A/N: This chapter is BIG. It is almost 11 pages single spaced! It covers a lot, though, so I think you'll excuse the length :D Quick side note - Buffy and William have already purchased a home. So, yay. Hope you enjoy this!
Chapter Twenty Four
Everything was wrong. It started with the flowers. They were to be delivered the morning of the wedding, peonies and baby's breath because although Joyce said that the latter flower was more suited for a funeral, Buffy had always liked it and insisted that it be included in the wedding bouquets and decorations. It was scheduled to be delivered half past three, but didn't arrive until well past five. Then, there was the issue of the flowers themselves. Gone were her baby's breath and peonies, replaced with tulips.
"What am I supposed to do with all of these tulips?" Buffy snapped, mouth pulling at an exasperated frown as she glared at the flower arrangements. They were wrong. They were all wrong, and there wasn't a thing she could do about it.
"Buffy, dear, we'll make do," Joyce said levelly. She could sense a Buffy-Summers-meltdown on the horizon, and wanted to do everything in her power to avoid it. "Besides, you like tulips."
"Yes, but not for my wedding! They're too cheery!"
"Too cheery? Buffy, it's a wedding."
"And they're flighty! And garish! I do not want my wedding to be flighty and garish!"
"Buffy, dear, calm down," Joyce said soothingly. "These flowers will do just fine."
"They're all wrong," Buffy huffed. "William is going to take one look at them-"
"And not notice a single thing out of place," Joyce filled in quickly. "Flowers are a woman's affair, darling. He will hardly notice a thing."
"Well, that's comforting," Buffy said morosely. "My own fiancée won't notice something so fundamentally wrong with our wedding."
"The wrong flowers does not mean that your wedding is fundamentally wrong," Joyce told Buffy, laying her hand on her daughter's forehead. "And you need to calm down, dear. I think you're giving yourself a fever."
Buffy's eyes widened and she sunk onto the couch. "I'm giving myself a fever? I'm going to be sick for my own wedding!"
"Buffy, dear, why don't you lie down?" Joyce suggested, pressing on her shoulder. Buffy laid back on the couch and Joyce pressed the back of her hand against Buffy's cheeks and forehead.
"Is it bad?" Buffy asked in a small voice.
"You are going to be perfectly fine," Joyce said, leaning down and pressing a kiss against Buffy's forehead. "And you are going to be nothing but a beautiful bride today."
"A beautiful bride," Buffy murmured, the flowers being pushed to the back of her mind as she imagined herself in her dress, William waiting for her at the end of the aisle. "I'm getting married today."
Joyce grinned, patting her shoulder indulgently. "Yes, you are. Now rest up."
Buffy told herself that she would forget about the flowers. She would focus only on her wedding and how in a few hours she would be Mrs. William Pratt. That was a pleasant enough thought to distract her from the excess tulips.
It was not a sufficient distraction, however, when nearly half of the skirt of her wedding dressed ripped apart. She had tried it on midmorning after she found herself with an overwhelming urge to check the fit. She pulled it on, frowning when she found a loose bit of stitching at the waist. Hastily, she tore from her bedroom to ask that Joyce touched up the bodice. Her mother was quite the seamstress, and she had no doubt her mother could fix the small problem. She didn't anticipate the bottom of her skirt catching on the bottom of the door, though. Her eyes widened when she heard the tell-tale-rip.
"No," she murmured, glancing down at the horror that had been enacted to her dress. "No, no, no!"
She must have been loud because Joyce bound upstairs asking, "Buffy, dear, what's wrong? What-oh my word!"
"Fix it," Buffy said helplessly, holding up the ripped skirt. "Fix it!"
"Alright, let's see what I can do," Joyce said, crouching down and gently tugging the bottom of the skirt away from the door. She led Buffy back into her bedroom and helped her out of the dress. Buffy sat on her bed, watching with barely concealed nerves as Joyce examined the damage.
"You can fix it, Mother, can't you?" Buffy asked nervously. "It isn't that terrible, is it? Mother?"
Joyce didn't answer, continuing to turn the material over in her hands. Buffy inherently knew this was bad. After a long enough pause Buffy said, "This wedding is doomed."
"No, it is not doomed," Joyce said, glancing back up at Buffy. "I will send this over to the tailor, and he will fix it."
