Who could ask for anything more?
A little bit more of our tale unfolds with this latest chapter. Hope you enjoy.
Valentine’s Day – February 14th, 2024
It was finally happening… the thing she’d forsworn many years ago when the only family she’d had left was the one she’d made herself. Within the hour she would be Mrs. Dawn Eden Summers-Dowell, mother of Liam Bryant, and carrying their unborn daughter – Kathleen Joyce. Wife of Connor Reilly Dowell. And most of all… best of all… her ‘younger’ sister, Buffy Anne Summers – who would soon be Mrs. William Matthew Jamison Pratt-Dowell – would be right beside her as Maid of Honor.
Giddy as the schoolgirl she’d long since left behind, Dawn Summers stared at her reflection in the floor length mirror. She wore a modest fit-and-flare chiffon dress in a pale shade of pink. The short-sleeved bodice was covered in lace with a modest v-neckline, satin sash around a high-waistline, and flowed easily over her hips. At her age, especially after bearing one child and carrying another, anything truly form-fitting was not complimentary. She smiled softly at the memory of Connor telling her she’d look beautiful in a gunnysack.
Buffy’s long-awaited release from her stone prison had given Dawn all the impetus she needed to want to celebrate her life and family, and finally make Connor “the happiest man on earth” to borrow a phrase from Spike.
Dawn’s musings were interrupted when Buffy barged into the room, bearing a barge-load of makeup and hair styling accoutrements.
“Hey there, little/big sis,” she warbled happily. “All ready for the final touches on your big day?”
Dawn smiled, eerily reminiscent of their mother. Blinking back a melancholy tear, Buffy got on with her task of doing Dawn’s makeup, and putting the final touches on her hairdo. There wasn’t much one could do with a shoulder-length bob, but Buffy did her best. Sweeping the left side of Dawn’s hair back behind her ear and clipping in place with a flowery comb, she put her hands on her hips and declared: “Gorgeous – very early Sandra Bullock.”
Her sister’s smile was all the thanks she needed.
A knock on the door, and a very familiar voice said: “Is everybody decent? We’re coming in.” A few moments later, Giles’ snowy white hair announced his arrival.
“Oh my!” he exclaimed, tears glistening in his eyes. “You look so like your mother, Dawn. Just beautiful.”
“I’m so glad you made it!” Dawn squealed, in an octave rarely used since her younger days. Gathering the skirts of her dress, she made her way into Giles’ fond embrace. “Who else would give me away?”
Giles gently cupped Dawn’s burgeoning baby bump. “Another child – you actually do glow, young lady. And not green, either,” he laughed.
Turning to Buffy, his tears finally fell. “This,” he said, hugging her close, “is so much better than that blasted infernal Skype.
“Seeing you here – in the flesh – has done me more good than any of those damned pills the doctors insist I take for my blood pressure.”
Buffy smiled widely. She had some news of her own to impart. “You’ll just have to come by more often, then. Like, say, in June – for my wedding. You haven’t seen Will yet, have you?”
“No, no. I dropped my bags and came up here straight away.”
“I should probably warn you…”
“Grandpa!” Will’s melodious baritone called out. “I can’t believe you’re finally here!”
“Oh dear Lord! It’s the bloody First!” Giles blanched, staggering back a few steps.
“I tried to tell you before, Giles,” Buffy said, sliding a chair over so that the shaken man could sit and come back to himself. “Will and I are trying to write a book about Spike, and he thought his appearance would help inspire the writer’s muse.”
“Well, slap my arse and call me Susan,” Giles huffed, staring at Will in amazement. “I mean, we all knew who you would grow up to be, son – but to see it is something else, indeed.” As an afterthought, he added, “What on earth did your father say when he saw you in this iteration?”
“That’s what I said,” Buffy laughed and handed him her phone. “We videoed it for posterity.”
The sounds of laughter rang out into the hallway, attracting Nina. “Giles,” she exclaimed, giving the man a kiss on the cheek. “I ran into that lovely wife of yours downstairs, and she’d told me you hightailed it to the bride’s room. Lovely, isn’t she?”
“And Buffy’s doing so well these days. We’re all so relieved to have her free.”
“Beautiful,” he sighed, staring at his erstwhile Slayer.
“Not very verbose, are you, Grandpa?” Will laughed, patting Giles on the shoulder.
“No need, dear boy. My heart is full.”
“Mine, too,” Will whispered, sotto voce.
“Okay, okay, everybody leave,” Buffy threw her hands in the air, making shooing motions. “Time for the bride’s final touches. We have a wedding waiting.”
