Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004
Annie turned five on February 14th (she was born in 1999)
Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)
Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.
Willow and Tara tie the knot ...
Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta,
her wonderful suggestions, much needed corrections and always
Braveheart by The Highland Orchestrahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5aCySKhZGA
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. This chapter still has some angst, but it's almost over!
Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.
Friday, November 26th, 2004:
Spike knocked lightly on Tara and Willow’s door and waited. After a few moments, Anya opened the door and peeked out to see who it was.
“Oh, it’s just you …” Anya observed, opening the door wider to allow Spike to enter.
“Who’d you think it’d be, the bloody Easter Bunny?” Spike asked as he brushed past her.
“Oh my God! Why would you say that!? Are you out of your mind saying things like that today? Don’t you know it’s bad luck to talk about bunnies on a wedding day!?” Anya exclaimed as Spike walked in.
Spike smirked. He loved getting under Anya’s skin and bunnies always did the trick. Ever since the ‘orgasm’ incident with Annie, he’d done his best to push her buttons every chance he got. Buffy had vetoed the ripping out of her tongue, so agitating her at every opportunity was the next best thing…
“I closed the Magic Box early today, the biggest shopping day of the year, for this wedding … and you have to curse it with talk about bunnies?!” Anya continued as Spike walked further into the room.
“Be a pet and check on your husband,” Spike urged Anya. “I think he’s having a spot of trouble with his tie.”
Anya sighed, rolled her eyes, and looked at Tara. Tara nodded and Anya went off to find Xander and help him with his wardrobe.
Spike stopped short and drew in a sharp breath when Tara turned around. She was dressed in a floor length, strapless, flowing, satin pagan wedding gown. The ivory and rich purple that she and Willow had chosen as the colors for their wedding (yes, they were calling it a wedding – regardless of what the state of California thought) complemented her complexion perfectly and the cut of the dress suited her body equally well – she looked stunning in it.
Tara’s hair was pulled up into a bun on top of her head with just a few wisps of dark blonde curls falling down to frame her face. Baby’s breath adorned her hair and her make-up was light and natural. She gave Spike a crooked smile and ducked her head, turning back around to face the mirror as she checked her dress one last time.
Tara hadn’t seen her family in years. Although she kept in touch with them through letters and the occasional phone call, she was always careful to not include anything with her actual address on it when she wrote (using the PO Box at the university rather than Crawford Street for the return address on letters) and she only used a cell phone to call them. They knew she was in Sunnydale, of course, attending college, but they would never understand her life now. They would never give their blessing for this marriage or for her living with the group of people that occupied the mansion, people that she now considered her family, or for her embracing her powers as a witch.
Her family had stopped paying for her college courses after the first four years – nearly every letter and phone call from her father or brother centered on them saying that she needed to come home, but she simply ignored their pleas, saying that she was still attending college and working towards a higher degree, which was true. Tara had gotten a partial scholarship and some grants and taken out student loans to pursue her master’s degree in psychology, and Willow used money that her parents gave her to support them and help Tara pay some of her bills, as well. Of course, living rent-free at the mansion helped a lot, too.
Both Willow and Tara wanted to combine parts of a traditional marriage with those of a Wiccan handfasting, after all, they’d grown up dreaming of this day – what girl hadn’t? Being walked down the aisle by their father was something girls grew up dreaming of, even practicing – humming “dum, dum, de-dum” and walking in that slow, “step, pause, step, pause” rhythm that they’d seen on TV and movies. So they both decided that, even though it wouldn’t be a traditional marriage, that part of the old dream could still come true. Since she couldn’t ask her actual father to do it, Tara had asked the one man she felt closest to in Sunnydale if he would walk her down the aisle and ‘give her away’. Spike, of course, agreed without hesitation.
“You look absolutely radiant, pet,” Spike breathed as he started moving again and stepped up beside her as she stood in front of the mirror.
Tara blushed and looked at Spike. “You look pretty dashing, yourself…” she told him with a shy smile.
Spike had on a black tuxedo with a black bow tie and a purple cummerbund that matched the purple that Willow and Tara had in their dresses.
“All ready to jump the broom, then?” he asked with a soft smile and Tara nodded nervously.
“You don’t look ready,” Spike said, looking her up and down with a worried look on his face.
“I don’t?” Tara asked with concern, turning back to the mirror to check again.
Spike shook his head solemnly. “Nope. You’re missin’ some things…”
“What? What am I missing?” Tara asked, looking back at him with near panic on her face.
“Sumthin’ old, sumthin’ new, sumthin’ borrowed, sumthin’ blue, a silver sixpence in your shoe…” Spike rhymed with a smile.
Tara blew out a long breath and tried to calm her racing heart. “God, Spike – you scared me to death…”
“Sorry, pet. Let me make it up to ya,” he said, holding out a blue cameo ring to her. “It was my mum’s … it’ll cover the old and blue bits,” he said with a soft smile.
“God, Spike…it’s…it’s lovely. And it’ll cover the borrowed, too!” Tara exclaimed, taking it and sliding it on her finger.
“No, it’s for you to keep,” Spike started.
“Oh no, Spike, I couldn’t! It was your mom’s … it should go to Buffy or Annie – stay in the family,” Tara argued.
