Xander was watching in horror as Rebekah's body died. Before anyone could react, however, someone appeared in the midst of them.
"What have you done?" Willow asked, looking at Rebekah's body.
"She is dead!" Klaus exclaimed, unnecessarily.
"Willow?" Xander asked, confused by his best friend's appearance. "Is that you?"
Willow smiled at him, her eyes turning from green to their normal shade. "It's me, Xander. I'm just different," she said.
"You're alive!" Xander said, moving to embrace her.
Willow hugged him back and then locked eyes with Oz, who was showing his surprise. She grinned at her ex. "It's okay, Oz. I'm better now," she said. Oz moved to embrace her also.
"It's so good to see you, Will," Buffy said, hugging her after Oz. "Are you powered up or just feeling sick to your stomach?"
Willow flashed a familiar grin. "I have evolved. My color reflects my unity with Mother Earth," she said. She looked at Esther. "You have gone too far. You cannot give birth to a new species, and then massacre the same species. Genocide is abhorrent to Mother Earth."
"My children are not a new species. They are monsters who kill innocent lives," Esther said defensively.
Kol, who had been watching the events unfold from the safety of the doorway, fell down dead.
Asha was the only one with the view. "Another has fallen," she said, pointing him out to Oz.
"Kol is dead? How?" Oz asked.
"I combined all of our life forces," Esther said. "Rebekah is dead. Soon Elijah will be and then Niklaus and myself. Alaric will die when Buffy dies. They're lives are combined."
"We haven't even taken our vows yet," Buffy said, disgusted by the woman and the way her would-be husband was looking at her.
"Your children aren't monsters any more than a tiger is a monster. All superior species kill prey to survive," Willow said. "Like all animal life, they evolve. They now do not need to kill to live. All vampires from your line can learn to value human life. If they cannot control themselves in this life, they will be punished in the next."
Esther started to scoff in disbelief when Willow raised her hand, pulling Esther toward her. "Mother is very disappointed in you," Willow told her. "You have betrayed your gift, and as consequence all your magic will be taken from you." Willow reached out and grabbed Esther's hand, causing her to scream.
Esther could feel all the power leaving her body, and she glanced at Willow in horror. "What are you doing to me?" she asked, trying to pull away. However, the woman's grip was unshakable.
"You are not going to die a witch and go back to the Other Side," Willow said. "You will live out your life as a human without the power to do anything." She pulled all of Esther's power from her. Then she put her other hand on top of Esther's, and Esther screamed in agony.
"There," Willow said, looking down at Esther's hand in satisfaction. The group all moved closer to see what she did. There was a small tattoo of a willow tree on Esther's hand.
"You marked her?" Buffy asked in confusion.
"This mark will keep her from ever gaining back her power," Willow said.
She released Esther, who fell to her knees sobbing at the emptiness inside of her. "It's gone!" she cried out.
Willow bent down to get the woman's attention. "Your punishment is to live out your life as a human, serving the slayers. The ancient knowledge you possess will be quite an asset to Giles and the coven in England. You will spend the rest of your days fighting for your own redemption or you will find a hell with your name on it waiting to embrace you when you die a final time," Willow said.
Esther trembled with fear at this woman's power. How did she do this? "What have you become?"
"Something you couldn't possibly imagine," Willow said as she straightened.
Illyria finally woke up. "Where is that witch? I'm going to rip out her spine!" she declared as she got to her feet.
"Get in line," Klaus said. Now that Willow had rendered his mother powerless, he would see her dead. He moved to do just that and bounced off an invisible shield.
"No one can touch your mother but I," Willow said. "I have marked her, so her life is mine to take."
"You cannot keep her alive. She is too dangerous! If she cannot kill us, she will conspire with others to see it done!" Klaus said.
"If she tries to harm any of you, I will send her to her death and her soul to hell," Willow said simply.
"Is her spell broken, Will?" Xander asked, looking worriedly at Elijah.
"With her powers removed the rest of them are safe," Willow said.
Elijah was relieved and accepted Xander's embrace.
Faith arrived. "Where's the party?" she asked.
"You missed it," Xander said. "Jolly green Willow took away Esther's power."
"But our sister and brother lie dead!" Klaus said, hating the way Willow was leaving him without anything, not even revenge.
"I will heal them," Willow said, confidently.
Illyria was confused by the witch's appearance. She looked different from the way Willow normally appeared. Was she an Old One now? She watched as Willow moved to Rebekah, kneeling down next to her.
Willow glanced lovingly at the corpse of her beloved, filled with faith that she could restore her.
"You can bring back the dead?" Elijah asked in awe.
"I have all the powers of Mother Earth. I can restore life as long as it does not violate nature," Willow explained. "It is not my place to interfere with the natural order of things. I cannot go to a hospital and heal the sick. Death is a part of life and most be respected, but vampires are not the natural order of things." She leaned down and put her mouth to Rebekah's and blew into her, filling her with the kiss of life.
