The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Waiting for Dani - Complete 06/11/07
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:30 pm 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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Story Title – Waiting for Dani

Chapter – 1 – Waiting

Author – JustSkipIt

Pairing – T/W

Feedback – Yes, please

Spoilers – None

Rating – PG

Disclaimer – Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own Willow and Tara and the Buffyverse. I’m not saying this universe is totally original but I didn’t steal it from any author or creator that I know of. No copyright infringement is meant by this fic and I will not make any money from it.

Distribution – Kitten Board, Through the Looking Glass, Mystic Muse. Everyone else, send me a note.

Summary – Tara waits. As she does, she explains why.

Note - Thank you Chris for the fantastic graphic.

Note - Per FAQ. D'ni = Dani = Willow

Note – I expect this story will have 7-10 total updates. Right now I have four written and intend to post every week to start then possibly will drop to every other week.

Note – I don’t like the title very much but I think that I like it better than my alternative title: “My girl’. If you have a suggestion, PM me and maybe I’ll use yours and give you credit.

Note – If you have any questions, please ask.

Note – Thanks, Xita.

Note – I love you, Rachel and Asher.


I sit in the dark, my knees pulled up high in front of me and my arms wrapped around them. I am looking out the window into the darkness but not seeing. I could light a candle or twenty but I can’t work up the will to do it. My girl, my new girl, will be up shortly. She will, no doubt, make haste in putting the room to order—light the lamps, pull me from my chair and tidy my hair and dress, fold down the bed, take me from the room and offer me any number of delicacies. The quail have been quite rich and plentiful this season or there’s always duck. She whistles as she works which is more irritating than it should be.

Everything is in question. And that I, being who I am, is sitting in this state is against everything I’ve known. Against my family and breeding and what is so in this world. Maclays don’t sit in the darkness waiting for their destiny to come to them. Maclays go after their destiny. Hunt it down. Own their destiny. For always and ever. But not this Maclay and not this day.

--

Perhaps I should explain who I am.

I am Tara Maclay.

I am Lady T’ra Maclay, magic practitioner and daughter of Lady T’rese Maclay, magic practitioner and daughter of Lady T’bitha Moster, magic practitioner. First daughter to Lady T’rese Maclay through Lord D’vid Maclay, first son of Lady T’my Maclay, magic practitioner.

If I were attending a coronation, ball, or other formal event, my title would be longer but I think you get the picture, as it were.

I have 20 summers to my age and most of this autumn season behind me. A few months ago I would have been out riding or hunting at this time of day. But the days are short and the air has turned cold and the chill has crept into this room. Oh yes, I’m sure my girl will stoke the fire when she comes.

Speaking of the devil, I hear her heavy step on the stairs now. I must remember to train her to tread more lightly. Or ask D’ni to do it.

But then, if D’ni was here, I wouldn’t be sitting in the dark now would I?

--

My father’s love for my mother was legendary. Literally. The song, which I heard from before I could walk or talk or crawl, before I took my first breath in this world, tells of their first meeting and subsequent second meeting.

My grandfather, Lord D’mitri Maclay, was six moons still from the heart spasm which killed him and placed my father as Lord Maclay. The estate was in good order, the skies were clear, and my father decided to go hunting in the afternoon, taking with him only three men—one his mark-bonded servant—the other two gamesmen of the estate. They began by tracking a stag but realized after a few hours that they were not the predators from which the stag flew. Rather, they found themselves chasing an elusive blue panther—so named for the fur so black it appeared blue in the sunlight. Eventually they dismounted and left my father’s man with the horses, instructing him to follow closely enough that he could hear them. My father’s man, unlike this new girl, could lead four horses through dense forest without so much as snapping a twig.

The wood wound and wound in on itself in such a way that at times the men felt they had entered a fairy world. At others they felt sure they should be back to where they started, but everywhere they looked, they saw something new. My father had hunted and explored these woods many times as had each of his companions. He considered the land his flesh, the trees his bones, and the rivers his blood so much a part of the Maclay family was it. But this was an entirely new land—one on which he was sure he’d never ventured before. All three men began to feel that the large cat was playing a game with them, leading them to some unknown destination. If not for the position of the sun, they would have sworn that they had been days or weeks in the wood. Their rations had run out and they now sought fresh water along with their prey. They were not only unwilling to give up the chase but suspected that they were also unable.

One of the gamesmen passed close to a towering oak tree and tore his heavy leather jacket, suffering a deep cut on his arm. He swore the rest of his life that the tree had moved to bite him and that only his quick movement allowed him to keep his arm.

My father could feel the fear building in his hunting party and knowing his responsibilities in such a situation, he did as he felt required: he reassured them that the cat had a purpose and that to doubt that purpose was to doubt The Creator herself. More than once, he stopped the group to offer supplication to the forest and sky. He vowed that when they found water he would know his life entire. All three men agreed that when he made this vow, the cat turned slowly around and looked at him. Then it turned and bounded away once again.

Discarding any thoughts of keeping quiet, the men set off at a run to chase the cat. Their bows and arrows were safely tucked into the quivers on their backs and each had a scabbard with a short dagger in his boot. While the woods were generally safe, one could never be completely assured of the safety of the Lord’s son. Why in the past few months they had heard rumblings of a land battle in the Northern territories. It had not happened yet, but those who followed such things expected a battle in the next few seasons.

The men ran and ran, bounding up a winding path and climbing higher and higher into the side of a cliff. Blood seeped from the injured man’s arm to the ground but there was no stopping. Finally all four men, my father’s servant having abandoned any pretense of following quietly, burst into a clearing. They stopped smartly, their shock evident on their faces.

In the clearing, at the edge of a crystal clear stream sat a girl—my mother it should be no surprise. Her right hand, she extended palm side toward the men, showing her mark. The panther was nestled against her knee as if he was a harmless housecat and her left hand was just in front of the panther’s mouth. Suspended in mid-air in front of the panther and obviously extending from my mother’s power was a small bowl, made of nothing but crystal clear water. A waterfall came from her left hand into the bowl and the spill-over from the bowl fell into the stream.

My father and his men immediately bowed deeply and held their position for three heart-beats. The one mark-bound servant, D’rek, fell to his knees, bowed, and stayed there. The others extended their left hands in a mirror of my mother’s action. While the marks on my father’s hand were extensive and elaborate, indicating his great wealth and lineage, they paled to those he saw before him. He quickly assessed, seeing that she was third in a direct line of magic users, unmarried, first daughter of a Lord and Lady. My mother assessed a similar strength in his marks and then both seemed to take in all of the other: faces, bodies, the very air around them.

“Prrr says that you came between her and her dinner,” my mother said quietly. The panther’s name sounded more like the sound a big cat makes than a name but my father and his men understood.

Again he bowed deeply. “Please let her know that we are very sorry. We did not know she lived in this wood.”

My mother looked at the cat for a few moments, then smiled and nodded. “This is not our usual way but the wood looked so beautiful that we decided to … explore.” As she spoke she moved her hand and the bowl slowly dissolved into the stream from which it had come. She dropped both hands into her lap. After a moment she stood and straightened her skirt, brushing the grass and dirt from it.

“Please,” my father asked, “may we see you home?”

The cat and my mother each let out a small giggle at the request but did not insult my father with an outright laugh. “I would be honored but we may move faster than you can keep up. Please come Thursday next.” Before my father could answer, she and the cat had vanished into the trees.

None of the men spoke although my father motioned that his man could get up as he stared at the spot where the woman had disappeared. “Everyone saw that right?” He turned to his companions. When they nodded he smiled. “I’m going to marry that woman.”

