Title: Something New (15/15) Author: Luisa Notes/Disclaimers: as in the Prologue

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Part 15

Giles looked at Buffy as if she weren't really there, before lowering his gaze once more to the challenge that lay between them. A thousand thoughts were whirling crazily around his mind as he contemplated the ring. Her statement that she didn't regret the evening's events reinforced the decision he'd come to earlier. The statement that so very obviously encompassed not regretting their engagement, or lovemaking - or even, come to that, loving him at all. The normally staid Watcher felt a burning behind his eyes that felt suspiciously like the prick of tears. He cleared his throat and looked back at the petite woman before him. "Buffy..."

She kept her gaze steady as she awaited his verdict. A shock like none she'd ever experience travelled through her, setting her very being on fire as she watched him calmly pick up the ring, rolling it between his thumb and forefinger. If it were possible, the shock intensified when he placed his other hand on her leg and spoke softly.

"Buffy... what was this evening about? What did it mean to you? I can't help but wonder... since, well since you say you don't regret it." He looked at her inquiringly. When she remained silent, he gently moved his hand along her thigh in small reassuring movements... the actions sending tendrils of pleasure along his spine. "Is there... any chance that... that everything felt as real - as, as wonderful to you as it did to me?"

She broke their gaze and nodded, still without saying a word.

"God, Buffy..." Giles choked out, "I didn't want it to end... and I still don't. I've wanted that for a very, very long time. You have no idea how much I love you."

The Slayer raised her startled eyes to meet his once more. "What?" It came out as a whisper.

"I, I... I'm in love with..."

"How long?" She cut short his declaration of love and he looked at her bewildered.

"Since.... um... since... well, as long as I can remember. No one thing triggered it, if that's what you want to know. It just... it just gradually happened. I'm sorry Buffy," he added, suddenly aware that perhaps telling her *everything* might not be such a good idea. "I know, it's inappropriate to feel this way about you... I mean, you're my Slayer... and, and..." He was interrupted by Buffy at last closing the gap between them as she threw herself into his arms.

"I love you too, Giles. Since... well, since I... hey, you know what? I don't know when, either. But I *do* know that I've wanted this... wanted you, for such along time." She pulled back, and there were happy tears in her eyes. "And I also know that today was the best day of my life. I didn't want it to end either... everything was finally right in my life."

The Watcher hugged her to him, letting out a long sigh of pure relief and happiness. When he at last let go of her there was a contented smile on his face and a promise twinkling in his eye. "My dear Buffy... if you don't want this to end, then why should it?"

She smiled back at him, intrigued. "You mean... it doesn't have to?"

Green eyes still twinkling merrily, he shook his head and set her gently back onto her previous seat before sliding off his own and onto the floor at her feet. He raised himself onto his knees and slowly raised a fist in front of him, and even more painstakingly slowly opened it to reveal the ring that she had worn only minutes before. "Marry me, Buffy."

She let out a gasp, staring wildly at him. "Say that again?"

Rupert Giles allowed the happiness that was welling within him to be released in a wide smile. "Buffy Summers, would you do me the most remarkable honour of becoming my wife?" He paused for a moment as he saw tears in her eyes. Deciding that they were happy tears, he continued. "I am head over heels, totally, completely in love with you... and nothing would make me happier than spending the rest of my life with you. I want to go to sleep with you in my arms and wake with you in my arms and openly adore you every moment for eternity. So... will you marry me?"

"Oh Giles..." She breathed a happy sigh. "What do you think? Of course it's yes! There's no-one I'd rather spend my entire life with."

He chuckled as he slipped the ring onto her finger for the second time that day. "I believe I've heard that somewhere before."

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