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Of rank

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One might assume that ladies of rank, consequence, and considerable fortune were always afforded all the desired liberties of their hearts. Reality could not be further from this reproachful misbelief. Indeed, a lady of rank had much more items on a list of things she must not do than of things she could, and longer still was the list of things she ought to do, as well as the list of things that she was expected to do.

A lady of rank must not ride out alone.

A lady of rank must not go out unaccompanied.

A lady of rank must not laugh too loudly, nor disturb the proceedings around her.

A lady of rank was not required to, but was expected to always look her best.

A lady of rank was not her own person, rather, she was always a woman of some man—independent of how high her rank, how distinguished her consequence, or how considerable her fortune may be.

Thus, Aziraphale was not at all her own person. Rather, she was Lady Aziraphale Fell, sister to the Marquis of Wingbury. This had been her identity since she had been only the tender age of fourteen. Before that, she had been Lady Aziraphale Fell, daughter of the (now late) Marquis of Wingbury. 

Lady Aziraphale was not required to, but she was expected of a forthcoming change in her title once more, this time as the wife of yet another man.

But despite this expectation, it was evident that this was not to happen at all tonight. 

It became evident as soon as Aziraphale entered the premises of the Upper Rooms, perhaps even as soon as she’d been escorted off her carriage. The assembly by now was in full swing. Ladies of rank never arrived early to public events. She had put great effort into her toilette, wearing an exquisite gown of white silk, with a long train that swept the floors with angelic effect. Her guinea gold curls were set into fine ringlets, finished with a small tiara, set with pearls. Her crystal blue eyes swept about the room with a grace that only very few could possess. It was no wonder that she instantly became the object of so much talk. 

It could not be pinpointed what it was about her that was so special. Perhaps it was in her slow movements, or her countenance, or her distinguished tone of speech, but there was a quality about her that made it a certainty that this was doubtlessly a lady of rank.

The ballroom was packed with what must be close to a thousand people, music and laughter mingling into a cacophony of booming noises in the air. There was barely enough room to move, and though Aziraphale made small attempts at socialization, it was unlikely that she could secure herself a husband in here.

At the much expired age of nine-and-twenty, Lady Aziraphale’s days of dancing and flirtation were very much over. 

It was easy to look upon Lady Aziraphale with general admiration for her fine manners and genteel beauty, but she was a desired object of none but the most determined suitors. She was very much on the shelf, and well on her way to becoming an ape-leader*, if one was being honest about things. And though she was still fairly beautiful, she was nowhere near being the stunner that she had been when she was in her prime.

She paused, and asked one of the widow chaperones lingering by the side of the room for the time. It was ten o’clock, she said. Aziraphale heaved a sigh. She was not to meet her brother for another two hours, and she resigned herself for a long and tedious night.

There were certain funny ways for humans to tell when they were being stared at, though, and Aziraphale felt it all of a sudden, raising the hairs on her arms. She turned around and spotted a gentleman across the room, dressed entirely in black with one hand resting on the backrest of a chair, staring directly at her.

She did not know what to make of such a gaze, so she glared forcefully back.

The man, seeming to notice that he had been caught, threw his head back and laughed mirthfully. A couple of other gentlemen approached him, attempting to gain his attention, but he paid them no mind. With a determinedly cunning grin, he began to walk, making his way towards her.

Aziraphale turned swiftly away to duck into the crowd of a rapidly forming set, weaving her way in and out of the line of dancers until she was sure she had lost him. When she could no longer see him, she sighed in relief.

The rest of the party passed by in a vaguely merry blur. Aziraphale had been to so many of these events since her coming out over ten years ago, and they no longer held any novelty. She ventured out to head for the tea room instead, eager to at least make use of its provisions.

She was sorely disappointed, though not the least bit surprised. The Upper Rooms were not known for providing decent food. She made what she could of it and helped herself to a glass of madeira instead.

The spread of meagre food was laid out before her, her back turned to the crowd. A few others accidentally elbowed her to get at the snacks, and profuse apologies were instantly made once they saw who she was. 

A lady of rank, of course. They were not sure which one, but a lady rank, nonetheless. And as such, deserved all the apologies.

