Prologue and Chapter 1

Author's Notes:

The strike mentioned and the loss of life are not based on any actual evetn but rather on the general climate of the times. The story title is from the Bible, Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted."

~*~
Prologue

Spike woke with a start. He had slept at the house on Revello Drive
the past few nights, but the Scoobies were all gathered there at the
moment, so Spike had taken the opportunity to make sure all the demons
of Sunnydale knew that his crypt was not up for grabs. He hadn't had
a decent day's sleep since his Slayer had taken that leap from the
tower and he'd fallen into a deep slumber as soon as his head hit the
familiar pillow. Now, even with only a brief time spent in
unconscious bliss, he was once more awake and alert.

He shifted into game face and looked around the shadowed chamber,
trying to see the interloper. "Come on out," Spike demanded
forcefully. "Know you're there."

The wraith-like form seemed to glide into the small circle of light
cast by the lone candle Spike had lit before sleeping. Spike sat up,
his head against the headboard of the bed. No telling what this visit
might be about and he was too muddled from lack of sleep to let his
guard down.

"My poor Spike has lost 'is Aurora. The sun is gone but left behind
the Dawn." The dark-eyed vampiress moved forward, never faltering in
her gaze. "Don't despair, my poor boy, after the Summers came the
fall and now winter has its icy fingers on you. Only spring left 'till
Summers is back though."

"What do you want, Dru?" Spike sighed. "Thought you'd washed your
hands of me the last time you paid a surprise visit. Not plannin' to
chase after you this time, if that's what you're thinkin'. There's
nothing left of me to take either."

"Not 'ere to take, William; 'ere to give back." Dru was close enough
to touch as she whispered the words. "Didn't 'elp after all. Took
'em because you already 'ad a princess, didn't need the other. Make
my William all torn, and not the pretty, red, sticky kind. Come to
give 'em back now, like a good mum. My William needs 'em to get
through the rest of the winter and the spring to come."

Spike was starting to get unnerved. He used to take Dru's odd fits
and starts in stride, but he was long out of practice and quickly
losing patience as well. "Just leave whatever it is on that table and
head on out of town again, Dru. Plenty of do-gooders 'round here'd
love to put a piece of wood in that pretty chest of yours."

"Look at me, my pretty boy. Look at your princess." Dru began to
sway slightly. Spike felt a ribbon of fear wrap around him, but he
wasn't able to look away as his former love locked her eyes with his.
"Remember," she spoke and then turned and left as swiftly and silently
as the ghost she had appeared to be.

"No!" Spike nearly wept. "How could you have taken that from me?"

The moon cast eerie shadows amongst the headstones and mausoleums of
the quiet cemetery where lay the remains of one Buffy Anne Summers.
The setting was peaceful, almost inviting. A bunch of stargazer
lilies lay near the simple stone next to a bouquet of daisies left
earlier. The giver of the lilies sat in silence as pale, still and
perfect as the marble statues scattered here and there around him.

"Hello, Buffy love." His voice was a deep rumble of sorrow. "Did I
ever tell you about where I first saw you? When I first fell into your
beautiful expressive eyes and pledged my life to you?" Spike paused,
as if waiting for a response to his questions. "Didn't think so.
Didn't rightly remember myself 'til just yesterday."

Spike plucked a blade of grass from beside Buffy's grave and twirled
it between his fingers as he drew in his breath. "Dru paid me a
little visit. No, didn't dust her. She didn't snack on any locals
either … made sure of that. Said she heard my heart break all the way
down in Argentina. Came to give me a gift, something she stole from
me that I might be wantin' back."

The night wind increased as if in a silken touch of encouragement that
he should go on. "Dru has more than a bit of magic in her, pet. Can
make a man see what she wants him to see, forget what she wants him to
forget too, for that matter. She said she left my feelin's and
memories alone after we came here. After she got her daddy back and
didn't care any more. Before that, though, she didn't like the
competition for my attention. Jealous of a young boy's dreams and a
young man's desire back then. Like a surgeon she was, takin' out
parts and leavin' the rest."

