"Sorry I'm late," Willow said, as Giles took off his glasses and bent to kiss her, then let her in the apartment. "I was at Buffy's. She's in really bad shape - Angel broke up with her."
"Oh, dear." He took her hand and led her to the sofa. "She must be devastated. Do you think I should talk to her?"
"Definitely. She's gonna need a lot of support, Giles. Right now, though, she's more about the crying than the talking." And when she had talked, she'd sobbed: I was gonna have a drawer, at Angel's place. Like you have, at Giles's. And okay, I still don't entirely want to imagine you and Giles together, but it's really beautiful too, what you guys have...and I was gonna start spending the night at Angel's, like you do at Giles's... Willow had felt so bad for her, and so thankful for what she had with Giles - and a little afraid, too, because it sounded like Angel broke up with Buffy because of the stuff the Mayor said, and he'd said it to Giles too, some of it.
He was looking at her now, with an expression she couldn't read - tender and attentive, but there was something almost solemn in his eyes that crinkled at the corners, in the set of his mouth. She traced his lips with her finger, then kissed him. He responded, but chastely, as if he were thinking about something else.
"Poor Buffy," she said. "She's so upset...but I think in the long run, this is best for her."
Suddenly she wished he had said, No, it wasn't for the best, Angel was wrong to have broken up with Buffy. "You do? I mean...the Mayor said all that stuff to them about their relationship, and even though he's evil and all, it made a lot of sense...for them, but not for us. Right?" I can't lose the drawer I have here, she thought, can't lose spending the night. I don't ever want to lose any of it. I need everything, every moment with him.
He was silent a long minute. Then, quietly, he said, "Mayor Wilkins was right about one thing at least. This skulking in the shadows, it isn't fair to you. Tonight, for instance."
"What? You mean the prom? That doesn't matter to me. I mean, it'd be nice if we could dance together, but at least we'll both be there, and you can see me in my dress, and then afterwards we'll come back here..."
He looked so serious, and it didn't help the rising panic she was feeling. To think she'd felt jealous of Buffy because she was gonna go to the prom with Angel, and now she and Angel were broken up, and what if Giles...
He gazed into her eyes. "Willow, I love you."
"I love you, too." Her voice sounded small. She had a flash of herself telling Buffy: Giles broke up with me too , and the two of them polishing off all the ice cream in Sunnydale, between sobs.
"You deserve so much more than I've been able to give you. I need to change that." Oh god, she thought. Here it comes.
Instead he said, in an impulsive rush, "Willow, marry me. Let's get married right away, as soon as you graduate. If we... when we survive the Ascension." He pulled a little box from his pocket and opened it. An honest-to-goodness ring sparkled at her.
"You wanna...I was afraid you were gonna..." It was taking her a minute to catch up from the scenario she'd expected, but he gazed at her expectantly, his eyes, his whole face so open to her. Her eyes were suddenly full of tears, and she was laughing. "Yes, yes..."
For a moment he looked stunned, and then he laughed too. "You will?"
"Giles, of course I will. I told you last year I wanted to marry you, at Breakers Woods, when you told me you wanted to."
He sat closer to her. "Darling...this ring...it belonged to my grandmother. The older Willow told me that the other Giles gave her this ring when they became engaged. I know you can't wear it until after graduation, but I really want to see you wear it now."
She nodded and nodded, and held out her hand. He slipped it on her finger, but she couldn't take her eyes off Giles, the way he was smiling at her. Then they were hugging and kissing and crying a little, and she couldn't believe how lucky she was. They talked giddily of their plans, and agreed to keep quiet about their engagement - "Our engagement!" she crowed - a little while, so as not to rub it in Buffy's face. Willow didn't look forward to telling her parents, but after graduation, she would.
"Do you think you could be happy living here?" he asked, with a sweeping gesture to indicate the apartment. "Or we could find another place..."
"Giles, I love it here." She looked at the comfy green couch they were sitting on, the Tiffany lamp she loved, the pretty fireplace, Giles's artifacts and statuettes, his books on the shelves. My home? she thought. Not just a drawer, but all of it, ours. "I would love to live here with you," she said, and reached for him, kissed him passionately.
Then the phone rang, and they groaned. But as Giles picked it up, Willow thought: this will be our phone, in our living room...and the thought so transported her, it took a moment for Giles's words to register: "A monster at the dress shop?" He sighed. "Very well, we'll meet you at the library."