A shadow loomed slowly from behind, spreading warmth over the flushed skin of her nape. All her senses were heightened as a voice, much too close for comfort, said to her ear:

“What perplexes me the most is why you don’t seem to be much in the mood for dancing.”

Aziraphale whipped around, startled out of her wits when she met with the sight of the gentleman from the ballroom.

He stood close, his hair shockingly red and framing a face formed from sculpted delicate lines and arches. Her breathing hitched as he leaned ever so slightly closer and a blush rose to her cheeks.

Her mouth hung open, gaping at him.

“You have some nerve coming up to me without so much as a proper introduction!”* 

The man ignored her indignant huff and laughed in full. “You’re Wingbury’s sister, aren’t you?”

Her glare turned even more forceful. “My name, sir, is Aziraphale Fell.”

“And mine is Crowley. There, now we are introduced.” He grinned smugly.

She gaped once more. “You-you fiend! You tricked me!”

“I don’t dare presume that you would fall into any trickery on my part, ma’am. Now tell me why you don’t dance. It’s been vexing me to see you dawdle about for the past half-hour.”

“I do believe that is none of your concern,” she said, much too calmly, if only to tell her rapidly beating pulse to behave in the same manner. This man, for all his incivilities, was unbearably attractive, and it was a feat of mankind to remain unaffected by his presence. “But to answer your question, surely you see the obvious reason as to why I’ve no intention of dancing.”

“I’m afraid I don’t, ma’am.”

It was her turn to laugh now, and she did it much more openly than she usually would’ve. She threw back her head, the man’s gaze drawing low to the exposed column of her neck, framed with two rows of small pearls.

“You are new here, aren’t you, sir?” she said. “But you know my brother, so you should know a little about me as well. Women who dance in these rooms are in want of a husband. I am no such case. My days of dancing have long been over.”

His dark brows climbed high from a pair of smoky spectacles, painting his features with lovely lines as he expressed outrageous disbelief.

“You, a spinster? I don’t believe it for a moment.”

“Believe it you must, Mr Crowley.”

“But you are too—“

“Be very careful what you say here, because if you say that I am too young to be giving up on finding a husband, I can assure you I’ve heard quite enough of the same from my brother, and I need not hear any more of it from you!”

His grin softened. “Actually, I was to say ‘too beautiful’.”

“I…” Her face went slack, the scolding quite stuck on the tip of her tongue, and she looked away hastily, gaining an intense urge to take out her fan. She couldn’t possibly be showing such outright weakness to a man she barely even knew, no matter how handsomely cut was the line of his jaw, or how strong and sturdy his chest seemed underneath his slim waistcoat. She steeled her resolve. “You are acquainted with Gabriel, then?”

“I suppose I am,” was his reply, though he did not look very pleased to say it. “Lord Wingbury is an odd one. I can’t say I like him much.”

Her lips curled into a smile of suppressed delight, though she was careful not to show it. “I would not be surprised. You seemed very displeased with all the others who have tried to talk to you a while ago. Is there anyone you do like?”

“Yes, you.” He leaned in once more, with the carelessness of a drunken lover. Aziraphale knew in her heart and mind that for propriety’s sake she ought to walk away, or at least push the man back, but she could not find the strength to do either. Instead, she stared at her own curious reflection on Crowley’s spectacles. “I didn’t know Wingbury had an establishment here in Bath.”

She scowled.

“It is daring of you to assume that just because I am unmarried, I must be living in my brother’s house. No, his seat is in Shropshire, and he has a house in town, but he lodges in Bath when he must.”

“Then how came you to Bath, my dear madam?”

“I have my own establishment at Laura Place,” she said, with an air of defiance.

His grin turned smug once more. “Yes, thank you for telling me. I shall certainly call on you tomorrow.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t!” She slapped a hand to her mouth. “You tricked me again!”

“Only joking, ma’am. You need not be so scandalised. This is my last engagement in Bath. I ride out early tomorrow.”

“I see.” She didn’t know why she was dismayed. It wasn’t as though she’d known the man for longer than ten minutes. 