He looked off into the distant darkness as if seeking something.
"Wonder how our first meetin' woulda gone if I'd had 'em then." Spike
sighed in regret. "Bit too late for THAT, water over the dam or under
the bridge or whatnot. Mighta made a difference though, least for
me."

"Where was I?" Spike asked, expecting no answer. "Oh, yeah, the first
time I ever saw you. 'Twas a night much like this one, filled with
warm breezes, bloomin' flowers and grief enough to still a beatin'
heart."

~*~
Chapter 1

~ Swan Haven, a country house near Lorton in the Lake District ~

He would always remember that day clearly. It was a day of many
firsts. The first time he heard his father curse. The first time he
didn't cause an uproar by being late and untidy for supper. Even the
usually fierce countenance of Mrs. Beecham, his grandfather's
housekeeper and a stickler for decorum, was softened by the events of
the day. It was the first time he felt the sting of knowing what it
was to forever lose one held dear. It was also the first time he saw
them, the dark fairie and the bright princess. The first time he had
the dreams.

Earlier that day William had been running the hills and sailing his
cherished toy boat in the stream behind his grandfather's home in the
Fells. He loved visits to the country, even if beneath his
grandfather's stern look beat an even sterner heart. 'Twas the year
of our Lord 1861 and William Pratt was free from his tutors and the
confines of London. Free to frisk with his younger cousin Maggie, as
what remained of his mother's clan gathered in annual reunion.

They were Scots originally and held strong to family bonds. His Uncle
Christie, Maggie's da, was the only remaining son of a family that had
produced many a proud Macrorie in years gone by. The family was
dwindling with each passing year and now they'd been informed that yet
another member would forever be missing from these reunions.

William adored his eldest brother Graham. The young man was ever
quick to take up for his baby brother. He took the time to actually
talk to the boy, to listen to Will's dreams and fears. Graham fueled
the boy's fires of imagination and fantasy. Graham was everything
that William ever hoped to be and longed to live up to. If ever an
older brother was hero-worshipped, it was Graham. And now he was
forever gone.

His gentle mother was sedated in her room as the rest of the family
gathered in the dining parlor. Rather than the quiet meal one might
expect from a grieving family, it was the setting for yet another
round of accusations and placing of blame.

"If the demmed fool hadn't gone off on one of his Quixotic ventures to
save the world, this would never have happened. Henry, it was your
place to stop the boy's tilting at windmills and risking the family
line." Grandfather Macrorie glared at his son-in-law. "All that
energy and education should have been pointed in the right direction."

Henry Pratt sat with a stricken face for a moment before answering,
his English temperament not matching the fire of his wife's more
emotional tribe. "Graham was deeply troubled by the source of our
family fortune. It mattered not to the boy that it was in the last
century. He despised the notion that any of his ease was earned by
transportation of slaves to the colonies. University only increased
his sense of responsibility."

William and his sister Sophia dared not speak a word, as the dinner
table was not the place for youngsters to express anything, much less
opinions on such a volatile topic as their eldest sibling's various
causes and cares.

Aunt Rosamund, however, was under no such restriction and she shared
her father-in-law's disposition towards passion in her speaking. "You
know well that Graham had but a tender heart. He sought redemption
from our less than stellar history, that is all. Though from what
personal failing, I am at a loss. To cast blame on him for this
tragedy is really out of line, Father."

"Then the lad should have taken Holy Orders and rescued the lot of us
AND half the countryside too. Your family made money in shipping. So
what? The cargo was perfectly legal then, an honest day's work. They
merely transported them; had no part in the purchase or sale.
Besides, the whole industry was ended before even you were born,
Henry." Grandfather Macrorie stabbed at the loin of mutton on his
plate in emphasis.