"Who will send it over?" Buffy asked immediately. "I don't want it going with one of the maids. I don't trust them!"
"I will go," Joyce said resolutely. She shook her head after a moment, though, and said, "Oh no, I am supposed to oversee the food for the reception. I should not be far from the house for long. I'll send your father."
"Father? Are you sure he should go?"
"It'll be perfect," Joyce said, finding pep somewhere to put in her words. "Your Father will make sure that dress is in tip top shape for this afternoon."
"Will he be able to make it in time?"
"He has hours, dear. I'll go bring it to him now and tell him to get it down there with haste."
Buffy launched herself into Joyce's arms, kissing her on the cheek. "Thank you, Mother."
"Now, I want you to lay down in here and try not to touch anything. I can only handle one catastrophe at a time."
Buffy smiled softly. "Yes, Mother."
Joyce left the room with the dress and Buffy laid back on her bed, turning on her side. First the flowers and now her dress, already her wedding was becoming a disaster, but she comforted herself with the notion that it couldn't get worse. It turned out, she was wrong.
"I'm nervous," William said, adjusting his waistcoat. "Can you believe that? I'm actually nervous."
Drusilla watched him from her comfortable perch on the armchair, languidly fanning herself with an oriental fan that one of her many admirers had given her over the years.
"I don't see why you're nervous," Drusilla said. "You've found the one woman in the world who knows the lecherous wolf that you are, and yet still loves you."
"That's just it," William said, pointing at her. "I'm terrified she'll come to her senses before I can slide the ring onto her finger."
"She's lasted this long, William. I highly doubt she'll be backing out anytime soon."
"Do you like these cufflinks?" William asked, turning toward Drusilla and showing off his cuffs. "Are they too much?"
"Oh yes, William. Those cufflinks are absolutely horrid."
"You're teasing me," he said in disbelief.
"Yes, because you are being ridiculous. No one cares about your cufflinks. With her next to you, do you honestly believe someone will be looking at your cufflinks?"
"Yes, my mother will be," William returned. "And if she doesn't like them, she will tell me about it for years."
Drusilla smirked. "The cufflinks are fine, William."
"And my necktie?"
"Goes marvelously with your neck."
"Thank you for your startling lack of help, Dru."
William looked at himself in the looking glass, adjusting and re-adjusting his necktie. Casually Drusilla asked, "Are you nervous about tonight at all?"
"You know," she said slowly. "The maiden voyage."
She laughed, crossing her legs daintily. "You can't tell me you haven't thought about it, William."
"The stammering is a dead give away, darling," Drusilla said. "You'll go easy on her, won't you?"
"What we do is none of your business," William said firmly. "It is between her and me."
"I know it's probably been a while since you've mounted a virgin-"
"But they require a certain level of care," Drusilla continued.
"I know, Dru," William bit out. "Now, can we please stop talking about this?"
"You had no qualms discussing your conquests with me before," Drusilla pointed out. He shook his head and said, "Buffy is not a quest for me, Drusilla! She's my fiancé. She's going to be my wife."
Drusilla grinned and murmured, "Yes she is."
"I won't hurt her," William said resolutely. "I would never hurt her."
"Good." He turned back toward the looking glass and she softly said, "William, dear?"
She smiled softly. "The cufflinks and necktie look divine."
Buffy sat in the living room, watching the maids complete their work on the backyard. She had given them her specifications for the yard, and was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it was turning out. It was everything she could have hoped for and more – a welcome change from how the wedding plans had been unfolding. Even the tulips looked nice, interspersed among the tables and chairs.
"I want to get married," Dawn said, dropping onto the couch beside Buffy.
"Is there someone waiting in the wings that I don't know about?" Buffy teased, putting her arm around her younger sister's shoulders.
"An entire day when you are the absolute center of attention!" Dawn gushed. "It sounds marvelous!"
"It's not just you, Dawnie," Buffy said lightly. "It's you and your husband."
"A husband," Dawn breathed out. "Oh, I cannot wait to get married!"
"I feel quite the same way," Buffy confided, for it to be over if nothing else. For weeks she had deliberated over every bit of the wedding, and now she couldn't wait for the moment it was over. All the misplaced details were practically turning her hair gray.
