Aziraphale didn't believe in curses, not curses as humans believed them to be anyway; human 'curses' came from silly things like broken mirrors or putting new shoes on the table and normally resulted in a certain amount of years of 'bad luck'.
Naturally those weren't results of 'curses' or even 'bad luck', those poor unfortunate humans were being targeted by Demons, to capture their soul in the name of Hell.
Ethereal beings didn't get cursed; they Fell or were discorporated.
So imagine Aziraphale's surprise when he found himself cursed beyond saving.
It had first come to the angel's forefront attention during the fateful bombing of the church; during World War 2 Aziraphale had made it his mission to expose and imprison as many Nazis as possible, as was his angelic duty, even going so far as to temp some of them as he had yet to see his dear demon friend that century.
Making the exchange with the Nazis was meant to be one of the big ones, dramatic and important, the angel really thought he had it all figured out only for the whole plan turning badly on its head.
Crowley had come to his rescue, feet burning on Holy ground, miraclling the bomb to drop right on the church and, the crowning glory, saving the precious books.
Aziraphale had never felt such a rush of love as he did at that moment, it warmed him right to the end of his curly hair and he couldn't stop the smile from gracing his face; it wasn't the usual love he felt radiating from other people, this one was hot and pure and entirely his for the demon.
The lift home had been quiet, Azriaphale had a million questions for his demon companion but the tight, warm feeling in his chest rose to his throat and stopped him talking until they pulled up outside his bookshop.
"thank you my dear, I'm truly grateful." Aziraphale smiled softly in the near darkness, clutching the bag of books to his chest.
"whatever Angel, like I said, didn't want to see you embarrassed." Crowley chuckled.
Reaching through the darkness the angel gently placed his hand over Crowley's on the steering wheel, "either way, it was wonderful." he said softly.
However, under his gentle grip Crowley's hands were tense and cold, he flinched at his touch and immediately moved away, "don't." the demon snapped.
The tightness in Aziraphale's chest constricted slightly, a flush on his face going unseen, "right, yes. Of course." he muttered, "would you like to come in for a glass of wine?" he asked to try and ease the awkwardness.
Even in the moonlight the angel could see his companion's face twist a little, "nah, can't be bothered with stuff like that. I've done my part, demonic and angelic at the same time."
Aziraphale smiled weakly even though there was such a pressure in his chest that if he'd been human than he'd have died soon as he was sure his heart was being crushed.
Suddenly Crowley was leaning over the angel, popping the door open, "bye then." he said flatly sitting back up quickly.
With slightly shaking legs Azriaphale climbed out of the Bentley and had barely closed the door before Crowley was speeding off into the night.
Tears sprang to Aziraphale's eyes, quickly he chastised himself for feeling so down, it wasn't the first time the demon had been short with him but Aziraphale had felt a bloom of hope and love when Crowley had not only saved him but his books too.
The pair had known each other for too many years, meeting constantly all over the world to 'twart' each other and doing little bits of each others jobs.
Aziraphale had been too hopeful it seemed but he did always truly adore the demon, it didn't matter what they were doing Crowley's attention was always on the angel; the demon usually had a sly little smile just for him.
As an angel Azriaphale could feel love of all kinds, parental, mutual and even lustful and sometimes he thought he could feel something from Crowley but it was a little more difficult to identify emotions from demons.
Suddenly the tightness in Aziraphale's throat was too much and he coughed roughly, hand flying to his mouth to mute the noise and felt something flutter onto his palm.
In his hand were three white rose petals, silky and warm, and there was still an unbearable pain in his chest like roots taking hold in the very fibres of his lungs.
The angel wasn't entirely sure how or when he went inside his bookshop, he gently placed the rose petals on his desk and pulled out of book of occult curses; even thought he wasn't occult it was a board statement.
Long into the night Aziraphale read through the book, trying to find something that would help, until at dawn he came across the correct page.
Hanahaki Curse (花吐き病 (Japanese); 하나하키병 (Korean); 花吐病 (Chinese) is a disease in which the victim coughs up flower petals when they suffer from one-sided love. It ends when the beloved returns their feelings (romantic love only; strong friendship is not enough), or when the victim dies.
Tears splattered the ancient book; what a cruel fate thought the angel, he, a pure being of love, was doomed to die because he loved one who wouldn't and couldn't love him back.
Coughing again Aziraphale pressed the petals between the pages of the book and wondered how long it'd take for an ethereal being to die.
