Summary: Time travel with someone who won't pay attention!
Feedback: go on. No really. Go on
Disclaimer: I'm not allowed to borrow Spike I'd only get him dirty.
Distribution: Oh if you must. Just tell me so I can brag.
~Part: 1~ Don't forget to concentrate. I mean it!
"Why on earth did I let you talk me into this?" Willow moaned as she clutched her spell book and cast weary looks around at the dark mansion.
It was far too close to midnight for her own peace of mind and all she wanted to do was to go home and be tucked up in bed with a good book and not in the dusty mansion which had starred in some of her most spectacular nightmares.
Buffy sighed as she recognised the look in her friends eyes "Don't get a jelly belly on me now Wills."
"It's just magic is supposed to be used for good benefit to mankind stuff."
*Not poking about in dirty mansions* she wondered briefly if it had been this dirty when the Vampires lived here, she knew that Angelus had enjoyed living in luxury- as had Drusilla. She wondered whether they had hired a maid or if they had cleaned the mansion themselves, no she couldn't imagine Angelus in a maid's uniform. Oh now she could and it was disturbing!
She shuddered as a cold breeze drifted through the room "Besides messing with time has dangerous consequences."
"I know, but going back in time and saving Angel is a benefit to mankind. Think of all the people we save- even if it means never being with him." *Very self sacrificing of me!* Buffy thought nobly. She would save all those people and never have Angel for herself. She just hoped Willow never found her real reason for wanting to do this or she would be short one very good friend.
Willow smiled at her friend "No Angelus, No Acathla, No Drusilla and no.no Spike." Her smile fell a little.
"Oh Wills just think, no more Spike!" Buffy clasped her hands ignoring her friend's downcast face. "Peace at research sessions!" Her expression was ecstatic.
*I like Spike* Willow thought quietly *probably more than I should, but he's really sweet to me and... no more fantasising about Spike! I need to focus for this to work.*
"Ok Buffy remember the spell can only be done at a full moon so we are stuck there for a month."
"Got it, I told Giles we were going on vacation so he's fine with us being gone, oh and I went to Angels' old room in the mansion and I found some old money and jewels we can use them for trade. I also found these."
She held up two dresses from behind the door.
"I *really* don't want to know why Angel has them but we need to fit and hey not be burnt as witches!" She passed one of the extravagant gowns to Willow and began stripping off her clothes to put her own gown on.
Willow stared dubiously at the yards of expensive velvet material. It was a pale blue colour which she figured would not suit her at all, what with her colouring. Willow sighed and turned to put it on. It was tight across her chest and as she looked down she realised she had acquired a cleavage from somewhere. She turned to look at Buffy and burst out laughing at her friend.
"What?" Buffy said the cheesy grin dying from her lips.
"Oh Buffy you looked like Lydia Bennett."
"Who?" Buffy swirled in her sky blue dress which hugged her slim waist and imagined herself dancing in a ballroom.
"Did you read one book for English Lit?" Willow despaired.
"No I was best friends with the video library, cliff notes and you, why crack a book when I don't need to huh?" Buffy stared at her best friend who was doing her best to adjust the low bodice of her dress. Willow was always so self- conscious.
"Pride and prejudice with Mr Darcy." She explained absently
"Oh *Him* I remember." Buffy closed her eyes "Mm hottie alert."
"Ok it's nearly midnight. You got the dates firmly fixed in mind, I need you to concentrate."
"Concentration check." Buffy nodded
Willow took a deep breath, she could not believe she was about to do this.
"Let the spell begin. Focus on Angel, Ireland and the date."
Buffy nodded "Gotcha."
She sat on the floor- on her coat; she wasn't getting the dress dirty, and began to chant.
She put the amulet it had taken weeks to find in a circle of sand with the precise mixture of herbs and continued to chant. Buffy could only hear certain words over the sudden wind that blew.
Dust particles spun around the floor like minture tornado's and picked up leaves and speed as the chanting got louder. Creatures of the night, both natural and demonic hid as the Hellmouth churned up bad vibes.
"Tempus fugit, time to time, rewind, tempus temporis, rights to align, turn back the clock and let wrongs be righted. Praeteritus, Injuries slighted, tempus fugit, rewind!" Willow turned in an anticlockwise circle and smashed the vial on the floor "Time to time, REWIND!"
There was a silence that echoed around the decrepit walls of the mansion and then the very air roared, Willow and Buffy screamed as they found themselves pulled violently into the circle.
As the dust settled and the night time creatures resumed their foraging only the mansion on Crawford Street stood silent as the grave.
~Part: 2~ A whole new world- time, where *are* we exactly?
*Ouch* Willow pulled herself up off the floor and waited for the world to stop spinning. She rubbed her head "B-Buffy?" she croaked.
"Present and in pain." Buffy whimpered "You?"
"Oh all of the good, I think most of my bits are working." She replied slightly sarcastically. She ran her hands over her body just to make sure and then stopped in horror. "Uh oh!"
"What?" Buffy leapt to her feet, ready and alert (albeit dizzy) to fight danger but was unprepared for the sheer dropping in her stomach that accompanied the sight of the smashed vial in Willow's hand.
Willow dropped the shards to the floor and gave Buffy a rueful smile "I think I landed on it. Don't worry I still have the spell book." She motioned to the velvet bag that hung around her wrist "We just need to find an apothecary or local wise woman for the ingredients. They are pretty standard Wicca fare."
"Ok cool." Buffy swayed against the stone wall. "I guess we need to find a motel to stay in." Willow nodded and glanced around them.
They had materialised in a dark corner of an abandoned room, it smelled lightly of oil and grease so Willow supposed they had landed in a factory of some sort. She was glad they were leaving; she had bad luck with factories.
She picked up the small bag they had managed to pull in with them containing Angel's money and jewels and motioned to where the light shone through an open door.
"Wow!" Buffy gasped as they stepped into the bustling streets.
"18th century Ireland." Willow smiled "Just think of the history."
"Human Angel." Buffy breathed.
"Wait!" a thought struck Willow "You didn't make me ignore all the laws of nature and ramifications of time travel just so you could see human Angel right?"
Buffy blushed and Willow gaped amazed at her friends audacity "Buffy!"
"It wasn't the only reason besides it is all really cool."
Willow wholeheartedly agreed it was fascinating, the elaborate dresses and guys in top coats and hats and the bicycles and old fashioned carts, carriages and a few cars.
Wait a minute.
"Buffy, when was Angel human?"
"I don't think this is right." The redhead frowned. "The dress and the cars, It's all wrong. Carriages were around in the 1700's but cars didn't arrive until the mid 1800's I'm sure."
"What do ya mean?" Buffy's voice panicked
A couple of well dressed ladies passed chattering to each other. Willow placed her hand on one of their arms and waited for them to turn around.
"Excuse me ladies," Willow interrupted with her best smile "I do beg your pardon but I was wondering if you could possibly tell me the date today?" She knew from her history lessons and talking to Giles that people in the past were polite when talking to strangers and she was determined to do Giles proud.
"Certainly it's May the 14th." One replied with an accent so like Giles Willow tried not to start.
"And the year?" at the woman's incredulous look Willow hastened to add "My friend and I have been travelling aboard a ship that got lost at sea for a good while, coming from the America's. I feel we have been at sea forever."
"Oh you poor dear." The lady enthused "It is the year of our lord 1879."
"1879?" Willow turned to stare at Buffy "It has been a while." She turned back to the two women who were watching them in unabashed curiosity.
"We were shipwrecked and lost most of our possessions, I don't suppose you could point us to the nearest mot- boarding house or hotel. We are quite exhausted."
*And in serious need of a freak out, we are over a century out!* she added in her head.
