Author’s note: This is it. The end. The place I never thought I would ever be when it came to this story. After three years, it is finished. It’s bittersweet, because I’ve never put so much effort into a story and slaved over a fic as much as I did for this one, but I’m also glad it’s over.
You also finally discover the reasoning behind the title. It comes from the song I Am For You by Waking Ashland, and the lyrics are very appropriate here.
There is a sequel, but other writing commitments mean it will not be started for a while. That doesn’t mean I won’t be writing. I have a fanfiction livejournal that will get regular updates with other fics, and I continually issue challenges there that are open to anyone.
Thank you to everyone who has read this from the beginning, who has offered their critiques and kind words. Thanks for keeping an open mind to the elements of the story and believing in me as a writer to take you on a journey of my semi-own creation.
Last, but never least, to my beta and best friend, Jacy Evans. Without her, this story would not exist, because I would have given up on it. This is dedicated wholly to you, for never giving up on me through title changes, plot changes, and *grumbles* pairing changes. *loves*
And to those of you who were severely disappointed that the only Draco/Buffy smoochies were part of a dream sequence… enjoy. *smiles*
Willow and Draco were sitting on the grass with their legs crossed and eyes closed. It had taken them both a week to recover from overworking their magic, and even now spells went a little haywire. Willow taught Draco the forgiving magic of baking cookies, which while they came out edible, Buffy had thrown a fit when she saw the state of the kitchen after Draco tried to magically clean up.
“Ha!” Willow exclaimed, opening her eyes with a cheeky grin. “I got mine done first.”
Draco opened his eyes irritably. “This isn’t a contest, Willow.”
“I still won.”
“Oh shut up.”
Willow did as she was told and drifted with her magic as Draco worked on energizing his magical core. He was much more irritable now that his magic didn’t work exactly the way he wanted to, but he insisted after a few hours with the coven, he’d be fine. The Dementor had affected his dark magic too much and thrown his balance off. Having multiple grounded witches stabilize him would help.
Unfortunately, he had to stay and watch after Willow and her newly expanded magic before he could return to England. He helped her learn to control her new power and eventually make it lie dormant inside her. Channeling Osiris’ power would eventually kill if she used too much, and Osiris knew that. It was a test. If she kept using his power instead of asking her own to help, she would be magic-less in a blink and dead in the next.
She was determined to never use it unless there was a dire emergency, but had needed someone to pull her back when she got too close. Now she was used to closing off the channel, and she hadn’t even opened it in a few days. Willow no longer felt overwhelmed and was ready to go about her day to day living.
Visiting with Tara had helped as well. Seeing her dead lover brought pain, but it also brought peace. She’d got to say goodbye and hear words of encouragement from a voice she’d never hear. But most of all, she felt okay with moving on in her life without Tara.
Tara cupped Willow’s face in her hands. “You have done so well, and I am so proud of you.”
“How can you say that?” Willow asked, slightly horrified. She’d killed a man and nearly destroyed the world. Proud and doing well was not how she’d describe it.
“Because you’ve overcome something very few people every take on. That’s why I’m proud. It’s the whole reason I’m here, Willow. I am for you. I am for you. I chose to stay, watch, and lead you and those around you because it’s what I am meant to do. And you’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
Tears fell from Willow’s eyes and she held onto Tara as tight as she could. “I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone like I loved you. You’re my world.”
“I’m not in your world anymore, and now that I know you’re okay, I’ll move to help others. I’ve always been created to be a guide, and as selfish as I want to be, I can’t lead you anymore. You’re so strong.”
Willow gripped Tara’s hands and shook her head. “No, I’m not. I need you, Tara.”
“I told you, Willow. I am for you. You were cold and distant, but you broke free and you can do whatever you want now. If you ever truly need me, I’ll send myself to you and my love to you, but I think you’ll do just fine.”
With a sob, Willow tried to hold onto Tara but she was backing away too quickly.
“Remember, I am for you, and I love you. I love you so much, Willow.”
“There,” Draco said with an irritated sigh. He was ready to get to England and have his magic fixed, Willow could tell. She just smiled, blinking out of her memory, which irritated him even more.
“Come on, you have to say goodbye to everyone.”
Draco just rolled his eyes and Willow jumped up. He let himself be pulled to his feet and followed after her into the house. This was something he had not been looking forward to.