“An unmarried lady fixed with her own establishment? Very unusual, if I may comment.”

“Well, I assure you, it is possible,” she said through her teeth. She’d had quite enough of men dictating what was proper and improper for her as a lady of rank. She was of age, and she had more than enough in terms of wit and means to establish herself as her own mistress. She needed no husband to look after her own home. “In fact, I am to meet with my brother in the Octagon Room in an hour because I haven’t seen him in months.”

“Are you? Then I’ll be sure to be out of your hair by then, because I don’t think he’ll be glad to see me talking to you.”

Somehow this made Aziraphale want to talk to him even more.

They were distracted by sudden movement from the crowd. Plenty of attendees were piling out of the tea room. Crowley took his place by her side. “Shall we return to the ballroom, my lady?”

Without giving herself room to reconsider, she nodded. 

The two of them made their way through the crowd, but as they neared the door it became much too packed, and Aziraphale feared they would lose each other. Through the mass of pressed up bodies she felt a hand brush the careful ringlets on the side of her head.

She gasped when Crowley’s fingers trailed down from her hair to her neck, sending trickles of inexplicable heat. She stopped breathing when the hand came down still, moving to the exposed crook of her shoulder. A thumb slipped into the crevice of her gown’s neckline, sliding underneath to sweep over bare skin, before hastily pulling back.

Crowley set the same palm on her lower back, guiding her through the crowd as though nothing had happened.

Aziraphale was helpless against the flush overtaking her face and neck, the warm hand pressed onto her back, and the tall and handsome figure walking beside her. No other man had been so daring as to touch her like this. Once, she’d had a suitor who had been so bold as to sling an arm around her waist, and even then she’d known the man for years. In contrast, she’d never met Crowley before tonight, yet his touches were daringly intimate. Not quite so bold or possessive as the arm around her waist had been, but intense enough to be marked. A tease of what he could do, and wanted to do, if Aziraphale would allow him.

And if she were not mistaken, a promise of something more to come.

They arrived at the ballroom, and it was as lively and merry as it had always been.

“I take it you must be tired of all this,” said Crowley, after observing her for some moments in silence. “How many times have you been here?”

“Too many to count,” she replied. “It amazes me how it doesn’t look any different from when I first saw it nearly ten years ago. Bath is so eternally unchanging compared to London.”

“Perhaps all you need is a change of perspective.”

“And how am I to do that?” Aziraphale frowned in mild vexation as another rushing person bumped into her, this time not apologising or even taking notice of her. 

In response, Crowley turned towards the doorway and pointed at a spot above it. Aziraphale followed his hand, spotting a wide and empty balcony set into a rounded alcove on the wall.

“Have you ever tried viewing the party from up there?”

Aziraphale shook her head.

“Oh, then you must.” Crowley winked. 

“I will do no such thing.”

“A proper lady like you should be open to trying new things.”

“Do not tell me how I should or should not act! Oh, you are odious. You vex me entirely!”

But he was not offended by what she said. Rather, his expression was far too calm as he continued to fix her with his gaze.

“Come with me, my lady,” he said, leaning over her shoulder. “I can see how curious you are about it.”

Aziraphale would never admit that he was right. She crossed her arms over her ample bosom and said, “How would you even get us up there?”

“I know a lot of passageways through this place. There’s one we can take without being seen.”

Aziraphale tried very hard not to let her judgment be clouded, but Crowley was gazing at her expectantly, his finely-shaped lips curled into a faintly amused smile that made her weak in the knees. She despised it. She had never been one to fall for a man’s charms, indeed she had always considered herself immune to them. Men, after all, were all the same. All intent on making her their property. All bent on getting her to do things simply because she must.

She took one quick look up at the balcony. It looked incredibly enticing, and it was true that she had never been up there before.

“Alright,” she told Crowley. “But we mustn’t take very long. I still have that meeting with Gabriel.”

Crowley’s smile was filled with triumph. The hand returned to her lower back, guiding her towards the entryway. 

Crowley led her through a small passage beyond the main hall, where it was suddenly a lot darker. Aziraphale attempted to put on a brave face, though she unconsciously drifted closer to Crowley as they approached a stairwell.