The rest of the group, even Rick, watched in silence, awed by what they were seeing. The rest of the group finally arrived. Oz quietly told Giles what was happening. Caroline was kneeling at Kol's dead body, crying.
Rebekah's body began changing as life was breathed into her. Klaus stood amazed along with the rest as Willow did what should not be possible.
"I'll be damned!" Spike exclaimed as he and Angel had also arrived in time for the show.
Although Rebekah's body looked restored, she did not stir. "Is she alive?" Klaus questioned.
"Soon," Willow responded as she once more put her lips to her lover. She breathed once more into Rebekah.
Rebekah took a breath and opened her eyes. The group exclaimed.
"She did it!" Xander said excitedly.
Elijah held out his hand to his sister. "Welcome back, sister," he said, smiling down at her.
Rebekah grabbed it as her eyes locked with Willow's. "Is that you, Willow?" she asked.
Willow nodded. "It is," she said. "I'm just different."
Rebekah stood and was hugged by her brothers. Then she moved to hug Willow. "You came back to me," she said, her voice choking with emotion.
"I did," Willow said. "Tara told me it wasn't my time, so I came to be with you."
Rebekah couldn't believe that she had chosen her over Tara and joy filled her. She kissed Willow, finally believing that she was real and alive once more.
"What about Kol?" Caroline asked.
Esther could not believe the power the witch was displaying. "How are you able to do this? No witch is that powerful!" she exclaimed.
Willow broke away from Rebekah's kiss and looked at Esther. "I am no longer a witch. I am a druid—a high priestess of Gaia. I can only do as She wills," she said.
Esther and Illyria both looked shaken by her words and said nothing.
"This is fascinating!" Giles said in amazement.
"Kol? What about him?" Caroline said again.
This time, however, Rick moved to stand in front of Willow. "I'm not sure what evil powers you have now, nor do I care. If you aid a vampire, I will kill you," he said.
Willow smiled at him and pulled the stake out of his hand with the force of her will alone. The stake floated in the air, and then she set fire to it, burning it to ash. "There will be no more killing today," she announced.
Klaus was gratified by her display of power even if it worried him. Now the damn woman was even more powerful than ever. However, she brought his sister back from the dead and stripped his mother of her power. It would be wise to embrace his new sister. "Welcome to the family!" he announced with a grin.
Elijah smiled at his brother, shaking his head. "You are without shame, brother," he said.
"I know when to make an enemy and when to make them my friend," Klaus said with a smirk. "As she loves our sister, that makes her family."
"Now he sees it," Rebekah said, rolling her eyes.
"You all have forgotten your purpose," Rick said, looking at Faith, Asha, and Buffy. "You are vampire slayers. They are vampires. Do your duty or I will."
"They are not the soulless demons we were created to kill," Buffy said to him. "You are not this, Rick." She looked at Willow. "Can you fix him?"
"Yes," Willow said. "I will. But let's fix Kol first."
Rick moved to attack, but Willow held up her hand, rendering him immobile.
"Is there nothing she can't do?" Liz whispered to Giles.
"I think not," he said, fascinated by what he was seeing.
She moved to Kol and breathed into him, healing his body. Then she breathed into him again, and he took a breath.
"She did it!" Caroline exclaimed, bending down to hug her friend.
"Wow!" Kol said, looking at his new body in amazement. "I'm not barbeque anymore!"
"Nope," Xander said. "You were giving the natives food poison, so Will fixed you right up!"
Kol couldn't believe it, and then he realized something. His body wasn't quite the same. "What did you do to me?" he asked.
"She brought you back from the dead," Klaus told him.
"No, that's not what I meant," Kol said. "I'm different."
Rebekah thought about it and realized he was right. "I do feel different," she acknowledged.
Klaus reached out and grabbed Kol's hand. Then he understood what Kol meant. "You're no longer a vampire," he said.
"No, they're both human," Willow said smiling.
"You made our siblings human without asking?" Klaus said, outraged.
Rebekah grinned. "I can have children?" she asked, hope in her eyes.
Willow nodded. "Yes, my love. You can," she said.
Kol wasn't sure how he felt. Then he sensed something else about his new body and grinned. "I can feel it again!" he cried.
"What?" Caroline asked.
"Magic," he said, creating a fire ball on top of his hand. He grinned gleefully. "She restored us to what we were." Her youngest two children had been training to follow her witchy ways.
"You can cure vampirism?" Giles asked in disbelief.
"Well, I can heal vampires," Willow said.
Esther felt hope. "Did their entire line become human again?" she asked.
"No. I will not change countless others without their permission," she said. "I did this because I know both Kol and Rebekah would be happier as human. Kol cannot control his blood lust, and both are locked in immature bodies. Now they can reach adulthood physically as well as emotionally."
Stefan stepped forward. "Can you heal me?" he asked.
