hasn’t been on any of the students they have interacted with and they spent last week scoping out the science libraries and laboratories. So now, on to the historians.
“Sssounds good, angel,” hisses the snake, settling into the usual spot around Aziraphale’s neck and left arm and left leg. And with that, they head out into the chilly morning air of Oxford. Aziraphale has found that he really rather likes the calm 20-minute walk from his flat to St Peter’s. It is routine and it is simple, and Crowley often hisses random comments about passersby in his ear.
“Tourists,” he grumbles this morning as Aziraphale struggles to weave around a large tour group. The angel pets Crowley’s head reassuringly as they reach St Peter’s.
“Always in such a mood, Crowley,” he chuckles softly as he heads up to his office.
“I’m a demon,” he whines quietly. “Literally my job.” Aziraphale shushes him as he lets them into his office, puttering around.
“I know, dear boy. I know.” They have barely 30 minutes to get organised before there is a cautious knock on the door. Crowley, who has settled into his second favourite spot (half-lazed underneath, half-coiled up on the footstool), hisses happily.
“Come in!” calls Aziraphale and the door opens to reveal Eric and Lennie, ready for tutorial. Aziraphale swears that he sees a slightly wicked look slip over Crowley’s serpentine face. He’s clearly planning to shock the students today.
“Eric, Lennie, come in. Let’s get started, shall we?” continues the angel, unfazed as he begins the tutorial.
Eric Moorhouse likes Professor Fell. This is only his second tutorial with the eccentric theology professors, but the lectures that Ezra have given are just as fascinating. Eric’s daemon, his loyal and gentle black Labrador, sits calmly at his feet as he listens to Ezra discuss. But then, he notices that Professor Fell’s own daemon is nowhere to be seen. The huge black and red anaconda had startled him to begin with, but it soon became clear that the snake was mischievous and lazy rather than dangerous. He had stolen slurps of Lennie’s coffee last week and when Eric had caught him in the act, the student is sure that if snakes could wink, he would have. Professor Fell is deep in conversation with Lennie at the moment, so Eric takes a moment to glance around, looking for the snake.
No luck. Eric almost becomes concerned until Professor Fell asks him a question and he is distracted from his search.
Eric is pretty happy with his work and is engrossed with Ezra’s helpful anecdotes about practices when his daemon, Lyra, yelps and he feels fear shoot through her. He looks down on instinct to see huge glowing eyes staring back up at him from the underside of Professor Fell’s desk. Lennie appears just as shocked. Of course, Ezra notices.
“What’s wrong, Eric- Oh, honestly, Crowley,” he sounds fond and annoyed as he notices the snake. “Get out from under there; stop scaring my students.” Crowley, the snake gives a playful hissing laugh and slides up over the desk to coil around Professor Fell’s shoulders.
“Sssory, SZszszira,” hisses the snake playfully and Eric cracks a smile. Ezra must have a teasing and frisky side to have a daemon such as Crowley, despite the formal nature he gives off as Professor Fell. And as Lennie had pointed out to Eric last week, his stuffy reputation is not helped by the amount of tartan and beige Ezra wears. The blond-haired tutor rolls his eyes and pets the nose of the huge snake as he continues to talk.
Crowley had forgotten how much fun startling humans with his snake form was. Most of them had such a fear of reptiles, which is odd because Crowley isn’t even venomous. He could constrict someone sure, but that was merely because of his size. He isn’t a particularly dangerous species. Aziraphale with his ten thousand eyes, 18 arms and three heads, humanoid, a white lion and a dove is a far more imposing form, but so few humans would ever view that.
Mainly due to the whole terrifying holy light thing.
That and the true forms of angels and demons are likely to cause a human to go mad. Crowley’s own is partially serpentine, winged and wreathed in dark fire. They’d both caused the few people who could see auras enough headaches over the last 6 millennia that they had been on Earth.
Now, he settles contentedly around Aziraphale’s shoulder’s, internally smirking at the shock and mild fear he had managed to illicit from Lennie and Eric. Crowley lets the rest of the tutorial pass calmly. This is the kind of fear he likes to illicit. The surprise which makes humans vulnerable but not violent or destructive. It is the kind that passes. It is the kind that lingers that he hates. He is all about small acts tarnishing a soul, not huge destructive acts. That’s so old school and unhelpful. Lingering hate just leads to warfare and destruction which Crowley has no love for. He truly does like humanity. Luckily, most of the humans Aziraphale interacts with have grown used to him over the few weeks and do not bother with the large snake that the angel carries. It is rather nice.
Aziraphale wraps up the tutorial rather abruptly as usual, because yet again he has run on. Eric and Lennie leave with a smile and muttered thanks.
“Honestly, Crowley,” chuckles the angel as the door is closed. “I swear you enjoy terrorising them.”
“They ssspook ssso easily, can you blame me?” he hisses out and Aziraphale just chuckles.
“Come along, dear boy. I have some books to pick up from the library before we get lunch and head to the faculty.”