"I wouldn't dream of anything than you come to stay at my father's home with me. It does not do for two ladies of such obvious breeding to be staying alone at an inn. My father has enough room for the both of you. If it please you lady?"
"My dear Sophie, is that wise?" hissed her companion
"We would not dream of putting you out." Willow stated not liking Sophie's companion at all.
"I am not at all inconvenienced, I shall be glad to be of service. Until you find more suitable accommodation you may call my home your own."
"Thank you." Willow bowed her head like she'd seen on those old fashioned shows that Buffy laughed at her for watching. She was rewarded when the two ladies repeated the gesture.
"I am. Lady Willow Rosen-" She bit off the last part of her name. She wasn't sure how these ladies would feel about such a Jewish name. She wished she'd learned more about anti-Semitism in Europe. "And this is Lady Buffy Summers." It was a bit of cheek calling themselves Ladies. But while they were here they might as well enjoy it.
"I am Miss Sophie Hardwood and this is my good friend Miss Cecily Adams."
"Delighted" replied Cecily simpering, with a side order of sly.
Buffy glared at her, her stake finger itchy. She didn't like this woman at all, reminded her of a 19th century Cordelia.
"Please follow me Lady Willow." Sophie held out her arm and Willow tucked her hand into the nook. "You must tell me all about yourself and how you came to be in London."
"London?" Willow half turned to shoot Buffy another look, this one filled with suspicion. *we are so talking later.*
~Part: 3~ Did someone forget to concentrate?
Sophie's father was a lovely man who had been widowed when Sophie was young and so was over indulgent of his daughter. Fortunately the loss of her mother at such an age had a softening impact on the girl so she had a sweet temperament- much like her father. He was tall and round with a large nose but jolly features. He would not hear of them seeking different accommodation once he had heard their unfortunate circumstances.
"I insist that you stay with my household until you desire to quit." He stated.
Willow thanked him and Sophie for their generosity and accepted the plea to stay.
Sophie led tem to their rooms after introducing her younger brother Simon, whose birth was the cause of her mother untimely demise. He was a small boy of six or seven with curly blonde hair and bright eyes, like his sister and it was clear he doted on her and visa versa.
Simon seemed particularly taken with Willow and would hide behind his sister skirts and stare at her long red hair.
"Princess." He declared to the amusement of all. Sophie offered the girls the full use of her own wardrobe until they could replenish their own. Willow liked the young lady very much, she was so obliging and sweet tempered.
"We are indebted to you Miss Hardwood." She acknowledged and Buffy added her own words. "Yeah. um yes we are, thank you very much."
Buffy blushed, she was no good at this proper English speaking thing. Willow sounded like she had stepped straight into the pages of a Jane Austen novel, ok an American Jane Austen but she sounded like she fit in. She sighed; it wasn't her fault if she didn't speak Giles.
Sophie left them to change for dinner and smiled to herself. She had two distinguished guest who were perfectly pleasant and amenable. She knew her home would be a popular calling place once the news got out and she had a feeling that her new friends would be invited to the ball held at Gracecourt house.
Willow waited until Sophie's footsteps had faded before turning to Buffy.
"Ok Buff." She said putting her hands on her hips and looking intently at her friend, who had the grace to blush. "How did we get from 18th century Ireland to 19th century London?"
Buffy was seemingly captivated by the floor "Maybe we missed a turning?" she suggested weakly.
"Buffy Ann Summers." Willow's face was a mask of exasperation "Ireland-London?"
"It's your fault." She grumbled "All that talk about Pride and prejudice. I was trying to get Angel but I kept getting Mr Darcy."
Willow gaped, her jaw low. "You.your. ..I need to sit down."
"I'm sorry." Buffy winced as Willow turned red. Oh boy she was going to get into so much trouble for this. "I really am I was distracted."
"The last time I was distracted during a spell you ended up engaged to Spike!" *bitch* she added in her head
"Ew." Buffy shuddered "I remember."
"Besides," Willow added absently "Pride and Prejudice happened mostly in Derbyshire and Longbourne. When we get home I am making you read the damn book." Willow sighed unable to stay angry.
"So, no Angel." Buffy looked downcast for a moment "But gowns and balls, can we just be on vacation?" she pleaded to Willow.
"Fine, we're stuck here for a month anyway. But we can't stay any longer than two."
"Why not?" Buffy looked puzzled
"I gave Anya a letter to give to Giles if we were gone longer than two months. It told him exactly where we were going just in case something went wrong."
"Why two months?"
"Just in case we missed the first deadline."
"Thank you!" Buffy jumped off the bed and hugged her friend, so glad that Willow was a planner.
Willow choked "Slayer strength!" and Buffy backed off with a huge grin "Buffy, Ladies are close to nobility, have some decorum."
"I have just been shipwrecked," Buffy said pompously with mischief in her eyes "I need a little comfort. Oh I guess we need to get our stories straight on that huh? Oh this is so much fun"
Willow nodded. Her mind on other things *One Wicca and one Slayer lost in the 19th century- counting the ways that can go wrong.*
"My dear ladies, there is a ball in a day or two I shall assure you that a invitation shall be forthcoming on the morrow, will you desire to attend?"
"A ball?" Buffy's face showed her obvious pleasure "Of course."
Willow couldn't help smiling at Buffy; she was just like a little kid. They had come down to dinner in their borrowed gowns and were dining with the family. The dining room was large and what you'd expect of a Victorian manor. The spread was not lavish attesting to the financial status of the family, and their good taste. It felt like a home- not just a house, something Willow had been missing her entire life. The walls were encased in a fleur de lit design in palest green which matched the pale green furnishing and drapes.
A merry fire lit up the room crackling away in the background keeping away the chill in the air. The oak table was long and seated them all quite easily. It could have seated a half dozen more quite comfortably. It was simply lovely.
Thinking of her borrowed dress Willow turned to Mr Hardwood.
"Sir, most of our possessions were lost but we did manage to salvage a few jewels which may fetch a price. It may be enough to purchase gowns and such forth. Is there a reputable dealer in such things within the vicinity?"
Buffy watched her friend *When did Willow grow up? And when did she swallow the entire works of Bronte? That's it no more long talks with Giles it's eerie.*
"Yes of course, I know of a very reputable man, I shall be delighted to take you there tomorrow myself. I have business in town so we may take the carriage."
"Thank you very much." Willow smiled at him and gave Simon a quick grin that had him giggling into his soup. At least now they could buy something with Angel's jewels.
Willow only took a few of the jewels with her to the jewellers, but he was rendered speechless by the fine quality of them. He gave them such a price that had Willow's eyes nearly pop out of her head. Thus ensuring that Buffy and Willow would be able to but enough clothes for their stay and still have enough money left over to live comfortably- for the next 50 years! Willow had a brief moment of fear that she was using Angel's life savings but Buffy assuaged her guilt by mentioning that Angel told her to help herself.
"Thank you Angelus." She murmured, but again she didn't want to know how he had come by them.
"Clothes!" bounced Buffy gleefully.
"Ok." Willow giggled at her friends antics and general humour- it had been a while since she'd seen her friend this happy and carefree. "But I refuse to wear a bonnet. Not for you, not for anyone."
As they entered the quaint dress shop, everyone inside froze and turned to stare at the newcomers.
Buffy was an LA girl and was used to the snobby shop keepers on Rodeo Drive, no two bit tailor in backwater London was going to faze her! She marched over to the nearest store girl and requested in her best Slayer voice- the one she reserved for mucus demons who dared slime her new top.
"We'd like to purchase a whole new wardrobe, from the skin out. So hop to it, we don't have all day."
The store assistants fluttered around like headless butterflies "Oh course Ma'am." They twittered.