His hunting partners guffawed and clapped him on the back. “Of course you are young Maclay! Hip hip!” Seeing that my father would have nothing to think of but this woman until he saw her again, they gave up their holiday and mounted their horses for home.

Once home, my father could speak of nothing but the beautiful and powerful woman he had met. He hadn’t even found out her name or given his but he knew that they could meet again. The next Thursday a traveling expedition set out from my grandfather’s estate. The processional included my grandfather and grandmother, my father and his three brothers, his sister T’solde, a crew of over 20 free men and mark-bound servants, and the most highly regarded bard in all the land. All rode the finest horses, in full dress regalia. They brought with them a meal of 7 pigs, 30 chickens, 3 cows, countless bushels of corn, wheat, and berries. Wagons in the rear brought barrels of ale and bottles of fine wine, the finest made on my grandfather’s estate.

My grandmother, Lady T’my Maclay, a powerful magic practitioner, led the expedition from a perch atop her elephant. She asked no direction from my father nor communicated any information regarding their journey. Just behind my grandmother rode my father’s sister T’Solde, now Lady of a neighboring Estate and herself a powerful force of magic. Following her was my grandfather, then my father and his brothers on their horses. Each woman and man’s mark-bound servant rode along side him or her, ½ horse-lengths back. The rest of the caravan was comprised of the servants and free-men who worked for my family.

At high noon exactly according to the family astronomer, my grandmother atop her elephant stepped into the same clearing in which my father had met my mother. She stopped her animal and waited as the rest of the processional assumed appropriate positions next to or behind her, mark-bound servants bowing their heads to the ground. Those who possessed noble marks on their hands extended their hands in front of them to display their position and introduce their arrival.

Arrayed in front of them, in every piece of finery they seemed to possess, was my mother’s family. My maternal grandmother, Lady T’bitha Moster, stood a position of honor and leadership mirroring my father’s mother. To her immediate right was my mother and next to her, my mother’s sister, Melanie. To her left, her husband, Lord Moster (my grandfather), and their sons. Like my father’s family, my mother’s had brought numerous employees and mark-bound servants.

The assemblage stood still for a number of minutes, studying the marks on each other’s hands. As now, then, the practice of reading marks of nobility served as an introduction. By studying the elaboration, design, and extent of the marks, you can learn a person’s nobility, rank, lineage, and power. My grandfathers could note each other’s rank as Lord not only by the elaboration and decoration of their family crest but by the dark prints on each of their fingertips and thumb. My grandmothers likewise held five prints as well as indication of their magical power and lineage. My mother’s hand showed even greater magical power and lineage than her mother’s but only four prints, indicating a non-Lady but magic practitioner. My father’s hand also showed four prints, declaring him to be the future Lord Maclay as did my mother’s oldest brother. Others--my uncles and aunts--held three prints.


I can remember as a child studying my hand. I would turn the right palm toward myself and trace it with the fingertips of my left hand. What would my marks look like? When would I get them? How would they appear? Before I understood what it would take to receive them, I thought they would spontaneously appear. At my father’s knee as he read a story, I held and studied the marks on his left hand, tracing each line and curlicue with my fingertips. Now I can trace the marks which completely fill my palm and fingers. Unmarried, still I have been Lady Maclay – holding five prints – since the taking of my marks. I’ve seen reproductions of my mother’s marks and they were beautiful indeed. Mine is more elaborate still than either of my parents as befits a fourth-generation magic practitioner, Lady of the estate, first daughter of the Lord of the estate. The closest mark I’ve ever seen is that on the back of my father’s hand—the marriage marks which intertwined his marks with my mothers. Mine are more elaborate still than those. Even now, I’m not sure I fully understand the magic bound within the marks.

And D’ni’s marks? So like mine, but not on her hand. She took her marks shortly after mine. But that’s another tale. For another time.

The inspection completed and marks obviously approved, my grandmother’s servant sensed her wishes and quickly placed a step next to her elephant so that my grandmother could dismount. The rest of the party followed suit and as one bowed to their counterparts, holding the bow for the necessary and respectful three heartbeats. When they stood again, my mother’s family returned the honor—their action indicating an acceptance of the meeting.

At the command of my grandmothers and their mark-bound servants, the servants and workers quickly dispersed to their duties in preparing the lodging and feast. My father’s and mother’s brothers gathered and mounted a hunting expedition. My father and both of my grandfathers touched marks and introduced themselves verbally using their full formal titles before stepping to the side and taking the seats which their servants placed for them.

Finally my grandmothers stepped together and joined their palms as they verbally introduced themselves giving their full formal titles. My mother’s mother introduced her followed by my aunt Melanie. This introduction was the first time my father had heard my mother’s first name: T’rese. My father’s mother, in turn introduced her daughter, my aunt T’solde, and herself.

As the other women waited, Melanie stepped to the side and drew a circle. Once complete, she sat outside the circle. My grandmothers, mother, and Aunt T’solde stepped into the circle and completed the casting.


Magic is a rarity in our society. In order for a woman to possess active magic, to be able to harness and grow its power, she must have three characteristics. First, she must have a magic user in her direct maternal lineage. Her mother, grandmother, or farther back must have been a magic user. It is not enough to have a sister or aunt who was a magic user. Second, she must have a magic practitioner in her paternal lineage. Again, his mother, grandmother or farther back must have had magic. And third, she must be her father’s first female issue. Any prior female issue, legitimate or illegitimate, magic user or non-magic user will cause the child to be a carrier of the magical gene but not a magic practitioner.

So my aunt Melanie could not cast although she carries a strong magical tradition and could pass it on to her daughters. No man could cast either although my father passed his magic on to me and my brother, D’nnie can pass his magic on to his first daughter. Likewise, my sisters—while not active magic practitioners—can pass their magic on to their daughters depending on their respective husband’s lineage. Because magic was initially a characteristic only of nobility, it is still concentrated chiefly among our ranks. Some believe that a free-woman of no rank and certainly a mark-bound servant can not be a magic practitioner.

I once asked Melanie as she conducted my lesson how it felt to not be able to perform the simplest spell in spite of knowing how to do it all and the look of pain and sadness on her face made me, even the impertinent child I was, swear regret for such a question.

But really, my brother, my sisters, Melanie teaching me magic? That again comes later in this tale. And it will because we must get back to D’ni and why I’m waiting, listening to those too loud steps on the stair.

As my father, grandfathers, and Melanie watched the four women in the circle began a joint spell to demonstrate the power and delicacy of their magic. Taking turns they conjured water from air, fountains of swans floating in the grass before floating to the skies. They brought rains from heaven and stopped it over their heads, caused grapes and berries to sprout from beneath their seats. My grandmother conjured the illusion of a herd of elephants and my mother brought her familiar, Prr, into the circle to be petted by each of the others. Lights filled the sky, illuminating the gathering dusk enough to allow work on the feast to continue. T’solde caused music to begin to roll from the trees and servants danced as they worked.

While the rest of the gathering met, danced, ate, and eventually slept, the women remained in the circle creating greater and greater magic.

My father bowed down before my grandfather, Lord Moster, promising that the first daughter born him by my mother would be a powerful magician. He swore on his honor and the drawing of his breath that there was no chance that he had another. My grandfather, Lord Maclay, added his own vow to strengthen his son’s.

At daybreak, a thousand doves rose from the lines of the circle and flew over the clearing before dispersing.

