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 Post subject: Developing: Queen of Hearts
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:44 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:31 am
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Greetings and Salutations!

Okay, you've all heard this story before. I've been a lurker. I'm working on my own fic. Now I want someone to beta it for me. Standard drill.

So, here's the scoop: I'm writing a story I'm calling "Queen of Hearts" after the song of the same name (written by Hank DeVito and popularized by Juice Newton). It was a clilp of Amber Benson singing this in 7 Things to Do Before I'm 30 that inspired me to write this. Okay, that and the utter awesomeness of Willow and Tara. This is a cannon season 4 story, basically tracking the plot of the show starting with "A New Man" to the end of season 4, but focusing on Willow and Tara's experiences during this time.

And yes, this has been done before! "Between the Lines" by RaspberryHats is an excellent example. I'm sure it'll be done again. But gosh darn it, it's fun to write.

Things you should know:
    -I have not written any sort of fiction outside of the classroom before. I am, however, 28 and in grad school, so I do think that I can write decently.
    -I was blessed (cursed?) with excellent English teachers. Hopefully that means that the drafts I post are in good condition. However, they've made me really picky. I want the final product to be in decent English. However, I do feel that I know grammar rules well enough to break them for emphasis. I'm looking for beta readers who can help me find grammatical errors that need to be changed without needing to say "yes I know that's a sentence fragment, there's clearly no verb in it, but I'm making a point" all the time. Do you know what an appositive is? I'm looking for you.
    -If you really hate any of the characters, including Xander and Oz, this may not be the fic for you. The NMR-based content won't be up for a while, but what I have outlined portrays Oz as sympathetic character. (Okay, technically Faith gets no love here. Not because I dislike Faith, but because she isn't really redeemed for me until season seven.)
    -I'm neither Wiccan nor pagan. Given the "Wicca" associated with Willow and Tara is clearly distinct from the modern religion, I feel totally free to make whatever magic junk I want up without fear of disrespecting my pagan friends, because Willow and Tara's Wicca is make believe even in the show. M'kay?


Things I'm looking for:
    -Corrections in grammar and spelling.
    -Any BBCode or other formatting errors.
    -A good "does this make any sense" filter.
    -Are the characters, scenes, and dialog believable from a cannon perspective? (Note: For the purposes of this story, Tara is not particularly shy when she's alone with Willow unless she's really nervous. To me, this makes sense within cannon.)
    -Is the sexiness sexy? Is it plausible? (I'm engaged to a guy, help a bi chica out please?)
    -Where should the breaks go? Other stories have really variable length posts, so I don't know how long an individual post should be.
    -Is my rating assessment for the chapter accurate?
    -Is the post angsty? I'm bad at judging what people think is angst.
    -Further advice to make my writing more awesome.


Queen of Hearts Part 1 (Draft)
    Author: BeMyDeputy
    Rating: R (violence) for this section. Up to NC-17 for later installments.
    Feedback: That is why I'm posting in the beta thread, yes.
    Notes: This part takes place during "A New Man."
    Spoilers: This is season 4. If you haven't seen season 4, what are you doing here? Also: it's 2010, people.
    Content disclaimer: Violence: yes. Sex: No. Angst: Um, I don't think so? Maybe?
    I don't own this disclaimer: The entire Buffyverse is property of it's owners, including but not limited to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Much of Willow's nightmare is taken straight from "Wild At Heart," including some dialogue that was cut in the final episode, but found in the shooting script. I did not write "Wild at Heart." Marti Noxon did.




Willow woke up screaming.

Again.

Every night, every single god-and-goddess forsaken night was the same. Ever since it happened.

She was in the chemistry lab, just before sundown. She felt as though her heart was pumping out hate through her arteries, and was being flooded with despair returning through her veins. She faced her opponent,
the Other Woman.

“Sometimes you have to kill.”

Willow saw the predatory look in Veruca’s eyes, knowing that she was speaking not in metaphor, but with a gruesome, animal bluntness the belied her true nature. Confirming Willow’s fears, the blond looked meaningfully at the window.

“Well what do you know? Sun’s almost down.” The wolf-woman advanced on Willow, toying with her prey. “Can't say I'm surprised you didn't go through with your little hex. You don't have the teeth.”