By the time they left the tailors they were weighed down with clothes. From day dresses, tea dresses and evening gowns to gloves, bodices, corsets and not a bonnet in sight.
Such was their newly acquired fortune- courtesy of Angelus- that even this purchase did not put a dent in their funds.
~Part: 4~ A ball by any other name is still a dance-right?
They returned to the Hardwoods with vast loads of boxes and Willow had ensured to buy gifts for Sophie, Simon and their father as a thank you for "rescuing" them. Mr Hardwood was particularly delighted with his silver cigar and snuff box and Simon was in raptures over the spinning top and puzzles board that Willow had found for him.
Sophie graced their gifts with one of her own "Oh my dear Lady Willow, I received word while you were in town, Mr Ealing himself has invited you to the ball at Gracecourt tomorrow evening. There is to be dancing and I shall enjoy showing you off to everyone, they have been eager to make your acquaintance."
"Everyone huh?" Willow was worried "The London rumour mill seems to work as well as the Sunnydale funeral home."
Sophie looked totally confused but thought it best to ignore it "Do you like to dance?" she asked Buffy
"Oh yeah- yes I do, very much." Buffy paused "I guess dancing's little different here than- oh say the Bronze?"
"Yes here it's very much lines and order, think line dancing without the irony."
"But I don't know any of those dances." Buffy moaned and sat down heavily "And I really wanted to dance too."
"The ball is not until tomorrow evening, I can have Cecily and her brothers come over after supper to teach you if you'd like, it works better with couples." Sophie offered with her sweet voice.
Buffy beamed and even Willow was dazzled by the brilliance of her smile.
It had only taken a few minutes for Willow to decide that she really didn't care much for Cecily Adams at all. She was the perfect recipe for disaster- take Cordelia (pre-Xander), add Anya's perchance for saying the most tactful things with a smattering of Buffy's attitude, half Harmony's brain and there was Cecily: a brain-dead, tactless, heartless bitch with an attitude problem.
Her three brothers, while still simpering and annoying could not compete with their sister of terms of snide unctuousness.
Buffy was able to catch onto the various twists and turns of the dances quite quickly, due in part to her slayer training and in part to cheerleading practice. Willow was quick but not as fast and this caused Cecily some delight.
"Oh not quite my dear Lady Willow," she said in a sugary voice "Almost, but the wrong way."
Willow tried to calm her temper and not react to the ridicule in Cecily's voice, her powers tended to react when she was unfocused and she didn't want a repeat of the time she found Xander had poured chocolate milk all over her favourite book. They'd been cleaning chocolate milk off the ceiling for weeks. So she bit her lip and concentrated on her feet.
Still, she was pleased when it came time for them to leave.
As they chattered before bed Willow made a mental note to find the apothecary to get that ingredient they needed for the spell. They went to sleep that night thinking about dance steps and gowns instead of demons and vampires.
Mr Hardwood was nice enough to provide his carriage for the journey to Gracecourt house which was situated in the centre of a large group of town houses. It could have easily fit Buffy's home in Sunnydale several times over. The dance hall itself was the size of the Sunnydale high gym.
The hall was lit by the giant chandelier that send sparkles of diamond shape light twinkling down on the masses of guests. The walls were pale making the room seem bigger than in actually was, but that didn't really matter as the room was so full of people hardly any of the walls could be seen. The outfits worn were so dazzling and beautiful, the chatter so bright and happy that good vibes were felt the moment they arrived.
Willow and Buffy caused quite a stir when they entered together.
Buffy had dressed in a white a gold dress with puffy sleeves and a gold trim. She had pearls in her hair and pearl drops in her ears.
Willow was a vision of red satin and lace with garnet earrings, necklace and roses in her hair.
Instantly Sophie was seized to acquaint the two girls with everyone. Sophie introduced them to a regiment of soldiers that were stationed nearby making Willow smile secretly at Buffy- now she really could be like Lydia Bennett.
Colonel Morris was very interested in Buffy and soon whisked her off to dance; they made such a handsome couple many eyes were cast in their direction.
Willow was soon surrounded by admirers who were all intrigued by her quiet air of grace and soft humour. Just as Willow was thinking that perhaps tonight wouldn't be too bad, she heard a familiar squeal.
"Lady Willow Rosen, you look marvellous."
"Miss Adams." Willow gritted her teeth, if she could handle Harmony, she could handle Cecily Adams. "How nice to see you again." She nodded to Cecily's brothers "Gentlemen."
"Lady Rosen." They greeted with a bow
"What a splendid little soiree." Cecily oozed saccharine to the officers surrounding Willow. "I am quite overwhelmed- but perhaps balls in the colonies are different Lady Willow?"
"Yes." Willow pulled back a smile imagining Cecily at the Bronze- or the Fish tank.
"Don't look now Cecily but your poetical admirer just arrived." One of her brothers informed Cecily and everyone laughed at her groan. "Oh the Lord have mercy!"
Willow frowned slightly at her sarcastic manner
"Whatever shall become of me, I shall be reduced to a wallflower all evening should he get his way, listening to his verse!"
"Go speak to Mr Rushford, he'll protect you." Sophie suggested
"And here I go!" Cecily turned and fled to a disgruntled old gentleman standing far away from everyone else.
*Bitch* thought Willow *poor guy, whoever he is*
"So Lady Willow, might I request the pleasure of the next dance if you are not otherwise engaged?" Willow's attention was bought back to Lieutenant Kane whose dark wavy hair reminded her slightly of Xander "It would be a pleasure sir." She replied with a smile.
From behind her she heard a muffled curse of someone being bumped into and a hushed apology. She turned and collided with the same someone.
"Oh!" she said and looked up into blue eyes so familiar she could sketch them in her sleep.
"Oh, do excuse me madam." A lock of light brown hair fell into his eyes "I beg your pardon."
The posh London accent was a change from the normal cockney drawl and the life and sensitivity in his apologetic face a far cry from his usual sarcastic smirk.
"Spike?" she whispered but he had moved away and she was unheard.
"Lady Willow?" Lieutenant Kane held out his hand to dance with her. She allowed herself to be dragged to the dance floor in a daze and set herself in a line with other ladies opposite the gentlemen.
Her feet remembered the steps, which was fortunate as her brain was otherwise engaged.
~Part: 5~ Tempus Tantrum or speechless means you don'tspeak!
She looked into the crowds at her first available opportunity and spotted him talking to Cecily, who had a suffering smile on her face. He stood slightly hunched as if shy, his beautiful blue eyes hidden by the hair that fell over his forehead in such an adorable way. His boyish smile lit up his whole face and he looked so human- so attainable.
As the dance finished Willow thanked her partner and weaved her way to corner Sophie who was talking to Cecily, who had escaped.
"You danced beautifully Lady Willow." Sophie complimented
"Thank you," she turned to Cecily and inquired almost breathlessly "Was that your admirer?"
"Yes, my own stalker." Cecily rolled her eyes
"Well perhaps, you could introduce us. I'd very much like to be acquainted with him, it would undoubtedly ease your time for dancing for him to be so preoccupied?"
Cecily was taken aback by this kindness
"Why thank you Lady Rosen I shall introduce you at once." Willow nodded, shaken.
Taking her arm Cecily led her over to where he stood at a table engaged in his own thoughts.
"William?" Cecily captured his attention
"Yes Miss Cecily?" he gave a little hopeful smile
"This is Lady Willow Rosen, Lady Willow this is Mr William Ashton. Lady Willow especially asked to be introduced to you." Cecily made the introductions.
William was honoured that such a beautiful and high born Lady desired his acquaintance. He reached out and taking her hand, kissed it above the knuckles.
