The sun is just beginning to peek over the London skyline and creep its soft pink rays across the floor when Aziraphale slips from Crowley’s bed. Knowing how much Crowley likes to sleep and how utterly unbearable he can be when woken before he’s ready, Aziraphale navigates the bedroom as quietly as possible.
Quite uncharacteristically, his clothes are scattered across the floor without much care. There had simply been no convincing Crowley to let him fold them properly and put them away. To be fair, Aziraphale hadn’t really tried very hard to convince him. Such a task would have involved far less kissing as they stumbled toward the bed and…well. Aziraphale quite likes kissing. Especially when it includes Crowley.
Unwilling to endure the petulance of a sleep-deprived demon, Aziraphale decides not to forage for his things and instead scoops up the nearest article of clothing - which happens to be Crowley’s dressing gown draped over an armchair in the corner. He slips it on and ties it at the waist. It fits a little too snug but a small smile tugs at his mouth at the intimacy of wearing something that belongs to Crowley. He rubs a fingertip over the black silk sleeve and casts one last fond glance over his shoulder.
Crowley sleeps sprawled on his stomach, one arm outstretched as though reaching for Aziraphale in his sleep. His lips part slightly as he breathes, his cheek pressed into the pillow. His freckled shoulders are bare and the sheet has bunched around his narrow hips. There are red marks along his exposed throat, lasting evidence of Aziraphale’s mouth. All the worry lines and prickly defenses have disappeared from his face. Crowley looks as carefree as he had the day Aziraphale had met him in the Garden, as though one night has erased six thousand years. He looks, Aziraphale muses, like a painting. The rising sun setting his auburn hair aglow and tinging all his lovely bare skin a warm shade of pink.
His heart full of wonder that such a creature would want him, would love him as fiercely as Crowley does, Aziraphale turns away with a secret, besotted smile and slips silently from the room. The kitchen is his first stop. They’d had quite a meal at the Ritz last night, celebrating their newfound freedom from the pressures of Heaven and Hell, but after what they’d got up to after their meal, Aziraphale feels peckish again. A cup of tea and a few of those biscuits Crowley keeps around for him will do nicely.
He has been to Crowley’s flat before, of course, but he never stayed long and certainly never overnight. It hadn’t felt safe. To be quite honest, Aziraphale hasn’t felt truly safe since the Arrangement began. He’d always been convinced discovery was right around the corner. Some nights he’d simply paced his shop and wrung his hands, wondering how he would protect Crowley when the time came. And now here he is, roaming barefoot throughout Crowley’s flat with a cup of warm tea cradled between his palms. The irony of feeling safe inside the home of Hell’s best demon is not lost on him but Crowley has never been a threat to Aziraphale. Even in the Garden, he’d known that somehow.
His aimless exploration of Crowley’s flat eventually leads him into the atrium. He’s only ever seen Crowley’s plants in passing before and he breathes out an excited hum as he steps inside, surrounded by vibrant green plants of nearly every variety. There are Chinese evergreens and English ivy, and even Saint Helena Heliotrope - which he’s quite sure has not been grown anywhere since sometime in the early 19th century.
Gently petting one brilliant leaf, he murmurs a delighted, “Hello there. Aren’t you beautiful?” The plant seems to tremble at his touch, leaning almost hungrily into his hand and the quiet praise. Aziraphale beams. “He takes such good care of you, doesn’t he?”
At this, the heliotrope droops a little. The tremor of leaves sounds like a complaint.
Aziraphale tuts. “None of that now,” he murmurs. “He’s all bark, you know. Showing affection is difficult for him so we must be very patient, mustn’t we?”
The plant straightens at this gentle admonishment, the leaves perking up a bit in reply.
With a wide smile, Aziraphale offers it another gentle pat. “Very good, you lovely thing.”
He takes another turn about the room, cooing over the succulents and giving the philodendron a bit of encouragement, before he finally wanders out and across the corridor, finding himself standing in Crowley’s office. Unlike the atrium, this room is just as stark and cold as the rest of the flat. Aziraphale briefly considers the prospect of shopping for new furniture with Crowley to make the place a bit more inviting, a bit more…them and has to shove such thoughts aside before he gets ahead of himself. It’s been one night and he’s already mentally redecorating.