Faith reached out and grabbed his hand. "Are you sure that's what you want?" she asked.
He nodded. "I will train as a Watcher and help you that way. I want to have a family with you and grow old with you," he said, squeezing her hand.
"I can if it is your desire," Willow told him. When he stepped in front of her, she leaned forward and put her lips to his.
"No tongue, Will!" Faith called out, causing laughter.
Willow wasn't distracted, though, and breathed into Stefan.
"What's going on?" Damon asked as he had arrived with Bonnie and Elena finally. "Why is my brother kissing Willow and what the hell is wrong with Willow?"
"You missed a lot," Caroline told him. "Esther killed Rebekah and Kol, but Willow healed them after stripping Esther of all her magic. But she didn't just bring them back to life, she made them human. Stefan asked her to heal him, too."
Damon and Elena watched in amazement as Stefan was restored. Willow pulled back. "It's done," she said.
"How do you feel?" Faith asked in concern.
For the first time in a very long time, Stefan didn't feel the hunger that had driven him for so long, and he smiled. "I'm human," he announced.
"She can do that?" Elena asked. "Really?"
"Yes, Elena, I can fix you," Willow said, gesturing her to move forward.
Damon didn't know what to do. Did he want to be human? Once, he wanted it more than anything. After Willow healed Elena, she looked at Damon. "I don't think you are ready yet, are you?" she asked.
Damon shook his head. "I don't think so," he admitted. He wanted to find the redemption that Angel and Spike spoke so much about.
"When you're ready, come to me," Willow said. She looked at Xander and Oz.
Xander, though, had no trouble deciding. "Sorry, Willow, but I don't want to ever feel helpless again," he announced, making Klaus smile.
"Me either," Caroline said. Bonnie and Elena frowned. "Sorry, guys, but I like how I feel now."
"But what about children?" Liz asked. "Don't you want to have them?"
"Someday, but not now," she said.
Oz glanced at Klaus, undecided. Then he looked at Asha. Her life would be in constant danger. He was able to protect her as a hybrid more than he would as a werewolf. Then he wondered something and asked, "Would it restore me to completely human or just a werewolf?"
"You were infected as a wolf, so you'd be the same Oz that I fell in love with all those years ago," Willow told him.
"Then I will stay as I am," he announced. He looked at Asha. "I have to be able to protect you."
Asha glared. "I can take care of myself!" she insisted.
"I didn't say you couldn't," Oz said, reaching for her hand.
Klaus was relieved—his hybrid hadn't forsaken him after all. He looked at Elijah. Now it was his turn to decide. "Elijah?" he asked.
Elijah shook his head. "I have much to atone for and can better serve as I am," he said. He looked at Giles. "After the wedding, Alexander and I will return with you."
Giles smiled. "We would be happy to have you," he said.
"What about Rick?" Buffy asked. "Can you fix him?"
"I can restore his mind and purge him of Esther's influence. It will be up to him to decide on what he will do," Willow said. Rick would hate his vampire nature, yet he might be relieved that he could stand next to Buffy and not behind her as he was now. She moved and put her hands up, resting a hand on each side of his temple. If she had killed Esther, her influence would be gone. Now she had to enter his mind and purge it. It took several minutes.
Buffy was growing concerned. "How can she raise the dead so quickly and take so long fixing Rick?" she whispered to Rebekah.
"Have faith," Rebekah said, reaching out and taking the slayer's hand.
Then Willow stood back. "There," she said. "He should be fine."
Rick blinked and looked around. "What's going on?" he asked.
Buffy ran and hugged him. For once, he didn't wince in pain. "What's wrong with me? Why doesn't your hug hurt?" he asked.
"Esther turned you into a vampire," Buffy said. "She tied our lives together, so when I die, so will you. Willow can fix you, though, if you want."
Rick didn't know what to think, but he knew that he needed to be alone with his fiancée. It was too much. "Good to know. Let's go home. I feel like I haven't seen you in forever," he said.
The couple left hand in hand and others began to follow. Oz hugged Willow and then introduced her to Asha.
Willow smiled. "It's great to meet you. Oz is the best man I have ever known," she said.
"Hey!" Xander protested.
"Second best," she quickly corrected with a wink.
"That's right!" Xander said.
"What about how you look?" Dawn asked. "You can't go around looking like a freak, Will. The school will fire you."
Willow nodded and ran her hand over her body, changing her appearance back to human. "That should do it," she said. "It's a glamour."
Dawn clapped. "I'm so glad you're back," she said.
"How about you take me to your bed and we'll see how your new fragile body holds out?" Faith whispered to Stefan, causing Damon to snicker.
Stefan happily followed his lover out the door.
Angel and Spike moved to stand in front of Willow. "Don't go try to heal me," Spike warned. "I'm fine the way I am."
"Could you heal a vampire like us?" Angel asked.
