Mackenzie walked quietly through the dark halls of her parents' house, searching for her fiancé and knowing where she could probably find him.
She stopped in the doorframe and watched him quietly.
He was silhouetted against the setting sun streaming through the large window, his attention focused on the book in his hands. She she shifted her weight and a floorboard creaked prompting Will to look in her direction.
She smiled at him gently, "I thought I'd find you here."
He shrugged and looked around the expansive room, "I just don't think I will ever get over the fact that your parents have an actual library in their house."
"They just put all of their books in one room."
"That's called a library Mac." He retorted with a smirk, "And this one is like something out of Beauty and the Beast."
She smiled and tucked herself into his side, "And what are you reading there my Beast?"
Will raised an eyebrow at her, "Well, technically you would be the Beast as this is your family's library and I'm the peasant."
"So that makes you Belle?"
Will shrugged, "I'm comfortable in my masculinity."
Mackenzie tilted her head back and laughed, "Okay, fine. What is it you are reading my Belle?"
Will sheepishly handed over the leather bound book he had been skimming through.
Mackenzie shook her head as she looked at the volume in her hand, "Grimm's Fairy Tales?"
"I like the stories." He defended.
She shook her head, "These versions are a little dark and demented."
"So am I."
"That's true." She readily agreed leaning back against him as she opened the book, casually flipping through the pages.
He put his hands on her arms and stepped back, sinking into one of the chairs and pulling her with him onto his lap. "How was your secret girl talk?"
Mary McHale had pulled Mackenzie off with her after their leisurely lunch, insisting on a Mother-Daughter chat. The men had been shooed away and spent the afternoon strolling about the grounds of the country club, Freddy pointing out his and Mac's favorite places for hide and seek or the most reliable spots during the annual Easter Egg hunts of their youth.
Will was certainly no stranger to wealth and had even become accustomed to a privileged lifestyle but despite his personal wealth he couldn't help but feel slightly out of place and a bit awed of the world of old money he was being shown. Mackenzie was such a hard worker and seemed so grounded that he often forgot how drastically different their upbringings had been.
She was the daughter of an ambassador, an actual knight of the order of St. Michael and St. George. He was the son of a drunken Nebraskan farmer. She had traveled the world and gone to the finest schools. He had gone to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln barely 50 miles from home and didn't even leave the state until his Junior year when he began touring for law schools. She had never wanted for anything while Will could remember the ball of hunger in his stomach and the fear in his fathers eyes the year a sickness had destroyed the crops and the bank put a lien on the farm. That was the year John McAvoy's existing violent tendencies had increased to the point that a 10 year old Will had felt the need to fight back. The day she was stabbed in Islamabad was the first time Mackenzie had felt the sting of violence purposefully directed toward her.
Knowing them now, most people would never guess the life of privilege or struggle that marked their youth. They both worked hard and determinedly to cast their own identity. Neither felt the pull of nostalgia for their childhood. They both claimed New York as their home and lived the lives they had created for themselves and rightfully earned. They were equals. But every now and then there were moments, like standing in that vaulted library, that Will felt fraudulent and woefully inadequate.
But then Mackenzie settled into his lap and wrapped her hands around his neck, playing gently with his hair and he mused that it must be okay, because she was one who could have anything she wanted and she choose him.
"Sometimes, my mother is worse than Sloan." She griped, sporting a seemingly contradictory grin.
Will's eyebrows climbed in amusement concealing his introspective, "Oh?"
Mackenzie sighed with a smile, "She's very happy about everything. Although I'm not so sure if she's happier that I'm actually getting married or that you're the one I'm marrying." She ran her hand through his hair, "I told you that you had nothing to worry about. I think my parents love you more than me."
Will tried to smirk, "That's just because it's been longer since they've seen me."
"Give them some time to get used to you again and you'll drive them as crazy as you do me?" Mac asked indulgently.
"Something like that." He punctuated with a kiss to her nose.
Mac settled on to his chest. "Where's my father?"
Will gestured vaguely with his hand, "He headed off to take a nap. We did a lot of walking and he spent a lot of time telling me what an idiot I am so I think he was a little winded. But he says he's gotten into the habit of afternoon naps."
Mackenzie nodded thoughtfully, "Ever since the scare with his heart a few years ago Mom has been pretty insistent on making sure he gets enough rest." She nuzzled her face into his shoulder, "He loves you too you know."
Will just murmured in response and tightened his hold on her.
He kept his eyes averted and ran his hand up her arm, "I love your parents too. They're good people."
Mackenzie pulled back to look at him questioningly. "Billy? What's on your mind."
He shrugged, "Just tired I think. Jetlag."
She squinted at him, piercing him with the kind of inquisitive gaze that made him want to shrink away. Finally she shook her head, "You handle jet lag better than anyone I know. More often than not it is an excuse for you not to sleep. What's going on?"
He closed his eyes, arguing against himself. It had been such a pleasant moment and he mentally shoved his subconscious for bringing up memories and he mentally cursed her for knowing him so well. Maybe if he just stayed quiet they could go back to her just smiling, sitting on his lap with her hands in his hair and talking about her parents. That would be nice. He wouldn't mind doing that all day.