“And, you have that meeting thisss afternoon,” Crowley reminds him, to which Aziraphale pouts. He hates meetings.
“Oh, yes. I had quite forgotten. Well, lets get a wiggle on, my dear.” Crowley hisses a little at the statement, ‘get a wiggle on’ but he soon snuggles into Aziraphale’s neck, happy and warm as they head out of St Peter’s.
The trip to the library is uneventful. Lunch is a little more exciting as Aziraphale sits in a little café, eating his sandwich and a group of tourists come in. Crowley thoroughly terrifies a group of American girls by simply looking up at them.
“Oh, Katelin, look they’ve got such a quaint, OH HOLY FUCK IS THAT A SNAKE?!” shrieks one and Aziraphale scowls.
“I didn’t even do anything,” huffs Crowley into Aziraphale’s ear as one of the other girl’s shrieks and he curls closer to the angel.
“Ladies, please,” says Aziraphale firmly to the now screeching Americans. “He would not harm you. He is no different from your own daemons.”
“Yesss and honessstly, my hearing is rather sssenssitive.” The girl who had spoken first has the decency to look abashed.
“I’m sorry, sir. He’s well, he’s rather big, isn’t he?”
“And what of it?” asks Aziraphale primly. “It is really rather rude to speculate about other people’s daemons.” And with that, he stands, letting Crowley coil his tail around his leg. “Come along, Crowley, we’re leaving.” Aziraphale leaves his sandwich half eaten.
“The nerve of some people,” huffs the angel as they head back into the busy streets of Oxford, towards the Classics Faculty.
“It’s fine, angel,” murmurs Crowley, his head settled on Aziraphale’s shoulder. “They’re just kids.”
“Still! It’s very rude to comment on someone else’s daemon, much less shriek because of their species and size.”
“Angel, it’sss fine.”
“You are a wonderful size and that’s that!” Aziraphale fumes and Crowley takes to just gently hugging him with his entire body. He is strangely honoured that Aziraphale is so angry and defensive about his size. He rather likes his snake form but apparently it is far too terrifying for most people. Mortals really are rather odd.
They spend the afternoon in the Classics Faculty, with no luck of finding any evil presence and then head to the meeting which Crowley sleeps through. He is comfortable and warm, curled up on Aziraphale’s lap and it makes him feel so very loved.
And, not for the first time, Crowley wishes he was still an angel. Even if just to be able to feel what Aziraphale felt. He can sense the frustration and boredom from the angel because of the meeting. In fact, he can feel it from every member of the table. But it would be nice to be able to sense positive emotions like Aziraphale can. Just every once in a while.
He wishes he knew what the angel felt about him.
Because he had loved him for 6000 years.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Aziraphale and Crowley investigate, desperately trying to find the demonic presence in the university.
Crowley is silently sappy.
Fucking drags my muse back for this becAUSE I LOVE AND CARE ABOUT THIS MUSE SO RUDE
This is like 93% pining and 7% plot progression because I have no chill but hey.
Shout out to the Aziraphale to my Crowley who is an English student; love you!
I hope you all like it!
Aziraphale is becoming frustrated. Crowley and he have been in Oxford for almost 6 weeks now and he can’t seem to pinpoint the demonic presence. Every time he catches a quick whiff of it, it is gone before he can act upon it. Crowley is taking everything rather well, honestly. Aziraphale thinks that the demon is rather enjoying it for all that the demon denies it. He seems more playful than usual and definitely more affectionate. Part of it comes from the ruse, Aziraphale is sure, with the necessity of seeming closer as they are as Crowley poses as his daemon.
But a deep, dark part of his mind, the Don’t-You-Dare-He’s-A-Demon part, wants it to be something more. Aziraphale would never admit it, not even to himself, but he cares deeply for the demon. He may even love the demon. Especially after that stunt he pulled in the church in 1941. But Crowley can never know; it was just not a possible pairing.
It’s a lazy Thursday evening and the demon in question is sprawled across the bed, his shoulder-length red hair pulled into a messy bun as he flicks through a book on astronomy. Aziraphale is sat in the chair beside him, his own book open in his lap, but really, he’s watching Crowley. He looks so relaxed like this, his hair up but messy, his glasses discarded, and his snake eyes fixed on a page. His clothes are rumpled by the way he lazes across the bed. And Aziraphale almost melts because Crowley, his Crowley, all sharp lines and sharp remarks, all (attempted) smoothness, looks… soft. And it makes Aziraphale’s heart ache.
He realises rather suddenly that he would give up his wings if it meant that he could be part of Crowley’s life. It would be worth it.
And he immediately crushes that thought. It isn’t helpful to him. He buries his face back into the book he is reading, but Aziraphale finds that it really is rather difficult to focus on the words. Crowley isn’t even doing anything and he’s being distracting.
Crowley is watching the angel out of the corner of his eye. Aziraphale is shuffling and struggling to concentrate; Crowley knows it, but he doesn’t know why. The angel is looking especially adorable today, with his tartan bowtie somewhat mussed and his curls as perfect as ever, curled up over his book. He is chewing absently at the corner of his lip and his little frown is far too cute for Crowley to bear. But he continues to sneak glances at him whilst browsing his book.