My grandmothers broke the circle and took my mother by the hand. My father’s sister and Melanie each placing her right hand on my mother’s shoulder blades. They crossed the clearing to where my father waited. My mother’s mother took my father’s hands, my father’s mother my mother’s hands and they placed their marks palm to palm as they introduced my parents.


My parents were joined eight moons later, the original date postponed following my grandfather’s sudden departure from this world and my father’s ascension to Lord of the estate. The magic performed at the joining ceremony made that at my parents’s second meeting look like the work of a toddler. In all, the wedding boasted eight active magic practitioners and the ensuing celebration lasted seven days. My father, his marks freshly augmented with his ascension to Lord of the estate accepted his wedding marks with nothing but smiles and my mother could be seen to cry tears of joy as the Maclay marks were intertwined with her own. Their mark-bound servants accompanied them to the tent to accept their own elevated—fifth level—marks.

My brother, D’nnie, was born ten and a half moons after the wedding celebration. His birth was no disappointment given that my parents knew they could and would have more children. Within a twelve-month, my mother was pregnant again. This time, however, she had more pain, more discomfort, and even the greatest healers in the land could not help her. At eight moons, she struggled many hours to birth me. Her energy was only enough that she held me once and kissed my forehead and right hand before leaving this world forever.

My father bellowed like a wounded and tortured animal. Then he walked into the room and took me from my mother’s grasp. He leaned over to kiss her on the lips and whispered to her. Then he looked in my eyes and promised me every happiness he had felt since the moment he had first seen my mother.

I can only begin, now sitting in this chair in the darkness, to start to understand the gravity of my father’s pain in that moment. To love so deeply, so purely, so completely and have that taken from you so quickly… I don’t know how he bore it all these years, nor how I will if that is the will of The Creator.

I’ve never known if my father and Melanie were brought together by politics or grief. Did they love each other? Do they? Is it the love of my mother which binds them together even now? Their wedding was rushed and private, my father taking on no greater marks although Melanie took on the Maclay ones as well as her fourth finger. I’ve never felt jealousy from her although she’ll never take on that fifth mark. Even if I’d never ascended to my Ladyship, it would go to Donnie’s wife.

The twins were born 18 moons after me—Anne so much like Melanie and Faith so much like father.

And D’ni?

I’ve never asked her because she would know no better than I how she came to be here. I’ve asked Melanie and D’Shel the story over and over. Each time, I’ve varied questions slightly, wanting to understand the shadings of the tale. Although it is not such a tale as mine, I suspect it is highly important. How could it not be?

I was two months old, tended by one of the servants. She was mark-bound to the house, having been formerly bound to my grandmother. While she still retained her five marks and all the rights of them, she was no longer my grandmother’s to command with my grandmother gone. In attempting to decide who was the most appropriate caretaker for me, my father and T’solde had settled on D’rs. We were in the kitchen, where apparently I enjoyed the heat of the ovens and the noise of the many cooks. There was a knock at the back door and D’rs answered it, allowing in a woman, dressed in rags but clean and respectful. The woman dropped to her knees and addressed D’rs appropriately, begging for an audience with the Lord of the estate.

Taking pity on the poor soul, D’rs allowed her into the kitchen and quickly had someone bring her stew and bread. The woman accepted them and ate hungrily. When she thanked D’rs she explained that her baby had not had much to eat in the last few days and leaned back to show her rounded belly. D’rs fed her again and allowed her to tidy up before leading D’Shel into my father’s study.

The woman bowed to my father and awaited his attention which he quickly and compassionately gave. Then she very honestly explained her situation. She claimed to be from The Estate of Roses, to the far North, was with child, as D’rs had seen, and wanted only safety and the best possible placement for her daughter (for she was sure to have a daughter she vowed). She had heard of my father’s unending love for my mother and for his baby (this being me). Tears leaked from her eyes as she explained that she had milk for a baby but no baby to nurse and could nourish me.

Without taking details from her but accepting her honesty and desperation, my father agreed to take the two souls into his household. D’Shel accepted her marks that very night although both she and my father swear he did not take his marks-rights, then or ever.

It was of course understood that if born a girl, the child would be mine. When my D’ni was born she was placed at D’Shel’s other breast and into my crib.

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Last edited by JustSkipIt on Mon Jun 11, 2007 5:04 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:42 pm 
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oh, OH! DIBS!

unfortunately i have to go to school.....but i've got dibs on debra's new fic!

i feel special....and not short bus special either :-D

ETA: oh wow. i have to say, i'm loving this. it has such a fairytale, fantasy quality to it that fascinates me. i can't help but think about Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series....well, not all of them. in particular, i was think about the Lady of the Storms.....or, well, i translated literally from the italian. it's intriguing, and i can't wait for the next update.

i loved the blue panther image - very suggestive, and the whole marks deal. i was wondering, would it be possible to ask someone to make a graphic representation of them? it would be very cool.

one thing disturbed me a little, and it was the constant presence of apostrophes. it's...annoying, a little bit. but i can understand that it's characteristic of this story, i guess, of the whole ambientation and setting, so it's ok.

very good job, i want more!

EATA: wait. about the apostrophes....in the title is Dani, in the story is D'ni. is it just me? is it on purpose?

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Last edited by Thianne on Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:58 pm 
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extrodinary

sionan


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:16 am 
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Oh, wow. What a great start.

I love the fact that it's Tara who's telling the story. That she has this whole awesome background/heritage and the elfish setting (I had to resist the urge to picture them sporting elf ears, lol). The marks, very interesting. The forest, dreamy. I could even hear music in my head when Tara's mom and dad first met *sigh*.

In all, I just can't wait for the next part, and for more info on D'ni...only a week away, yay!


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:53 am 
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Holy hell, this is awesome. I didn't expect differently (it is Debra's story after all), but WOW. I can't wait to see where this goes next.


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:27 pm 
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Debra:
Oh my god! This is so gorgeous! And so utterly different from what we're used to reading from you ( I mean in terms of style of course, and the total AU-ness of it). You know I love all of your writing, and I love to see you trying something totally different like this. It's just so dense, the imagery and creativity of it. Anyhoo, if you do have other fics like this one and somehow I missed them, then my bad - but the sentiment is there, which is, that this is awesome lovely and I cannot wait to read more!

bk


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 5:23 pm 
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Yay!

This is great. I mean, wow. There's like generations of information and detail and intrigue... and all in the first chapter.

I can't wait to read what comes next!

db

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 6:13 pm 
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ok you know anything you write has me hooked right off love it my friend :wave


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 11:18 am 
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Thianne – Hello and congratulations on your dibs. Thanks for picking up on the fairytale quality. I would claim credit for attempting just that but in this case I kind of think it’s just pouring through me from the muse and onto my computer screen. I can’t say I’m familiar with that series as (believe it or not) I actually don’t generally like Sci Fi or Fantasy. I’ve read a few Pern books and a few Vanael (sp) books but beyond that? I mostly just read contemporary fiction or Spiritual non-fiction. Of course and W/T fan fic… But I have read her Catch-Trap and I like that so I’ll take it as a compliment indeed. I’m very glad that it’s intriguing and I am hoping that people are eager for the next update.

Quote:
and the whole marks deal. i was wondering, would it be possible to ask someone to make a graphic representation of them? it would be very cool.
That would be very cool. I guess anyone who wants is welcome to take a shot at it but I’m not sure how they could translate my mental image to something on paper or computer screen. I have an impression in my mind but I don’t know how to create that for the reader. I’ll do my best through words though.