He sighed because he knew that wasn't an option. He opened his eyes and met Mackenzie's patiently waiting face. He smiled gently at her, hoping to erase the concern flickering in her eyes.
"I've been dreaming more about my childhood." He started quietly, watching the moment it took for Mackenzie to process what he was saying and her eyes grow wider with the silent "Oh."
He licked his lips and looked away, "It's been happening more since March, you know, since he died. I figure it's normal psychological reaction, whatever and some day I'll tell Habib and he'll be annoying for a couple of sessions and help me to stop them eventually."
Mackenzie tilted her head "You've been having nightmares about your childhood for 8 months and haven't told your therapist?"
Will rolled his eyes and looked at her, "Does that really surprise you?"
Mac pulled herself up, ready to argue but seemed to deflate, letting out a low breath, "No."
He smirked and she shook her head, running her hand across his shoulder, "That was what was bothering you Thursday morning?"
"Yeah." Will nodded, smirk falling off his face. He sighed, "Not really actually. Partially."
Mackenzie pouted in confusion but stayed silent, willing him to continue.
He reached a hand up and tucked a fallen lock of hair behind her ear, "Thursday was different. It started the same. A memory or an amalgamation of Dad, you know..." He drifted off before locking eyes with Mackenzie and she had to restrain herself from gasping at the fear in his eyes, "But then it changed and it was me. And you. And I was the one hitting and yelling and you were the one trying to run and crying."
"Will..." Mackenzie's voice trailed off, unsure of what to say. Still seeing the apprehension in his face she ducked her head into his neck and held him tightly. He sat frozen for a moment before squeezing her tightly in return. "That will never happen Will." She began murmuring into his skin, "Never, ever happen. I believe it as much as I believe the sun is going to rise tomorrow. I have never been afraid of you; even when I was afraid you hated me I was never afraid of you. I always feel safe with you. That was just a dream, a stupid, messed up dream and it is never, ever going to be real."
Will clutched her to him, drinking in her words and reassurances.
After he had finally begun to loosen his grip on her Mackenzie sat back so she could look him in the eye. She stroked the side of his face, "You're a good man William McAvoy. No one should have to go through what you went through as a child and but the fact that you are who you are now in spite of everything just proves how good you are and I love you for it. I love you and we're going to be married, Will. It's going to be a happy, wonderful marriage and even when we fight and yell I will never be afraid of you and we're going to have a happy home."
"Happily ever after?" He murmured, his hand rubbing absently across the cover of the book still in her lap.
She nodded, "Yes, happily ever after."
will lifted his head and smiled at her, "Fairy tales aren't just for girls you know."
Mackenzie tilted her head, following Will's gaze to his fingers fiddling with the book cover, "You know I love a good story. When I was a little boy I spent a lot of time in the school library after school. I loved to read. I'd read anything from the Encyclopedia to Huckleberry Finn. I would escape into the books. The library was small and didn't have a large collection, less than your parents have here probably, but they did have this one." He opened the cover and thumbed through the pages, "I read these stories cover to cover. I would never take them home but I wouldn't stop thinking about them. I'd try to mentally reread them and sometimes, when things were bad, I would rework them in my head. I would go to sleep imagining that one day I would meet a princess and sweep her off her feet and she would take me away to her castle and I'd never have to worry about my dad ever again." He paused, pulling his attention from the book to look up into her eyes, "I'm just realizing now that it's come true."
Mackenzie bit her lip, "Billy..."
He cupped her face in his hands, "You're my fairy tale Mac. 12 year old me would never believe I'd be sitting here, in this crazy house in England, with this beautiful, wonderous woman. It's like a fairy tale come true."
"Will," She smiled at him, mirroring him by placing her hands on his face, "This isn't some fairy tale. Through determination and education, intelligence and guile You had already swept yourself off to Camelot long before I met you. You didn't need anyone to make you who you are and trust me, I'm no princess."
"You are to me." He smiled, kissing her gently.
"I thought I was the beast?" She teased.
He smirked, "That was just because of the library. In every other way you're a princess."
"You know I have two Peabodies." She snarked.
"Are you trying to say that Princesses can't be accomplished and powerful women?" He needled her, "That just smacks of sexism."
"That's enough." She rolled her eyes and pushed to stand up.
He tightened his hold, "I'm trying to be sweet."
"And you are being very sweet." She bent and kissed him lightly on the lips, "But you should also know I grew out of the name princess before I was 4 years old."
"Shocking..." He mumbled against the skin of her neck.
"Shut up." She smiled, kissing him before again pushing herself back and up off of his lap.
She took the book with her and his eyes followed her as she returned it to the shelf before moving to the door, "Where are you going now?"
She shrugged, "I thought I might see if my father is awake yet and may be go down to the horse stables." She turned to face him, stretching out her hand, "You joining me?"
"I like horses." He smiled and pushed himself out of the chair and grabbed her hand.