Aziraphale was not like most people. He was not like most angels either. He doubted that anyone else in Heaven, Hell, or anywhere in between could boast that the love of their life occasionally turned into a large snake. And while for most, this would be seen as a hindrance to their relationship, Aziraphale only saw the bright side. He’d loved Crowley for too long, had known him even longer, and his snakey nature was just part of his charm.
Sure, there were times where Crowley would find a warm patch of sunlight and sleep until he grew cold again no matter how much Aziraphale wanted to try that lovely little place in Brixton. Sometimes Aziraphale would hold an entire conversation with him only to realize Crowley was asleep with his eyes open as snakes were prone to do. And sometimes Aziraphale wanted to go for a walk and Crowley wouldn’t shift back for one reason or another1. But the benefits far outweighed the drawbacks as far as the angel was concerned.
Doesn’t talk back
Aziraphale learned later on that this wasn’t actually the case. Crowley could still talk in this form. It just came out in adorable hisses and melted Aziraphale’s heart each time.
But for a while, the angel honestly believed that Crowley wouldn’t speak when he was a snake. He’d react to what Aziraphale said but never replied verbally. A headbutt against his hand, the tickle of his tongue on Aziraphale’s cheek, that was the most reply he ever got.
Occasionally Crowley would nap on the couch in this form, or rest on Aziraphale’s shoulders while the angel puttered around the shop. As he did, Aziraphale would babble about anything that came to mind. Crowley loved to listen to him talk, as he was really quite brilliant when you got past his warm, soft personality that diffused so much of his intelligence with kindness. Crowley would drift off to sleep, comforted by the sound of his angel’s voice.
Other times, however, Aziraphale would say something so inane that Crowley couldn’t stand to hear it. Sometimes it was just about the Ineffable Plan, to which Crowley would mentally roll his eyes and tune Aziraphale out for awhile. But one time, he couldn’t hold his tongue any longer.
“Maybe we shouldn’t go out tonight,” Aziraphale muttered as he stood from his desk and stretched. That comment alone was enough to put Crowley on alert, but what came after chilled him to his cold-blooded core. Aziraphale prodded at the waistcoat he wore, sighing heavily when he turned back to Crowley with a sad smile. “Gabriel was right. I’m soft.”
Aziraphale had told him about that comment, of course, but he’d never seemed affected by it until right now. Crowley popped his head up, staring directly at Aziraphale and waiting until his love turned to look at him. “That isss ridiculousss. You are perfect and Gabriel can kisss my...”
“Thank you, my dear,” Aziraphale hurried to say before Crowley got himself in trouble. “But, I didn’t think you would talk like this.”
“I can.” Crowley would have shrugged his shoulders if he had them at that moment. “But like thisss, I prefer to lisssten.”
Aziraphale melted at those words and it earned Crowley a kiss on the head and a light scratch under the chin.
A snake could get used to that kind of treatment.
Scares off customers
No one who came in the bookshop thought Aziraphale actually wanted to sell any of the books after only being near him for a few minutes. He had every excuse why he couldn’t sell the book the customer was looking at. There was always an emergency or a problem or something that just couldn’t wait. Please come back later, okay? And then the shop wouldn’t open for weeks on end.
Some customers were persistent though.
Cash only? Not a problem.
I really must be going. That’s fine. This will only take a minute.
You can’t care for that book properly. I literally work in a library.2
For those customers, for the ones that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Aziraphale use to have to employ small miracles to get them out of his shop and away from his books. He hated using them for such a frivolous thing because a human couldn’t take a hint, but sometimes it had to be done.
Crowley knew all of this, of course. Crowley knew him better than anyone and watched in amusement as Aziraphale tried to kindly escort them out without parting with any of his precious books. It was a great source of amusement to him until one day, a man just wouldn’t take no for an answer, to the point that he was almost threatening Aziraphale . And now look, Crowley knew better than anyone that the angel could hold his own in a fight, particularly one against a mere human, but that wasn’t the point.
The point was that someone looked at the angel Crowley loved and thought he was a person they could push around. Crowley couldn’t have that. Not when he could do something about it. “Now see here,” the man was saying to Aziraphale, getting much closer than Crowley liked. The customer was so caught up with being a jerk that he didn’t notice the large black snake crawling up Aziraphale’s legs and back. At least not until Crowley’s head appeared over the angel’s shoulder and hissed at the customer who screamed and ran from the building, dropping the book which Aziraphale miracled back onto the shelf before it could hit the ground.