Quote:
one thing disturbed me a little, and it was the constant presence of apostrophes.
I totally get that. I think you will find them to be less prevalent and therefore less bothersome in future updates. That naming convention is most heavily used in formal or respectful settings. This, being the history of Tara’s parents and grandparents used them very much. The next update will have more of the regular naming pattern.

Quote:
EATA: wait. about the apostrophes....in the title is Dani, in the story is D'ni. is it just me? is it on purpose?
After you had commented, I received a note from a moderator and you can see that I’ve added a note to the story. Willow = D’ni = Dani. But good catch since that note wasn’t there yet when you commented.

RageMore7 – Hi and welcome. Thank you so much. I hope you continue reading and commenting.

Kaia – I’m not sure if I commented over there yet but I enjoyed your challenge entry. Well done. Thanks.

Quote:
I love the fact that it's Tara who's telling the story. That she has this whole awesome background/heritage and the elfish setting (I had to resist the urge to picture them sporting elf ears, lol). The marks, very interesting. The forest, dreamy. I could even hear music in my head when Tara's mom and dad first met *sigh*.
Thank you and thank you. I just felt like it was Tara’s story. But I’m glad that the fairytale/dream quality has come through.

There will be a lot more on D’ni next week. Thank you.

highlandlass25 – Well thank you on all counts. I hope you continue to enjoy it.

badkitty – Thank you so much.
Quote:
And so utterly different from what we're used to reading from you ( I mean in terms of style of course, and the total AU-ness of it).
Yes. I totally get what you’re saying and I agree. I’ve told some of my writing buddies that this story has kind of come to my mind and started to write itself and it’s totally different from anything I’ve ever done so right now I’m just letting it flow and not questioning the muse too much. You know?

Quote:
It's just so dense, the imagery and creativity of it.
Mmm. I get that and thank you for the compliment.

I don’t think that I have anything “like this” that you’ve missed. It’s definitely the most AU thing I’ve ever written. Thank you.

db – Generations of information and intrigue. That’s a good way to put it. I’m glad you’ve liked it so far.

Dianneswillowtree – My cheerleader. Thanks so much.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:02 pm 
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DIBS on the replies to feedback! which is kinda stupid, but whatever.... :blush

about the title.....i'd love to help you, but i think i don't know enough about this fic to come up with one yet.....sowwie :blush

and thanks for clarifying the whole Dani thing :-D

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:44 pm 
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Wow... really awesome stuff here, Deb!!

I can't wait for the next update!

I really like how the story is unfolding.

Cheers
DW

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:59 am 
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Wow, what a rich introduction. I love the turns of phrase you have Tara use - '20 summers to my age' jumped out at me for some reason - that subtly suggest a society and traditions different to our own (in addition to the more overt hints, like people going around casting spells and so on - it's the subtle ones that count for more, somehow).

I found myself very much caught up in the story of Tara's mother and father meeting, picturing all the pomp and pageantry, mixed with the magic and fantasy going on. Plus, nice familiar! Certainly beats the crap out of toads and tomcats ;-)

Of course I'm curious about... well, everything. Though Tara stops to explain things, it's as if she expects the listener to be part of her world (as, naturally, she would) so the explanations are in passing, and leave a lot to the imagination of how this world works. I liked the 'rules of magic' though, that had a very magical yet plausible sound to it.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:37 pm 
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Debra!!

I am SO excited you decided to post a new story! I just logged back on to the Kitten after a month and a half hiatus and this was the best little suprise.

Well this certainly is a very interesting start! Its unlike anything I've ever read on this board. I think I read this first part three times just to see if I might have missed something. I am a little confused (ok more then a little maybe :P) about the whole situation and Tara and D'ni/Dani/Willow... that is Taras...child? Anyways I assumed that this is what you were going for! I bet we will understand more of what is going on as the updates come.

I love the whole whimsical like writing style of this story. I got wrapped up in the story very quickly and the visuals came easily. I loved that you're taking an entirely different approach with Taras father. The depressed undertone in the beginning had me wondering too.

Well thats about all I have for now :) I'm very intrigued.. can't wait for more!

Take Care, Jackie

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 5:38 pm 
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A few more comments.

Thianne – Hello again and I guess congratulations on the dibs? I totally agree about the title not being clear at this point. Anytime you have a suggestion, let me know.

Thanks.

DarkWiccan – Hello and thanks so much for posting. I’m glad you’re liking the way it’s going. It’s a departure for me but I’m enjoying writing it very much. Thanks.

Artemis – Do you ever just want to bump and bump the “easy count” threads so you can stop being a “big knowledge woman”? Just wondering. I have to say that I looked over at Looking Glass a few days ago to see if you’d posted this yet (and see what the graphic you made looks like—can I link to it???) and I kind of felt shocked when I read that it was “Uber Setting: Fantasy.” I was like, “yeah! That’s right!” I never really thought I’d write anything that fit that category but here it is.

Rich? I’ll take it. And the phrases seem to be coming naturally although I have to admit that I keep having to backspace over month and change it to moon. Tee hee. But yes, the traditions are very different from ours in some fundamental ways that will take updates to explain.

Quote:
I found myself very much caught up in the story of Tara's mother and father meeting, picturing all the pomp and pageantry, mixed with the magic and fantasy going on.
It kind of wrote itself so I’m glad that when I emerged from the fog, it still worked. You know?

Quote:
Plus, nice familiar!
I love love love big cats. My discover card has a tiger on it, every year I get tiger calendars, my g-mail pic is a tiger. I don’t really collect anything because I don’t like “stuff” but if I did, it would be tigers. Love them.

Quote:
Though Tara stops to explain things, it's as if she expects the listener to be part of her world (as, naturally, she would) so the explanations are in passing, and leave a lot to the imagination of how this world works
That’s relatively intentional. On one hand I don’t want the reader left out in the cold completely but on the other, I don’t want to give away everything at once. I mean if I wrote 7 pages of explanations of marks and magic in the middle of this, no one would keep writing so I’m working to really blend in all that “how is this world different” information as I go.

Thanks for everything.

WillowRTaraM1 – Hello. Well, I wasn’t planning to write anything but about a week and a half ago this just came to me. 30,000 words later or so I’ve got quite a few updates in the bag and am still writing strong so I started posting. Welcome back.

Quote:
I think I read this first part three times just to see if I might have missed something.
Wow. How cool. I can probably ensure that you will notice more and more on each reading, particularly as more chapters are posted.

Quote:
I am a little confused (ok more then a little maybe :P) about the whole situation and Tara and D'ni/Dani/Willow... that is Taras...child?
Sorry for the confusion. D’ni, Dani, Willow is not Tara’s child. I think it will be very clear in the next update their relationship.

Quote:
The depressed undertone in the beginning had me wondering too.
The first mention of the first few paragraphs. That undertone is quite intentional and will definitely make more appearances.

Thanks so much.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 5:51 pm 
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Ah, it's been a week.
I know you didn't mention a specific date, but it's been a week...and 20 minutes.
Yes, I'm impatient. And a little anxious.
Sorry.
Good stories do that to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:15 pm 
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Kaia – Thanks for the time check. I actually was a day off. I thought that I posted on Wednesday but since you corrected me, here it is.

Image


Story Title – Waiting for Dani

Chapter – 2 – Lessons

Author – JustSkipIt

Pairing – T/W

Feedback – Yes, please

Spoilers – None

Rating – PG

Disclaimer – Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own Willow and Tara and the Buffyverse. I’m not saying this universe is totally original but I didn’t steal it from any author or creator that I know of. No copyright infringement is meant by this fic and I will not make any money from it.

