Chapter 1: Lead balloon
The evening is pregnant with excited noises which are getting closer by the moment. A small crowd is gathering in front of the theatre, and in the crowd, there is a young man of astonishing beauty. His eyes are emerald green, his hair is golden, his features are classically perfect. He is graceful of movements and gentle of manners. Looking at him one would most certainly miss his naivete, his innocence and entire absence of wit. He is kind because he doesn't know how to be evil, and even if he did, his evils would be small and irritating and causing nothing but laughter. He is accompanied by an older man, heavily drunk but still capable of walking straight. He is telling his young companion who is who, but their conversation is of little interest to us.
Once inside, the older man, his name is Wystan, walks away in search of more wine, and his young friend looks around, eyes wide open, mouth in a slouchy "o" at the sight.
Wystan returns with a full goblet, and a few gulps from it put him into less acerbic mood.
"Your angel should show up, really, Christian. Otherwise we are wasting our evening here."
"Oh, but I'm sure he will be here. Please. I don't know anyone in Paris, and I can't stand another day without knowing who he is."
"Oh, young love. So quick, so fast, so impatient… oh look, I'm out of wine already. Better get me another goblet."
Wystan walks away again, and Christian not knowing what to do with his hands, shoves one of them in his pocket to find a hand there.
"I was looking for a glove," Christian says threateningly.
"And found a hand," a pickpocket smiles smugly.
"I'll kill you."
"Brave musketeer. You might regret it, for I have a secret you must need to know."
"Your friend, Wystan, is in danger."
"In danger? How so?"
"He wrote a poem, which made certain powerful people very angry. A hundred men will meet him tonight at the Porte de Nesle, and not to exchange pleasantries."
"A hundred? For one drunk poet?"
"Indeed. Paris is a passionate city, here everything is magnified, especially when the king's minister is concerned."
"Off you go," Christian lets the pickpocket disappear into the crowd and tries to find Wystan, who is coming back to him, just as a soft whisper runs through the crowd, and Christian looks up and sees the man he was searching for.
"Oh, so this is your angel," sighs Wystan knowingly.
"Yes! Who is he?"
The man in question is entering the box, the king's minister's nephew with him, and judging by the look on the man's face, he is not pleased to be in such illustrious company.
"This is Aziraphale, the king's librarian. A man of quiet character, but clever and, may I say, aware of the effect his indeed angelic features have on us mere mortals."
Aziraphale suddenly finds Christian in the crowd and smiles, happily and openly. He nods his head, his blue eyes glowing with joy, which disappears as soon as count Gabriel stands beside him, putting a possessive hand on Aziraphale's arm.
"Who is it? With him?" asks Christian clutching his sword.
"Easy, easy. It's the Cardinal's nephew, a very capricious man. He's been smitten with Aziraphale for years, but is married, and finally he conjured a plan. He is going to marry Aziraphale off to that sickly viscount who is standing right behind them, and claim his prize. Being a friend of Gabriel is apparently worth becoming a cuckold."
"Indeed. I wrote a poem about it, they say Gabriel is furious."
Christian doesn't put two and two together, and keeps staring at Aziraphale, who makes an admirable effort of taking his gaze off of the young man and turns to Gabriel.
"I hear Crowley is coming tonight. They say he swore to kill Barbige, if he dares showing up on stage again," says someone next to them.
"Yes, I heard that too. But honestly, is he going to show up indeed?" asks another.
"He will. He swore, and Crowley never says a word he doesn't mean," mentions the third voice.
"Who is this Crowley?" comes the fourth voice.
"A very strange fellow. Here comes his friend Hastur, better ask him. Hey, Hastur!"
"How can I help?" asks Hastur, a man of Wystan's age with gray hair and black eyes.
"Say, Crowley, he's the strangest of the men…"
"That he is," answers Hastur affectionately.
"Who is he though?"
"Oh, hard to tell…" Hastur is indeed a bit lost for words.
"He is a poet!" says Madame Tracy, the owner of the most popular bakery in Paris.
