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

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 Post subject: Atonement (updated: 22/10/16)
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 3:04 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Title: Atonement
Author: Nightmask
Feedback: go for it!
Spoilers: none
Setting: AU set in 1935. I watched Atonement last night and fell in love with it and I couldn't stop imagining Willow and Tara as Cecilia and Robbie so I wanted to try writing them into that era and loosely the same plot. Tara won't admit yet that she likes Willow and is jealous of the attention she gives to Dawn.
Rating: Mostly PG for the beginning but will probably move into NC-17
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters I just like writing about them
Notes: Senior year of college just ended for me. My girlfriend of two years dumped me a few weeks ago and I've kind of been in writing rut. I really wanted to continue my older story "Dancing Barefoot", but needed a different writing prompt to start writing again. So hopefully I'll continue my other fic while simultaneously updating this story. Now that I am about to graduate and be unemployed I look forward to the hours of freedom and buffy marathoning ahead.

Part One:

"She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine."

- Edna St. Vincent Millay, Witch Wife

The wall paper was a creamy white and cool viridian green that could easily trigger the smell of gardenias in the bright country light. The day streamed in through a window which Dawn had her back to, the sunlight was beating down on her exposed neck that would be tinged pink by the time she stood up. She was typing away at her Smith Corona typewriter that Willow, the gardner and ward of her family, had bought for her.

The white bedroom was stifling from the unexpected heat wave, Dawn half expected the walls of her bedroom to melt at her feet just as beads of sweat ran down her back. She knew this was impossible, but she had always been rather fanciful. She liked stories and she loved more than anything to write them down with a steady flowing fountain pen on the crisp blue lines of her notebooks. Now that she had finally acquired a decent type writer she was determined to transcribe her most recent story, “The River Stones” into fine print. It felt more professional this way and she could see herself becoming an actual writer. She would of course follow in her older sister, Tara’s footsteps, and attend Cambridge when her time for university came. She would study English and print beautifully bound books on any topic that she wished. But for now she was more than content to take lazy naps by her sister’s side on gray rainy mornings and invite Willow to tea party readings in the late humid afternoons. Above all her favorite place to go to were the gardens that Willow tended to.

Willow was the daughter of a dear family friend, and when her father Ira had died, Mr. Maclay had sent for her and her mother to live on the estate and took Willow in as his ward. Dawn had been delighted with Willow and they had immediately become friends, but it was Tara, Dawn’s older sister, who Willow paid the most attention to.

Willow had magnificent red hair that seemed to glow from far away against the fog drenched greenery that surrounded the Maclay estate. Willow kept her hair in a short bob, enjoying the freedom of short messy hair as she tended the immense gardens of the mansion. Dawn had pleaded with Willow to let her hair grow long. In all of her stories Dawn would always have a beautiful red haired princess with flowing locks of burning red. Willow was flattered by these stories, but was adamant that Dawn make her a knight or a huntress instead. Willow never did care much for gowns or swaggering princes. This never discouraged Dawn as Willow would then present her with a crown of woven daisies. After which Dawn would run off with the flower crown to confide in her sister about how cool Willow was.

Willow had been away all year and now that summer had started again the flowers seemed to bloom eagerly under her careful hands. Tara had attended Cambridge as well. She was even in the same year as Willow. All before college had begun they had been the best of friends, taking long swims by the family lake and trading books after informal dinners when the staff and family would sit and eat together. But then university had changed things between them. Dawn could almost see the rift between them when they arrived home for their first school holiday. Nowadays if they spoke to each other it was clipped and often mono-syllabic. It wasn’t that they hated each other it was something mysterious and unsaid. They were drawn together like magnets for silly arguments over philosophy and politics. It was like a game of who could drive the other to the end of their nerve by summer’s end. The heat didn’t help. It was always worse when they didn’t talk, those were the times when Dawn would forcibly invite each of them to her tea party readings until they became civil and on talking terms again. They were strangers to Dawn in each other’s presence.

Dawn typed out the last keys that printed “the end” at the very bottom of the page she had been working on. The story was complete and she was eager to present it to Willow so that the red head could bind it properly for her and then read it aloud in search of grammatical errors.

As she got up the sunburn on the back of her neck sparked painfully. Her internal body temperature spiked for a moment in irritation and then cooled again when she stepped out of the light. She gathered the loose quires to her chest, pressing the thin cotton white dress closer to her frame. She walked out into the hallway and was immediately grateful for the deep and long shadows of the carpeted hallways. She walked with swift purpose down the stairs until she plunged even further into the early afternoon light. She shielded her eyes and ducked her head under her free hand and made a bee line for the garden paths. Willow would be tending the tomato plants at this hour.

Willow was wearing a white sleeveless undershirt that the boys who worked out in the field were often seen wearing, showing off their thick muscles and burnt shoulders. Willow was of slender build, but the shirt showed off the muscle definition and farmer’s tan she had aqquired from working long hot hours pulling up weeds and breaking up tough dirt. Willow was wearing her father’s gray city hat that shaded her eyes from the dizzying light. Dawn approached quietly. Willow didn’t look up immediately so Dawn studied her for the moment, she looked so much like a handsome young man to Dawn that she decided in her next story she would indeed write Willow as a knight. Willow noticing the new shadow that joined her own on the ground looked up and smiled at Dawn. She lifted up her cap and wiped at the sweat on her brow with the back of her arm. Her white gardening gloves were already covered in dirt and thin pesky roots.

“Hello there Dawnie” the red head greeted.

“Hi Willow” Dawn replied beaming, her story pressed tight against her chest.

Willow noticing the loose quires in Dawn’s arms rocked back on her feet from her previous kneeling position and stood up to fully greet her.

“What have you got there Dawnie? A new story?” the red head inquired.

Dawn shook her head ‘yes’.

“May I read it?”

“Of course Willow” Dawn grinned.

Willow took off her gardening gloves and looped them over the back of her belt. She adjusted her hat again before Dawn offered her the story Willow took it gently from her and gave her an encouraging wink.

“I just picked a few cherry tomatoes and strawberries to bring up to the house. There’s also some bread and brie cheese left over from my lunch. We should have an informal picnic while I read this” Willow suggested motioning with her free hand towards her lunch pail and the fruit basket that sat on the grass by her tools. Dawn nodded in eager agreement.

“That sounds lovely, let’s find some shade as well”.

Dawn and Willow then went off to find a cooler place under a big tree. Dawn nervously popped cherry tomatoes and slices of creamy brie cheese into her mouth as she watch Willow give her full attention to the story she had written. She hoped Willow would like it. Willow fortunately was a quick reader so after a half hour she sat up and set the pages right before looking up at Dawn and smiling warmly.

“Dawn this is really wonderful. Your other stories are all lovely, but this… this is just so well considered. I loved the part where your character Nina finds the secret cave and meets the fairy queen.You must make me a copy so I can read it again” Willow gushed.

Dawn felt her face grow red under Willow’s praise. She liked that she could trust Willow to be honest with her, but still encourage her writing.

“Oh thank you Willow, I was really happy with this one and I’m so pleased that you like it.”

“Of course I’ll make you a copy, but only if you’ll bind them for me” Dawn bargained.

“Deal, but I really must get back to work. I’ll bind it later for you, after the dinner tonight” Willow assured her.

“The dinner is tonight? But I thought Donald was coming back tomorrow” Dawn stated sitting up.

Willow stood up and brushed the dirt off the back of her pants. She drew her suspenders over her burnt shoulders again, ignoring the discomfort it caused at the contact. She gathered up the fruit basket and her lunch pail and turned to face Dawn.

“Your father just told me this morning, you must have still been asleep at the time. He's invited me along, I’ll be coming up around six and I’ll bring my binding twine and needles.”

Dawn stood up as well, excited for her older brother to be coming home from his long business trip. He always brought her gifts and over the years they had grown more extravagant as he and Willow competed for her attention.

Dawn took back her story and grinned at Willow, “See you later Alligator.”

“After a while Crocodile” Willow called back as she left the shade of the tree and back into the heat of the tomato gardens.