"Lady Willow it is a pleasure and honour to meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine." She murmured spellbound at this incarnation of Spike. She recalled her manners and dropped a curtsy.
"Lady Willow is from the America's" Cecily continued absently "With her friend Lady Summers. They are currently staying at the home of the Hardwoods."
"We are indebted to the kindness of the Hardwoods."
William stared at the Lady in front of him, it seemed like she couldn't take her eyes off him- but that was inconceivable, she was a high born Lady, he was nothing. She was so beautiful with that sparkling of intelligence and sweet innocence. She made Cecily dull in comparison.
"I am to dance with Captain Finn, if you wish Mr Ashton will tell you some of his poetry." She added mockingly causing William to duck his head in embarrassment.
"I certainly hope so, I do love poetry, nothing shows a persons character or soul as much as poetry. Even dreariness is pronounced beautiful if it is sincere." *So there bitch.* Willow concluded with satisfaction as Cecily took her leave.
William was totally captivated "I agree Lady Willow, poetry is food for the soul."
"Indeed, and yet how few truly appreciate the emphatics and sentiment- or indeed the value of such personal pronouncements."
Suddenly the surrealism of the situation struck her. She was having a conversation about poetry with one of the most feared vampires in history; one who had attempted to stick a broken bottle in her face- or would; in the future.
Buffy smiled at her partner before seeking out Willow. She felt guilty about leaving her to herself- she knew how shy Willow was at parties. Although Willow seemed to fit into this time so well, she even spoke like them. She spotted Willow talking to a gentleman in the corner. He was tall with light brown hair and had obviously captured Willow's attention. Satisfied that her friend wasn't imitating a shrub Buffy turned back to her dance.
Willow and William sat together in the garden as the dancehall became too hot for Willow, combined with the full intensity of William's eyes focussed on her- it had been too much. They sat side by side in the cool air and William watched transfixed as Willow's hair rippled in the breeze causing the few loose tendrils to sway gently framing her face.
"Tell me about yourself Sp- Mr Ashton." Willow asked
"I live at Bennett Lodge, it's not a grand estate, it was left to me upon my father's death."
"I'm sorry for your loss, was it recent?"
"No. He died when I was but five. My mother and governess raised me."
*Spike had no dad!* Willow felt bad for him.
William raked his hand through his hair "May I ask you a question?" he stared far into the distance and Willow's heart sank; it was the same look Spike got when thinking about Drusilla. Wistful but resigned.
"Did Cecily ask you to employ me so she could have some peace?" he asked bitterly
She knew it was improper in this day and age but she could not help the hand that rose and caressed his cheek causing him to glance up in surprise.
"No." she said softly "I wanted to meet you. I-I saw you and felt a kindred spirit. But I understand your affection is secured on Miss Cecily- however little she deserves such attention, I will not bother you further." Willow got up and hurried away before the tears pushing at her eyes could make their way down her face.
*I can't believe it; I get here before Dru and guess what? He's still in love with someone else- I hate this HATE it. Why am I here? Why do I deserve this? What is so wrong with me?* Se blinked back the tears *I want to go home* the sorrow turned to silent fury as the words pounded in her head *I want to go home, Damn Buffy. I was prepared to spend a month watching her fawn over Angel or even playing nice to that Cecily while she played out her fantasy. I am NOT prepared to spend another month having my crush pushed in my face and my heart stomped on!*
She caught Buffy by the shoulder as she finished a dance and dragged her off into a secluded alcove. Her temper flared
"I swear to god Buffy if you weren't the slayer I'd slap your face. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't just take off and never speak to you again?"
Buffy was beyond shocked "Will.what?"
Willow turned to her viciously "This is all your fault, you are so selfish- you just wanted to screw human Angel and didn't care about whose life you were messing up in the process and I want to go home!"
"What?" Buffy was confused at her friend's words.
Willow replied in her sweetest voice which dripped with barely concealed venom "*Exactly*.what. did you think when I said concentrate on Angel?"
"I told you, Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice."
"Then we would have ended up in Derbyshire- try again."
"Just what we were talking about Wills, you know English Lit, Mr Darcy, research, no more Spike and Angelus."
Willow let loose a huff of breath "So you were thinking about Spike?"
"Not exclusively." Buffy was worried. Xander had assured her that this side of Willow existed but this was the first time Buffy had ever seen it- and it scared her. "Look Wills I said I was sorry and I guess I just didn't- Holy cow!" Her jaw dropped open as William approached them. He bowed.
"Lady Willow, I-I must extend my humblest apologies and I can only ensure you of my mortification and anguish if I have offended you in any way." He bit his lip his eyes attesting to the truthfulness of his statement "I am truly sorry."
Willow turned to Buffy who was now gaping like a fish at William.
"Lady Buffy may I present Mr William Ashton."
"This is Lady Buffy Summers." She motioned to guppy Buffy
"Charmed." he said barely sparing her a glance before his attention was back to Lady Willow "Lady Willow. please.I-"
"Ah William, I see you are still bothering Lady Willow." Cecily had arrived and William blushed again fearing that this was the case.
"He was not bothering me Miss Adams." Willow *really* had reason to hate Cecily now *Vacuous Bitch!*
"Really?" her tinkling laugh only served to irritate Willow further.
"Yes." She stated and then turned to Buffy, who was still doing her fish impression "I have a headache."
"Undoubtedly from William's endeavours." Cecily's remarks caused William to look down and others to laugh.
"Actually we were talking about how few people have the advanced mental capacity and intelligence to appreciate poetry, and how those of low breeding are inclined to dismiss and ridicule those who are predisposed to it. They are simply unable to comprehend the effulgence of the medium. Now if you'll excuse me." Leaving them all gawking at her, she sought out Sophie to inquire about a lift home.
"Well!" Cecily exclaimed aghast at the censure she had perceived in the retort.
"She is quite correct." Observed Cecily's partner, Captain Finn "Poetry is rarely acknowledged by those of low breeding. It takes a true noble to do it justice." There were murmurs of agreement around him as others responded that the elegant, graceful, eloquent and, more importantly, rich Lady Willow was quite correct and indeed astute in her supposition.
Cecily turned to comment to William only to see him weaving his way through the crowds after Lady Willow. It was the first time that William had ever left her side voluntarily and she felt it acutely.
"Spike?" Buffy managed.
Willow stood in the courtyard waiting for Mr Hardwoods carriage. Both he and his daughter had offered their services to keep her company but she had declined, wanting nothing more than to go home and curl up in a little ball for a while.
She paced trying to cool her temper- as testament to the fact that she was a true redhead once her ire was sparked it burned brightly.
"Insufferable. disgusting.vacuous.airhead!" she muttered as she paced
"Lady Willow?" as she turned she saw William run out of the door and stop in front of her.
"I hoped to catch you." He fixed his blue eyes on her "Nobody has ever defended me like that- ever. I-I can't imagine how you must think of me, I am no coward,"
"I know that." She interrupted thinking about Spike. "I have never met anyone like you- so innocent and yet so strong." he said amazed
"Innocent?" that's all anyone saw in her, purity, sweetness and innocence and it really frustrated her- she wasn't a kitten damn it! She mustered up all her anger and courage and pulled him to her and kissed him full on the mouth.
His surprise was momentary before he responded wholeheartedly.
She pulled back to gasp air, fully aware that she had breached protocol in the most wild way. The clatter of hoofs alerted her to the arrival of the carriage.
"Think of me how you will." Not that he'd think of her anyway.
"I think I could easily care for you." William replied sincerely
Willow cautioned her heart before she could fall further and faster than she already was.
"I don't want to be second place." She was thinking about Dru and Cecily.
"You could never be second My Lady." He helped her into the carriage.