They tried not to beam too ecstatically at the library, with the rest of the Scoobies and Wesley there. At any rate, ecstatic beaming was kinda inappropriate while watching a video of a poor guy in formal wear getting mauled by a hellhound. Buffy looked so miserable. Willow couldn't wait to tell Buffy about her engagement and to show her the ring - when she was feeling better.
She tried to focus on the task at hand, but when she was hacking into Tucker's email account and Giles leaned over her shoulder to look at the computer screen, she couldn't help but turn and feast her eyes on him, the man who wanted to marry her, and a smile burst across his face that he tried to douse, with little success. That she could make him smile like that, Willow thought, was one of the great joys of her life.
That night at the prom, after Buffy killed the hellhounds, Willow was happy that Buffy got to dance with Angel after all - plus she scored a nifty umbrella for being voted Class Protector. But she felt a little crestfallen when Cordelia, in her slinky dress, danced with her Watcher guy. "It doesn't seem fair that Cordy and Wesley get to dance together and we can't," she told Giles as they stood by the snack table. He looked so scrumptious in his tux, she couldn't wait to be alone with him. She wondered if it would always be like this, when they were married - if being around him would always make her ache for him. She couldn't imagine ever feeling any other way.
"I'd love to dance with you right now," he said. "Despite the fact this version of the Rolling Stones song isn't nearly as good as the original."
She grinned. She didn't think she'd stopped grinning since he'd proposed to her.
"You're so beautiful," he murmured. "You look so elegant with your hair up."
"Do you really like my dress?" It was the first time she'd dared to wear something cleavagey in public (not counting the time with the Halloween dress), and she did think the long, dark red dress with matching shawl was pretty.
He nodded emphatically. "Although I've noticed both Xander and Oz giving you the eye."
"Really? They were checking me out?" She glanced over to where Xander and Oz were talking to some girls she didn't know too well. Xander was over-animated, Oz just the opposite. They looked good in their tuxes, though not nearly as gorgeous as Giles. And they were dateless - which, technically, she was too, except secretly not. Sometimes she wondered why Oz never seemed to date. Even though he was a werewolf, he was nice, and it didn't seem right that he should be alone, just because she, unlike that other Willow, had skipped straight to Giles instead of dating him first. But that thought, like most thoughts tonight, only made her turn to Giles again. "We're engaged," she whispered.
"We are indeed."
Later they danced close in his living room, his old records that she now knew by heart on the stereo, the Nina Simone songs and the Al Green and the Marvin Gaye. She put her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder as they swayed together, as he held her and caressed her bare arms and back. She felt grown-up in her grown-up dress, dancing with her fiancé who looked better than anyone had ever looked in a tux. "My fiancé," she said, and looked up to see him smiling down at her, and then they kissed, one of those kisses where the whole world stopped, in the non-apocalyptic sense.
They went upstairs and undressed each other, and Willow felt like the luckiest girl in the world to be the one to take that tux off him. They lay side to side and made love staring into each other's eyes, and it was as if, she thought, they were looking into their future together, a long, long future, if she had anything to say about it, the Mayor and the Ascension be damned.
They packed up his books, and much of the library's regular collection. They packed up his office: more books, his diaries, teacups, thermos, the little statues on his desk, framed pictures on the walls, clippings and postcards on the corkboard. She would miss this room, where they had kissed for the first time, and so many times since.
The books, Giles's collection anyway, would live with them in the apartment after graduation, and that was something to look forward to. So much to look forward to, if they managed not to die in the next few hours. Living with Giles, being married to Giles. Studying magic, going to college, waking up every morning next to Giles. Going to restaurants together, holding hands in public. Kissing in public.
As they stood in their special place in the stacks for the last time (if things went according to plan), the bookcases looked so strange and naked. "I'll miss this place," she said, touching a bare shelf with her fingertips. "We don't really have time to do this, do we?"
He kissed her, pushed her up against the empty shelves. His eyes were heavy-lidded. "Need you," he murmured, and then his hot mouth was on her again. "Need this."
She clutched him hard. "Giles, I'm scared..." Everything felt like it was coming apart. The Ascension. Angel almost dying, and Buffy saving him with her own blood. Buffy putting Faith in a coma. We can't die, she thought. We just can't, not now, when we're so close to having everything.
"We're going to be all right," he said - yet as he kissed her urgently, as he grabbed her breasts, slid his hand between her legs, she felt his fear too, that this might be their last time together. He unzipped her pants, yanked them and underwear down, and then he was on his knees, his mouth on her.
She watched him, his face intent as he licked her, fucked her with his fingers. "I love you," she whispered. Her hips were moving now, and she fucked his mouth until she shattered.
