Part 16

Giles, lay in the big wide bed staring at the ceiling. When the gold and red tiles started to spin, he shut his eyes. Everything was becoming confused, Willow, the Prince, himself,  and now the dead Vizier.

Sleep, that's what he wanted. He wanted to sleep and to wake up in the library. A nice normal life, without the constant threat of death, would also be nice. Well as normal as it gets on the Hellmouth, other than a stray vampire. He could take the threats against his life, but he couldn't bear the thought of Willow suffering.

After kissing her, once after the dance, then in the pool when he saw she was alive, Giles knew they could never go back to being "just friends". He didn't want that kind of relationship either anyway. He loved her as sure as he knew he was alive. However he was certain is was a love he could never have.

Giles rolled onto his side. Tonight was the feast, then tomorrow... Would they still be here? Would he still be here? The afternoon heat made his body feel loose and drowsy, but his mind would not let him sleep. He wished he'd asked Willow what happened up on the ledge with Samas. She needed comforting after they fell into the pool, but she was whisked away before he had a chance to talk to her.

"Why can't I sleep dammit?" he cried to the ceiling. All he heard back was the blunt echo of his own voice.

He rolled over onto his back, closed his eyes again and tried to think of something else other than the fevered ache in his body. An ache that would only be quenched by one person... Willow. "Why can't she think of me as a man, and not a friend?"

When he finally drifted off into sleep, he was bothered by dreams. They swirled and caught him up in a vortex of anxiety. He found himself stepping out of the confusion, and into a garden. He could hear a baby's soft giggle, and a woman's voice gently laughing. Giles sought out that sound. It seemed to him that it was the giggle, or the woman was what he was looking for.

In a bower covered with vines and flowers, was Mara, holding a tiny baby. She smiled and held it up for him to see. All he saw was a bit of red hair, then he woke with a start.

"Shhhh, shhhhh." Mara was sitting at his bedside. It was evening, and Giles had been sleeping for hours. "Lie down, my Lord, you were having a bad dream. I came in to see if Sira had been by."

"Mara... I.... " Giles sputtered a bit. Mara put her cool hand on his forehead and brushed the hair back.

Her cool hand lay on his face and he relaxed. "I know... I know... Shhhh..."

She got up and brought a glass of fruit juice to him. It was cold, and the glass was wet. She used some of the water to cool his face. "I have to get Sira to come in here and help you dress. The feast you know."

"Yes, but..."


Giles sat all the way up. The thin blanket fell away revealing his naked upper torso. He shivered a bit, and Mara took the juice away. "How's Willow?"

"Nervous, excited, and looking for you."  Mara set out the clothes he was to wear,  A dark green jacket and pantaloons.

"Sira will cut your hair for you. She said it was too long for your face. You can trust her, she is one of my dearest concubines."

"You seem nervous." He said, noticing Mara idly flipping through his bed clothes. "Is there something you have to tell me?"

"My Lord, be nice to your concubine. She has a difficult task ahead of her."

"Mara, I want to be more than nice to her. But she thinks of me in the wrong way." He rested his arms on his thighs. "What kind of task?"

"It is difficult to say," She gathered up her things. In this room, she knew someone was listening. Mara put her hand to her ear, indicating to Giles that this was so. He nodded, accepting her gesture.

"Just follow her lead, and you will be just fine."

"Mara, before you leave," He walked out into the corridor with her.

"Yes my Lord?"

"I had a dream. You were there holding a baby." He whispered.

Mara looked at him with wide surprised eyes. "I was?"

"The child had red hair."

Mara stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek. "My Lord, that's a good sign."

When she pulled away, he could see she had tears in her eyes. "Its a very good sign." She left him wondering what she meant.

Part 17

"After this morning's tragedy you look like you are enjoying yourself." The Prince leaned over to Giles. "You know, I was going to get rid of him anyway. My new Vizier is younger, stronger." he showed a tall, man standing behind them.

"Yes, quite young." Giles remarked, "Too bad about the Vizier."

"Well I want to assure you there are no bad feelings between you and I. Nothing that would stop tonight's festivities."

"And that would be?" Giles cocked his head, the "Ripper" in him coming out in his smooth voice.

"Patience my friend,  Patience." The Prince handed him more savory rice. "I guarantee you will enjoy yourself."