Tara Maclay lay with her back to the sky and her front against the warm dry grass by the back stairway of the mansion. She sighed deeply her head resting against the arms crossed under her. She wished she could stay like this forever, in the warm embrace of the ground that had come to life under the gardner’s touch.


Why was she so bothered by her childhood friend. As long as she had searched herself she found no foot hold for her frustration with the woman, just that in her presence she became moody and sharp tongued. Which was surprising as she was often neither of those things. She was known as the most quiet of the Maclay children and certainly the most shy. She disliked conflict, but when it came to Willow they always started arguing over the silliest trifles. For instance one night they had been playing cards with Dawn while Willow rolled Tara a cigarette. Dawn only knew how to play war so that was what they had been playing for the hour. Willow had passed her the finished cigarette and flipped the top card of her hand down and open faced just as Tara had done. Tara lit her cigarette and took a long drag before realizing they had both played queens, Willow had the queen of red spades, while Tara’s was the queen of red hearts. The stared at each other as if it were a challenge to not look away. This was a declaration of war and as always they took it too far.

“I. Declare. War. On. You.” they chanted turning over five additional cards.

Willow held an Ace as her final card and Tara held a three. That had been the last of her deck, Willow had won the hand and all of Tara’s cards. Dawn immediately gave Willow a high five and challenged her to a new game of one on one war. Tara huffily took another drag and got up to leave.

It was maddening how silly she had acted, she shouldn’t have gotten so upset with Willow. Ever since starting college she had done her best to avoid the red head and for a reason she wasn’t sure. Maybe she was jealous? But jealous of what? Of Dawn? Why? Her chest tightened at the thought of the red head and her head swam in the humidity of the day. It would be best to ignore Willow until she could slip away yet again to her university dorm and avoid contact with the mysterious gardner.

Tara was drawn out of her dizzying thoughts of Willow as Dawn sat down by her.

“Tare? I’ve just finished my story, will you read it?”

“That all depends did you give it to Willow first?” Tara grumbled.

Dawn ignored the question and countered with her own, “How come you don’t talk to Willow anymore?”

Tara sat up and smoothed the thin white fabric of her summer dress before turning to lie on her back. Her golden brown hair splayed out beneath her and her blue eyes brightened in the light of the sunny day.

“I do, we just… move in different c-circles is all.”

Dawn had to think about this so she lay down beside Tara facing the sky, just as the hot sun went behind a big fluffy cloud.

Willow was off in the distance steering her heavy wheel barrow towards the back yard bushes Mr. Maclay wanted trimmed. She looked towards the house and glimpsed Dawn and Tara both clad in white summer dresses laying on the grass and talking. She thought of the dream she had had of Tara last night and smiled continuing her walk.

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

Last edited by nightmask on Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:44 pm, edited 4 times in total.

 Post subject: Re: Atonement
PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 6:18 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Title: Atonement
Author: Nightmask
Feedback: Go for it! [:
Spoilers: nope
Setting: AU set in 1935 loosely based upon the plot of the movie Atonement. Tara won't admit yet that she likes Willow.
Rating: Mostly PG for the beginning but will probably move into NC-17
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters I just like writing about them
Notes: I decided to write more instead of packing to go home. I graduate in two days yikes... Flashbacks and thoughts in italics.

Part Two:

“Close, close all night
the lovers keep.
They turn together
in their sleep,

Close as two pages
in a book
that read each other
in the dark."

-Elizabeth Bishop

Willow was in the university library quietly engrossed in a book. Her back was to Tara as the other woman approached. Willow had created a wall of books and manuscripts around herself while she vigorously took notes on the volume she was reading. Tara hung back and studied her friend. Willow’s hair had been recently cut. The back of her neck exposed like the first perfect bite of an apple revealing the tender flesh underneath. Tara’s hand itched in secrecy to run her hands through Willow’s red hair. It was silly and childish, she was nineteen years old going on twenty and still childlike whimsy took hold of her when she was in Willow’s presence. She was startled out of her thoughts by a giggle behind the book case that Willow sat adjacent to. Willow turned and grinned broadly at an unseen student. The student moved closer to Willow revealing herself as a young woman with long blonde hair. Her and Willow were laughing over something the blonde was reading. The blonde sat closer and affectionately mussed Willow’s hair. Tara’s breath caught and her heart skipped a beat.

No, don’t touch her hair. She’s mine. She’s mine not yours.

Tara’s hand closed into a fist above her chest. She was supposed to meet Willow at the library to go over their English test. Who was this woman sitting next to Willow so casually that the red head had failed to mention. Why was she so upset by this. Why did she feel so betrayed?

Tara drew an unsteady breath and turned on her heels to exit the library. Her eyes burned. She couldn’t understand it. What was wrong with her. Why did she feel this way.

Willow turned away from her friend Buffy to catch a glimpse of Tara leaving the library. Her eyebrows furrowed in worry and hurt at her best friend’s sudden disappearance.

Dawn had returned to her room feeling particularly light headed from the heat. She sipped at a glass cup of tepid water that been cool as ice just a few moments ago. She didn’t understand how Tara could stand it. She glanced out her window in search of her older sister, only to find that Willow had joined Tara in the backyard. She could hear muffled voices and guessed that they were probably having another argument. Willow was gripping something tightly in her hand with her back to the house. The two figures stood in front of the fountain. A bouquet of wild flowers lay at the lip of the structure.

And then it changed.

Tara was undoing the laces on the front of her dress and angrily pulling it over her head in one swift motion. Dawn gasped at her sister's brashness as the dress fell and pooled at her sister’s feet revealing her undergarments to the gardener. Tara stood defiantly in front of Willow in her silk slip, her feet bare. Dawn turned away her face burning with a strong feeling that bubbled up out of her stomach.
She shouldn’t be watching this.

Taking a breath, her curiosity overtook her and she turned again to the figures by the fountain. Her sister had disappeared into the deep fountain well, and Willow’s hand was turning red from gripping the thing in her hand too tightly. Dawn still couldn’t discern what it was. A few seconds later Tara emerged again, sputtering to the surface with the beautiful painted vase from the drawing room fragmented in her hand. Dawn understood now what Willow had been holding, the other handle of the broken vase. As Tara emerged she stood at the lip of the fountain and stared down angrily at Willow. Her golden brown hair was dripping wet and her slip clung to her body and suggested the exposed skin beneath. Tara was breathing deeply and with each breath her eyes never left Willow’s. Her demeanor seemed to change from anger to embarrassment to shyness and then back to anger again as Willow turned her head away.

Tara leapt to the ground and began hastily to put her dress back on. Her eyes burned into the side of Willow’s face as if she wanted the red head to look at her. Willow only turned to look again at Tara when her dress was on. The gardners shoulder’s hunched like she was embarrassed. Tara gathered up the vase that she had drawn from the fountain and grabbed at the bouquet sitting behind her. She walked up closer to Willow and stared at her intently and then took the remaining shard from her and left. Tara stalked back to the house and Willow stood with her back to Dawn still. Her shoulder still hunched, she looked rigid. Willow then approached the fountain and sat at the lip rubbing the back of her head like she was stuck on a difficult choice and the answer had just escaped her.

Tara ran past the side of the house and into the forest to the east of the mansion, her heart pounding wildly and her cheeks flushed. She was so confused. She wanted desperately for Willow to look at her. To see her and pay attention to her. She ran faster as she felt the tears spill down her face. Her damp slip clung uncomfortably to her body as she ran further into the forest. She needed more time to think and figure these feelings out. But all she could do was run.


Dawn closed the window and pressed her forehead to the heated glass. What had she just witnessed. As she closed her eyes to process everything a story of a red haired knight immediately began to form.


Tara walked into the drawing room smiling, her older brother Donald was arriving earlier than expected. Donald arriving meant that Dawn would be paying attention to him and then Willow would pay more attention to her. Willow would no doubt come find her then and they would strike up a conversation about the books that they were reading. Until Tara would no doubt spoil it with one of her moods. Her smiled momentarily pulled into a frown.

