Buffy waited until Willow, Faith, and Xander had all logged out of the weekly Scooby teleconference to spring her question on Giles. She was pretty sure they all had at least some idea of what had been going on with her lately, but she was a little reluctant to share it until some kind of permanent stamp had been put on the situation. She didn't want to tempt fate, and besides, who would blame her? Given her history with relationships, and most of theirs even, her being a little evasive on the subject was hardly a shocker.
Giles frowned at her over the connection, his expression transmitted crystal clear over the magically enhanced, wireless software from the camera on his end to the monitor on hers. "Is everything all right?" he asked. "You're normally the first one to leave the session, and you didn't have much to report today."
She shook her head. "I'm fine," she said. "Dawn's fine, Wes is fine-- everything is peachy keen. I just had a question for you. A Slayer thing."
The frown grew more pronounced. "Buffy, while I appreciate your confidence in me, I'm not your Watcher any longer. Surely Wesley has access to whatever resources are needed to answer your question."
"It's kind of private," Buffy said, biting her lip. Below the range of the camera pick-up, she twisted her fingers together nervously. "I mean, it's not like I don't want him to know, but the way I go about it will kind of depend on the answer you give me."
"That's distressingly vague," Giles said. "I assume that whatever it is, is also why you waited to ask until the others had left the conversation?"
She nodded. "I've been reading through some of the old Watchers' Journals that Wes has copies of..."
Giles' eyebrows went up, and Buffy chuckled. "I know, me? He has delusions of turning me into another Kendra or something, which we both know will never happen, but I'm trying to humor him. Anyway, I found this one-- written about a Watcher, actually, a guy named Ed Bird-Ram or something-- that kept talking about how big a secret it was that he was married to his Slayer, and what the Council would have done if they'd found out during her lifetime."
"Ah." The confusion cleared from Giles' face, and he nodded. "The Reverend Edmund Bertram, born in the seventeen-eighties, the only one of notable Watcher Edmund Ward's grandchildren to take up the family profession. He was primarily in research, and his church was often used as a safe house and meeting place; it was not until his wife died in her early forties that the Council discovered she had in fact been the 'missing' Slayer they had been seeking for over two decades."
Buffy resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Thanks for the history lesson, Giles, but what I really want to know is, why so secret?"
He blinked. "Why did he never report that she was the Slayer, do you mean? I believe it had much to do with the fact that their grandfather had concealed her in the first place--"
"Their grandfather?" Buffy interrupted, puzzled.
"Yes. It was not uncommon in that time for first cousins to marry. Her mother, Frances Ward Price, had married a lieutenant of Marines, far down the social scale from the elder Miss Ward, who had married a baronet named Sir Thomas Bertram. When Edmund Ward discovered that one of Mrs. Price's daughters carried the mark of a Potential, he worked to conceal the information and laid the groundwork to have the girl removed from her parents' house to the Betrams' residence when she was of an age to be useful. He is not the first Watcher to have ever actively kept a relative out of the Council's eye due to petty concerns over social status, but he is the most notorious of them, for having the poor taste to die without revealing his scheme to anyone other than his eleven year old grandson."
"Who ended up marrying her to keep anyone else from finding out," Buffy summed up, disappointed. She'd been hoping for something else, something more than one of the arranged in-name-only marriages Watchers had engaged in occasionally over the millennia to keep control over nubile, technically adult teenage girls who would otherwise be much in the public eye.
"Eventually," Giles answered. "Not for that reason, however, and not without other romantic misadventures along the way. They were very close from their earliest acquaintance, when he was sixteen years of age and she was ten, but Edmund did not fall in love with her until eight years later when she ought to have been long past the age of Calling."
"So it was a love thing, then?" Buffy perked up.
"Yes. They lived happily together for the duration of their marriage and had five children, three of whom still have descendants among the Watchers today, including the Wyndham-Prices. One of their great-granddaughters married a descendant of Fanny's favorite brother William." Giles pursed his lips thoughtfully. "What is this about, Buffy? I know Wesley prefers not to talk about his family, but surely the story of Frances Bertram is far enough in the past not to cause any discomfort."
A weight began to lift from Buffy's shoulders at the tale. She was more curious than ever about the elusive Fanny's life-- how had she managed to live so long and so quietly as a Slayer for starters-- but that was secondary now to her relief at the news.
Ever since Wes had come back into her life, one of only two survivors of Angel's self-destructive attempt to take down Wolfram & Hart, she'd been having more than friendly feelings for him. And while she wasn't exactly traditional girl herself, she knew Wesley's early training in polite society went very deep. They'd had a lot of fun together after they got through the initial misunderstandings part and the role Angel played in his survival-- the fact that Angel had had the foresight to enchant his human minions to fall into stasis on the point of death instead of perishing but had not done anything similar for himself or Spike had really upset Buffy at first, to put it mildly. Still, there was always some level of reserve in their relationship, and Buffy had found herself contemplating permanency with him as a way of breaking down that last barrier and convincing him she wouldn't leave like everyone else did.
In her more self-aware moments, she was even willing to admit that her plan was probably as much about convincing her that he would never leave as the other way around. She had a sneaking suspicion that her cookies were finally done-- and the twinge of grief at the idea of neither of her vampires being the recipient was not as severe as she'd expected. Wes was-- there were no words for it. He was human, yet more; his magic and knowledge enabled him to keep up with her and compliment her in ways few others had ever been able to manage, without his being at all jealous of her strength. He was warm, passionate, brilliant, dead sexy in his leathers, and even had that touch of the bad boy, destructive edge she seemed to need in a guy; in short, she thought he was pretty much it for her.
Buffy wasn't so sure about his feelings-- she wasn't Fred, the perfect girl she'd heard about from Gunn-- but she had hope; she was pretty sure she'd made her own place in his heart. The only thing that remained was to find out whether her idea was even possible-- and to that end, she'd been looking for instances of Slayer-Watcher marriage on the sly for several weeks now. She didn't want Wes turning her down just out of the "sacred Watcher duty" principle, which had been half his reason for keeping their entire relationship from the Council all this time. Finally, it looked like she'd found something to use as a counter-example.
"I actually didn't know they were related," she told Giles, biting her lip again to keep the smile down. "So, you're saying there wasn't any mystical curse, or anything, about them being truly married? Robin said some things way back when about his mother..."
"Oh, no, no," Giles shook his head. "It's frowned upon, certainly, as very few Slayers in the past have made it to the official age of maturity, and the comparative age of the Watcher often made romantic encounters between a pair more akin to sexual coercion or incest than a legitimate relationship. There is nothing actively forbidding it, however; the concealment of a Slayer was viewed as the much greater crime in Mr. Bertram's case than the fact that he'd married her. I suspect Robin believed otherwise because his mother's Watcher did not wed her when she became pregnant and did not wish to reveal the true reasons to him."
"Good," Buffy said, allowing her smile to break across her face. "Good," she repeated, feeling a little dizzy with anticipation.
She could see the light finally beginning to dawn for her former Watcher. "Buffy, is there something you want to tell me about yourself and Wesley?" Giles asked, looking as though his world had just toppled onto its ear.
The corners of Buffy's mouth tipped up into a smirk. "I'll get back to you on that," she said, and pressed the button to close out the chat. There was a more important conversation she needed to be having.