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practical magic

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"Angel." Demons didn't plead as a general rule, but Crowley was currently doing a fair imitation. "Just, hear me out."

"I've done exactly that for the last thirty minutes," Aziraphale said mildly, brushing lint from a terribly grimy stovepipe hat. He frowned at the trunk yawning open on the table and picked over the bits and bats inside. "I'm just sure I had some scarves in here."

Crowley sighed and snapped his fingers. The leftover curry at Aziraphale's elbow obligingly shifted into a messy pile of silk, slippery and coiled like a snake.

"Really, my dear," Aziraphale murmured. He coughed, and black printed with fire and skulls became a frightful collection of reds and blues and greens. "That will do, I suppose. Now, if I could just find those flowers."

"Better use plastic ones, if you must use any at all." Crowley nodded at a dusty and long-neglected array of fake begonias waiting on the mantle. "They won't wilt from being stuffed up your sleeve."

Aziraphale waved him off with a soft huff. "I had some good paper flowers in here. Magicians always use paper flowers."

"Warlock doesn't want magic."

"He's scarcely eleven years-old. He doesn't know what he wants."

Crowley poured himself another glass of wine; he obviously was going to need it. "Even so. When was the last time you did something like this?"

"Oh, fifty years, I should say. Maybe a hundred." Shrugging, Aziraphale turned his attention back to a fairly moth-eaten waistcoat Queen Victoria would've laughed at, had she been the laughing type. Crowley knew first hand she had not. "I'm rather sure it's just like riding a tricycle."

"It's bicycle, angel, and you can't ride one at all."

Aziraphale dismissed this, as well. He unearthed a large block of wood from the depths of his trunk and gave it a sharp rap with his wand. "Now, my fine young man," he said, clearly trying to take the old patter out for a walk, "would you like to see what's in my magic box?"

"Certainly not," Crowley muttered, mostly to his wineglass.

"You're not being very helpful," Aziraphale accused, wagging a finger. He pushed all the magical rubbish aside and poured himself a glass. "A little positive reinforcement could go a long way, you know."

Crowley very nearly blinked. "It's against my nature. Besides, Warlock doesn't want magic. I've sure we've already discussed this."

"A good parlour trick amuses everyone. Even disagreeable young lads like Warlock."

"A good one, yes."

Aziraphale pulled a face that supposed his wine had been turned to vinegar. "What exactly are you implying?"

"I'm just saying, Warlock is already spoilt and difficult to please." Crowley poured himself another glass of wine; this was proving to be one of the more awkward conversations of Crowley's infernal life1. "To keep someone like him entertained, you'll need to be bloody fantastic. You can't tell me you're not out of practise."

"Perhaps a bit. Nothing to worry about, my dear."

"Bloody fantastic," Crowley pressed, lifting his sunglasses enough to give Aziraphale a smattering of Evil Eye. "You should at least consider -- "

"Absolutely not," Aziraphale said, as sharply as his kind ever really managed. "I don't need help pulling a rabbit out of a hat."


"Not another word," Aziraphale insisted, in what passed for a dark tone with Heaven's ilk. It was sort of light and fluffy around the edges, but that was to be expected. "I won't listen to it."

"All right, all right."

Aziraphale huffed, eyeing Crowley sideways. "What time is your beast arriving, then? Three o'clock?"

"Yes. Three o'clock."

"I only have to keep the children occupied for an hour," Aziraphale said brightly. "What could possibly happen in an hour?"



1 Considering that Crowley worked with Pestilence on a regular basis during the Dark Ages, that certainly said something.