She should be nicer to Willow maybe try to talk to her about why she was so moody if only she could figure it out for herself. She would do her best this time not to drive the red head away. She fingered the bouquet in her hand that she had just picked and arranged. Lilacs and hydrangeas, white snap dragons and silver dollar eucalyptus. Willow had taught her all of their names so many summers ago.

Tara approached the glass book case that housed her mother’s fine china plates and reached out to the top to take down the beautifully painted porcelain vase. She turned to walk into the kitchen for some water when she noticed Willow taking a smoke break on the back stairs. She smiled appreciating Willow’s quiet and solitary nature. The red head had removed her father’s hat, the one she always wore while working, and tousled her damp hair. Tara felt mischievous as she turned away from the kitchen and proceeded to the entryway that led to the back staircase. She would "accidentally" run into Willow on her way to fill up the vase in the fountain. She removed her shoes at the door craving the feel of grass under her feet just as much as the thought of Willow’s company.

Willow turned at the sound of Tara’s padded footsteps on the stone of the stairway. Tara stood beside the red head with the vase and bouquet in her arms.

“W-Will you roll me one?” she asked gently motioning to Willow’s cigarette, before sitting down beside her.

Willow smiled at Tara and nodded ‘yes’.

Tara watched Willow’s calloused but delicate hands fill up the thin paper with just the right amount of tobacco before inserting the filter at the end. Willow expertly rolled the cigarette and licked the edge to make the paper stick to itself. In truth Tara had no taste for cigarettes but the thought that Willow’s fingers had rolled the paper and her tongue had grazed the outside somehow always made her crave one in the red head’s presence. Willow presented Tara with the cigarette and turned to her side to pick up her matches. Only one remained. Willow struck at the back of the small packet several times with no luck. The match grew weak and began to bend. Willow sighed and dropped the useless match into her pocket.

“Out of matches” Willow sighed taking a drag on her own.

Tara bit her lip and then pressed her cigarette to them. She held it there and placed a timid hand on Willow’s cheek making the red-head face her. Without speaking she pressed the butt of her cigarette to Willow’s burning one and within seconds her own was lit. She stared into Willow’s shy green eyes that had grown wide at the unexpected contact. Tara gazed back her heart was pounding violently in her chest. Shakily she withdrew her hand and turned her head away hoping Willow couldn’t see the blush that was creeping up her neck and into her cheeks.

“B-B-Beautiful d-day isn’t it?” Willow stated after a few moments of silence.

Tara stared at her in awe for a moment. She had made Willow stutter.

“I s-suppose so, too… too h-hot for me” the words tumbled out of her mouth before she could think of them.

“I thought you liked the heat? You stay out more often than Dawn and I on days like this” Willow stated.

Tara stood up. She was sure that the tips of her ears were turning red. Willow stood up with her.

“You burn so easily too, I’m not sure how you stand it” the red head continued studying Tara’s blushing cheeks.

Tara’s mouth had gone dry, Willow was staring at her. Her stomach fluttered and she felt a shiver run through her.

Tara swallowed nervously, “Are y-you enjoying your new b-book?” she stuttered, quick to change the conversation.

Willow had been given free range of the immense Maclay library and every Saturday like clockwork she would start a new book.

“No, not really” Willow stated plainly, she stuffed her free hand into her pants pocket.

“S-Second April by St. Vincent Millay am I right?” Tara inquired.

Willow nodded ‘yes’ and raised her eyebrows in curiosity, “How did you guess?”

“St. Vincent’s m-my favorite. I notice when she’s not around” Tara admitted.

“I see that you’re very taken with her” Willow teased.

Tara who was in the midst of taking a drag almost chocked at the suggestion, her blush deepened.

“Y-Yeah I l-love her... w-work”

Willow ducked her head and shot Tara a grin, “ I’ll have to be more patient with her then”

“W-What? Oh Vincent. I um… yeah sh-she’s worth it” Tara’s heart was pounding wildly.

They walked briskly towards the fountain as Tara led them.

“Did you know that D-Donald’s c-coming in t-tonight?” she gently asked.

“I heard a rumor” Willow teased, and then nodded her head ‘yes’ she did know.

“He’s b-bringing cousin B-Beth with him for dinner” Tara went on, “She adores your f-flowers so I thought I’d m-make her a bouquet.”

Willow nodded quietly. They had come to the point of the matter, past greeting and talk of weather and books.

“My f-father called the other n-night. He s-said you w-were planning… on b-becoming a d-doctor?” Tara asked nervously.

“I’m thinking about it, yes” Willow stated simply and shrugged.

“B-But that would m-mean…s-six m-more years of school…”

“How else do you become a doctor? Besides I like school”

“You c-could get a s-scholarship though c-couldn’t you?” Tara asked and then bit her lip, perhaps she was being rude. She walked ahead of Willow feeling silly for having asked about Willow’s monetary concerns.

Willow didn’t miss a stride in answering.

“I plan on applying for a few, but I don’t think it will be enough to cover everything… and I said I would pay your father back.”

Tara turned to look at Willow who didn’t seem to look hurt at all by her comment, “That’s I… I didn’t… that’s n-not w-what I meant. Sorry…” she finished lamely and turned around again approaching the lip of the fountain.

Why couldn’t she talk to Willow like they used to. Now there were too many circles of wealth and class separating them. Willow was a poor gardener. A ward to her wealthy father. In debt to the Maclay's already when the decision was made to pay for Willow's schooling

Tara was an a wealthy educated lady beginning to learn her place in the world. She hated it. She hated that it separated them so. Like someone had drawn an invisible circle with invisible chalk that she could wash away if only she could find the line. Willow followed Tara to the fountain and put out her cigarette under her boot.

Tara took the bouquet out of the vase and began to set it down on the lip when Willow appeared at her side.

“Let me help with that” she offered.

“I’m alright, t-thanks” Tara said briskly pulling away from Willow’s hand, internally kicking herself.

Willow was going to leave her to become a doctor. More and more circles were taking hold of them and pulling them apart. Too many to bare.

“Here take the flowers and I’ll do it” Willow tried again for the vase taking hold of the opposite handle.

“N-No it’s okay really oh-“

The vase broke between them, Tara’s half fell with a heavy thunk into the deep well of the fountain. Tears prickled in Tara’s eyes. That had been her mother’s vase.

Willow opened her mouth to apologize but could sense the change of emotion in Tara. Tara leaned over the lip of the fountain to search desperately for the broken half of the vase but it was too far down to reach in and pull it out. Someone would have to dive in.

“Tara I-I-I’m s-so sorry… I…” Willow began to stammer out.

Tara despondently shook her head from side to side and turned back to the fountain and then back to Willow rising to her feet she made to walk forward.

“Careful!” Willow startled her, her foot was just inches from a medium sized shard that could have done serious damage.

Tara drew back from Willow and frowned.

A mood began to take over her. She couldn’t do anything right could she? She always messed everything up and she had been doing so well talking to Willow. Frustration rose in her. She moved her hands deftly to unlace the top of white summer dress until it came loose and she quickly drew the garment over her head and let it pool at her feet.

Willow turned away nervously and became rigid when Tara began to de-robe, she gripped the broken handle of the vase tightly in her hand.

Tara shot Willow a wild look that startled the red head and sent a shiver down her back.

Why are you looking at me like that?

It frightened her how naked Tara’s gaze made her feel when she was the one now wearing the most clothing.

Tara turned from her then, breaking their gaze and dove foot first into the fountain’s well of clean green water. Tara shivered at the unexpected cold as she propelled herself to the bottom. The half of the broken vase that was hers was still intact at the bottom when she found it. She grabbed it and heard a soft scraping of porcelain against the rougher stone of the bottom of the well. She rose again and took a deep breath of air. She pulled herself out and stood up onto of the lip of the fountain dripping and drenched. She opened her eyes and felt Willow’s own pair looking at her like she had never seen the red head do before. It was the way her father had looked at her mother when she was still alive.