"A brave man," adds Hastur.
"An astronomer," inserts another voice.
"A botanist," supplies yet another man.
"A musician," admiringly says someone else.
"Oh hush, the play began," shushes them a grumpy voice, and everyone turns to the stage, where a young man lauded as the best actor of his age, begins his soliloquy.
"To be or not to be…" he utters with an air of enviable pomposity.
"Oi, you! Haven't I told you to stay away from Shakespeare?" comes a loud voice from the balcony.
The nobles sitting on the stage calm the actor down and promise their support.
"That is the question."
"The only question here is whether I will cut you in two or four, if you keep torturing the bard like that."
"Come, Barbige, pay no attention to that brute," says one of the nobles.
"Whether tis nobler…"
"Nobler? Indeed nobler would be to chop you into my stew!"
There are loud and angry steps and then there is a tall skinny man, dressed in black, on the stage, a sword in his hand. His long copper hair makes his delicate and sharp features even sharper, his eyes are hidden behind dark glasses, small and round, and he walks with a peculiar saunter, his hips apparently having a mind of their own.
"Go on, Barbige! Buck up!"
"Buck up? I'd say those are some brave words coming from such a cowardly mouth. Are you willing to duel me? I'll duel everyone here, if I have to, but this abomination gets off the stage now."
The public sounds amused.
"You come up, pompous ass, and dare speak the words of the greatest poet to have lived, and you just don't have enough wit to grasp the meaning, or to express it properly. Begone before I show good people here what you are made off!"
Barbige tries to whine and turn to those who have claimed to protect him, but the perspective of duelling Crowley doesn't impress them too much, and the man is still there, his sword ready and his movements as easy as they are deadly.
"The only ass here is you!" comes a shrieking voice from the Gabriel's box, and everyone turns to watch the unfortunate viscount embarrass himself.
"An ass? And who are you, a shepherd to take me back to my stable and feed me with your empty wit?" Crowley grins.
"I'm viscount Famine."
"Well, glad to meet you, viscount. Pity you cannot remain my acquaintance for long," Crowley's grin is predatory.
"You… poor and… stupid man."
"Ouch. That stung my sword but haven't reached my ears. Is there something else that might be worthy of my occupied attention?"
(No one notices Barbige leaving the stage.)
"You… you're the devil's offspring! It's known your eyes are of the serpent that once tempted Eve," the viscount finds some inspiration.
Crowley takes off his glasses and looks at the man with pity.
"Is that all you can master? My oh my! Then how about, those eyes are flaming yellow, I only wish I could roast my dinner in that fire? Or rather, those eyes do tempt me to tend to the sunflowers in my garden better? Or maybe, those eyes remind me of hellfire which I'm not to escape at any rate? Perhaps, those eyes are as venomous as snake and probably I should not seek the company of their owner's sting?"
"You… filthy… poet…"
"Why, that reached my ears, and made my sword squirm… come forth, sweet viscount. We'll set this dispute in a duel, and to prove to you how pitiful you are, I will compose a ballad while we fight. It will both entertain the public and refine your mind. See, I'm doing it already. Come!"
Crowley winks at someone in Gabriel's box, and Aziraphale mouths back:
"Really, my dear?"
The viscount goes down and stands en guarde in front of Crowley.
The crowd readjusts itself to make more space for the duelists.
"The ballad, in which it will be told how a good for nothing viscount was swiftly dealt with by a snake armed with a sword," recites Crowley.
"What the hell is that?" asks the viscount shocked.
"The title," clarifies Crowley.
He indeed moves like a snake, elegant and agile, he uses viscount's anger and frustration against him, so he doesn't attack at first and just watches the aristocrat show off, and then he charges forward, swift, predatory and unstoppable, and all the while he recites:
"My sword has its own soul
A certain surgeon
In search of knowledge
Into my blade crawled
I know your bones by name
They form a lovely poem
I'll edit it into a golem
And golem's will I'll claim
I'm kindly warning you, you witless creature
That by the end of the last stanza I will reach you
You look so pale and far less courageous
Than when we first began this enterprise
Tell me is your death worth the prize
Of bringing wicked joy to heaven's sweetest angel?