"Quite." Giles mumbled, "Quite..."

The servants came in, their arms laden with food. The table was spread out with all manner of  foodstuffs. The meal that was set in front of Giles made his head spin slightly at the variety. The first course was a savory soup. It was dark and full of fresh onions, and chunks of highly seasoned meat, with a dollop of cream on the top.  The men around the table drank much of the sweet honey wine that came with it.

After that was suitably digested, steamed vegetables were served. Giles noticed the men seemed to pick over these. It was evident from the red flush, and rotten teeth that these men considered vegetables to be "women's fare".

Carrots were served with a light citrus sauce. They were tender and flavorful. Sautéed mangos nested next to caramelized onions. Next came a course of seafood. Tender fleshed fish, mingled with mussels and scallions in a creamy liquid. Giant lengths of a "squid" like creature were the delight of the men at the end of the table.

"This sea animal is the specialty of their province." The new Vizier commented with a smile. He had the broad good looks of a healthy man, and extruded and aura of confidence. Giles found himself smiling at him.

The main course came in on huge platters. A large piece of lamb was placed before Giles. Pinkish meat was surrounded by a still bubbling crust of herbs and peppercorns. He put a fork in it and it fell away like melted butter. "Mara out does herself eh?" Samas said through bitefulls of the lamb.

"Yes, she is quite the cook." Giles replied,  trying not to look too closely at the Prince as he ate.

More sweet and savory rice was heaped on the table. One girl offered Giles a slice of green cheese rolled in dried mint. "My Lord this is buffalo cheese, a delicacy of the palace and it is with Mara's compliments."

Despite it's neon color, it was delicious. It had a bold gamy taste that tingled on his tongue. His part of the table was cleared and several men came in holding a even bigger platter. It took at least six men to carry it and when they set it down in front of Giles, he gasped.

"It is my gift to you" the Prince said, dismissing the men.

On the platter was a girl that Giles recognized as Sira. She was presented as a dessert, a living dessert. Her naked body was decorated in such a way that very little of her skin was visible. Lying perfectly still, her long black hair was wound tightly around some sliced pomegranates. She was stretched out on the platter, her hands over her head, legs apart. Frosty grapes and sliced mangos hid her loins. Her hands were tied with long flower vines that trailed over her face. Little circles of bananas and kiwi fruit covered her breasts like scales on a fish.

She smiled and winked at Giles. At first he didn't get the hint, until the Prince said loudly. "Mara must have made a last minute change. I had another girl planned for you."

Giles realized, that it was Mara, not the Prince, that orchestrated this party. The Prince's eyes glittered dangerously as he looked in the direction of the kitchens.

A loud drumbeat startled everyone. A tall dark man, wearing nothing but a gold scarf wrapped around his body proclaimed loudly. "Gentlemen, the dance!"

Giles was about to move towards the open floor, when Sira grabbed his hand. "Don't, stay here!" Her harsh whisper made him pause. "This is for you, when she's done, wait at the door by the kitchens."

Part 18

Willow nervously tugged on the black fabric that covered her body. She wore the same style of costume she'd been wearing for days now, and every one was slightly different. This was a deep dark red, with brilliant touches of gold. Her long red hair had been brushed with gold dust. Large gold bands adorned her upper arms and around her ankles she had rows of little bells. It would be dramatic when she threw back the black covering. Willow knew she had to make this dance exciting as possible. It was the only way to escape. When the drumbeat sounded, she knew it was time to make her entrance.

The room was silent when she made her way to the center of the Great Hall. The air was filled with smoke from the low braziers. The crowd of men muttered when she got to the middle.

The only sound was steady drumbeats, echoing through the cavernous hall. Willow moved in quick succession as the hum of the drum continued. Left, right, left, right, she swayed. Edging closer to the men, she would tease them as they tried to grab her veil.

Soon the crowd was clapping to the rhythm, helping her along. The drumbeats became faster and faster, Willow twirled and swayed faster and faster. Dancing over to The Prince, she got close enough for him to grab onto a piece of the black cloth. Suddenly the drum stopped, and Samas pulled the fabric back with one motion. There she was, kneeling, her head thrown back, and her arms out wide. The crowd erupted in thunderous applause.

