*I believe it’s
meant to be, darling
I watch you when you are sleeping
You belong with me
Do you feel the same
Or am I only dreaming
Or is this burning an eternal flame?*
-Susanna Hoffs, Eternal Flame
“What time is the wedding again?”
“At night? That’s not the best time to get married.”
“Cordelia, Angel and I are having an outdoor wedding,” Willow replied, exasperated. “If it’s not at night, the groom won’t make it through the vows. He’d spontaneously combust.”
“Oh, yeah.” Cordelia shifted uncomfortably. Being six months pregnant was not conducive to comfort or easy movement. She considered getting up for what she wanted, but quickly decided that doing so would expend far too much energy. “Could someone hand me that bottle of water?” she asked, pointing to the bottle she’d left on the entertainment center.
Buffy grinned and handed it to her. “Not much for the exercise, are you, Cordy?”
“You try being pregnant.”
“Nope, not going to
happen. One of the perks of dating the undead. I don’t have
to worry about that. Of course, it may end up being a bummer later
on,” Buffy continued, a sad look crossing her face. She and Spike
really discussed their future; it was too uncertain.
Willow interjected, sensing her friend’s sadness. “Angel and I are
looking for a spell. Not for right now, obviously. I mean,
we’re not even married yet. But a couple years down the line?
If we could find a
spell, it would be great. Otherwise, we’ll have to rely on the wonders of science. And Doyle.”
“Do you think it’s possible? Finding a spell, I mean.”
“Buffy, you’ve spent six years on the Hellmouth. You should know by now that anything’s possible.”
Buffy grinned at her friend. “I know I should. But every once in a while I get a surprise. Keeps me on my toes.”
Amy sent a smile in
Buffy’s direction, then handed Willow a stack of papers. “I
think just about everything is ready. Now all you have to do is hold
out until next Saturday.” The blonde witch smiled at her friend.
believe you’re getting married in a week.”
Willow grinned. “I know. Now that Cordy’s married, and I’m almost married, you and Buffy are the only single ones left. Think Xander and Spike will be popping the question soon?”
Amy opened her mouth to answer, but was interrupted by the sound of Angel and Doyle arriving back at the apartment.
“We’re back from ridding the world of evil!”
Cordelia snorted at her husband’s remark. “Yeah, until tomorrow, when it comes back again.”
Buffy nodded in agreement. “That’s the pesky thing about evil. It just keeps finding new things to do.”
The women turned towards the doorway as the men walked in. Willow breathed a sigh of relief; she was never quite content until she knew for a fact that Angel was safe. In the years she had known him, he’d been in danger far too many times. She managed a smile as her fiancé leaned down to kiss her, and she could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew she had been worried about him.
Doyle noticed the look that passed between the two and knew exactly what it meant. He had experienced it firsthand with his wife several times. He turned to Cordelia and helped her to stand up.
“I think it’s time we should go, honey. We need to get you home so you can sleep.” He nodded to Buffy and Amy. “Ladies.”
Buffy stood and gathered
her things. “We should be going, too. We need to get back to
the hotel room and try to get some sleep ourselves.” Amy rose as
well, and the group headed to the door. Buffy turned to wave at her
friends. “See you two tomorrow.” And with that she left, leaving Angel and Willow alone.
“You okay, Willow?”
“Yeah. It’s just hard sometimes. You out fighting evil, me never sure if you’re going to come home. I know you’re careful... but I still get scared. I guess this is how a cop’s wife feels.”
Angel smiled sadly. She was probably right. He gestured to the papers in Willow’s hand. “Is everything all set?”
“Yeah. All you have to do is show up.”
Angel grinned and pulled her up from the couch, holding her close. “I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be there.”
“Well, if you’re not, I’ll just marry Spike.”
“Cute, Willow.” He kissed the tip of her nose, then let her go. “Did we get any mail today?”
“I haven’t gotten around to opening it yet. To tell you the truth, I haven’t even looked at it. Why? Are you expecting something?”
“No; I was just wondering.” Angel sifted through the mail, pausing to look curiously at one envelope. He held it out to Willow. “This is for you.”
Willow took the envelope and looked at it, and her blood ran cold. It wasn’t addressed to Willow Rosenberg.
It was addressed to Willow Harmon.