Despite the urgent need to escape, the home wrecking bitch’s assumption that she knew a thing about her spurred Willow to engage. “You don’t know what I have. You don’t know anything about me.”

“I know what you love,” Veruca crooned. “I have his scent on me right now,”

As heartbreakingly accurate as the taunt was, Willow knew she was rapidly running out of time before the change. She’d stood guard over Oz too many months not to know the quality of the light right before sunset. Artists thought it was magical; Willow thought it was terrifying. It was time to make a break for it, she decided, and she started toward the door.

WHAM! Veruca’s slap was hard enough to knock Willow to the floor. It felt hauntingly familiar, being stuck down like that. As Veruca slowly approached her prone body, the feeling of déjà vu overwhelmed her. Like flashes of Tyler Durden, Willow saw Faith, knife in hand, standing over her as well. Faith, who had taken Buffy away from her. Faith, who had taken Xander away from her. Now Oz was being taken from her, and Faith was there to watch and to mock and to laugh, if only in the mind’s eye.

Willow looked helplessly toward the door, expecting Oz to burst in. He was supposed to burst in now, to pull the murderous bitch away. But he didn’t.

“Go ahead and cry - but you should have seen this coming. You can't tame a wild thing. He's not yours any more. He's in you, he'd be thinking about me -no. Not thinking. It's deeper than that. He’s needing me.”

Willow was frozen. She wanted to get up and run, to crawl away, to shout, to cry, to anything. But she couldn’t move, trapped listening to the predator’s abuse.

Veruca looked again to the windows, and a look of glee spread across her face. “Why don't you just try to relax now? In a minute or two it'll all be over.”

Finally, the door crashed in, and Oz burst into the room. Willow watched as the two werewolves circled each other: one flirtatious, one defensive, and both deadly. The hate and despair that had been coursing through her was replaced by fear, pumping so loud that she couldn’t hear the words the other two exchanged. Instead, Willow found herself suddenly able to move again, and she backed away, eyes glued to the impending fight.

The change was beginning to take the others, even as they verbally sparred. Willow saw Oz look to her and then to Veruca. She heard him speak two words: “We kill.” She watched as her partly transformed lover, still human and cogent enough to talk, lunged at Veruca. She watched them throw each other about the room until the genuine weapons finally emerged. Teeth and claws and immense strength armed both opponents simultaneously, and the real fight began. They bit and scratched and beat each other until finally Oz pinned Veruca to the ground. Willow watched as the man she loved sank his teeth into Veruca’s neck and tore out her throat.

Blood dripping from his mouth, he shook his head victoriously over his kill. He looked at Willow.

She reached out for him, so in need of the comfort his arms brought that she was willing to hope that he, for the first time while a wolf, would recognize her.

“Oz?”

Oz came to her, but it was not to bring comfort. Growling, he ran at her having tasted blood and wanting more. He jumped on her slight body, crushing her against the floor. Bloody teeth descended to her neck, his jaws opening wide. Willow felt the sharp points penetrate her skin. She screamed.


Willow awoke to strong arms pulling her close. ‘Arms. Thank the gods! It was a dream. Oz is here with me and all of that was just a bad dream. A very, very bad dream.’ Eyes still clenched tightly, Willow snuggled into the soothing body below her. She felt a gentle hand running through her hair, and smiled, placing a warm kiss on Oz’s breast. “Oz,” she sighed, happily.

The hand in her hair stopped, but the arms around her stayed in place.

“Hey,” Willow moaned, disappointed. “My hair rubbing stopped. Why did it--”

‘Breast?!’ Willow’s brain started to catch up with her surroundings. ‘Oz doesn’t have breasts. Oz has pecs. Nice ones, at that. And Oz doesn’t smell like vanilla and jasmine. Those smells mean--’

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: Queen of Hearts
PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:21 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Developing: Queen of Hearts Part 2
PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:02 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Queen of Hearts Part 2 (Draft)

