White Berries

“Go on, Anya,” Xander urged with a smile. “It’s traditional; you see someone under the mistletoe, you get to kiss them. Unless it’s my Aunt Clarice, in which case you pretend really hard that you’re about to throw up and hide in the bathroom until...never mind.”

Anya looked at him. “Shouldn’t you be jealous and possessive, threatened and alarmed, at the thought of me kissing another man? I know you wouldn’t mind if it were Willow or Tara, because men find lesbians highly attractive, which makes no sense –”

“Honey! Just leave it. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure Giles doesn’t know he’s standing right under it and I’m sure you’re the last person he’d want –”

Anya’s eyes flamed with indignation. “What did you say?”

“Nothing. You interrupted me and I’m very glad you did. Anya? Come back here!”

Ignoring the frantically hissed whisper, Anya stalked across the Magic Box and tapped Giles on the shoulder. He turned and gave her an absentminded smile. “Ah; everything tidy? I’ll just lock the back door and we can all go home.”

“After I’ve kissed you.” She waved a hand up at the mistletoe. “You have to pay a forfeit and be kissed. Xander said you wouldn’t want to because it was me, but...”

Giles took off his glasses, the better to glare at Xander who was hovering by the door, a sheepish, apologetic grin on his face. He placed them on the counter and smiled down at Anya, seeing the hurt she was trying to hide.

“Xander, not for the first time, has it completely wrong, Anya,” he said with unaccustomed gentleness. “I’d be...honoured if you were to kiss me. It’s a tradition I have fond memories of and I’m sure they’d increase were you to –”

Anya listened until she’d heard enough to be sure Giles was sincere, beamed, and moved in closer. Taken by surprise, as he’d been expecting a swift peck on the cheek, Giles instinctively gathered her to him and deepened a kiss that had begun as warm and ended up passionate. As Xander watched, open-mouthed with shock, they surrendered to whatever magic lingered in dry branches and pearl-white berries until his hesitant protests broke the spell.

“Ah. Quite. That was...delightful, Anya. You and Xander have a pleasant holiday and do drop by for a drink, won’t you?”

Anya smiled. “That would be nice. Did you decorate your home as well as the shop?”

Giles followed her gaze upwards and smiled. “Oh, yes.”

When the shop door closed behind them, he reached up and yanked at the sprig of greenery tucking it into a bag. No sense leaving it there to wilt, he told himself. Might as well take it home with him.

He was up until midnight hanging streamers and holly, and trimming a tree, but it was worth it. Anya came the next day...and the next...and if the mistletoe was hung where he couldn’t help but stand under it as he opened the door...well, that was pure chance.

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