Your eyes are full of fear and I admit, with reason
Yet honestly you brought it on your head yourself
I had no interest in your life or health
But now each breath you draw is an act of treason
I'm kindly warning you, you witless creature
That by the end of the last stanza I will reach you
You surely should have known and have considered
That your own words have turned me into snake
Now your blood only may your spell unmake
There is such magic in its flowing crimson
I'm closer, viscount, any last words yet?
I'm telling you now is the only time
To try and fail to find logic, reason, rhyme
In your untimely but not unwelcome death
I've warned you at least twice, you witless creature
That by the end of the last stanza I will reach you!"
Crowley wounds the viscount, his sword's tip beginning its deadly journey to his heart, when Crowley lifts his eyes, suddenly soft, knowing and asking for permission.
From the box Aziraphale mouths:
"Let him be, my dear. Not worth it."
Crowley nods and lets the viscount fall.
"You murdered him!" someone screams.
"Just a small wound. He'll never forget what a ballad is, though."
Crowley grins. The crowd cheers, and judging by their reaction, the spectacle has entirely paid off. People begin to leave, repeating Crowley's newest poem and the theatre director briefly considers whether it will be possible to arrange another glorious duel, before he remembers that he has a nervous wreck of an actor to attend to.
Crowley and Hastur meanwhile take a seat in a dark corner.
"Crowley, this is madness. Now Gabriel is angry with you, and by proxy the Cardinal."
"Whatever. Gabriel is a pale shadow of his uncle, and his uncle loves a little mischief here and there. Besides, by proxy, I fought and wounded Gabriel. Dirty bastard."
"You know, I can't believe I'm saying this, but you need to fall in love."
"Careful here, Hastur. I'm no glass, I won't break, but it still hurts when you try."
"Oh, so in love already? Who are they?"
"Alas, nothing to boast about. Who else a demon can fall in love with? Only the purest, sweetest, gentlest angel…"
"Then tell him!"
"Have you missed the point of me being a demon?"
"You are not a demon, you have strange eyes, but believe me, it's the least strange thing about you. Tell him. You are the hero of this evening, and he was pale with worry when you were fighting."
"Shut it… hey, Wystan? What are you doing here?"
Wystan weeps drunkenly.
"A hundred men are waiting for me at the Porte de Nesle."
"A hundred?" Hastur looks at Crowley in disbelief.
"A hundred. One of my poems upset Gabriel and the Cardinal. I think, mostly Gabriel… I'm going to stay here till morning."
A young boy approaches the group.
"Isn't it Aziraphale's servant?" asks Hastur, very amused.
"I have a message for Monsieur Crowley, from his cousin."
"Yes?" encourages Hastur, because Crowley is breathless and wickedly stupid at the moment.
"He is asking you to meet him tomorrow morning, at six, at Madame Tracy's."
"Ngk," answers the poet.
"He was asking so very tenderly," adds the boy.
"Tell him I will be there," says Crowley, and the boy leaves.
"Wystan!" shouts Crowley.
"Oi, don't scream, my head is killing me!" whimpers Wystan.
"You'll sleep at home tonight. I will make your bed! Hastur!"
"I'm not going to fight a hundred men with you, Crowley," Hastur raises his hands.
"No need. I have a hundred arms, I have a hundred hearts beating against my ribs in perfect harmony. Enough of this, I have a legion of giants hiding in my chest! Come on!"
Chapter 2: Bang bang my baby shot me down
Crowley has a conversation with Aziraphale and misreads it from the very start. Afterwards Aziraphale makes a confession.
Regardless of Peter Capaldi, Richelieu has always been one of my favs. So he's going to be good and fluffy, because I want it so.
Crowley comes to the bakery half an hour early. He is agitated and restless. There is a small but apparently bad wound on the back of his hand, but he pays no attention to it.