*It’s the secret
that I keep
It’s the ache that makes me weep
And I know I’m in too deep
I’m gonna drown*
-Amanda Marshall, Out of Bounds
Willow opened the letter slowly, her hands shaking. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She read the letter, then passed it to Angel, shock evident on her face. Angel took the sheet of paper from his fiancée and read it.
My dearest Willow,
I know you believe
you are the only one left. That, however, is not true. The
hunters did not get all of us. I am your aunt, your father’s sister,
to be exact. I have been searching for you for years, and I wish
to see you.
Please meet me; I am begging you. If you choose to see me, I will be at Franklin Park to attend the fair on Monday night. Please join me. If you come, you do not have to look for me. I will find you.
“You can’t go. It’s not safe.”
“What do you mean?”
“The letter. Something’s not right about it.”
That much, she agreed with. She wasn’t, however, so sure that she
shouldn’t go. If this Raven Harmon could tell her something about
her family, she wanted to hear it. She knew better then to tell Angel
though, so she said nothing.
“You do agree with me, don’t you?” Willow jumped at the sound of Angel’s voice. The handsome vampire was watching her with a concerned expression on his face. Willow hurriedly answered him.
“Of course I agree
with you. I mean, look at the letter. She basically admits
that she knows what I look like, she obviously knows where I live, and
she knows who I am. I mean, she claims to be my aunt, sure, but is
And how did she find me? Adoption records are closed. She had to have gotten them illegally. That doesn’t exactly look good on her part.” <Of course,> Willow added silently, <that doesn’t mean I’m not going. I’m just
going to do some research first.>
She continued to walk, passing the crowds and leaving the people attending the fair behind. The park itself was nearly pitch black, and it made Willow uneasy. She began to walk a bit faster, heading for her car. That was when she felt it. A witch, but something else, too. She turned in the direction the feeling was coming from. There, standing not twenty feet away from her, was Raven Harmon. Willow had managed to find a photograph in a newspaper’s archives, and there was no doubt in her mind that this was the same woman. Her appearance hadn’t changed in twenty-three years. As Willow stretched her senses out, trying to feel the woman that stood before her, she realized why. The paper had been right; Raven Harmon had died. And Willow had been right; Raven had come back.
As a vampire.
built all my dreams in the sand
Just to watch them all wash away*
-Jennifer Knapp, Faithful to Me
A vampire. In her worst nightmares, she had never even considered the possibility.
Raven stared at her, calmly assessing her reaction. Finally, she spoke.
“You know what I am.”
“You’re a demon masquerading as a member of my family.”
“I have all her memories. I could help you.”
“And what would you want in return? Me to join you? Become a demon?”
The vampire shrugged. “What else would I ask for? Just imagine it. Vampires with witches’ powers. We could rule.”
“And I’d be dead.
You see, I know what happens when a person get vamped. Their soul
goes out into the wild blue yonder, and a demon takes over. It remembers
everything about the person’s life, and it kills everyone the
person ever loved. And if we’re really lucky, it runs into the Slayer and gets dusted. Although I guess the vamp wouldn’t consider that lucky.” Willow sent a derisive look in Raven’s direction. “I’m not taking you up on
“Well,” Raven replied as she vamped out, “it wasn’t really an offer. It was more of a demand.”
As Raven lunged at her, Willow jerked a vial of holy water from her pocket, uncapped it, and flung the liquid in the demon’s face in one smooth motion. The vampire screeched and reared back, her face badly burned.
“What the hell?” the vampire sputtered.
“It’s after dark in LA,” Willow stated with a shrug. “I came prepared.”
Raven snarled as she lunged at Willow again, tackling the young woman and leaning in for the kill. The vampire howled in pain as she was once again burned, this time by Willow’s cross.
The vampire pulled back, holding her hand to her cheek. “You’re supposed to be Jewish,” she snarled accusingly.
“Yeah, well, you’re supposed to be dead,” Willow muttered as she pulled herself off the ground. She pulled a stake out of her jacket pocket and brandished it in the vampire’s direction.
Raven laughed. “You think you can take me?”
“I haven’t done too bad so far.”
Willow quickly blocked
the punch Raven sent in her direction, then responded with a punch of her
own. With the hand that still held her cross. The demon cried
out as her already ravaged face was burned for a third time.
Willow then swept the vampire’s feet out from under her and pinned her to the ground, holding the stake poised over the demon’s dead heart. Years of watching Buffy fight, as well as being taught self defense by Angel, had
greatly improved her fighting skills. “So, are you going to tell me anything, or am I just going to kill you?”