“You are family, pet,” Spike told her. “I want you to have it. It suits you. You have an old soul, a kind soul – you were a Victorian lady once, I can see it in you. This ring belonged to another kind, Victorian lady and it would honor her, and me, if you’d accept it,” Spike told her, his accent fading from the rough cockney drawl to the smoother, more refined accent of his youth.
Tara nodded slowly as she admired the ring and tears stung her eyes. When she left her family in Alabama and came to California, she didn’t know what to expect. She was alone, shy, unsure of herself, and had powers that she didn’t fully understand. She didn’t really know where she fit in in the world … but she knew it wasn’t with her family in Alabama. They didn’t understand; they’d never understand. She felt so lucky to have found a new family that loved her and respected her, accepted and understood her, as well as a woman that she loved who loved her back just as much.
“Thank you,” she said softly as she looked back up and met Spike’s eyes. “For everything.”
Spike shrugged and looked down at the floor, running his hand across the back of his neck, suddenly feeling a little self-conscious. He loved Tara like a sister. She hadn’t known him before he had his soul, but she’d been here with them and helped them through many a tough situation. She’d never been afraid of Spike, she never hesitated to stand up to him or tell him when he was wrong – it was like she knew he wouldn’t hurt her, and she was right.
Spike stuffed his hands down in the pockets of his trousers and suddenly looked back up with wide eyes. “Bloody hell, I almost forgot the rest!”
Spike pulled out Buffy’s diamond and ruby heart necklace and held it up for Tara. “Sumthin’ borrowed,” he explained and she turned around for him to fasten it around her neck.
When he’d finished, Tara ran her hand across the necklace and looked in the mirror. The love and devotion that Buffy and Spike had for each other seemed to radiate out from the gemstones and combine with the love she felt for Willow, making her heart soar.
When Tara turned back to Spike, he held up a silver coin, a 1787 half-shilling, or sixpence. Tara tilted her head and looked at him with confusion. “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue … I’ve never heard the shoe thing before,” she told him as she reached out and took the old silver coin from his hand.
“Sumthin’ old,” Spike started, “honors the past; represents continuity of the past moving to the future. You don’t leave the past behind, it is what makes you you …
“Sumthin new,” Spike continued, “represents optimism for the future and the new life you’ll have together.
“The sumthin’ borrowed is best borrowed from someone who is truly, madly, deeply in love, and happily married. You’re borrowing their passion, devotion, and good luck to help you through the hard times,” Spike explained further.
“In the past, blue was the symbol of faithfulness, purity, and loyalty. The sumthin’ blue tells your love that you’ll always be true…”
“True blue,” Tara muttered softly, looking down at the cameo ring Spike had given her and Spike nodded.
“The silver sixpence is to bring you luck with money – financial well bein’,” Spike explained.
Tara snorted softly and rolled her eyes as she looked at the coin. That would be the day…
She grabbed onto Spike’s arm as she reached down, slid one shoe off, and dropped the coin into it before slipping her foot back in. She was thankful she and Willow had opted for comfortable shoes instead of high heels … in keeping with the pagan theme, of course.
“Am I ready now, kind sir?” Tara asked with a smile, as she spread her arms out from her body and turned in a slow circle in front of him.
“I believe you are, Lady Tara. …You are … effulgent,” Spike replied with a soft smile as he held his bent arm out for her to take and they headed out of the room to meet her destiny.
“Oh God, I’m gonna be late for my own wedding!” Willow exclaimed as she changed her hair for the fourth time. She’d tried it up, then down …. then up again … now she was taking it back down.
“You can’t be late for your own wedding – they can’t start without you,” Buffy assured her as she helped Willow take the combs and flowers out of her hair and let it back down.
“God, my hair’s a mess! Why does the universe pick my wedding day to give me bad hair?! I’m gonna look like something the cat dragged in…Oh, God, this is horrible!” Willow continued ranting nervously.
“Wills…” Buffy started.
“I mean, seriously! Couldn’t the gods smile on me just this once? One day in my whole life that I’d like my hair to look nice!” Willow interrupted her.
“Will…” Buffy began again.
“Look at this!” Willow exclaimed, picking her hair up and letting it fall limply down to her shoulders.
“Willow!” Buffy yelled, grabbing Willow by the shoulders and turning her away from the mirror. “Calm down. Everything will be fine.”
“Oh sure, easy for you to say – you’re not the one with limp hair!”
“Willow – I was nine months pregnant when I got married …” Buffy reminded her.
“Sure, but your hair was perfect!”
Buffy let out a long sigh and let go of Willow’s shoulders. “I could've shaved my head bald and no one would've noticed, their eyes were drawn to my giant stomach. Hair is a much easier fix.
“Why don’t you just … you know, magic it up?” Buffy asked her, waving her hand at Willow’s hair.
“You can’t just ‘magic up’ your hair ‘cause it’s the most important day of your life! That’s against the rules …”
“I didn’t know there were rules. Is there a user guide for witches that I don’t know about?” Buffy asked, looking at her curiously. “What can it hurt?”
Willow shook her head. “You start down that road and you never know where it will lead, Buffy. It’d be like you or Spike using your strength to … I don’t know, make a million dollars playing football or something…” Willow explained.
“A million dollars? Seriously? Playing a game?” Buffy asked, suddenly interested.
“You’re missing my point, Buffy …”
“Right – ‘cause that would be wrong,” Buffy said, nodding her head solemnly. A million dollars?