Madame Tracy walks out of the kitchens to greet him. She smiles way too knowingly.
"Monsieur Crowley, what a rare pleasure! I see your cousin much more often."
"Yes, he does have a sweet tooth, doesn't he?" Crowley cannot help grinning.
"Are you meeting him here?"
"I'm an old woman, sweetheart. I'm going to bring you a tray of everything, as fresh as the morning sun."
"Thank you, Madame."
"You'll have to help me with the flowers, though. Your cousin has a sweet tooth, but you have the greenest thumb ever. Just imagine putting them together…"
She laughs when Crowley turns pink.
"I'd be happy to help, of course."
"Sweety, you are brave, talented beyond measure and the best friend anyone could wish for. Only an idiot can refuse you. Although, for all his brilliance the royal librarian can be quite thick."
This last phrase grows into a poison ivy in Crowley's chest, as he walks around examining the flowers, watering them, adding something here and there from his obviously bottomless pockets. It takes mere seconds for the sad and wilted plants to return to life, and the man devilishly grins, baring his sharp teeth.
Madame Tracy returns with a tray full of pastries and cakes and cookies. She then serves Crowley a cup of very strong coffee.
"Can I have an apple?" asks Crowley finally taking his seat at a small and cozy table in the dark corner.
He gets a basket of red apples, and begins his breakfast. He doesn't touch the sweets in front of him, but apples disappear one by one. Absent-mindedly he pulls some paper and a pocket writing set out of the folds of his cloak (it's bottomless too by the looks of it) and starts writing, his face serene and thoughtful.
"You are early, my dear," says a soft voice above him. The voice Crowley has loved for years.
"As are you, angel. How have you been?" he manages to say, as Aziraphale takes his place in front of him.
"Been better, to be honest, but don't bother yourself, it has nothing to do with that stupid scheme of Gabriel's."
"And here I was hoping I defended your beauty, cousin, and not my ugliness."
"You are hardly ugly, my dear. It's a pity we don't see each other as often as we used to, but then again, you are a war hero, and I'm a bookish cousin."
Crowley winces at the compliment, and wants to argue with the self-derogatory remark, which he doesn't find derogatory at all. Somehow Aziraphale misses the point of Crowley being a scientist and a poet. He makes the books Aziraphale worships. Maybe he only makes them because of that.
"It used to be simpler when we were children," says Crowley softly.
"Indeed! I remember coming to Bergerac during summer. You would always get in trouble."
"And you would always take care of me afterwards. Although you were very grumpy about it."
"And about to get grumpier, my dear. What is this?" Aziraphale points to Crowley's wound, frowning.
"Nothing has really changed, angel. Just another trouble."
"Let me guess, a hundred men at the Porte de Nesle?"
"This is foolish, my dear. You can't risk yourself like that. I for one will be very worried about you from this day forth!"
"Aren't you always, Aziraphale?"
"I'm always worried, now I will be very worried."
"Enough of that! Is there something I can do for you?"
"Well, you took enough trouble to order every dessert at hand, and I am exceedingly grateful."
"Be my guest. Anything else?"
"I think… I think I fell in love," confesses Aziraphale pensively.
Crowley is visibly dying inside.
"Oh… and… who is he?" he asks instead of collapsing.
"Don't know his name. Saw him several times, and he is… astonishingly beautiful."
"I wouldn't call it love, angel. Maybe, infatuation?"
"Perhaps you are right. The problem is I heard he is the newest recruit in your regimen, and I wanted you to watch over him in case he takes your lead and gets into trouble. Would be such a pity if he does before I get to know him better."
Aziraphale smiles playfully. Crowley seems hopeful.
"You say he's beautiful, but what if he's equally stupid?"
"He seems a very… gentle kind of man. Soft. Understanding. That's my impression, of course, nothing more. His face has that quality… how can I explain it? I sometimes want to wake up every morning to that face."
"I don't understand."
"I can't explain it any different. Certainly not to you, my dear."
