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Vienna’s Emerald

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“Crowley, my dear, are you coming? I don’t want to rush you but we should get a bit of a wiggle on. It would be really impolite of us to run late for the concert. And, well...I would prefer to hear the whole symphony.”

 

“Don’t worry, angel. We will make it. You know I can get us there quicker than most people.”

 

Aziraphale chuckles, fixing his cufflinks one more time before he decides that he is ready for the evening. 

 

Their rented flat here in Vienna suits well for their rendezvous. Something they had planned for several years. The nature of this engagement is...complicated to say the least. Not only do they have to keep it a secret from both Heaven and Hell, which is possible only thanks to one actual witch’s spell who he and Crowley had saved from the trials several centuries ago, but understanding what they are exactly is a matter that neither of them knows how to deal with. And Aziraphale in his newfound optimism hopes to get some answers tonight.

 

He knocks gently on Crowley’s bedroom door and when he receives an approving hum, the angel creaks the door open. A smile of fondness is instantaneous when his eyes catch the vision that is Crowley in a female corporation, sitting behind the mirror of her boudoir. She is dressed in a long black evening gown which is very revealing when it comes to her elegant shoulders and back. Her hair made of starfire is the only cover for the bared skin.

 

“Are you going to just ogle me or will you perhaps help a lady out, handsome?” Crowley murmurs, pulling up her hair and gesturing towards the rich emerald necklace that is the final grand detail missing from the look.

 

A bit of a blush appears on the angel’s cheeks as he is caught staring like that and to clear the air of his embarrassment he coughs: “Of course. I just forgot myself into your beauty.”

 

“Oh hush now. You know your flattering doesn’t work on me.” She giggles as Aziraphale steps behind her and prepares to place the jewellery around her neck.

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure about it,” he adds with humour. His hands are about to attach the necklace from behind when something catches his attention.

 

On the nape of her neck...on a spot where her hairline ends is a mark. A mark similar to a tattoo that decorates the side of her face, only more twisted. Violent. Burnt into her skin with hot iron.

 

“What is this mark at the back of your neck?” Aziraphale asks through gritted teeth. His mouth had become dry and his pulse skyrocketed at the sight of something that is definitely a violation.

 

And when Crowley’s answer sounds a little too quiet and monotone...

 

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

 

Aziraphale knows that he has been lied to.

 

“Why was it done to you?” the angel’s mind cannot wrap around it. He knows who. There is no doubt. Now he wants to know why.

 

Subconsciously his fingers brush gently against the mark, wanting to give the abused place a little bit of kindness. 

 

The reaction he gets is startling. In an instant, Crowley jumps on her feet like a wild animal, her eyes completely yellow. The light in the room disappears and her glowing eyes are even more threatening in the dark.

 

“Get out!” she hisses.

 

Aziraphale doesn’t move.

 

“I SAID GET OUT!” she screams as she pushes the angel out of the room, slamming the door in front of his face. Aziraphale is hurt and shocked. The necklace is still in his hands.

 

They never made it to the concert. Despite Aziraphale’s apologies and tries to make her talk, the door to Crowley’s room remained shut.

 

It is late now. Vienna has fallen asleep but one angel hasn’t. Too disturbed is his mind from this horrible sight. Too frustrated he is with himself and too angry with those who hurt Crowley like this.

 

The whiskey that he is sipping does little to calm him. His fingers are itching for something to do and so they find the keys of the piano and begin to play a melody.

 

He sighs in relief when all his anxiousness is finding an outlet in the music. Aziraphale is so engulfed in his meditation that he doesn’t immediately notice the figure sitting beside him on the bench.

 

Once he does notice, Aziraphale does not stop playing, knowing that Crowley is observing each movement of his fingers. A little judgmentally but with a whole lot of admiration.

 

When the hands finally do finish playing then silence falls upon them but it is not a bad kind. It’s comfortable and companionable.

 

Aziraphale smiles and offers the glass to the woman beside him: “Whiskey?”

 

“I shouldn’t have shouted at you,” she mutters, not looking at him or taking the glass.

 

Aziraphale puts the glass aside and offers her his palm and kind words instead: “ I shouldn’t have startled you. Clearly, I evoked awful memories in you and for that I am sorry. I did not want to hurt you. I just wanted to know.”

 

Crowley is staring at his open palm now. The angel can hear a gulp from her and then hesitantly she places her hand into his.

 

Aziraphale fails to hold back a quiet gasp which makes Crowley want to pull away in shame but Aziraphale’s hold is just firm yet gentle enough to keep her here. 

 

“It really isn’t so much about the memory, although it is nightmarish. It’s about punishment. It turns me into this...beastly...scaled...serpentine creature. I...don’t like this form but that was the point. To remind me of my place,” she whispers as Aziraphale feels her hand that is covered with scales and which for sure must be at least a little disgusting to the angel of Heaven.

 

Aziraphale only smiles at Crowley. His thumb caresses the back of her hand and slowly he brings it up to his lips. Crowley almost falls off from her seat, but then Aziraphale’s other arm wraps around her waist and pulls her against him into an embrace.

 

“Well, I have always thought that your scales are very beautiful. Very soft to touch yet they also add a dash of fierceness should you need it.”

 

Crowley would like to protest against Aziraphale’s words but finds no strength in her to do so. She is not strong enough to deny his comfort and so she whispers: “Please...play something for me.”

 

Aziraphale chuckles quietly before giving her forehead a fleeting kiss and his fingers place themselves on the keyboard to play for her and only her.