“Exactly,” Willow agreed. She turned back to the mirror and picked up the curling iron and started curling a section of her hair around it – again.
“Ok, let me go get some of that super-hold hair spray that eats away at the ozone layer and is causing global warming and the destruction of the planet … that’d be ok to use, right?” Buffy asked with a tinge of sarcasm.
“Oh! Do you have some of that? Yeah, that would be perfect!” Willow exclaimed, completely missing the sarcasm in her voice as she held the curling iron near her scalp and waited for it to perform its unmagical-magic. Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head before heading out to get some of the hairspray for Willow.
Willow’s parents had met Tara many times, but her mother always thought that it was just a phase Willow was going through and that it would pass. When Willow announced their engagement, she thought her father was going to have a stroke; her mother had reassured her that they would support her decision, although it was obvious that she was on the verge of turning to some self-medication herself.
When Willow told them that the wedding would be the day after Thanksgiving, the night of the full moon, her mother told her that they couldn’t attend – they were going to New York to visit relatives for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t be back until the next week. They did offer to cover half of the expenses, though – which Willow accepted. It was typical of them, paying for her wedding, but not attending, was a type of passive-aggressive behavior meant to make her feel guilty, and it usually worked. Willow was disappointed, but she and Tara had their hearts set on getting married under a full moon in the fall, and that day just happened to fall on the Friday after Thanksgiving this year.
Willow knew that she’d disappointed her parents with her choice of a woman as her partner and felt guilty for not living up to their expectations, but in her heart she knew that what she was doing was right – she loved Tara more than life itself; Tara was her soul mate, she was sure of it. And so, here she was with her adopted family; a family that understood what it meant to love someone that much; a family that didn’t judge you for following your heart; a family that she loved and who loved her just as much.
After another twenty minutes of fussing and curling and spraying her hair with the ozone killing hairspray, Willow was finally happy with it. Buffy helped her get the wreath of flowers back on and Willow turned to look at her friend.
“How do I look? Am I ready to get married?” Willow asked, holding her arms out to the side.
Her floor length, ‘Maid Marion’ dress was simpler than Tara’s, but in the same ivory with purple piping that matched Tara’s dress. Willow’s hair now fell in curls around her shoulders and her head was adorned with a wreath made of dried flowers and herbs.
“Almost,” Buffy told her with a soft smile.
Buffy retrieved a small box from the dresser and handed it to Willow. “This is for you … something old, something blue,” Buffy told her.
Willow opened the box and pulled out an old fashioned hair locket made in silver with blue porcelain inlay.
“Buffy …it’s … wow!” Willow exclaimed as she handed it to Buffy to hook around her neck.
“It was Grandma Gordon’s,” Buffy explained as she hooked it. “Now it’s yours.”
“What? Your mom’s mother? No, Buffy,” Willow said as she started to take the necklace off.
Buffy stilled her hand. “Yes – I want you to have it. You’ve been like a sister to me for so long; we’ve been through so much together. You’re my best girlfriend, you’re family – you helped Spike and Annie when I was dead … you even brought me back from the dead…”
“I snatched you out of heaven and dropped you back here in purgatory with the regular folks, you mean,” Willow reminded her despondently.
“Well, there’s that …” Buffy rolled her eyes. “I don’t think I ever really thanked you for that, did I?”
Willow snorted softly and rolled her eyes. “For dragging you back into the battle so you could get kidnapped and tortured by the First and almost torn apart by those ubervamps and shot by Finn and nearly drowned by Spike and …”
“Thank you,” Buffy interrupted her, pulling Willow into a tight hug. “Thank you for giving me Spike back. Thank you for giving me the chance to see Annie grow up. Thank you for Dani and Billy. Thank you, Willow.”
“Buffy, this should go to Annie or Dani, not me,” Willow continued to object when Buffy released the hug, but Buffy just shook her head.
“This is something I want to do … don’t make me beat you up on your wedding day, Rosenberg,” Buffy threatened sarcastically.
“Wow … I don’t know what to say,” Willow muttered, as she turned to look at the antique necklace in the mirror.
“I’ve been told that ‘thank you’ is the generally accepted response to giftiness,” Buffy teased as she watched Willow in the mirror.
Willow met her eyes in the mirror and smiled. “Thank you.”
“You’re beyond welcome.”
“Buffy? Do you think I’m…disappointing?” Willow asked, turning around to look at her friend.
Buffy tilted her head and furrowed her brow in confusion. “Disappointing? … No – what do you mean?”
“I mean this,” Willow elaborated, spreading her arms out. “Marrying Tara … being gay, embracing Wicca – it’s not what my parents really had in mind. I mean, I should be marrying a Jewish Urologist, who was, coincidentally male, and living in Reseda … or somewhere equally milquetoasty.”
“Awwww, Wills … no, you’re not disappointing at all,” Buffy assured her. “You love Tara and she loves you – I couldn’t imagine either of you with anyone else.
“You want disappointing, try being a pregnant, unmarried, teenage Slayer who’s been kicked out of high school and under investigation for murder.” Buffy smiled and took Willow back into a hug. “You can’t live your life to please your parents. They’ll be happy if you’re happy – trust me, I’m a mom, I know these things now. They just need some time to realize that you really are happy. You are happy, right? I mean, even though Tara’s not a Urologist…”
Willow laughed lightly and nodded her head against Buffy’s shoulder.