“It doesn’t look like we’re supposed to be here,” she said.

“This is a servant’s passage. Every building has one, as you must certainly know. But your lot likes to pretend they don’t exist at all.”

Aziraphale frowned, but it went wholly unnoticed by him.

At the bottom of the stairs, she suddenly stopped. Crowley turned around to find her grasping at the back of her skirts.

“Is something wrong?”

“My train, it will be so dirty. I ought to pin it up first.” She gathered the fabric and slung them over her arm, unsure if her wrists could be dexterous enough for the task.

“Allow me to help, then.”

Aziraphale stared at him, shocked. “No, sir, I think I’d better find a lady friend outside to do it for me. I’ll be much surprised if you can do it yourself. You’ve never had to deal with such pesky things.”

“I think you will be surprised to find just how many things I would be capable of doing for you.” He drew near, his hands trailing down her arms before sliding to her back, pushing her closer to him. “Allow me, my lady.”

Suddenly at a loss for words, she nodded, and turned around in his arms.

Crowley worked smoothly on setting up her train, treating the luxurious fabric with the utmost care that it deserved. Aziraphale could feel his hot breaths on her nape, which now burned far beyond her control. There was a tug on her back as Crowley’s fingers slid down the length of cloth over her bum. She ducked her head, overcome with sudden shyness. His hand was in close proximity to her—not even in her mind could she dare to put a name on it.

The hand traveled some more, rustling her dress until it came to grab at her waist. She took in a sharp gasp as Crowley brought her flush against him, and something long and hard pressed onto her hip.

“M-Mr Crowley?” 

She looked up into his face, finding in it nothing but the most intensified look of desire. It brought her almost to the brink of madness, threatening to topple her with its force.

Then, just as suddenly as the touch had come, Crowley drew himself away.

Aziraphale barely managed to suppress the disappointed whine in her throat.

“This way to the balcony,” he said, turning once more towards the stairs.

‘Hang the balcony!’ Aziraphale wanted to say. Instead, she huffed, and followed a couple of paces behind him.

They emerged at the top to a set of double doors which Crowley opened easily. Aziraphale was surprised that they had been unlocked. They were bathed in a flood of light from the three crystal chandeliers of the main ballroom, now in much greater proximity. Aziraphale stepped through the doors, sticking close to Crowley’s side as they made towards the banister.

“Well, my lady, are you satisfied?”

Aziraphale held onto the wood railing, gazing down at the mass of dancers from the ground floor. Her lips stretched into the widest beam as she took in the size of the entire hall. Goodness, this place was grand . She had never appreciated it much from below, where she was eternally jostled by a dozens of stumbling bodies, but from this vantage point, she could clearly see how large it was, how it sparkled greatly with grandeur. 

“This is incredible,” she said, turning to Crowley.

A startled whine tore from her lips.

Crowley was staring at her.

She tried to remain at eye-level with him, but she was unable to keep looking into her own reflection. Her gaze dropped to his mouth, and suddenly wouldn’t leave.

“I… Mr Crowley…” Her tone was pleading, and it seemed to penetrate him well enough.

Long fingers curled around her wrist, and Aziraphale was being pulled to the side, to the small space on the edge of the balcony that was hidden from view of those below—but only barely. Crowley pressed her onto the wall, pinning her in place. 

“You don’t know what you do to me,” he growled, the deepness of his voice catching her off guard. He pressed his lips to a sensitive spot under her ear, breathing in her sweet scent, relishing the whimper he elicited. “D’you have any idea how much I want you? How mad you drive me?”

Aziraphale gasped when Crowley pinned her with his hips, letting her feel his hardness on her midriff. “W-what are you doing?” she said feebly.

“I think we’ve had quite enough of flirtation, my lady,” he said cheekily. “I’ve done well enough by you. It’s time for you to give me my prize.”

“Fiend! What… whatever do you mean by this?” Crowley trailed kisses down the side of her neck, his hands firmly clasped around her wrists to keep her from moving. She squirmed under his tight grasp. “You brought me up here to seduce me!”

“Again, I merely put in suggestions,” he said, licking into the shell of her ear, making her shudder. “It was entirely your choice to come up here with me.”