Distribution – Kitten Board, Through the Looking Glass, Mystic Muse. Everyone else, send me a note.

Note – I don’t like the title very much but I think that I like it better than my alternative title: “My girl’. If you have a suggestion, PM me and maybe I’ll use yours and give you credit.


I can never remember a time when Dani wasn’t with me. She and I and Donnie and later the three of us and Faith and Anne. We two rolled and played in my rooms before we could crawl, crawled when we could, and walked within days of each other: me late for my months and she early. When they were born Anne and Faith were placed in my rooms, on my rugs and the four of us happily slept, ate, and grew together. Even later with Donnie in his rooms, Dani and I in mine, and Anne and Faith in theirs, it seemed the five of us were constantly together.

As a child, I could detect no difference in my father’s treatment or love for any of us. I don’t even think I understood for many years our various relationships. And while Melanie was only mother to the twins, she cared for, loved, and instructed all of us. I certainly didn’t notice that my clothes were finer, more ornate than the other chlidrens’ nor that Dani’s were the least ornate. We five toddled through the manor terrorizing servants, breaking crystals left within our reach, and pulling on the dogs’ and cats’ tails with wild abandon. It never occurred to us that someone had to clean up in our wake and I’m not entirely sure that Anne understands this truth now.

The kitchens were a haven for us. We ran in and through them playing hiding games from each other or in escaping Melanie, D’Shel, D’rs, or a host of other guardians and would-be guardians. The cooks were always a soft touch for a drink of sweet goat milk, a hot bun, or a nibble of sausage and they found Dani so charming that we would set her up to go in the kitchen as we hid beneath the table before she understood the words we trained her to say. Her bright red-hair, such contrast to our blondes and brown, brought her renown and adoration in the house. Occasionally I heard mutterings of a Northern land and mystery.

Donnie was oldest and a boy and my father would take him for long rides in the forest teaching him hunting and tracking. And none of our lessons had begun formally yet. Yet, it seemed that every action was a sort of lesson. As we walked we began to understand who was who in the house and how to detect a person’s rank by observing others behavior toward him. We saw D’rs, Melanie, and my father deal with service people, vendors, and other land-holders. Even Melanie’s girl, D’elam, showed us how to interact with the other mark-bound servants. She after all had four marks, second only to father’s man and D’rs.

Donnie’s lessons began and a tutor came from town every day on his horse and met with the young boy in Donnie’s rooms. The rest of us saw less of him from then on but after his lessons he always came to play with us.

Before my own lessons started, my father came to my rooms one day. Dani and I were playing a dress-up game and when my father came in he stopped in the doorway and watched us. Dani spotted him first and ran to him. He picked her up and swung her in the air before hiding her behind his back. “Tara, where did Dani go?”

“She’s behind your back,” I shouted as I jumped up and down on my feet, waiting for my turn to be swung into his arms.

He smiled and turned a complete circle, exposing a giggling redheaded child to my view but not finding her himself. “I didn’t see her,” he insisted.

“Daddy,” I yelled pulling on his shirt, “you’re holding her behind your back. You will have to set her down to see her again.”

“Dani!” he yelled. “Where are you?”

Everyone said that I had a wonderful pout and I decided to put it to great use. “Daddy. Please give her back to me. She’s mine and I can’t live without her.” I stuck out my lip and sat down on the floor pretending to cry. At six I couldn’t have imagined the truth of either of those statements.

My father swung Dani back over his head and set her in front of me. “Well, then Miss Tara Maclay, daughter of T’rese Maclay, I can no more deny you that which you love than I could myself. Here is your Dani.”

What had begun as a game with my father had turned into an emotional event for me. I reached up to grasp Dani and pull her to me, running my small hands through her hair and whispering to her that she could never leave me. She turned toward me and embraced me back vowing that she would never even think of it.

Comforted I jumped to my feet and took my father’s hands in my own. He repeated his actions, swinging me in the air and hiding me behind his back. Dani pleaded for my return and he finally did so but without quite the ceremony.

Then he leaned on the doorframe and smiled his smile. “I have a present for you my daughter, in honor of your lessons beginning next week.”

I jumped up and down clapping my hands before extending them and closing my eyes. “I want it. I want it,” I chanted.

“Come then.” He picked me up in one arm and Dani in the other and carried us through the castle.

“Lord Maclay,” Melanie interrupted our journey, “I can not find your youngest child anywhere.”

My father laughed. “She’s probably in a tree again. If I see her, I’ll shoot her down and send the pieces home.”

Melanie returned my father’s infectious laughter. “Please catch her as she falls then. She is supposed to be napping with Anne.”

My father didn’t break stride in carrying us out through the kitchen, snagging three sweet buns on our way and passing one to each of us. The servants bowing down to him returned to their duties as soon as we were out of the room.

My father was a wonderful tease and he decided to start as we walked. “I said to myself, ‘self. What should I get my oldest daughter? Would she like a ship?’”

I interrupted excitedly. “There is no water here. I would have no place to sail.” Besides Donnie, myself, and the twins, I don’t think anyone else would have been impertinent or stupid enough to interrupt my father, even if he was just teasing. But I had no idea of this. Many years later, I remember that Dani never once interrupted him and wonder how she knew so early this boundary.

My father just continued. “Then I said to myself, ‘what about a dragon? They are quite plentiful this time of year and I could get a very good deal on one in the next village.’” Dani and I laughed at the mental image of my father bringing a dragon home on a leash like a new hunting dog. “Or a flying machine so she could traverse the lands in moments?”

All laughing, we arrived at the corral. I could feel Dani’s trembling as she reached her hand behind my father’s back and took mine. In the corral stood two ponies, each saddled with leather bearing the Maclay family crest. My father set us on the top rail and climbed over into the corral, bringing the horses close to allow us to pet their noses. “What are their names?” I wanted to know.

He looked genuinely curious about this question. “I didn’t ask them. Blasted.” He leaned over and mock-whispered in the horses’ ears, allowing us to hear this very question. Then he put his ear near their mouths and laughed. “They said they have no names yet and you should give them names.”

I leaned over and whispered into Dani’s ear for a conference on the names of the horses. She was either too scared of them or otherwise too reticent and insisted that I name both horses. I looked a long time at my companion and considered many names—Beauty, Baby Girl, Love—but couldn’t think of saying those to my horse. Finally I announced my choice. “This one is Dream and this one is Hope.”

The ponies whinnied and my father declared that to be their approval. “Are you ready?”

I nodded and Dani did too but I could tell she was very afraid. “Maybe we could ride together this time?”

He glanced at Dani and nodded his approval of the idea. Then he placed us on the horse, me behind and Dani in front of the pommel and wrapped my hands around her small waist. He handed me the reins and put a hand on the pony’s bridle. “Hold on,” he instructed as he began to lead us about the corral, leaving the second horse standing at the fence.

Dani trembled in my arms and I attempted to comfort her. I remembered once we had snuck off during a celebration for Donnie and she was convinced that one of the ponies had tried to bite her arm off. I argued with her that he just wanted some of the cake crumbs on her shoulder but she would have none of that explanation—still won’t. I leaned forward in the saddle to press my body against hers and placed my mouth near her ear to begin whispering to her. I don’t know what came over me but I began to chant a melody that I’d never heard. I could imagine colors coming from my mouth and filling her body with relaxation and it seemed to be working. I noticed my father looking at me curiously and then nodding but he said nothing. I didn’t have any understanding of the meaning of my song. All I knew was that this, her, us, was what should be. That we should always be together, the two of us and that nothing could separate us and that I wanted most in the world for her to be happy with me. I wanted her to be mine forever.