Tara’s slip clung to her damp skin and she knew that Willow could see every outline of her body that her dress had not revealed. They held each other’s gaze again as Tara’s breathing stilled to match that of Willow’s. Tara shivered under Willow’s stare and then jumped down from the fountain and back on to the grass.

Willow blinked nervously her face growing red as she turned her head again while Tara moved to put her dress on.

Tara dressed quickly feeling stupid and embrassed for her brash decision and then the way Willow had been staring at her. She glanced back at the red head who would not meet her gaze and Tara wanted to cry.

Please look at me.

Willow turned to look at her, but did not meet her gaze. Tara growing all the more anxious couldn’t stand to be there anymore. She needed to run. She needed to think. Willow held up the final shard and Tara took it without meeting her eyes and half walked half ran past the red head to the east forest of the mansion.

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

Last edited by nightmask on Sat May 21, 2016 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/14/16)
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 12:06 am 
3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2013 1:35 am
Posts: 59
Location: Baltimore, MD
interesting start.

Congrats on graduation, and I'm sorry about your breakup.

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/14/16)
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 11:31 am 
3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 135
Okay, you got me hooked, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next chapters! I'm hoping you'll differ from the original storyline of "Atonement" at least in the end for the obvious reason... The change in the gender of one of the lovers will certainly lead to other changes as well, I guess. I'm curious how you'll work the story out.

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/14/16)
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 10:50 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Will's redemption: Sorry it took me so long to update I just end up writing so much at once and then have to edit extensively. The story will differ drastically from the original plot line of which it's loosely based upon I promise.

mysticrain: Now that I am fully graduated I hope I get more time to read and write! The breakup was unfortunate, but strangely it was needed. Thank you for reading, I really appreciate it!

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/14/16)
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:13 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Title: Atonement
Author: Nightmask
Feedback: Go for it! [:
Spoilers: nope
Setting: AU set in 1935 loosely based upon the plot of the movie Atonement. Tara won't admit yet that she likes Willow.
Rating: Mostly PG for the beginning but will probably move into NC-17
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters I just like writing about them
Notes: I graduated and didn't fall off the stage during the ceremony! Flashbacks and thoughts in italics. Apparently in medieval knight terms "ser" is gender neutral term when referring to a lord or knight.

Part Three:

"When I too long have looked upon your face, 
Wherein for me a brightness unobscured 
Save by the mists of brightness has its place, 
And terrible beauty not to be endured, 
I turn away reluctant from your light, 
And stand irresolute, a mind undone, 
A silly, dazzled thing deprived of sight 
From having looked too long upon the sun."

Sonnet VII, Edna St. Vincent Millay

A 1935 Salmons Jubilee convertible grew bigger in the distance as it drove up the long winding path that led to the Maclay country Mansion. The car was white with butterscotch accents along the sides of the doors. The top was down and the sticky humid air seemed unable to influence the driver with it’s irritable mood. Donald Maclay wore a fashionable white suit despite the heat. He had neat dark blonde hair and was working on a mustache that had made him appear much older than he was. He was a nice looking young man with the promise of the world tucked into his tailored pockets. He talked excitedly to his cousin in the passenger seat, Beth, whom he had just picked up on his way to the Maclay estate. Beth hung on to every word her dashing cousin was saying and played with the brim of the boater hat he had given her to hold.

Tara was lounging on her reading armchair. Her fingers had finally started to de-prune after the bath she had taken. She thought of her long reverie in the forest and how distraught she had been over the events of the morning. How Willow had looked her… and then how Willow did not look at her. It was all too confusing. She wanted to stop messing things up between them and have a normal conversation with the red head. She wanted to sit close by her and talk into the long hours of the night discussing their favorite books and authors. Tara sighed, she always wanted more. She wanted Willow to be closer to her. To intwine beautifully freckled fingers with her own. To run her fingers through Willow’s messy hair. Her thoughts turned to Willow’s face as she imagined leaning in close to catch something the red head had mumbled until all talking would stop and their eyes would meet. She would pass the pad of her thumb gently over Willow’s bottom lip making the red head silently gasp. Willow would look at her the same way she had looked at her that morning by the fountain. Then she would lean in and-

Stop it. Stop. Why is this happening to me.

Tara wrung her hands as she turned her desperate thoughts from Willow to her aching feet. She had bruised them on the rough twigs and small stones she had trampled upon in the forest. She gently massaged the pads of her abused feet and wondered for a moment if she could just go to dinner barefoot instead of wearing shoes. She sighed and knew that would get her in trouble and put the idea out of her head. Her eyes were still red from crying, she would definitely need to apply make up before seeing anyone. Her mind began to wander back to the events by the fountain, but she sharply tugged her thoughts away again. She couldn’t cry anymore tonight, it would take too much out of her.

Willow probably hates me anyway by the way I treat her.

Tara let out a deep sigh and leaned over the arm of her chair to pull back the lace curtain of the window. She could see Donald’s new white convertible pulling up into the drive way with cousin Beth in the passenger seat. She smiled, it would be good to see her brother again, he was an arrogant conceited boy rather than a man, but she had missed him. It could get lonely in the house at times and Donald seemed to generate excitement and adventurous outings when he came home.

Tara moved to turn away from the window to get dressed but stopped when she saw Willow run over to Donald’s car. Willow was shaking Donald’s hand in an enthusiastic greeting and waving hello to Beth who seemed overjoyed to see the gardner again. Tara held her breath. Willow was like a light that drew everyone to her.

Does that make me a silly moth then, chasing her in the dark?

Tara closed the curtain, trying to shut out the confusing thoughts of the red head. She needed to get dressed and greet her brother and pretend like this morning had never happened.

Donald skipped up the stairs of the mansion and quickly discarded his hat on the round table in the foyer. Beth followed smiling, she spun with her head upturned taking in the high ceiling and extravagant tapestries.

“Tare? Dawnie? Anyone home?” Donald called out as he entered the living room.

Donald immediately went to pour himself a drink out of the crystal glasses that lined the middle of a bookshelf.

“Beth will you have one?” he asked, already pouring a second glass to accompany his own.

Beth nodded and politely took the proffered glass and sipped at the amber liquid.

“Donald where do you think your father is?” Beth inquired.

“I suspect training those horrid dogs he loves so much out by the mansion’s kennel” he replied dismissively.

Donald was never truly fond of his father, nor were any of the Maclay children after their mother had passed. Mr. Maclay had grown fond of drinking extensively and training hunting dogs. Donald would never admit it but a traumatic experience with a grey hound at the age of five had terrified him of dogs and he felt that his father had pursued this hobby simply to spite him. Every time his father would bring the dogs into the house the scar inside Donald’s arm would sting from that horrible day so many years ago.

Tara walked into the living room in a silk sleeveless blue dress and smiled at her older brother, he smiled back and gulped down his drink and automatically poured another.

“Ah there she is” Donald announced, “miss me at all?”

Dawn could feel her vision clouding around her and her focus honing itself. This was a rare moment of pulling. She knew exactly what she wanted to write about and how she wanted to write it. Excitement buzzed in her chest. She did not understand what she had just seen at the fountain but the images plagued her. Dawn looked down at her wooden writing desk and traced her fingers lightly over the smooth metal keys of the typewriter and then to the soft cover of her new notebook Tara had given her only a few days ago. Choosing her weapon, Dawn grabbed the notebook and her favorite pen. She walked quickly through the house avoiding the servants. She was bursting to run as soon as she found herself outside but held herself in check. She feared more than anything that she would disturb the perfect sentences and snippets of dialogue that were running through her mind. Her pace quickened as she entered the thick canopy of an over hanging garden, her secret writing place.

“Father has asked Willow to join us for dinner tonight”

“Oh Donnie, h-he didn’t “ Tara anxiously pleaded, Willow must have known before she did.

Why hadn’t she said anything.

Donald raised his eyebrows and shot Tara a strange look as if he were trying to read her intentions more clearly.

“I don’t understand you sometimes Tare, you were friends with Will for the longest time, thicker than thieves, then school starts and you hardly talk to her anymore, but when you do you’re always so cruel”

“I-I’m n-not c-cruel” Tara stammered, guilt panged in her chest.