Buffy stood in the open doorway to the living room, her arms crossed against her chest. Today was the day that Pansy, Harry and Draco were leaving to go back to England. Giles would also return to England a week later. The thought of the house being close to empty was a bit daunting; she had grown used to the noise. She grinned when she looked up and saw Harry walking down the stairs.
“Hey, Pansy is just finishing up the packing upstairs and Draco’s still outside with Willow,” he said as he reached the bottom. One hand lingered on the banister, and Harry rubbed the wood with a small smile. “Pansy’s just as reluctant to leave. It’s been a nice holiday for us. I’ve never been to the States before.”
“You consider this a holiday?” Buffy asked, amused. “Getting killed, hexed, and all that good stuff? I’ve been doing it wrong, then.”
They stood staring at each other for a bit before Buffy moved forward and gave Harry a hug. The kinship they developed before Buffy returned to heaven never dwindled. “I hope everything works out for you, Harry. Thank you for all your help.”
He returned the hug. “The same for you Buffy.”
She pulled back when she heard someone coming down the stairs—Pansy. Despite the two of them getting on as well as oil and water, Buffy had seen how Draco’s death had affected her. Sure, the woman was calm and collected on the outside, but losing Draco was something Buffy could see would shatter Pansy on the inside.
“Even with magic, it still takes you stupidly long to pack,” Harry said, rolling his eyes.
Pansy just smirked at him as Harry passed her to go to the kitchen where Xander, Giles, and Dawn were. When Buffy moved to follow him, Pansy stopped her by putting a hand on her arm. After eying her a bit wearily, Buffy remained behind, her arms crossed. There was a possibility of this turning ugly, and the last thing she wanted was to have her new friends leave on a bad note.
“Do you need something?” she asked, trying to remain civil.
Pansy’s normally icy demeanor towards her melted a bit. “Whether I like it or not, you and Draco have something. A chemistry. Normally it doesn’t bother me because I know that it won’t last, but you’re not the typical type of woman that he goes after.”
The last thing Buffy had expected was a lecture on staying away from Draco. “Look, Pansy, I know you two have a history.”
“It’s more than that,” the witch interrupted. “We were destined to be together, and Fate decided to be a bitch and make sure we couldn’t be. We’re too alike. And all the other females are like me as well. They accept Draco and know that I’m in his life and always will be. They’re willing to wait for him. Are you?”
Buffy paused and looked at the floor. She had been thinking of nothing else since Draco had announced they were leaving the week before. “No, I won’t.” Raising her head, she stared deep into Pansy’s eyes. “I’m not going to wait on him and I won’t be just another woman in his life. We’re not a couple now and I don’t think we will be. I’m not going to waste my life waiting for something I’m not guaranteed to have. We say we’ll visit, but more than likely, we don’t. He has his life, and I have mine. Would I like for him to be a part of mine or me be a part of his? Yes, but I can’t wait for it. We lead two different lives. My life is too short for that.”
The last thing Buffy expected Pansy to do was smile. It wasn’t a gloating smile, but one of admiration.
“Then you have a chance after all.”
“Pansy!” Both women turned to where Harry was leaning around the doorway. He was looking between them as if he expected them to pounce on each other at any given moment. “Are you going to say goodbye or not?”
“Not all of us are touchy-feely Gryffindors, Potter,” Draco said with a smirk as he brushed past him from the kitchen. With his hands in his pockets, he stood next to Pansy.
Pansy rolled her eyes and headed towards the kitchen. “And some of us know when to collect good contacts.” Harry smirked and followed her back into the kitchen leaving Draco alone with Buffy. She was still confused about what Pansy meant.
Since their late night conversation over tea, the relationship between Draco and Buffy was back to amicable with a few lingering stares. Buffy would always be eternally grateful for what Draco had done for not only her, but for Dawn as well. After hearing Buffy say thank you a million times, he finally threatened to make her hair fall out if she muttered it in his direction again.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” he said with a small grin.
Buffy’s eyebrow rose. “You couldn’t have heard the conversation. How did you do it?” When Draco held up his wand, she rolled her eyes. He was always too nosy for his own good. This conversation would probably be even more awkward than the last. “I should have known. So what about it?”
Draco put away his wand and took a deep breath. “I know why she asked you what she did. And she was telling the truth that every woman I’ve ever been with promised to wait around and would always accept me. A few years ago I told Pansy that I was tired of compliant women.”
“Didn’t exactly spur you to push them away, did it?” Buffy asked dryly, and for a moment, she thought she saw frustration on Draco’s face. “Look, I don’t want this to end badly.”