    -Author: BeMyDeputy
    -Rating: PG-13? (language) for this section. Up to NC-17 for later installments.
    -Feedback: That is why I'm posting in the beta thread, yes.
    -Spoilers: This is season 4. If you haven't seen season 4, what are you doing here? Also: it's 2010, people.
    -Content disclaimer: Violence: No. Sex: No. Angst: No
    -I don't own this disclaimer: The entire Buffyverse is property of it's owners, including but not limited to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
    -Notes: This part takes place during "A New Man."
    -Notes the second: I gave a lot of thought to Tara's experience coming out. I've written it very differently than most stories. Most fics have it be a very hard time for her, which fits pretty well with her very rural-feeling background. Plus, there's the fact she doesn't introduce Willow as her girlfriend in "Family." We know from "Tough Love" that Tara has been out longer than Willow; longer enough to make her feel inferior in that regard. So, I rewatched "Family." Possibly multiple times. *cough* And it seems to me that if given the family paradigm that the women are demons, how would being gay even be a blip on the radar? But if her family knows, why not just introduce Willow as her girlfriend? Based on the conversation at the Bronze, it feels like Tara was keeping her family away from Willow, not Willow away from her family. She didn't want Willow to know "what kind of people [she] came from." Add to this the fact that it's easiest to write from experience, and I had a ridiculously easy time coming out (I grew up in a liberal college town in a nonreligious family of academics), I gave Tara an easy time. Okay, that was really long-winded and possibly unnecessary, but I guess I just feel like sharing.
    -Notes the third: Davis, CA is a college town about half an hour from Sacramento and about 2 hours from San Francisco. It's surrounded by farmland. I lived there for two years, and it's a totally awesome place. So it's get's the nod. Plus, the farmer's market there is a thing.
    -Notes the fourth: This is a flashback explicitly so I could start the story with the line "Willow woke up screaming." Next time we'll be out of italicized text.
    -Notes the fifth: Oh, since most people say how thoughts are demarcated, they're in single quotes. Like this: 'thought.'




Earlier that night:
“I don’t know. But . . . the petals are off.”

The two witches stared down at the smoking rose stem, which had finally come to rest back in the casting circle from where they had levitated it in the first place. Of course, it had started with a full complement of petals.

“That was . . . bad. I mean, assuming you didn’t do that. Because I didn’t do that. Did you do that?”

“Me? N-no.”

The redhead sighed, frowning. “I didn’t think so. I wonder what did.” She walked slowly to the window and carefully peaked out through the drawn curtains. The view revealed nothing more ominous than the dark, empty field that always sat adjacent to Tara’s building. Which, to be honest, was a little ominous, given it was in Sunnydale. “Well, whatever it was, I don’t see it out there.” Willow turned back to look at Tara, a thoughtful look on her face. “Did you feel like . . . I don’t know, like something got in the way?”

Tara nodded, slowly. “Yeah. We were holding the rose aloft, and then outside energy came flooding in, overwhelm-- . . . .” She cringed, shaking her head at the memory.

“Tara?” Willow walked slowly to her friend, concerned at the pained expression she was wearing. “What’s wrong? “

“Th-the last time I felt anything like that, it was black magic. But . . . for any dark magic to be interfering with our spell, without being in the same room . . . it would have to come from a really, really powerful source.” Willow opened her mouth, an inquisitive look on her face. Tara interrupted. “And before you ask, trust me, y-you don’t want to know.”

Willow stood dumbfounded for a moment. ‘Damn, Tara’s really good at reading people. Well, me, at least.’ Her attention was abruptly drawn to the clock behind Tara as the digits changed. It was already 1:00. ‘Rats’. “I really hate to ask, but . . . would it be okay if I stayed here tonight? I don’t want to impose. But if there’s something powerful and all black magic-y out there . . . .”

“I don’t really like the idea of you walking home, either. Not at this hour. I-if you want, you can stay.”

“Really? That’d be great!” Willow beamed at Tara, pleased she hadn’t offended the girl by asking. And happy she didn’t have to walk home alone at night. And, for some reason, giddy at the thought of spending the night with Tara.

“Cool. Though, there is one c-condition.”

“What, I have to bring you coffee and donuts in the morning?” Willow joked. “That’s Buffy’s price, and I don’t know if I can go much higher than that.”

“No, no, n-nothing like that.” Tara took a deep breath. “In the interest of full disclosure, you should know I’m gay. I mean, I’m not going to jump you in the night or anything, but if you’re thinking of staying, you should know.” Biting her lip, Tara looked hopefully at her Willow, praying that she wasn't bringing about an abrupt end to their brief but intense friendship.

Willow shrugged. “Okay, no biggie. What’s the condition?”