“Well, there you go,” Buffy assured her again as she released her from the hug and met her friend’s eyes, “that’s all any parent dreams of.”
Buffy pulled off the ring that Spike had given her on Labor Day, the four rubies in four hearts wrapped in diamonds, and held it out to Willow. “Something borrowed,” she explained as Willow looked at her with confusion.
“Wow, this is better than Christmas! Especially at my house, since … duh! Jewish!” Willow teased as she slid Buffy’s ring onto her right hand.
“I love you, Buffy,” Willow said softly as she hugged her friend.
“I love you too, Wills,” Buffy replied, returning her friend’s hug. “Whatta say we get you hitched? I’m tired of being the only old married woman in the house.”
Willow laughed, pulled out of the hug, and nodded.
“I’ll go get Xander and meet you outside…” Buffy told her as she turned and left the room.
Since Willow’s dad wouldn’t be at the ceremony, Willow had asked Xander to give her away and he agreed immediately. It seemed somehow fitting and hugely ironic, given her childhood … and even teenage, crush on him.
“Wow, look at you,” Xander said as he entered the room and saw Willow in her wedding attire. “All grown up and getting married.”
“Yeah – when did that happen?” Willow asked with a smile as she hugged Xander.
“I keep wondering that myself,” Xander told her as he returned her hug. “You look beautiful … as beautiful as any bride ever dared.”
Willow blushed slightly and looked back at the mirror as she adjusted the necklace Buffy had given her and the flowers in her hair. She’d dreamt of this day since they were young … but in her dreams it was Xander she was marrying. Funny how life seems to know where to lead you, even if you don’t always know where you’re going. A Zen saying flashed through her mind, “No snowflake ever fell in the wrong place.” She was sure that, on this occasion at least, she was a snowflake and in the exact right place.
“Ready?” Xander asked, extending the crook of his arm towards her.
“Yep …” Willow replied with a smile and took his arm and they headed out of the room and to her destiny.
All their guests, which included all the Scoobies, Faith and Wesley, as well as friends from college and their Wicca group, gathered in the garden for what Willow and Tara had simply called “a joining of two hearts” in the invitations and the announcement they’d put in the local Wiccan newsletter. It would be a combination of a traditional wedding and handfasting that they’d partly written themselves and partly taken from other handfasting ceremonies they’d attended.
The garden was lit entirely with banks of white pillar candles and the full moon and twinkling stars that shone brightly above. There were bouquets of purple hued wildflowers around the altar, which matched the flowers that both women had in their bouquets.
They had chosen purple because it combines the stability and pureness of blue and the energy and passion of red. It represents the Crown Chakra … wisdom and spirituality and the knowledge that all things in the universe are connected – we are all one – pull one thread out of the tapestry of the universe and the rest will unravel. That’s very much how Tara and Willow felt about each other – like they were as one – one soul that was lucky enough to find it’s other half.
At about thirty minutes before midnight on the night of the full moon in November, with all their guests in the garden and spilling through the double doors into the great room, the music they’d chosen for their processional began playing. It was the theme from “Braveheart” …
All the guests quieted and those lucky enough to have a seat stood up as Buffy started the processional, leading the way down the stairs from the street and into the garden. There were candles burning in weighted-down, white paper bags on each step to light the way as Buffy walked slowly down the stairs. Anya followed a few steps behind Buffy; both matrons of honor held bouquets of fragrant lavender to symbolically cleanse the path for the brides.
Willow and Tara had chosen a simple dress for their matrons of honor and flower girl. An ivory colored, floor length, sleeveless dress made of organza with a purple sash that matched the color in Willow and Tara’s dresses.
As Buffy reached the bottom step she saw Spike standing to one side waiting for Tara to come down the steps. His eyes were glued on her and met hers as she walked slowly towards him. He looked so handsome in his formal wear, it made her heart melt. She remembered her wedding day, when she’d walked this same path to him and tears stung her eyes, remembering her mom and Giles giving her away and the love she saw in Spike’s eyes as she stood by his side and they took their vows – she never got tired of seeing that look in his eyes.
I love you, you shirty Slayer, Spike sent her through their bond and gave her a little wink as Buffy passed by him.
I love you, too, you handsome vampire, she sent back with a soft smile as she turned and started for the altar, forcing herself to break eye contact with him.
Annie followed the two matrons of honor. She walked slowly down the stairs, just like Buffy had shown and practiced with her, sprinkling purple rose petals on the stairs as she went, being careful not to spread too many at first so she wouldn’t run out before she got to the altar. She was dressed in a simple flower girl dress that matched Buffy and Anya’s. She had the same dried flowers in her hair that Willow had in hers, and a wicker basket full of the fragrant rose petals.
Willow followed Annie down the stairs, a bouquet of wildflowers in all shades of purple in her hands. When she reached the bottom, she took Xander’s arm and he escorted her to the point where the aisle turned towards the altar and they stopped.
Willow looked up the stairs and watched Tara descend them. She thought Tara had never looked lovelier than that moment, bathed in candlelight and moonlight, she seemed to float down the stairs like an angel. Willow swallowed a lump in her throat … Buffy’s question rang in her head, “Are you happy?” ‘Happy’ couldn’t begin to describe what she felt at that moment. Euphoric, ecstatic, exultant … effulgent … her heart felt so full of love she thought she might actually float away at any moment.