The vampire laughed,
a cold, cruel sound. “You’re good. Very good. I wonder
if that fiancé of yours is any good? Of course, it doesn’t
matter. I sent ten men after him. He could be the best, and
they’d still take him.
They’re probably at your apartment right now, getting him for me. You give me what I want, you can have him back.” With that, the vampire shoved a shocked Willow away from her.
<Oh, God,> Willow thought. < Angel.> With a speed she didn’t know she possessed, she took off towards her car, leaving the vampire behind her, laughing.
“You’ll never make it in time!”
Willow ignored the
comment and increased her pace. When she reached her car, she jumped
into it, started the engine, and peeled out. She had to get there
in time. She had to save Angel. She choked back tears as she
realized this was all her fault.
The apartment was a mess. The kitchen table had been overturned. There was broken glass everywhere. Papers and books had been tossed about, picture frames had been knocked off the wall. It was obvious that Angel had put up one hell of a fight.
It was also obvious that he had lost. He was nowhere to be found in the apartment. Despite his efforts, he had been taken.
Willow wiped away the tears that were running down her face, then picked up the phone to call Buffy.
that I wouldn’t follow
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
‘Cause I wouldn’t wanna be me
If I didn’t have you*
-Amanda Marshall, If I Didn’t Have You
“So you have no idea where Angel is?” the Slayer asked, looking around the destroyed apartment.
“No, I don’t. I thought the term ‘missing’ kind of implied that.”
Spike walked over to the redhead and drew her into his arms. Despite her snideness, he knew that his sire’s kidnapping was killing the girl. He was slightly surprise to discover just how much it bothered him as well. He put his hand under Willow’s chin and forced her to look up at him.
“We’re going to find him, pet. I guarantee that.”
Xander got up from the chair he had been sitting in and began to pace. “What do we know about this Raven chick?”
Willow rubbed her temple and tried to think. All the crying she had been doing had given her a massive headache.
“She’s a vampire.
I guess she’s been one for about twenty-three years. That’s when
the paper said she died. She’s a witch, too. I don’t know how powerful.
It took me a while to be able to feel her. That could mean she’s
not that powerful, or it could mean she’s simply good at concealing her power. She didn’t use her power against me, so I don’t know.”
“She wants you to come across to her side though, right?”
Willow looked at the Slayer. “Yeah, so?”
“So maybe that means
she’s not as powerful as you are. She obviously thinks she needs
your support in order to...take over, or whatever she intends to do, so
you could probably kick her butt magick-wise. Did you notice
“She may have humans or some sort of demon working for her. This place is in my name, and Angel and Spike are the only vampires who can get in here. There’s no way Angel would have invited a group of vamps in.”
Buffy nodded, then turned to look at Doyle, who was hard at work on his laptop. “Anything useful?”
“I found a couple places
that could be made useful by a vampire. Underground tunnels and the
like; spots we haven’t found anybody before. If she hasn’t been here
long could have easily set up shop in one of them. We
can go check them out, see if any of them pan out.” Buffy looked over Doyle’s shoulder and quickly scribbled down the addresses.
“Doyle, you and Giles, take the one near Covington Field; Xander and Amy, you head for Thomaston Street; and Spike and I will take the one on Beaker Street.”
“And just where the hell does that leave me?”
“You stay here with Cordy; we’ll meet back here in an hour.” Buffy turned to her friend, her eyes pleading. “Look, Willow, if Raven was telling the truth, then she has at least ten men working for her, probably more. We’re going to need everybody when we find him. You need to get control of yourself; plus, if they were to come back, I know you could protect Cordy. Please?”
Willow sighed, then nodded her agreement. She hated it, but she knew Buffy was right. If, for some reason, Raven’s men - or any other enemy, for that matter - were to come back, Cordelia would be helpless to protect herself. Willow, on the other hand, had her magick. Plus, she had to admit she was on the verge of losing it. If she was going to be any help at all, she needed to pull herself together. Willow took a deep breath and looked Buffy in the eye.
“One hour. Then you’d better get your butt back here.”
Doyle and Giles went to Covington Field, a small park near a highly industrialized part of town. Several lairs had been found there and destroyed before; it was a favorite area for the average vampire. Somehow, Giles doubted that Raven was the average vampire. Unfortunately, he was right.
Doyle sighed in defeat as they left. They had to find Angel soon. Not just for Angel's sake, but for Willow’s.