He held her steady through every sweet aftershock. Then he pulled one of her pant legs all the way off, unzipped himself. He sat down on the floor and drew her onto his lap. As he thrust up into her, as she rode him, she kept whispering, "I love you, Giles..."
"Always," he muttered, his voice hoarse, "darling, sweetheart, dearest love..." He managed to keep his voice low, though she could feel he was close, his cock growing even bigger inside her. With one last thrust, he froze, his eyes on hers, his mouth open and contorted. Then they held each other tight, and she wished they could stay like this, joined, in this place that felt like it was theirs.
They shakily stood and adjusted their clothes, kissed one last time and then once more, she tasting herself on him. "Shall we?" he asked.
"Are you really gonna be okay with this?" She touched his cheek. "I know how much you've loved this library. I mean, aside from the Hellmouth being under it and all."
He smiled slightly. "I'll miss this place too, Willow. But I don't need to look back. I'm too busy looking forward to our life together."
"When you put it that way," she said, "let's get this place ready to be blown up."
Giles had thought, briefly, of sending her away, of buying her a plane ticket for somewhere safe until the battle was over. But he knew that wasn't what she wanted, wasn't the way she intended to live. He could only pray she got to live at all.
When she donned the maroon cap and gown, it was so difficult to watch her walk to her seat with Buffy and the others. They didn't say any special goodbye or wish each other good luck. "I'll see you in a bit," she'd said, and smiled. She was so brave. He'd touched her shoulder. Then she'd turned and walked away.
She ended up sitting with Buffy on one side of her, Cordelia on the other. Cordy kept wiping her mouth. "Something wrong?" Willow asked, as the processional played. "I mean, besides impending doom?"
"Let's put it this way," Cordy said. "Remember that conversation we had awhile back, when I said I understood the attraction to Watcher type guys?"
"Yeah?" She and Wesley had sure looked cozy at the prom.
"Well, I was clearly experiencing some temporary insanity." She wiped at her mouth again, which wasn't doing her lipstick any favors. " Your Watcher type guy...does he know how to...I mean, can he..." Cordy wrinkled her nose. "Never mind."
Yes, Willow thought, my Watcher type guy knows how. He really knows how. She was still wet from having sex in the stacks, could still feel him. Please let us not die, she thought.
Although the one bright side to dying would be that she wouldn't have to tell her parents she was marrying Giles.
It all happened so fast - after Mayor Wilkins' speech, that is, which seemed to drone on forever. She saw Larry die, saw the giant snake Mayor eat Principal Snyder. That most of them survived seemed a miracle.
Afterwards she walked hand in hand with Giles through the melee of fire trucks, paramedics, wandering students. "Happy graduation, Willow," he said, and kissed her. Nobody seemed to notice or care that the librarian was kissing her. After all, there was no more library, or high school. They were decidedly upstaged.
They sat on a bench in front of what was left of the school. He put his arm around her, and she leaned into him. "This feels so...ordinary," she said. "I mean..."
"I know," he murmured. "At long last."
"I hope Wesley's gonna be okay."
Giles nodded. "He was whimpering rather a lot."
The others trudged up to them. "Well, that's the most fun you can have without having any fun," Cordelia said.
"How about the part where we kicked some demon ass?" Willow asked. "I didn't hate that." Giles stroked her hair, and she felt sleepy. The air still smelled of smoke.
"Here, here," Xander said.
"You guys want to take off?" Buffy asked. "I think we've done pretty much all we can."
"Are you okay?" Willow asked. It didn't seem right that she should feel so warm and safe and contented, and meanwhile Buffy had lost Angel once again - though not in as horrible a way this time, at least.
"Yeah, I'm okay," Buffy said. "I could use a little sleep though. If someone could just wake me when it's time to go to college, that'd be great."
College! Willow grinned. She could hardly wait. But first she needed to sleep. She closed her eyes and rested her head on Giles's shoulder. He was complimenting Buffy on a good campaign. His melodious voice soothed her.
When Oz said something about surviving high school, she opened her eyes. Giles was smiling gently at her. She'd loved high school - in large part, because of this man who loved her. "Let's go home," he said.
They said goodnight to their friends, and then they went home to their apartment.
They had a small wedding ceremony at the apartment, a couple of weeks after graduation. Buffy was there, but not Dawn, though she begged her mom to let her go. Joyce was taken aback by the news. A couple of days after Buffy told her, she blurted out in the middle of dinner: "So that was his girlfriend?"