The crowd of men surged forward as Sira stood up, shrugging off her coverings. The men swallowed up the space in the hall as they moved to see her. So among the clapping, surging men, Willow was nowhere to be seen.

"Well done My Sweet!" Mara cried, hugging Willow. They pushed through the kitchen and out into the courtyard, where Mara handed them over to another girl. "Quickly now! I have to get the women to cleaning and rescue Sira!"

"Cleaning?" Giles asked

"Yes, Mara is soaping down the hallways to prevent the guards from following." the girl explained. "Soon the spell will go off and you will be safe until morning."

"Spell?" Giles and Willow said in unison.

"Yes, Mara set a spell to keep the Prince occupied." She stopped at the door of a tall tower like structure. "The Prince will think its Little Orchid, but it will only be another concubine."

Giles thought that Mara was more dangerous than the Prince and he was glad to be on the good side of her. "Where are we?"

The girl fumbled through a big ring of iron keys. "The tower room has not been used since the days of the old Prince. This will be your room tonight."

The girl shoved the both of them inside, and slammed the door behind them, locking it. Giles looked at the slim stairs and smiled, gesturing for Willow to go first.  Nervously she started to climb with Giles right behind her.

One side of the Tower was recessed into a hill, while the other side had narrow windows looking out over the Palace. Halfway up there was a large landing that opened out into the bathing room. A huge tub dominated the room. It was constantly being filled and drained by a series of small waterfalls. Willow shuddered when she thought of what happened earlier in the day. "It's alright." Giles put his hand on her shoulder. He wanted to hold her and comfort her. "Now we have a chance to talk about it."

Willow nodded, thinking that it was the least of what they had to talk about. "Um... I wonder what the bedroom looks like?" She raced towards the stairs.

The bedroom was magnificent. While the stairs were dark leading up to it, the room was brilliantly lit with a hundred candles. On every surface thick columns of wax burned brightly. Willow gasped with joy when she saw it. The bed, was large and draped with netting and thin veiling. Willow bounced on the bed reveling in its softness. Giles smiled at her girlish delight.

Giles stepped to the edge of the bed, not sure of how to go on. He had formulated a plan while eating that he felt was a good one. He reasoned out they would stay together in a purely platonic way. Mara could help them find someone for Willow to be with to stave off the advances of Samas. He would still be with her, be near her. Just not in the capacity that would make Willow afraid... as her lover. However, Giles wanted to be more than just her friend now.

For as long as her would know her, he knew that he would love her. Not in the way he loved Buffy, or Jenny, or all the other women in his life, but in the deep "spiritual" way that spanned a person's lifetime. Looking at her lying on the bed, misery was flooding his being. He could never have that joy. Now was the time to tell her.  "Willow, since we may be here for a very long time, " she sat up in the bed. "I wanted to share with you my plan. I have many Ideas...."

Willow put up her hand, this was not the time to talk about spells, plans, or anything else. She had her own agenda. "Giles, can I talk? Please?"

"Certainly, anything you want."

She stood up and faced him. Giles had never ever viewed anything so lovely, or so sexy as Willow in that costume. He turned slightly so she wouldn't notice the effect she was having on him. However, she was very attuned to his body and wanted that effect. "Can you sit? You're very tall."

He chuckled. Leave it to Willow to still be innocent in an outfit like that. There was nowhere to sit but on the bed.

"Okay, so you know the Vizier was Mara's son..."

"Yes" he stood up again, "But..."

"Now if you are going to interrupt me this is going to take all night!" she said, scolding him.

"Alright, proceed." he smiled.

" The Prince wanted you to die today. And he... he.." Willow retreated to the very end of the room. She just couldn't say it! Not to Giles. Would he understand? 'Oh drat, oh drat...' she thought.

His hand was on her shoulder, turning her around. "Willow you can tell me. I want you to tell me." he said gently.

His voice was low, and tingled her to her toes. Would he find her disgusting now? Would she turn him off? "The Prince almost... ra.... r.. raped me today."

Giles barely heard the words, but in his mind they were loud and crystal clear. It was as if Willow turned the flame up on his anger. He rose and took her in his arms crushing her to him. "I'll kill him!"