"Is Father back yet?" Dawn asked, stretching her legs out in front of her. Buffy shook her head.
"No, but he should be back soon," Buffy said. He had been out for just over two hours, an adequate time to deliver her dress to the tailor and return.
"Buffy, dear," Joyce said, gliding into the living room. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling wonderful," Buffy said with a grin. "The backyard looks divine. Even the tulips have shaped up to be quite handsome."
Joyce nodded and crisply said, "See, everything will work itself out."
"And even if it doesn't, as long as William is the one waiting for me at the end of that aisle, it really doesn't matter."
Joyce peered at her daughter and asked, "Have you been getting into your father's liquor cabinet?"
"What? Mother! Why in the world would you think that?" Buffy argued.
"Well, you are much too calm," Joyce said. "I was an absolute wreck the morning of my wedding, and I didn't have nearly as many unexpected instances as you've had this morning. Therefore, your calm demeanor is both puzzling and worrisome."
"I thought you wanted me to be calm," Buffy said, shaking her head. "That is what you said not two hours ago, is it not?"
"So, you haven't gotten into your father's liquor cabinet?" Joyce asked.
"No, Mother," Buffy replied dryly. "I have not gotten into Father's liquor cabinet. Or the neighbor's for that matter."
Joyce glanced over her daughter's heads at the backyard and murmured, "The backyard really does look remarkable."
The wedding was less than a half hour away and last minute preparations were in full swing. The cooks were busy in the kitchen, preparing the food for the reception that would immediately follow the ceremony. The backyard was being touched up, a sudden addition of wind disturbing some of the flower arrangements. Things were coming together, except for the bride's dress which was still absent along with the bride's father.
"He should be back by now," Buffy said, pacing in her bedroom. Joyce followed her, trying to calm her down. "He should be back!"
"He might have been delayed," Joyce suggested levelly. "It is very possible that he was delayed, dear."
"Delayed!" Buffy said loudly. "This is not the time to get delayed! My wedding is not the time to get delayed!"
"Buffy, dear, remember that calm you had not two hours ago? Let's try to reclaim it, yes?"
"I can't," Buffy shot back, continuing to pace. "I can't reclaim any semblance of calm, because two hours ago I thought my dress was on its way. Two hours ago, I thought my father was on his way back to this very house to deliver my dress and walk me down the aisle. Now, neither of those things are going to happen!"
"Dear, deep breaths," Joyce coached. "You're becoming awfully flushed."
"This is a disaster," Buffy said, sinking down on her bed. "This is an absolute disaster."
"It'll be alright, dear."
"No, it won't!" Buffy said, her eyes filling with tears. "Everything is going wrong."
"Everything is not going wrong," Joyce told her firmly. "You and William love each other and are getting married. Everything else is simply extraneous, dear. Remember when you told me that the only thing that matters is William at the end of the aisle? He will still be there, darling. And we will wait for you father. I'm sure he's on his way."
Buffy's eyes widened, "Is William here?"
"Yes, dear, he's here."
"Good," she breathed out. "I'd hate to have one more thing missing."
Joyce sat next to Buffy, gently rubbing her back. "No one's wedding is perfect, dear. What matters is the person waiting for you. That, my dear, is perfect."
Buffy nodded, wiping at her nose. "We'll wait, then?"
Joyce pressed a kiss against her daughter's temple. "Yes, dear. We'll wait."
William sat in the room that Joyce brought him to, analyzing his cufflinks further as he waited from someone to come and tell him they were ready for him. There was a knock on the door and he glanced up expectantly, his stomach twisting as he called out, "Come in."
The door opened and Drusilla slipped in, closing the door behind him. He furrowed his eyebrows together and asked, "What is it, Dru?"
"There has been a slight complication."
He frowned. "What sort of complication?"
"Apparently there was an issue with your betrothed's dress this morning," Drusilla explained. "Mr. Summers brought it to the tailor and has yet to return."
William gaped at Drusilla and said, "Buffy's father isn't here?"
"And she is also sans a wedding dress," Drusilla added. William stood up and said, "I have to see her."
"Buffy," William said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. "Who else would I be seeing?"
"You can't see her," Drusilla said. "It's bad luck, remember?"
"Since when do you believe in luck?"