"Anyway, so, you have fallen for an astonishingly beautiful man, and you want me to help him?" Crowley speaks cooly and almost coldly.
"Yes. And if you could tell him to write to me…"
"What if he doesn't like you?"
"He does. I know it. And if he proves to be so stupid, then, well, there are other things in love than talking. His mouth could be otherwise occupied, and tongues are a very expressive organ, don't you think?"
"I'll tell him to write to you. I'll bring the letter myself, if you want."
"Oh, that would be just lovely, my dear. Thank you for indulging me. Now, let me take care of your wound…"
"No need. I'll see a doctor. Promise."
"And you always keep your promises, my hero."
"Ngk," agrees Crowley.
"Then I'll see you soon, dearest. Tell him to make haste. Or I'll forget his face pretty quickly, and such a waste of time it will be…"
Aziraphale leaves, half a croissant in his hand, as Crowley glances at the tray, at his writing and fights the urge to just burn the world and watch it burn the way Nero watched Rome on fire.
Aziraphale meanwhile walks down the street and enters the first church on his way. The priest greets him, but Aziraphale makes an annoyed gesture even the king couldn't master. The gesture implies that there is nothing in Aziraphale's life the priest can help him with.
The royal librarian enters a confessional and sits there silently for some time. He doesn't need a priest, but he doesn't want to be seen during his prayers either. The royal chapel he is always invited into would be a much better option, but it's a long way.
Someone else enters a confessional, and with a sigh Aziraphale prepares for an unpleasant conversation with the priest, but instead he hears the Cardinal's voice.
"Hiding, aren't you, Monsieur librarian?"
"A bit, your Eminence. How can I help?"
"No, no, no, the question is, how can I help you? My nephew has been obnoxious to say the least, and your brilliant cousin fought a hundred men for a poem I enjoyed thoroughly… Gabriel was born without a sense of humour, I'm afraid."
"So, what's bothering you, my son?"
"It's going to be a long story, your Eminence."
"I have an hour or so before the king notices my absence. I really do want to help."
"I appreciate that."
"Go on, then," encourages the Cardinal.
Aziraphale rests his head on the wall of the confessional and closes his eyes.
"I was five and he was six. My mother brought me to Bergerac for the first time. I was supposed to meet my cousin Crowley, but he was sick that summer, and I didn't meet him until I was twelve and he was thirteen. He greeted me at the gates, red-haired, yellow-eyed, wearing black, smiling… No one should be smiled at like that. "I've only come to cause some trouble," he said and climbed into our carriage, and my mother laughed sweetly. I'd come every summer, we became fast friends. I missed him terribly, missed him all the time, but he was brave and agile, he'd read sitting on the highest tree, he'd know everything about the plants and trees and forests, and I only wanted to read about knights and suchlike, I was soft, I never climbed trees. I thought he'd despise me. I thought he could never love me as much as I loved him. Besides everyone and their brother was smitten with him. I thought, he could have it so much better, he could find someone as quick and agile as he was, as he still is. By the time I was eighteen I was sure he wouldn't ever want me. And he would find me the rarest books. He'd help me climb trees. He'd catch me, somehow, when I fell from the trees. He didn't know what to do with himself, but he was inclined towards viticulture. His family didn't object. So, one summer night we sat on the roof of the Southern tower, and he was telling me about the stars. I thought he was the most beautiful person I had known, and I knew I loved him, and I couldn't allow myself to hope… he changed the subject from the stars to vineyards and from the vineyards to his dreams of his own family, and I laughed and said he was going too fast for me. It took me many years to see that he was trying to propose. This perfect man, this scientist, this poet couldn't find the right words because he had considered me far too learned to be satisfied with a simple "I love you, marry me". His whole face fell, and he looked at me, lost for breath and for words, and I thought, he must consider me such an idiot… He became a musketeer. He promised his father to survive each and every battle and someday return to the vineyards. I became a librarian, and in time, the royal librarian. I know today that he loves me as much, if not more, as I love him. He fought viscount Famine yesterday, and I realised I can't let him go on risking his life, considering himself unworthy. I decided to confess to him, but he immediately thought I was talking of someone else. A young man of great beauty who keeps staring at me, his mouth agape. So I flirted shamelessly, I teased him, I tried to pull his love for me out of him, and he never gave in. I kept teasing him, and I'm afraid it will go too far and too fast before I know it."