As Tara reached the bottom of the stairs, she took Spike’s arm and he led her up next to Willow. The two brides on the inside of the aisle, side by side, with their handsome escorts at their sides, began to walk slowly down the aisle towards the altar as one.
When they reached the Wiccan Priestess who was performing their ceremony, the music came to an end and all the guests that had chairs took their seat… the guests in the back and in the great room remained standing. The garden, even though filled with people, was a quiet as a church – it was a cathedral of nature, under the moon and stars. The only sound was the light trickling of water from the fountain; the fragrance of rose petals, lavender, and night blooming jasmine filled the air as everyone waited for the Priestess to begin.
“Blessed be all who attend this glorious celebration, and blessed be those about to be united in the bonds of love,” the Wiccan Priestess began and all the Wiccans in the garden replied with “Blessed be,” in one voice.
The Priestess looked at Willow and asked, “Do you come of your own freewill and accord – led only by the love in your heart?”
“Yes, I do,” Willow replied, looking at Tara with all the love she felt in her heart.
“With whom do you come and whose blessings accompany you?” the Priestess asked, still looking at Willow.
“She comes with me, her lifelong friend, and is accompanied by all of her family's and friends’ blessings,” Xander responded as Willow released his arm and he stepped back to the side next to Anya.
The Priestess turned to Tara and asked, “Do you come of your own freewill and accord – led only by the love in your heart?”
“Yes, I do,” Tara replied as her eyes held Willow’s across the aisle.
“And with whom do you come and whose blessings accompany you?” the Priestess continued.
“She comes with me, she is the sister I never had, and is accompanied by all of her family's and friends’ blessings,” Spike responded, his cockney accent fading to the more refined accent that his mother would’ve recognized, as Tara released his arm and he stepped back to the side and stood next to Buffy and Annie.
Tara and Willow moved slightly closer together as their escorts stepped aside until they were standing in front of the altar and the Priestess, their shoulders not quite touching, as they both held their bouquets of wildflowers and listened to the blessing the Priestess recited…
“Blessed be this
union with the gifts of the East.
Communication of the heart, mind, and body,
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each sun.
The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.
“Blessed be this
union with the gifts of the South.
Warmth of hearth and home,
The heat of the heart's passion,
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times.
“Blessed be this
union with the gifts of the West.
The deep commitments of the lake; the swift excitement of the river,
The refreshing cleansing of the rain;
The all encompassing passion of the sea.
“Blessed be this
union with the gifts of the North.
Firm foundation on which to build,
Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives;
A stable home to which you may always return.
“Each of these
blessings emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and
successful life, yet they are only tools.
Tools which you must use collectively in order to create what you seek in your life together.”
Willow and Tara both turned to face the east, their backs to the Priestess as they started their vows.
“Here do I promise you communication, laughter, imagination, and hope,” Willow began as they faced the direction of the rising sun.
“And all this do I promise you,” Tara responded.
They both turned as one to face the south. “Here do I promise you love, passion, desire, and warmth,” Tara continued.
“And all this do I promise you,” Willow replied.
The couple turned again to face the west. “Here do I promise you healing, compassion, honesty, and understanding,” Willow continued.
“And all this do I promise you,” Tara replied.
Finally, they turned to the north. “Here do I promise you stability, solidity, dependability, and strength,” Tara finished.
“And all this do I promise you,” Willow replied.
They both turned back to the Priestess and all the Wiccans at the ceremony said in unison, along with Willow and Tara, “So mote it be.”
After a moment, the Priestess continued, "Everything the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round, the earth is round, the moon is round, and so are the stars. The wind in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nests in circles ... The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always coming back again to where they were.
“By exchanging rings, you are committing yourself to each other for eternity with no beginning and no ending to your love. Do not take this step lightly, for it is a leap that only faith and true love can temper. Are you prepared to make this commitment to each other?” the Priestess asked them both.
Willow and Tara looked at each other, their eyes locking for a long moment before they both nodded slowly.
Anya and Buffy took Willow and Tara’s bouquets and Xander handed Willow the simple gold band that she and Tara had chosen to represent their commitment to each other.
“I give you this ring to wear with love and joy. As a ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I give you my heart to hold and keep this day and forevermore,” Willow vowed as she slipped the ring on Tara’s finger.
“I will keep your heart safe within mine from this day until the sun and moon no longer shine,” Tara replied.
Spike handed Tara the other wedding band and she made the same vow to Willow and Willow the same vow to Tara to keep her heart safe until the end of time as Tara slipped the ring on her finger.
The Priestess picked up a long, red ribbon from the altar and held it up. “If anyone has any objection to, or reason why, these two souls should not be joined in love for eternity, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
“It’s blasphemy … unnatural – a crime against all things pure!” came a male voice from the back of the room and everyone gasped as they turned around to see who had spoken.
A man in his forties walked through the middle of the crowd from the great room, through the double doors towards the altar as the people parted to let him pass. When he got in view of Willow and Tara, Tara’s face fell, the blood drained from her face, and her heart raced in her chest. “Oh my God.”
“I was worried about the demon, but you’ve turned into something much worse!” the man continued as he walked up the aisle towards Willow and Tara. “I knew I should’ve come for you sooner … this is over. You’re coming home now, young lady.”
“Who the bloody hell are you?” Spike spoke up, stepping between Tara and the man.