As she turned to say goodnight she was almost knocked out by Spike's trademark grin as William caught her hand and placed a gentle kiss above her knuckles.
"Especially not by me."
Willow smiled gently as the carriage pulled off for the Hardwoods.
~Part: 6~ Oh so *now* we want to pay attention?
Buffy hesitated outside Willow's door, they had returned early this morning and she had tiptoed past Willow's room intent on letting her have some time alone to calm down. Xander had assured her that Willow had the temper of a true Redhead and that once it had sparked you had to get out of the way and let it run its course. After the Barbie incident Xander had hid for a week from the wrath of Willow.
Buffy bit her lip and tentatively knocked on the door. After a few seconds she opened the door and peered inside.
The room was flooded in light from the open window causing the flimsy curtains to sway in the breeze. From outside the sound of birdsong and the clatter of carriages could be heard. Buffy turned and saw Willow sitting at her dressing table in front of the mirror putting the finishing touches to her hair. She turned cautious eyes to Buffy
"What?" After spending the rest of the night dreaming of sweet William being killed and tortured by Spike, she was not in the best of moods.
Sensing the tension in her friend Buffy sighed and closed the door stepping further into the room.
"Exactly how much do you hate me right now?" she asked, the quiet question knocking the indignation right out of Willow.
"I don't hate you Buff, I'm sorry I wigged out on you but I was just so surprised."
"Yeah." Buffy sat on the edge of the bed "Colour me stunned who knew Spike would be here?"
"William." Willow corrected and off Buffy's confused look elaborated "William and Spike are two totally different people."
"Ok," Buffy acknowledged "Call me -selfish but I really don't understand how this makes stuff different, or how it messes up anyone's life." She was curious as to what Willow had been so upset about last night. "I mean, yeah we ended up a few years and a good few miles from where we were supposed to be and ok yeah Sp-William but I don't see the bad."
"You really don't." Willow agreed softly "Ok I'll try to explain. Me and Spike are friends, and yeah he's tried to kill me but he's also saved our lives so many times, and he saved the world too."
"Unwillingly." Buffy couldn't help but add "Willingly or not he's still done it. That means that we need him in the future, which means that he has to be killed by Angelus and Drusilla now. How would you feel watching one of your friends knowing that they are gonna die in the most horrible way and there was nothing you could do to save them. You couldn't even warn them."
Realisation dawned on Buffy's face
"Oh ye Gods Willow. I'm so sorry." She stood up and began to pace distressed "I so get that. I'm sorry."
Willow stood and took her friends hands "See what happens when you mess with magic?" She asked gently
"What do we do now? What can I do?" Buffy wanted to make amends.
"Well I for one am headed into town to find our missing ingredient. Then I'm just hoping we can keep a low profile until we go home?"
"I'm coming with." Buffy stated resolutely
"You sure?" Willow asked and Buffy nodded
"Oh trust me, we are talking some major suck up." They grinned at each other before linking arms like the best friends they were and leaving Willow's room.
"Beggin' your pardon Ma'am." A pretty young servant curtseyed as they reached the hallway.
"Yes?" Willow looked at her curiously
"There's a young gentleman come calling. He's waiting in the drawing room, Ma'am." The girl bowed her head and curtseyed again.
Willow grinned at Buffy "One of your admirers from the party?" Buffy had the grace to blush.
But when they entered the drawing room they received a surprise.
"Mr Ashton?" William turned and stared. Last night he'd managed to convince himself that there was no way that Lady Rosen was as beautiful as he'd imagined. But now he stood face to face with her, with the sunlight streaming in through the bay windows behind her framing her face in a halo of light he wondered how he'd underestimated her radiance. He blushed red a her surprise and cursed his own presumption. How could a Goddess like this have really been interested in him? He must have imagined it.
*Oh wow, oh wow.* Willow was stunned. She knew Spike was drop dead (literally) gorgeous, but William? His curly brown hair and cute sheepish smile just melted her knees. Bathed in the daylight, totally unaware of his own beauty she felt her breath catch.
He flushed suddenly and the red in his cheeks drew attention, not only to his breathing status but the red roses he held in his hands.
Buffy stared between the two, Willow was transfixed, and no wonder William really was a sugar cookie. She cleared her throat calling them both back from wherever their thoughts had taken them.
"Oh, Mr Ashton, you remember Lady Buffy?" Willow suddenly remembered her manners.
"Oh yes of course." He bowed his head "It's nice to meet you again."
Buffy attempted a curtsey "You too Spi-" Willow coughed loudly "-specially on such a lovely day." Buffy amended smoothly
"Nice save." Willow whispered
"Oh uh these are for you." William held out the roses to Willow "They are not bought I'm afraid I picked them from my own garden."
"Mwuh." She sighed and buried her face in the roses * He picked them for me from his own garden. He picked *roses* for me!*
Buffy heard the soft whimper and felt alarmed- this was not good. "They're nice huh Wills?"
"Gorgeous." Willow said locking her eyes with William "Thank you."
"Right." Buffy said still looking uneasily at them both "Well we were going out into town so thanks for stopping by." She hinted
"Might I accompany you, if it's not too much of an imposition?" William asked his eyes still on Willow "I have business to attend to in town."
"Sure." Buffy gritted her teeth *he's just as big a pain as Spike, and about as hard to get rid of.*
~Part: 7~ Isn't living there a big enough fairytale?
William stuck close to Willow as they walked into town, much to the annoyance of Buffy who had wanted the time to talk to her best friend and maybe mend some fences. She had to make do with devising new tortures for Spike once they got home and shooting non-lethal daggers at the back of William's cute curly head.
As they reached town they went their separate ways, but not before Willow accepted an invitation to dine with him later that week. She drifted into the apothecary with a smile which faded as she was informed that at present they did not have the ingredient she desired, and probably wouldn't for some time.
"This is not good Buff, we need that to get home."
"So, we wait until he gets it in and we go home in two months instead of the one. If we cant find anything in that time he said the guy in the next town might have some, so we go for a little carriage ride."
"We'll need transport." Willow sighed scratching at her aching head.
"We could always ask William, he was practically begging for you to use him." Buffy teased as Willow turned away shyly
"He's so different from Spike but so similar it's scary."
"Tell me about it." Buffy agreed with a shudder.
As Willow sat in her room the next night she had an unexpected visitor. The door opened slightly and she turned expecting to see a serving girl or maybe Buffy. Oh wait Buffy was out dining with Colonel Morris. She watched confused as the door opened a little bit more.
"Hello?" she called softly and reached for the stake she kept in her top draw. Being a Sunnydale girl meant being better prepared than a girl scout.
But instead of a vampire or monster appearing, a small blonde head appeared around the corner.
"'lo Princess." Simon grinned shyly
"Simon." Willow returned the smile and put away the stake. Taking her greeting as an invitation Simon wandered in and scooted close to her bed, partially hiding from her.
"What are you doing here?" Willow asked, not really sure how to talk to a child. She gave a small mental laugh. The Scooby's could deal with Demons and apocalypses but put a small child in their midst and they were clueless. It possibly had something to do with the fact that none of them had younger brothers and sisters so they hadn't had the experience of children. Still it was funny.
"Wanted to see the Princess." Simon shrugged still watching her shyly
"Ok." Silence for a minute then "You think I'm a princess?"
Simon nodded enthusiastically "My nurse used to tell me a story about a pretty Princess who lived in an evil land."
Willow couldn't help the little laugh that escaped "Well I do come from an evil land." The Hellmouth was evil no doubt about it.
"Tell me a story?" Simon pleaded and Willow couldn't resist his big blue eyes. Actually he looked a little like a mini Spike now that she was watching.