As I was melting into a fantasy of my Dani, we suddenly all jerked our heads up as we heard a shout from the side of the corral. Faith leapt down from her perch on a low tree branch and ran for the fence, quickly scaling it and jumping onto the other pony’s back. She grabbed the reins and gave a kick and the pony trotted around the circuit as Faith whooped and hollered. My father stood and watched dumbfounded as his youngest child went around the corral like she had been born on that horse.

I felt Dani’s body tense and I suddenly picked up an impression from her mind. I don’t know any better way to describe it. I could feel her fear. She was afraid to be on the horse but more than that, she was afraid that Faith and I would now ride without her, leaving her behind. I leaned forward and attempted to reassure her. “She’s just my baby sister. You are my girl.”

My father’s attention was on our dark-haired hellion and Dani leaned slightly to the side and placed a soft kiss on my cheek. I still remember coherent thoughts at the time leaving me completely to be replaced by wishes that she would do nothing but that for the rest of time.

Laughing my father shouted across the corral. “You are supposed to be napping with Anne.”

Faith rode alongside the fence and mounted the top rail without stopping the pony before shouting back. “Anne needs her beauty sleep. I don’t.” She was up the nearest tree and out of sight before any of us could answer.

“I don’t know whether to be proud as hell at her or appalled at the way she runs free.” My father shook his head and slapped his knee before telling us that it was getting late and we needed to wash up for dinner.

I don’t want to give the impression that Dani never learned to ride. She wasn’t like Faith but no one has ever been like Faith. Within months of starting, and father had to get Faith her pony or Dani would never have had one to ride, she could outride all us children and most of the adults. By the time I had twelve summers, only father’s best hunters, the very men who had been with him when he met my mother, could equal her at riding or tracking.

Dani was a perfectly adequate rider once she got over her initial reluctance. We rode virtually every day following lessons and agreed that it was a good chance for me to rest my brain. Sometimes I led and sometimes she did and sometimes we just allowed the horses to wander. Most frequently we rode for a while, then stopped as Dani climbed from her horse to mine leaving Hope to graze as we rode together into the waning sun. I don’t think she was scared any longer but we both craved the closeness of our rides and wouldn’t be without them.

My lessons began the week after father gave me the horses. A tutor came from town every day on a horse, usually greeted first by Faith in bare feet, and met me in my rooms. Sometimes Dani was with me during the lessons, resting on her pad or straightening the room and sometimes she was not. I didn’t know where she was and didn’t think to ask. It was, I guess, an example of my self-absorption that I didn’t acknowledge that she had any existence apart from me. While I sat in attention at my desks as the tutor repeated and repeated the lessons, Dani was in the room or elsewhere and I didn’t give any conscious thought to her whereabouts.

One day, my tutor and I left for a walk around the grounds to take in the beautiful spring weather. We were working on Latin verbs and I felt that their staleness was particularly good for a long walk. I came back to my rooms quite tired from so much intense thought. Once I’d bid the tutor from my outer room, I wandered into my bed chamber. There, to my surprise, stood a large four-poster bed. Until this time, Dani and I had slept on a small mattress on the floor. Children flop about quite violently and it was tradition in our household to use mattresses such as this to avoid injuries in the night. Rather than replacing the bed, I found my mattress folded in half and still at the foot of the bed. After dinner, I returned to my rooms and prepared for sleeping. Dani set my hair, helped me into my nightgown, and kissed my cheek before lying down on the mat.

“Dani,” I said, “what are you doing?”

“Going to bed, Miss,” she answered. “As should you.” She waved her small hand at my new bed which looked the size of the ocean and just as lonely to me.

“But I can’t sleep up here alone,” I protested.

Dani stood up and led me by my hands to the bed. She helped me under the covers and then promised that she would stay with me until I was asleep. She was a terrible singer but what she made up for in tone, she had in determination. She began singing and I was soon asleep. I woke in the morning to find myself alone in the bed. I cast my hand about to find the bed cold except for the spot where I slept. Dani was not in the room but when I climbed down, I felt the floor pad and found it warm from her tiny body.

I sat on the bed trying to understand what I was missing. It was as if many people were in collaboration on a set of rules that I had yet to comprehend.

Not much later, perhaps a few weeks, I was studying in my room and Dani was brushing my clothes. I was reciting (Latin verbs again). “Amo, amas, amat, amatis, amamus, amant. Amo, amas, amat, amatis, amamus, amant.” I closed my eyes and continued repeating the declination. When I opened them I glanced down to see Dani kneeling at my side. She was facing the same direction as me with her eyes cast toward the floor. I laughed at first thinking that she was having a joke on me.

“Ok, Dani, what are you doing?” She didn’t answer and I repeated her name. Still no answer. Finally, I tapped her on the shoulder repeating her name.

Dani sat up and addressed me. “Miss Tara? I believe you have the verbs out of order. It should be Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.” I still felt befuddled about this new and very strange kneeling behavior not to mention that she had now called me “Miss” twice. I shook my head and opened my Latin grammar. She was right, of course. I thanked her and then asked her to sit with me.

We moved to the bed where she sat on the edge and did not make good eye contact. “Please look at me, Dani.” She did exactly as I asked. “What is going on? Why were you kneeling?”

She squinched her eyebrow down in a way that made her look even younger than her seven years. “I have lessons too, Miss Tara.”

I still didn’t quite understand her. “You have lessons with who? Is that why you’re not here for my lessons? I thought you wanted to learn with me. Where have you been?”

“I see D’elam every day,” Dani explained as if she thought I should know this already.

“D’elam? Why D’elam?” My face must have been a picture of puzzlement.

“Perhaps you should speak to Miss Melanie?” Dani looked away and I saw a moment of pure pain and embarrassment in her eyes.

It was a look I never wanted to see again and I couldn’t help but lean over and press my lips to her cheek. “You’re my Dani,” I whispered as I let my fingertips fall through her beautiful hair.

“I know,” she said and there was something in her tone that I couldn’t identify.

After dinner, I went to Melanie’s rooms. D’elam met me and allowed me inside. Melanie welcomed me and gave me a kiss on each cheek before inviting me to sit at her table. D’elam brought us each a cup of tea and I thought about the fact that no one ever seemed to ask how I liked my tea, nor Melanie for that matter, yet it always seemed completely perfect. I didn’t know how to start so I just blurted out what came to my mind. “Dani has been very weird lately.”

Melanie took a long sip of tea and seemed to study me intently. “Weird how?”

“Well when I got the bed, she was strange, calling me ‘Miss’ and not getting into bed with me and today she kneeled, actually kneeled down to tell me something.” I didn’t say that Dani knew the verb declination correctly while I did not.

Melanie nodded her head. “That’s good. Her lessons are progressing nicely then. I shall have to let D’elam know.” She took a breath and muttered that D’elam would correct her about the kneeling though.

“What lessons? What is progressing?” I shook my head trying to understand if everyone in the house had suddenly gone mad or something.

“How old are you, Miss Tara?”

“What?” I shuddered at the strangeness of the question. “I …” I drew myself up to my full seated height. “I have nearly eight summers.”

Melanie nodded again and set down her tea cup. She leaned across and took my hands. “Miss Tara, each of us has a role in life. Your role is to be Lady of this estate or of another estate if you choose to marry so. Your destiny was created many years ago.”

I had heard my parents’ legend many times. “I’ve heard the legend.”