Willow shook her head. "No. I could probably restore their soul if they asked, but they'd have to be prepared for how that would feel—the trauma it could cause," she said.
"I think that's enough healing for today," Rebekah said. She looked at her mother. "What are you going to do with Mother?"
"I think we should confine her to her room until after the wedding. Giles can take her back with him," Willow said.
"Come along, Mother," Rebekah gestured.
"I'll be right there," Willow said, looking closely at Illyria.
Elijah began a conversation with Giles, and Damon took Elena back to her house. All her friends decided to join them. Bonnie was more than freaked about by the implications of Willow's actions and needed time to process. Oz, Klaus, and Asha followed Kol into the dining room to get a drink.
"Illyria," Willow said. "Are you all right?"
"Are you now an Old One?" Illyria inquired.
Willow thought a moment, and then she shook her head. "No, because I live to serve others. Old Ones only used power to serve themselves," she explained. "You have a new life inside of you. Are you ready for what it will bring to you?"
"My host is still here," Illyria said.
"No, she's not," Willow said. "She is haunting you because she was ripped from her body and destroyed."
"How does she yet live? I feel her inside," Illyria said.
"She had great love for many people, and they kept her soul from being destroyed completely. Her will is strong, and she came back from oblivion," Willow explained. "If you like, I can give you peace."
"You can rid me of her?" Illyria asked in surprise.
"I can give you peace, which does not mean destroying a soul," Willow clarified. "Right now, she is not inside you but surrounds you—that's why you feel her. Your body is her connection to this plane of existence. "
Illyria was torn. She wanted Burkle gone and didn't want to be infected with humanity. It meant weakness. Then she thought of the new friends she had made and the humanity they all possessed to one degree or another. Would having her make her life better or worse?
"I don't know what to do," Illyria admitted, cursing herself for being weak. This was what humanity had brought her to.
"You are never weak," Willow assured her. "But you can be more than a ruler terrorizing people with your power. You can be a hero setting people free from the demons that would do them in. Winifred Burkle had a brilliant mind and a kind heart. What happened to her wasn't your fault, but she has a right to have her body back."
"What would happen to me?" Illyria asked.
"You would have to co-exist," Willow said.
"What's going on?" Angel asked, not liking the look on Illyria's face.
Spike stepped toward them to see what was happening, too. "Is Blue okay?" he asked.
"No," Willow said. "She's about to have her life completely changed, and she needs help."
"We're here for you, Blue," Spike assured her.
"You care about my vessel, not me," Illyria said coldly.
"Well, sure, we loved Fred. She was hard not to love," Spike said. "But she's gone, and you're pretty great, too."
Illyria sniffed and said nothing. She looked at Willow and nodded. "Okay, go ahead," she said.
Willow stepped forward and put her hand on Illyria's stomach and her other hand on her forehead. "Kutsun Winifred Burkle pois syvyyksistä. Ole matkustaja enää. Liity vielä kerran kehosi ja tehdä koko," she spoke, confusing the two vampires who were listening.
"What are you saying?" Spike asked.
Willow translated: "I call Winifred Burkle out of the depths. Be a passenger no more. Join once more to your body and be made whole." Illyria flashed brightly for one moment and then her formed turned to Fred.
She blinked and looked at Angel. "Angel?" she asked, confused.
"Fred?" Angel asked, stunned.
Spike's mouth fell open in shock. "What the hell? You brought Fred back?" he asked.
"How?" Angel asked.
"She was leaking into Illyria, causing her much distress," Willow said. "This is better for them both."
"Illyria's not gone?" Angel asked.
"No," Willow said. "She's there. They must learn to co-exist," Angel said.
"Like Dr. Banner and the Hulk?" Spike asked.
Willow grinned. "You spent more time with Andrew than anyone knew, huh?"
"I was alive when the comics were created," Spike said, glaring at her.
Angel moved forward and hugged Fred. "We missed you, Fred. Every day," he said.
Fred was crying and hugging Angel. "I got so lost," she said.
"We found you," he said, staggered by what Willow had done. Spike pulled him back and hugged Fred.
"It's my turn. You're always stealing all the ladies," he complained as he hugged her. When she giggled, Spike knew it was really Fred. The smartest girl he'd ever known. The one person in all the world who figured out how to make him corporeal again. He could never do it for her, but Willow had. After he hugged Fred, he surprised Willow by hugging her.
"What's going on?" Klaus asked. He had been in the other room speaking with his brother, who was both freaked and excited about his change. Seeing Spike hugging Willow was an odd sight.
"Who is that?" Fred asked. He seemed familiar, but as he approached she remained confused.
Klaus smiled, flashing his most charming smile. "Has my goddess forgotten me already?" he asked.
Fred frowned, looking confused. "I don't know you," she said. She looked at Angel for help. "Angel?"
Klaus moved forward, angry. "What did you do to Illyria? Where is she?" he asked Willow.
In a flash, Fred changed back to Illyria. "I am here," she said.