Amy and Xander headed
for Thomaston Street in silence. Both were reminded of the time that
it had been Amy missing and Xander frantic to find her. Both were
also worried about their friends. Amy had an extremely close
friendship with Willow, and she considered Angel to be a good friend as well. For Xander, Willow had always been one of the most important people in his life. Also, in the years since Willow and Angel had begun dating,
Xander had developed a grudging respect for the vampire that had eventually turned into friendship. He hoped they would be able to find him in time. He didn’t know what would happen to Willow if they were unable to rescue Angel.
And he didn’t intend to find out.
Spike glanced over at Buffy; he hated seeing the Slayer so worried.
“We’ll find him in time, pet. I swear.”
“I know. I’m just worried that Willow won’t be able to hold out long enough.”
Spike shrugged slightly. He was worried about the redheaded witch as well. “Can you really blame her though? I’d be the same way if it were you that was missing.”
Buffy looked at her vampire boyfriend and tried to imagine how she would react if he were to suddenly disappear. The very thought of that happening sent the Slayer into overdrive.
“We have to find Angel. Now.”
It was the longest
hour of Willow’s life. Cordelia knew better then to try to make small
talk with her friend, so the pregnant brunette alternated between fidgeting
nervously and pretending to read a magazine. Willow paced
back and forth across the living room, glancing at the clock every few minutes. When she finally heard the key turn in the lock, she whirled around expectantly.
Buffy entered first, followed by Spike. Both looked slightly the worse for wear. It was obvious that they had been in a fight. The Slayer looked at Willow and nodded.
They had found Raven’s lair.
*You’re the blood
You’re the truth that hurts
You’re the memory
You’re the drug that works*
-Heather Nova, Blood of Me
The six of them moved
slowly, careful not to draw any attention to themselves. At Doyle’s
insistence, Amy had stayed behind with Cordelia. She didn’t have
as much power as Willow did, but she would still be able to
protect herself and Cordelia if anything happened. The group had run into several of Raven’s men - demons of some sort, not vampires - and had dispensed of them, but they didn’t want to fight anyone else. They just
wanted to find Angel and get out of there. The underground lair was dark and dank and smelled horribly. The Slayer wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“I don’t really give a damn about the odor. I just want to find Angel.”
Buffy nodded, then
turned to look at the others as she came to a split in the tunnel.
“Giles, Xander, and Doyle, you go right. Willow, Spike, and I will
go left. You shouldn’t run into too many baddies, Spike and I took
at least half a dozen when we were her earlier, not to mention the ones we got this time around.”
The group split up
and splashed their way through the tunnels. Thankfully, the water
was simply runoff from the heavy rains that had occurred a few days earlier,
but Buffy still allowed herself a look of distaste. She hated
running through the sewer system. Suddenly, Buffy saw, quite literally, a light at the end of the tunnel. It had to be one of the main rooms of the lair.
Willow sped up, not caring how much noise she made. She could sense a vampire up ahead, and she knew that it was Angel. She could always tell when it was him. She made her way into the room and gasped.
Angel looked like hell.
He had obviously been hurt badly; his sweater was torn and Willow could
see bruises and blood on various parts of his body. He was caged
in, and Willow could tell that Angel had tried to escape. The
irregular bend of some of the bars was a dead giveaway.
Angel looked up as they walked in. “Get out of here. It’s a trap. It’s not me they want; it’s you.”
Willow walked up to the cage and put her hands on the bars while Spike went to work at the lock on the cage. “I know that. That’s why I’m here; I had to get you out.”
“I’m so glad you came. Not surprised, though. I knew you’d come for him.”
Willow turned to face
the monster that had once been her aunt. The confidence that radiated
from the creature was palpable. Willow extended her sense, trying
to feel whether or not Raven had back up. She couldn’t
find any, demon or otherwise. She glared at the demon. “Of course I came. This isn’t going to have the ending you want, though.”
“And why is that?”
“Because I’m going
to kill you.” With that Willow attacked. She had never been
so angry in her life. It was one thing to come after her, but it
was quite another to attack Angel. She pounded her fist into the
vampire’s face. Almost immediately, Raven recovered and began to fight back. Buffy moved forward as if to help Willow, but Spike held her back.
“This is her fight, pet. You have to let her do this.”
Buffy nodded; she knew Spike was right. She just prayed that Willow would win.