Aziraphale continued to cough up white rose petals for the next couple of decades, it got worse when he'd spent the day with his dear demon, who was less short with him but it was still very obvious that he didn't love the angel.
It was quite difficult not to cough in Crowley's company, normally Aziraphale was quick enough with his handkerchief and emptied the crushed petals out when he went home alone; sometimes he wasn't quite quick enough and had to either excuse himself or flick the petals away, watching sadly as they floated away.
Crowley never caught on, he never noticed that the bookshop was constantly covered in perfect white rose petals and he never questioned his companions tendency to cough rather violently.
Normally on a night Aziraphale sat by himself in the dark, tears in his eyes, tightness in his chest and petals littering the floor; it had become a routine, as if he could get it all out of his system.
On the night after the Armageddon-that-wasn't it was hard to stifle his coughs as Crowley slept deeply in the other room and the fact the demon never stirred hurt more than the coughing.
For all his fancy words of running away together and being on their own side had lessened the curse a little, the flowers didn't come quite so often and the pressure in his chest unwound a little.
However the moment they got back to Crowley's flat, they'd spoken about switching bodies to avoid their executions on the bus back to London, the demon made a beeline for the bedroom and slammed the door.
"Crowley?" Azriaphale knocked tentatively on the door.
There was a grunt from the other side so the angel slowly opened the door; the room was bare apart from the huge bed where Crowley was currently sat on it in some black silk pyjamas, "what's up? You want a blanket?" his snappy voice was back.
There had been so many times Aziraphale had hoped that Crowley loved him back, even just a little bit; his upset voice about losing his best friend, his proclamation that they should run away together, their agreement to save each other from their executions.
But as the demon sat on his bed, not even slightly turned towards Aziraphale, the tightness in his chest pulled painfully; things hadn't changed and they never would, Aziraphale was doomed to die, unloved.
"I.." the angel started before coughing, Crowley didn't even flinch, "I just wanted to say goodnight and thank you for letting me stay. I'm sure tomorrow will be fine." he gripped the petals tightly in his hand.
"better be. I have no intention of dying just yet." Crowley growled, "close the door."
It wasn't an invite for Aziraphale to stay in the bedroom so he wondered slowly into the completely unused and dark bathroom, hacking up flowers and hoped that this wouldn't effect Crowley the next day.
If it had effected the demon then he said nothing when they changed back and overly a week later Aziraphale hadn't seen the demon; now his bookshop was good as new, with added extras, the petals he'd collected were now full flowers, Adam must have got confused.
White rose covered every surface, it looked like a funeral, "how fitting." the angel thought bitterly.
His throat was raw from coughing through the night and it felt like someone was pressing hard on his chest; the hope and love he'd felt over Armageddon had tricked his curse and now it was punishing him ten-fold.
Aziraphale could feel his death approaching, it seemed silly to go through the madness of the body swapping with Heaven and Hell but he'd done it to save his dear demon.
Suddenly the shop-bell sounded, Aziraphale had just been writing a letters about not being around any more, and there stood Crowley in all his glory, looking a little pissed off.
Even with his sullen look Aziraphale felt the warmth of love in his tight chest, "hello dear, it's lovely to see you." he said honestly.
Crowley looked around at the white roses, a disgusted scrunch of his nose, "why are you cooped up in here?" he asked.
"oh, well I usually stay in for a couple of days, things to do." Aziraphale tried to be happy even though he had a letter to Crowley sitting sadly on his desk.
A rose instantly withered at Crowley's touch, they must have sensed the fact the demon did not love him back, he pulled away shocked, "from Heaven are they?" he hissed.
"no, no. They're mine, I grew them." it wasn't technically a lie, the petals had bloomed in his lungs.
"whatever." Crowley sighed, swagging further into the shop, "I came to see you anyway."
A broad smile crossed Aziraphale's lips, "really, how wonde..."
"I need a book." Crowley cut him off, already browsing through the shelves, "I'm bored now Armageddon has been stopped, need something to read." he plucked several rare books from the shelf, being rough and careless but the angel didn't say anything.
"we could go for lunch or a walk." Aziraphale offered, stupidly thinking that his life would be extended if he spent some deluded time with his dear demon.
Crowley's face scrunched up again, "nah, no point." he waved the angel away.
The sudden force up Aziraphale's throat was so pressured that he couldn't stop the violent cough from exploding from him lips and he quickly ducked behind one of the bookshelves.
