Giles wraps his arms around his wife, feels the rising and falling of her chest as she sleeps.
He is sorry it had been necessary to corrupt her. Not by marrying her—he has no regrets there. But Dawn had once been a spritely young child, an innocent. That Dawn is dead, had died so many years ago, over a decade before he had even let himself (before Dawn had forced him to) think of such a union as a possibility.
If he’s honest with himself, it happened long before he offered to her the position on the High Council, and it’s truly the monks who are at fault, for fashioning a young girl who as the sister of the Slayer could never have a childhood. But they, like he, simply did what was necessary.
When Joyce died, a part of Dawn shriveled up and died. Buffy’s death went a little farther, then Tara’s, and it was that battle back in Brazil so many years ago that finished the job. Giles wants to hate Ethan for it, but finds that he can’t.
He holds Dawn tighter, and she shifts in his arms.
He’s seen her kill in cold blood. He’s seen her send children to their deaths. He’s seen her take the fate of the world upon her shoulders. He’s seen her do all the things that he’s had to do, but had hoped to have been able to spare her.
He had been able to protect Buffy, Xander, even Willow to some degree. So many of the Slayers. They were able to be heroes, because every black mark on Dawn’s and his souls was one that wasn’t on theirs.
But now Xander, Willow, and Buffy are all dead, and so many other Slayers lay next to them in the Watcher’s Cemetery. Already they had to purchase new land. And Dawn and Giles live on, to send a new generation of Slayers to their deaths.
“You’re brooding,” Dawn says.
“Shh, love,” he whispers. “You’re supposed to be asleep.”
“So are you,” she points out reasonably.
They’ve both done awful, incredibly terrible things. And they’ll keep on doing so, braving the threat of purgatory to win for others their places in heaven.
He breathes in the scent of her hair and lets himself drift into unconsciousness.