“Unhand me! Or I’ll—“

Crowley covered her mouth with his own.

Aziraphale was suddenly grateful for the support of the wall behind her. Her knees gave way as Crowley licked into her mouth. Her eyes drifted shut, quite beyond her control, as their tongues found the other, sending delightful sweeps low in her belly. She moaned at the taste of madeira mingling from his tongue.

Crowley quickly made himself busy, one hand cupping Aziraphale’s cheek in the tenderest way, the other trailing down her collarbone, fiddling with her pearl necklace. His hips were firmly pressed to her body, the full length and hardness of his manhood now evident to her. It thrilled her. Aziraphale suddenly wanted to see it, to hold it in her hands and feel it throbbing on her palms, or even have it inside her. Nothing was to bring her thoughts back to clarity as Crowley’s hand went from her collarbone to the swell of her breast, fingers prodding curiously at the bouncy flesh.

He pulled away to observe her, his lips red and slick with their mingled spit. Aziraphale was utterly and completely helpless. She arched her back, all but pressing her ample breasts into his face when Crowley’s two fingers dipped inside her cleavage.

She yelped, and consequently slapped a palm to her mouth, blue eyes wide with panic.

Crowley chuckled, pressing a kiss to the corner of her mouth. “It’s alright, my lady. Be as loud as you want.”

Aziraphale shuddered. All around them, the band music went on, joined in its merriment by the stomping feet and clapping hands of the hundreds of dancers strewn about the room. With an intensified flush, she realised that even if she were to scream her pleasures with abandon, she would be entirely unheard.

She could be as loud as she wanted.

Crowley leaned close to her ear. “I want to hear you, Aziraphale.”

That was her undoing.

With a keening whine, she grasped Crowley’s hair, pushing down. With an amused huff, he went willingly, leaving kisses down her collarbone and swirling his tongue over her exposed chest. He placed a hand on her shoulder, fiddling with a loose piece of fabric that came apart under his pull.

The front flap of her bodice fell open, the edge hanging loosely down her waist as Crowley’s eyebrows went up high. He was treated to an eyeful of her bosom, heaving with the force of her heavy breathing, and cupped at the bottom with short stays that hugged her plush figure in all the blessed ways. 

His gaze flicked up to meet with hers, and he smirked.

“This seems awfully convenient. Almost as if you planned for me to do this.”

Aziraphale suddenly wanted to slap him. 

“Oh, do get on with it!”

Crowley laughed, darting up to kiss her cheek. “As you wish, my queen.”

He dove back down to mouth at her chest. The top lacing of her stays was the first to go, unraveling with two tugs of his dexterous fingers. The stays opened into a vee down her sternum. Now loosened, Crowley was easily able to slip his hand inside her chemise, cupping one large breast in his palm.

Aziraphale shuddered and threw her head back to the wall as Crowley fondled her with one hand and drew her closer with the other. He grabbed her thigh, hooking it around his hip and pressed his erection to her heated mound. Their moans mingled, dissipating in the crackle of built up tension around. A sigh of adoration slipped past her when Crowley ground against her with purpose.

“This… This feels, oh, divine,” she said, blushing at her own words. This was certainly not how a lady of rank ought to act, and though it seemed unlikely, it was entirely possible for anyone to walk through those doors at any moment. She pressed her body tighter, squeezing into the sliver of hidden space. She could expose herself through the opening of the balcony even with just a stretch of her arm, any slight movement well capable of betraying their lewd acts. But in a stroke of unexpected boldness, she found that the thought of anyone seeing her like this only thrilled her all the more. 

Crowley’s hand moved up her calf, tracing a hot path under her skirts and up to her thigh, eager to get at the bare skin that wasn’t covered by her stockings. He did not stop there. Aziraphale was on the verge of screaming. Crowley’s hand found her bum, squeezing it firmly, the other still on her breast, fingers flicking rapid pulses over her nipple. 

“I can’t…” Crowley growled, his groan heavy with frustration as he lazily kissed her mouth while playing with her. “Ngghhh, I can’t get enough of you. Fuck. You’re so beautiful.”