"Alright." She sat back on the bed patting the space next to her and Simon climbed onto it and lay next to her.
"Once upon a time in an evil land there lived a Princess and her friends. There was King Giles and Queen Buffy and Prince Xander and Princess Willow."
"Like you?" gigged Simon
"Yeah. But in this evil land there was another King, an evil King by the name of Angelus, he lived in a big Mansion with his evil Queen Darla and they had two children Princess Drusilla who was pretty but quite mad and Prince Spike who was not really as nasty as the rest of them would have you believe. Anyway King Angelus wanted to kill all the good people in the land but good Queen Buffy would never let him. So she got Princess Willow to cast a spell that made King Angelus all good."
"Was Princess Willow a witch?" Simon asked with wide eyes
"Yeah but a good witch." Willow hastened to add "So King Angelus became good and fell in love with Queen Buffy, they were going to get married but Evil Queen Darla hated Queen Buffy so she got Evil Princess Drusilla to cast another spell that if Angelus ever got true loves.um. kiss from Queen Buffy he would turn back evil again."
"Did he?" Simon asked as he snuggled closer to Willow
"Yup, They got married but just as the preacher said you may kiss the bride Queen Buffy kissed King Angelus and the spell was complete. Evil Angelus came back."
"Did he hurt them?"
"Yes and no. You see Prince Spike decided that he liked King Angelus better when he was good so he decided to help keep the good guys alive."
"I like Prince Spike."
"Me too." She said softly as she wrapped her arms around Simon "So King Angelus decided to destroy the world, which was silly because if he destroyed the world, where was he supposed to live?" Simon giggled "Prince Spike pretended to be injured and in a wheelchair."
"What's a wheelchair?"
"It's a chair with wheels on it so you can wheel yourself around if you can't walk." She explained "Well King Angelus needed to find a way to open the He- uh end the world so he kidnapped King Giles and hurt him to make him tell him. I don't want to go into detail coz I don't want you to have nightmares here but knives were involved and it hurt King Giles so much that he told King Angelus about how to do it."
"Oh don't worry, Queen Buffy got Princess Willow to do the spell again and she went off the fight King Angelus, but she was going to get there too late so Prince Spike got up and hit King Angelus over the head and then Queen Buffy and Princess Willow arrived. She fought with King Angelus while Princess Willow did the spell. Just as Queen Buffy had to kill King Angelus the spell worked but it was too late, in order to stop the world from dying King Angelus had to be put into a deep sleep for over a hundred years. Queen Buffy was very sad. So sad that she ran away. Princess Willow and Prince Xander were forced to take care of the evil place by themselves, even though they didn't have magical powers. Prince Spike had to go away to deal with Evil Queen Darla and Drusilla. What do you think happens next Simon?" she paused "Simon?" and looked down. He was fast asleep.
When Buffy popped her head in to say goodnight she saw the most adorable sight of Willow and Simon fast asleep.
~Part: 8~ You want me to meet WHO?
"Morning Wills." Buffy said with a smirk
"What?" Willow yawned confused as she helped herself to porridge.
"I saw you last night with your new boy toy."
Willow was momentarily confused and then grinned as she caught Buffy's meaning.
"He wanted a story. He's so cute, just a little adorable bundle of sweetness."
"Someone has a crush." Buffy sing songed and then caught Willow's eyes as they both burst out laughing.
"Post Miss." A serving girl said bringing a letter into the drawing room, she handed Willow a letter and left after curtseying.
Willow opened the letter and a blush graced her features.
"It's from William he wants me to come for dinner tomorrow at his house."
Buffy paused in eating her dinner "Oh Will this is not good."
"He wants you to meet his parents!"
"He doesn't have a father, just his Mom, oh Goddess Buffy he wants me to meet his mother!"
Willow spent all day worrying about dinner with William's mom, what if she hated her? About two hours before the carriage was due to pick her up she excused herself from the others and went to her room where she sat at her dresser lost in thought. What if Mrs Ashton didn't like her or she threw her out or.or forbade William to see her again or.or...
"Earth to Willow come in Willow!" Buffy waved her hand in front of Willow's face
"Present." Willow said automatically and then shook herself "What?"
"Not to panic you or anything but there's a carriage out there waiting for ya."
Willow's eyes went wide "But my hair and. and-"
"Relax!" Buffy laughed "You just spent the last hour doing it, you look fine." She swept her eyes across her friend who had indeed spent the last hour doing her hair. It was upswept with curly tendrils and was perfectly complimented by her soft green dress.
Willow stood and tried to calm her shaking hands against her dress. Buffy took her flushed face in her hands and dropped a little kiss on Willow's forehead
"Just be the Willow that we all know and love and she'll be eating out of your hand and calling you her daughter in law in no time." She paused considering "Although married to Spike- I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."
Willow put her head on the side "I thought Spike was your worst enemy."
Buffy grinned "Well maybe I'd wish it on him then."
Willow sat in the carriage playing with her hands really feeling butterflies in her stomach.
The Carriage drew up outside of a modest house with a large front garden full of beautiful flowers. Willow smiled as she spotted a huge rose bush where her present had been taken from. And standing in front of the entrance was William and a woman who had to be his mother. She was tall with light brown hair swept into a bonnet trimmed with yellow lace, matching her yellow gown. She looked strong but sweet, very motherly; she reminded Willow a little of Joyce Summers.
She took a deep fortifying breath and stepped out of the carriage holding onto William's proffered hand tightly.
"Hello Lady Willow, you look amazing." He said with a slight blush
Willow grinned at him "Thank you Mr Ashton, so do you." and he did. He was dressed in a suit and tie and she couldn't help the sigh that dropped from her lips as the well fitting clothes showed off his trim figure.
He motioned to his mother "Mother I'd like for you to meet Lady Willow Rosen. Lady Willow this is my mother."
"It's truly a pleasure to make your acquaintance Mrs Ashton." She dropped a curtsey
Mrs Ashton had heard about nothing but Lady Willow for the past few days from her son and was pleased to find that this light figured woman was the "Angel of light" he had mentioned.
"Likewise Lady Rosen."
"Please call me Willow." Willow asked with a small smile "Your garden is so beautiful."
Mrs Ashton smiled back. It seems that William's taste in women had drastically improved.
"Shall we go insides and get better acquainted Willow?" and with that she led her into the house and shut the door.
Buffy was sitting on the bed dying to hear how Willow's visit with the Ashton's had gone. She couldn't imagine Spike ever having a mother. It was like he had been born an immortal pain in her ass. Human William was so different, almost gentle; she couldn't wait to get back to Sunnydale and tease Spike about it.
She was shocked out of her thoughts as the bedroom door opened and Willow drifted in, almost of her own accord.
"Wills?" Buffy said amused at the hazy look on her friends face.
"Hmm." Willow replied dreamily
"Did you have fun?"
"Oh yes. Mrs Ashton was so nice and sweet and we had tea and cakes and then we talked and she showed me around Bennett Lodge and I think she liked me, coz I was so worried she wouldn't and then she'd ban me from seeing William, but she liked me and we walked around the garden and did you know that William does a lot of the gardening, he likes to garden and oh he was so sweet and gentle and-"
"Willow, remember that breathing thing we've talked so much about?" Buffy interrupted, knowing full well that if she didn't stop her friend from babbling then Willow would run out of breath and have to sit down.
Willow dropped to the bed "William and I are going for a walk tomorrow to his favourite spot and we have to take a chaperone with us." she turned her pleading eyes to Buffy
"Oh no Wills." Buffy shook her head "Not going there."