Despite his griping, which is just habit at this point, Crowley really is enjoying this little time aside. It is nice to feel free from Hell, to be able to just spend time with Aziraphale. He has been enjoying being a snake because it has meant that he can just cuddle up with the angel, without it being awkward or him having to create some kind of excuse for why he is being so affectionate.
It is nice.
It also hurts.
It only makes his love for Aziraphale grow stronger and so it is difficult to focus. Living with him makes it difficult to hide the adoration Crowley has for him. He does not expect anything from Aziraphale; he never has. Merely that Crowley has spent 6 millenia adoring this angel quietly and he does not wish to jeopardize the sometimes-fraught relationship that he has with the other by being stupid and telling him he is love with him.
Instead, he has been a good little demon.
Well, that’s a lie too.
He’s not a ‘good demon’. Not in the original sense of it anyway.
He’s mischievous and playful and drives humans to sin, yes. But he also loves which is not something demons are supposed to do. He thrives on affection. And he loves humanity, for all that means. He thinks that they’re so wonderful and bright and easily swayed, but worth fighting for.
And it’s the last bit that makes his superiors unhappy.
That and his love for Aziraphale. But no one knows that to reprimand him.
“Crowley, dear boy?” says the angel, making the demon jump.
“Do you remember if we have checked the English faculty for demonic presence yet?”
“Oh, uh, no. No, we haven’t,” he grunts, not looking up at Aziraphale.
“Well, that’s tomorrow’s job!” says the angel brightly and Crowley sneaks a glance at him over his book. Aziraphale is smiling at him. The eye contact makes Crowley duck behind his book to try and hide the blush that he feels welling in his cheeks.
Fuck off, human body.
“Mmhm, yep. Right. I’m, uh, I’m probably gonna go to sleep. Alright?” Crowley mutters, closing his book on a beautiful nebula. Created that one, he thinks sadly. He’s been far too introspective tonight for his own good and it’s making him feel unsteady.
“Are you alright, dear boy?” asks Aziraphale, sounding worried.
“Yeah, m’good. Just like sleeping, you know me,” responds Crowley, his face in the pillow.
“I do know you,” says the angel, his voice so quiet and reassuring that Crowley almost cries. He doesn’t know what to say to that, but Aziraphale fills in the silence. “Sleep well, Crowley.” Crowley manages a weak nod and rolls over, not even bothering to change what he is wearing before forcing himself into sleep.
When Crowley wakes, it is to Aziraphale quietly rousing him.
“Crowley, dear boy, come on, we have to go soon.” Crowley grumbles, curling up more into himself, unhappily.
“Nooo,” he whines, hissing a little at the back of his throat. And Aziraphale gives a soft laugh. It’s gentle and bell-like, warm in Crowley’s ears and the demon can feel his hand gently untangling his hair.
“Come along, dear,” murmurs Aziraphale and eventually, Crowley shuffles and sits up, rubbing his eyes.
“M’up. M’up.” Aziraphale smiles at him, his hair tousled artfully. It’s far too early for the angel to look so well… angelic. Crowley forces his blush down and stretches out. “Alright, come here.” Aziraphale chuckles and leans forward as Crowley shifts into his snake form, sliding to settle around his neck.
“Comfy?” chuckles the angel as the snake settles down.
“Very. Now, the Englisssh faculty?” he murmurs, pressed against Aziraphale’s shoulders.
“Let’s go,” replies the angel happily as they leave. Crowley remains snuggled into Aziraphale’s neck throughout the trip, with the pretence of hiding from the cold.
Really, he is just enjoying the ability to cuddle his angel without any issues.
The English faculty smells weird. It’s the first thing that Crowley notices. His tongue flicks out several times, eyes narrowed.
“Angel?” he growls quietly but he notices that Aziraphale has tensed.
“I know. It is odd, I can feel it.”
“It ssssmellsss weird,” he hisses unhappily. “Do we have to go in there?”
“I think so,” sighs Aziraphale, reaching up to gently stroke Crowley’s snout. “I’m sorry dear, I know your smell is so heightened in this form.” Crowley whines.
“I know, dear boy, I know. We will be as quick as we can.” Crowley nods and curls tighter around Aziraphale as they enter the building. He stays as focused as he can whilst they’re inside, trying to find the demonic presence because there is definitely one here. It makes him feel exposed.
“If, ah, if we can ssssenssse the other demon, do you think they can ssensse uss?” Aziraphale frowns, contemplating this.
“I am not sure. It is possible that the fact that we are an ethereal and an occult being together, it maybe confusing?” suggests the angel and Crowley makes a wiggling motion like shrugging.
“I hope so, or I’m going to be in a lot of trouble.”
“Well, um, me too, I suppose,” says Aziraphale nervously. Crowley snuggles into his neck reassuringly as they head further in. He doesn’t want the angel to be hurt in anyway and he is willing to defend him to the end of his own existence.
