Title: When Cerulean is Just Plain Blue
Author: Brutti_ma_buoni
Prompt: Giles and Willow start a relationship in England after the end of season six
Rating: R (but please note warning below)
Warnings: non-con (non-violent, but could still be triggery)
Words: c2000

On the plane to Heathrow, Giles keeps hold of Willow every moment.

She's exhausted. Tara's death has finally hit on a human level, in all its irreversible tragic waste. Willow's transformations, incantations, aggression and nihilism, all the hell of this last ghastly day, have drained both her magic and her natural energy.

But still, Giles can't trust her. She could kill them all, with nothing but a twitch of her psyche, so vulnerable are they in this aircraft.

He has kept a channel open, communing with Willow's subconscious – a last echo of the Coven's magic which links them. He can sense her stirring in sleep, seeking Willows past. Then moving forward. Looking for a new role, now that her anchor has gone. Now that she's lost the brake on her powers and knows what she could do but must not.

Eventually, though, Giles sleeps too. He is injured, emotionally beaten, middle aged and tired, and his body won't stay alert.

While he sleeps, Willow finds that communication channel, and with it her new anchor. Being Willow, she slips in a little something, to make sure the channel stays open.


The Coven are like nuns. With biscuits. Filled with numinous calm, they exist in their green backwater, dispensing wisdom and carbohydrates in equal measure. Giles had known of them for many years, but thought little beyond a vaguely approving nod to the supporting part they played in positive Wiccan role models. Only in times of crisis do they show their strength – when they first contacted him about Willow; when they developed their world-saving plan; and now, when they sweetly and supportively begin to undo the damage of the past months.

For Giles, their help is simple. They talk and listen. They heal his wounds. They understand. They make proper tea. They nod and pass tissues as he describes the horror of losing Buffy, the guilt of failing to act on Willow's increasing power, his belated grief for Tara, his pride in Xander's heroism and hope for Buffy's future. How much he misses Sunnydale, and how little he feels at home there.

For Willow, the therapy is far more prolonged and painful. Shifts of Wicca pass through her cosy cell, from the centred Althenea to the drifty Morgawse and the tough-minded Angharad. She is never alone. Talking is encouraged. Sleeping is smiled on. Tiny enchantments are accepted and watched for potential danger, like toddler steps. And sometimes, they speak quietly of Warren, of revenge, of murder and Wrong.

Her initial surface healing fools no one, but as the weeks pass, Willow finds herself genuinely calmer, more centred. She can hardly bear to recall her last days in Sunnydale, but otherwise, there is real improvement. She grieves for Tara, openly and with loving support. Eventually, the Coven agree she need not be watched at all times. Willow can talk to Giles a little – something she has barely managed since the plane ride. She starts turning to Giles, quite obviously: not for reassurance or familiarity, but for friendship. Giles begins to hope they can rebuild their relationship: to forget the death-fight and blood lust that passed between them.

Willow is not only calmer, but more aware – noticing her surroundings and taking solace in the natural beauty of this quiet, fruitful place. She begins to walk the grounds, exploring the unfamiliar flora. One day, she asks Giles to come with her. That is when it begins.


They are in the sunny herb garden when she first brushes a hand against him. Giles is reaching for a dog-rose in need of dead-heading, when Willow's hand comes to rest on his.

There have been touches since the plane trip, but each could be explained innocently. This is an outright caress, a point of deliberate contact. He looks at her pale fingers, pink-tipped and slender, contrasting with his tanned skin.

“What are you doing?”

“Touching.” She smiles. “It feels good, doesn't it?”

So simple. It does feel good. Disturbingly so. He stands entranced for long moments, till a cloud crosses the sun and breaks his focus.

That should not happen. He's noticed how pretty she is, many times, in recent years. Even when she was just a shy child, she had potential, and she's growing into her looks beautifully.

But this is not their relationship. Giles will always be twenty-five years older than Willow. He is, if anything, paternal towards her. Not a basis for an equal partnership. And he wouldn't be a lover without equity. He has never wanted this. But it is happening.


Giles turns to the wisest Wicca for support.

Is as harsh as possible, condemning himself in seeking help, “Althanea, this is wholly inappropriate.”

But irresistible.

He's come to the wrong place for condemnation, of course. Did he know that when he chose to talk to her? The witch merely smiles, brushes his hand in an asexual gesture of friendship – a vivid contrast to Willow's touch. “Be gentle with yourself. There's nothing straightforward in life, or not in emotions at any rate.

“Look at the sky: so simple, blue and white. Yet behind that simplicity, there's an infinity of space, time, unimaginable distance, fiery stars and suffocating darkness that we see as mere light blue. And some days, one can't see the blue at all for the grey clouds, complex in their turn. Nothing so very simple there. Life is a conundrum, and a marvel.”


Maybe that's what Willow means. She looks up at him from the grass one day, cross-legged like a schoolgirl.

“It's all connected.”

As she says it, it rings so true. He looks down at Willow's bonny face, beaming at him against the green lawn.

So simple and true. They are connected. All one. He takes the flower from her, then brushes it across her lips.