"Pretty please as part of making up for this whole mess?" Willow played the guilt card and Buffy folded like house of cards
"Thanks Buffy." Willow squealed and threw her arms around Buffy
"I hate Spike." Buffy grumbled into her shoulder
The next few weeks set a pattern. During the day Buffy and Willow would engage in the activities Ladies were supposed to find so soothing and relaxing- gaining accomplishments. Buffy found, to her chagrin, that she had a natural aptitude for embroidery. She put it down to the fact that she had to sew herself and Giles up so many times that it had become second nature. Willow loved to paint. Then in the afternoon they would go calling on friends or out walking or sometimes gentlemen would come calling and engage them in conversation until dinner when they would dine with Sophie, Simon and Mr Hardwood. Occasionally of an evening they were invited to dine with other families and "hang out.", it was during this time that Willow discovered an affinity for Poker.
Willow found herself more and more drawn into the company of William. He managed to find her favourite walking routes and waylaid her many times to walk with.
He became a regular visitor at the Hardwood's and was always inviting Lady Willow to dine with him and his mother; who had become a firm favourite with Willow. Buffy, had she noticed, would have been concerned at the amount of time they spent together, but as belle of the ball, she was having too much fun.
After they had been in London for three weeks, another grand ball was announced. Everyone was to attend at the assembly halls and Buffy was beside herself. She wasn't the only one.
William had indeed found that Lady Willow was easy to fall in love with. She was beautiful and sweet and so very intelligent. She understood *him* and wanted to spend time with him. He vowed that tonight would be special.
~Part: 9~ Oh did I mention neh neh nehneh neh?
The evening dawned and preparations were made to ensure that the gathering would perfectly reflect that sheer grandeur that higher society afforded.
White soup had been made and poured into large silver tureens with silver serving spoons. The gold inlayed table cloth covered tables with huge pyramids of crystal glasses and large wine and other alcoholic bottles placed in perfect symmetry.
Serviettes matching the table cloths lay gently atop the finest bone china plates.
Hors d'oeuvres had been made and set aside in the kitchen area awaiting the arrival of the many guests. Silver bowls full of exotic fruits lay on each table encouraging any who passed to admire the sheer abundance set before them. From exotic star fruit and passion fruits to the more mundane but not less tasty ripe juicy apples, succulent strawberries and mouth-watering melons; nothing was too much for this soiree.
The Chandeliers had been polished to a shine and they sent off soft light that gleamed against the shiny wooden floor. The dance hall boasted enough room for any activity whether dancing or the sudden arrival of a royal coronation. On one side of the hall sat the orchestra, dressed to impress warming up to begin the long night of amusement and the Grand Piano stood stately, like a grand lady, whose melodic tones would fill the vast chamber.
Servants dressed smartly in black suits with serviettes over their arms waited in each corner to provide whatever service was deemed necessary for the distinguished masses.
Two footmen stood at the door with a guest list ready to welcome those who were on the list to a magical night but banish those who weren’t to bitter disappointment.
As the carriages began to arrive the anticipation reached new heights and the stars twinkled their merriment at the folly of mortals.
Willow and Buffy stepped out of the carriage and stared in wonder at the finery.
“I feel like Cinderella.” Buffy said awed
“I’m still having Alice issues.” Willow added sarcastically, breaking the moment “I’m late I’m late for a very important date.” Buffy had taken forever in getting ready for this dance and Willow was aching to see William whom she hadn’t seen for over a day.
“Chill Will, you’ve seen William almost everyday.”
Willow replied archly “Only because my best friend keeps deserting me.”
Buffy had the grace to blush “Sorry Willow, but Captain Finn is so sweet and he’s just really attentive.”
“Attentive?” Willow gave a sly grin “Someone’s catching on to the language
“Oh hush and let’s go in.” Buffy said uncomfortably
Willow agreed Captain Finn was nice but a total doof and she had certainly heard enough about him recently.
Buffy hurried in a swirl of blue silk before Willow could tease her even more and Willow followed more sedately in her forest green gown.
The ball was in full swing. Couples danced in the centre of the room. All around people watched and conversed and generally felt elevated by the sheer power that being one of the wealthier classes afforded. Those who common decency prevented association were in awe of the splendour of the occasion.
Buffy spotted the regiment and scurried off to find Captain Finn safe in the knowledge that her friend was more comfortable in this time than she had ever been in her own. Willow couldn’t help the grin as she recalled her earlier comment about Buffy being like Lydia Bennett; it was so true.
Willow was encouraged to join a group of gentlemen and Ladies she was acquainted with and discussed the merits of that new fangled invention The Telephone.
After a while Cecily joined the party and sniffed dismissively
“It is merely a passing fad, a novelty. In a few years no one will care and they will be a thing of the past.”
Willow smirked to herself *right!*
“You disagree Lady Willow?” Cecily purred
“Yes actually, I for one, can see the benefits of such a contraption. Convenience and expediency will always be beneficial and perhaps one day when our modern technology has advanced we will be able to carry them around in our pockets and call our mothers to tell them we will be late of supper.”
*And I’m right so neh neh nehneh neh* she thought childishly
The group tittered appreciatively.
“I see.” Cecily sneered and once again Willow fought the overwhelming urge to slap her.
Just then Cecily groaned with dramatic flair
“Are you unwell Miss Adams?” inquired one of the gentlemen conciliatorily.
“No, only my admirer has arrived and I fear I am to forgo my peaceable evening.” She rolled her eyes and there was gentle laughter. Willow tensed.
“Good evening Ladies, Sirs.” William greeted and stepped into the circle.
“Good evening Mr Ashton.” A few of them answered and Cecily stood there with and expectant but bored expression on her face. William turned to Willow and gave her his sweetest smile
“Lady Willow, if you are not otherwise engaged perhaps I might request a dance?” his blue eyes sparkled
“Nothing would give me greater pleasure.” Willow smiled expressively and took his offered hand, letting him lead her to the dance floor.
Cecily’s jaw dropped and there was a look of shock on her face as William had not even acknowledged her existence let alone sought her out specifically.
“Well Cecily, it looks as though you’re admirer admires another.” Sophie loved it. She hated despised the way Cecily made fun of the smitten young man and was pleased that he had turned his attentions to one as worthy as Lady Willow who apparently returned his regard.
So intent was she on her musings that she missed the look of malicious intent that crossed her friends face.
Willow felt like she was dancing on air. William twirled her around in his arms and met her steady gaze with his own crystal blue one.
“You are a vision.” he breathed, his eyes never leaving hers. He gave her a smirk so reminiscent of Spike it stole her breath.
“Thank you William.”
He swallowed and suddenly looked nervously at her “Lady Willow, I have…I wan…need. Ahem.” He cleared his throat “I need to ask you something.”
“Ok.” She said surprised. He took her to the end of the line and back before he spoke again
“In private if that is quite alright?”
“Sure.” Willow shook herself “I mean that is fine with me.” She replied somewhat confused
They finished the dance, bowed to their partners and went to walk out into the gardens.
Cecily stepped in front of Willow as they reached the ornate door way.
“Lady Willow, I recall you saying that music in the American’s was far superior to anything we had to offer here.” She spoke louder than was necessary calling attention to the conversation from all in the room.
Buffy turned away from Captain Finn and stared warily at the scene, unsure whether intervention was called for at this juncture.
“You misheard Miss Adams. I said it was different, that does not equate with superiority. Different styles.”
“Different how?” Cecily thrived in the limelight and William looked uncertainly at the love of his life and his previous crush.
“Perhaps a little less reserved and more shall we say unregimented.” she bowed at the officers who graced her with a laugh, relaxed as they realised she could more than take care of herself.
“Perhaps you would demonstrate.” Cecily replied tightly
“I wouldn’t wish to cause offence.” Willow responded equally as tightly, she had faced Angelus and Cordelia, no way was she backing down from this snotty wench.