“Crowley?” Aziraphale asks, prompting a responding hum from the serpent. “This corridor? Does it feel… different to you?” Crowley flicks out his tongue, unsure.
The scent is stronger and definitely demonic. Crowley hisses unhappily.
It smells like Hell and he hates it.
“Here. The influence is here.” Aziraphale nods and starts to head down the corridor, but Crowley tightens his coils around the angel’s arm and torso and leg.
“Angel, pleassse. Not yet. We, we ssshould prepare. What if the creature isss very powerful?” For a moment, the angel tenses and Crowley fears that Aziraphale will fight him. But then he relaxes against and turns away.
“You’re right. We should do some digging first. Find out about any new professors or odd occurrences.” And Crowley sags against his shoulder.
“Yess, yesss. Ssshall we get lunch?” Aziraphale smiles widely and strokes Crowley’s head.
“What a good idea, dear boy.”
And so, as they leave the English Faculty, Crowley can’t help but stare back over Aziraphale’s shoulder at the building.
And he is certain he see someone staring back from one of the office windows.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Investigating the entirety of the English Faculty is becoming tedious and some what obvious to anyone who is paying any attention, but Crowley doesn't really want to step on the angel's toes here. After all, it is his mission. Crowley is just here for the free cuddles.
Hey everyone!! Hope you're still enjoying this! I will wrestle the muse back if it kills me because I have ideas!
I think, now, don't hold me to this bUT, I think there will be 2 chapters after this.
Thank you all for reading!
They have been spending a suspicious amount of time at the English Faculty lately, ponders Crowley as Aziraphale strides rapidly through the streets of Oxford towards the building. This is the fourth day in a row that they have been, and they have discovered… not a lot.
Seven new members of English staff joined the faculty in October and a further six had joined in May. Considering the lack of information from Heaven, that gives them at least 13 suspicious individuals and Crowley continues to worry about being found out by this demonic presence. His senses are finely attuned to cutting through the mess of human nature to find ethereal or occult beings, but he doesn’t know how well attuned another demon who is not as used to humanity as himself would be.
Being caught with the angel wouldn’t bear thinking about.
Today, Aziraphale is insistent on investigating an individual who joined in May and Crowley really can’t get away with doing anything but being with his angel. He feels like he should be more unhappy than he is with that fact.
“Crowley, you remember what to do?” Aziraphale asks for the 6th time.
“Yessss angel,” he hisses in his ear, serpentine head resting comfortably on his shoulder. “You go talk to people; I look around.” He doesn’t point out that being a large snake means he is constantly conspicuous but that’s fine. He lets his angel believe he has a good plan.
And so, they head into the faculty, Crowley shifting around on Aziraphale’s shoulders and occasionally hissing at passing students, just to watch them startle. The angel heads up to the department offices at the back of the building, acting in the usual way of just pretending he belongs there. No one, in six millennia, has ever questioned it. As they walk down the corridor, a group of students come tumbling out of a classroom, all their daemons begging for attention as they leave and Crowley spots something… nice.
One of the students has a small black ball python curled around their wrist and arm.
It is the first snake daemon he has seen. The student glances up at Aziraphale and Crowley as they pass, and Crowley catches the brightening on the students face at the sight of him.
And Crowley feels a rather un-demonic swell of kindness in his serpentine chest. It’s nice to be appreciated and not feared all the time. He hears Aziraphale chuckle, clearly aware of the interaction and so Crowley sticks his cold nose under the angel’s collar, somewhat pettily.
“Focussss, angel,” hisses Crowley as they head deeper in.
“Oh, honestly, dear boy, I was not the one distracted… Ah! Here, it’s this one…” Aziraphale continues to talk but Crowley’s figurative hackles are raised.
He can smell the demonic presence.
It’s close-by, but not in this room that Aziraphale wants to go in.
Could he get away? Possibly, but he’s only got moments before Aziraphale notices. He doesn’t want his angel to get injured in this. He’s a demon; he can handle other demons. And the point isn’t whether or not his angel could handle it; he doesn’t want Aziraphale to have to.
So, he waits. He waits for Aziraphale to knock on the door, for the professor to open the door and then he slides down Aziraphale’s body, as though to enter the room. He is distantly aware of his angel talking to the tutor before he slithers away down the corridor, with all the speed of a reptile which has been lazy for all of its life. Read, he goes very quickly.
He shifts down the corridor, heading towards the presence and is lucky that no one else is here.
Because he would definitely cause a commotion.
He briefly considers taking his normal form, but he thinks that a person appearing from a snake may be more concerning. At least at this point, he a worst looks like an escaped animal and at best, a confused daemon.
He follows his sensitive sense of smell down another corridor, which unfortunately, does have a person in it. The man turns and shrieks at the sight of Crowley, who hisses at him and keeps moving.
He’s quickly starting to tire. This form does not move quickly or efficiently so this is taking a significant amount of energy to continue onwards.