Had she been cruel to Willow? Was she really that awful?

Donald continued on, “I don’t know what she’s doing now messing about in the flower beds, you know she’s planning on doing a medical degree. She’s a sharp one. I’m sure she can do it.”

“C-Could you ask W-Willow not to- not to come?” Tara interrupted softly.

She couldn’t bare it if Willow was at the dinner. She would have to withstand Willow’s presence with the knowledge of how awful she had been these past few years. Then the strange thoughts would come of wanting to run her foot along the underside of Willow’s calf under the dinner table. To whisper foolish things into the red head’s ear until she blushed.

“Why? Has something happened between you?”

Tara blushed and shook her head ‘no’ and turned away from her brother unable to divulge any of the thoughts that rushed into her mind at the mention of the gardener’s name.

The green bathroom was cloudy with steam. The roughly textured wallpaper had already started to peel from the build up of moisture in the air. The countertops and floor would be slick with condensation and grow mold if not attended to, but Willow was concerned with other things. She sat up straighter in the tub and splashed warm water over her face. She pushed back her hair and inhaled deeply leaning back to rest her head at the edge. It seemed silly to draw such a hot bath after working for so long in the heat, but it was necessary evil.

With her head raised to the dusty skylight directly above her head Willow thought about the properties of water. She considered the fact that cold water contained more oxygen than warm water. More things could grow in the expanse of cold water, but hot water lacked oxygen. Perhaps that was why she would always feel her breath leave her when she took a warm bath. She wondered then why people would take a cold bath to rid themselves of intrusive thoughts of lustful nature. In cold water her skin could breath and she could think clearer. She could feel her whole body. In warm water her skin felt as if it were suffocating until the heat would disappear leaving behind tepid water. A gross in between. The absence of warmth would leave her empty and she would have to wait hours for the cold.

Willow took up a bar of black soap and began to scrub the built up dirt and sweat from her body. She thought of Tara then as she always did when alone. The oldest Maclay daughter was a mystery to her, one day she would be warm and whimsical prompting Willow to join her in a philosophical debate. The next day the woman would be sulky and avoid all eye contact and greeting. Which side of Tara would she see tonight?

Willow opened her eyes as a plane soared passing the skylight above. Willow smiled up at it and closed her eyes. She imagined the soft shoulders that had been haunting her dreams lean against her. The vision came easy as it was practiced often. Willow wrapped her arms around the imaginary woman’s stomach and held her close. The scent of skin and golden brown hair filled her senses.

“Tara” she sighed.

Dawn had expertly hidden herself under a canopy of wild black berries and had nearly filled half of her notebook when her hand began to cramp up. She dropped her warm pen on the grass by her side and flexed her wrist until she heard a satisfying pop. She clenched and unclenched her sore hand while she read over what she had last written.

“The princess was well aware of the knight’s devious intentions but that made it no easier to overcome. The voluminous love she felt in her heart for Ser Roseburn could not be ignored. The princess knew instinctively that the one with the red hair was not to be trusted, as she dived again and again into the depths of the lake in search of the enchanted chalice… Ser Roseburn twirled her magnificent hair between her fingers and smiled at the sight before her.”

Willow sat in her white underclothes typing feverishly at her desk, her back to the bedroom door. A cigarette she had just put out was smoking gently in the ashtray by her side. She paused her movement and wound up the right platen knob of her typewriter to read over what she had written.

“Dear Tara,
I thought I should write to apologize for my clumsy and inconsiderate behavior.”

Willow sighed at her less than apt attempt at an apology for the broken vase and her actions that morning. She pulled the thin paper unceremoniously out of the typewriter and crumpled it before winding a fresh page in. When no sufficient words came to mind she got up and crossed to the other side of the room, her bare feet padding softly on the rough wooden planks of her bedroom. She set up the gramophone in the corner and fixed it so that it began to play “Non so piu”, from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

Willow lit another cigarette and began to work on a new letter to Tara the words flowing a little more freely. When “Non so piu” ended Willow looked over her work and ripped it out to follow the others in the waste basket. The song changed to “Voi che sapete” and Willow fell into another rhythm, trying her hand once more at her apology letter.

“Forgive me if I seemed strange, but I’m…” no that wouldn't do.

She tried again.

“In my dreams I kiss your cunt, your sweet wet cunt.”

Willow turned in her chair bursting into laughter. She couldn’t give Tara that… let alone say it aloud. A blush crept up her neck as she laughed. Laughter turned into a lasting smile and Willow nodded to herself. She gently fished the fresh sentence out of the typewriter and folded it neatly, putting it aside for another day when she needed to laugh again.

Willow then pushed the typewriter further up on her desk to make room for a new piece of paper to rest. She uncapped a fountain pen and began to write in all sincerity a true apology letter.

“Dear Tara,
You’d be forgiven for thinking me mad, the way I acted this morning.
The truth is, I feel rather light-headed and foolish in your presence,
and I don’t think I can blame the heat.
Will you forgive me?


Good. That would do. Willow nodded to herself.

Willow got up and went downstairs to the kitchen where she had heard her mother working earlier. There she found her mother, Sheila, asleep in a chair by the kitchen table. Willow’s mother had long pale red hair already sprinkled with salt to mark her age. Her face was careworn and her fingers red from menial work. Her elbow was erect as her fist propped up the side of her head. She breathed deeply unaware of the world for an hour. Willow stood in the doorway watching her mother. A job as the head housekeeper at the Maclay estate was exhausting work. Willow drew a deep breath and smiled gently at the peaceful figure and then retreated to get ready for the dinner.

She dressed silently in a black evening gown. The back of the dress was exposed and then closed again at the waist. Willow played with the straps ensuring that they wouldn’t slip off of her freckled shoulders. She brushed through her wet hair until it lay flat at it’s true length stopping just before her chin. Willow struggled through her makeup having not practiced at dolling up in years. Finally she put on her dress boots. They were simple things, but they were the cleanest footwear she owned all the same and would be the most presentable.

She got up to look at herself in the mirror and smiled, not too shabby Rosenberg.

Sheila Rosenberg peeked into Willow’s room then and smiled at her only daughter, “Off out, then?”

“Yes, Mr. Maclay has asked me to join them for dinner.”

“Ah. So that’s why I’ve been polishing silver all afternoon” her mother teased.

“I’ll think of you when I see my face in the spoon” Willow teased back, she grinned and the tip of her tongue poked out between her teeth sheepishly.

Willow smoothed the front of her dress. Dawn had leant it to her from Tara’s wardrobe a few months ago just in case an occasion like this arose.

“You know, you’re not a bit like your father” Sheila interjected, “not in anyway.”

Willow turned to her and smiled, “that’s because I’m all yours” she kissed her mother’s soft cheek, “I’ll be late.”

“Willow?” Sheila asked softly.


Sheila moved to the bookcase by Willow’s bed and shuffled through an old candy tin that sat snuggly on the third shelf. She drew out a silver pin in the shape of a star. Without speaking she gently moved a few strands of Willow’s hair past her ear and pinned it there with the jewel.

“Have a good night”, Sheila kissed her daughter’s cheek and exited her room to return to the kitchen.

Willow smiled at the retreating figure of her mother and then turned her attentions to the letter at her desk. She took the folded leaf and pressed it gently into an envelope and sealed it.

As Willow walked down the dirt path to the Maclay mansion she turned the letter over and over in her hands. She left no room in her mind for contemplation. There was no more time to rewrite the letter and to make it more formal and detached. She would be late for dinner even if she tried. Halfway down the long path Willow spotted Dawn in the distance walking back to the estate her head low and sulking covered in broken flowers and fly away leaves. She called out to her friend.

“Dawnie! is that you?”

The young woman turned from afar to see Willow. She ran until she stood beside the gardener.

“Are you all right?” Willow asked motioning to the disarray of Dawn’s clothes and hair.

Dawn looked up at Willow and nodded ‘yes’ and then stared at her intently.