“I insist.” Cecily pressed
“Fine.” Willow stalked over to the Grand piano, silently thanking the stars for the piano lessons that her parents had thrust upon her before her natural shyness had made public performance impossible.
*what to sing?* she mused *love songs are pretty much out- too sexy for this crowd, although I’d love to see their reaction to Madonna’s Like a Virgin.* She looked at Williams face who showed his support through his dreamy eyes *dreaming? Perfect*
She took a deep breath and let her fingers dance over the keys.
Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper I love you
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me
Willow closed her eyes to the stares of everyone watching. Buffy was never so proud of her friend.
Say nightie night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you miss me
While I’m alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me
Stars fading while I linger on dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longing to linger till dawn dear
Just saying this
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
Stars fading while I linger on dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longing to linger till dawn dear
Just saying this-is
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
She finished and opened her eyes. The walls echoed with applause as everyone praised her. Buffy and William were the loudest. Cecily seethed. *Neh neh nehneh neh* Willow mentally stuck her tongue out at her.
Willow curtseyed and made her way into the garden to cool her blushing cheeks, she was closely by William.
~Part: 10~ Oh. My…how did I miss that?
The gardens were beautiful, in full summer bloom with fragrant flowers and candlelit arbours casting shadows in each corner. Willow sat herself in one of the swings that sat beneath the trees.
“What is it you wanted to say William?” he got up and began to pace- like Spike did when he was uneasy.
“I…we, you know I have. I mean to say that I –I.” he bit off a curse under his breath. He ran his hand through his hair and sighed heavily.
*Oh boy, this is scarily familiar, is William going to tell me to do a spell before threatening with bottle in face?*
“Sp- William, whatever it is- it’s okay.” He stared at her for a long minute.
“I- I love you, Lady Willow. Completely and totally and although I am talking above my station I believe that I would be the happiest man in all of history if you would consent to be my wife.” The look of quiet desperation echoed in his eyes.
“Oh.” She breathed in wonder. Her face lit up *he loves me, he wants to marry me. We could, I could!*
She grasped his hands and replied fervently “There is nothing in the world that would make me happier, I’d be on cloud 9 no cloud 14,” she giggled “I am so happy I can’t even just wait until I tell-”
*Buffy. Spike.* Willow’s world crashed around her ears, leaving her heart shattered in its wake and shaking in the aftermath. Her face fell.
“What is it my love?” William said after a moment
“I can’t marry you.” Her voice showed her severe heart ache. And she clasped her hand to her chest as her breath became laboured
“Why not?” William asked
*I have to get Buffy back to the future so she can defend the Hellmouth and I need to let you die so you can become Spike and save the world from Angelus.*
“I have obligations.” Willow thought she was going to be sick
“To whom?” his voice was soft as he could see the distress in her very bearing.
*Oh this is gonna hurt, for the first time I appreciate how making up stories on the spot is good training, like why we are in the library at 3am on a Sunday or why I have to break the heart of the man I love.*
“My family, I am betrothed to another, a f-friend of my father, a political marriage. We left America to- but my father has found us and myself and Lady Buffy are to travel back to the America’s in two days time.”
“Two days?” his jaw dropped
“I thought we had at least a month more but he found us rather more quickly than I had anticipated, indeed I had hoped we could be elusive for ever.
She looked up to see William distraught
“Please don’t hate me.” She begged
He was surprised “Hate you? I could never, why you think that?”
“I never intended to hurt you or- or lead you on. It kills me to have to leave you; I think my heart is breaking.” He held a finger to her lips stemming her flow of words
“I need to ask you three questions, will you answer them?”
“Yes.” The tears fell down her cheeks at the unfairness of it all
“What is *his* name? You’re betrothed?”
“Sir Daniel Osborne.” *well why not* she thought wretchedly
“Do you love him?” his eyes bored into hers
“No.” she replied honestly, any feeling she had had for Oz left the minute he called for his stuff and refused to tell her where he was.
“D-do you love me?” he held his breath
“With all my heart and soul.” He pulled her into his embrace and held her tight. He stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. He pulled back as she asked
“Dance with me?” They stood up and Willow moved into his arms to the music straining from the inside of the grand hall, they danced a Waltz, years before it’s time.
Willow slept fitfully that night. Her dreams were snatches of memory of Spike and William intertwined and mixed beyond recognition. William threatening to shove a broken bottle in her face, Spike dancing a waltz, William throwing her on her bed in the dorm and holding her whilst Spike drained her crying about Drusilla and Cecily.
When she woke up, the first port of call was to find that elusive spell ingredient.
Originally the plan had been to wait for the apothecary to order in the ingredient, if it didn’t take longer than two months. They had been having so much fun that the idea of staying the full two months was agreeable. However Willow didn’t want to spend another day in this time let alone a further month. Having ones heart broken is a definite cure for procrastination.
The very idea of being unable to escape the reality of having her desire for William thwarted by happenstance and circumstance was just too painful.
At that moment, however, it seemed that fates conspired to prolong her torment.
“I am sorry My Lady but we still have none in store. We may be getting a delivery in a fourteen night hence.”
“I ‘m not waiting two weeks. I am quite desperate, do you know of any hereabouts that stock it?”
“Sorry, some may have it in private stores but the nearest town that may have it is in Leicester, two days ride.”
“Two days is passed the full moon.” She breathed in frustration and left the apothecary. She blinked in the bright sun and waited for her eyes to adjust, which is why she didn’t see the approach of-
“Cecily.” she bit back a groan, she really wasn’t in the mood for this right now.
“Well fancy a chance meeting, are you well, you left the ball so abruptly last night.”
*Screw being polite- as soon as I am gone she will attempt to sink her filthy paws into William. I will be damned before I give the bitch the respect of courteous society.*
“Look Cecily. I am having a truly crappy day. Meeting you has just dropped it to new levels of sewage, so why don’t you take your false smile and piss off, and go simper elsewhere.”
Cecily gaped “I beg your pardon?”
“Beg all you like, you ain’t getting it. But feel free to gloat you vapid…I’m leaving tomorrow so William will be free. No doubt you will attempt to dig your skanky she-bitch claws into him, but just remember this.” Willow spat “No matter how well bred and sophisticated you *think* you are, you are beneath him and will never be good enough for him, ever!” with tears of anger and frustration in her eyes she stalked off down the street with a stunned Cecily staring after her.
“Willow, wait!” Willow turned to see Mrs Ashton hurrying after her
“Mrs Ashton, I-I didn’t see you.” She struggled to regain her composure
“I know, I was in the apothecary and overheard everything.” Willow closed her eyes “And I’m glad someone finally put Cecily Adams in her place.” Willow’s eyes snapped open and she pinned Mrs Aston
“I thought you liked her?”
Mrs Ashton snorted “Idea’s above her station and always mocking my poor William no matter the sincerity of his affections. I am glad be bestowed them on a more willing and welcoming participant.” Willow ducked her head
“I know what happened between the two of you, my William and I have no secrets.”
“I never meant to hurt him.” Willow whispered
“I know that, my dear, a woman can tell plain as day that your heart is aching. The fact that you would forfeit your own happiness for familial loyalty tells me all need to know about you my dear. I like you and I have the ingredient that you desire. I will send my man with it to the Hardwood’s directly.” She smiled and Willow felt connected to this woman in a way that she had never done to her own mother.
“I love him so very much, I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and keep him safe and have his children and grow old with him. I hate that I have to go just when I found my soulmate.”
“Fear not Child. The fates decree what will be, we are but pawns in the game of life. Perchance you will be together in a different life. His soul will wait for your own. Carry him in your heart always and take him out every now and then to show how much you were loved.”