“Tara? Have you’ve forgotten your manners, too? Why don’t you introduce me to your friends?” the man asked as he came within a couple of feet of Spike.
“Oh God…” Tara repeated before grabbing Spike’s arm and stepping between him and the man. “D-Dad…How? What…what are you doing here?” she stammered.
“Saving you from burning in eternal hell with the rest of these … these … heathens.” Tara’s father announced to the whole room. “Did you cast a spell to get them to accept you?” he asked, looking at Tara.
“W-what? N-n-no. Dad, please, can we talk about this somewhere else?”
“Is this the best you could do? This bunch of deviants, when you had a family that loved you back home, who could’ve helped you?” her father continued in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear.
“D-Daddy, please,” Tara pleaded with him as she tried to steer him back down the aisle towards the stairs.
“What’s the matter, Tara, don’t want all your little friends knowing what you really are?” Mr. Maclay asked her as he stood firm in the center of the garden. “She’s a DEMON!” he yelled out so even the neighbors could hear. “A dirty, filthy demon who’d just as soon eat your brains as look at you!”
“D-Daddy!” Tara begged him, pushing with all her might to get him to move.
Spike had had just about enough of this man … Tara’s father or not. Tara hadn’t told Spike much about her family, and now he could understand why. Spike stepped up next to them and took the man by the back his collar, physically lifting him up so his feet were off the floor, and half dragged, half carried him back down the aisle and into the mansion, through the great room and into the training room. Tara, Willow, Buffy, Xander, and Anya all followed quickly behind. Buffy told the Priestess to just wait and asked Faith to stay with Annie until she came back.
Spike tossed Tara’s father against the padded wall and waited for him to stand back up. “What the bloody hell is your problem, you nit?” Spike asked him as Tara rushed in and put herself between Spike and her father again. “Can’t you see you’re ruining your own daughter’s bloody wedding?”
“Oh, is that what this is? A wedding? Between two women?” Tara’s father asked incredulously. “An abomination, is what it is!
“Is that really the best you could do, girl? Not even good enough to get a man,” her father accused. “You’re coming home where we can fix you … get you back to normal.”
“N-n-o,” Tara stammered, her voice shaking as tears stung her eyes.
“What did you say to me, young lady?” her father asked, his voice threatening as he moved towards her.
“I-I’m n-not going. N-no,” Tara stood firm as she shook her head. “I don’t need fixing...”
Mr. Maclay looked at the group in the room. “She’s a disgusting demon!” he informed them, pointing his finger at Tara.
“Just what kind of demon is she?” Anya asked as Spike snorted and Buffy and Xander rolled their eyes.
“Didn’t you hear me? An evil, disgusting …” Mr. Maclay started again.
“Yes, I heard that – but what kind of demon, specifically?” Anya pressed, stepping forward next to Tara. “I mean there are lots of different kinds of demons …Some are very, very evil. And some have been considered to be useful members of society. I haven’t noticed any horns or fangs … no bloodletting or ritual sacrifices, have you, Willow?” Anya asked, looking back at Willow.
Willow stepped forward on the other side of Tara. “No, nothing.”
“Evil is evil…” Tara’s father persisted. “She’s coming home with me.”
“I believe the girl said ‘no’,” Spike reminded him, stepping up next to Willow.
“Oh, tough guy, are you?” Mr. Maclay asked sarcastically. “You won’t be so tough when she’s got you hung up on a meat hook by your heels cutting pentagrams in your flesh.”
“Well, long as it ain’t crosses, I reckon I’ll survive,” Spike smirked as he morphed into game face and growled at Tara’s father.
“Holy shit!” Mr. Maclay exclaimed, holding his index fingers up in a cross in front of himself and stepping back from Spike. Spike stepped forward until Tara’s father was pinned between him and the wall at his back.
“The girl said ‘no’. If she’s a demon, I’m Bugs Bunny,” Spike told him as he leaned close to his neck, a deep rumbling growl emanating from his throat.
“Oh, God, Spike! Why do you have to do that!? I told you no bunny talk on their wedding day! See what you’ve done!? This is your fault! Geez!” Anya exclaimed, covering her ears and turning away from Spike and Mr. Maclay.
Spike laughed…he hadn’t actually intended on pressing Anya’s buttons again, but he’d take that freebie.
“Well, you better get some carrot juice, Bugs … ‘cause she’s a demon – her mother was a demon and so is she. Her mother hid it well. I expect she’s done the same,” Tara’s father insisted.
“Bollocks!” Spike exclaimed, backing up from Mr. Maclay and turning back to Tara. Spike took Tara’s hand and pricked her index finger with his fang.
“OW!!” Tara exclaimed as blood began to flow from the end of her finger. Spike covered her wound with his mouth, pressing his tongue against it to stop the bleeding. After a few moments, he pulled off and looked at Mr. Maclay.
“Tasty,” Spike started. “AB positive – all human with a touch a’ nutmeg ‘n cinnamon. Just how much pumpkin pie did you eat yesterday, Glinda?” he asked with a smirk, turning back to Tara.
Tara blushed and ducked her head. “I was nervous … I eat when I’m nervous,” she explained.
Spike morphed back into his human face and moved dangerously close to Mr. Maclay again, putting one hand on the wall next to his head. “This is her family now. You need to go back to Podunk … crawl back in yer hole and forget ‘er. This is her home – she’s loved and she’s accepted – demons, witches, Slayers, humans, mangy cats. Only thing we don’t take in are bigots.”