Willow couldn't hear him, clasped to tightly to his chest. But suddenly she felt frightened of his reaction and what the Prince could do to him if he tried to hurt him.  She couldn't help herself and started crying.

"Don't cry. Please don't cry." Giles sat on the bed and pulled her to him, holding her across his lap until her crying subsided a bit.

"I.. I wanted to tell you... b.. but after the w.. waterfall y.. you were g... gone!" Her sobs began again. This wasn't the way she wanted this evening to go, but it had to be said.

Giles, not thinking, kissed the top of her head. She shivered at the touch of his lips. "Don't worry, you won't be alone with the Prince again. I have plans."

He reminded her that her story wasn't finished. It was oh so nice being in his arms, feeling his warm body next to hers. She knew she had a reaction from him, as she felt his rising erection against the thin fabric of her skirt. There was much more to tell and Willow knew she had to get a hold of herself to say it. Reluctantly she moved out of his arms.

He didn't want to let her go, but understood his body was betraying him. "Giles, I have to finish, and this is going to be hard to tell you okay?"

"Okay, I'll be silent."

"Tonight at the height of the full moon, the Prince was going to marry me and... and... you know...." She was embarrassed to say the words.

"The bastard!"

"Yes, so that's why we're here together." Willow whispered the words. Explaining this to him was very hard. She didn't want to be rejected when she loved him so much.

It suddenly occurred to Giles what she was suggesting. She was saying that he should be her lover. "I might be dense sometimes, but are you suggesting that you and I..."

"Y.. yes, bad?" she asked.

"Well not bad Willow, but I am twice your age." now he said it. Giles didn't want to turn her down. He wanted more than ever to make love to her.

"I don't care how old you are."

He ran his hands through his hair, frustrated that he couldn't make her understand that he was the wrong man. The agony of the situation was tearing him apart. Here she was offering herself to him and he just couldn't do it. He didn't want to hurt her. "We could find a younger man, one you could love."

"A.. are you t.. telling me to find a s.. stranger?" She stared at him, her eyes filling with tears, "Y... you don't want me?"

"Willow, that's not what I said." but he was protesting to empty air. He could hear her running down the stairs. "Oh bloody hell!"

Part 19

Giles ran after her. Willow was there by the door trying to pull it open, crying her heart out. Not only would she have to surrender to the Prince now that Giles no longer wanted her, but she was trapped with him.

Pulling her away from the door, Giles tried to hold her, to tell her that what he said was not what he meant. "Please, listen to me!" but she danced away from him, hiding behind the stairwell.

She sunk to the floor, pulling her legs to her chest. "I didn't ask the Prince to want me. I want to go h... home."

"Willow, we have to talk about this." Giles couldn't fit into the small space.

"No! No talking... no, go away! First Xander won't look at me because of Cordelia and Oz dumps me and Buffy has you..."

Giles struggled to get just a little way into the stairwell. "That's not true."

"Y.. You know the w... worst? The p.. pathetic truth?" she looked at him "I fell in l... love with you."

"You what?"

Willow unfolded herself, and got up. Giles backed away to give her some room, but she advanced on him. "I-fell-in-love-with-you!" With every word, she pushed at him, until he was against the door. "And YOU don't even want me. The only man who wants me is the Prince!"

There was nowhere for him to go. Giles just stood there and let Willow poor out her misery on him. "You kissed me after the dance!" Blow after blow landed on his chest. "Why did you do that to me? Why?"

That was enough. Giles deftly caught her hand in his and pulled her body again him. Swooping down on her lips, he kissed her with the full force of his desire. He picked her up and cradling her in his arms he descended the stairs.

With his mouth still on hers, he set her down on the bed. Willow clung to him, her face still wet from crying. "I'm sorry." he said simply, releasing her. "I... fell in love with you as well. I was afraid you wouldn't want me."

"Giles, I.."

"Shhh... Let me finish." He kissed her again before continuing, not wanting to leave her mouth free for talking. "I'm an older man. You're so young..."

She smiled. "Someone said once, that love is blind crazy and stupid, okay?"

"I love you." Giles said, capturing her mouth for another deep kiss.

Willow leaned into him, her hands on either side of his face. Their kisses were tender, surface kisses. "Willow we should stop." Giles gasped, when he caught his breath. "I...  We're not ready for more."