“It could be very soon, as soon as four or five summers that you will be ready to take your marks, Miss Tara.”

I nodded.

“When you are ready to take them, Dani will need to be ready too.” Melanie’s words didn’t make any sense to me.

“Dani’s marks?” I shook my head. “What marks are you talking about? I thought only we,” I waved my hand between Melanie and myself, “took marks.”

Melanie pursed her lips. Just at that instant Anne came bounding through the door followed by Faith. “She took my doll!” the blonde wailed.

D’elam quickly corralled both girls and admonished them before sending them with one of the other servants to have their baths. Then she returned to our room and waited patiently.

“D’elam, do you mind?” Melanie asked.

“Not at all, Miss.” D’elam approached the table and stood with her right side closer to the edge. Melanie reached out and gently pulled up on her cover and down on the waistband of her trousers. I tilted my eye to look at her hip. As I did, Melanie put her right hand on the table. The marks matched perfectly. Every aspect of Melanie’s palm’s decoration was mirrored on D’elam’s hip. You could even see the four fingerprints, looking almost as if someone had grasped her too tightly and left a bruise.

I tilted my head as I looked between the two marks. I could feel a slight tingling. Like the static after a rainstorm or when you shuffle your feet on the rugs and then touch metal.

“Thank you, D’elam,” Melanie said. D’elam adjusted her clothing, bowed slightly and retreated from the room.

“I don’t understand,” I told my aunt.

“D’elam is my mark-bonded servant.” I stared at her. “She has been bonded to me since I took my marks.”

“We have many servants in the house,” I said. I still didn’t understand what this had to do with Dani or her strange behavior.

“Yes, we have many servants but not all are mark-bonded to one of us.” I took another sip of my tea trying to understand this explanation. Melanie took a deep breath. “Your mother could have done a better job with this explanation. We need… someone who is loyal to us. To each of us personally. Someone to serve and accompany us always. A servant of the family is just that. But you, a member of the nobility need someone to serve you personally. This is what it means to be mark-bonded.”

“Dani?”

“Once your servant is mark-bonded to you, it would be literally impossible for her to leave you. To cross you. To fail you. Actually impossible.” She leaned down her head, trying to see my eyes beneath the veil of my hair. “Dani is yours, Miss Tara.”

I could feel hot tears rising to my eyes even though I wasn’t sure why. “But sh-sh-she’s my friend. I love her.”

Melanie brushed my hair away from my eyes and behind my ears. “As you should. And you will take care of her, Miss Tara. Bonded to you she will have five marks. It is the greatest honor, the greatest protection we can offer those we hold.” She took a breath. “You will always take care of her as you would your most valuable possession and in return, she will serve you with her every breath and movement.”

I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to do it here. The strange thought crossed my mind that Dani would hold me if I asked her. That she would have to. I thought of asking Melanie if this meant that Dani didn’t love me as I loved her but I knew that wasn’t the right question. Melanie leaned over and took my hands. “Miss Tara, you have your lessons and Dani has hers. You are very complimentary and will make a good pair.”

She stood and the interview was very obviously over.

I bowed quickly and left her rooms, making my way back to my own, I have no idea how. By the time I was inside my bed chamber, hot tears were streaming down my face. I stumbled forward, seeing Dani sitting up on her mattress and opening her arms toward me. I fell into them, wiping my face on her nightgown and muttering to her. “It’s not true. It can’t be true.” I kept repeating it over and over.

“It’s ok, Miss Tara.” Dani leaned against the bed, stroking my hair and face and back and whispering to me until I relaxed and fell asleep.

I woke in my own bed, alone and immediately felt both hurt and angry. I quelled those feelings and sat up. The instant I sat up, Dani came in. She bowed and walked over to the bed. “How are you feeling, Miss Tara?” she asked. “Would you like to wash before breakfast?”

I grabbed her hands and pulled her onto the bed with me. “Dani.” She didn’t look me in the eye so I said her name again, more forcefully. “Dani. Please look at me.” She looked up and I noticed the red rims around her eyelids. I leaned forward and kissed each tender eyelid. “My girl, you’ve been crying.” I hugged her tight. “It’s ok, Dani. It just means we can’t be parted.”

She swallowed and nodded. “I know, Miss Tara. We’ll never be parted.” I hugged her again and after a few minutes she again prodded me to get up and moving for the day.

I was so naïve. I had no understanding. None at all. And… and I loved her so fiercely. I remember actually feeling that I would stop breathing without her. That if she were not in the world, I could not be either. And that depth of feeling was before we were mark-bonded. That was how I felt at eight summers. I look back on it now and am ashamed of myself. I had no understanding of her feelings. No hint of empathy for her.

I wonder if she has any empathy for me now.

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Last edited by JustSkipIt on Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:58 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs
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wooa.
That fic just get better each chap. And the past narration adds something to it. I mean, like telling a story and such but naming present events (yet for know) is just perfect.
So Tara finds out Dani is going to be her bound servant...awww so touching aftermath.

Congrats for the update and please write us soon the next one


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:56 am 
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aaaahhhh, second dibs! you update and say nothing?!?

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:28 am 
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*is completely non-verbal and utterly floored by the awesomeness of this story*

Gnuh...

*is non-verbal some more*

This is freaking brillant! Oh how will I ever wait between updates?

Absolutely wonderful story Debra. I can't wait for more!


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:25 am 
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Okaaaay.... this will be initial feedback only, having just read both chapters it will take some time to process all the information :) The first chapter was a bit hard in that regard, specially because Tara talks about those 'marks' like we should already know about them :)

I expect to re-read chapter-1 at some later stage.

The setting is interesting, haven't seen too many magic practitioners riding Elephants before :lol. I tend to be against master/slave type of relations like they had over here in Europe around the middle-ages. I know not ALL masters were bad, it just doesn't sit well with me. I do understand the reasoning of Tara's dad for setting up Dani (Danielle?) as marked-servant to Tara. It is the best position he can get Dani in the current system and probably given because he means her well. Would be nice if he had asked Dani about it, but that too is not done in the current system I guess. (Tara is incredibly slow at picking up on 'I have lessons too' ain't she??;-)

Nice change to see Tara in a normal/good familly, being cared for properly. Still takes some getting used to reading about her nice father and brother though :)

The description of the kids misbehaving in the castle and pestering servants sounds suspiciously Real-Life based, experience perhaps ? :fallen

grimmy

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:56 am 
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WOW

Ok... this is just....

I really don't know how to describe just how astounded I am with how enjoyable this has been to read. The quality of your writing is :bow

This is wonderful!! I'm hooked!!

I feel sorry for Wil... um Dani because it must be diffidult to grow up with such great friends only to find out your position is below them. It's got to change how you see them and yourself for that matter. I'm sure their interactions will change as they grow up. But you promise :wtkiss in the future right???

Loving it!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:14 pm 
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Wow what a great update. I just love how its devoloping. I keep wondering why you changed Willows name to Dani. ..or is that yet to be revealed? Loving it.. can't wait til next week for the update!

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:27 pm 
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As always, I enjoy your writing.

Quote:
I was so naïve. I had no understanding. None at all. And… and I loved her so fiercely. I remember actually feeling that I would stop breathing without her. That if she were not in the world, I could not be either. And that depth of feeling was before we were mark-bonded. That was how I felt at eight summers. I look back on it now and am ashamed of myself. I had no understanding of her feelings. No hint of empathy for her.


It is a nice twist making Tara the one who is lagging behind in being empathetic. In many ways that captures both the openness of youth on accepting others without the rules of their culture, and the self absorbed aspect that can appear in lovers or the very young.