Steady on, old bean.
Tossing a wistful, admiring glance at the da Vinci portrait on the far wall, Aziraphale moves further into the room and runs a hand over the back of Crowley’s chair. Really, more of a throne — his sweetheart does love to make a statement. Aziraphale pushes the chair back and settles into it, placing his teacup on the desk. Crowley doesn’t have many books but he’s rather hoping there’s something here in his office to read as a way to pass the time. Knowing Crowley, he could be asleep for days before he gets hungry enough to stumble out of bed.
Sliding open the top drawer and hoping to find a secret stash of cheap romance novels or even a wayward copy of National Geographic, Aziraphale instead blinks down at a scattering of black and white photographs of himself and Crowley. All of them have been taken at a distance and at various points throughout history, long before the humans had even invented cameras. There they are feeding the ducks at St. James Park, watching rehearsals at the Globe, and sharing an umbrella outside of Aziraphale’s favorite little patisserie in Paris.
There’s something troubling about the photos, almost voyeuristic in nature. Aziraphale frowns, stroking a fingertip over Crowley’s profile in one of them, and wonders where all of these strange photographs had come from and why Crowley had them stashed away in his desk.
Which is just how Crowley finds him moments later when he comes skidding into the room like something half-mad. The wild, panicked look in his eyes fades the second he spots Aziraphale standing behind his desk but it’s quite clear that he’d been under the impression Aziraphale had gone. Though his heart aches to reassure Crowley he doesn’t plan to go anywhere, Aziraphale only smiles, allowing Crowley the dignity of rearranging his expression into something a little less stricken.
“Good morning,” he says warmly. “Sleep well?”
Crowley only grunts, running a hand through his rumpled hair. There’s a crease on his cheek from his pillow and he still looks a bit rattled as he saunters into the room. It’s only then that Aziraphale notices he’s barely dressed, wearing only a tight pair of pants — no trousers or shirt anywhere to be seen. His long, lanky legs and bare chest are on full display. Beautiful. Aziraphale licks his lips, forcing his eyes not to wander before he realizes he doesn’t have to anymore. After last night, there are no more secrets between them.
His gaze drifts.
Catching his stare, Crowley smirks. “Morning, angel.” He pauses when he reaches the desk, scrutinizing Aziraphale’s face. Perhaps looking for permission or trying to discern if his affections are still welcome in the light of a new day. Whatever it is, he must find it in Aziraphale’s smile because to the angel’s delight, he bends to press a soft kiss to his mouth. As Aziraphale hums and savors the sweet-sleep taste of him, Crowley strokes a fingertip over the collar of the dressing gown. When they part, he murmurs, “Suits you.”
“Hardly,” Aziraphale replies, blushing. “But you made certain my own clothes were quite difficult to find.”
Crowley doesn’t look even a little bit guilty, perching lazily against the edge of the desk. In fact, he looks rather proud of himself. “Just didn’t want you going anywhere, angel.”
“Well, no chance of that, I’m afraid.” Aziraphale reaches out a hand and cups his cheek, rubbing his thumb tenderly over the snake tattoo at his temple. “You’re quite stuck with me.”
Though he looks pleased to hear it, Crowley isn’t the sort for sentimental speeches. At least not yet, anyway. Eyes warm and soft, he leans in for a kiss instead and Aziraphale has no choice but to sink into him with a sigh of quiet, giddy contentment. This belongs to him now — this intimacy, this longing finally met, this demon he has loved from afar for centuries. The thrill of it, still so new, makes him dizzy.
Crowley’s hand wanders across his shoulder, bare where the dressing gown has slipped amidst their embrace. Touching a reverent fingertip to the bite mark there, still a vivid red against the pale of Aziraphale’s skin, he asks, “All right?”
Warm all over under his attentions and the memory of exactly when Crowley had bitten him last night, Aziraphale breathes, “Oh, tip-top, darling. Perfectly perfect.”