Her tongue flickers out, brushing a petal. She reaches up to him, drawing him down beside her. They kiss, soft and discovering. She takes the lead, but he is with her all the way. Their clothes are discarded, and they make love under the soft summer sun.

The sky is blue: life is so simple.


After, he lies open-eyed, considering wispy, out of focus clouds. Which aren't so simple; like life.

“Willow. What have you done?”

She smiles at him, sleepy and loving. “It's what we did, Giles. We made love. We connected.”

But that's wrong. He searches for words to give shape to the wrong-ness. Picks a simple one. “You're still calling me Giles. That's not my name, Willow. You don't even use my name.”

She shrugs one shoulder. “You'll always be my Giles.” In those words, there's perhaps a hint of a threat.


For two days, without conscious intent, he avoids the herb garden and the other places Willow goes for choice. But eventually, he runs into her in the orchard. The trees are increasingly heavy with fruit: plums coming into season, apples just starting to ripen. The sky is still blue, the sunlight is strong.

Giles feels cold. Until Willow smiles at him. “Hi stranger. Thought you were avoiding me!”

He flushes. “I'm afraid I didn't quite know how to react after we...”

She pinkens in turn, eyes dropping. “I know. Kind of unexpected. But it was good, right?”

“You were... lovely.” He can't deny it; or refuse her the reassurance she so needs. A beaming sunshiny smile is his reward. Her arm slips into the crook of his elbow, and they walk through the late summer gardens, chatting happily. It feels like complicated normality.

Eventually, though, he notices how far they've come. They are concealed, and private in the furthest of the walled orchards. Willow keeps her arm linked with his as she reaches up for a kiss. “C'mon. It's time we connected some more.”

Sweet, silly words. Or a command. Either way, Giles follows her lead, down to the green grass. To kiss, caress and be possessed, ecstatically.

At the time, it feels like the most right thing that could happen to them.


Away from Willow, and perhaps because she is unusually relaxed, the connection slips.

Giles showers as soon as he gets back to the house.

And again after supper.

It was wrong, what happened. He finds words to describe the wrong-ness, this time.

He hadn't expected it to happen again. He didn't want it to happen.

It had not been his choice.


He finds Althanea in her cosy workroom, surrounded by drying herbs.

“Althanea. We can call the blue sky a celestial arc, or the cerulean heavens.”

She nods; not needing a reminder about their conversation of some days ago.

“But sometimes, it's just a blue sky. And sometimes what seems to be wrong, simply is wrong.

“Please help us.”


They ask Willow to meet them in the Common Room, centre of Coven life.

She enters, bouncing with new life and certainty, which drain away as she considers their faces. “What's wrong guys? You look all serious.”

Althanea starts. “Willow, your relationship with Mr Giles. It's causing us some concern.”

Giles is watching her carefully; trying to judge the situation. Willow looks... cross. Not evil, not guilty. Like a person whose personal life is being questioned unnecessarily. “I think that's not really your business, Althanea.” She looks to Giles for support.

He says, “I've asked Althanea's opinion. So please don't feel this is a trespass. Would you allow her to read our auras?”

Willow agrees, but with the bafflement of one who has heard Giles's opinion of people who go to aura readers many times before (see also crystal healers, reiki practitioners and, obviously, astrologers).

As Althanea works, Giles tries to explain – preparing the ground for what she may, perhaps, find.

“Willow... my dear. This has been the most terrible time for you. You have lost a great deal. Your power was beyond anything, and it controlled you. We want to be quite, quite certain that all is well with you.”

“I'm still a ways off all well, Giles. I know that.” She's an intelligent woman; of course she knows it. “But we're good together. We've got so much in common.”

Which is true. But...

He's brutal, just this once, to break through: “Tara has been dead for less than three months, much of which you have spent barely in control of your senses. Are you sure you're in a position to start a new relationship? It sometimes seems that you don't know how to be without a partner.” It hurts to watch her flinch from him.

“I know what I'm doing.” She's brave too, of course.

He is about to seek yet more words, when Althanea spares him. She has finished the reading. “Do you, Willow? Truly know what you're doing? I hope not.”


It was a connecting charm. Simple, even basic, but so deep-seated Giles never noticed its presence - and Willow placed it without conscious thought. Just a small piece of magic, subordinating Giles's will to hers, silently easing Willow's way through life.

Giles is almost relieved.

Willow, though, is broken once more. Her belief in her power to be free of magic, to have control of herself, is gone again; the healing unravelled. She won't see him, after the binding is broken. Clings to Althanea. Writes a long, apologetic letter, tear-splotched and filled with guilt.

There is no question of forgiveness. She is already forgiven, if only she would believe it. Giles knows the scarring power of dark magicks on individuals, better than the good women of the Coven ever will.

But he is also their victim.

Giles needs distance. Can't return to Sunnydale when Willow goes. He does not want to get on a plane with her again: too raw.

And he doesn't want to be touched.


They meet again, many times, in the years that follow. Both try to forget. Neither succeeds.

Magic is easy. Consequences are not.

Sometimes, the cerulean heavens are just a plain blue sky.


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