But he can’t let the alarm be raised.
He can’t let Aziraphale come to harm.
Aziraphale doesn’t notice for far, far too long. He is certain that this new professor, young and somewhat narcissistic is the demonic presence he has been searching for, but as soon as he enters the office on the pretence of something or another, it doesn’t seem right.
For one thing, the tutor has a daemon. A preening and flashy cockatiel sits on the desk and, well, Aziraphale doesn’t think a demon could create an illusion strong enough to fool him.
For another thing, the tutor seems very normal. Their aura is human, confused at Aziraphale’s presence, but polite and easy. They accept the conversation naturally and offer Aziraphale tea.
Azi is so focused on keeping the professor, Professor Jackson? he thinks, preoccupied so that Crowley can investigate that it takes him ten minutes to notice that Crowley isn’t here.
Crowley has never been here.
Immediately, Aziraphale panics. Where has he gone? Has someone purposefully taken him? Has he gone to…
Oh. He’s gone to go investigate alone because he’s that stubborn.
He truly does adore that demon. In a way that he certainly shouldn’t. Love all things, the Almighty had said, yes. But he doesn’t think that extends to fall in love. Angels are really not meant to experience all those more… human things. But he knows, in this moment as he panics about the missing demon, that he couldn’t ever be anything but completely, utterly, ineffably in love with Crowley.
He stands abruptly and Professor Jorgenson? frowns, surprised by the movement.
“I have to go, I am so sorry,” Aziraphale manages to blurt out as he rushes to the door of Professor Johnson’s? office.
And then, Aziraphale is tearing down the corridors, desperate to find his demon. He has to find him.
Crowley has to be around here somewhere, right?
Crowley is not nearby Aziraphale anymore.
Crowley follows his nose deeper into the offices, scaring anyone he meets until something goes very wrong.
Someone picks him up.
They clamp one hand over his mouth and grip him behind the head and Crowley loses it.
He hisses and coils and thrashes, tail slapping hard from side to side. He is a 12 foot long anaconda for Go-Sata-Someone’s sake! Some scared human does not scare him and he will definitely teach this individual a lesson!
Until he is stuff unceremoniously into a black bag which is tied at the top.
He continues to hiss and spit until he realises that there is something he has missed in all this commotion.
The individual who is currently dragging him along in this large sack has a very distinctive scent.
A demonic scent.
It is about then that Crowley realises he may have fucked up by leaving Aziraphale.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Inadvertently, Crowley has found the demonic presence. Or more accurately, the demonic presence has found him...
Hey everyone!! I think this will be the penultimate chapter but don't hold me to it, I'm terrible for working out how long things should be.
Anyway, I hope you like this one!!
And you should listen to Hozier's NFWMB around about halfway through when Aziraphale comes in. Really sets the mood.
Also, huge thanks to my wonderful girlfriend who keeps me sane and helps me with all my planning. There's a little cameo in here for you, babe!
Thank you all for reading!
Warning for non-descriptive torture also, please be safe!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Crowley is panicking.
He can’t focus enough to change forms and honestly, he thinks it would likely do more harm than use. He doesn’t know how powerful this demon is and if it is way more powerful than him, Crowley is screwed and Aziraphale’s cover is blown. He doesn’t know what to do.
Escape as a snake is impossible, the tarp of the bag is far too strong and escape as a human is illogical and difficult and unpredictable.
He writhes and wriggles and hisses as the bag is half-carried, half dragged along the floor. The demon doesn’t seem concerned, whistling to itself as they head through the corridors and then there is a blast of chillier air.
They’ve gone outside? No. Crowley would have been able to hear the road.
They’ve gone downstairs, into some kind of basement.
“There,” says the demon and their voice is thick and nasal like the slow drip of blood. “No one will be disturbing us down here, my little serpent.” Crowley only hisses in response.
And then he is tipped out of the bag and on to what appears to be some kind of table? Before he can rearrange himself and work out what is going on, ropes secure him viciously to the slab with all the speed of a demonic miracle. He is on his back, soft serpentine underbelly exposed and head pressed flat, but he can see the demon out of the corner of his right eye. Well now he is definitely stuck in snake form. Changing form now wouldn’t free him and this demon seems far too prepared for him to get the element of surprise.
It’s with a lurch that Crowley realises he recognises the demon.
It is Soneillon, Lord of Hell and one of the first to fall along with Beelzebub and Lucifer and Asmodeus.
Oh, this is very bad.
It is a wonder that Soneillon hasn’t worked out that Aziraphale is here.
Though, they haven’t been to Earth at all, Crowley thinks. They tend to manage, not involve, and the consistent assault on their senses must be a lot.
Crowley still gets overwhelmed the constant busyness of humanity and he has been here for 6000 years.
Soneillon’s aspect, a huge black widow spider shifts uncomfortably on their head as the demon turns away from Crowley to deal with something else.
Why is he here? Crowley wonders. This is huge. Lords of hell like Beelzebub and Berith and them don’t just come to Earth for the joys of it. What is Hell planning?