Aziraphale realised his face had become wet.
"You are such idiots, both of you," said the Cardinal affectionately.
"Aren't we?" Aziraphale made a sound, a bastard child of a sob and a giggle.
"I must say, I'm looking forward to the continuation of your story, and there's nothing wrong with teasing someone as brilliant as Crowley de Bergerac. You see, such a witty man being so witless… it's a rare sight. I wish you good fortune. You have my blessing to play the game."
The Cardinal walked away, as Aziraphale stayed in the confessional, crying.
Chapter 3: The arrangement
Crowley offers his services to Christian, since the latter is stupid and the former is brilliant.
Christian doesn't like them. No, he doesn't like them at all. They are brutes, they are crude. Nothing his handsome angel would approve of. Oh, his angel. His gentle gaze, blue eyes, a fiery spark in them. Christian desperately wants to be that devilishly handsome demon Crowley, just so he could be looked at the way Aziraphale looked at his awful cousin…
"So, you are new to Paris, to the army," they say, gleaming.
He doesn't bother answering.
"You should meet Crowley. Make a joke or two about his eyes. Your death will certainly be swift and quick, if he's in a good mood, and that he is each time after he meets his angel cousin."
Obviously it is supposed to be an attempt at Aziraphale's honour. (Oh, poor thing, he doesn't know and cannot know he is being used.)
Christian approaches his captain, Lord Beelzebub who is busy taking care of their many flies. The insects buzz affectionately as they peck on the raw meet the captain offered them.
"The other officers are making fun of me," Christian complains.
"So what?" Beelzebub smiles at a particularly fat fly.
"So, what should I do?"
"Make fun of them as well," Beelzebub shrugs.
This is where Crowley walks in. He is stressed and unhappy, but rumour has it he faced a hundred men last night.
After some agitated questions Crowley finally shows some mercy and begins his story, as an officer whispers to Christian that it's his time to shine (and poor thing, he still doesn't know he's being used).
"So, my friends, imagine, I was walking down the street, obscured by the darkness so very thick, it was almost impenetrable to the human…"
"Eye," inserts Christian with a forced smug.
Crowley glowers at him, but keeps talking.
"Yet, you know how I can walk in the darkness surely…"
"With your eyes closed?" suggests Christian.
"Indeed," replies Crowley, an epitome of calm demeanour.
"Then I saw a bunch of armed men, and on the spot I could say that we would never…"
"See eye to eye?" says Christian carefully.
"Thank you for your help, and I wouldn't want to disappoint your tutor, seeing he had put so much effort into the learning of different idioms. May I continue?"
Christian nods, and he thinks he's graceful, as the musketeers around him begin placing bets on how soon Crowley will explode.
"Of course, I'm always looking for a taste of trouble, so…"
"In the blink of an eye," provides Christian.
"I'm with my sword en guarde and ready, and could please everyone leave the room at once?" requests Crowley politely.
Everyone obliges, with chuckles and laughs, and Crowley and Christian are left alone.
"The newest recruit, right?" asks Crowley through his teeth.
"I am indeed. And you?" Christian feels very confident all of a sudden.
"Christian de Quelque-chose," Christian is very proud.
"Well, hug me then. I am his cousin," says Crowley, and he is heartbroken.
"Are you that thick? Aziraphale's."
"Aziraphale's? Oh, I love him!"
"Of little importance, but he likes you, and that's what we both have to accept."
"Likes me? Oh… my… oh, I love you!"
"Quite a sudden sentiment, to be sure. Write to him," Crowley turns and is about to leave when he hears Christian sighing desperately.
"What's wrong, you're lost for words?" Crowley hates him and it begins to show.