Crowley looks only marginally less poleaxed by the endearment in the light of morning, avoiding Aziraphale’s affectionate gaze by leaning in to nose at his cheek. “Yes,” he murmurs, as though safe without eyes on him. “You are.”
Aziraphale blushes, his heart thrilling at the smallest hint of sweet nothings from Crowley. As he stares over Crowley’s shoulder and tries to hide a smile, his eyes fall on the photos still scattered on the desk. Remembering his curiosity, he says, “I was looking for something to read and I found those. Where did you get them?”
Crowley turns, following the line of his gaze. “Oh. Gabriel had them.” He rubs a hand over the back of his neck and avoids Aziraphale’s expectant stare. “I nicked them on my way out. Turns out they’ve been keeping an eye on us all along.”
“Well… I’m quite glad I wasn’t aware of that.” Aziraphale grimaces, imagining the nightmarish panic it would have induced. He probably would have agreed to run off to Alpha Centauri just to protect Crowley and who knows if poor young Adam would have had the courage to stand up to Lucifer without a couple of hands to hold. If Aziraphale had known about the existence of these pictures, the Earth might very well have been destroyed. Unsettled by this, Aziraphale turns to frown at them. “But…why take them, my dear?”
With a sniff and a careless shrug, he says, “No reason.” And then, as though sensing Aziraphale’s disappointed stare weighing heavily on him, he sighs and waves a hand he probably intends to look careless. “Oh, you know…thought I’d add them to my collection, that’s all.”
Gritting his teeth — possibly to hold in something sentimental on the tip of his tongue — Crowley lifts a hand and snaps his fingers. A long, slender black box appears on the desk beside the surveillance photographs. It looks full, the lid on top askew and the mysterious contents beginning to peek out over the edges. Crowley gestures at the box wordlessly.
When Aziraphale glances at him, his cheeks are a bit more full of color than usual. The sight of Anthony J. Crowley, suave demon extraordinaire, blushing is so distracting that it takes Aziraphale a moment to register the words coming out of his mouth. “Open it.”
Hesitantly, Aziraphale reaches out a hand and lifts the lid off the box. And blinks.
Inside is a diverse conglomeration of paraphernalia — mostly photographs and all of them featuring Aziraphale, either alone or with Crowley. Aziraphale reaches out, sifting curiously through them. He moves aside a black and white polaroid of himself standing outside the bookshop sometime in the 1950s; a sepia-toned photograph of him and Crowley posing in their suits and top hats just days before their argument over the holy water; and another Crowley had taken on his mobile just a year or so ago, a closeup of Aziraphale’s face when a butterfly had landed on his nose in St. James Park, his smile wide and his eyes creased with laughter.
There are even a few miniature portraits from the days before the humans had invented cameras. Other little trinkets are nestled inside the box as well, theatre ticket stubs and wine corks from bottles they’ve shared, a few brittle envelopes with handwriting Aziraphale recognizes as his own, and a very old advertisement for the first showing of Hamlet.
Taking it all in, Aziraphale feels a lump begin to form in his throat. Crowley has been hoarding little mementos of their time together. And for quite a while by the look of things — long before the Arrangement even began. Aziraphale spots an oyster shell sitting atop a stack of photographs, thinks fleetingly of Rome, and his trembling hand gently sets it aside as he sifts through more their memories.
Standing beside him but refusing to look at either Aziraphale or the box on the desk, Crowley crosses his arms over his bare chest and frowns into the middle distance. Out of the corner of his eye, Aziraphale notices that his cheeks and the tops of his ears are still flushed. Crowley doesn’t say I love you the way others might. He may not ever say the actual words but Aziraphale hears it when he shows up at the bookshop with tickets to a new play Aziraphale mentioned wanting to see once. He hears it when Crowley orders dessert even though he barely eats any, just so Aziraphale can have a taste. He hears it when Crowley says things like little demonic miracle of my own and we can go off together. And he hears it right now, staring at their whole relationship tucked tenderly into this little box.
