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the taste of forever on your lips

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“My dear, I’ve been thinking…” 

“Oooh, dangerous business, that.”

“Stop, I’m serious.” 

“So am I! And what great thoughts have you had, Angel?”

“We should get married.”

“What?!!”

“You know, just to make our arrangement official.” 

“Auggh, sounds like paperwork.”

“It’s not the paper part, silly. It’s declaring in front of God and everyone that we’re going to stick together, no matter what, for the rest of our days.”

“Well, when you put it like that, I suppose I can see the appeal.”

“It’s settled then.”

 

~

 

“We’re not doing it in a church.”

“Oh, but it would be so lovely! The sunlight through the stained glass, those resonant vaulted ceilings, filled with sweet music from the pipe organ. Besides, it’s tradition!” 

“I will not be dancing over searing coals our entire ceremony, no matter how lovely the music. Place is riddled with vats of holy water too, n’case you’ve forgot.” 

“Oh Heavens, you’re right. That won’t do at all. Shame, though. You looked divine coming down that aisle.”

 

~

 

“Will you be wanting rings then?”

“Of all the ridiculous questions! Of course we’ll have rings.”

“Of course.”

“How else would everyone know that we’re together?”

“Hate to break it to you, but most people assume that already.” 

“But this way they’d know .” 

“Point taken.”

 

~

 

“For the last time, Angel, no priests!”

“And who would you suggest, hm? Sister Mary Loquacious?” 

“Yeeuch, no.” 

“The Antichrist, then?” 

“Perfectly nice kid, really. But nah.” 

“Then who, pray tell, would you have oversee our nuptials, if not a trained professional of the cloth?”

 

~

 

When all is said and done, the ceremony takes place on a mild day in October, as the leaves are just beginning to turn and the scent of mossy decay mingles with bonfire char in the crisp autumn air. Aziraphale had wanted a late spring wedding, but Crowley said that was when everyone did it and they  were not everyone, and that was true enough. He knows this suits the demon more, this brilliant shock of colour, this chaotic, swirling riot in red. One last revolt against the dying of the light, before everything crumbles to burnished bronze dust. Deep down, he knows it suits the both of them. For all his love of green shoots and fresh starts, the worn papyrus leaves of the fall are comforting, like the musty pages of an ancient manuscript. And anyway, hot cocoa never quite tastes right late-April through mid-September. It needs the biting chill to warm the belly properly, pleasurably. 

Much as Aziraphale might’ve liked to be wed in St. James’s Park, Crowley said he didn’t want Aziraphale to go over all sappy every time they went for a walk, so they settled on Lower Tadfield, as it is out of the way enough to keep Aziraphale from getting mushy on a regular basis, yet holds the proper personal significance to warrant a visit on special occasions, should they ever be so inclined.

It also has the added benefit of being the new home of their officiant.

Anathema meets them at the front gate, resplendent in royal purple, her long flowing skirt threaded with silver, diaphanous blouse edged in black lace. 

“Welcome!” She embraces Aziraphale and plants a kiss on his cheek. “You look—” She holds him out at arm’s length. “—nice.” She frowns. 

Aziraphale glances down at his standard three-piece ensemble.

“Oh, don’t worry my dear, we’ve got proper wedding clothes.”

“Yeah, no way we’re doin’ this in our street clothes. Can you imagine this one?” Crowley jabs a thumb in Aziraphale’s face, who swats it away with fond annoyance. “Oh, you look so fetching in your nuptial wear, my dear!”   The demon snorts. “Day in, day out, for the next millennia or so? No thank you.”

Aziraphale pinches him in the ribs, making Crowley squawk and flap his arms about like some overgrown bird.

“You know you’d never turn down the opportunity for a fashion show, you vain creature!”

“Oi, I just respect humanity enough to keep up with current trends. It’s not a sin to change your outfit more than once a century, Angel.”

“The happy couple!” Anathema interrupts, clapping her hands together. “So, where are your clothes and why aren’t you dressed? Ceremony starts in twenty. You sure took your time getting down here,” she adds with an arched brow.

