Title: FOR EVER AFTER
Author: Vernon Bruce
Summary: It's bed time in the Giles residence.
Spoiler Warning: None.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of Joss Whendon Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Productions 18 Century Fox, WB Network, etc.
The situation is mine, and I don't mean to infringe upon any copyrights.
Notes: Feed back is greatly appreciated.
Dedication. To Andrea, I hope you feel better soon.
"Once upon a time, in a land not too far way, there was a beautiful witch. Her hair was like flame and her body as slender as a wizard's staff, with a face that was made of all that is love.
"What should we call her, Buffy?" Giles smiled down at his six year old daughter who lay in bed clutching her favorite stuffed rabbit. The girl was the image of her mother and he loved her almost as much.
"Willow, like Mommy of course, silly."
Giles smiled "Willow it is then. He shifted on his chair. A plethora of stuffed toys stared out at him from shelves around the bedroom.
"Willow was a good witch, who lived in a little cottage on the edge of a woods. She shared this home with her best friend, a mighty warrior woman with hair like gold and a beauty that hid her great strength. What will we call the warrior woman."
"Buffy, like me 'caus I'm strong and want to help people."
"Because, lovey, but all right, the warrior can be Buffy." A brief shadow of pain clouded his features but was quickly replaced by a melancholy warmth as he remembered she who in all but blood had been his child. He continued the story.
"Willow was in love with a young and handsome knight..."
"Rupert?" asked Buffy.
"No lovey, this knight's name was OZ."
"I don't like him!" she pouted.
"He was a good man and he loved Willow."
"Willow belongs with Rupert!"
"There is a Rupert in this story."
"Why isn't he with Willow?"
"Maybe if you let me tell the sorry he will be."
"Oh alright then." Buffy put on a miniature version of her mother's resolve face and Giles felt himself turn to warm sticky goo inside.
"I love you, little one."
"I love you too, daddy. Story?"
"As you wish.
"Oz was a good and gentle man with no shortage of courage but he bore a horrible curse. On the three nights of the full moon he would turn into a slavering beast and seek the destruction of all he loved.
"One night he nearly took his sweet Willow's life. If it were not for the intervention of the warrior Buffy, who dragged the beast back and fought him until he was unconscious, Willow would have of a certainty died."
"Yaaa Buffy," The little girl made a fist and punched the air.
"Yes well, when sir Oz returned to himself he was horrified at what he had done and swore that he would not endanger his lady love again. Thus he left in search of a cure for the curse that held him. Willow begged him not to go for she loved him and viewed any parting as terrible but he would not listen.
Willow wept as he mounted his stallion and rode into the woods."
"Is this where Rupert appears?"
"If you insist."
"I do. I want Rupert. I want Rupert." she got up and started bouncing on the bed.
"Young lady, this is a bed time story if you're going to get this worked up."
"Sorry, Daddy." she collapsed back under the covers and put on an innocent face.
"Rupert was a mighty wizard who lived in a tower not far from Willow's cottage. He was very wise and had seen many things in a life that had been long, but not too long. He'd taught Willow a great deal. Having know her since she was little more than a child and had Willow been willing to admit it to herself, she had loved him for years," continued a soft voice from the bed
"Mommy," squealed Buffy.
"Beloved," added Rupert.
"The faculty meeting didn't run as late as I thought." Willow set her brief case on the floor and moved to Buffy's bed side. She kissed the child then Rupert. He gazed at her, aside from thin lines at the corners of her eyes she could have been the girl he proposed to nearly ten years before.
"Daddy was telling me a story," explained Buffy.
"Do you know this one, Mommy."
"I think so," Willow sat on the edge of the bed.
"Can you listen and make sure he tells it right. He always gets Rupert wrong. Makes him sound like a geek."
Willow chuckled and the warmth of the sound glowed through her family. "I'll listen and make sure he tells it right."
"Ok, Daddy. You can start again."
Giles shook his head as a slight blush colored his cheeks. "Willow was so hurt by sir Oz's leaving that none could console her. She sought to end her pain through magic and almost caused Buffy to wed the evil lord Spike from across the sea. She also stole the sight of the Wizard Rupert but discovering what she had done she baked magic cookies and undid the enchantment."
Willow blushed. "Don't forget how the Wizard Rupert also had her groom his horse until its coat shone." she added.
"Oh. That wasn't nice. Rupert should have just forgiven her," said Buffy.
"Some times, little one, someone wants to be punished so they can feel they've set things right. Rupert was trying to give Willow what she needed instead of what she wanted," he explained.
"Owwwww," Willow glared at Rupert with mock anger then the face broke and she smiled. He smiled back.
"As all this went on a very dark and evil thing had watched. Hidden in the woods was a fowl demon. Its hair was like greasy rope and its breath like the reek of a sewer. Its eyes were fiery red coals and its skin like rotting flesh. Its voice.
"Rupert," Interrupted Willow
"Over the top."
"To get back to the story. This demon hated all that was good and hated Willow and Buffy most of all. You see this beast had no power of its own but could steal the power of others, feeding off them like the parasite it was. It drained its victims and left them empty shells. It sensed Willow pain and saw that her wound could be exploited. Disguising it self as a young Gir."