“That
was the—okay, I suppose I failed to phrase it as a conditional. Let’s try again. Ahem. It’s only okay if you don’t mind spending the night in a lesbian’s room. With her still in it.”

Willow smiled. “Easy. It’s settled. I’ll stay here then. Though, as long as were in disclosure-y mode, you should know the last time I shared a bed with someone, it was with Oz. So, if
I try to jump you in the night, it’s because my body thinks you’re him—just wake me up or something.”

Tara just stared at her friend. ‘Did she just say . . . this is going to be a long night.’

“What, you thought I’d want to sleep on the floor?” Willow grinned. “I’m not going to let a little thing like you liking girls get in the way of precious bed space. And I won’t settle for you sleeping on the floor, since I already feel intrusive-y having asked to stay in the first place. Your bed’s big enough for two, so space shouldn’t be an issue.” Willow’s look turned more serious. “Did you think I’d be freaked?”

“I never know what to expect.” She looked down. “The spells have us touching all the time, so . . .”

“Hey, don’t look all embarrassed. It really isn’t a big deal. Okay, that was remarkably dumb. I’m sure it is a big deal. But, it doesn’t bug me. Seriously, I was raised by sociology professors. Besides, best friends with Xander my whole life: I’m used to affectionate friendships with people for whom I’m a member of an attractive sex.” She walked up to Tara, and gave her a hug. “See? Total non-issue.”

The blonde relaxed at the touch. “You’re pretty r-remarkable, you know that?”

“I feel pretty normal to me.” Willow smiled. “So, do you have some spare PJs? Heck, if you’re going to let me stay every time we’re up late doing spells, I’ll bring my own to keep over here. But that won’t help tonight.” ‘Maybe she’ll let me have a drawer. That would be cool! Oz gave me a drawer, and that was really convenient. On the other hand, we were sleeping together. The naked-kinda together, not the it’s-creepy-outside-and-I don’t-want-to-walk-home-kinda together. And somehow, I’m pretty sure we’re going to stick to that first one. Does that mean I don’t get a drawer? Is saying I’d keep PJ’s here like, making a pass or something? I hope not, it would really be ni--’ Willow was finally broken out of her mental discourse on the social implications of PJs and drawers when Tara answered her question.

“Uh, sure. C’mon.” Tara walked over to her dresser, and pulled out the bottom drawer. “Take your pick. They’ll all be kinda big on you, of course, but they’re comfy.”

Willow grabbed a pair of red flannel pajamas from the drawer, and headed toward the door. “I guess I’ll just go change in the bathroom, then. Be back soon!”

Ten minutes later, both girls were changed, and they pulled down the futon pad, flattening it out into a bed. Tara turned off the lamp, so the room was lit only by the white Christmas lights that circled her room.

“So, do you have a side preference? I’m not really used to sharing, so either’s good for me.”

Willow pointed at the right side of the bed like a small child picking a flavor at an ice cream parlor. “I want that one!” Tara nodded, and the girls climbed into their respective sides of the bed, and lay down to face each other. Despite the late hour, both girls were wide awake.

Willow, being Willow, had plenty on her mind to talk about. “So, is it hard, talking about it? Being gay, I mean.” She wanted to test the waters before making her friend’s sexuality the topic of their pre-sleep conversation, but as it was the most recent thing they’d talked about, it was hovering at the top of Willow’s brain. Creepy black magic was a topic best left for daylight, but they could still talk about the mechanics of the synchronicity spell if these waters were too rough. Or half a dozen other topics bouncing around her hyperactive brain.

“N-not usually. Normally, I don’t really care what people think, so it makes it easy. Tonight was a little harder because . . . well, I really like you. I was worried you’d be mad.”

“I really like you, t—mad? Why would I be mad?”

“For not telling you earlier. I mean, spells usually have us holding hands, and that might have squicked you out.”

“Nope. Not squicked.” Willow smiled warmly. “I’m glad like you felt like you could tell me.”

“Me too.” Tara recognized the inquisitive look on Willow’s face. “You can ask me about it, if you have questions. It won’t bother me.” Tara grinned.
“Well, as long as a little quid pro quo doesn’t bother you.”

Willow chuckled. “You really read me pretty well, don’t you?”

“You wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s charming. And, yes, it makes you easy to read.” She smirked. “Well, the whole ‘astral perception’ thing helps, too.” They’d discussed Tara’s astral perception a few times before, but since it was still hard for Willow to remember; it wasn’t part of her world, so it was hard for her to keep it in mind.

