Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: For Whom The Bell Tolls
Author: AineRose
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Through Season Seven but no specific references.
Summary: Death is a large part of Willow's life
Disclaimer: Joss owns all except the poem which is an ancient blessing.
Website: DingoStarr
Author's Note: Major character death


It was a quiet day. The leaves crackled beneath her flat-heeled shoes, a gentle reminder that Fall was coming, though it was still summer. The wind whistled through the tall trees, soft breezes playing with the strands of auburn hair that managed to escape from behind her ears. She shifted uncomfortably in her tight black skirt and fingered the collar of her blouse nervously. The Memorial service had been painful, and her tears had hardly ceased falling.

Dead. Her Grandmother. Her loving caring grandmamma. She bit her lip softly to stop the descent of more tears from her eyes. Oz tightened his grip around her waist and she smiled gratefully, thankful to her boyfriend for his support.

The path was stony and long, and the lengthy journey was intensified by the masses of relatives and friends and well-wishers. It seemed the entire town had turned up to watch her sweet, caring grandmother be put in the earth forever. Xander, on her other side was ignoring the trail of tears streaming down his cheek and stared at her motherís back in front of him. He had known her as much as had, and loved as his own Grandmother, as she loved him as her own. They were at the top of the procession, behind the black car that held her Gramís body, and the crowd surging behind her almost sounded as if they were singing. The whole situation was surreal; she couldnít grasp the thought of her Gram being dead. So she trudged on, shoes traipsing over the small pebbles underneath.

The burial was one hundred times worse than the funeral itself. She had shut her eyes and buried her head in Ozís shoulder so as not to see her precious Grandmother being lowered into the ground. She had wanted to scream, but words wouldnít come out. Donít put her in there! Donít throw that soil on her! How will she breathe? How will she breathe? She sobbed into Ozís shoulder as he squeezed her hand reassuringly, stroked her hair gently and brushed his lips across her forehead.

She wasnít able to leave. The crowd had dispersed quickly, headed to the Rosenberg residence to exchange memories over weak tea and sandwiches. She knew that she had to leave soon but found herself unable. Xander had rambled off to be alone but Oz stayed by her side. He never spoke a word to her, just held her in his arms.

He held her to his chest, resting his chin on the crown of her head. Slowly, he took his chin from her head and put his lips to her ear. She shuddered slightly as his breath tickled her. He paused for a few minutes, lips hovering over her left ear, breathing softly before he spoke, eyes never leaving the freshly covered hole that held her Gram.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there... I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry-
I am not there... I did not die..."


For the rest of her life she would always remember his words. She could close her eyes and recite them perfectly, despite only hearing them once. She didnít protest or say anything as he took her hand and led her from the cemetery. Words werenít needed.

*

She had muttered those words so many times they were permanently etched in her mindís eye, and she felt the need to spread the lovely ancient blessing on to others. So she told it to Buffy, as she stood over her motherís grave. She told it to Dawn as she lay by her sister, head resting on the hard stone of the headstone. She said it to herself over and over again as she stood over Taraís grave. And she said it out loud as she stood over the huge hole that was once Sunnydale. She said it for Spike, for Anya, and for all the girls.

And presently the news came, as she knew it would. But even though she expected it, it was not any less painful.

Her picture was in his wallet. He had been shot, not under the serene light of the full moon, but during the harsh light of day. A hunter had grown impatient and decided that he was better off dead than as a fur coat. So he shot him. Killed him, before he had time to grasp the bitter knowledge that Death was looming over him. It was a farmer who had found him, and the aging man would be scarred for life. Weak and shaking, he had recounted each splatter of blood to her, the paleness of his skin, his haggard appearance. His van was found nearby, but it was empty, devoid of all valuable items.

They had buried him on a quiet hill overlooking the town, leaving only a cross as his identification, as he had left no record of a name. She travelled to the hill alone, unprotected from the harsh conditions she was to face. The wind was bitter and chilled her to the bone. The snow soaked through her shoes and socks, and the ice and frost numbed her fingers and toes. She didnít know how long she sat at the cross. Darkness passed and the sun rose, its blinding rays thawing the winter around her. Someone had left a rose at the cross, and she held it until the stem broke and thorns pierced her finger. Weakly, she whispered her last words to the surrounding heavens and closed her eyes.

She could feel his hand around her waist; his breath tickled her ear, and was warm against her skin. He spoke to her, and she joined him, whispering under her breath.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there... I do not sleep...

...I am the diamond glints on snow...

I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night...

...Do not stand at my grave and cry-
I am not there... I did not die..."


She was looking at him, right into his dark green eyes, and he leaned over and kissed her lips sweetly. And, together they left. Ambling down the stony path, away from the cemetery, hands joined.

The very same farmer was the one who found the girl. And he said she was stunning. Lying in the snow, her flaming hair contrasting with the white that encased the town. Dead. Her purple lips were parted slightly in a smile and rose petals were clasped in her fist.

I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.


People around the town say that they are still around. They watch the town from above on their hill, and whenever a loved one dies they whisper soothing words to their relatives. And bless them with an old Irish blessing. But those claiming to have heard this poem are reluctant to repeat it. They only speak of the love of these spirits, and the love they pass on.

...Do not stand at my grave and cry-
I am not there... I did not die..."