With an achingly fond glance at his dear one, Aziraphale plucks a shard of sea glass from Crowley’s collection. Admiring the way it catches the light, he asks, “Might I inquire when-”
“That weekend we holed up in Vladivostok and worked on our reports to Heaven and Hell together.” Crowley risks a glance at him, finds Aziraphale watching him intently, and makes a noise like he’d very much enjoy turning into a snake and slithering away. “It was the first time we’d spent more than an evening together and I…wanted something to remember it by.”
Aziraphale thinks briefly of the tattered, singed volume of Agnes Nutter’s prophecies and Crowley sitting in a pub drinking himself into a stupor. His heart tightens and swells in his chest as he whispers, “A souvenir.”
Caught, Crowley looks away again. “Yeah.”
Rubbing his thumb over the glass, smoothed and worn down by waves and time, Aziraphale asks delicately, “Weren’t you afraid all this might fall into the hands of…the wrong sort?”
Crowley shrugs. “Kept it in the safe with the holy water but…” He sighs, lifting his head and finally really looking at Aziraphale for the first time since the box made its appearance. “Yeah. All the time.”
The sea glass grows warm in Aziraphale’s palm and he curls his fingers around it, swallowing. And it feels like the glass is in his throat, cutting sharply on its way down. “But it didn’t stop you.”
With a sniff, Crowley pokes at a photograph of the two of them dressed as Brother Francis and Nanny Ashtoreth, Warlock cuddled between them and beaming at the camera. “Couldn’t bear to part with any of it.”
Aziraphale bites his lip, the deep well of tenderness within that has always been for Crowley rising up to war with the sharp disappointment he feels at his own cowardice. “You’ve been so much braver than I, my dear.”
Crowley lifts his head from inspecting the contents of the box and frowns. As if he truly doesn’t hold it against him. He really is so much better than he’ll ever believe he is. “I didn’t have anything to lose, angel. You did.”
Carefully depositing the sea glass back into the box, Aziraphale turns to Crowley and shrugs the dressing gown up over his bare shoulder. Crowley follows the movement with his eyes, looking faintly disappointed, but Aziraphale won’t be distracted. “You can’t possibly believe I was afraid of losing anything but you.”
“You-” Crowley blinks at him, mouth opening and closing soundlessly for a moment. “What?”
With a patient sigh, Aziraphale reaches for his hand. “I tried to keep my distance for you, Crowley. Not because I was afraid of Falling or earning Gabriel’s wrath. Because I feared what Hell might do to you if they discovered us.” In his grasp, Crowley’s hand trembles and Aziraphale squeezes his fingers, rubbing his thumb soothingly over one of Crowley’s sharp knuckles. “It was never fear for myself that kept me from you.”
“Angel.” Crowley breathes out unsteadily, a hushed reverence in his voice that Aziraphale has only ever heard in the prayers of the devout. Until last night, at least. Crowley is nothing less than worshipful when they’re in bed together — a strange contrast to the blasphemy dripping from Aziraphale’s lips when Crowley touches him.
“I’ve always been so afraid for you,” Aziraphale confides in a whisper, his breath washing warm over Crowley’s cheek as they stand together. “Forgive me, my love, for pushing you away to keep you safe.”
Crowley squeezes his amber eyes shut, swaying forward to press their foreheads together. His slender hand wraps around the back of Aziraphale’s neck to keep him close, his fingers digging in like everything will slip away if he doesn’t hold on with all his might. “I really don’t deserve you.”
Keeping his eyes open — all the better to admire him with — Aziraphale smiles fondly and points out, “Says the man who risked complete annihilation just to hoard a few keepsakes in a shoe box.”
Crowley scowls, eyes blinking open to glare weakly at him.
Aziraphale keeps smiling, lifting a hand to stroke his sharp cheekbone. “I believe it’s safe to say we deserve each other, my dear. For better or worse.”
Turning to nuzzle into Aziraphale’s touch, Crowley presses a kiss to his palm and raises an eyebrow. “That sounds a bit like marriage vows, angel.”