There was no question
in Willow’s mind about who was going to win this fight. She fought
back as hard as she could, knocking Raven off her feet with a sweep of
her leg and grabbing for her stake. Raven grabbed the other
witch’s hand and turned the stake toward Willow, determined to drive it through the redhead’s heart. The stake pierced the skin, almost an inch of the wood disappearing into Willow’s chest, and the demon grinned wickedly.
However, to Raven’s shock, the girl only gave a slight gasp before sneering at the vampire.
“You forgot. A stake through the heart won’t kill me. It’s one of the perks of being a Harmon. It will, however, kill you.” With that, Willow yanked the stake from her chest and drove it into Raven’s heart. A look of disbelief crossed the vampire’s face as she was reduced to dust.
Willow rose slowly, wincing at the wound in her chest. She put her hand to it; she could that it was already healing. She turned, surprised to see the others. She had completely forgotten that they were there. She went to the cage and placed her hand on the lock. With a few muttered words, the lock gave, and Angel was free.
And Willow was in his arms.
She pushed herself back slightly and looked into his eyes. “Are you okay?”
Angel nodded, then placed his hand where the wound in Willow’s chest should have been. He could feel the blood there, but the wound itself was gone. However, her physical well-being wasn’t all Angel was worried about. “Are you okay? Really okay, I mean.”
“Yeah, I guess. This is all my fault, though. I went to meet her tonight.”
“I know. She took great pride in telling me. I should have known you would go. If someone showed up claiming to be my family, I would probably go, too.”
Willow nodded and pulled Angel closer, pressing her face into the soft material of his sweater. She was just thankful that Angel was here, hurt but all right, and thankful that she had been forgiven.
Willow and Angel turned at the sound of the Slayer’s voice. Buffy smiled apologetically. She hated to interrupt, but there was something that still needed to be done.
“We should really go and find the others.”
Angel reached out and took Willow’s hand, and the two of them followed Buffy and Spike out of the room, leaving Raven’s lair behind them forever.
*Close your eyes,
give me your hand, darlin’
Do you feel my heart beating
Do you understand
Do you feel the same
Or am I only dreaming
Is this burning an eternal flame*
-Susanna Hoffs, Eternal Flame
The wedding was beautiful.
The night was warm, and for once the stars were visible in the LA sky.
The trees had been strung with white Christmas lights, and the light night
breeze sent the branches swaying, causing the
lights to twinkle slightly.
Angel stood at the front of the makeshift aisle, anxiously awaiting his bride-to-be. He felt like he had been waiting for this day forever, and he had never been so happy. Angel stood up a bit straighter as the bridesmaids began to make their way down the aisle, each one escorted by a groomsman.
Cordelia came first, her smile almost as large as her stomach, Doyle at her side. The brunette was radiant in her lavender dress; Angel had to admit, pregnancy seemed to agree with her.
Amy and Xander came down the aisle next. Amy was beaming; she looked lovely in the pale blue dress she was wearing. Willow had chosen the style of the dress her bridesmaids had to wear, but had allowed them to choose the color. Angel shifted his attention to Xander. The young man appeared near tears, and Angel wasn’t at all surprised. Xander and Willow had been friends for so long, it would have been surprising if he hadn’t gotten emotional.
Buffy, the maid of
honor, came down the aisle next with Spike, the best man. The
tiny blonde looked beautiful in the pink dress she was wearing, and the
young woman was already in tears. Angel figured she’d go through
entire box of tissues before the day was over. Spike, on the other hand, was gazing down at Buffy, looking slightly amused at his girlfriend’s dramatics.
Angel came to complete attention as the wedding march began to play and the guests stood up. There, at the other end of the aisle, was Willow. Giles escorted her down the aisle, and Angel was nearly overcome with emotion. She was absolutely stunning. The flowing skirt of her wedding dress emphasized her tiny waist, and the train was almost the length of the aisle. The dress was sleeveless, and Willow’s hair, once again the length it had been when he had first met her, cascaded around her face and down her back like liquid fire. He had never seen anything so beautiful in his life.
Willow reached the front of the aisle, and Giles relinquished her to Angel, a tear in his eye. Willow turned to face Angel, beaming.
The two spoke their vows clearly and confidently. There was no hesitation between them. They knew that what they had was special. They knew it was forever. And as they were pronounced husband and wife and Angel kissed the bride, a rather undignified cheer rose from the members of Scooby Gang. Willow and Angel were united as one.