Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters: Tara Maclay, Buffy Summers, Dawn Summers, Scoobies
Warnings: Canon character death; tw: grief.
Also literally just written, so no proofreading ever.
Last year, Dawn cried all through mother’s funeral. Start to finish.
This time, Buffy can see she’s trying to hold it in. Doesn’t last long, though. Buffy holds her sister’s tall, lanky cusp-of-womanhood frame to her own as the sobs wreck through her, stroking Dawn’s hair because it’s familiar. Silly words are ghosting through her head, like “it’s okay”, but they don’t spill out. The time could not be worse.
Even to Dawn, Buffy cannot lie now.
She glances over to Willow. Her friend, terrible witch, is silent; no tear tracks on her face, contorted in grief, or perhaps numbness: that feeling that there’s something inside you railing to burst out, but even you can’t touch it now.
But Willow is not moving, and Buffy has to count that as a positive.
Moving on, Buffy’s eyes catch Giles’; he’s been looking at Willow too. Buffy lets her gaze linger: good.
A little further back, Xander is staring numbly, Anya standing exactly a shoulder-breadth away from him looking forlorn.
It’s they that leave first; Xander has work and Anya won’t stay without him.
Giles is next. He approaches Willow and nudges her with a quiet clearing of his throat. He’ll be the one dealing with Willow, they won’t see him for a while. Or her. There’s a coven in England, best that could be done for her, really. In the best scenario, she could be reformed, make a full recovery. Chances are looking good.
Good like the one she loved most in the ground, not to come out again.
(not in the best case scenario)
(nor the worst)
Poor Giles, but Buffy can’t say she’s too sorry.
Then it’s just her and Dawn, who has stopped sobbing. Buffy squeezes her arm. That sets her off again; she turns and buries her face in Buffy’s shoulder.
Buffy almost doesn’t hear her whisper, so silent this world had become. “It hurts so much.”
“I know, honey.” Buffy’s still looking at the gravestone. The letters engraved there have been blurry all the time.
There’s a pause.
“No, you don’t,” Dawn says finally, and she draws back to give Buffy a sobering look, then turns to leave without another word. Buffy watches her, but finds she doesn’t even want to call her back.
She stares at the headstone for a long time. Memories float in and out of her head.
(if only she had noticed the dead girl more when she was alive)
(dead girl now too)
(had seen the dread of her family)
(really seen it)
(realized the pain behind the wisdom that day at the funeral home)
(questioned why she left her lover)
(and given her strength)
(all that strength she’d given unasked and without demanding)
(where had it come from, really?)
Buffy doesn’t know.
She thinks of soft arms, not toned but sure as a kinder fate; but also of a shy smile and a stutter and a silhouette hiding behind Willow and seeming smaller there than she was. She thinks of the most generous words she’s ever heard.
It’s when her face is wet with tears that she thinks maybe she won’t break.
She kneels down as a smile alights on her face, gently, touches the freshly dug-up soil where grass will soon grown from the woman’s body, given back to the earth.
And as her body is the earth, Buffy’s voice is the wind itself.