Now it was Klaus' turn to be confused. "What's going on? Why didn't you know me?" he asked.
"That was my host," Illyria said.
"She wasn't completely gone, so I helped Illyria," Willow said. "Either will appear if you request one. Illyria, though, will probably immerge automatically if there's a physical threat. Fred will come when things are too emotional or human for Illyria—or sciencey."
"Are you okay, love?" Klaus asked Illyria in concern. This woman was a true friend. She had brought him out of the hell he had been in. She remained loyal to him when all others were against him, and he was not about to forget her loyalty.
Illyria smiled at the man she considered her mate and equal. "I am well," she said. "This is strange but not as I feared. I am not diminished."
Klaus reached for her hand, kissing it in a courtly manner that made Spike gag. "You could never be diminished," he said. Then he walked off once more.
"I want to speak to Fred," Angel said.
Just like that, Fred was once more there. "Angel, was that Illyria's boyfriend?" Fred asked. "How would that work?"
"Illyria claims him as her mate, but he is not convinced," Angel said. "However, he was rescued from a hell dimension Willow sent him to by Illyria, so he is indebted to her. I think Klaus considers her a friend."
"So you could see what Illyria was seeing?" Spike asked. "How come you didn't know him?"
"She wasn't actually in the body before," Willow clarified. "Now it will be like one is a passenger while the other is in control."
"I always wanted a sister," Fred said, smiling. She was just so happy to be alive again. Where was he? "Where's Wes?"
Angel looked at Spike, who winced. "Bullocks," he muttered.
"It's been about seven months since we fought the Black Thorn," Angel explained. "Wesley died in the battle. Illyria was very upset."
Fred cried out in pain. "No!" she yelled and threw herself into Angel's arms.
Kol and Klaus came back into the room and saw Illyria crying in Angel's arms. The sight was so strange to Klaus that decided it must be the other girl. "I've got to leave this house before I explode," he said.
"We should go see our sweet Caroline," Kol suggested.
"I'm going to get a drink," Klaus said.
"I'll tell her to meet us at the Grille," Kol said, pulling out his phone to text.
At Buffy's, Rick and Buffy were in her room. Buffy had finished telling Rick what had recently transpired.
"So I'm now a vampire on the level of Elijah?" Rick asked.
"Willow can cure you, though," Buffy explained. "You don't have to stay a vampire."
He sat on the bed, trying to think. It was a lot to take in. Buffy sat down next to him, resting her head against him. "I don't really care. I loved two vampires, so I if you want to stay immortal for a while, it's fine for me."
Rick could hear her heart beating and suddenly felt an incredible urge to taste her. When he realized that it was more than that—he was actually hungering to feed off her—he jumped up. "I could hurt you," he said. "That's not okay. We're about to bring a child into this world. I can't be like this."
"You are stronger this way. You can protect our child better," Buffy pointed out.
"I don't need to," he said. "Our baby has you."
Buffy was a bit surprised. "It really doesn't bother you at all that I'm stronger than you? That I can do things you can't? Or can't if you're human," she wondered. He was so different from Riley.
Rick shook his head. "No. I'm tired of fighting. I just want to be your husband, a history teacher, and the best dad I can be," he told her.
Buffy stood up and pulled his head down so that she could kiss him. "I love you," she said.
"I love you," he said. "Are you ready to get married now?"
"I'll call Willow and tell her to come by in the morning," Buffy said. She gave him a wicked look. "I think we should try out your vampire stamina at least once."
"What if I hurt you?" he asked, worried.
"I won't let you, and you won't," Buffy said as she took off her clothes.
"Let me call, Damon, and have him bring blood bags," he said.
The doorbell rang. "No need. Stefan is already bringing some," Buffy said. "Faith texted me as soon as we got here."
Rick grinned and went down to open the door. He expected to see Stefan, but it was Damon. "I thought Stefan was bringing it," he said.
"He was, but I told him that I would," Damon said, handing Rick a tote bag. "Keep it cold. Heat it up if you want a warm drink."
"Thanks. It's just for tonight," Rick said. "I'm going to be human again tomorrow."
"Are you sure?" Damon asked. "Like this, you are stronger than anyone alive except for maybe Klaus. You could kick my ass."
Rick laughed. "That would be fun, but Buffy can do any ass-kicking you need," he said. "I'm a threat to my family like this. I don't want to hurt them."
"You could never," Damon said. "It's not in your nature to hurt people. Being a vampire just amplifies your nature. Look at Caroline. As young as she was, it took her no time at all to master her control. This will be a piece of cake for you."
"Maybe," Rick acknowledged. "Why didn't you decide to be human with Elena?"
"I will be—someday," Damon said. "Knowing that Willow can do that anytime is great. After Elena finishes school and decides to have a family, I will go see Willow. Right now, though, I want to go back to Los Angeles and help Spike and Angel. They make our nature seem like a gift, and it's fun."