Xander postponed his road trip to be at the wedding. Oz was there too, but Cordelia had already left for Los Angeles.
They went to London and Paris for their honeymoon. They held hands as they walked down the street, or Giles slung his arm across her shoulders. They kissed on park benches, in restaurants and antiquarian bookstores. They couldn't get enough of being out in the world together.
They didn't visit the Council offices, but at the British Museum, Giles introduced his new wife to his former associates. They may have looked surprised at first, but they were gracious.
Willow's parents, especially her mother, had not taken kindly to the news that she was marrying Giles. They threatened not to pay her college tuition. She'd laughed and reminded them that any college she wanted to go to would gladly give her a scholarship, and besides, Giles would happily pay her way. When they got back from their honeymoon, her mother not only told her they intended to pay her tuition, but offered to buy her a car. As UC Sunnydale was five miles away, Willow accepted - but she didn't think they'd be inviting her and Giles over for dinner anytime soon.
He was having tea in the garden when she got home. "Giles!" Grinning, she hurried to him. She was a whirl of colors, red hair, peach T-shirt with see-through violet over it, long purple skirt, green necklace, green bag that she dumped on the table as she leaned down to kiss him.
"Hello, sweetheart," he said, kissing her, ruffling her hair. Her new haircut, with its shaggy look, kept drawing his hand, but then he had always loved to touch her hair. My wife , he thought, and the word never ceased to elate him.
"How was your day, sweetie?" she asked, pulling up a chair.
He couldn't wait to tell her his big decision, but opted to get the lesser news out of the way first - the news she wasn't going to like. "My old friend Olivia called this morning, after you'd gone. She's in town for a few days."
"Olivia?" Her eyes narrowed. "You mean, Olivia who was kinda your girlfriend?"
"She wasn't my girlfriend. She was..." There was no need to get into it. "Yes, that Olivia."
"What did she want?"
"Just to look up an old friend." She had been flirtatious - Couldn't come to sunny Cal without looking up old Ripper - until he told her he'd gotten married. Lucky girl , she'd said, sounding a bit taken aback.
"That's just great. Are you planning on seeing her while she's here?"
"I thought she might meet you." It might be an uncomfortable situation at first. He could see Olivia looking askance when she saw how young Willow was. But surely she would see how well-matched they were, and then it would be all right.
Willow's grouchy expression softened. "Well, just so long as she knows you're a married man."
"Very happily married," he said, and she smiled.
"I'm happy, too, Giles. So happy." She touched his knee, moved her hand up slightly to rub his thigh.
"I'm glad. And I have some exciting news. I've decided to rent the magic shop."
"Really? That's wonderful!" Then a worried crinkle appeared between her brows. "But isn't it a bad omen that you can take over the place because the owner was killed by a demon? I mean, the owners of that place do tend to get killed a lot."
"But on the bright side, the rent's quite low, and the profit margin is high."
"I thought you liked the idea of my running a magic shop."
"Well, of course I do, what with my being a witch, or trying to be. But I don't like the idea of you putting yourself in danger."
He cupped her cheek. "Love, if it's safety you're after, we might have left Sunnydale."
"I see your point. I just don't want anything to happen to you."
"I'll be all right." He kissed her. "Now tell me about your first day at university."
Her eyes widened, and she bounced in her chair. "I can't wait to start classes tomorrow. I got all my courses except for modern poetry - I had to change to ethnomusicology."
"And you should see the size of the library, Giles. You'd love it there." She waggled her eyebrows. "Hey, maybe one of these days we can make out in the stacks."
"Any time you like." It occurred to him there were also a number of places in the magic shop where he and Willow might enjoy themselves.
"I'll miss you at school," she said. "I think all that sex in the stacks added a certain something to the learning process."
"Indeed." He took a sip of tea, but he was starting to feel rather flushed. He imagined laying her across the table at the magic shop and having his way with her.
"You know, the collective intelligence at UC Sunnydale is like this penetrating force. I can feel my mind opening up and letting this place thrust into and spurt knowledge into..." Now he was feeling well and truly overheated. She grinned mischievously. "I accidentally said that to Buffy earlier, but I made a mental note. I thought you might appreciate it more."
"Come here, darling," he growled.
"Thought you'd never ask." She jumped up and sat on his lap. He was hard for her even before she started wriggling on him. "My handsome, wonderful husband." She made little sighing sounds as they kissed. "I love you, Giles."
"Willow, I love you." My wife, he thought, my beautiful wife. He picked her up and carried her inside their apartment.
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