“Now, my slippery friend, you just stay still. I would say this won’t hurt a bit, but it will. It will hurt a lot. But that’s the point really! You and your annoying podgy human are getting far too close for comfort,” says Soneillon cheerily as they turn around, a long, wicked blade in their hand.
“Too closssse?” hisses Crowley, desperate to keep them talking. “Too closssse to what?” Demons are terrible for just talking at the worst possible moments.
“Too close to me, you silly snake! I can’t have some frumpy old philosophy professor and his massive daemon getting in the way of my preparations for the Apocalypse.”
Oh shit, are they gearing up to that already downstairs? Crowley would wince, but snakes lack facial expressions.
“Yes, yes, very important business. But none of yours. Not anymore anyway. Now, here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to slowly, agonisingly, excruciatingly kill you so that your human dies knowing that he fucked up. Won’t that be fun?! Oh, I do love the shared pain between human and daemon. It’s so… weak,” Soneillon drawls, holding out one hand and Crowley watches as the spider crawls from their head, down towards himself.
Well, he thinks as the spider and the blade get closer, at least he’ll only be discorporated. And Aziraphale will be safe.
Aziraphale will be safe, he thinks as the spider sinks its fangs into Crowley’s underbelly and the venom sends pulses of pain through his nervous system and he tenses desperately as he tries not to make a sound.
But then Soneillon begins to draw the blade under his sensitive scales and Crowley starts screaming.
To say Aziraphale is worried is a gross understatement.
Aziraphale is terrified.
He can’t find Crowley and the demon wouldn’t just wander off without him.
He stands in the corridor of the English faculty, pacing worriedly, chewing at his fingernails as he tries to work out what to do.
He thinks… he hopes he’s wrong but he thinks that the demonic presence here has Crowley.
The best thing to do would be to try and find that presence.
But how?! They’ve been searching for days already with no luck… But that means Aziraphale only has 2 or 3 suspects left on his list.
And the first is only down the corridor, a Professor Sonni. So, certain to try and find Crowley, he hurries down the corridor and knocks on the door of the professor.
Aziraphale begins to panic when someone taps him on the shoulder and he turns to see a young undergraduate student with long brown hair and a small shy smile.
“Professor Sonni just left sir. Do you need him?” she asks and Aziraphale exhales heavily.
“Yes, do you know where he went?”
“Oh, um, possibly the basement? He says he keeps his own little library down there because he has so many books that it damaged the floor.” Her daemon, a small owl, no bigger than his own palm, which is sat on her shoulder chitters in agreement.
“Ah, thank you, Miss. Much appreciated.” And Aziraphale takes off down the corridor, hoping beyond hope that no one notices his own missing daemon.
He hopes he can find Crowley. He hopes that this Professor Sonni has him because otherwise, he is wasting precious time.
Aziraphale runs for the lift and pummels the button for the basement. As he waits for the doors to close, agonisingly slow, he wonders if the stairs would have been faster. But he's woefully out of shape and Crowley could need him! He trembles, clenching and unclenching his fists as the lift slowly rumbles down.
And the doors finally grind open and Aziraphale hears.
He hears the anguished screams and wails of a demon still caught in his snake form from the door beside the lift.
He hears Crowley.
And for the first time in a very very long time, Aziraphale gets truly, deeply angry.
Now, a side note on the true natures of demons and angels.
Demons are fairly simple in their true natures. They are usually animalistic in form, maybe with a set of horns, wings or a tail which shouldn't be there, but all in all, not terrifying. Crowley, for example, is merely a 30-foot-long anaconda with a set of rich black wings about halfway up his body.
However, angels on the other hand, are filthy liars. All art of them depicts them as humanoid, either beautiful youths or rosy-cheeked cherubs. This is propaganda, started by the angels themselves to help humanity to trust them.
Angels in their true form are eldritch beings which easily strike fear into the hearts of all humans who were unlucky enough to view them. Michael, for example, isn't even humanoid, but a huge ball of glowing light from which thousands of mouths speak and hundreds of eyes blink out of time.
Additionally, the sheer Heavenly Grace which is stored in the true form of angel is more than enough to smite any demon which should dare look upon them.
Aziraphale has not considered this. He is far too angry to consider this.
Aziraphale blasts open the door with a wave of his hand and howls as he releases his true form. No longer a soft, middle-aged man with soft curls and deep smile lines, now Aziraphale stands 10 feet tall, his 18 arms unfolded and claw-like in anger, his ten thousand eyes opening and closing across his body and triple set of wings to match his three heads. The dove head shrieks, the lion head roars and the humanoid head, now ageless and haloed in holy fire, screams.
Crowley is too busy howling in pain to notice much until light, piercing, angry, holy light fills the room. He feels the knife drop out of his chest and can just make out Soneillon turning to face the light before they are completely disintegrated with an anguished howl.