More petals fluttered to the floor and several rose buds, still green from being newly bloomed, Azriaphale swallowed the sob, thankful the demon hadn't come to investigate; slowly coming back to the main room Crowley had collected several books and withered several more roses.
"sorry about that my dear." Aziraphale breathed.
Crowley shrugged, "that's what you get being holed up in this stuffy shop." he mused and picked up the priceless volumes like he'd scoop up dirty laundry, "I'm borrowing these ones."
"oh, okay. Maybe we can go for a picnic soon, since the weather is nice." the angel said hopefully.
"yeah maybe." Crowley hadn't really been listening as he swagged back to his car and sped away.
More tears sprang to his eyes as he closed the door, walking back to his desk Aziraphale realised that the demon had not only taken the book of occult curses but also the letter he'd written to said demon.
Aziraphale sighed deeply, feeling the petals ruffle in his throat, "oh well, not that it matters." Crowley would never read any of those books, probably needed something to prop under a wobbly table or somewhere to put his latest plant pot.
Three more days past, the small buds had bloomed more and more with each coughing fit, they were practically fully bloomed by the end of the third night; Aziraphale would be dead by morning.
Drinking through as much wine as he could the angel ended up on his knees, hands clasped together; he'd never prayed like humans do, he normally made the effort to light the candles and speak properly but these were different circumstances.
"l-lord." Aziraphale slurred, "I know, I know you can't hear, hic, me." he coughed up a few roses, "you have for-for-forgotten me." there were tears soaking his warm face, how he missed getting drunk with Crowley, "but please, I'm not sure I want to die. Maybe I should, should tell Crawly how I love him."
It was a stupid thing to think, if Aziraphale told Crowley how deeply and wonderfully he loved him, so much so it was literally killing him, then again the demon would probably mock him and that would be worse than dying.
Azriaphale gripped his hands tightly together, more roses spilling from his lips, "lord. Don't let Crowley be lonely..." he begged.
The angel knew that Crowley wouldn't be sad by his death, possible inconvenienced but not sad; he'd have to find someone else to dine with but he'd be happy alone, nobody to to annoy him.
"I love him so much." Aziraphale's breath was coming short, his lungs so full of petals, he'd be discorperated soon, this earthly body left behind and he'd be back in Heaven with the Angels who hated him.
Or possibly he'd end up in Hell where the Demons would torture him and he accept it willingly.
Even maybe he'd simply no longer exist, no longer welcome in Heaven or Hell then he'd go nowhere, stuck somewhere while his body decayed beyond repair; "yes." thought Aziraphale as a fully bloomed rose fell into his hands, "that is my fate."
In the bedroom upstairs Aziraphale mainly stored more books but this time he emptied the bed and laid upon it, wheezing for breath; he laid still in the darkness and slowly closed his eyes, Crowley'd face burned into his eyelids as he felt the burning his in full lungs and the twitching of his fingers as his life was crushed out of him.
He could feel the vines and roots twisting and gripping every vein in his body, pushing out his human life, it made him heavy and he even felt the roots taking hold of his wings, roses blooming where there were once feathers.
The world beyond was dark and still hurt; it wasn't like when he was discorperated last time and had put his angel presence back onto earth without a body; true he wasn't quite anywhere but he couldn't see or hear anything either, it was a blank existence and his only existence.
"stupid! stupid! stupid!" Crowley smacked his head over and over on the steering wheel, like he would be able to go back in time and try again but now he was just getting a headache.
Six thousand years he'd known Aziraphale, admired and adored the angel so when he'd first coughed up the orchid petals just after rescuing the angelic idiot from from the Bastille he wasn't even remotely surprised.
He'd heard about the curse while tempting an emperor in Japan; Beelzebub had laughed at him, festering the petals instantly but said "I don't want to lose one of my best demons to something so stupid as flowers, so here." the duke of Hell handed Crowley an amulet.
"what does it do?" the demon asked, the deep red stone shining even in Hell's dull lights.
"represses curses. Should work." Beelzebub shrugged.
The amulet did work, Crowley no longer coughed up petals daily but on the occasions he met with his angel he'd cough up a few.
"you're obviously quite deep into this curse." the duke of Hell mocked, knowing the real reason for the petals.
The demon knew Aziraphale would never love him the way he loved the angel; angels were supposed to love everything and that was how Aziraphale worked, the love Crowley felt was out of bounds.
Crowley refused to die from the curse, as hurtful and unrequited as his love was.