“Do you think you could do me a favor?”

Dawn’s face brightened at the idea of being trusted with a task for Willow.

Willow extended the sealed envelope to Dawn’s outstretched hand,

“Could you run ahead and give this to Tara? I’d feel a bit of a fool handing it over myself” Willow admitted.

“All right” Dawn agreed excitedly.

Dawn took the envelope and smiled at Willow and then ran off towards one of her secret short cuts to make it to the mansion before Willow.

Willow took two steps more in the direction of the mansion before something made her stop.

She had put the letter into the envelope. The folded letter. The folded letter. Not the the letter with the handwriting. No she did… she had meant to… but she put the folded letter in the envelope… shit.

Shit. Fuck. Shit

A cold sweat broke out on the back of Willow’s neck as she called out to the retreating figure that had already disappeared,

“Dawn! Come back!”

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/21/16)
PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 11:34 am 
3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 135
DIBS! :whip
So the complications start... I'm waiting with baited breath if the "unintended" letter will reach Tara and if so, how she'll react to it or if Dawn and/or someone else will read it. If it's the last, Willow might get into big trouble...

It's a nice change that Willow has a gentle, loving mother in this story. Mr. Maclay sounds not so nice the way he's described...but I'll wait to see how he'll act at the dinner before I judge his character.

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/21/16)
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2016 9:29 pm 
20. Not one Much for the Timber
User avatar

Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:32 pm
Posts: 3139
Topics: 14
Location: H-Town, Texas

I just found this fic...probably because it's the first time in months I've been on the board for more than 2 minutes without an annoying 503 error. So, yay!! By the way, you're finishing college? Didn't you just finish high school, like, a minute ago?????? Geez, time flies!

Anyway, I love this story! As I do all of your fics. You've done a great job with the cat and mouse between these two, but I somehow think the 'cat' is about to be let out of the bag! No pun intended, of course. Regardless of what happens, it should be a fun read:)

I hope you continue!!


Shelby - Racing The Rain (IN PROGRESS) / Baby Makes Three (IN PROGRESS) / The Santa Line / Everything She Does...Is Beautiful / Calfornia Grass

"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/21/16)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:22 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Will's redemption: Thanks for reading and sticking with me for so long! Sorry I haven't updated in a while! I enjoyed writing Willow's mom as a nicer person, it was an interesting change for me [:

Finey_McFine: The board has been super glitchy and I actually had a hard time logging in the past few days but it got sorted out! I just finished college and am moving back to Maryland just a few months after having been home (much to my parents distaste haha). Time does fly! Thank you so much for the encouragement I really appreciate it! I'm glad I am continuing [:

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 5/21/16)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:47 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Title: Atonement
Author: Nightmask
Feedback: Go for it! [:
Spoilers: nope
Setting: AU set in 1935 loosely based upon the plot of the movie Atonement. Tara won't admit yet that she likes Willow.
Rating: Mostly PG for the beginning but will probably move into NC-17
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters I just like writing about them
Notes: Hello! Sorry I haven't updated in a while. Moving back home and having an ill fated crush kind of made me lose the will to write for a while. In better news I got a job! I'm also moving into my own apartment tomorrow, and I feel more confident about writing again so hopefully I'll continue! Thoughts and flashbacks in italics ~

Part Four:

"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!"

- First Fig, Edna St. Vincent Millay

Three years ago…

“Oh I’ve f-finally found you!” Tara exclaimed climbing down from her white horse.

Willow stared at the approaching woman from beneath a sea of tall golden grass. The sun was setting behind Tara.

“Riley’s g-gone on ahead in search of your h-horse” Tara explained as she got on her knees before Willow.

Willow’s face was streaked with dirt and tears. Her first time on a horse and of course she had done something wrong. The horse had spooked and bolted over an hour ago tossing it’s rider to the ground and running off into the woods. Riley the stable hand who had accompanied them on their ride had galloped on his horse after Willow’s.

Tara looked desperately into Willow’s eyes searching for the epicenter of Willow’s pain. Her eyes trailed to Willow’s shaking arm and down to her hand that was grasping at her ankle. Tara’s horse nickered gently behind them and pressed his nose to Tara’s shoulder.

“Oh W-Willow, is it your ankle?”

Willow bit her lip and nodded.

Tara’s eyebrows scrunched in deeper worry.

“I need to s-see how b-bad it is, is that okay?”

Willow looked into Tara’s eyes with perfect trust, knowing her friend wouldn’t hurt her and nodded ‘yes’.

Tara gently moved Willow’s shaking hands away from her ankle and tried to assess the situation.

“I… I’m going t-to take off your b-boot. S-stop me if it h-hurts too much” Tara explained.

Willow nodded and wrapped her hands around her thigh in an attempt to keep her leg steady for Tara. Tara unlaced Willow’s dusty boot quickly and loosened the string. She stopped to look up at Willow to see if she should continue. Willow nodded and Tara returned to her task. She held the back of Willow’s calf steady with one hand and with the other hand loosened the heel of Willow’s boot. Willow’s grip on her thigh tightened and her teeth clenched.

“Your ankle is s-swollen. We can keep the b-boot on or t-take it off. Wh-what would you like?”

“Take it off. Please take it off” Willow practically begged.

Tara let out a deep breath of air and tugged hard at the boot until it quickly slid off.

Willow groaned, “Is it… is it broken?”

Tara rolled down Willow’s white sock and took that off as quickly as the boot with notably less resistance. She gently prodded Willow’s pink and swollen ankle.

“No, I-I think it’s just sprained. I don’t w-want you to w-walk on it though. Are you okay riding w-with me b-back up to the m-mansion?”

Willow looked fearfully up at Tara’s white horse, Herald.

Tara sensed Willow’s trepidation, “Herald w-would never hurt you, especially when I’m w-with you. H-He’s a big softy and far t-too gentle to t-toss anyone”.

Willow swallowed and then nodded, “O-Okay”.

Tara gently patted Willow’s arm and then got up to arrange things. She would have to remove the saddle so that Herald could carry them both. Tara went to Herald’s side and lifted up the supple leather part of the saddle revealing the girth buckles. She pulled the straps until they both came undone and then lifted the saddle up off of Herald. Tara deposited the saddle on the grass beside Willow. She would have to send Riley out later to retrieve it for her. Herald gave a deep sigh and swished his tail, happy to be rid of his saddle.

“We’ll h-have to ride b-bareback” Tara stated.

Willow’s eyes widened in fear, but she offered no complaint.

Tara gave a short whistle at Herald and he fell to his knees on his front haunches so that he looked as if he were bowing.

Tara patiently helped Willow so that she could stand and led to her Herald. Without much struggle Willow was able to comfortably sit on Herald’s back. She gripped desperately at the reins, anxious about another horse mishap. Tara finally joined Willow, choosing to sit in front of the red head so that she could more effectively steer Herald. Had it been earlier in the day Tara would have stayed on the ground and walked Herald with Willow on his back, but as it was growing dark she didn’t want to take the chance of falling and hurting herself as well.

“O-Ok ready W-Willow?’ Tara asked.

“Mhmm” Willow replied behind her.

“Y-You s-should hold on to me t-then” Tara advised.

“Oh” Willow replied lamely and wrapped her arms around Tara’s waist so that her palms lay flat against her stomach.

Tara clucked at Herald and he rose at her command and began to walk forward. The sun was falling out of the sky in front of them tinging the world pink. Cold sweat trickled down Willow’s neck as the adrenaline began to dissipate from her bloodstream. Her whole body was shaking, but it was calming down.

“D-Doing okay b-back there?”

“Yes all good” Willow replied back.

The red head sighed as her muscles began to relax again, the pain in her ankle was constant but bearable when undisturbed by movement.

Willow could feel how soft Tara’s stomach was laying flush against her open palms. Willow’s heart began to beat fast and her stomach felt light and fluttery. It was the strangest feeling. Something in her throat began to swell as if she were going to start crying. She didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. She couldn’t help but smile, but her eyes filled with tears. Why did it feel so good and hurt so much to be this close to Tara? She could feel every jostling movement of Tara against her body as the horse they rode kept a steady pace. Willow’s heart hammered harder and she was sure Tara could feel it in her back. Willow couldn’t breathe it was too painful, when finally the realization came to her.