"Blame the rabble rousers then, or Mayhew and those do-gooders that
write for 'The Morning Chronicle', if you are looking for somewhere to
point a finger. I tried my best with the lad. Stubborn, just like
his mother," Henry replied. It was time to lay some of the blame at
the old man's feet, if only by calling into it the difference in
personality between himself and his Anne.

"Glad I take after you then, Father," chimed in the only of Henry's
offspring old enough to be allowed table talk. "Won't find me taking
up causes for the disadvantaged. I say let them find work like the
rest of us. I'm not aiming for some seat at a non-existent round
table surrounded by courtly knights." Cameron Pratt leaned back in his
chair and smirked a bit.

William chanced a whisper to his sister, "Good thing too. Cam's aim
isn't that good. Wonder when it was he did that day's work himself?"
Sophia muffled a snicker at her little brother's insight. Their
remaining brother was as different from his elder as night and day.
Sophia had no doubt that Cameron might well bring the family to ruin
before he reached his majority. Already father had to pay exorbitant
gambling debts Cameron had incurred.

"Yes, we do still have you, and your brother William, to carry on the
family name and business," Henry agreed genially. "Still and all, I'm
proud of Graham. His moral code and sense of honor were of the
highest caliber." Henry wished some of those morals had rubbed off on
the lazy wastrel that was his new heir apparent.

Grandfather Macrorie snorted, half in disgust. "Did him a fat lot of
good though, dinnit? Boy with his looks and potential getting
involved in a labor strike-it was bound to lead to tragedy. Business
owner has a right to protect what's his. My mills are filled with
grumbling weavers, but they know what's good for the company is good
for them and their bellies."

Henry was beginning to become angry at his father-in-law's suggestion
that Graham had received his just desserts in some way when Anne
entered the room. "I could hear all of you from my room. I shall not
have my son blamed for his own murder. Father, I respect and love
you, but I'll not hear another word. Graham followed his heart and
did as he felt was right, just as he was raised to do. No business
owner has the right to take a life because his workers dare to ask for
a better wage. Three young men lost their lives; there are two other
grieving families as well this day."

The meal continued without further argument as none dared heap more
misery upon Anne. As for that good lady, she sat in stony silence,
not eating a thing, as if knowing only her presence had brought this
moment of peace.

"Do you think it hurt much?" William asked Sophia as she tucked the
boy into his bed later that night. "I am certain that Graham died
bravely, but do you think he was in much pain?"

"Well, a bullet would have to hurt, silly! I don't think he would
have been alive too long after it hit though. I'm sure Graham was
quickly at peace." Sophia was a somber eleven-year-old given to
reflection. "I am certain that God sent his Angels to whisk Graham to
heaven in good hurry though. Our brother was the best of men, after
all."

"I shall be just like him when I am grown, Sophie. I'll make you and
mother proud," William vowed.

Sophia kissed her little brother on the brow and smiled down at him
gently. "I am sure you will. You always help others, and didn't you
keep Maggie from falling off Lorton Bridge just yesterday?" At
William's pleased smile, she stood. "Say your prayers now, Will, and
get your rest. We'll all have to learn how to get on without Graham
here to show us the way."

William slipped into a fitful sleep filled with imagined scenes of his
beloved brother's death. His dreams changed then as a dark-eyed woman
stared at him from across the bloodied courtyard of the factory where
Graham Pratt fell while protesting child labor. She was exotic, with
a nearly feral look to her from some angles. Her smile made William
shiver in his dreams. The lady approached as if gliding, her eyes
never leaving the small boy.

"Wot 'ave we 'ere then?" the dark beauty asked. "I spy a young Knight
lookin' to take up 'is brother's armour. You be too small for that, my
pretty boy, but you'll grow to a fine size in time," she said to the
awestruck child.

"Who are you? Are you a gypsy?" William was both drawn to and repelled
by the woman before him.

"Not a gypsy, though Mama did say it could be where I got the sight,"
the lady added, more to herself than the boy. "You may call me your
princess." She nodded like a royal conferring a special honor on him.

"What sort of princess? You don't look like any of Queen Victoria's
daughters. I've seen sketches of them in the papers," William
challenged her claim.