"I'm just looking out for you, William. I want to give you as good of a chance as I can for this marriage."
"Very funny," he returned dryly. "Honestly, though, I need to see her."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I am very sure," William said. "If I know my fiancée, she is probably half way out a window at this point. Take me to her."
"As you wish," Drusilla sighed. "Come, I'll bring you to her."
He followed her out of the room and down the hallway to the corner bedroom. Drusilla knocked twice and was met with Buffy yelling, "I'm not taking any visitors!"
Drusilla turned toward William and said, "Well, the rest is up to you. I would rather not be on the firing end of that."
"I can take it from here," William said, touching her arm. "Thank you, Dru."
He gingerly opened the door, his heart lurching when he saw Buffy sprawled out on her bed, cheeks marked with tears. She glanced up at him from her arm, eyes widening.
"William! What-you can't be in here!"
"I beg to disagree," William said, closing the door behind him. He walked over to the bed and crouched in front of her. "You really should not be crying on your wedding, pet. It's supposed to be a joyous occasion."
"Everything's going wrong," she said. "My dress ripped. My father isn't here. And the tulips! Did you see all the tulips?"
"The tulips look fine," William told her, laying his hand over hers. "And your father is surely on his way with your dress."
"You don't know that," Buffy said. "He could still be all the way in town. Maybe my dress couldn't be salvaged!"
"Then we will get married without your dress."
"We can't get married without my dress!" Buffy said petulantly. "I look wonderful in that dress! I can't tell you how many nights I feel asleep envisioning the look on your face when you see me in that dress."
"Fine, then we will wait for the dress," William told her.
"Maybe we shouldn't do this," she murmured, sitting up. "Maybe we shouldn't get married."
"Don't be ridiculous."
"This is a sign," she sputtered, cheeks flushing. "This is a sign that we've rushed things."
"We can push it back a few months," she said hurriedly. "Who needs a July wedding, anyway? We can have a Fall wedding. October or November."
"We are not having a Fall wedding," William said, taking her hands in his.
"Why not? Do you not like Fall?"
"I have no qualms with Fall," William said. "But we're getting married today."
"Did you not hear what I told you? My dress? The tulips?"
"Forget about the tulips, pet."
"This is a disaster! Our wedding, William, is a disaster!"
"Buffy, look at me," William implored softly. When she didn't comply he took a hold of her chin and forced her gaze toward him. "Good girl. Now, listen to me. Our wedding is not a disaster."
"Yes, it is."
"No, it's not. You're here in good health. I am, as well. We have nearly all of our close friends and family outside."
"Is on his way," William finished. "He is on his way; and when he gets here, whenever that is, you will put on that beautiful dress of yours and we are getting married. Even if I have to drag you out there myself."
There was a knock on the door and Joyce stepped in, her eyes widening when she saw William crouched in front of her daughter.
"William, what in heaven's name are you doing in here?"
"Paying my bride-to-be a small visit," William answered affably. "I hope you don't mind."
"It's bad luck."
"Well, according to your daughter here, it is already a disaster, so I don't think we can do it much more harm," he joked.
"You'd best be on your way," Joyce said. She grinned toward Buffy and said, "My daughter has a dress to put on."
Buffy's eyes widened. "It's here?"
Joyce nodded. "The carriage broke down half-way home. Your father called in every favor to get home, but he did it. He's in our bedroom now freshening up. You, dear, ought to get dressed. You are getting married today, aren't you?"
Buffy grinned wide, glancing at William. "Yes. Yes, I am."
With the upheaval that plagued the morning and afternoon of the wedding, the actual ceremony went remarkably smoothly. One would have expected at least one slight kink, but there were none to be found. William's cufflinks and necktie worked beautifully. Buffy didn't trip. Neither forgot their vows. The minister pronounced them husband and wife, and it was sealed with a kiss.
They walked into the Summer residence hand-in-hand, William feeling like the luckiest man in the world as his fingers brushed against her wedding ring. He took their interlocked hands and kissed them tenderly.
"Now dear, was that not the farthest thing from a disaster?"
She grinned. "I was worried for a moment, but…"
"Bite your tongue," he chided. She leaned in close and whispered, "Do it for me."
"Minx," he returned playfully, sliding an arm around her waist. He pressed his mouth against her ear and said, "Perhaps later, pet. For now, I believe society dictates that we cater to our guests."