I… I love her…


Willow could feel her heart pounding violently in her ears as she watched Dawn disappear into the mansion. It was too late. She was too late. She was going to hell for this.

Dawn sped into the mansion grasping Willow’s letter to her chest wondering what secret thing Willow intended to say to Tara that needed to be concealed in an envelope. She stopped in the foyer and turned the sealed envelope over in her hands. She hesitated for a moment and then ripped open the paper, quickly unfolding the note. There in printed word was the strangest thing she had ever read. One word in particular struck her.


Dawn was shaking.

Why… did Willow write this? Surely it’s a joke? She looked so serious handing it to me though.

Dawn paused for a moment hearing for the first time a murmuring of voices down the hall.

Donald was home. Distracted momentarily by her big brother’s arrival. Dawn crumpled the torn envelope and stuffed it into her dress pocket, where her notebook resided, and folded the note again before running down the hallway. She burst through the doors running straight for her brother.

“Donald!” she exclaimed.

Without blinking Dawn passed the folded note to Tara. She avoided eye contact with her sister as she ran into her brother’s arms. Donald picked Dawn up and gleefully spun her around.

“Well if it ain’t my little sis!”

Tara smiled at her siblings embrace and then looked curiously down to the note in her hand. She unfolded the note and quickly read it and then re-read it.

“D-D-Dawn D-Did you read t-this l-letter?”

Dawn was too busy chatting aimlessly with Donald to hear Tara.


Dawn continued to ignore her sister.

“Oh Dawnie! There you are! You must show me to your room. I want to see that new type writer you told me about!” Beth exclaimed emerging from the hallway.

“Oh yes! Let’s!” Dawn agreed walking quickly for the door to join her cousin.

Tara growing more frustrated side stepped Dawn before she could escape.

“Wasn’t there an envelope?” Tara whispered.

Dawn pushed past her without responding and ran off to her room with Beth.

Tara’s face was burning. She knew who wrote this.

Willow was shaking as she approached the front door of the mansion. She could already hear the crickets signaling the night’s beginning. She would walk straight up to Tara and tell her that it was a practical joke. Or that the letter wasn’t even from her. Or maybe Tara hadn’t even received the letter. Willow bit her lip. Of course Tara had received the letter, fate was cruel that way.

Apprehensively Willow rang the door bell feeling all together foolish. The door opened and Tara stood in the doorway, face flush and her eyes downcast and hesitant to reach Willow’s.

She had read the letter.

“It-It was a mistake” Willow glanced up at Tara in fear, perhaps she had deeply offended her.

Maybe Tara hated her now.

“D-Dawn read it” Tara wrung her hands nervously.

“Well I’m so sorry Tara… I… it was the wrong version” Willow looked down at her feet deeply ashamed.

“Yes” Tara agreed with such a gentle air that it made Willow look up again, it felt as if Tara did not in fact hate her.

“It was never meant to be read”

“No” Tara agreed again.

Willow nodded her head, still nervous but relieved that Tara was not shouting at her or casting angry looks her way. Instead the woman in the doorway turned and began to walk back into the house. Willow felt the strange sense that Tara wanted her to follow so she did.

Tara led them down the hall and past the foyer into the library. She obviously wanted to talk then and in private so Willow shut the door behind them and continued on into the darkened room. Tara stopped behind a work desk and clicked on the lamp. She turned to face Willow.

“W-What was in the version I was m-meant to read?”

Willow swallowed, “I-I don’t know… it was more formal… less uh…”

“A-Anatomical?” Tara offered.

“Yes” Willow nodded, she dared then to stare into Tara’s eyes to try and decipher what was going through her mind.

The red headed studied the beautiful woman in front of her, her form sculpted in the soft light of the desk lamp.

Tara shyly gazed at Willow too and then dropped her eyes again blushing, “It-It’s been there for w-weeks, and then this m-morning by the f-fountain…”

Willow was looking at her again with those eyes, the ones that would not look away. Tara felt naked standing there, interrogating the gardener.

Willow was quiet so Tara continued, “I’ve never… d-done anything like that before…” she turned away from Willow and wrapped her arms around herself.

“I was s-so angry… w-with you, and… w-with m-myself”

Willow stepped closer to Tara’s retreating form wanting to reach out, but she couldn’t.

“I t-thought if you w-went away to m-medical school, then I-I’d be h-happy, but…”

Tara turned her head then to look at Willow through her peripheral vision.

“I don’t know how I-I could have b-been so ignorant about m-myself, so…”

Willow carefully approached Tara as she turned to face the red head. Tara was crying. Willow opened her mouth wanting to say so many things, to ask if she truly understood what Tara was trying to say to her.

Why is she crying? Have I wounded her so much with this letter?

“So s-stupid” Tara quietly remarked, she looked afraid to meet Willow’s eyes.

She began to back away from Willow, cowering further against the bookcase.

“You d-do know w-what I’m talking about, don’t you?” she whispered.

She was looking up at Willow now, tears threatening to spill over, “You knew b-before I did”.

“Why are you crying?” Willow whispered, she took a step forward.

Tara shook her head and gave a weak laugh, her voice breaking as she answered, “d-don’t you know why?”

“Yes, I know exactly” and Willow closed the distance between them.

Tara’s breath was shallow and hitched at Willow’s closeness. Tara stared longingly into Willow’s eyes, but the red head was trembling now.

“H-How long have you k-known?” Tara gently asked, she brought her hand up to Willow’s cheek willing the other woman to meet her gaze and stay there.

“I- I… three.. three years”, Willow was shaking.

“W-What’s wrong?” Tara asked worried she had done something.

“I… It’s… It’s just how do I know this is real? You like boys and I-I’m just a freak or… or something. This isn’t possible. I mean things like this don’t come true…” Willow stumbled over her words trying to explain the confusion and fear she had known since discovering who she was and what that meant.

“The p-possibility that I f-feel the s-same is so impossible for you?” Tara asked gently, there was no judgement in her voice, no fear, and no anger.

Willow’s eyes began to sting, her mouth opened and closed trying to grab at the words she needed, “do you? I mean… do you… feel the same?”

Tara smiled at the woman before her and combed her hand through Willow’s short hair “I do”.

They held each other’s gazes for a long time. Tara ran her hand through Willow’s hair, trying to calm the woman. They both wiped at their own tears.

“So you don’t hate me?”

Tara was stung by this, she never wanted to make Willow think she hated her.

“N-Never I swear” Tara responded with urgency.

Willow still looked unsure, so Tara did the one thing she had been secretly dreaming of for months. She leaned in and kissed the woman she was desperately in love with.

Willow’s lips were soft against her own and shy at first, not fully registering what was happening. Tara lingered there, holding on as long as time would let her. Willow with much uncertainty returned Tara’s kiss, slowly wrapping her arms around Tara's waist. Tara sighed breaking the kiss as she held Willow close to her.

“W-Will you t-tell me w-what else you do in your dreams?” Tara whispered against Willow’s ear.

Willow shivered against Tara’s embrace.

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 7/9/16)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:38 pm 
1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:29 am
Posts: 12
Location: Bs. As. - Argentina
Ooh, no!. Please don'nt tell me you left this fic unfinished =(

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 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 7/9/16)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:08 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Will_Maclay: Hey! I haven't updated because I didn't realize anyone was still reading the story. I've been sitting on the last passage I wrote for a few months just forgotten in my folders. So lucky you! :)

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 7/9/16)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:41 pm 
4. Extra Flamey
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 213
Topics: 3
Location: baltimore, maryland
Title: Atonement
Author: Nightmask
Feedback: go for it!
Spoilers: none
Setting: AU set in 1935. I watched Atonement last night and fell in love with it and I couldn't stop imagining Willow and Tara as Cecilia and Robbie so I wanted to try writing them into that era and loosely the same plot. Tara won't admit yet that she likes Willow and is jealous of the attention she gives to Dawn.
Rating: Mostly PG for the beginning but will probably move into NC-17
Disclaimer: These aren't my characters I just like writing about them
Notes: I'm a working gal now! I got a sweet audiobook job and I've just been drawing a lot of Steven Universe fan art lately. The single life has been treating me well! Anyway sorry I haven't updated in a while, I just didn't think anyone was still reading this!