“You’re all sick, twisted sons-of-bitches!” Tara’s father yelled as he slid to the side away from Spike and started towards the door. “Mark my words! You’ll burn in hell one day, young lady,” he called back, pointing an accusing finger at Tara. “You and your deviant, perverted, second-rate demon family – every last one of you!” he continued, waving his arm to encompass everyone in the room.
Mr. Maclay opened the door to the training room and stepped out into the great room where the wedding guests were milling around talking and waiting, unsure what to do.
“All of you, too!” he started screaming, waving his arms at the guests. “You’ll all burn! You’re all…”
Tara’s father was stopped short as Spike’s fist connected with his jaw and knocked him out cold. Spike caught the man before he hit the floor and hoisted him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.
“No worries,” Spike told the guests as he carried Tara’s father out. “Just a short intermission and the festivities will resume.”
Spike carried Mr. Maclay up the stairs to the street and located a pickup truck with a camper on the back with Alabama tags. As Spiked started to open the door to the camper to drop her father inside, it suddenly swung open and a younger man with a beard stepped out.
“What did you do to my dad? You’ll pay for this!” he started as he saw his father unconscious on Spike’s shoulder.
Spike grabbed Tara’s brother by the throat with one hand, still holding her father over one shoulder. “I’ll tell you like I told ‘im. If ya know what’s good for you, you’ll get the fuck out of my town and ya won’t come back. Glin…Tara’s stayin’ here. Forget ‘er.”
“Or what?” her brother choked out past Spike’s grip as he reached back behind him into the camper and pulled out a wooden baseball bat.
Spike dropped Tara’s father on the pavement and in one quick move yanked the bat out of her brother’s hands and brought it down against his own thigh with both hands, breaking it in half. Spike held the two halves up. “Or else this is you …”
Tara’s brother’s eyes got as big as saucers. He gulped and backed up away from Spike, feeling his way along the side of the truck, not taking his eyes off the blond. “Sure … yeah, whatever…” he stammered as he continued to back towards the driver’s side of the pickup truck.
“Tosser,” Spike muttered under his breath as he picked Mr. Maclay up off the pavement and shoved him unceremoniously into the back of the camper, slamming the door closed and kicking a deep dent in it just before his son put the truck in drive and took off.
When her father was out of the room with Spike trailing after him, Tara sank to her knees as tears rolled down her face. She could hear him still screaming horrible things at all their guests and friends out in the great room – then suddenly everything went quiet. She was too upset to even think what that might mean … she was so thankful that the obscenities and accusations had stopped.
Tara covered her face and sobbed as Willow knelt beside her and put her arm around her shoulders. “It’s ok, honey … shhhhhh. I think he’s gone,” Willow told her softly as Tara’s body shook with sobs.
“I’m so sorry … I never, I never thought he’d find me. I’ve ruined everything – God, Willow, I’m sorry,” Tara offered through her tears.
“What? You didn’t do anything, baby. That wasn’t you – that was him. You can’t control your family any more than I can control mine,” Willow advised her as she rubbed Tara’s shoulders with a strong hand.
“I don’t know how he found me … how did he know? God, our wedding is ruined – our friends must think … I don’t even know what they must think … this is the worst day of my life,” Tara moaned as she looked up at Willow with a tear streaked face.
Willow shook her head slowly. “It’s the best day of my life …”
“How can you even say that?” Tara asked as tears continued to roll down her face.
Willow held her hand up that had her wedding band on it. “Because I married the love of my life today, my best friend has vowed to keep my heart safe forever and I’m a snowflake …”
“Oh, Willow … I love you so much,” Tara sobbed as she hugged Willow tightly. Then her brows furrowed in confusion and she questioned, “You’re a snowflake?”
Willow laughed lightly and pulled back from the hug as she wiped the tears from Tara’s face with the pad of her thumb. “I’m exactly where I’m meant to be… with you and with our friends who understand us and stand up for us,” Willow explained, waving her arm back towards Buffy, Xander, and Anya.
“What do we do now?” Tara asked quietly, hanging her head and thinking of all the people waiting out in the other rooms.
“We get married …” Willow told her simply.
“But what must everyone think? God, this is a nightmare…” Tara moaned.
“Tara, I don’t care what any of those people think. There’re very few people whose opinions are important – and they’re all here in this room. Besides, if we give ‘em enough booze at the reception, no one will remember anyway…” Willow teased as she stood up and offered Tara her hand.
Tara laughed lightly, took a deep breath, and wiped the rest of her tears away before taking Willow’s hand and standing up. Willow took Tara into a hug. "I love you," Willow whispered to her.
"I love you so much, Willow," Tara whispered back.
“So, we doin’ this or what?” Spike asked, clapping his hands together and rubbing them enthusiastically as he re-entered the training room. “C’mon then … got a broom to jump out ‘ere.”
Tara and Willow laughed lightly and headed out of the training room. The crowds parted to allow the bridal party to make its way back to the altar where the Priestess had waited, as Buffy asked.
When everyone was back in their places, the Priestess began again, holding up the red ribbon, but skipping the part where she asked for objections.
As she began to wrap the ribbon around Tara and Willow’s joined hands, she spoke. “As this knot is tied, so are your lives now bound.
