Summary: Crowley ends up in Purgatory quite a lot. Most of the time it isn't even his fault.
Rating: G; gen (though Remus/Sirius is very slightly implied)
Fandom: Harry Potter/Good Omens
Spoilers and/or Warnings: Harry Potter spoilers through Order of the Phoenix only.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Karma by rynne
Crowley probably should have been more upset about being put on Purgatory duty, but it honestly didn't bother him. The Waiting Room was boring, mostly, which was probably why Satan had put him here in the first place – the best way to punish Crowley was to bore him. Once, when Crowley had screwed up an assignment to snarl traffic in Los Angeles (which, by the way: one, everyone knew that sending Crowley to America was a bad idea in the first place – too many distractions; and two, Los Angeles did not need his help to make traffic an utterly living hell on Earth; and three, Los Angeles? The City of Angels? Even Aziraphale had laughed out loud at that one), he'd been forced to attend a picky eaters convention in Las Vegas. Vegas, and he had to sit around a table with a bunch of people who basically ordered French fries and bread. Most of them cried over the menu. Not that Crowley didn't appreciate their plight in life (he felt particularly bad for one bloke who only ate grilled cheese), but hearing them talk about how the lack of vegetables in their lives had ruined their romantic relationships also made him want to use his butter knife to slit his wrists, considering he could have been inside the Bellagio whispering sweet nothings to the players at the craps table.
This time, the attempt to ground Flight 4398 out of Heathrow had gone slightly awry, but that wasn't really Crowley's fault. He'd made sure that there was a communication problem so the plane didn't get a takeoff number. The weather had been nicely cooperative, rainy and stormy on and off, just enough so that some flights got to leave and some flights didn't. And even though Aziraphale was scheduled as a passenger on the flight, Crowley didn't think there was much Aziraphale could do to foil an hours long delay stuck taxiing on various runways, bless him.
Okay. So Crowley wouldn't underestimate Aziraphale's cleverness again, but there was no way he could have anticipated the fact that an angel would pay for several rounds of beverages, including alcohol, for everyone on the plane. He'd told his boss that much, but Satan hadn't been very convinced.
So here he was. Purgatory. Not great, but not people afraid of tomatoes. Yes, there were the long lines going upwards and downwards. And, sure, there was the occasional scream from someone surprised to find themselves in the downward line. The crying, well, the crying could be annoying, either from joy at going to Heaven or the supposed anguish of going to hell. Crowley, though, had three things going for him. He had picked out one of the few chairs available. He could make fun of the demons put in horns and equipped with pitchforks, though it's possible he should watch that because next time Satan might have that bright idea about him. Better to keep that as quiet as possible. And the magazines had gotten better. At least they got People now.
Crowley had made himself comfortable and was guessing how long various celebrities' marriages would last when one of the men in the upwards line caught his eye. There wasn't anything special about the bloke, not really. Not everyone in the Heaven line was happy. Most of them were, but a few were tired of waiting. More were sad to be separated from loved ones. They usually got over it eventually, but sometimes the first few months spent in line were difficult.
This one, though, looked . . . sullen. Downright brooding.
Crowley raised an eyebrow and squinted.
Aziraphale was working the upward line when Crowley found him. Crowley hoped to have a nice walk in the park that afternoon, maybe feed the ducks some toast, but he had to make the plans with Aziraphale first, and the angel was up here ministering to the newly dearly departed instead of running his bookshop.
Working in Purgatory was a privilege for the angels, something they volunteered to do. Aziraphale was obviously in his element, mingling with the people. A pat on the arm here, a soft word there; Aziraphale even slipped a few books to various waiting humans.
Crowley didn't know whether to be appalled or a little proud. Just a little. A little.
The dark-haired bloke was still there, twirling a stick in his fingers. He didn't look up, just kept looking down.
Crowley sidled up to Aziraphale. "Hello."
Aziraphale didn't look particularly surprised to see him. "Hello, Crowley. Here on punishment duty?"
Crowley decided not to dignify that with an answer. "Thought maybe we could go to the park today. I got some stale bread from Leonardo's."
Aziraphale pocketed a book into the pocket of his trench coat. "The Ritz for tea?"
"Brilliant idea. I haven't had those cucumber sandwiches in a while."
A slightly guilty looked crossed Aziraphale's face. Crowley had seen that look before. "Come on, Angel. You've done enough good here for one day."
Aziraphale sighed. "There's never and end to the work here."
Crowley rolled his eyes, not that Aziraphale could see behind the sunglasses.
"St. Paul is on Gate duty again," Aziraphale admitted.
"I thought he'd been banned from doing that job," Crowley said.
Aziraphale shrugged. "You know how God is with the forgiveness theme."
"For the favorites, maybe. Meanwhile you and I have been with the humans for how long now?"
Aziraphale's mouth twisted into a somewhat wry smile.
"What?" Crowley asked.
"Sometimes, I think, perhaps, that we're being indulged much more than we ought to be."
Crowley waved a hand. If he were the type to say "pish," which he wasn't, he would have said it then. Instead he said, "My treat. You can even have the chocolate cake with raspberry filling if you'd like."