“B̶̠̮̰̻͎̻̯̲͙̙̼̞̭̺͘é̶̙̺g̴͇͚̺̫̠̺͔͔̰̺̩̱͆͗́̿ǫ̵̞̼̥̦̩̦͛͊̈́̍̊̎̈́̏͜͝ṇ̴̦̭͎̱̥̩̺̝̥̐̈͊̄͒̓͑͘͜ḛ̴̢͕̺̺̺̇ ̴̨͍͈͙̞͑̋̋͑̒̋̓̀d̵̫͈̳̀̏̐͗̐̕͝ę̶̡̛̛̝͍̫̮͎̒̂̾̌̾̄̋͂̚͠͝m̶̪̗̥̹̖͇̣̋͊̾̋͆͒̀̎̇͒͜͜ȏ̴͉͙̫͍͇̬̬̎͜n̸̢͖̣̻̬̣̮͓̼̣͖̪̊̔̌̚͘!̵̻̙̰̳̯̱̖̲̈̂” says a voice that under all the eldritch horror is familiar.
But the light doesn't fade and Crowley can feel it burning his delicate scales.
“Angel, angel, ssssstop it, pleassse, ah, angel...” he hisses, twisting weakly against the bonds. He's bleeding profusely, his thick black demonic blood dripping slowly against the ground. (Honestly, Soneillon was a complete idiot. The black blood should have given Crowley away completely but well, Lords of Hell aren't known for their knowledge of biology.)
The holy light dims and then comes to a complete stop and Aziraphale, normal-sized, his wings still outstretched hurries into Crowley's view. And the demon thanks someone, anyone, that snakes have side facing eyes and poor vision. If not, he could have easily been destroyed like Soneillon. As it is, he can feel the burns on his tail and lower body.
“Oh by the Lord, Crowley!” cries Aziraphale, his hands hovering nervously over Crowley's tortured body.
“C'mon angel,” Crowley hisses, but there is no venom in his voice. “Get me out of here.” There's no way he can change forms like this. His thoughts are scattered and woozy from the pain and the spider venom.
Aziraphale snaps his fingers and the bonds fall away, letting Crowley fall limp against the table and the angel reaches for him, healing glowing in his hands but Crowley hisses and tries to move away.
“Angel, no, they'll, upssstairsssss, they'll know.”
“You're losing too much blood, dear boy, you'll discorporate!” challenges Aziraphale and Crowley whimpers faintly. “Just enough to close the wound, I promise.” And the serpent makes a faint sound of agreement and let's his angel slowly seal his wounds.
And then, comforting, easy darkness claims Crowley's senses as he allows unconsciousness to take him.
Soneillon, according to Wikipedia, was included in a 1613 book by a man named Sebastien Michaelis and is described as 'the fourth prince of Thrones, who tempts men to hate and is opposed by St Stephen.'
And the idea of a professor having a library in a basement isn't horrifically far from the truth. One of my own tutors had to have his entire office moved to the ground floor because he was causing the ceilings to sag in the office below his own from the sheer weight of the books he had in there.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
After everything, conversations are had and secrets are told.
Hey everyone!! Sorry this took so long, but here you go! The final chapter!
Thank you all so much for reading and I hope you have enjoyed this little jaunt with me.
Your comments really did keep me going, so thank you all!
Crowley wakes slowly, in pain and fuzzy. Something is missing, he knows that immediately. He pauses for a long moment, eyes closed, trying to work out what is wrong when it hits him.
He’s missing limbs, still in his serpentine form.
He’s also alone.
Crowley struggles to move, trying to slither out of the nest of blankets, but as soon as he does, pain fires through his body and he hisses, falling still immediately. There is sound in the background, movement and then the shattering of ceramic.
“Crowley, dear boy?” comes a blessedly familiar voice and Aziraphale appears in his vision.
“Azszsiraphale,” he hisses, his breathing sharp with pain.
“Don’t move, my dear, you are still badly injured,” the angel fusses, coming to sit down on what appears to be a bed. The bed in the apartment in Oxford. Aziraphale must have gotten them back here, likely via a miracle. Carefully, he reaches out to gently run the tips of his fingers across Crowley’s head, which the demon leans into greedily.
“What happened?” he asks, faintly.
“You found the demonic presence and… well, I may have done something stupid to get you out of there.”
“Ssssoneillon,” hisses Crowley. “They were talking about the apocalypssse, angel. Downssstairsss hasss to be gearing up.”
“Crowley, it’s okay, we’ll deal with it, but not right now. Now, I care about you,” Aziraphale says, his voice calm, way calmer than what Crowley feels.
“Angel,” Crowley tries again and shifts but he doesn’t get anywhere before the pain spirals through his body and he is left whining. Aziraphale tuts quietly and moves over to gather Crowley close to him.
“Can you change back?” he asks softly and Crowley presses his serpentine face into Aziraphale’s collar.
“In too much pain. Probably would hurt more,” he replies, his body lax against the angel’s. Aziraphale sighs, stroking down his scales.
“I could heal you?” he suggests and Crowley shakes his head.
