Candy Hearts

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Willow had been staring at the pink candy heart for at least ten minutes, trying to figure out who had left it on her desk. She knew she was being silly. Dawn had probably left it for her so she wouldn't feel left out because she didn't have a Valentine this year. This year? She hadn't had a Valentine since Tara's death nearly four years ago. Her affair with Kennedy hadn't even lasted until Valentine's Day. Once the First had been defeated, they'd drifted apart and ended their relationship as friends. She had thrown herself into work then, wanting to help Giles set up the best Council ever. She wasn't sure if it was the best ever, but it was doing pretty darn good. They had slayers throughout the world as well as groups of good demons that didn't mind reporting possible threats to them. They'd also struck up a partnership with the Ministry of Magic last year, giving them access to numerous wizards and witches if required.

"Whatcha lookin' at?" an amused voice asked from the doorway.

Willow looked up and smiled as she saw Hermione Granger, a representative from the Ministry that worked as a liaison between them and the Council. The brunette had become a friend to Willow during the past nine months, the two often meeting for lunch or to see a movie whenever schedules permitted. The redhead said, "I didn't know you had a meeting here today."

"Didn't," Hermione smiled, brown eyes studying the beautiful redhead. She felt silly. She was Hermione Granger, former Head Girl of Hogwarts and one of the heroes of the War Against Voldemort. She was brave and smart and she had no idea how to confess her growing feelings to Willow. She shrugged, "I had a day off and thought I'd see if you wanted to go out for dinner or something."

"That sounds great," Willow smiled, hoping she didn't seem too eager. In all honesty, she'd had a crush on the pretty brunette witch since they'd first met. Once she had gotten to Hermione, the crush had deepened into something that caused her heart to race just a little more whenever they were together.

"Great," Hermione smiled, cursing herself for not being able to think of the right words to tell Willow what she felt. She gestured to the candy that she had placed on Willow's desk earlier, asking, "What's that?"

"It's a candy heart," Willow explained, "I think Dawn must have left it for me. She's always worried that I'm too lonely."

"Isn't she visiting Buffy in Rome this week?" Hermione asked, a bit jealous that Willow assumed the sweet gesture was from Dawn and didn't even consider it might be someone else.

"That's right," Willow finally shrugged, "I don't know then."

"Why do you suppose they left it for you?" Hermione asked curiously, watching Willow's face for a reaction.

"Hermione! You ask more questions than I do!" Willow laughed, "Valentine's Day is tomorrow so I guess they thought it would be nice to give me a piece of candy. I really have no idea."

"Maybe they were trying to tell you something that they were too scared to say," Hermione mused softly, brown eyes slightly nervous as she nibbled on her bottom lip.

"I suppose that's possible, but I can't think of anyone that would want me to be theirs," Willow sighed as she looked away from the candy and saw Hermione watching her with a look that she had never noticed before. Green eyes widened slightly as she looked from the candy heart back to Hermione.

"You're looking at someone that would love if you were theirs, Willow," Hermione smiled shyly, knowing that Harry and Ron would laugh their arses off if they could see their normally outspoken friend using candy hearts to say what she felt. Of course, that would be after they accepted the knowledge that she was in love with Willow and then moved past the leers that would surely follow their acceptance. The brunette could already imagine her best friends asking if they could watch, and, geesh, she was getting ahead of herself since Willow hadn't even responded to her admission of desire.

"Really?" Willow whispered, her lips curving into a smile as she watched Hermione move forward, placing a white heart next to the pink one. Willow read the words, "Luv ya."

"I do, you know?" Hermione said, brown eyes catching green as she confessed, "I felt something when we first met, but I didn't realize what it was because I had never felt like that about another woman before. The more time I spent with you, the more I didn't want to let you go. I've been trying to get up the courage to tell you for months but I could never find the right words. Funny, huh? I'm the know it all, the fountain of information, the girl who has read so much that words should never be a problem, but I had to use silly candy to tell you how I felt."

"I like candy hearts," Willow said softly. She smiled as she admitted, "I feel the same way, Hermione. I haven't felt like this in such a long time. When I'm with you, I feel happy and content and life is just so much better. I didn't realize that it might be more than just friendship until Andrew, of all people, confronted me about it. He gave me some big speech about finding love and embracing it and being happy all in the context of Star Trek episodes so I was a little confused but finally got the idea that he was encouraging me to go after you in his own strange little way."

"He's a bit of a meddler, isn't he?" Hermione grinned, "Who do you think gave me the bag of candy hearts? He used references from Tolkien with me, thankfully! I was able to somewhat understand him. He's such a romantic guy."

"Yes, he is," Willow agreed, smiling at Hermione as she asked, "So, now what?"

"Well, I thought we might go for some dinner and maybe back to my flat to watch a movie. I wouldn't mind a little snogging, but I understand if it's too soon for that," Hermione's words were cut off when Willow kissed her gently. The kiss deepened as the two witches moved closer together, pulling back finally when oxygen became an issue. Hermione grinned as she said, "Wow. I think I could get addicted to snogging you."

"That sounds so dirty when you say it that way," Willow laughed softly, "I kinda like it."

"Vixen," Hermione smiled as she brushed her fingers through Willow's hair.

"You know that we owe Andrew, don't you?" Willow said as she began to put away the papers on her desk so they could go to dinner and then make with the smoochies.

"I'm thinking we can find him his very own cuddle bunny," Hermione said as she watched Willow.

"That's what I was thinking," Willow beamed at the brunette. "We can discuss Andrew later, though. Right now, I'm thinking about our first date."

"Willow, I just wanted to clarify that I want a relationship with you. Friends, lovers, the whole thing. I haven't really been seriously involved in a long time, but I think I love you in a forever kind of way," Hermione said in a rush, finally finding the words to say what she felt.

"And you say I ramble?" Willow smiled as she picked up the candy heart she had first seen on her desk, her eyes catching Hermione's as she said, "You asked me a question, Hermione, but I want to hear you say it."

"Be mine?" Hermione asked softly.

Willow nodded, a happy smile crossing her face as she said, "I'm yours. Can you we skip dinner and move straight to the smoochies?"

Hermione laughed, moving closer to the redhead as she said, "I think that can be arranged," before her lips touched Willow's.