“I told him we should’ve left this morning, but Crowley claimed he could make up the time with his outrageous speeds, and insisted no one decent wakes up before ten.”

“S’true.”

“Hush you. And to answer your question, my valise is in the car, and this one prefers to just magic up his ridiculous designer clothes out of the ether, so he’s all set.”

“And to answer your other  question, we’re not dressed yet because this  one adheres to the ridiculous  superstition that seeing each other before the wedding is bad luck.”

“It is!”

“Can’t believe you  believe in that nonsense.”

“You just don’t understand luck. It’s ineff—”

“Don’t you dare!”

“Boys!” Anathema shoots them both a stern look. “Now that’s all cleared up, Aziraphale, get your bag and come with me. Crowley, you stay out of trouble.”

“No promises.” Crowley winks and saunters off towards the back garden. 

 

~

 

They’d agreed neither of them would walk down the aisle to the other,[1] instead opting to meet in the middle and walk down together, as equals. So he’d been expecting to see Crowley when he walks out the back door. What Aziraphale hadn’t anticipated was how breathtaking his husband-to-be would look, and nearly stumbles into the pergola.

He is dressed in fancier formal wear than Aziraphale can ever remember him wearing, including the lavish finery of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It’s a dress, of sorts. The black satin train flows out like a spreading shadow, the glistening fabric spilling out from that narrow waist and gracefully arcing off those sinful hips to pool and swirl behind him. There’s a slit down the front, the dark fabric parting to reveal white silk beneath, a shell cracked open to reveal its creamy insides. But it’s also a suit, the top cut like men’s wear, though fitted too tight to have been put on by any earthly means. Sinuous lines of burned out velvet dance across his chest, bounded by black satin lapels. The high turned-up collar draws attention to the demon’s chiseled face, while the plunging neckline drags the eye down that long throat to bare collarbones. 

Crowley’s done his hair long, longer than Aziraphale’s seen in years, swirled up in serpentine curls and meandering braids piled atop his head, a few carefully chosen ringlets tumbling artfully around his face. He’s wearing elegant cat-eye sunglasses with diamonds set in the tapered corners, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. And his lips are painted scarlet.

“Oh! Oh my, Crowley, you look…” The demon is giving him a carefully blank, expectant stare. “…stunning.”

“Oh.” His face softens, a faint pink rising to his cheeks. “So do you Angel.” Aziraphale is rather pleased with his choice of suit, a classic snow white tux with gold filigree on the lapels, so he preens a little.

“Thank you.”

“Nice to see you in something that actually fits.”

“My clothes fit like a glove!” 

“Yeah, an old worn glove that’s coming apart at the seams.”

“Still your serpent’s tongue, and be nice. It’s our wedding day.”

Crowley nods, suddenly solemn.

“It is, isn’t it.” He extends a hand, nails tipped in crimson. “Shall we, Angel?”

Aziraphale takes his hand, and they walk to where Anathema is waiting for them at the far end of the yard. To call it an aisle is somewhat generous, although Newt has raked the leaves off to the sides to form a path. Madame Tracy and Shadwell stand to one side, the former clutching the arm of the latter and already sniffling. The other side is comprised of Newt[2] and Adam[3] and Dog.[4] They reach Anathema, who is staring at them with an oddly intent look. She blinks a few times, then shakes her head.

“Sorry. I’ve just never seen auras so bright before. I mean, they’re usually pretty strong, but this is a lot even for you two.” She nods at Crowley. “Especially yours, it’s almost blinding.”

“Can we get this show on the road?” the demon snaps.

“Eager are we?” She flashes a cheeky grin.

“Just do the damn thing.”

“If you please,” Aziraphale adds.

Anathema pushes up her glasses and begins.

“Dearly beloved, we’ve gathered here today to witness the sacred union between these two beings. They’ve been partners in life for many, many years, and from this day on, they will be partners for  life. They’ve asked me to keep this short, as they claim it’s only a formality, but I have to disagree with that assessment.