"Society," Buffy said with a grin. "Do we really follow what society dictates? Need I remind you of how this entire union began?"
"Yes, but we have redeemed ourselves in both God and society's eyes," he returned. "Why ruin all of that hard work now?"
She grinned, pressing herself to his side. "Alright, I suppose a little meeting and greeting is tolerable."
"Let's avoid your Aunt Mildred, though," William said. "She was giving me eyes throughout the entire ceremony."
Buffy laughed. "Oh yes, I forgot to warn you about Aunt Mildred. She's become rather saucy ever since Uncle George passed away last year. We think she found a new lease on life."
"How fortunate for her," William replied dryly. "And how unfortunate for everyone else."
"She's harmless," Buffy said. "Just watch her hands."
He scrunched his nose and said, "Noted."
Joyce peaked her head into the room and said, "Are you two ready to make your entrance?" William glanced down at Buffy and she nodded. "Wonderful," Joyce said. "Follow me then!"
"Your mother is very happy," William whispered. "Exceedingly so."
"I believe it's the prospect of grandchildren," Buffy returned softly.
"Hm, well, considering what happens before, the prospect of grandchildren is making me exceedingly happy, as well."
Buffy laughed. "Down boy."
They walked out onto the patio and they were met with applause, the crowd surrounding them. Buffy kissed her relatives and hugged her friends. She laughed when Dawn launched herself at William, hugging him tightly. Buffy approached Liam and Cecily and offered them a congenial smile.
"Buffy, darling," Cecily cooed, grasping her hand. "Liam and I are so happy for you."
"Yes, congratulations," Liam said. He smiled, but the merriment did not quite meet his eyes. "We wish you nothing but the best."
"It was a beautiful ceremony," Cecily said. "And you looked absolutely ravishing. Your dress is just beautiful. I couldn't stop talking about it during the ceremony. Isn't that right, Liam?"
He nodded, tearing his eyes away from Buffy to smile down at his wife. "Yes, that's true."
Buffy felt an arm slide around her waist and she smiled softly, leaning against her husband.
"William," Liam said in greeting, following with a stiff nod. "Congratulations. You are a very lucky man."
"The luckiest," William said, his thumb stroking her waist.
"We were just telling Buffy how beautiful the ceremony was," Cecily said.
"Thank you. We must continue making the rounds, but please do enjoy yourself here," William said. "There is more than enough food and drink to go around."
They walked away and William said, "Am I allowed to gloat?"
"No," she replied, shaking her head firmly. "I now bear your last name. That's all the gloating you need."
William smiled, giving her a quick kiss. "I suppose, dear."
"You suppose. I know."
"And that is why it's such a wonderful thing that we are married," he said lightly. "What would I do without you, dear?"
She grinned, tenderly touching his face. "I don't wish to ponder that."
The bed. It stood in the center of the room that would from now on be their bedroom. Theirs. Together. It was the beginning of a shared life, and the two of them recognized the significance as they stood in the room. Shared bedroom. Shared life.
For weeks now Buffy had been like a cat in heat, anxious for the moment when he would touch her – really touch her – and now that the moment was here she was so nervous that she could barely think straight. She kept thinking about how he was so much more experienced than her, and in the back of her mind was the deep fear that she would be a disappointment. She was a virgin, after all, and she had heard all about the hoards of non-virgins who had entertained him. He surely experienced his fair of tricks, of which she was completely ignorant.
What she didn't know was that he was nervous, as well. Drusilla was right when she had said that he probably hadn't been with a virgin in quite a while. Virgins were not the type to gallivant on balconies, after all. Buffy was pure and fragile, and he was worried he would hurt her unintentionally.
Together they stood in silence, both of them battling their own inner demons as the bed seemingly mocked them. That would be the scene of the crime, after all. Either her harm or his disappointment according to their deepest fears.
"Are you nervous?" she asked softly, reaching for his hand.
"Yes," he admitted.
She let out a shaky breath and said, "Oh, thank God. I thought I was the only one."
"No, pet, you're not the only one."
"Well, why don't we start small?" she suggested. "We could just sit on the bed?"
"Or perhaps get undressed?"
She blushed. "Yes, of course. That generally happens before, well, what happens after."