"It's good to have a nobler purpose, isn't it?" Rick asked, giving his friend a smile.
Damon shrugged. "It doesn't hurt," he said. "Well, go back to your lady. I'll see you later."
Rick thanked him and shut the door. Then he took the blood into the kitchen and stuck it in the fridge after taking out a few bags. He drunk one like he saw his friends do on more than once occasion. Surprisingly, the blood didn't taste cooper and gross like he expected. Instead, it tasted yummy. "Weird," he said after he downed the bag. He grabbed another in case he started to get urges when with Buffy.
Although he did see the advantage to being strong, he just wanted to live his life as a regular guy, loving the most incredible woman on the planet. He grinned in anticipation as he opened their door.
"You have too many clothes on!" his naked fiancée complained as she displayed herself on the bed.
In a heartbeat, he was naked. "Now the speed thing is very cool," he said as he crawled into bed.
"You better not finish that fast," she said, glaring up at him.
He dropped a kiss to her belly and then looked up at her. "Oh, I'm sure I can last for hours," he said. Then his mouth moved down.
Several hours later, his pregnant fiancée passed out from exhaustion. He pulled her against him, feeling smug. "Now that is a perk I could get used to," he mumbled as he succumbed to sleep.
*****The Wedding Day******
Buffy's wedding day had finally arrived. Dawn came bouncing in as soon as the sun came up.
"It's your wedding day!" she screamed as she jumped on the bed, waking her sister.
"You know I was up to one, right? Why are you here so early?" Buffy groaned.
"Your wedding is at noon and your flight to your honeymoon in Italy is at five," Dawn reminded her. "You can sleep on the plane!"
Due to the events of the past few weeks, she and Rick hadn't wanted separate parties even though Damon wanted to drag Rick down to Atlantic City for a bachelor's party. Instead, they'd rented out the Grille and had karaoke, dancing, and drinking. Buffy was one of the few sober people left when the party wrapped up. Since it was her wedding night, Willow insisted that Rick had to go home for the night.
"That was an amazing party!" Dawn said. Several dozen slayers had arrived on top of the ones that were already in town. The place was packed. The party was also a shower, and the couple had spent over an hour opening up all the gifts. Some were naughty; some were thoughtful, and some were just strange. Buffy, though, had been delighted with the nearly dozen new weapons her sister slayers had gotten her.
"I did get some cool gifts," Buffy said with a smile.
"You would find old swords and knifes attractive," Dawn said with a smirk.
"Rick liked them, too!" Buffy said.
"Only 'cause he's a nerdy history buff and wants to study them!" Dawn exclaimed, laughing. "Elena and Matt will be here in an hour with a light breakfast. They'll be a good spread at the wedding."
"I will hop in the shower," Buffy said, stepping out of bed and stretching.
Willow came in just as she was finishing her shower. "I can't believe it, Buffy! You're getting married!" Willow said excitedly.
Buffy had a towel wrapped around her, but she returned Willow's exuberant hug. "I know. After all the death, it's finally here," she said.
"And no more bloody visions of your wedding day!" Willow said happily.
"What?" Buffy asked.
"Oops," Willow said, looking guilty. For once, a secret was actually kept, and no one had spilled to Buffy about Xander’s bloody vision. She gave a mental grown at her slip.
So close. . .
Rick watched the most beautiful woman he had ever met walk down the aisle toward him. There had been moments when he wasn't sure the day would come, but now it was happening. Buffy had on a dress with a full skirt that covered her baby bump. The weather was perfect—Willow had something to do with that. It was November in Virginia, but the temperature was in the low sixties. There wind was still, and his bride was now in front of him.
He knew they had planned every detail of the day, but he barely heard Caroline sing. He was lost in Buffy's eyes—her joy was so bright that everything else faded away but her. His vows were repeated—they didn't write their own. It was a good thing since he could only focus on her face.
For Buffy, the day was magical and perfect. Everyone she loved was there smiling at her as Giles walked her down the aisle. Caroline was singing her favorite love song by Christina Perri, "A Thousand Years."
I have died every day, waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more
And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more
Although Rick was no longer immortal, Buffy knew that their love would last forever, and they would face eternity together. She was no longer just a slayer.
She was a wife. Soon she would be a mother. Finally, life was perfect.
Klaus was twirling his sweet Caroline on the dance floor when Kol interrupted. "My turn, brother," he said, elbowing his way in.
"Get your own date," Klaus said, dismissing his brother.
"I need to speak to her," Kol reminded him. Klaus nodded and handed her off.
"What's going on?" Caroline asked.
"I just wanted to dance with the prettiest girl here," Kol said, smiling at her.
"I don't know about prettiest," Caroline said. "Some of these slayers are ridiculously attractive!"
"They don't hold a candle to you!" he insisted, making her grin. "But I did want to tell you about my plans."