“Does it?” Aziraphale hums thoughtfully, watching Crowley through his lashes. “Well, it has been six thousand years, after all.”
Crowley makes an incomprehensible noise in the back of his throat, lips parting wordlessly. “What - uh, what happened to going too fast?”
Tracing a fingertip over Crowley’s jawline, Aziraphale replies honestly, “I suppose I’m not afraid anymore.”
“No.” Crowley wraps an arm around his waist and as he gathers him close, Aziraphale feels a soft, careful kiss pressed to his temple. Like he’s something precious. A treasure to be tucked safely inside the box on the desk, right alongside old letters and photographs. As though he’s something Crowley doesn’t want to forget. “Neither am I.”
With a hopeful grin, Aziraphale leans back just enough to look into his eyes. “Might I take that as a yes?”
Crowley huffs out a laugh, his face softening the way it had as he’d slept - like all the stresses of Heaven and Hell have been lifted from his thin shoulders. “It’s been yes for a long time, angel,” he murmurs.
“Oh, lovely,” Aziraphale says, just before their lips meet.
As he melts against Crowley with a happy sigh, he smiles broadly into their kiss —giddy at the very idea of adopting such a human custom. Nothing thrills him more than the notion of belonging to Crowley and publicly declaring that Crowley belongs to him too. Perhaps they could even invite some friends. Anathema and Newt would surely attend and Madame Tracy, of course. Though Crowley might balk if she insists on bringing Sergeant Shadwell. He’d been a bit tetchy about the man when Aziraphale had told him the story of how he’d ended up getting discorporated in the first place. But surely the children could attend. And Warlock, of course. It simply wouldn’t be a proper wedding without their godson.
Oh dear. Perhaps they have gone a bit native.
Well. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the humans say.
Aziraphale breaks from Crowley’s warm, devouring mouth with a gasp. “I forgot something.” At Crowley’s soft noise of protest, he smiles and assures him, “Only for a moment, darling.”
Under Crowley’s watchful gaze, Aziraphale slowly slips the ring from his pinky finger for the first time in six thousand years. His hand looks strange without it - naked and vulnerable. No matter. Aziraphale suspects he’ll have another ring to wear soon enough.
“Angel,” Crowley begins, brow furrowing. “What-”
“I believe a ring is customarily presented along with the proposal.”
He takes Crowley’s hand, waiting patiently for approval. Crowley swallows audibly, his eyes wide. His hand trembles in Aziraphale’s reassuring grasp. After a long moment spent staring at the ring and then another moment studying Aziraphale, he finally clenches his jaw. And then he nods, once.
Pleased, Aziraphale slides the ring onto his finger.
And it fits.
The angel wings wrap snugly around Crowley’s ring finger and somehow, impossibly, the ring looks right there. As though it had never really been Aziraphale’s ring at all. It had always belonged to Crowley all this time and Aziraphale had just been keeping it safe until the proper moment. It’s a keepsake Aziraphale is only too happy to part with. “Look at that,” he whispers, smiling. “It suits you.”
Crowley stares down at his hand, at the ring on his finger, and blinks again. His throat works as he tries to speak but for a long moment, he manages nothing but a wordless noise of bewilderment. “Right.” He clears his throat, still staring at the ring. His voice comes out hoarse and unsteady as he asks with a drawl, “So… how do humans usually celebrate an engagement?”
Properly enamored with the sight of Crowley wearing his ring, Aziraphale beams. “Oh, with crepes, I should think.”
Crowley laughs, startled and fond and genuine. “Crepes,” his intended promises, his eyes warm and mischievous. “After we celebrate my way.”
“Your wa - oh.” Aziraphale yelps as Crowley grasps him by the sleeve of his dressing gown and tugs him emphatically in the direction of the bedroom. His new ring glints in the morning light, bright against the black of Aziraphale’s borrowed robe. Stifling a chuckle, he stumbles after him and agrees, “Yes, dearest. Definitely yours first.”
And as they tumble back into bed together, entwined and grinning, the rest of eternity promises to be very good indeed.