It is a truth universally acknowledged, that even if you have a lot of power, you do not go against God. Unfortunately for all concerned, Lucifer was not aware of that when staging his little rebellion.
Luckily for his supporters, God's rules were not as obvious as humans would insist for the several millennia. Her play was to have the almost-fallen experience Lucifer's fall and understand the infinite stakes on the table. Most of them chose to bet on her mercy and surrender back to God's will.
The trouble with playing blank cards in the pitch-dark without knowing the rules is that you have no idea what you have played. It doesn't help when the dealer starts applying unorthodox house rules while smiling at you.
"Well, this is pointless." Crowley said as he adjusted his cravat.
"Don't say that," Kafziel admonished him as he finished his own finishing touches.
"Well it is. Like any of those holier-than-thous would lower themselves to baby-sit us."
Kafziel frowned at him. "That is not what the Lord meant. She meant for us to have partners, support and a cautioning hand if we started to stray from the path again."
"Like I said, she meant for us to be watched and controlled." Crowley tugged on his jacket more aggressively than necessary.
Kafziel said nothing in reply, but his frown deepened. He carefully made his own last adjustments before they went to check on the rest of their housemates.
The house was even more chaotic than usual. Crowley saw Ligur dash past looking for his hat. Boldog was following him complaining about Ligur misplacing his coat. Rimmon was quietly meditating in the corner, but looked up when Crowley and Kafziel drew close.
"You need to talk to Ligur. I can't do the required prayers and meditations with this racket all the time. I am sure you can't either!"
"We all manage Rimmon, as we must" replied Kafziel, far more patient than Crowley with Rimmon's constant complaints.
Crowley went to corral Ligur and Boldog, but still heard Rimmon exclaim, "I don't understand why they are so excited that some higher-ranked guests are coming tonight. Surely they realize everyone will try to catch their attention."
Kafziel's voice trying to sooth Rimmon was broken when Crowley firmly closed the door behind him. He caught Ligur's arm as he ran past, reminding him that they needed to be off in ten minutes. It took some haranguing of Ligur and Boldog and twenty extra minutes, but finally all of them were ready and on their way.
The carriage ride was uncomfortable with all of them squished in and loudly talking over each other, unaided by Ligur's effusions and speculations about what the night would bring. Crowley almost leapt from the carriage when it arrived, sucking in a deep breath. He waited for Kafziel before entering the already packed hall. Kafziel was soon dragged into a conversation with another friend, Ankeriel, leaving Crowley to weave amongst the crowd. He almost sagged with relief when he spotted Dagon leaning against the far wall and made his way over.
"You all are in high spirits" Dagon greeted him with.
Crowley looked around, noting that Ligur and Boldog were already dancing. Kafziel and Ankeriel's conversation had became a small group, with Kafziel laughing in the center of the knot of people. Crowley snagged a drink from a passing tray, already feeling the need for one. "Some of us at least. Ligur seems determined that tonight's guests will be his ticket back up."
Dagon gave him a serious look. "And so do we all hope Crowley, but it is not Ligur's fault that he lacks your common sense and social understanding to know how unlikely that is."
Crowley rolled his eyes. "Understanding on how the higher-ups are humorless poppycocks the lot of them."
Dagon just shook his head at him. "One of these days Crowley someone will catch your eye and then you'll have to watch your tongue."
"That'll be the day" he said as he looked towards the door, making eye contact with the being who had just walked through.
His first impression was sky blue eyes that practically screamed nervous uncertainty when combined with the lines along his brows. The second impression was that the face would be sweet if he were smiling, with the curly blonde hair and cheeks that would dimple. Crowley wanted to see that and almost smiled at the beautiful creature out of hand, but those eyes turned away. It was only then that Crowley could make his third impression. Looking at the rest of the stranger he could see that his expression was set in the deepest frown, with his chin high enough he may have been looking up to pray. His entire bearing was a sculpture of stiff awkwardness. Crowley felt a small stab of pity for the angel's discomfort but squashed it with a reminder of what exactly was probably making the angel uncomfortable. He ignored the second stab of pity for himself that those eyes did not belong to someone more agreeable.
He forced himself to look away, only then noting several other angels with the blue-eyed angel. The crowd had also became more subdued as more people noticed and observed the new guests.
Crowley tried to make his tone sound casual. "I take it these are the guests that everyone was making a fuss about today?"
"Yes. The one with the brown hair is Aiwendil, he is a minor principality."
"And the one with the disagreeable expression?"
"That is his friend Aziraphale."
"On the contrary, he is a major principality and rumor says he has been selected to be God's main representative on Earth once He finishes his creation."
Crowley spoke mostly for himself. "He has a face to awe creation if he can keep himself from scaring them."