“It’s not every day we find love. It’s not every day we meet someone we want to share our lives with. But even more than finding love, we create love, building day by day a foundation for a happy future. These two are lucky that they found one another so long ago, but they’ve also put in the time, and worked hard to build this love between them.”

By this point, Madame Tracy is well into full on tears, and Sergeant Shadwell’s not far behind her.

“But love is not an inert structure, to be built and finished, forgotten.” Anathema spreads her arms wide, softly billowing sleeves draping gracefully like translucent violet wings. “Love is a garden. You must water and tend to it—” 

Aziraphale elbows Crowley and whispers, “But not how you tend to plants my dear!” which earns him a smirk.

“—and with time and care, you will grow together. The fruits of well-tended love can sustain a soul for a lifetime. Even one as long as yours.” She winks at them.

“Today we consecrate this love between Aziraphale and Crowley. We honour it, and elevate it to the realm of sacred vows. This is not a mere formality; it is the culmination of a lifetime of shared effort working towards this union, and an eternal promise to dedicate the rest of their days to one another.”

Something rises in Aziraphale’s chest at those words, and tears spring to his eyes.

“And so, in the immortal words of Brian May and Freddie Mercury:

Touch my tears with your lips
Touch my world with your fingertips
And we can have forever
And we can love forever
Forever is our today.”

A soft, wet sound comes from Crowley, and Aziraphale gives his hand a little squeeze. 

“Do we have the rings?” Anathema calls out, and Newt nudges Adam, who snaps to attention. 

“Right, here you go.” He walks up to them, Dog trailing behind, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. When he pulls them out, they’re balled in tight fists, which he holds out in front of him like he’s doing a coin trick and wants them to guess where it is. “Which one of you is going first?”

“After you, my dear.”

Crowley’s carmine lips tilt up in acknowledgement, and Adam drops a ring in his outstretched hand. 

“Do you, Anthony J. Crowley, under God and Heaven and Earth and Below, swear to love, honour, cherish, and protect Aziraphale, for the rest of your days?”

“And beyond, if at all possible.”

“You’re supposed to say ‘I do’,” Aziraphale hisses.

Crowley shrugs and says, “Never was one for convention.” But then he takes Aziraphale’s hand and slides the ring on, with a quiet, sombre, “I do.” 

Aziraphale looks down at the ring on his finger, examining it for the first time. A golden snake coils around his finger, its tail disappearing into the snake’s own mouth. Its head glitters with an inset diamond, perfectly shaped to fit between two glinting yellow topaz eyes. 

“Oh! Oh my dear, it’s beautiful!” He turns his hand this way and that to look at it from all angles, admiring how it sparkles in the late afternoon sun. “It looks just like you!”

Crowley’s cheeks turn crimson. 

“S’posed to remind you of me, isn’t? That you’re mine.” 

“As if I’d need reminding.” Aziraphale beams at him. “Though I do like the idea of always having you with me, wrapped around my finger.”

Someone makes the sound of a whip cracking, and it’s hard to tell whether it was from Newt or from Shadwell with both of them giggling like schoolboys, but Crowley glares at them both for good measure.

“My turn!” Aziraphale cries eagerly, holding his hand out for Adam, who deposits the ring in his open palm. 

“Do you, Aziraphale, under God and Heaven and Earth and Below, swear to love, honour, cherish, and protect Anthony J. Crowley, for the rest of your days?”

“I do!” Aziraphale’s smile can barely be contained by his round cheeks, shining with the force of the sun breaking between soft, puffy clouds. His chest feels full and bright, bursting with the purest joy. The love surrounding him exceeds anything he’s felt before, his own unbridled affection blending with Crowley’s and all their guests and the ever-present hum of Adam’s beloved Tadfield into an ecstatic symphony of emotion. He lifts Crowley’s beautifully manicured hand, which he notices has started to tremble slightly, and carefully slips the ring on his finger. 