"Giles, we have to be ready for more, or the Prince will have me." She placed several small kisses on his cheek and chin. "I want you."  She blushed at her own audacity.

"Willow, I want you too. But I don't want to frighten you." He caught her chin in the crook of his finger. Suddenly shy, she tried to avoid his gaze. He wanted to know the source of her shyness. "My Sweet, is there something you need to tell me?

They were sitting side by side on the bed. He kept his hands on her, enjoying the new feelings between them. Willow opened her mouth, then closed it again, not knowing how to tell him. But he needed to know, she was sure of that. "I... well... you see Oz..." she sighed.

"You and Oz...."

"Well we never.. Oh dear.. I just want to tell you that I'm a virgin." There, she said it and waited for his reaction.

Giles' answer? It was a deep, crushing kiss that left her breathless and wanting more. "I am sorry, very sorry..." he whispered into her mouth before capturing her again.

Her voice was soft. "Sorry?"

"That you kept yourself so long."

She stood, "I wanted... I waited for you. But I didn't know it until now." Willow moved to the middle of the room. She undid the buttons of her short top, and blushing again she removed it. Giles thought that he would never tire of that wonderful blush. Soon the skirt lay crumpled up on the floor and she stood naked before him.

He closed his eyes and slid to the carpet, she was so beautiful. Willow walked slowly over to him and he put his hands around her waist and buried his head in her stomach. She ran her hands through his hair, enjoying his kisses. "Am I okay?"

Giles groaned, "More than okay. Oh Love!"

He stood, and she could see her effect on him. His penis was tenting his pantaloons. His lips were on hers again. Her mouth opened wider, allowing him to gently tease her tongue with his. Retreating, touching, tasting, it was this way he entered her first.

Then with excruciating slowness he traced down her neck, first kissing, then applying little licks to her collar bone. Soon he was tracing the delicate lines of her small breasts with his tongue. Her breathing was heavy and she was trembling. The blood was roaring in her ears, and all she could do was feel.

Her nipples were small, pink buds surrounded by the rosy blush of the aureoles. Giles first ran his tongue over the small bumps there, before biting gently on the nipple. Willow collapsed against him, the ache of arousal making her knees weak. He lifted her slightly to position her on the bed.

The bed was so soft on her skin. Every inch of her body had feeling tonight. He kissed his way to the soft "v" of red hair. "Oh.. Please... I.. I..."

"No fear Love, you are beautiful to me." he whispered.

His tongue darted out to taste her. The skin around her clitoris was velvety and he kissed her there. Her smell filled his head with a combination of cinnamon and the musky smell of arousal. When he finally touched the clitoris with the tip of his tongue, he almost sent her into an orgasm right then. Giles stopped and continued to just kiss and love her.

One finger slipped into her entrance, Willow cooed and sighed. She was  wet and tight,  as he gently moved his finger against the walls in little circles. Her muscles clutched at it and Giles took note of her reactions before inserting another finger. He couldn't believe this was the same shy girl he knew. But, Giles also knew that she was his and he wanted this first time to be memorable.

Willow's moans soon become cries as she lifted off the bed saying his name over and over again. Giles waited until she stopped quaking and tenderly kissed his way up to her mouth, his face warm and wet from her moisture.

I love you." she said, over and over again. "No one has touched me like that. Oh Giles..."

He smiled. "Willow I.. I want to make love to you, but I don't want to hurt you. If you want to wait I understand." He whispered the words, hardly able to contain the ache within him.

His sex was hard and he wanted so much to be inside her, to listen to her sigh, to watch her face fill with passion. Never had he wanted anything as much as this woman!

She kissed him, drawing his tongue inside her mouth and sucking on it greedily. He pulled away from her, "My Sweet, I can't do this dressed as I am."

Giles unbuttoned the jacket and shrugged out of it. He was trying to be patient, but he wanted to rip it off. Willow put her hands against his warm skin and rubbed them up to his nipples, gently playing with them. His chest hair was soft, and spongy. Xander and Oz both had hair here and there, but they were mostly smooth. Giles had a large mat of hair with large muscles underneath. His tweed hid so much. Sliding her hands down his body Willow fondled him through the pantaloons. She was gentle and looked up at him every second or so to see if this was alright. She moved away as he removed his pantaloons.