The lady laughed, a small tinkling sound filled with hidden mirth.
"More like Titania's than stuffy Victoria. Yes, that's it! A fairie
princess is wot I am, if you like. Come to take a 'uman child under my
fairie wings."

"You're naught but a dream," William corrected. "Not real at all."

"But I'm very real, my William. One day we'll meet in the outer world
and I'll make you mine, but for now we'll meet 'ere in the dark where I
live and you will as well one day." The woman smiled on the boy in
satisfaction.

"I already have a mum. How can you make me yours?" William didn't
understand this part of the dream at all.

"Different kind of mummy and you shall be my dark Knight forever, when
you are ready. Pixies 'ave promised you to me, they 'ave. Only thing
keeps me out of the sun. Daddy will never want just me, but I 'ave you
to look forward to and that will be enough for now. We'll 'ave cakes
and rooms full of girlies to play with when you become my champion."

William blinked in confusion, not sure how to respond to the strange
woman and her rantings. From the corner of his eye, he saw her
then….the light was blinding around her as she strode towards them.
William remembered a picture book Graham had once given to him filled
with mythical gods and this woman reminded him of a Valkyrie, blonde
and powerful for all her smallness.

The vision said not a word but the dark fairie princess let out a cry
of frustration at her arrival. "'E's mine, not yours. You wouldn't
know wot to do with the likes of 'im."

The blonde goddess rolled her eyes at the woman and pointed toward the
dark princess's chest causing the dark princess to turn to powder.
"She isn't your destiny, William Pratt; I am." And with that, the
goddess disappeared as well.

William woke with a start, rapidly looking around the room as if
expecting one or both the strange women to be there. He got up and
crossed to the pitcher on the dressing table to get a drink and
recover from his powerful dreams before trying to sleep again. From
that point in his room he could hear the conversation between his
parents as it drifted up the chimney from the library below. 'That
must have wakened me.' He sighed as he realized he was the topic of
conversation.

"Still, Henry, you know how close William was to Graham. Do you really
think this is the time to change his tutor as well? He quite adores
Mr. Crichlow and this Mr. Oxley seems more rigid and taciturn.
Perhaps you should think again on this."

"My darling wife, you know so very much of comforting and caring for
your family, but nothing whatsoever about the needs of a young lad in
preparing for a proper education. Mr. Crichlow has filled the boy's
head with stuff and nonsense. Between Graham and that tutor, our
youngest will be spending the bulk of his school years fending off
every bully to be drawn to his already smaller stature. Just let the
lad show his love for myth and poetry and he'll be beaten to a pulp on
a regular basis!"

Anne looked at her husband in sympathy. "I know you mean well, my
dear. I am aware that William has inherited my slighter build and is
much like Graham with his tender heart. But that heart is strong and
his mind is quick. This Mr. Oxley will take the joy of learning away
from him and that would be a tragedy."

"William has his head in the clouds. The boy is full of fairie tales
and grand gestures. Why, just this past fortnight the scamp was
pummeled by those loutish farm lads while trying to defend the dubious
honor of a local milkmaid! He fairly worships Graham but hasn't
the health or stature to follow in his footsteps with any success."
Henry was determined, "Mr. Crichlow is gone, Oxley is in and that is
the end of that. All too soon we shall be sending William to St.
Paul's and he'll be eaten alive the way he is developing."

Anne looked ready to cry. "William could do far worse than to pattern
himself after Graham."

"Of course, my love," Henry crushed his wife to his bosom. "As usual,
you do have the right of it. Still, I maintain my correctness in the
change of teachers.

William slipped back between the covers and closed his eyes tightly.
First Graham gone forever and now Mr. Crichlow as well. The
nine-year-old had never felt so alone.

Sleep reclaimed the teary boy and with it came dreams that were as
dragons slain by the morning's sharp shaft of light. Neither of his
ladies, light or dark, returned that night, even though they would ever
return from that night forward.