Buffy Summers sat beside Edward, the Black Prince of Wales, as Sir William Thatcher faced off against Count Adhemar and marveled at how different her life was from just over a year ago.
When she’d been tossed into this world after the battle with Glory, she’d been broken and grieving, wanting only for it to end. There were no demons to fight in this place and she was completely lost and alone. But fate had other ideas and she’d been given a new family. Will Thatcher and his quest to change his stars, Wat and his endless quest for a good meal, Kate and her fiery temper and skill with steel, Geoff and his penchant for gambling and gift of storytelling, and Roland the mother/father to them all. They’d taken her in and given her a place in their ragtag band. It couldn’t replace what she’d lost, but she was happy.
Then she’d met Edward.
Oh, he was Sir Thomas Colville when they met. His quiet manner and crooked smile stole her battered heart. They met in secret even though no one would think twice of a knight dallying with a peasant, but Thomas had respected her too much to give her such a reputation. When he was exposed as the Black Prince of Wales, Buffy had been more than a little hurt at the deception, but it wasn’t like she hadn’t been lying to him as well. It seemed to be her lot in life to keep secrets from those she cared about. Their affair ended with his unmasking, and without a goodbye. Only Kate knew why Buffy was so sad, but she kept her secrets. It wasn’t until Adhemar exposed Will that she forced down her hurt and anger and went to Edward to beg him to do something, anything, to help him.
“What would you have me do, Elisabeth? Young Thatcher broke the law,” Edward asked in exasperation.
“Hang the law! Will is a good man, and an honorable knight. So what if he wasn’t born to a title? He is a better man than half the so called gentlemen who compete and you know it. He’s sure as all damn better than Adhemar! Find a way to make this right,” Buffy said stubbornly.
“And what are you willing to do for your Will?” he asked softly.
Buffy eyed him warily. “What do you mean?”
He walked towards her slowly, almost stalking her. She moved back, unsure about his mood. She’d never quite seen him like this when they’d been together. He said, “All actions have consequences. If I grant you this boon, what will you give me in return? What is William’s life worth to you?”
Buffy stilled. “Isn’t knowing that Adhemar did this because he’s scared and jealous of Will enough cause to do something? Isn’t the fact that saving him is the right thing to do enough? Isn’t my family’s gratitude and loyalty enough?”
Edward cocked his head, as if considering her words. With a humorless smile, he said, “No.”
She narrowed her eyes and shifted her balance. He was starting to scare her, not to mention piss her off. “What do you want then?”
He closed the distance between them and whispered in her ear, “You.”
Buffy blinked and frowned as she stepped back. “You’ve had me, remember? You played at being someone else and your bluff was called. Sound familiar? Only you’re royalty, practically the Second Coming, so that makes it all alright. You went back to your castle without saying goodbye and I stayed with my family, wondering if you laughed yourself sick at how gullible I was. I came here tonight because I hoped some part of you respected William as much as he respects you. Obviously, I was wrong. Goodbye, Edward.” She turned on her heel and headed for the door, her hands clinched in the folds of her gown to keep them from wrapping around his arrogant, two-faced neck.
Her hand was on the latch when he said, “Wait.” She paused but didn’t turn. “I’m sorry, but I had to know,” he said.
Buffy turned and scowled at him. “Know what?”
Edward crossed his arms and looked down. “I had to know how far you would go to have him set free.”
She felt like she’d been hit by a Fyarl demon. “Y-you thought I would use my body? Is that what you think of me?” Angry tears blurred her vision, but she still saw him approach. When he got within reach, she snarled, “You bastard!” and slapped him. Some ingrained part of her wouldn’t let her use her full Slayer strength against a human, but she still hit him hard enough to rock him back a couple of steps.
Edward fingered his jaw, but looked at her with a sparkle in his eyes. A slow grin spread across his face as he moved towards her. She backed away, but halted uncertainly when he laughed. “Oh, I have missed you, Buffy.”
“Buffy?” she queried. He’d only ever called her Elisabeth, the name she’d given him. Will and the others called her Buffy, but only in private.
He stopped laughing, but still smiled at her. “That is the name you prefer, isn’t it? Seems Master Thatcher and I are not the only ones to use aliases. Come sit down and have a glass of wine while I tell you what I have in mind.” When she didn’t move, he sobered and held out a hand. “Please, Buffy. I promise all will be made well.”
She hesitantly laid her hand in his and let him lead her to one of the chairs in front of the fire. He handed her a goblet of wine and laid out his plan. She had to admit it was a very good plan. When he was done, he said, “I only have one thing to ask of you in return.”
“And what would that be?” she asked warily.
“As I said before, I want you.” He held up a hand to forestall her protest. “Please, let me finish.” She closed her mouth, but continued to glare at him. He smiled briefly. “I want you to accompany me to the Joust as my companion,” he looked at her seriously, “and as my intended bride.”
Buffy choked on the sip she’d just taken and coughed harshly. She waved Edward off when he moved to help her. When she’d calmed, she said, “I haven’t seen or heard from you in six months, and you’re saying you want to marry me?!”
“I love you,” he said simply. When she just blinked at him, he sighed and rubbed his hands over his face. She couldn’t help the little satisfied smirk when he winced at the tenderness of his cheek. He caught it and grinned ruefully. “Your size belies your strength. Yes, Buffy, I do love you. I didn’t want to leave you the way I did, but I had no choice. My father was quite angry with me for endangering myself like that, and I had matters to attend to that I had put off for far too long. I could not think of a way to talk to you, so I let you go. I am more sorry than you will ever know for the way things ended between us.”
“Why would you want me? I mean, there are ladies of quality falling all over themselves to catch your eye. Why me?” She wanted to believe him, but this was a time when status was everything. She wasn’t the Chosen One here. She was just Buffy Summers, farrier apprentice.
Edward smiled and took her hand. “Because you don’t try to impress me. Because you are not afraid to stand up to me, not when I was playing at being Thomas or now, knowing who I really am. I don’t know who you are or where you really came from, but I’d like to spend the rest of my life learning. If I can create a proper lineage for William Thatcher, I’m certain I can do the same for you. My father would be pleased that I am finally settling down, and I would be pleased to do so with someone who makes me feel like an ordinary man, not the future ruler of the realm.”
Buffy studied him intently. She knew she wasn’t always the best judge of character, but she’d been drawn to this man from the beginning. His eyes shone with love and hope and she decided to take the chance that this was her reward for saving the world. With a tremulous smile, she said, “Yes.”
That had been two nights ago. She’d fallen through time and space into a world that could have crushed her with its differences. Instead, she’d found a makeshift family similar to the one she’d left behind, and a love to carry her through whatever came next.
As Will often said, it was possible to change one’s stars, and fate may have had a hand in changing Buffy’s, but she was going to hold on with both hands.
Written for Mary. She asked for a Buffy/Edward fic a long time ago. My muse finally cooperated. I hope you like this, sweetheart. Even though this isnít from one of the prompts given me, Iím including this in my 4th Anniversary of Writing Fic-A-Palooza. Thanks be to Andy and Elisabeth for the betas. Any remaining mistakes are mine alone.
Written: February 2, 2008