“No. Don’t let Upssstairsss know,” he replies and Aziraphale nods, taking that under consideration.
“Fair. You will heal though?” he still sounds very worried and Crowley manages to make the expression that is closest to a smile for a snake.
“I will heal. Jussst need sssome time.” Aziraphale nods and shifts a little to get more comfortable, allowing Crowley to stretch across his legs.
“Okay, dear boy. Is this okay? Would you like anything?” Crowley shakes his head, resting right across the angel’s body.
“I’m good. Thank, thank you,” Crowley mutters and if snakes could blush, he would certainly be an attractive shade of red right now. He hopes that Aziraphale understands that he is thanking him for everything. For the rescue, for the healing, for being there for him, unquestionably.
The angel in question smiles knowingly.
“You are most welcome,” he says, meaningfully and Crowley relaxes against him. Aziraphale reaches out to grab his book from the bedside table and opens it, petting Crowley with his free hand.
“Read to me?” Crowley mumbles and Aziraphale chuckles.
“As you wish, my dear,” he says and clears his throat. “Thus mourned all of those at Troy from the Hellenspont…” And Crowley settles down, listening to Aziraphale read to him.
Time appears to go liquid and soft around them as he reads and Crowley stays cuddled up. The pain in his tail and lower body seems to slowly ebb away. Crowley isn’t really completely listening; he knows the Iliad well enough to keep up (after all, he had met Homer a few times) and he enjoys just listening to the angel talk.
Aziraphale is there and they are both safe.
After a little while, Aziraphale stops, finishing the book and Crowley realises that they hadn’t had much of it to complete.
“What now?” Crowley asks quietly.
“Specifically, or generally?” asks Aziraphale in return and Crowley does the best approximation of a shrug that he can in snake form.
“Both, I suppose.”
“Well, I guess I report to Heaven in the next few days and we go back to London? Everything goes back to normal.”
“I… I don’t want to go back,” admits the demon in a quiet voice. “I quite like it here. I like your students. And the peace. I don’t want to go back to normal life, to reality.” Aziraphale seems to pause at that, stroking his fingers over Crowley’s scales.
“It has been rather nice out here,” the angel replies, sighing. “I suppose it couldn’t hurt if we were to stay here a little bit.” Crowley hisses pleasantly and then realises something.
It would be excellent if he could properly hug Aziraphale at this point.
He focuses, ignoring the pain which twinges down his spine and then suddenly, Aziraphale is holding on to him, his arms wrapped around the angel’s shoulders and their noses pressed together.
He is closer than he expected. Both angel and demon freeze, unsure what to do. Crowley can feel the slow breaths of the other against his cheek and lips and the blood rushes to his cheeks.
Oh, by the Maker herself, he wants to kiss Aziraphale.
Slowly, he meets the angel’s eyes, yellow on blue and recognises the flush in his pale cheeks.
Aziraphale glances down at Crowley’s lips and breathes,
“Tell me to stop.” And then he’s kissing Crowley and the demon is helpless.
In his surprise, it takes him a second to respond, but as soon as he does, Aziraphale makes a soft sound against his mouth, surprise and joy all in one and Crowley can’t think straight.
His hands crawl into the angel’s hair as he tilts his head, pressing so much closer to the angel and Aziraphale slowly draws back, resting his forehead against Crowley’s.
“Don’t stop,” whispers the demon and the other laughs gently.
“No?” murmurs the angel and Crowley can almost feel the words against his lips.
“No. Never stop kissing me,” he says and leans forward to kiss Aziraphale with vigour.
And for a few, shining moments, they are the only beings in existence.
One occult, one ethereal, tangled together in a very human place.
Crowley is the one to pull away this time, trailing tiny kisses down Aziraphale’s cheek and jaw before pressing his face into the juncture of his neck.
“I have wanted to do that for a while,” says the angel, his voice barely above a whisper.
“How long?” asks Crowley gently.
“Oh, I don’t know. At least since you saved my books in the 40s.” Crowley snorts softly.
“Oh, angel… I have wanted to do this since I met you in Eden all those millennia ago.”
“Well, I would say something about lost time, but that doesn’t really apply to us. We have eternity to work this out,” says Aziraphale, cradling Crowley’s face with his hands.
“Eternity,” replies the demon. “I like the sound of that.”
And so, if you happened to visit or study at the University of Oxford and spend time with the theology students or in St Peter’s College, you could catch a glimpse of a middle-aged, somewhat frumpy-looking professor and his twelve-foot anaconda of a daemon.
There they stayed, teaching with unconventional methods, surprising students by stealing their morning coffees and generally causing mild chaos.
And there they stayed, quietly in love, spending long evenings together and peaceful mornings when they don’t have to deal with students.
And there they stayed, for around 15 years, until the preparations for the apocalypse come to a head and they both have to return to London, to their own ‘sides’.
And yet, after all that was over… They still had eternity to spend with each other.
The serpent of Eden and the angel of the Eastern Gate, inexplicably, irrevocably, ineffably in love.