He grabbed at the neckline of her chemise and tugged down, exposing her breasts to the open air. Her skin was flushed with the strength of her desire. He wasted no time in taking a nipple in his mouth, tweaking the other in the crevice between his index and middle finger. Aziraphale lost herself. She no longer knew where she was, all her focus trained on Crowley’s mouth, his eager hands, and the press of his hard cock on her inner thigh. 

“Crowley!” she gasped.

He looked up, leveling their gazes once more, but unwilling to neglect them, his hands kept squeezing, fondling her breasts as he spoke. “Any special requests, my lady?”

“Want to feel you,” she said desperately, arching into him. “Please, Crowley.”

“You know I’ll never deny you anything,” he mumbled, kissing her urgently. “Whatever you want. My mouth. My hands. My cock. They’re all yours, my queen, whenever and however you want.”

Aziraphale was overcome with a wave of affection for him. She smiled into their kiss. “Let me feel you, darling.”

She aimed her hips at him, using the leverage of her leg around his waist to press her mound to his erection.

Crowley grinned wickedly, making quick work of his breeches to release his member. Aziraphale moaned just at the sight of it, delightfully long and achingly hard for her. With one hand, she gathered her skirts at her waist, and Crowley slammed his hips into hers, pushing his cock past her lips, dragging his entire length along her slick folds.

Aziraphale squeaked when Crowley snuck a finger in to circle her clit. She bit her lip as the pulsating thrums of her pleasure had her trembling helplessly.

“You’re so wet,” he said, in the same frustrated tone. He retrieved his hand to admire his glistening fingers, then took them into his mouth, moaning deeply at her taste. 

“You do that to me, darling,” she said breathlessly as Crowley started a gentle pace with his cock sliding up and down her warmth, dragging against her clit with every stroke. “Only you can do that to me.”

Crowley captured her mouth into a deep kiss, much slower and more passionate than the previous ones had been. Aziraphale trilled not just with the haze from her raw lust, but also with the brimming love that was threatening to spill past her heart.

She had never met anyone like Crowley, and probably never will. To her, he was the only one.

They kept moving into each other, guided by each other’s wanton sounds and touching, and below them, the party went on uninterrupted, blissfully unaware of the proceedings beyond the balcony. 

“M’not gonna last…” he groaned into her neck, and she couldn’t help but smile.

Soon the rhythm of Crowley’s hips faltered along with the increasingly ragged breaths he took. He picked up the pace, and with great fascination, Aziraphale observed him as he chased his pleasure. 

“Come for me, Crowley,” she whispered, gently carding her fingers into his hair. “I want you to feel good.”

He gasped, tensing and shuddering as he came, his seed forming pools on the hairs above her mound, some of them specks on the underside of her petticoat. His mouth hung open to one of the loudest moans Aziraphale had ever heard him make, undeterred by the fact that they were out in public. It made for an amusing sight, and Aziraphale gave into a soft giggle as she stroked his spine to guide him through the aftershocks. When he’d recovered, he cast her a smile that was almost shy.

“You’re amazing,” he said, sliding his hand back to her clit and bringing her over the edge within minutes. She clenched hard on his hand while she came, her entire body shuddering under the force of her pleasure. Her throat was dry as she sucked in gusts of air in her afterglow. 

Satisfied that he had brought her off so effectively, Crowley perched his head on her shoulder, pressing light kisses to whatever exposed skin he could reach.

“That was—“ Aziraphale said, still entirely out of breath. She was covered with a deep flush from her cheeks down to her chest. “Oh my god.”

“Yeah,” Crowley said, equally stunned. “Good job to us.”

“What time is it?”

Crowley forced himself to pull back, tucking himself back into his breeches so he could take out his timepiece. Aziraphale took one look and promptly shoved him off.

“I was supposed to meet Gabriel five minutes ago!”

Crowley laughed, clasping her wrist. “Calm down, then, you’re certainly not meeting him looking like that.”