“Neither do I,” he said. “That’s why she always asks everyone if they’d wait. You’re the first one who said they wouldn’t.”
After staring at Draco for a few silent moments, the only noise coming from the faint voices in the kitchen, Buffy blinked. “There are no words to describe the confusion I feel right now except maybe ‘huh?’. That makes no sense. You actually want someone who won’t wait for you? You’ve got that backwards.”
“I like challenges. I’m a Slytherin. Plus, finding a woman who is independent and doesn’t care about fame or money or anything like that? Definitely a bonus.”
“What does fame or money have to do with it?” Buffy asked, completely spun around by the conversation. “So because I won’t be in your life anymore, you want me? God, are you the needy type who has to be whipped or whatever during sex?”
Draco’s eyebrow rose and he smirked. “Why, do you have a cat o’ nine tails lying around begging to be used?” When Buffy just sighed and started to walk towards the kitchen, he grabbed her arm and turned her around. “I like a woman who doesn’t give a shit about anything except living life and having fun. Who doesn’t care what people say or think and is willing to take risks. You took a risk by telling Pansy you wouldn’t wait.”
“That’s right; I won’t,” Buffy said sternly. Standing here listening to Draco was just about to kill her. It was just like the scene during her healing when he was trying to convince her to leave her mother again. Only this time, it felt like he was trying to convince her not to leave.
“And I’m telling you don’t have to.” Draco smiled at her. “But you were right when you said that we’ll both promise to visit, but it probably won’t happen. We lead two very different and separate lives.”
Buffy ripped her arm out of his grasp and slapped his shoulder with a glare. “Do not lead me on about wanting me and then telling me it can’t happen. How the hell do you get laid talking like that?”
Draco laughed. “By this.”
Buffy didn’t have time to react as he leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. As the kiss went on, she closed her eyes as she put her arms around Draco’s shoulders. His hands rest on her waist as the kiss deepened. It was only when he pulled back that she opened her eyes and realized that the voices in the kitchen were getting louder. Everyone was coming towards the door.
She stepped back and let her arms fall from his shoulders, looking at him curiously. “Why did you do that?”
“Because I’m selfish, and I couldn’t leave not knowing what it was like. Plus, maybe that will give one of us the incentive to visit the other.”
“You’re a bastard,” Buffy said with a grin, shaking her head.
“Slytherin,” he replied, pointing to himself. “And a Malfoy. They go hand in hand.”
Buffy and Draco were joined by the rest of the group and took a small step further apart. Pansy’s knowing grin almost made Buffy’s eye twitch, but she kept her mouth shut. More tearful goodbyes were said, but Buffy’s only focus was on Draco. She saw him smiling and giving out last-minute hugs, but his eyes always came back to hers.
This was the man that gave up his life for her and her sister. As much as she hated to admit it, that was more than Angel, Riley and Spike had done combined. He would always hold a special place in her heart, and more than likely all men would be compared to him from now on.
It didn’t help that her mother already approved. And thanks to Draco, she knew that. He’d given her a closure she hadn’t known she needed.
Only when Willow nudged her did she snap out of it and say her goodbye to Harry and Pansy.
“Be safe, and owl or whatever it is you magical types do,” Willow said with a smile. Buffy put her arm around her and Dawn came up on her other side. Xander and Giles stood behind them.
Draco, Pansy and Harry stepped into the living room and stood by the fireplace. Pansy grabbed the floo powder and disappeared in the green flames first. Harry looked back with a grin as he followed. Draco completely spun around and looked at the crowd gathered.
“Think you’ll visit?” Dawn asked, her wide eyes hopeful. Buffy listened closely, interested in his answer.
The blonde smirked. “I’m not sure. If I’m properly motivated enough I might.”
“Oh don’t be so needy,” Buffy said with her own smirk. Watching him on the verge of leaving spurned her to speak up. “You have no idea what I have in my arsenal.”
“You’ll have to show me sometime,” Draco retorted as he grabbed up some floo powder.
“Is that a good enough incentive?”
Draco’s reply to Buffy’s question was to grin at her over his shoulder and toss the floo powder into the fireplace. When the green flames calmed down to embers and he was only a shadow in her memory, she let out a breath of air. Everyone was silent, and the weight of the knowledge she would never see Draco again nearly crushed her. Everything would be okay though.
She hugged Dawn and Willow and turned around, putting her back to the fireplace.
“Well, what’s next?”