"What's up?" she asked.
"I'm going home to New Orleans," he said. "It was the last home I had before Mystic Falls and my long daggering."
"Did Klaus give you back that dagger? He won't be doing that anymore!" she insisted.
"He can't, love. I'm human now," Kol reminded her. "I get to age just like all the other blokes."
"When will you leave?" she asked.
"Tonight," he said. "I know that Marcel is using our home, but we have other properties in New Orleans. The witches there are being persecuted by my nephew. I'm going to go free them."
Caroline looked concerned. "You could get hurt, Kol. You're not invincible anymore," she said.
"Spike and Katherine are going to go with me," he said. "Spike says he can spare a few weeks more away from New Orleans. Elijah said he can send in slayers if things get ugly after Spike leaves. I'll be okay."
"Are you sure?" Caroline asked. "That's awfully far."
"You'll be graduating in a few months. I'll be back for your graduation," he promised. "But then you'll be off to college somewhere."
"I'll miss you," Caroline said.
"And I you," Kol said. "I just have this feeling, love. My destiny is in New Orleans."
Caroline nodded and hugged him. Things were changing so fast.
Nearby, Damon was dancing with Elena. She laughed as he twirled her. Dancing with Damon was never dull, and it'd been too long since they'd gotten to enjoy themselves so many hours in a row. The party last night, and now the wedding—it was all so magical.
"I hope I have a wedding day as great as this one," Elena said.
"Just name the day, I'll make sure it happens," Damon said, grinning.
"Even if it's to another man?" Elena wondered.
Damon stopped moving. "Do you want it to be to another man?" he asked, looking intently at her.
Elena gazed into his eyes and considered it. Could another man ever love her more than Damon? Finally, she smiled and shook her head. "I love you, Damon," she said, knowing it was true.
Damon's smile was warm as he kissed her softly. "I love you, too," he whispered.
"Look at that," Matt said, watching his best friend kiss Damon as he danced with Dawn.
Dawn turned her head and saw the couple. "Wow! I guess Elena finally realized how much Damon loves her," Dawn said.
"He better not hurt her," Matt said, frowning.
Dawn grinned. "He won't. He loves her," she said confidently.
"Damon is unpredictable and still a vampire," Matt pointed out.
"Xander is a vampire. It doesn't make them evil," Dawn argued.
"Xander is special, and you weren't here when Damon came to town," Matt said. "He turned my sister into a vampire, and Stefan staked her."
"You don't have to like him," Dawn said. "But you need to let it go if you want to stay close to Elena."
Matt knew she was probably right, but he would never be comfortable with Damon Salvatore. "He killed my best friend," he reminded her. Everyone seemed to have forgotten Tyler, but he never would.
"And he will have to atone for that," Dawn said. "But let's not worry about him. We're happy and my sister is finally happy. Can't we just enjoy that?"
Matt felt guilty and nodded. "I'm sorry," he said.
"That's okay," she said, laying her head against his chest.
Matt wasn't the only one to see Damon kiss Elena. Faith saw it to and whistled. "Your brother might get lucky tonight!" she said, waiting to see how Stefan would react.
Stefan barely gave them a glance. "Good for him," he said. "It's not fair that I have all the luck." He put his lips on her neck and kiss it. What his brother did or didn't do with Elena no longer mattered to him.
Faith sighed in happiness. "You are pretty lucky," she said. "But then so am I." She hoped her luck wouldn't run out because Stefan Salvatore was better than anything she could've imagined.
On the side lines, Bonnie watched feeling lonely. Everyone was all coupled up while she was all alone. She missed Jeremy so much, and it felt wrong to live without him. "He should be here dancing with me," she thought.
Willow, holding Rebekah's hand, walked toward her. "Do you want to dance with us?" she asked.
"Dancing is something done in a couple," Bonnie replied. "I don't have anyone."
"You have lots of people," Willow said. "But don't worry, Bonnie. Your soul mate is out there."
"Jeremy is dead," Bonnie said.
"He wasn't your soulmate, sweetie," Willow told her. "First loves rarely are."
Bonnie didn't know what to think. Willow was her mentor, but she was so different now. It made Bonnie uncomfortable sometimes. "Are you being supportive, or do you actually know something?" Bonnie wondered.
"I know that you should go to Whitmore College," Willow said with a wink. "You won't regret it."
Bonnie's eyes widened as she realized what Willow was saying.
"Come on! I want to dance!" Rebekah said, reaching for Bonnie's hand and dragging her with them to the dance floor.
Elijah and Xander were watching from the sidelines, sipping champagne. "I think you can relax," Elijah said. "Your vision isn't going to happen. We stopped it."
"I know, but it's hard," Xander admitted. "The vision was so strong."
"You haven't had it again since Willow came back. We killed Drusilla. There's no threats," Elijah said. "Would you like to dance?"
"I still think dancing with a guy is weird," Xander said, frowning.