Crowley is silent, head bowed over their joined hands. His dark glasses have crept down the ridge of his nose, and Aziraphale can see his golden gaze locked on his newly adorned finger. Two feathers encircle it, one titanium black, the other platinum white. They arc towards each other in a gentle slope, vane tips meeting at the centre to hold a ruby heart between them. 

Crowley continues to stare, unblinkingly, completely frozen in place, and Aziraphale starts to feel that all-too-familiar nervous energy bubble up to the surface.

“Is it… that is, it’s okay if you don’t— I mean, I probably should have asked first what sort of… obviously, we have different tastes, but I thought—”

Crowley seems to shake himself back to life, shakes his head and grips Aziraphale’s hand tighter. 

“It’s perfect,” he whispers, and Aziraphale relaxes again. 

“Oh good. I had hoped, but one never knows. I tried to match it to your colours, did you even know that rings can be made in black? I had no idea!”

A poorly suppressed giggle from Anathema brings them back to their surroundings, and they both turn back to her sheepishly. 

“Don’t worry, we’re almost done here, and then you two can get back to your adorable banter. You are really too precious for words.” Crowley scowls at this, but Anathema is looking at them so fondly he can’t maintain it for long. 

“I now pronounce you husbands!” 

“Finally,” Adam mutters, and Newt elbows him again amid titters of laughter. 

“You may now kiss your husband.”

 

Kiss.

 

Aziraphale should have seen this coming. 

He really  should have seen this coming, but he’d somehow forgot. Or not forgot exactly, more decidedly put it out of his mind. Avoided thinking about it until this very moment, when it was no longer avoidable. 

Crowley is staring at him behind enigmatic black cat eyes, and Aziraphale doesn’t know if the demon even wants this. This had all been Aziraphale’s idea, and Crowley had just sort of gone along with it, after an appropriate amount of chiding, and oh God what if he doesn’t want this?

“I—we never discussed, though we should have—but you don’t have to, if—”

“Oh for Heaven’s sake, Angel.”

Crowley pushes his glasses up into his hair like a tiara, and his eyes are full of warm exasperated affection. Then long fingers are wrapped around his face, pulling him close, and soft red lips are pressed against his own. It’s surprisingly light, a simple meeting of lips, but it steals the breath from Aziraphale’s lungs. It’s barely a heartbeat of contact, and then the pressure eases, and Crowley’s starting to pull back as Aziraphale’s instincts finally kick in and he responds, chasing Crowley’s mouth and winding his arms around that slim waist. He feels incredible in his arms, and every molecule in Aziraphale’s corporeal form is singing ‘At last!’  

Then Crowley’s mouth opens and it’s warm and wet and so, so sweet, and Aziraphale plunges his tongue inside for a better taste. There’s a little squeak from Crowley and then he’s melting into the kiss, knees going a bit wobbly, but Aziraphale just holds him tighter, catching him in a graceful dip straight out of those black and white films they both secretly love. He slowly becomes aware that there’s cheering and applause around them, and a rather loud whistle from Shadwell’s direction, followed by a gruff, “Get a room!” 

Aziraphale carefully guides his husband upright again, gentles his kisses to soft pecks, and then they’re simply sharing breath, cheeks flushed and eyes alight with this new discovery. In truth, he hadn’t expected that much to change, after getting married. It was just making explicit something that they’d both known for years, dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s. Maybe they’d live together, maybe not, but the important thing was they’d be sharing their lives with each other, the way they always had, really. 

But this. It's as if they’d been living in muted greys and now everything is aglow with technicolour. Aziraphale feels like Dorothy, stepping outside of his familiar home to see a world painted in vivid hues, the lush poppy red of kiss-bitten lips, the iridescent depth of shining gold eyes. And vibrating beneath it, an emotional dimension he’d not known existed and has yet to process, let alone fully explore. A ripple of something passes between them, and Crowley’s mouth tips up into a small, awed smile. 

Afterwards, there’s dancing and drinking, feasting and cheering and hot cocoa in the cool night air. There’s holding hands and swaying slowly to Ella and Louis, eyes gazing deep into the other’s soul. And, above all, now there’s kissing.