He shook himself and looked back to Dagon, who was looking at him with something like astonishment. "I am agog. I am aghast. Has someone caught your eye at last?"
Dagon took in his expression and paused. "Alright. I won't. But at least go talk to him at some point tonight instead of drinking back here with me."
"I am sure he will be having plenty others throwing themselves at him Dagon. Leave it."
So Dagon did. They drank, commented on who was dancing with who and caught up on news. Kafziel joined them when not dancing, though he was seldom unoccupied. It was during one such interlude that Ankeriel strode over, guests in tow.
"Let me introduce you all. This is Aziraphale, Primary Principality of Earth under the charge of the Archangel Gabriel. This is Aiwendil and Curumo, also Principalities under the Archangel Gabriel." They nodded their heads in acknowledgement. "This is Kafziel," there was the half-second pause where an angel would say their title, the almost-fallen still unused to not having one. Ankeriel solidiered on, "this is Dagon, and this is my good friend Crowley. Don't let his reserved manner put you off. I assure you he is as witty a conversationalist as any you'll find in this room and, though he won't thank me for saying it, as fine a dancer."
Crowley rolled his eyes at Ankeriel's introduction, before drawling "Charmed."
"Likewise, I'm sure," Aiwendil replied with a large smile, though his eyes kept going back to Kafziel. After a few seconds pause, he faced Kafziel directly and held out his hand. "If you are not too busy with your friends, would you care for a dance?"
No one can deny that Kafziel blushes prettily Crowley thought, amused, while Kafziel agreed and put down his drink.
The four of them stood around awkwardly for a moment before Crowley gave in and broke the silence. "Principality? I suppose that means you'll get a flaming sword."
The silence stretched, Aziraphale shifting in discomfort and Curumo clearly having no interest in replying. Aziraphale broke the silence, his voice as nervous as his expression, "Er, well- yes, or, I would."
"They are quite impressive, I understand."
"Yes, but, well-"
"It's quite an honor."
"Yes, it is but-"
"What Aziraphale is failing to say is that he doesn't think we should have swords" Curumo broke in, his voice flattering despite the undercurrent of disdain to it.
A guilty expression passed across Aziraphale's face. "If you must know," he said a bit testily, "I think we should eschew personal power and guide men to defend themselves."
"Oh," That was… interesting…. and unexpected. "Isn't it the role of a principality to use their powers to guide people? Show them that the Lord is there and cares?"
Aziraphale opened his mouth to reply, but clearly didn't have an answer. He was saved when Aiwendil came back. The subject changed and Aiwendil kept up a spirited conversation with Crowley and Dagon for several minutes before he grabbed Curumo for a dance. Aziraphale stood in stony silence for several minutes listening to Dagon and Crowley's conversation before wandering away.
"See there Dagon. I managed to talk to him and there was nothing to it."
"He did seem rather…." Dagon struggled.
"Proud? Stuck-up? Unapproachable?"
"Reserved" Dagon emphasized. "You just met him Crowley. Do not let your bitterness get the best of you."
A fellow acquaintance asked Dagon for a dance, leaving Crowley alone with his wine and his thoughts. Occasionally they strayed back to that shade of blue, and Crowley cursed his luck. He had forced himself to pay attention to the room again when a familiar voice caught his attention.
"Aziraphale, it is a party. You cannot keep standing around by yourself. Talk to people! Dance!"
"You know I don't dance Aiwendil, unless I am forced to or it's the Gavotte. Especially with people I do not know. And I doubt anyone would meet my standards for an interesting or suitable discussion."
"You are patently ridiculous Aziraphale. Everyone I have talked to has been friendly, pious, and pleasant. Several of them far more so than anyone back in the office."
"You have been dancing with the most angelic one in the room." Azirphale gestured in Kafziel's direction, which made Crowley smile to himself. If one of them rose back up, it would be Kafziel. Crowley couldn't even resent Kafziel for it, he deserved it too much.
"He is an angel! I am sure after talking to him that he just misunderstood what the Lucifer was doing. But his friend is right behind you. Kafziel has told me he's quite the witty intellectual, and the only reason he almost fell was asking too many questions."
Crowley looked straight ahead as Aziraphale started to turn, trying to ignore the feeling of being watched as he waited for a verdict. His gaze was still ahead when he heard Aziraphale's reply as clear as a bell.
"He is handsome enough, but too tainted to tempt me. I am not in the mood deal with an almost-fallen's pandering. You had best go back to your partner and enjoy his company, for you are wasting your time with me."
Well, that's that. Crowley swallowed his last sip of wine, kicking himself for that small part of him that had hoped for a millisecond that Dagon was right. He went outside to catch some fresh air and hoped the party would be over soon.