"Well, we can go inside and violate Damon's bed," Elijah said with a smug grin.
Xander's eyes brightened. "Now that's a plan!" he said, taking his lover’s arm.
Angel was enjoying dancing with Fred. The past few days had been hard, and she wasn't feeling too well. He'd filled her in on what all she'd missed. Having her back made him so happy that he was a bit concerned about his soul. "I wonder if enjoying dancing with you like this puts my soul at risk?" he asked, smiling down at her.
Fred grinned. "Well, if I was your one true love, then maybe," she said. She looked over at the very happy bride dancing with her new husband. "I am sorry yours is now married to another."
Angel gave her a small smile. "It's okay. I love seeing her so happy," he said, glancing at Buffy. "Alaric is giving her everything I can't. She's going to be a mom, and I'm okay with it."
"There's going to be someone else for you, Angel. We'll figure out how to tie your soul to you permanently," Fred said. "Willow can cure vampires. Surely, that's not beyond her."
"It's probably not," Angel said, filled with hope. The future was full of possibilities.
****The Next Morning*****
Klaus was in his studio painting as he was prone to do when the morning light was especially good. Today, he was painting a small picture of Caroline that he was going to give as a gift to her mother on her wedding day. His painting was interrupted.
"Klaus, I must speak with you," Illyria said.
"Come in," Klaus said.
Illyria walked closer and saw what he was painting. "You are painting the child?" she asked, arching an eyebrow in disapproval.
"She is no child," he said.
"Compared to you and me, she is," Illyria. "Fred says you and a high school girl is icky. What does icky mean?"
"It means gross or unappealing," Klaus said, staring at her curiously. "Your host is truly there in your body? She speaks to you?"
"We share the same form, so we can communicate," Illyria said.
"That must be strange," Klaus said.
"Yes, it is disconcerting at times, but I already grow comfortable with it," Illyria said. "Knowing that she is there gives me comfort. I lost my guide when her lover died, and I've looked for one to guide me in this strange world. My pet does sometimes, but he is not as knowledgeable as Wesley was. No one is smarter than my host. Her brain is strange, but it processes information at an incredible speed. She is a scientist."
"It is good to have someone to counsel you," Klaus said. "My brother Elijah does that for me. In many ways, he is my North Star."
Illyria changed. "Ah, that's so sweet!" Fred said. "You are a sensitive man, which isn't surprising since you're an artist."
The Texas accent that Illyria has once adorned in his presence wasn't off-putting on this one. Now he could tell the difference between Illyria imitating Fred and Fred herself. "Changing like that is a bit strange," Klaus said.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Fred told him. "I didn't mean to be rude. It's just Ria doesn't do well with the emotion, and we both found your words sweet. Well, I did. She just admired your loyalty to your brother."
Klaus smiled, and Fred's eyes grew big.
"Wow! That's some smile! You have a dimple! That's so darn sexy! I bet girls go wild for you," she observed.
Klaus laughed, charmed by the Texan. "I do okay," he said modestly.
"I wonder if our baby will have your dimple?" Fred wondered.
Klaus stopped laughing and looked at her in dismay. "What?" he asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Fred said, wincing. "I didn't mean to just blurt it out like that."
"What do you mean?" Klaus asked.
"Well, we're pregnant, and Ria says that you're the daddy," Fred told him.
"What?" he bellowed in shock. "That's not possible. Vampires cannot reproduce."
"Yes, I have a theory about that," Fred said excitedly.
Klaus held up his hand. "Illyria," he called.
Fred changed. "I am here," she said.
"Is your other form insane? You cannot possibly be pregnant with my child!" he insisted.
"I was surprised, and when Willow said I had a new life inside of me, I thought she meant my host. I should have known your mother was only able to contain me because my energy was split," Illyria said. "When I became sick, Fred was suspicious. We took a test. Somehow, urinating on a small plastic stick is how humans determine if they are with child."
"It cannot be mine!" Klaus argued.
Illyria changed back to Fred. "Listen, here, mister. I don't know what you're implying, but Illyria isn't some tramp! She says you are the only one she has carnal knowledge of, so that makes you the daddy! And you are going to go to Texas with me and tell my daddy you knocked me up!" Fred said, glaring up at him. "If he gets out his shotgun, you will not hurt him! He bark is worse than his bite."
Klaus was rendered speechless.
I had this exact ending pictured over a year or so before I wrote it. It was just too perfect, and I hope you were delighted and stunned. Klaus' line about Elijah being his North Star comes from an episode in the final season of the Originals.
If you've never reviewed this story, here's your chance. Tell me how you liked this final chapter and how it wrapped. Feel free to let me know what you would like in another sequel if I write it. Thanks again!
The new sequel to this story is called Transformed By Love. Check it out when I post it. I've only gotten 5 chapters written. This is not my most popular series by any means, but it's my favorite to write as I love to imagine the worlds combined.