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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:55 pm 
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9. Gay Now
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*this*

This story is epic and amazing.

Really.

db

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:29 pm 
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:shock oh my god.. how am i going to be able to handle the time between updates... that aint cool... uh.. wow, this is really.. such a well thought out story.. im literally gaping and in need of more.. oh wilst tho leave me so unsatisfied *le sigh* yes yes thou wilst.. but not for long right? :D yeeeah i didnt think so.. AAAAAND GO! :kgeek

-b XxX

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:41 pm 
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Oh wow, this chapter is so well done! You have captured several things quite well: the loss of innocence, the cruelty of the caste system even when the indentured person is not being mistreated, the naivite of a child of wealth and privilege and the heartbreak of a child who understands too well that her fate as a servant has been sealed.

Although the tale is from Tara's perspective, I thought you did a great job of highlighting Willow's sad circumstances and pain. I am particularly impressed with your economy of words and dialogue to get this much exposition across without failing to capture all the emotion the situation warrants.

Beautiful work and mastery of language. I'm really impressed with this class/caste world you have created and your thorough understanding of it.

Thanks for sharing,

Safuega

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:20 pm 
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This story is amazing but the foreshadowing is killing me!
I do have one question, what happened to D’ni’s mother, she was mentioned in the first chapter but not in the second?
Any-hoo thanks for updating, I was getting antsy…':sigh'

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:18 am 
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I saw that you'd started a story while I was on vacation, but I wanted to set aside time to read it slowly. And what bonus! Two chapters.

I love love love the tone and language of this story, Debra. It's rich and has a restrained elegance to it; almost begging to be read out loud.
Quote:
He vowed that when they found water he would know his life entire.

Beautiful, and so lyrical. In fact I'm imagining the narrator (yes I know it's Tara, but indulge me) as a traveling ragabond storyteller arriving on a mule and cart, telling her story to an apt audience around a dying log fire, then moving onto the next village that will offer her shelter. Of course the storyteller (or should I say bard) is not poor as such, it's just a lifestyle choice. Heehee, I think I'm letting my imagination distract me from reading and feedbacking.

Part 1 -- I don't think I've ever read a first chapter that captured me so much, in terms of imagery and the sheer non-expositionary nature of the exposition. Definitely hooked me in straightaway. The ancient / traditional concepts you introduce are unfamiliar to our modern way of life, yet so easy to grasp.

Quote:
While the marks on my father’s hand were extensive and elaborate, indicating his great wealth and lineage, they paled to those he saw before him. He quickly assessed, seeing that she was third in a direct line of magic users, unmarried, first daughter of a Lord and Lady.

and

By studying the elaboration, design, and extent of the marks, you can learn a person’s nobility, rank, lineage, and power.

so much ceremony and etiquette that actually makes a lot of sense, even if transplanted to our world. Imagine each of us having the marks on our hands, it'll save a lot of beating around the bush when we meet new people. Like "single; gay; respectable job; home-owner; likes traveling, cooking and W/T fanfic" -- :hmm may be that sounds too much like a personals ad. I'm being very digressionary today.

The story of her parents' courtship was at once the stuff of sonnets, but unexpectedly with a marriage between two such powerful houses, theirs wasn't a political marriage but one of real love. How rare is that.

Quote:
I can only begin, now sitting in this chair in the darkness, to start to understand the gravity of my father’s pain in that moment. To love so deeply, so purely, so completely and have that taken from you so quickly

And with such simple language, you've given us the meaning of true love. And we still haven't gotten to the Tara/Dani story yet.


Part 2 -- very interesting history of her childhood. Again, for such a powerful ruling household it was amazingly normal, for want of a better word. The siblings get on so well, and Tara's father was never aloof. I'm guessing this family relationship may become important later on in the story, perhaps when/if there is conflict.

Quote:
I leaned forward in the saddle to press my body against hers and placed my mouth near her ear to begin whispering to her. I don’t know what came over me but I began to chant a melody that I’d never heard. I could imagine colors coming from my mouth and filling her body with relaxation and it seemed to be working.

There are magical forces at work that seem to be binding the two, and I'm not surprised at what Melanie reveals to Tara later. Up to now I don't have a sense that class existed in that household (though it was very clear that it existed in the realm) and I can understand Tara's confusion that Dani is bonded to her, and is her servant -- no, worse, her possession. It's one thing that someone feels strongly towards you or is unfailingly loyal because it's how they feel; it's another when their free will seems to have been taken away from them.

Quote:
Dani leaned slightly to the side and placed a soft kiss on my cheek. I still remember coherent thoughts at the time leaving me completely to be replaced by wishes that she would do nothing but that for the rest of time.

That's more than a Bond. It's the beginnings of Love. And at the end, when Tara lamented at how naïve she was and how fiercely she loved Dani. Is it because they crossed the line somehow? Or wanted so badly to cross that line that they were forced to act the opposite way? Like "I love you so much that I have to leave you"? Wow, this is going to be so intriguing. Are you going to stick with Tara's pov throughout?


p.s. I like the title. I don't know where you're taking us (though I'm a willing and eager passenger, plus I have my own theories) but I guess that part of the story is Tara's reflection of her life while waiting for Dani, her Dani ... to come back to her life? I do wonder about what's happened between the two of them, but I'm patient.
[br]

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 1:04 pm 
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JustSkipIt
This new story of yours draws us into an intriguing new world, where you slowly reveal to us the customs, history, and personalities. I loved the image of the two families progression and meeting for her parents bethrothal: such pomp and ceremony (and showing off!). You tell of a happy and carefree childhood in what seems a bountiful world, and it would be easy to overlook the dark undertones and hardship evident in the state of Dani's mother, and the number of 'bonded' members of the household.

Despite the apparently happy (mostly) memories, the tone of Tara's narrative is full of sorrow. The realisation by the two of them of their respective places in the world - both of them are bound really - is hard for ones so young. I'm curious to see how they handle it as they grow up.

I like the way you've included all the cast in the family and household - although I don't recall Xander.... I'll have to have another read (such hardship... not) - and deftly established most of their personalities. To make Buffy and Faith twins is just inspired - straight away establishing the bond and the competitiveness. LOL at the scene with Faith in the tree and then on the horse.

Your beginning reminds me of the scene in canon where Tara waits in the dark, following Oz's return in NMR. Makes me ponder possible parallels.

I'm loving this story. It makes my heart ache. Can't wait to see where you take us.
Thanks
Anne

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 Post subject: Re: Waiting for Dani
PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 8:28 am 
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Debra, this is FAN-tastic! I love the whole ritualistic society, the magic - it's a rollicking good fantasy story. I like it how you're telling the story of Tara's childhood through her grown-up perspective without giving away what has happened, other than the foreshadowing that something bad or catastrophic or something has happened. Masterful use of the technique.

Willow seems to certainly not be quite so clueless about real life as Tara, who appears to be pretty darn unaware of the stratified society in terms of what it means for her as other people relate to her. I guess when you're brought up as the center of a particular universe, if that makes sense, then you're probably not as likely to notice things like that, whereas Willow had to notice the things.

I wonder what has happened - it seems like there was some kind of catastrophe in their society, I'm guessing. I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next, or what had happened next back then, I guess.

Speaking of their closeness and love, it seems like they were raised as sisters, sort of, and then around age 8 is when the "servant split" came into play. That's good since it was before puberty, because it gives them a little distance between each other before sexual feelings come into play.

This is awesome, Debra, I can't wait for more!!!

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