The times when he didn't have to work with Aziraphale he tried to keep his distance, try to be cold to save his aching chest a night of sleeplessness; sometimes he'd give in and have dinner with his angel but always paid the price.
The night of Armageddon-that-wasn't Crowley had worried he would cough up petals around Aziraphale, immediately holing himself in his room, only to have his dammed, lovely angel wanting to talk.
He'd quickly sent him away, bitter words as usual, before coughing up nearly a full bouquets worth of petals into his bed.
It took several days to recover from the night hacking up petals and having to deal with Heaven so when he did emerge he was confused not to have a message, in any form, from Aziraphale so he made his way to the shop.
Covering every inch of the shop were white roses, in full bloom and perfect, the demon frowned; what was the angel doing with all those roses, he'd never showed interest in flowers before.
There stood Aziraphale, looking a little rough around the edges but still wonderful, there was a bloom of tightness immediately in his chest; their convocation went nothing like Crowley had hoped, he made up wanting to borrow some book, hoping the angel would argue or offer to find some for him.
But that didn't happen, he disappeared for a moment behind the bookcase, coughing from the dust gathered in the shop, so Crowley picked up several rare books he knew Aziraphale would protest about since the books were piled safely on the desk.
"maybe we can go for a picnic, since the weather is nice." Aziraphale offered but that wasn't what Crowley wanted.
He wanted to take Aziraphale to The Ritz every night, go to every romantic area in London, go to every romantic spot all over the world; he wanted to spoil his angel like never before but that wasn't what Aziraphale wanted, he just wanted friendship.
At that point Crowley had been sitting in his Bentley for three days, hopelessly slamming his head on the wheel and hacking up petals.
Sighing deeply Crowley did eventually pick up one of the books he'd dropped maybe a little too roughly onto the passenger seat, 'Occult Curse' said the faded title and when Crowley leafed through it plump, white rose petals fell from their pages, along with a letter baring Crowley's name.
my wonderful, wily serpent how I adore you.
What a silly thing to say now that I am dying.
Six millennia we've known each other and not once have I told you that I love you.
I love you more than anything.
But you can't and won't love me
I've always known that but hoped, maybe, that you could.
You spoke of running away and it just being you and me, how wonderful it had sounded.
How hopeful I was.
How foolish of me.
White roses are symbols of the Church, of God's love, but my roses might as well be covered in blood as they bloomed from my lungs and have sufficated me
Because I was I could not, not love you.
I'll leave you my books and wine, although I suppose you'll have no use for the books.
My dearest friend, my only love, my complete world.
Crowley choked back a sob, he felt like a complete idiot; how long had his angel suffered, thinking such things, Aziraphale who was so good with words and knowledge couldn't tell him something so important.
The book fell open on a page that was stuffed with the petals and there staring back at him was his own curse; he didn't put the book down before he revved the Bentley back to life and raced back to the bookshop.
How foolish he'd been. How foolish they'd both been, they'd both been in love thinking it was unrequited.
Whereas Crowley had received an amulet to slow the curse, it seemed Aziraphale had told nobody but there was nobody for the angel to tell; if he'd told Heaven then they'd have forced him to Fall.
"why didn't you say anything." Crowley hissed to himself.
But then maybe Aziraphale had mentioned his love, not always in his words but with his actions, they both had only to have the other too blind to see it.
"why didn't I see this coming." the demon snarled at himself, the image of the flower filled bookshop, Aziraphale coughing out of sight, there was no dust in that shop.
Slamming the bookshop door open the overwhelming smell of booze hit Crowley, the whole backroom was filled with emptied wine bottles and white roses.
With shaking fingers Crowley picked up one of the roses, feeling its silky petals between his fingers; it was fully bloomed, Aziraphale had coughed up a fully bloomed rose, how tortured he must have been.
"Angel!" Crowley shouted and a small light appeared on the stairs.
Following it the demon found himself going towards the unused bedroom; inside the soft light was hovering over Aziraphale's still body upon the bed.
It looked like the angel was sleeping if it wasn't for the lack of breathing or the large bloomed rose covering his mouth; there was a small light hovering over where his heart would have been.
"Aziraphale." Crowley breathed, tears stinging his eyes, "no..." he stumbled across the room and gripped the angel's ice cold hand, "no." he whimped again.
There was no presence in the room, his angel was't on earth anymore, he'd left behind a husk of a human body.