Part Five:

"I could have loved you better in the dark;"
- Rendezvous by St. Vincent Millay

The library swathed the two lovers in darkness, the only illumination offered was that of the desk lamp which hit Willow’s back directly, obscuring Tara in shadow against the bookcase.

Tara sucked in air. The proximity of Willow’s body to her own was intoxicating. She took in Willow’s form appreciating the way the red head’s black dress clung tightly to her body and fell off of her as it reached her hips. She could see Willow’s collar bones underneath the thin straps of the dress. A strap on one shoulder was about to abandon it’s post and fall and Tara watched intently as it did.

“I w-want you…t-to do those things you said in your…um letter”

Willow swallowed dangerously. Electricity sparked at the back of her neck. She was sure that her breathing had hitched as she had to fight against herself to calm her oxygen intake.

Holy shit. This is really happening.

Tara reached out towards Willow gently sliding her fingers over Willow’s hips, pulling at the silky fabric of her sleek black dress. Willow could feel the drop and surge of her stomach, the flutter of air sweeping inside of her lungs. Tara pulled her closer and Willow felt frightened, but allowed herself to be dragged along. Tara’s fingers were firm but gentle all the same as the dug into Willow’s skin through the thin fabric. Tara held Willow close to her, daring to finally take and ask for what she wanted. Willow felt unsure what to do with her hands so they stayed dumb at her sides, trembling. They stood there for what seemed an entire hour, staring nervously at each other until their breathing slowed and matched in pace. The prospect of the nearing dinner hour escaped entirely from both of their minds.

“A-Are you alright?” Tara whispered.

Willow nodded her head ‘yes’ and laughed, feeling foolish.

“I just… I… I think about this happening all the time. Like when I’m picking the tomato plants or pulling weeds by the fountain I think about you and how much I want to be with you like this… and now here comes the thing I wanted most of all and I don’t know what to do… I’m so nervous… and scared… and… and…”

Willow looked deeply into Tara’s open clear eyes, “I think I really love you” she said barely above a whisper, “and I’m so scared that I’m going to get hurt, that something will happen or… or you won’t want me anymore the next day and I really just want to keep kissing you and holding you… Tara I’m scared…”

Tara took Willow’s hand in her own, she cupped it gently, her thumb tracing the gardener’s smooth palm and up past her callouses and her rough finger tips. She guided Willow’s hand to her chest and held it firmly in place. Her heart was thudding loudly, Willow was surprised to find that she had not heard how loud it was before.

“I’m s-scared too, but I want this… I want you Willow Rosenberg” Tara declared.

Willow took a deep trusting breath, “Oh” was all that came out.

Tara laughed softly at this, “you think about m-me when you’re gardening?” Tara inquired.

Willow blushed then, ducking her head and then looking sheepishly back up Tara and nodded, “Um more often than I should probably admit”.

Tara bit her lip trying to contain her quirky grin that Willow loved so much.

Tara leaned closer so that her face was inches from Willow’s, her voice was thick, “I love you too by the way”, and she leaned in kissing Willow again.

She could feel Willow’s breathing catch as she kissed the red head slightly rougher than originally intended. Willow’s hand instinctively went to Tara’s hips, in hopes of steadying them both. Instead Willow felt herself being pushed out of the recesses of the shadows and against the back of the desk. The lamp illuminated the pure emotion on Tara’s face as they parted briefly. Their steadying breath hung in air and Tara drew back slightly to stare at Willow and gauge how she was doing. Willow swallowed, nervous at how openly Tara was staring at her with such blatant wanting.

“P-Put your hands on me” Tara whispered against Willow’s ear.

Willow choked on the sudden intake of breath as Tara’s steady hands cupped her own that had been resting on Tara’s hips and drove them slowly up her sides. Tara sucked in a sharp breath and shivered from the touch. Willow could feel Tara’s heart pounding wildly against her own body. Tara released Willow’s hands then, trusting them to move on their own. Willow shuddered as Tara’s fingertips moved ghostlike to the back of her neck and her bare shoulders. Tara began to plant soft kisses against the side of Willow’s neck where goosebumps grew in their wake.

Willow’s fingers moved in and out of the confines of Tara’s dress where it met her shoulders, sculpting her warm shoulder blades against the inside of her rough palms. The flimsy straps fell one at at time from Tara’s shoulders and the form of the dress slackened against Tara’s body, falling past Tara’s bra and pooling at the place where Willow and her stomach met. Willow’s fingers moved again to Tara’s bare sides feeling the naked warmth of Tara’s hips for the first time before turning her hands so that her thumb could trace the valley of skin just between Tara’s breasts, under the cotton of her bra. Tara so distracted by Willow’s growing boldness that she forgot what she was doing and felt a deep sigh escape her as she pressed her mouth against Willow’s throat.

Holding Tara steady by the waist Willow dipped her hand under the middle of Tara’s bra and rested there for a moment feeling Tara coming undone. She moved her lips to the soft column of Tara’s throat and breathed in her perfume and skin before brushing her palm further against Tara’s skin until she was cupping the soft flesh of Tara’s breast, her thumb placing featherlight kisses against her straining nipple. Tara shuddered violently against Willow and gripped the red head tightly. Willow pressed her lips firmly against Tara’s throat and opened her mouth to let her tongue move against the skin jumping beneath it. Shivers crawled up Tara’s body in waves, she gripped Willow’s hair tightly as the red head drew slow circles against her breast. So cruel and calculating, so precise, Tara was going to lose her mind. Willow groaned against Tara’s throat loving the roughness Tara applied to her hair, feeling the woman trembling underneath her craving her touch so desperately.

“Tara?” a voice called out from the hallway.

“Shit shit shit” Tara whispered and Willow quickly yanked up her dress for her, giggling.

“Tara? Are you in there? It’s dinner time!”, it was Dawn’s voice.

“Shhhh Shhh d-don’t let her hear you” Tara hissed.

Willow covered her mouth trying to stifle her laughter.

They froze at the rough jangling at the doorknob outside. Thank goodness they had thought to lock it.

“Tara come on, you’ll be late” Dawn called out and then with a loud audible sigh they could hear the crisp retreating footsteps of Dawn’s heels clacking against the floors.

Tara’s face had gone completely red and she busied herself smoothing down Willow’s hair and fixing the straps of her dress.

“Meet me tomorrow at lunch in the garden canopy” Willow whispered to Tara as they rose and both smoothed down their dresses.

“Yes, of course” Tara said grinning as the reddening in her cheeks began to subside.

They moved towards the locked door of the study, Willow moved to unlock the door when Tara stopped her.

Her body gently pressed Willow’s against the door, her hand gently cradling the back of Willow’s head as she kissed her again, roughly and desperately and then placed a last kiss, more tender and sweet.

“See you at dinner” she whispered and opened the door, leaving ahead of the blushing red head.

"be nor ret n'Khan, tizmar sae? Please stay beyond the cruel dawn"- Chris Anne Wolfe, Shadows of Aggar

"In the pale light of the moon, I play the game of you"- Neil Gaiman, Sandman

 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 22/10/16)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:24 am 
1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:29 am
Posts: 12
Location: Bs. As. - Argentina
Yeah, lucky me! =D
I found it the other day looking in recent activity... For security I always go to the Finished Fics Archive, but well, I'm traying to participate more on this Board... for things like this...

Gotta read now...

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 Post subject: Re: Atonement (updated: 22/10/16)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 12:31 pm 
1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:29 am
Posts: 12
Location: Bs. As. - Argentina
Oh yeah!. Loved this chapter!.
Hope I keep getting lucky ;)

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