He smirked. "Come here, love."
She stepped toward him and he gently turned her to unbutton her dress. It was heavy, and he fumbled a bit as he pulled it off of her. She stepped out of the skirt, watching him dutifully fold it and place it on the dresser. She was only in her chemise now, and it occurred to her that this was the least dressed he had ever seen her. In a few moments, she would be wearing even less.
He was still fully dressed, though, and that would simply not do. She stepped toward him and undressed him with trembling hands until he was in a similar state of undress.
She placed her hands on the smooth skin of his chest and felt a jolt straight to her center. He kissed her then, softly at first and then more urgently as his hands pushed down the top of her chemise. Her puritanical upbringing yelled in protest when her breasts came free of the thin material, but something else entirely took over when his hands came up to massage her chest.
"William," she murmured, head tipping back. His mouth returned to hers and he kissed her hard, tongue sliding along her own. It reminded her of those heady trips in his carriage, but even sweeter with his skin against her own, his hands kneading her sensitive skin. She stepped back shakily, letting out a small gasp when the back of her knees hit the bed. She sank down and her eyes widened when she found herself level with his nether region.
Well, this was unexpected. She had heard things, from Drusilla and even her mother, but this was…big. Very big.
"William," she said gingerly, the fear creeping back even as lust rode over her body.
"Will, uh, it fit?"
He chuckled lightly, dropping his head to hers. "Yes," he murmured against her mouth, "it will."
"Are you quite sure?"
"We just need you ready."
He pushed her back farther on the bed, coaxing her knees open. She wanted to ask what he was doing, but instead told herself to be quiet and to trust him. He knew more about this than her, after all. But she had to speak up when he reached between her legs. Surely this could not be right. There was only one object meant to go between her legs, and her mother never mentioned fingers. It felt good though, surprisingly so, and she decided to let it go for now as he pumped one finger in and out of her. He added another and she squirmed in delight, finding the delicious tension build if she pressed against his hand. He set some sort of rhythm and she squeezed her eyes shut, her entire body coiling up tight until he hit just the right spot and colors burst behind her eyes.
She made some sound that surprised even her, and when she opened her eyes she was both amazed and terrified to see that he seemed to have grown even bigger.
He pulled down his pants and crawled toward her on the bed, his hands leaving a hot trail on her thigh as he moved up. He captured his mouth with hers and murmured, "This may hurt a bit."
He slid into her and she winced. Yes, it hurt. Definitely hurt. He felt her stiffen beneath him and he looked down at her with worried eyes.
"I'm fine," she said, wriggling a bit beneath him as she adjusted to his size. "I'm…I'm fine."
"We can stop-"
"Go on," she said, pressing her hips sharply against his. That was all the encouragement that he needed. It felt rather like being poked for the first part, but as she relaxed she found herself enjoying it more. And then his hands were doing those marvelous things that they did, and his tongue dragged along her neck. The tension began to build, just as it did before, and she found herself falling into his rhythm. The tension kept building and she clawed at his back as it became almost too much to handle.
"William," she breathed out, head pressing back on the pillow as pleasure spread across her body. She had thought his fingers were good, but they were nothing compared to this. She felt him come a moment later and he collapsed on top of her, face resting in the crook of her neck. Breathing heavily, she ran her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck, finding comfort in the feel of his body against his. He rolled off of her and turned on his side, wrapping an arm around her waist.
"Are you alright?" he asked, pressing a kiss to her shoulder.
She nodded, laying her arm over his. "Yes. That was…miraculous."
William chuckled. "Miraculous? Well, that is a first. I've never had someone tell me it was miraculous."
"And joyous," Buffy continued. "Extraordinary. Awe inspiring."
"I couldn't agree more," he said, pulling her closer. "So, I didn't hurt you too much?"
She shook her head. "No, you didn't. And I…I was good?" He pressed against her and she got her answer. "Already?"
"See what you do to me?"
She turned toward him with a grin and kissed him soundly. When she pulled away she murmured, "I love you, Mr. Pratt."
He smirked. "I love you, Mrs. Pratt."
A/N: And we're done! Thank you to everyone who stayed with me for this story. I have absolutely loved writing this and sharing it with you all. Please leave feedback! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the final installment :D