What a ridicules situation he'd found himself in but he wouldn't cry over this human body, Aziraphale would be back in Heaven so wasting no time Crowley drove like a mad, lost man to their headquarters.
With great imagination the demon was able to gain access to Heaven's lift; the whiteness was blinding and the floor burnt his demonic soul but Crowley stormed into Heaven and nobody stopped him until he reached The Pearly Gates desk.
"what's Aziraphale?" Crowley snarled, unable to sense his angel anywhere.
The angel looked warily at Crowley, with shaking fingers they checked their paperwork, "still on earth." the angel said.
Crowley slammed his hands loudly on the desk, "bullshit! Where is Aziraphale?" he demanded.
"traitor Crowley, how nice of you to visit." Gabriel's smarmy voice made Crowley's skin crawl.
The demon rounded on the Arch Angel, "where's Aziraphale?" he repeated, "what have you done to him?"
Gabriel laughed hollowly, "nothing. He got himself into this mess, loving a demon." he spat.
"you, you knew?" Crowley breathed, the realisation hitting him hard in the chest that he coughed up petals.
"oh." Gabriel sounded genuinely surprised, "not unrequited then. Could have saved himself years of pain and now a nothing death."
"the fuck you mean, a nothing death?" Crowley snarled.
Shrugging the Arch Angel turned away, "he'd not welcome here and certainly not welcome in your place."
"where's God?" Crowley demanded, "she'll know where he his."
"who do you think cursed him." Gabriel's voice echoed through Crowley's head as he left Heaven, the souls of his feet hurting deeply but he couldn't care.
So Aziraphale's actions hadn't come without consequence, God had cursed him to die for his disobedience, for lying to her, for loving Crowley.
"I'm sorry Angel." Crowley whispered once he was back at Aziraphale's side, "I couldn't do anything."
The light over the angel hummed softly, it had yet to fade.
"this is five thousand years too late for both of us but I love you." Crowley confessed to the prone body, coughing up a few orchid petals, "I love you with all my dark heart. Why couldn't I blasted tell you that while you were here?"
Furiously rubbing his wet eyes Crowley pointlessly began to tidy his angel's clothes, straightening the waistcoat and brushing away rose petals, they crumbled instantly; would he have to arrange a funeral, to bury this human body and say goodbye to his love.
But Crowley would never be able to stand on concentrated ground for long, he'd only managed to stand in Heaven because he'd be so far over the edge.
Plus he couldn't bare to say a final goodbye to Aziraphale.
Finally the light vanished, "must have been the last of Aziraphale's soul." Crowley mused as he began to sob, ready to take away the amulet and subcome to the curse too.
Suddenly there was a chocking cough filling the room, Aziraphale's body twitched and writhed, unable to move properly and unable to breath; with quick fingers Crowley grabbed the rose covering the angel's mouth and pulled.
The roots were long and thorned but once they were removed from Aziraphale's throat he gulped down air desperately, a weak hand clutched his chest and tears fell from his eyes, "I-I-I" he tried to speak despite the burning pain in his throat.
"don't try to speak, breath." Crowley didn't know or care how his angel had come back.
"no. Cro-Crowley, I love you." Aziraphale continued to gulp down air, finally pushing himself into a sitting position, repeating through breaths his 'i love yous'
Inside his own chest Crowley felt the petals withering and crumbling to nothing, whatever roots that had taken hold in his lungs dying away; downstairs the bouquets of roses withered too, like they had done under his touch, under his touch of pure love.
"don't leave me again, I can't deal with it." Crowley cupped the angel's shuddering face, feeling the warmth flood back into the cheeks.
Aziraphale coughed a little, expecting rose petals but found none, and gently rubbed his chest; there was no longer a pressure in his ribcage, it was a strange feeling, like taking off too small shoes at the end of the day.
Taking in a long, deep breath the angel filled his lungs with the smell of Crowley, "what happened?" he finally asked.
"hell if I know, all I care about is that you're back." Crowley said quietly.
Aziraphale took one of the demon's hands, caressing it gently as if he would disappear, "how many years?" he sighed deeply, "how many years have we been oblivious?"
"too many." Crowley laughed a little at how foolish they both had been, "I really do love you Angel."
"I love you too my dear." Aziraphale lent in but paused, "were you cursed too?" he asked.
The demon nodded a little, not used to having Aziraphale so close, "orchids. Since France."
"oh Crowley!" the angel gasped and quickly kissed his dear demon.