"What's he doing? Making people go to the back of the line again?"
"Sending them to the downward line entirely. I've fished eight of them back already."
Crowley nearly laughed, but then remembered where he was. "Well, you know Paul. Never did think there was a middle way for anything."
"True," Aziraphale said.
"My people will take care of it," Crowley finally said. "They have to. Part of the punishment is not allowing themselves the . . . pleasure of admitting humans who don't belong into Hell."
"I can imagine that would be quite a thrill."
"Fine. Peter will be back soon anyway. I'll get my things," Aziraphale said.
"Great," Crowley said, but he caught Aziraphale by the arm before he could walk off. Crowley pointed. "Who is that?"
"Him. With the long black hair."
"Oh. Sirius Black. Died last year. A wizard who fell through the portal."
Crowley shook his head. "I knew leaving that thing around was a bad idea. Experiments should always be disposed of. We still let those platypuses roam around down there and I still say it's a bad idea. It'll come around to bite us one of these days."
Aziraphale hid a smile.
"He seems – sadder than he should be," Crowley said.
This time, Aziraphale didn't even try to hide his smile.
"What?" Crowley asked.
Aziraphale raised an eyebrow.
"I think his coat is very cool, that's all. You don't see leather like that every day. Maybe it's a wizard thing." Crowley looked at Aziraphale. "I'm not going soft. Getting all . . . fond."
Aziraphale shook his head and walked off to go get the belongings he had registered at the Gate.
"It's a good cut, too," Crowley called after him. "Very flattering!"
The next time Crowley was in Purgatory, it was to show Nedley the ropes. Nedley was a decent enough demon, Crowley supposed, but for some reason he enjoyed wearing the horns. And he got too much pleasure out of that pitchfork if you asked Crowley.
Crowley was just about to explain the bit about how the pitchfork was not a backscratcher when a black blur caught his eye. A furry black blur. A dog-like blur.
"What's a dog doing here?" Crowley asked Nedley. "I thought they automatically go to Heaven."
"There are dogs that go to heaven?" Nedley asked.
Crowley sighed. "All dogs go to heaven. So why is one around here?"
Nedley looked over. "Oh. That's Sirius Black. He can turn into a dog. And then back into a human. Back and forth, back and forth. It's a little creepy if you ask me."
Crowley tilted his head. "An animagus, too."
"A what?" Nedley said, scratching his back.
Crowley and Aziraphale were sitting on a bench eating ice cream when Crowley brought it up.
"You still have Sirius Black in the upwards line?"
Aziraphale thought about it. "Yes. Why?"
"Do you know much about him?"
"Not really. He's a wizard, can change into a dog – must be an animagus. He asks for some mystery novels every once in a while, and I help him with that."
Aziraphale shot him a shrewd look. "Why do you ask?"
"I've just been doing a little research, that's all," Crowley said, eating his ice cream and watching the ducks.
"So here's what you've got to do," Crowley said, casually putting his hands in his pockets.
Black suddenly shifted, turning from dog to man. Crowley took a step back before he could stop himself. It was a little creepy.
"Who're you?" Black asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Name's Crowley. I'm a demon . . . it's kind of a long story."
Black laughed. It sounded strangely like a bark. "I have time. I don't think I'm going anywhere for a while."
"Yeah, well. That's why I'm here," Crowley said.
"I thought you were here to keep that bloke from scratching his ass with the pitchfork," Sirius said.
"Yeah, he's moved on from his back," Sirius noted. "I really don't want to be here when he moves on again to the frontal . . . area."
Crowley sighed. "As important as that duty is, I'm here to give you some advice."
"You want to go back to Remus and Harry, right?"
Black's look sharpened instantly. "What do you know about Remus and Harry?"
"Plenty. I know they miss you, for one." Crowley didn't miss Black's hand flex. "You miss them, too."
"It was too soon," Black said quietly.
"Well." Crowley fought the urge to look away, even though Black would never know through the glasses. "You want to go home, I can tell you how to get there."
Black tilted his head, a gesture Crowley had seen the dog do as well. "How?"
"The first thing you want to do is find an angel named Aziraphale . . ."
Aziraphale looked up from Entertainment Weekly when Crowley sat in the chair next to him.
"What?" Crowley asked. "The chair was empty. He just got dragged back to the downward line by one of your kind."
The corner of Aziraphale's mouth twitched. He took the cup of coffee Crowley offered. They drank in silence for a minute.
"I don't see Sirius Black anywhere," Crowley observed.
Aziraphale shifted in his chair. Crowley almost smiled.
"He . . . presented quite the conundrum."
"We made a decision."
"He go straight up to the Gate?" Crowley asked.
"No, he – had to be returned."
"You angels get a refund for that?"
Aziraphale took a sip of his coffee and then looked over at Crowley with a too-innocent-even-for-him gaze. "As a matter of fact, no." He paused. "You don't happen to know anything about this, do you?"
"Just doing my best to foil any ineffable plans that I can," Crowley smirked, then sighed with something close to satisfaction.