Aziraphale kept the bookshop open out of a “keep calm and carry on” type obligation than anything else. It was rare anyone wanted to come in to purchase a book when many were more worried about getting their hands on much-needed supplies such as food and clothing. He was about to just go flip the sign anyway since in about half an hour Crowley would wander in for drinks and a bit of conversation.
Instead, he found himself face to face with a young woman who was just as surprised he almost backed into her as he was.
“Excuse me, my dear,” he said with a bit of a bow. “Can I help you with anything?”
“Are you Mr. Fell? I’ve been looking for a bookseller to find me some books on prophecy. The other sellers I’ve been to tell me you’re the best.”
Aziraphale smiled in a rather flattered manner. “When it comes to prophecy, they might very well be right. I’ve made that my specialty.”
“I’m Captain Rose Montgomery of British Military Intelligence. Is there somewhere we can talk in private?”
Confused as to why British intelligence would bother with a bookseller, he gestured to his back room. “Right in here, Captain.”
He offered her a seat at the table, sitting himself down at his desk. “What can I do for you?”
“Intelligence has learned that the Nazi government is looking for books of prophecy, specifically the one deemed the only true prophecy book. We’re looking for a bookseller skilled and knowledgeable enough in such subjects to meet with them,” she replied. “Would you be interested in helping out King and Country?”
“Yes. Yes. Of course. Anything for the war effort. What will I have to do?”
“Just an initial meeting and then find the books they desire. I’ve been liaisoning with them, having infiltrated Nazi rings. I can introduce you.”
“Ok,” Aziraphale said. “As long as it’s not anything too dangerous. I run a bookshop. I’m not exactly super secret double agent spy material.”
She smiled at him as she pulled some dossiers out of her purse. “You’ll be fine. You just need to be a good enough actor to not let them on. Here. These contain all the information I have on them. Read up because in a few days I’d like to introduce you.”
A few days later, Aziraphale found himself in a flat on the east end with Rose and two men who called themselves Glozier and Harmony discussing the procurement of several books of prophecy. Aziraphale sat uncomfortably in on the couch next to Rose while to the two men sat opposite them looking him up and down like he wasn’t what they expected. But they got on with business after a minute of apparent hesitation.
“We’re looking particularly for Mother Shipton, Robert Nixon, Otwell Binns and the Fuhrer especially wants Agnes Nutter,” said Harmony, leaning over to hand him a more complete list.
“First editions only. We want the original text,” added Glozier.
Aziraphale scanned the paper he was handed, giving them a half-smile, “Well, it should be no trouble to get a hold of most of these. I have several first editions already in my bookshop, but as for Agnes Nutter…” Aziraphale paused. “I have yet to get my hands on one copy of her book, that’s how rare it is. When do you need these books by?”
The two Nazis whispered amongst themselves, deciding they needed a month but not more. Fortune in war changed quickly thus they wanted as many on the list as quickly as possible. Aziraphale shot a look to Rose, who nodded slightly and he agreed. He’d get back in touch with them in a month with what books he could.
“If you’re good at this, maybe we can give you extra time to procure others. We’ll discuss that when you produce what you’ve found,” said Glozier.
“You could be very well off by the end of the war,” Harmony said with a chuckle.
Aziraphale inwardly rolled his eyes. He would never want to profit off of Nazi beasts, the thought was absolutely distasteful. They were probably working under Crowley or one of his ilk, although given Crowley’s scathing commentary on Germany lately, maybe he had better things to do than hang around with Nazi spies.
“Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Fell,” Rose finally said. “We very much appreciate your help. Shall I show you out?”
Out on the pavement, she instructed him, “Get them the five best books you can and try to make sure that Nutter woman’s book is among them. That’s the real bait.”
“I can’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best.”
“I’m sure you will,” she smiled before heading back inside, leaving him to walk back to the bookshop.
Having nothing better to do, he pulled the Binns and Nixson books he had off his shelves. The first edition Mother Shipton he possessed was his personal signed copy he got directly from her therefore he would not risk that in a sting operation. He hoped to get his books back in one piece, but a signed one was too precious to mess with.
It was a start. He’d get most of the others easily since he had connections when it came to books.
A month later, he had five or six of the best. Informing Rose of his findings, she agreed to come by after hours to see what he had. Nervously, he closed the shop as it got dark, made himself some cocoa, waited. It wasn’t long before there was a knock on the door.
“I have a few of the big name prophets here, all first editions,” he said as Rose excitedly looked over the books.
“You’ve done great. We’ll meet them at the time and place we discussed.”
Aziraphale agreed as he saw her out.
Pleased that she was able to find such a dupe, she stepped out the door, running directly into Crowley.