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Have you heard of J.R.R. Tolkien?

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Day 28: “Enough! I heard enough.”

 

“Enough! I heard enough” Aziraphale says, disappointment dripping from his words.

Crowley enters the room, trying to balance three cups of tea in two hands. He’s too concentrated to listen or care about what has been said.

“What’s all this fuss about? I’ve left the two of you alone only for a couple of minutes” Crowley grumbles, slowly putting down the cups. He sighs relieved when they are sat on the little table unharmed.

“He’s overreacting, nanny” Warlock says, rolling his eyes at Aziraphale who, in return, huffs exasperated.

“He hasn’t read, nor he has heard of, J.R.R Tolkien! What child is he?”

“I am 20 years old, Aziraphale. I’m no longer a child”

“This doesn’t change the fact that it’s indecent that you don’t know who he is” The angel says, sitting down on the armchair in front of Warlock, who’s lying gracelessly on the sofa, and starts drinking the tea. “What have you taught him?” he continues, defeated.

“Don’t judge my work, angel. I remind you that you chose to be the gardener and not the nanny, so next time think better” Crowley raises Warlock’s legs and sits on the couch, letting the kid’s legs rest on his lap. “Plus, look at him! He’s turned out amazing! He’s studying chemical engineering”

Aziraphale doesn’t miss the pride hidden in the demon’s words, or Warlock’s embarrassed but happy, smile, and tries hard not to smile himself.

“Kid, have you seen ‘The Lord of the Rings’? That long-ass film about small people walking for two and a half films to destroy a ring before a giant eye conquers the world?” Crowley asks Warlock, gently handling him the cup of tea.

Aziraphale groans frustrated.

“How dare you call…” he starts.

“Oh, yeah. It also has a prequel, right? Cool stuff” Warlock says, completely ignoring Aziraphale’s comment.

“Yeah, well, it comes from books. Tolkien’s books” Crowley continues. 

“Really? Cool” 

“Yeah” Crowley says satisfied, as if he has personally written those books. 

Sometimes Aziraphale hates how insufferable he becomes when he’s with Warlock, but most of the time he just loves watching him interact with the kid as if he’s really his child.

“Met him a couple of times. Reminded me of Aziraphale, always with his head on books” The demon continues, finally looking at Aziraphale with the softest smile on.

“Oh, did you? I never had the pleasure, but I deeply appreciate his works” 

“Never read them, although the films are interesting”

“Wait...you’ve met the man and you’ve never read his books?” Aziraphale says, losing the bit of calm he had gained from Crowley’s smile, “No wonder the kid doesn’t know the classics, having a nanny like that!”

“I’ve met many famous people in my life, angel. I can’t possibly keep up with everything they create. Plus, I don’t like reading, you know that”

“But you’ve always read me stuff” Warlock intervenes, “and not just fairy tales but also other fantasy stories, and that giant book on astronomy you gifted me”

“Oh, really now?” Aziraphale smiles wide, looking directly at Crowley, who instead looks away from both of them, embarrassed.

“I only read you things that could deviate you, I was doing my job. And reading that astronomy book was just to educate you on the important stuff. Hell knows what tutors these days teach kids! I had to intercede and give you basic fundamental knowledge.

“How to rule the world when you fully become the Antichrist and the stars, that is basic knowledge?” Aziraphale says sarcastically.

“Yeah”

“Well, it was a fun book. Read it a couple of times over the years, mostly when I missed you…” Warlock says, cheeks colouring. Crowley looks at him like he is a ghost, then he jumps towards the kid, rubbing his knuckles on his head.

“Become a softie without me? You little sprog!” He says as Warlock tries to get away from him.

Aziraphale takes his phone from the table and snaps a picture, because sometimes there are things a memory as old as his can’t hold on to, but he really wants to remember this.

He really wants to remember Crowley being this carefree and relaxed. He doesn’t think he has ever seen the demon this open with anyone that isn’t him, it’s refreshing. He deserves to love freely without fearing Hell’s punishment, and to also be loved as hard.

“Stop nanny, I’m not five” Warlock moans, trying to hit Crowley back. The demon laughs at the kid’s failed attempts.

“What you two think of going out for a walk? And maybe buy some ice-cream?” He says, trying to stop Crowley from bothering the kid too much.

Warlock manages to free himself, jumping from the couch.

“Yes! I want some ice-cream. God knows when I’m going to get out when finals start” he says, already taking his jacket.

 

As they get out of the bookshop, Aziraphale tries to pick up the conversation he was having with Warlock, now also trying to convince the kid to actually read Tolkien’s works.

“Don’t be like Crowley, and read something other than chemistry books, in your case” he reprimands, ignoring Crowley parroting him.

Warlock laughs.

“Maybe after the exams, Aziraphale. I’ll let you know what I think of it, though”

“Yeah, Crowley always says that too, and he never reads anything. You’re just like your nanny” He says defeated.

Crowley and Warlock both laugh, looking smug and proud. Aziraphale, despite knowing he has lost the battle, joins them in the laugh. 

He is really happy Crowley decided to let him in in this part of his life. Warlock is a truly remarkable child, and he doesn’t doubt it is also because of his demon.