"I… I can't write him a letter. He is learned and clever and…"
"Yes, I'm his cousin, I know that."
"I can't write letters. I'm but a fool, and if takes wit to win him over, I have lost already."
"Interesting. And what did you think? How did you want to charm him? With just your hair and eyes and sensual lips?"
"Well, if it ever comes to lips…"
Now Crowley hates him with passion. Then he has an idea.
"What would you say, if I write a letter for Aziraphale? Words are my friends, and what is more, I'm theirs. How about we seduce him together?"
He looks a proper demon now, slithering around the young dimwit.
"But… how… my love…"
Crowley hands him a letter.
"Here, take it."
"Will It please you so?" mutters Christian.
"Oh, very much," answers Crowley, mad with love and jealousy.
"But will it fit?"
"Like a glove. We poets write love letters all the time. The fruit of our imagination is so ripe and ready to be eaten. Now, come one, take this paper apple, and soon you'll taste it from your angel's lips."
"My God… oh.. thank you."
"You're very welcome. It will amuse me so, I cannot wait to see his face when he reads it."
Christian moves to take the letter, but Crowley retreats.
"I told him I'll deliver it myself. Stay calm, you witless handsome lamb."
Crowley silently disappears, and Christian finds himself an apple of everyone's eyes, since he is the first to insult Crowley and remain in one piece.
Chapter 4: Meta
"Cyrano de Bergerac" is a brilliant play, no doubt, but alas, it suffers from a very common illness of considering women stupid.
We are told in the very beginning that Roxanne, Cyrano's love, is considered clever. Yet this clever woman fails to recognise her cousin's writing (not just any cousin, a cousin she appears very close to), then his voice. She is clever enough to make her way through all sorts of troubles to bring food to the starving regimen of Cyrano and Christian, but she fails to recognise Cyrano's style, and foolishly believes that a wordless horny idiot is wordless just because he is too horny.
In the meantime Cyrano doesn't bother with Roxanne understanding that he writes all the letters, and he's alright with it.
Now, I have no problem with some suspension of disbelief, and again, the play is wonderful, but I've always been frustrated by the fact that a clever woman fails to recognise a clever man and vise versa. Cyrano thinks it's alright, it will do no harm to bind his love to a stupid man whose only redeeming qualities are his love (read lust) for Roxanne and understanding that Roxanne doesn't love him, but the author of the letters. Cyrano thinks being bound to Christian, Roxanne wouldn't notice that he is not the poet she falls in love with from the letters.
And no, I don't want to fix the play or anything like that. But Aziraphale is no fool, and therein lies the rub.
Chapter 5: Love, marriage and other misunderstandings
Everything is rather lovely.
Crowley is slouching on a sofa in Aziraphale's library. It's Aziraphale's private library which to some extent may rival the royal one, at least because it has a sofa. Aziraphale is sitting primly in a comfortable armchair.
"So, is your Apollo still as loved as before?" asks Crowley, making very little effort to hide his sarcasm.
"Oh, much more, my dear," says Aziraphale, looking at Crowley with an impossible mixture of long repressed love, anger and desire.
"He's good then, I presume?" Crowley straightens up, immediately misses his dark glasses, but there's nothing to hide after all, just… interest.
"He is a remarkable writer."
"Let's hope he is a remarkable kisser as well," says Crowley with false easiness.
"Can't wait to find out. Want me to read my favourite bits?"
"By all means, angel. Go on."
Aziraphale searches for a certain letter in the pile on his lap.
"Ah… here… "When I dream of you, and it's far too often to be remotely reasonable, I wake up in the morning, happy and worried, both, because my dreams must have woken you at night. You see, I dream of you with such intensity, you must be awaken and then dressed, so that you could walk into my dreams the way you do. As if you owned them but were too ashamed of admitting it. Gentle angel, you do own them, and you are so very welcome there. How about you stay there all the time? I can cancel each and every law of physics for you, so you will be able to fit the universe in a nutshell. I only want to be there when you crack the shell.""