Aziraphale flushed, looking down at her rumpled dress, her breasts still spilling out from the top of her chemise. With careful touches, Crowley put them back inside and replaced the laces of her stays with smooth, practised motions. Aziraphale reveled under his loving touches, sighing pleasantly. He placed the final flap of her gown back to her shoulder and smoothed her skirts. Finally, with an adoring smile, he reached up and righted the tiara in her golden hair, where it had gone askew as a result of their coupling.

“There,” he said, “Though I must say, I much prefer your previous look.”

Aziraphale rolled her eyes. “You wily tempter.”

She sighed sadly, cupping his cheek and drawing him into a lingering soft kiss.

“See you around, Mr Crowley.”

She stepped away from his arms, and almost as if she had only been a figment of his imagination, swept herself out of the balcony, shutting the door behind her—a clear signal to Crowley that he was not to follow her.




Aziraphale departed from the Upper Rooms at around half-past midnight, a smile fixed on her angelic face. Her carriage took her straight to her abode, where she was instantly escorted by a handful of servants. She made her way to the stairs as they fluttered about her.

“Have you had your supper, your ladyship?” asked her housekeeper.

“No, but I’m not inclined to sup tonight, Mrs Paxton.”

“Your train is in such a poor state, your ladyship, is everything alright?” said her ladiesmaid.

“I’m fine, Miss Daneer, you know how rarely they clean the floors of the assembly rooms.”

“His lordship’s coachman came by today, to enquire after a place in the stables. He said there was no room for his horses at the Christopher, your ladyship.”

Aziraphale smiled at her footman. “Then tell John to make a space available for my brother’s horses.”

The footman looked up at her, grinning slyly. “Is he to stay here long, then?”

“Hopefully not,” she replied as she made her way up the stairs, the footman following close behind. “He told me today that he would be returning to London soon.”

“I trust your ladyship has had a satisfactory time at tonight’s ball?”

Aziraphale paused, lingering at the top of the stops as she gazed down at the suddenly vulnerable look on the delicately sculpted features. He was wearing light-coloured livery, and his red hair was tied up into a neat bun at the back of his head, such as it always was when he was working.

“I had an amazing time,” she said, smiling softly. “And thank you, dear Anthony.”

His face broke out into an eager grin as he bowed slightly before her. “Good night, ma’am,” he said, then went back down the steps to disappear into the dining hall.

Once she had slipped into her nightgown, Aziraphale brought a candle to her nightstand and prepared to go to bed.

With a rapidly beating heart, she bounded onto one door in her chamber. It was not the main entryway to her room. Rather, it led into another bedchamber beyond the wall from hers. It was the room that would have been occupied by her husband had she chosen to have one.

She left it unlocked.

Having tired herself out for most of the day, she quickly drifted into slumber. When she awoke, the room was still plunged in complete darkness, and a wandering hand was sliding inside her nightgown, moving determinedly up her thigh.

“Mmmnnhh…” She rolled over sleepily on the bed, a lazy smile forming on her sweet mouth as she gazed up at Crowley. “Hello.”

“You minx,” he said fondly, settling onto the bed and parting her thighs. His breeches were a rumpled mess on the floor beside the bed, and his hand was stroking himself to full hardness. “I’ll never get enough of you.”

Aziraphale hummed pleasantly. She spread her legs before him without a second thought, the nightgown pooling at her waist as she reached down to fondle herself until she was satisfied with her wetness. Crowley pushed in, slowly moving into her, allowing her enough opportunity to fully engulf his member.

“Ah, fuck.” Crowley hissed into her neck, attacking it with a playful bite followed by a round of wet kisses. “So tight, oh, my sweet little vespa. You always feel so good for me.”

Aziraphale moaned as he rocked his hips slowly, neither of them feeling a need to rush. In the day they were restricted—almost forbidden. During the day they were little more than a secret, an untraceable rumour, a chasing after the wind. 

But the nights—the long, pleasure-soaked nights were theirs, blanketed in comforting darkness, long after all the candles had burnt out. Crowley would have Aziraphale, and Aziraphale would give herself to him. In the night, they praised and fucked and kissed freely like lovers. 