“See you downstairs, Aunt Dawn,” Will called out, closing the door behind everyone.
“Now,” Buffy said, clasping her hands together and cracking her knuckles. “Time to get down to business.”
The room was beautifully appointed, huge bouquets of stargazer lilies festooning the tables, a deeper pink runner down the length of the aisle to the altar – even overstuffed plush chairs instead of wooden folding wooden ones for the guests.
Lorne sat on the left side of the aisle next to the Gunns – Anne, Charles and their three children, sat on the left side of the aisle. Nina, Angel were sat on the right. Charlotte, Hugh and Bethany, as well. At the last minute, Willow popped in to join the celebrants, taking her seat behind the Gunns.
Nina and Buffy had worked together to pull the day together for Dawn and Connor. They’d chosen a small, but lively violin quartet, a pianist and a soloist for music. These were placed to the left of the altar, and were playing their instruments for all they were worth. The sounds echoed sweetly inside the small ballroom, thanks to the extremely high ceiling.
Soon, the dulcet tone of the singer began the opening lines of the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun. Giles and Dawn started their walk down the aisle with slow and graceful steps as they took in the import of the moment. Waiting for them at the altar were the Justice of the Peace, the Groom, Connor, Best Man Will (dressed in a tux), and Maid of Honor Buffy in a bubblegum-pink sheath with strappy sandals.
Little Liam walked down the aisle alone, a pink pillow with the couples’ rings in his hands. He started off slowly, as rehearsed, but ran to the altar once he’d gotten halfway. After handing off the rings, he ran back to his grandparents, and sat quietly in his seat.
The officiant smiled as she took in the couple before her. “We are gathered here, today, to witness and bless the union of Dawn Eden Summers and Connor Reilly Dowell. From what I hear, this was a long time coming. As requested by the bride-to-be and her intended, I’ll make this short and sweet.
“Do you, Dawn Eden Summer, take this man, Connor Reilly Dowell, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold, to love and protect, from this day forwards, until death doth you part?”
“Do you, Connor Reilly Dowell, take Dawn Eden Summers to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold, to love and protect, from this day forwards, until death doth you part?”
“I most assuredly do.”
“By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife! You may kiss the bride.”
The musicians stayed on through the so-called reception, which was really a wonderfully catered dinner. There was no DJ to call the dances or play games, but some traditions still held. Dawn and Connor’s first dance as a married couple, Dawn and Giles’ ‘Father’s Dance’ – even a dance with Angel, for good measure. Connor also gave Nina a spin around the floor, and thanked her for hosting the wedding.
As the after-dinner dancing wound down, Willow found her way over to the happy couple. “You guys make such a handsome couple,” she cooed, stroking Dawn’s hair. “I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that we are now pretty the same age.”
Dawn snorted, her eyes twinkling as she said, “Just try living in my shoes – after always being the younger sister, I’m now a generation older than Buffy.
“Time is a funny thing,” Connor added. “But at least we’re all happy and healthy – and together. At least for the now.”
“Yup,” Will said, popping the final ‘p’. “Even though I’m leaving here directly from the Hyperion, I just couldn’t miss little Dawnie’s wedding. Thespia and I had a wager as to whether it would actually take place, or if Dawn would keep stringing you along forever.”
As she pivoted to return to her table, Willow called out. “I almost forgot! I have a message for you from Xander.”
Dawn raised a perfectly groomed brow. While she’d accepted the olive branch offered in his letter, and had spoken with him by Skype briefly thereafter, she still felt a slight twinge of discomfort at the mention of the long-estranged Scooby’s name.
“He said that even though things weren’t quite up to being invited to your wedding, he couldn’t let the event go without note. He made another pair of inlaid boxes, in the style of the pair he’d made for Buffy and Will at Christmas. I left them in your room. I hope that’s okay?” She looked a bit nervous, wringing her hands together like youthful Willow of old.
“It’s fine, Will,” Dawn said, softly. “We’ll be sure to thank him. Maybe one day…” Dawn left the rest unsaid.
The happily married couple made their way back to their table, where Dawn raised her crystal champagne flute and gently hit the stem of the glass with a knife, to gather everyone’s attention.
“Thanks so much, you guys, for sharing our wedding day with us, but I think the time has come for Connor and I to do a little sharing of our own.”
“My beautiful, brilliant bride has the right idea,” Connor continued. “I think we could both use a little… ‘rest’ before we take off to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We can’t thank you enough, Nina” he added, “for watching Liam for us while we’re gone. Hopefully, he won’t give you much trouble.”
A rousing chorus of hoots and laughter followed the couple as they left the celebration for a little private festivity of their own.