"A bit too flowery for my taste," decides Crowley, his heart a newborn butterfly beating its wings fast.
"Probably, because such kind of flowers is beyond your green thumb," teases Aziraphale, but his eyes are sad.
"Probably. What else?"
"Let me see… "Me and my dreams again. You see, each time I see you, I hear you calling me "my dear", and after thorough examination I realised that your "my dear" is made of sapphires. You crown me with those sapphires, adorn me with them, and I think of oceans in the morning, of the sky in the evening, of how blue I am now, when you are not with me."
"Still too flowery," condemns Crowley, but Aziraphale pays him no attention and reads from another letter:
"When I think about it, and I always think about it, I'm always stuck with the proportions. You see, you are my world, my everything, and yet, when I imagine us together, I hear us talking about such mundane things as vineyards and revenues, clean sheets, good breakfast. I want to wake up to your face, your eyes. I'll never cease to rediscover you, you'll always be a new continent to my Columbus. You'll always be my compass and my compasses. You are the measure of all things, and you know what, angel? Were I with you right now, my quill wouldn't be touched or moved. The paper would remain pristinely clean."
"Alright, that one is better," admits Crowley.
Aziraphale looks at him for a very long minute and then gets up, walks up to Crowley and sits next to him on the sofa.
"What's wrong, angel?" Crowley asks, worried and anxious.
"Do you think I'm such an idiot, darling?"
"No, never. Why?" he seems concerned, and Aziraphale doesn't know whether he hates him or loves him.
"I'd know you anywhere, Crowley, my heart, my darling. These are your letters, your voice is unmistakable…"
"I don't know what you are talking about, angel, really."
"You wrote those letters for him, because he apparently is as stupid as I perceive him to be. But I don't care. I care about you."
"I'm really sorry, angel, I d…"
Aziraphale interrupts him with a kiss and pushes Crowley into the sofa.
"I love you, you gorgeous stupid thing. I loved you forever, loved you since I met you."
Crowley is so speechless he forgets to breathe.
"And when you presumed I could love someone else, I thought, well, why don't I play with him a bit? But it only hurt more when I read your letters, so unmistakably yours, so full of your mischief, your wicked grins, your sinful movements. We understand each other without words, and yet you could think I didn't love you, when in truth I was sure you could never love me."
"Angel… please… stop it… I'm cursed, I'm a demon, a snake…"
Aziraphale shuts his mouth with his soft and tender hand.
"Back then, on the roof of the Southern tower, what did you want to say?"
"I wanted to say… I wanted to say "Marry me, I love you"."
"Say it, say it now!"
"Angel, I don't… I…"
"My answer will always be yes. Would have been yes. But I do want you to say it. I'm begging you."
"Marry me, angel, I love you."
"Good, oh, thank you, dearest, my love, thank you," Aziraphale kisses Crowley again.
"But what about what's his name?"
"He is handsome, so are statues. But you have your vineyards, your green thumb, your golden eyes, your snake-like grace. I love you so…"
"Don't… you can't mean it…"
"What do I have to do to persuade you?"
"I don't believe you. Wait here, don't even think of moving."
Crowley nods. Then tries to leave, but Aziraphale stops him from his desk:
"I asked you not to move, love. Don't move."
He calls for his servant and hands him a note, and after an hour or so, the Cardinal rushes into Aziraphale's apartment.
"So, it's happening? Is it? Is that why you called me?" asks the most powerful man in the country, giddy as a child.
"It is, but he doesn't believe me," answers Aziraphale quickly and takes Crowley's hand, pulling the man from the sofa.
"Oh… I will fix it then!" promises the Cardinal and swiftly marries them. Crowley doesn't remember that part very well, but when he wakes up in the morning and sees Aziraphale sound asleep next to him, he has a sort of recollection of what happened last night.
He resigns that day, as does Aziraphale and they return to Bergerac, to their vineyard.
As for Christian… Well, he is very happy. Or not. No one has actually cared that much for him anyway.