Angel and demon speed down the highway in the Bentley. Aziraphale has suggested to attend a flower show in the country and Crowley mumbled something about not having anything better to do.
They rush by shining fields and forests brimming with life. The angel thinks they should do this more often. Get out of the city and enjoy the country life. Maybe find a place for themselves somewhere out here. The demonic driving cannot bother him today. He cherishes the landscape like a priceless painting. The golden sunlight reflects off a river in the distance and Aziraphale wonders whether they might have time for a swim later.
The air is fresh and fragrant with all the flowers they pass. Aziraphale notices that the demon flourishes between all the plant life. He does not yell at them. But then there is no need. These are neither Crowley’s flowers nor is there anything to criticise. The visitors are presented with the finest specimen and both demon and angel enjoy their day out.
Later, there is a picnic in a meadow with a little stream. It is not wide or deep enough for a swim but there is a fallen tree crossing it and they settle on it and let their feet dangle into the water. They have brought the wine over and later neither can tell how long their little picnic break has lasted.
Crowley presents the angel with a bouquet of wildflowers he has picked on the way back to the Bentley. And if these wild beauties stay fresh in the window of the book shop for the time being, then that is no one’s business but the angel’s.
Angel and demon wander the length of St James’s Park one autumn afternoon. Kids are running around them and Crowley quickly calculates that, great, it’s mid-term week. It’s not that he dislikes the little buggers. But he is in a melancholy mood today and he’d rather be back at the book shop with his angel than out in the cold. It’s not even that cold. Nothing to set off his snake instincts.
Aziraphale stands on the edge of the lake and hands out lettuce, sweet corn and halves of grapes he had prepared while Crowley was sleeping in. The angel educates the surrounding families on healthy food for waterfowl. A few kids run off and come back with earthworms. Their parents’ reactions range from disgruntled to amused. But Aziraphale praises them and everyone spends a happy fifteen minutes on the exercise.
The demon stands back, just watching, not interacting. He watches leaves fall and the last flowers waste away. Autumn is a time of dying and Crowley feels with the plants around him. This, he would never admit to anyone, not even his angel.
He has been standing, stiffly, staring over the lake for uncountable minutes when he feels a warm hand in his and looks around to find Aziraphale next to him. The angel studies his face and then gently pulls him out of the park and out of his thoughts. And Crowley remembers that he does not have to fear the loss of his best friend anymore. His steps grow lighter and his swagger returns. By the time they reach the Mall, Aziraphale has excitedly recounted the earthworm incident and Crowley finds himself sniggering at the unhappy parents.
Angel and demon travel to Tadfield for the day. Despite Adam being a normal human boy nowadays, the unusual phenomenon of perfect for the season weather still lingers. It is the middle of winter and Tadfield is covered in a thick layer of snow. They have no problem getting there. The Bentley knows better than to contract any of the diseases that befall other drivers’ cars in such weather. It gives a perfect performance all the way from cold but drearily dry Soho to the picturesque village.
The two get out of the Bentley at Jasmine Cottage and are greeted by the lovely children who call themselves The Them, a nervous Newt and the very much amused Anathema.
They all take a walk around the village together. Aziraphale watches Crowley who leads the party with Pepper, the boys following closely behind. He cannot make out their chatter but there appears to be a heated argument. The demon has always been good with children. He is just as good with the Tadfield branch of vagabonds. Aziraphale picks up his conversation with Anathema and Newt and smiles serenely back when he finds them grinning at him. He is happy, trudging through the crunching snow with his demon and their human friends. He will be happy so long as Crowley is by his side, on any deep snow excursion he must face, figuratively speaking.
They round off the day with hot cocoa in front of the fireplace at Jasmine Cottage before the Bentley takes them back home. Crowley appears as relaxed as he feels comfortable to share with the outside world. The demon throws Aziraphale a knowing grin when they get into the car. They have just both agreed to make the trip to snow-covered Tadfield an annual tradition.
Angel and demon moved into their new cottage in the South Downs a while ago. They still spend a lot of time in London. They still enjoy the cosiness of the bookshop. They still go out for dinner at their favourite restaurants. They still feed the ducks in St James’s Park. But they have found a place of their own that is inherently theirs with no strings to any of their more or less shared history. This is just theirs and they revel in the experience.
It’s springtime and the demon has found he can relax as well. The villagers greet them with open hearts and Crowley can’t help but be friendly in return. He supposes it’s the angel’s influence. Some of his goodness has to have rubbed off on him over time.
Crowley has always enjoyed sleeping. His angel not so much. But even that has changed. Sometimes Aziraphale joins him in their comfortable bed. Sometimes they cuddle. Sometimes they fall asleep together. And sometimes, when Crowley gets lucky, they wake up together as well. The angel, who can enjoy a few hours of rest alongside his demon, often gets restless with the first rays of sunlight lighting up the sky. They have agreed that there is no sense in him staying in bed when he does not sleep and would rather be out and about, making tea, reading, going for an early morning walk.
But today, today Crowley gets lucky. Because he wakes up first. Aziraphale is still asleep next to him. The crisp spring air filters in through the half-open window. Crowley watches the sun climb over the horizon.The light falls on the angel, lights up his face and seems to kiss his forehead good morning. And Crowley knows he will stay with his angel until the end of time. He could not leave him. He would not leave him.
Aziraphale scrunches up his nose and squints into the light. He instinctively rolls away from the window and brushes against Crowley. He opens his eyes sleepily and they smile at each other.