"Rupert!!!" objected Willow.
"Um... err... Of course. Guy and called itself Tara. Tara arraigned to meat Willow and pretended to befriend the beautiful witch. Tara spoke words like silken treads and wove a tapestry of lies. Willow, had she not been so hurt, would never have accepted Tara's flatteries but as it was she listened."
"And didn't listen to anyone else. For the wise wizard Rupert had suspicions about Tara from the moment he met her but Willow's mind was so clouded she could hear no voice but the demons," added Willow.
"Things grew worse and worse. Tara gained more and more power as she sucked the life out of Willow. She also sought to seduce the warrior Buffy into her clutches. A second source of power to be exploited when she finished draining Willow dry.
"Rupert wanted to help but he didn't know how. You see Rupert loved Willow with all his heart but feared that she could never see him as more than a friend."
"Which only goes to show that even a wise wizard can be a complete prat some times," Willow took Rupert's hand and squeezed
"Often I would say." he replied.
Willow picked up the story. "Unbeknownst to Willow the evil Tara had cast a spell that clouded her judgment so that when sir Oz did return, cured of his horrible curse, she sent him away. By then Tara so controlled Willow she could not see the truth of love that is shown by action, only hear the false whispers of Tara's lies."
Rupert continued. "Things went from bad to worse as Willow weakened but could not see past the evil spell that bound her. Finally Rupert could stand it no more. At night, when he knew that Tara was far from the cottage she had taken as her own, Rupert picked the... Awww... Err... cast a spell that cause the lock of the door to open. He snuck into the room and began looking. In a dresser drawer he found them. Two poppets bound with a pink cord. On one was an earring that Willow had lost some months before on the other a lock of Tara's greasy hair. Rupert pulled out the poppets and smuggled them back to his tower."
Willow smiled and picked up the story. "The next day Willow received an urgent call saying that Rupert was ill. Even be spelled as she was she loved him and could not ignore him.
When she entered his tower Buffy met her and Rupert stood in a magic circle in the main room. Tara had come with Willow for she hardly ever left her side in fear that Willow might see through her lies if she did."
Giles spoke "Look what I found in Tara's cottage," said Rupert.
"You broke into my ru... Cottage!" gasped Tara."
Willow continued "Willow couldn't believe her eyes as Rupert held up the evidence of the lust spell. Closing his eyes Rupert muttered a spell and removed Willow's earring from the poppet and tossed it to the witch. He then took an Athame and sliced the cord binding the poppets."
Rupert continued. "Energy roared around the circle then flowed like a river back to Willow from whom it had been stolen."
Willow added "The Demon Tara collapsed as the back lash from the broken spell struck her... aw... err... him. He sobbed as his true form was revealed. Willow's head cleared and she stared at the demon in disgust and said.
"You used me. How could you do that?"
Tara replied. "I love you. I was so lonely and I wanted you so much."
Willow answered. "Love doesn't compel. You stole my right to choose. You don't know what love is. Everything we did was a lie. You are nothing but a filthy rapis.... Repulsive thing. I never want to see you again." Willow looked sadly at the floor.
Rupert continued the story. "Then Buffy the warrior grabbed the demon Tara by the back of the neck and threw her from the wizard's tower.
"Rupert opened the circle. Willow was weeping for though the battle was won some wounds take time to heal. Rupert had no magic that could mend her heart. He knew no spell that could dry her eyes though, at that moment, he would have sold his soul to have done so. All he could do in hold her as she let her pain flow out and so he did because he loves her with all his heart." Rupert took Willow's hand and she smiled sadly at him.
"Rupert did what was best. Pain can't be magicked away. At least not that kind. He held Willow and as the weeks passed listened to her as she came to realize that she could be strong again.
"Finally one day she entered his tower and saw him gazing at her. Sir Oz had found another love and Willow was alone but in his eyes she saw something. His gaze said that Willow would never be alone so long as he was there. She hugged him."
"Rupert was shocked to find his ex student in his arms but he held her. She looked at him and he saw it in her eyes but she still had to be the brave one." Rupert smiled at his wife.
"Willow looked into Rupert's eyes and said exactly this. "Rupert, do you love me? Because, I think I've fallen in love with you."
Giles closed his eyes remembering. And Rupert replied. "I love you more than I have ever loved anything. You are my reason for going on."
Willow finished "Six months later he asked Willow to marry him and a year after that they became husband and wife. Now I won't say they lived happily ever after. There was joy and there was pain, but I will say this. They loved ever after despite what many thought would happen."
"The End. Now go to sleep," said Giles.
"Buffy lay snuggled amongst the blankets already having obeyed the order. Willow and Rupert stood and crept into the hall turning off the light and closing the door behind them.
"You know something Rupert?"
"What?" he asked.
"You ended the story too soon." Willow grabbed the lapels of his suit and pulled him close.
"You never told what happened after Willow and Rupert admitted their love."
Rupert smiled and looked into her face. "Some things are strictly for adult audiences."
"I'm an adult." Willow pulled him down for a kiss.
"That you are." Rupert swept her off her feet and carried her to their bed.
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