Her legs squeezed around his hips as she came, and he followed her not long after. It was bliss to be in Crowley’s arms after a round of their lovemaking. He had always been unbearably gentle with her. And even with all the extra precautions, she could not find any trace of regret at their situation. They had long ago confirmed that she was unable to conceive, a realisation that had bathed her in the most conflicted emotions. But at the very least, they had added security in the knowledge that they could do this without that consequence.

For all the things in her life she, as a lady of rank, was not allowed to have, she was grateful that she at least had this.

“My dear,” she said as she curled up into his side, hugging his bare chest. “What if we were to get married?”

Crowley stiffened slightly, but he was quiet for a few moments, carefully considering his reply.

“You know we can’t.”

She sat up, frowning.

“Should I continue to let my brother, or this absolute sham of a society, dictate how I live and control whom I choose to bestow my love?”

Crowley hooked a hand under her chin, smoothing her pout with a sweep of his thumb.

“Think about it for a moment, little vespa,” he said, smiling fondly. “You are Lady Aziraphale Fell. You would not be happy being anyone’s wife. You would certainly not be happy being Mrs Anthony Crowley.”

She blushed. Now and then it still came as a surprise how much he understood her mind. “That’s not true… Though, of course, as a nobleman’s daughter I do get to keep my title if I should marry a commoner.”

“But I’m not just a commoner,” he said, a tinge of sadness to his tone. “I’m sorry this is all I can be.”

"Don't be." Aziraphale leaned up and kissed him consolingly. “It just doesn’t seem fair to you that I cannot marry you.”

“Look, Aziraphale, do you love me?”

Her response very nearly came out as a sob.

“Very much,” she whispered hoarsely. “You have me entirely, and every part of me belongs to you. I’ll never love anyone like I love you.”

His responding smile could’ve put the moon itself to shame. “Then that is more than enough for me. Although I would also prefer it if you do not marry anyone else.”

She scoffed. “As if that is even a possibility! I had completely sworn off of matrimony long before I fell in love with you, Crowley.”

He brushed a strand of hair from her face, and his dark eyes were filled with so much warmth that Aziraphale wanted to drown in them.

“And,” she added with a dreamy sigh, “you clean up so well when you are dressed like a gentleman.”

Crowley gave a small huff of laughter, hugging her to his chest. “The things I suffer through for you…”

“Oh, hush. You just happen to be a remarkable actor. And besides, you get something out of it as well.”

“Yes, if I have to go through all these theatrics to get at your sweet cunt, I’d say it’s well worth it.”

Aziraphale flushed and lightly slapped his arm. “You absolute fiend! Oh.”

“And of course you know I’d do anything for you, my queen.” He kissed the top of her head. “I love you, you absolutely maddening thing. You are unbelievably gorgeous.”

They settled further down the bed. In a few hours, Crowley would have to slip away through the side door again, but he always waited until Aziraphale went to sleep first. For now, she was content with slinging an arm over his chest, breathing in the signature musky scent at the crook of his neck.

“Good night, my love,” she said, wishing that it did not sound so much like a secret.

His reply came automatically, and brought along a press of lips to the top of her head. She knew she could have no cause for regret. Not for anything in the world, so long as she got to have this.

“Good night, my lady.”




*on the shelf… ape-leader - the average coming out age for Regency ladies was nineteen-years-old, and the longer they spend being unmarried after that, the less desirable they became. The prime for being of a marriageable age went up until the age of twenty-four, after which she may start to be considered ‘on the shelf’. An ‘ape-leader’ was a (grossly misogynistic!) cant term for a spinster, as then it was believed that women who were unable to fulfill their duties of bearing children would be destined in the afterlife to lead apes in Hell.

*introduction - there was a complex set of rules to follow when introducing oneself to a stranger at a public ball. If a gentleman wanted to talk up to a lady who had caught his eye, and they were not previously acquainted, he must rely on a mutual acquaintance to be introduced to her. Otherwise, he needed to apply to the Master of Ceremonies (every ball must have one) and seek to be presented to her through the M.C. If his address is accepted by the lady, only then would he be able to approach her freely for the rest of the ball. 

As a fun little aside, I talk about Regency ballroom etiquette and dancing in greater detail on my blog post here , if this is a topic that interests you! :)