“So, uh, how long have you known? If that’s not too personal. Gosh, I bet that’s personal. Forget I asked. Umm . . . how about that popular all-male sports team? I hear they have that guy that can do the thing with the ball.” Willow nodded sagely at her in-depth sports knowledge.

Tara managed not to smile, and faked a stern look. “Willow, weren’t we just discussing how I’m gay? I do NOT keep track of what men do with their balls.”

Eyes widening, Willow started to panic. “No! No, that’s not what I meant at al—sports, Tara, I was talking about SPORTS. You know, how most of the popular sports have teams that are all men, and they get paid lots of money for their ability to make balls do what they want. Leather or plastic or rubber balls. Not testicles, though, no siree, that’d be porn, and not sports and I seriously just brought up porn in your bed and I think I’m gonna go die in a corner now excuse m--”

Tara couldn’t hold it in any longer. Reaching out a hand to Willow’s shoulder to stop her from leaving, Tara started laughing.

“Hey! You’re laughing! You weren’t mad at all! And then you let me just go on and on all panicky, letting me think you were mad! That’s just . . . just . . . .”

“I quite agree, it was ‘just’ just. Which is why I did it. Upholding justice is very important, you know.” Tara kept laughing, which seemed to do nothing but frustrate Willow.

“Okay, that’s it. You just look too damn pleased with yourself for that turn of phrase, missy. Which normally I would congratulate you on, but seeing as it’s at my expense . . . .” Willow’s eyes glinted evilly. “ . . . that just means you need to be punished.”

Tara was too caught up trying not to think of all the beautiful ways she’d be happy to let the redhead punish her to notice Willow bodily attacking her, and pinning her to the bed. ‘This is on the list! This is suddenly on the top of the list . . . oh gods this is going to be a long night.’

‘Hah. Three and a half years of vampire hunting finally comes in handy,’ Willow thought to herself as she efficiently kept Tara pinned at the shoulders with one arm pressing down across her chest, just below the neck, leaving the other free. “You need that hubris tickled out you.” Tara squealed as Willow’s free hand began her assault, but it only took moments for her to mount a counter attack. Under assault herself, Willow let go of her pin, giving her a hand to defend herself. Tara had no plans to move, however, simply continuing her retaliatory tickling from her place on the bed.

Five minutes later, Tara threw her hands above her head. “I give! I give! White flag! I shouldn’t have . . . done whatever it was. It was very, very wrong. You win.”

“Jenga!” Willow shouted, kneeling as tall as she could, and throwing her hands in the air, victorious.

“Jenga? You best me at a tickle fight and your reaction is . . . a tower building game?”

Giggling, Willow collapsed onto the blonde, using her shoulder as a pillow. “Oh, see, Oz, Xander, Buffy, and I used to play Jenga a lot. Which was pretty dumb on our part, because Buffy’s . . . she’s really dexterous. So she’d win every game, even when we came up with crazy rules to make it harder for her, like making her use her left hand or whatever. Anyway, whenever she won, she’d jump up and down, hands in the air, shouting ‘Jenga!’ So we started copying her, using it to mean “I win!” But obviously not after an actual game of Jenga, since Buffy wins all of those.”

Willow reflexively snuggled into Tara before her brain caught up with her. But before she could move away, she was gently encircled by strong arms. “Well, I was about to ask if this was okay, but I’m guessing the hug means it’s okay. But, just to be clear, this is okay?”

Willow felt the girl beneath her chuckle. “You’re fine, Willow. It’s nice.”

“Good, because you’re comfy, and I don’t wanna move.” Willow felt warm, safe, and happy, and she wasn’t about to give it up. The fact that in the years she’d spent the night at Buffy’s she’d never fallen asleep half on top of the slayer didn’t occur to her. The fact that she felt more at peace than she ever had sleeping against Oz didn’t occur to her. When she was with Tara, she felt like she belonged, and the feeling only increased with physical closeness. It didn’t inspire deep thoughts, it simply
was.

“You’re perfectly welcome to stay.” ‘In that ‘this feels way too incredibly good for me to let you go, but at the same time is going to make me die with want’ sort of way, but that’s a way. A way I think I can learn to live with.’