He grinned and took her in his arms. "I want to, I really do. I'm not afraid." she said, rubbing her nose across his chest.

They laid down on the bed together, as Giles  kissed and caressed her softly, murmuring and whispering to her. Ever so gently he pulled her legs apart and positioned himself between them. His hardness rested against her thigh. With his mouth connected to hers, he let the tip of his cock rub between her nether lips. She was squirming against him and he was worried that his weight would be too much. But Willow pulled him on top of her, wrapping her arms around his chest.

Leaning on one arm, he paused at her entrance before pushing in to about an inch. "Ohhhhhhh...." Willow moaned.

She was open to him now, and Giles couldn't wait any longer. With a grunt of passion he penetrated her completely. A shadow of pain crossed her face and Giles was still, letting her get used to his size. "Love?" he whispered.

"Ohhhhh...." she sighed. "It feels... it feels full." She moved against him. "You can't hurt me, I love you so." her voice was soft and hushed.

He pulled out of her and then pushed in again, one stroke. He planned to make this time last, but the feeling of her sex ruffling against his cock was too much. He started to move steadily in and out, never letting his lips leave hers.

Sharp aches of pleasure ran in and around his body, as he moved in and out of Willow. She in turn was breathing heavily, moaning his name. He slammed his lips over hers and crashed into a powerful orgasm. Willow came not a second later, clutching at him wildly.

Giles moved idly inside her making sure she was through. Willow's eyes were closed, and her breathing was still ragged. Every once in a while she would still shudder, as if in the throes of an aftershock of the orgasm she had just had. He pulled out of her slowly and she whimpered a bit, not wanting to lose her contact with him.

He settled against her, still caressing her body as she came down. "I love you." he said kissing her hair.

Willow sighed, powerful emotions were running inside her. Love was the primary emotion. Love Overwhelmed by her feelings, she started to cry tender tears.

"Love, why are you crying? Did I hurt you?" Giles' was distressed at the thought that he hurt her.

"No... no... I'm happy! You love me!" He gently wiped a stay tear with his thumb. "I used to be afraid all the time, with Buffy and big scary things." she rolled on her side. "You know the library isn't that safe. I knew you would protect me, but I still felt... alone..."

"And now?"

"I feel safe." she smiled. "And m... making love to you was so wondrous. Can we do it again?"

Giles' full laugh rang around the room. "Willow you're going to wear me out!" Looking at her, he turned serious. "Are you alright? Truly alright?"

Love made her even more beautiful, if that was possible. He could stay here with her forever. There wouldn't be any vampires, demons, or other creatures of the night to threaten them. He could throw away his old life. But... "Giles, oh... should I call you Rupert?" she asked, a worried look on her face.

"Rupert is nice. I like it when you say it." he sighed. "Love, I 'm thinking of our life here. And the life we've left behind."

"Buffy." the lost sound returning in her voice.

He held her tighter "Are you worried that I'll fall out of love with you?"

"Well... when we go back. You'll forget all about me. You'll have Buffy and stuff."

"And you'll have college and studying and helping me." He nuzzled her nose. "Every night we'll come home together, make love, wake up, make love and live happily ever after, here or there."

Willow started to cry again. "Love, if you're going to cry every time we have sex, it's going be a little hard on us." he chuckled.

"I'm happy! You love me!" she smiled though her tears. He sighed happily, giving her a squeeze.

The air was cooler and the veiling around the bed started to waft in the slight breeze. Giles covered them both with the bedclothes and snuggled closer to her. Soon there was the pitter-patter sound of rain.

Willow got up and wrapped a blanket around her body. The room was darker. Most of the candles had either run down, or blown out. Stretching, she walked over to the window and watched the rain fall. Giles observed her from the bed. Her long hair fluttered around her head, as she clutched the blanket closer to her chest. She was satisfied, Giles had been everything she dreamed of and more. A lifetime with him would be too short.

"Come back to bed Willow. I'm missing you."

She looked over her shoulder. Giles was half covered by the blanket, smiling and patting the empty space beside him.

Grinning like she owned the whole world, she walked back to him shedding the blanket. They made love again to the rhythm of the rain.