“Thank you, my dear. He just wasn’t taking no for an answer and I would have hated to have to do something to make him leave.”
Crowley bumped his head against Aziraphale’s. “It wasss my pleasure, angel.”
Aziraphale smiled and carried him to the back room. “Once you change back, what do you say to the Ritz.”
Crowley liked to pretend that snakes were cold and calculating creatures. Sure, he sought out the warmth of Aziraphale’s lap but that was because he needed the warmth. He was a vicious predator, something to be feared. He was certainly not entertaining .
Most people did fear him. As word spread around London that Aziraphale’s shop had a giant snake guarding the place, he had fewer customers than ever before. Which was just fine with both of them. Aziraphale didn’t have to chase people away from his books and Crowley got to spend more time with his angel. It was truly a win-win for them both.
When he didn’t have a warm lap to sleep in, Crowley’s favorite place was a corner by the window where the sun warmed his scales perfectly. He could be seen from the outside, which discouraged most people from coming in. With only his angel around, Crowley could sleep the day away without any fear of being disturbed.
He’d gotten so used to not having customers around that he didn’t wake when a customer came in, a small child in tow. He didn’t wake when the customer came near him to get the book they were looking for. He didn’t wake when the child got close enough to touch.
No, it wasn’t until a chubby little finger poked at his scales that Crowley woke with a start. “Oh, don’t poke him, my dear. He gets a little dramatic when you wake him up.” Crowley registered Aziraphale’s voice somewhere in his mind but mostly he was too distracted by the sheer terror of waking up to something you don’t know poking at you.
So he did what any good snake would do; he flipped over, writhed miserably, and played dead. “Crowley, dearest, don’t you think you are overreacting just a little?”3 Aziraphale asked with a laugh and if he could have, Crowley would have glared at him. As it was, he was too busy lying on his back with his tongue hanging out, looking dead to respond in any way.
The customer and child hurried off to another part of the bookstore and Aziraphale bent to kiss Crowley’s belly. “I’ve always thought you would have been a vision on the stage. You have a flair for drama. Now, you calm down while I help this person out and then I’ll open a bottle of wine for us.”
By the time the customer was gone and Aziraphale had poured them each a glass, Crowley had calmed enough to change back and flop on the couch. Aziraphale smiled and handed him his wine. “Life is never boring with you, Crowley.”
“I’m glad you find me entertaining, angel.”
“Always, my love. I wouldn’t have you any other way”
Before the Apocalypse that never was, Aziraphale didn’t sleep. There was so much in this world to see and do, it seemed a shame to waste a moment of that time. But on the bus back to London, when a bone-deep exhaustion settled in, Aziraphale didn’t question it when Crowley practically pushed him down on the bed and fell face-first onto the mattress next to him. They were both asleep before either could turn off the lights.
The next morning, when he woke, Aziraphale couldn’t move at first. A heavy weight lay over his chest and legs. When he opened his eyes and lifted his head a little, he smiled at the sight of the massive snake curled up on top of him. It comforted him in a way he hadn’t known he needed. Stroking gentle fingers down smooth scales, Aziraphale knew this was what he wanted for the rest of their newfound eternity.
So it came to pass that many afternoons found them napping on the couch in the back of the shop, or in the small flat upstairs, or at Crowley’s place in Mayfair on days when Aziraphale didn’t even bother with the pretense of opening. Sometimes he would fall asleep with his normal, beautiful demon in his arms only to wake to find himself tangled in the coils of a massive snake. Other times, they would start out that way.
The warm weight of Crowley’s body, the soft hiss of his breath while he slept, it was closer to paradise for Aziraphale than Heaven had ever been.
When he opened bleary eyes and gazed into the golden eyes of the demon he loved, no matter what form he was in, Aziraphale knew that choosing their side was the best decision he ever made. And not just for the benefits of having a snake around the house and shop, but for the rewards of having the love of his life by his side from now until forever.
But having him turn into a giant snake was a plus Aziraphale would never overlook.
1Usually because he was either a) sleeping and didn’t hear or b) pouting. Not that Crowley pouted, mind you. Such a thing would be beneath a demon of his stature (or so he would tell you)._
2That was still Crowley’s favorite interaction to date. The customer’s horror at being told he didn’t know how to take care of books would make him laugh for years to come. _
3Later that night he would reply, “No, Aziraphale, I wasn’t overreacting. You try waking up to a toddler poking you and see how you respond.” The angel just laughed and kissed Crowley’s pout away, which was just fine, really, now that he thought about it._