“So, you won’t go crazy having a gorgeous woman fall asleep on you?” Willow sarcastically teased, rolling her eyes at the ridiculous idea of her being gorgeous.

Tara blushed. “Well . . . since you asked, yes, tomorrow’s shower might be a bit . . . tepid. But I’ll be fine.” 'Dear self: please stop crushing on straight girls willing to call you on it. It gets embarrassing. Love, Tara.'

“Wait, what? Miss “Classics/English double major,” didn’t they teach you sarcasm somewhere along the line? Or do I just not know what you being sarcastic back at me sound like? I mean, in the 42 days since I met you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you be sarcastic, so maybe I just don’t recognize it.”

“What . . . you don’t think you’re gorgeous?” Tara was genuinely surprised to hear that the normally bright girl hadn’t picked up on this extremely obvious bit of information. She was also surprised that she wasn't the only one counting the days since her life had been pleasantly turned upside down by Willow's presence.

Willow laughed. “Uh, no. I’m pretty sure I could pass as a 12 year old boy with the right clothes. Not exactly gorgeous material.”

“You’re not a vampire or something, are you?” Tara teased.

Willow sat straight up, eyes bulging. “No! Alive Willow here! See!” She grabbed Tara’s hand, and placed it fiercely over her heart. “Beating heart! This is actual me, not vampire me! Besides, you could tell if I was vampire me, because I’d be all slutty and in leather and licking people’s necks and, well, kinda gay. (And by gay I mean gay as in licking girl’s necks, not gay as in lame, of course, because that would just be rude.) But yes, totally normal, fuzzy, LIVING (not living dead) Willow here.”

Met with a blank stare, Willow realized her mistake, and began to backpedal.

“Er, sorry, bad, uh, dream. Yeah, I had a recurring bad dream where I was this evil, slutty vampire. Bad memories. So, how exactly did my obviously failed attempt at self-deprecating humor end up at creepy vampire Willow?” Realizing she was still crushing Tara’s hand into her chest, Willow let go, and proceeded to bury her face in the other girl’s neck.

Tara wrapped her arms around the embarrassed redhead, while trying desperately to banish mental images of Willow, in leather, licking her neck. That Willow’s face was currently buried in her neck was not helping.

“Sorry about that. I just meant, well, have you looked in a mirror recently? How about, say, ever? You’re really pretty.” ‘Also gorgeous, desirable, hot, delicious, and really, really fuckable –did I just think that? I just thought that . . . goddess, this is going to be a long night.’

Blushing, Willow moved her head to look at Tara. “Thanks.” Tara opened her mouth to speak, but Willow continued. “Really. Oz leaving . . . not so much good for the self-esteem. It’s nice to hear that someone finds me attractive, even another woman. Which, I believe brings us back to the conversation we were having before I had a minor meltdown or two. Oh, yes, I remember. We’d gotten to the part where I was being highly intrusive.”

Tara shrugged, fairly used to the question. “Here, I can show you exactly how intrusive it is. How long have you known? That you’re straight, that is.” Tara began a silent prayer to anyone and anything that was out there listening. ‘Please let her correct me. Please correct me and say bi. Pretty please with whipped cream and chocolate on top? No--BAD THOUGHTS STOPPING NOW.’

Willow blinked. “I never really thought about it; I guess I always just assumed I was, since I didn’t really have evidence to the contrary. Growing up in a hetero-normative culture, it’s pretty much the default assumption.” She cocked her head to the side, thinking. “I mean, Xander and I ‘dated’ when we were five, but that wasn’t anything. And then I had a crush on him for most of middle and high school. Then Oz and I started dating junior year.” ‘Then there was vampire me, but . . . blech. Skanky.’ She shook her head, as both Oz and her vampire-world self left a bad taste in her brain. “So, I guess . . . since I was about 12? Okay, I guess it isn’t really too personal.”

Tara smiled at Willow’s openness. “’Hetero-normative?’ God, you were raised by sociologists.” She laughed. “But me? I’ve known since I was 11. For me, it’s been long enough that it isn’t really an intrusive question, just like it isn’t intrusive to ask how long you’ve been straight. I don’t think it’s like that for everyone, but it is for me.” Tara thought back on what Willow had said about her experiences. “So, Oz was your only boyfriend? Well, once you left kindergarten.”