Part 20

A cool draft flowing across his face woke Giles up. At first he couldn't fathom where he was. And when he reached for Willow, she wasn't there. A cold, hard fear gripped him and any vestiges of sleep slipped from his mind. What greeted him was not the warm confines of the tower, but the harsh reality of his library office.

Giles stood, and gripped the edge of his desk. He was still in the clothes he wore at the Palace, that was the only clue he had been there. But why was he returned and Willow not? Then he smacked his head, "The amulet!"

If he was here and Willow was there, he could get back to her using the amulet. He bolted out the door and was immediately swept off his feet by a Place guard just outside his office. Giles quickly rolled to his feet, as the guard stabbed at him with his spear. The sharp end caught his calf and he clutched his leg in pain.

Samas walked over to him as the guards held his arms "Nice of you to join us. I was going to start without you, but since you've graciously decided to come out of your office, I thought we should wait." the Prince said, arrogantly. "Please help him up. I want him to see this."

Giles was hauled to his feet. His leg hurt like hell and the guards were none too gentle. Looking around the room he saw Willow stretched out on the library table staring at the ceiling. Four thick ivory candles sat at the corners of the long table-top. "What the bloody..." his curse was cut off by a jab from one of the guards.

The guards dragged Mara out from the stacks to join Samas. "Nice little party we have here." Giles remarked. He was rewarded by a slap from one of the guards.

Samas walked over to Giles and lifted his head. "My friend, you shouldn't insult me. I may not kill you outright and let you suffer first."

"Get to the point." Giles spat back at him.

"Ahh yes, its time for the villain to tell you his story." he walked back to Willow and rolled her skirt up. "I'm surprised Mara didn't tell you everything. But," he bent her knees and opened her up." I would have killed her if she had."

Mara let out a string of curses. Samas waved his hands and she stopped, unable to make a sound. "Her chattering makes me ill."

It tortured Giles to see Willow like this. He was pinned between the two guards, so struggling was out of the question. He wanted to remain conscious for as long as possible. Mara gave him a "pleading" look. Willow lay there immobile.

"This morning, I found out that my night of carnal bliss was not with the fair Willow, but with a concubine." Samas had taken a knife and drew it down his arms. The blood from the cuts ran in little trickles to the tips of his fingers.

"So get on with the show." Giles said, trying to draw Samas' attention from Willow.

"My, my I have so enjoyed your sense of humor." The guards punched Giles savagely in the stomach, then hauled him to his feet again. "It looks like my guards don't appreciate your joke."

"Get on with it." Giles could barely breathe. There seemed to be no way to stop Samas from doing harm to Willow.

Samas started drawing designs on Willow's stomach. Harsh lines ran up and down her torso. He seemed to have an endless supply of blood. "This henna, Mara... You're a genius. How you hid your power from me."

Willow's legs were wide open and she wouldn't move. Giles was desperately trying to find a way to free her... even at the cost of his own life. However, the pain from the casual beating he received at the hand of the guards was sapping his strength.

"Oh yes, the explanation. You see, Willow was meant to be my bride. I am an Ouroboros." He stood before Giles with his arms wide, as if he were bowing.

" Ouroboros..." through a haze of pain Giles was trying to remember what that meant. Over and over again it went through his head. He straightened up, the answer! "Y.. you live forever..." he whispered, knowing the awful truth and what Willow meant to Samas.

"Mara, my sweet, you may explain to our friend what this means."

She was freed from the spell that silenced her. "He is a creature that never dies." she began in a weary voice. "He mates with women and steals their power. When the child he creates becomes old enough, the father becomes the child."

"So you picked Willow to be your wife and mother..." Giles whispered.

"You understand! You're not the idiot I thought you were." Samas touched Giles' cheek  "So you see, she must accept my seed and give birth to me. I live forever in the wombs of strong witches and she is the strongest I have come across in a millennium."

Giles grappled with what Samas was telling him. From what he knew of the Ouroboros, they are symbolized by a snake eating its own tail. It was a creature of great power, born from the belly of a witch on the full moon, with all the knowledgememories and power of the father and of the mother. The Ouroboros rises to kill the father and mate again. This one had picked Willow!

Part 21

"I would've had her long before this, but you told her not to come to me and you refused me access to her. So, I had to bring you across to my world. I planned to kill you." he gestured to Mara. "Then she had to take pity on you and thwart me at every turn! Well the two of  you shall die as I will be born!"

