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What Women Do

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When Dawn was younger, ten years old and ready to fly, she’d thought that being eighteen must be the most wonderful thing in the world. She was just a girl, but she dreamed of when she’d be a woman, when she would be a queen or an Amazon or something wonderful. Dawn imagined that, when she was all done growing, she would be tall like Cordelia, smart like Willow, and brave like Buffy, that she would be confident and beautiful and mature. Dawn couldn’t wait to be all grown up, to be just like Buffy

Now Dawn is fifteen and she will never be like Buffy. It feels some days like she’s the only girl in the world wh wasn’t alled, but that’s okay. Dawn doesn’t want to be a warrior queen anymore, doesn’t want to be a soldier. There are seventy-one females living in the Summers home right now and any day now it will become that there are seventy women and just one girl. All these other girls, dancing on the cusp of being women, will have this power thrust upon them the same way Buffy did, and, in a heartbeat, they will all grow up just the way she did. They will forge their womanhood in steel and fire and blood, and Dawn will watch and be glad it’s not her destiny

She had watched Buffy and Willow and Cordelia, and growing up had not made them happy. They are women now (but once upon a time they had been girls like her) and this is because they have been broken and beaten and ripped to shreds, and then they all stood up and rebuilt themselves as women. Dawn had listened to Buffy shout and rage in the days before they moved to Sunnydale, had seen Cordelia in the hospital with a pale face and a gaping stomach wound, and had watched Willow lose herself in her own power. Dawn thinks that becoming a woman must be about surviving and overcoming, because Buffy had not let death hold her down and Cordelia had left Sunnydale behind to fight even harder and Willow was about to use her greatest weakness to save the world. Growing into women must be about breaking walls and restrictions and about cradling broken hearts, about being strong like steel and ice and sunlight, because it’s what has to be done. This is all that any of the women Dawn has known have ever done.

One day, one bright, bloody day, Dawn will overcome, and then she will understand that she’s a woman, too. One day, Dawn will break, lose her heart or her hope or her courage, and it will be terrible. And then, she will rebuild herself from bricks of stone and steel, for that is what women do. Women are strong and women fight, because that is all you can do in a world like this, where demons hunt and men belittle and people break like matchsticks. That day is not today, because, while Dawn will fight and she will survive and she will be a victor, this is not Dawn’s day. This is a day for every Slayer to raise her sword and shout to the sun. But one day, one bright, bloody day, it will be her day, and that day couldn't be too far now.

Dawn’s ready to be strong.

fin.