“Woven into this ribbon, imbued into its very fibers, are all the hopes of your loved ones and of yourselves, for your new life together. With the fashioning of this knot do I tie all the desires, dreams, love, and happiness wished here in this place to your lives for as long as the earth rotates around the sun.
“May this ribbon draw your hands together in love, never to be used in anger. May the vows you have spoken never grow bitter in your mouths. May you give each other happiness, understanding, friendship, and love now and forevermore.
“In the joining of hands and the fashion of a knot, so are your lives now bound one to another. You are now joined in love. You may now seal your bond with a kiss,” the Priestess concluded.
Willow and Tara turned to face each other and kissed … tentatively at first, then with the passion and love that they felt for the other as the full moon above bathed them in a heavenly light, making them look like angels from heaven. Their left hands, still joined by the ribbon, were trapped between their bodies, so they hugged the other tightly with their right hands as the kiss went on and their hearts soared into the clouds.
Everyone in the audience cheered and began throwing dried lavender blooms, which rained down on Willow and Tara in a fragrant shower of purple, bringing them back down to earth. As their kiss broke, the music that they’d walked down the aisle to began playing again and Buffy handed Annie the symbolic broom.
It was a small, straw broom decorated with the same dried flowers and herbs that Willow had in her hair. Annie stepped forward and laid the broom on the floor just behind Willow and Tara then stepped back next to Buffy.
Willow unwound the ribbon from their hands and draped it around Tara’s neck, then the newlyweds joined hands and jumped across the broom together before ducking quickly back down the aisle amid the storm of lavender and into the great room, followed by Spike, Buffy and Annie, Anya and Xander, and the rest of the guests that had been in the garden.
The food and drink for the reception was being set out by some of Lorne’s wait staff and chefs, who they’d hired for the occasion at a discount price. Their original plan had been to kiss at exactly midnight, but, as the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Apparently, that saying applied to women, too. No one seemed to mind the late hour (except for Annie) and the reception continued into the early morning hours without any further interruptions or tribulations.
Everyone enjoyed the food and drink and they danced in celebration of the life that Willow and Tara were starting together on this night. A life that would, no doubt, be filled with challenges – but just like their wedding day, they knew they could face and defeat any naysayer and meet any challenge with a brave heart and the help of their friends and adopted family.
About 2am, Spike found Annie curled up on a chair near the fire, fast asleep still in her flower girl dress. She’d tried so hard to stay up, resisted the urgings of Buffy and Tara to go to bed earlier, but ultimately even the excitement and music of the reception, and the promise of another dance with her father, couldn’t keep her awake.
Spike carried her upstairs to her room and laid her down gently on her bed. He pulled the flower wreath from her head and laid it on the nightstand and removed her shoes before he tucked her under her covers, still in her dress. Spike sat next to her for a long while and watched her sleep as he wondered who she would become.
The hurt in Tara’s eyes as her father raved and ridiculed her was forever burned into Spike’s mind. Certainly he and Buffy had dreams for Annie, but the only really important thing is that she be happy. He vowed then to not put her choices down – he never wanted to see that hurt in her eyes.
As a child, they’d raise her the best they could, teach her to think for herself, keep her safe, and make sure she knew she was always loved. As an adult, he’d give advice if she asked and try to steer her away from bad choices, but in the end, only she knew what made her happy and her happiness was the most important thing. He knew that it was the bit in between the child and the adult … too young to fully understand all the ramifications some decisions could have, and too old to willingly accept or ask for help from her parents, that would be the hardest years for all of them.
Spike dropped a kiss on her forehead, stood up, and turned to leave. “Good night, Niblett,” he whispered. “Sweet dreams.”
As Spike reached the door he heard her stir and turned around. “Papa?” she asked softly, her voice rough from sleep.
“Go back to sleep, Niblett,” he advised her as he took a step back towards her.
“Papa, what was wrong with that man?” Annie asked, looking at him with innocent eyes. “What’s an ‘ott’?”
Spike smiled softly and sat back down. “Where’d you hear that, pet?”
“You – I could hear you from the garden, even through the door. You said we didn’t take ‘big otts’ … what’s an ‘ott’?”
Spike chuckled lightly and brushed her hair back from her face with a gentle hand. “A bigot, pet … we don’t take bigots. It means someone who … someone who can’t accept other people for who they are.”
Annie furrowed her brow and considered that a moment. “He doesn’t like us…” she observed.
“No, well, I reckon the feeling was mutual,” Spike told her.
“But he’s Aunt Tara’s papa …” Annie pointed out.
“Yeah, well, not everyone’s lucky enough to have a cool father like you have, Niblett,” Spike told her with a smile.
“He’s like Mr. Anderson from T-ball …” Annie offered. “Did you beat the sh…. heck out of him?”
“Naaaaa …” Spike smiled at her near slip. “Just sent him on his merry way. I doubt we’ll see him again, pet.”
“Ok … good,” Annie sighed as her eyes started to flutter closed.
Spike stood back up as her eyelids closed and he started again for the door.
“And Miss Kitty’s not ‘mangy’,” Annie muttered, half asleep, defending her beloved, four-legged companion.
Spike laughed and looked down at the cat, curled up at the foot of Annie’s bed where it had slept since it was a kitten. “No, I reckon you’re right, pet…” he agreed as he slid out of the room and closed the door. “Not half as mangy as that bigot…”
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