Samas strode over to Willow ripping off his pantaloons. He put his finger to her stomach and recoiled. "What have you done?" His scream echoed around the library.

In his anger he flew over to Mara ripping at her with his long fingernails. "She is with child?!"

"Giles.... " Willow was waking out of her stupor. Giles' heart was heavy. She was pregnant with his child. Any joy was quickly replaced by fear for both the girl he loved and their baby.

Samas was at Willow's side again. "Well I can rid you of the parasite."

He took the knife he used on himself and trailed it down Willow's stomach. "No!" Giles struggled hard against the guards.

It was hopeless. Willow couldn't move to save herself, Mara or Giles. Now she was pregnant by Giles. Life seemed so wonderful... at least she would die with his love still on her lips. A mounting pain spread from her pelvis, masking a strange tingling on her palms.

"Little One." Mara was whispering to her, or talking to her in her head. "Your power is in your palms. The mandalas... It is your love that can free us..."

'Is my love strong enough?' she thought miserably.

The henna that Mara painted on her skin was tingling, but more so in the palms of her hands. She knew she had to touch Samas to hurt him. Willow strained to get her hand over the candles to touch him on the arm. It took most of her energy. The pain radiated up and down her arm centering on her palms. She gripped Samas' forearm and hung on like death. "Agh! You bitch!" he slapped her face.

He dragged her up off the library table, scattering the candles on the floor. Once she was free she grabbed his other arm. Samas screamed like he was on fire. Willow's palms throbbed and burned from the palms outwards.

Giles, taking advantage of the distraction, leaned over and bit down hard on the guard's leg, drawing blood. All he could think about was getting to Willow. The guard pulled Giles back, shoving him to the floor on his back and was about to stab him with his spear.

Willow's freedom also freed Mara. She leapt up out of the arms of her guards and threw herself on the man about to kill Giles, knocking him to the ground. He was instantly on the other man beating him to the ground.

Willow hung on and on. Samas was throwing her around like a small stuffed animal.  He threw her against the stacks and she crumpled up and crashed to the floor. He picked her up with one hand, slamming her back on the table.

"Uhhhhh!" her groan brought Giles to his feet. He ran towards Samas jumping the stairs.

His fist connected with Samas' face. The man staggered backwards. Taking a burning candle from the table, he shoved it in Samas' groin. Mara was trying to help Willow to her feet while keeping what remained of the guards at bay. Samas had Giles by the throat throttling him. Willow knew he was going to die if she didn't do something.

The only way to save them all was to give Samas what he wanted. With a voice that seemed to come from the bottom of her being, she shouted  "Do you want my power? You can have it!"

She spread her arms wide and Samas dropped Giles. Willow concentrated all her power into the palms of her hands. They became a conduit as her magic flowed through and hit Samas square in the chest. He gave a scream that was unearthly, as blue flames enveloped him. Inside the circle of flame, he crumpled up like a dry leaf... then he was gone.

The air in the Library crackled like electricity. The guards were gone, the candles were gone. There was only a wisp of a voice, then silence.

Giles was first to Willow, catching her as she collapsed. He set her gently on the floor, positioning her head on Mara's lap. Her eyes were closed and her face pale gray. "Sweetheart?" he asked. "Can you hear me?"

Her eyes fluttered a bit and slowly opened. "Is the bad guy gone?" her voice was very low.

"Yes my Love, the bad guy is gone." he was very glad to see her alive. "We need to get you to the hospital."

Willow shook her head, placing her hand on his arm. "Oh, G..Giles. I loved you so. I'm sorry to go so soon."

"You're not going anywhere." Giles looked up at Mara, she was crying. His heart was breaking. As soon as he found happiness, it was taken from him.

"Can't help it." Willow whispered.

She put her hand to his face, trying to wipe the tears that flowed down his face. "You m... made me so happy."

Giles squeezed her hand tightly. "Stay with me. Please my Love, stay..."

She put her hand on his face, touching the tears that lay there. "I love you. I wanted to have... th... that b.. baby." Her eyes fluttered and closed.

Giles heard the sirens in the distance. Someone had called the police. But looking at Willow's limp form in his arms, he begged, "Oh god, please... don't leave me alone..."


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