“Yup. And I inspired him to leave. Possibly the country, I really don’t know.” She sighed. “I guess I’m just that great a girlfriend. So, how about you? You have a lot of girlfriends?”

“Only if you count a half as a lot.”

“Half a girlfriend? Man, here I was thinking that significant others only came in whole numbers. Is this some gay culture thing? Or do you count friends with benefits in fractions? I’ve never needed to myself, but if you have, that--”

“No and v-very much no.” Tara laughed. “There was a girl, Sylvia, when I was 13. We were good friends, and then it got . . . complicated.”

“Complicated?”

“She wanted to date, but I was just confused. I mean, I liked her, and looking back at it now, I feel stupid about it. But I was really uncertain about everything. It was one thing to know that I was interested in girls, but totally another to think about being with someone. It didn’t help that she lived in Davis—about an hour from our farm. We saw each other twice a week at the farmer’s market. We held hands, we hugged, and that was pretty much it. Right before her family moved, things got as far as pecks to the cheek.” Tara laughed. “I remember being so obsessed with labeling what was happening, but at the same time, not having a label to put on it. It took the better part of a year to get over trying to label it, and just to live it. Things felt a lot less stressful then.”

“Aww, that’s really sweet.”

“Yeah, it makes a sweet story. Living through it . . . it was happiness and stress and confusion all wrapped up with crazy-intense early-teen hormones.

“Wow. That sounds . . . a lot like being thirteen.”

“Yup, pretty normal teenage stuff, from what I hear. I mean, it helped that we were in Davis. Everyone there just treated us like a normal teenage couple.” ‘Except for Donnie, of course. But if Willow never hears a word about my brother, it will be too soon.’

“So, kids at your school weren’t mean to you about it? Middle and high school kids were really cruel about, well, everything, here.”

Tara smiled. “That was one advantage to not having any classmates.” Seeing the confused look on Willow’s face, Tara explained. “My mom home-schooled me. They had me take some test when I was little, and I did really well, I guess. Mom didn’t want me going to a school that couldn’t challenge me, and the nearest one that was good was in Davis. My parents decided it’d be better to home school me than to have me commute an hour each way. Mom wanted to teach me Wicca, and Dad wanted me around the farm for chores. So it worked out well for everyone.”

“Your mom home-schooled you because the nearest school wasn’t good enough? Wow . . . my parents just shipped me off to public school, telling me it was important to be ‘socialized with a population of students comprising a cross-section of intellectual ability.’ This translates from sociologist-ese as, ‘no we won’t send you to private school just because no one at your school actually likes learning.’ I can’t believe your mom actually—she must be incredible.”

“She was.” A sad smile formed on Tara’s lips.

“Oh no . . . I didn’t . . . I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you all sad.” Willow kicked herself for making Tara sad. Tara sad was a bad thing.

“It’s,” Tara took a deep breath, “it’s okay. Mom died a year and a half ago. I’d really like to talk to you about her; having you around to do magic with is a little like having her back. But it’ll have to wait; it’s too fresh to deal with when I’m sleepy.”

“Well, we can’t have that! We need happy pre-sleep thoughts. Hmm . . . the rose was pretty! I mean, blocking out the crazy creepy part, I think the floating part of the spell worked really well. I think our casting is pretty much in synch.” Willow yawned. “Mmm. Pretty flower. Next time, there’ll be pretty rose petals everywhere.”

“That sounds really great.” Hearing Willow’s breathing begin to slow, Tara gave her a quick squeeze. “Goodnight, Willow.”

“’Night Tara. Thanks for letting me stay.” With that, the redhead drifted off to sleep.

“Thanks for staying,” the blonde whispered, too quiet to wake the girl in her arms. ‘Yep. This is going to be a long night. But a pleasant one.’

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: Queen of Hearts
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:03 pm 
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18. Breast Gal
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Location: Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
I sent another PM. Keep it up!

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 Post subject: Re: Developing: Queen of Hearts
PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:28 am 
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3. Flaming O

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Hi BeMyDeputy, I like this. Hell, I've sent you a PM I like it so much. Can't offer beta duties though I'm afraid - your grammar is clearly better than mine!

Thanks for sharing
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 Post subject: Re: Developing: Queen of Hearts
PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:59 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Okay, I've got me-self a beta reader, so the story is being moved to Different Colored Pens. Enjoy!

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