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

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 Post subject: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:04 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm
Posts: 6
Topics: 1
• Author name – IronWill

• Rating - R (NC-17 possible in future posts. Will post warnings accordingly)

• Disclaimer - Sexual content, strong language, violence and difficult subject matter.

• Feedback - Yes please! Constructive feedback is very much appreciated.

• Summary - A/U: Willow is a healer, traveling with two bounty hunters and a boy she considers her son. She's spent the better part of a decade running from her past but now, in a familiar kingdom, she'll face her demons and reclaim her lost love.

• Notes - This is my first fic, completely unrevised. I have no beta so any mistakes are my own. Tara doesn't appear for a couple of chapters, so bare with me. But she will show up! Or else it wouldn't be a Willow/Tara fic, now would it? If anyone is interested in becoming my beta please let me know! I can use all the help I can get.

Chapter 1: Chosen Family

She loved the sounds of the river. No matter where in the world she came to be, the sound of rushing water crashing against stone and sand always brought her back home. To the small village at the edge of the Northern Mountain. Valleys so green and lush you could walk through them forever. The sky so clear and blue it could take your breath away. She longed to return, to see her mothers smiling eyes, to hear her sisters laughter floating upon the breeze as they played in the wildflowers. A faint smile graced her lips as she closed her deep green eyes, and for a moment, just a moment, she was there. Watching as two little girls with blue eyes and bright red curls that matched her own, raced up the hill to greet her.

Her smile faltered as her daydream faded. Tears burned behind her eyes, but she did not let them fall. She opened her eyes wide and sighed softly as she gazed out across the vast river. She knew she would never see home again. Her mother and sisters were long dead and nothing remained for her in the small village at the edge of the mountain.

A flash of brown hair and pounding footsteps brought her out of her revere and she glanced over her shoulder to watch as a gangly boy with mousey brown hair ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Not far behind was the dark haired woman who chased after him. “Theodoric! I swear when I catch you I’m throwing you in the river!”

Theo shrieked as the woman got closer, but he managed to dart out of the way and scampered up the nearest tree. “Can’t catch me now!” His wide toothy grin greeted his would be captor as he tried to catch his breath.

The redhead laughed loudly and stood, joining the brunette who stared up at the boy from the base of the tree. “What’s the boy done now, Faith?”

Faith rolled her eyes, “Tried to pick my pocket. Little rat got nearly 4 shillings before I caught him.” She shook her head and put her hands on her hips. “I thought you talked to him about that, Will?”

She shrugged, “I tried. He’s persistent, I’ll give him that.” She looked back up the tree at the grinning boy. “You’ll have to come down at some point.”

Theo shook his head, “She’ll kill me if I do.”

Willow chuckled and shook her head, “You can’t stay there all night. You’ll just have to risk it.”

“But she’ll throw me in the river! I can’t swim!” His wide blue eyes stared down at her as he clung to a branch. “I’m too young to die!”

“You shouldn’t have picked my pocket then!” Faith couldn’t suppress the amused smile as she watched the boy squirm. “Come down here and take it like a man!”

The boy again shook his head, “Wether I take it like a man or a chicken, I’ll drown just the same!”

Willow couldn’t help but laugh. The boy had a point. “Come down here, Theo. She won’t throw you in.”

He looked skeptical for a moment, “Promise?”

The redhead smiled and held out her arms. “I promise. Now come on. Jericho will be back soon.” She knew the mention of their silent companion would entice him out of the tree.

The boy grinned and practically launched himself out of the tree and into her outstretched arms. He giggled as she pulled him into a tight embrace and tickled his sides. “You are a little imp, you know that?”

Faith rolled her eyes and ruffle his hair, “Wonder where he gets it.” She smiled as he squirmed out of the redheads arms and dug into his pocket. The boy pulled out three shillings and into her hand. “Thank you. Next time I will throw you in.” She took a playful swipe at his head, which he quickly ducked before taking off, once again running through the woods.

“That boy’s going to be trouble soon.” Willow commented with a smile as she watched him hop off after a frog.

The brunette scoffed, “Soon? He’s trouble now!”

The redhead chuckled and nodded her agreement. “It’ll only get worse the older he gets. He’s what? 8, 9 maybe?”

Faith shrugged, “Something like that.” She sighed loudly, “Ah, well. Nothing we can do now but cross our fingers and hold on for the ride.”

Willow shook with laughter and they watched for a moment longer as he mimicked the sounds of the poor frog he was stalking and began nudging it, trying to make it hop. They had found the boy 6 years ago, abandoned in the woods. The village they were passing through had suffered greatly from bouts of illness and famine. They presumed the boy had been left there by a family who was unwilling, or unable, to care for him. After many days of looking for his family, they had given up and decided to bring him with them. Willow refused to leave the boy to die and Faith had agreed. What had surprised them most was their companion, Jericho. He took an immediate liking to the boy and he cared for him like any father would. Likewise, the boy quickly grew attached to the stoic man as only he could calm the boys frequent crying. Willow became like a mother to him. She looked after him, taught him to read and write. While Faith took on a more relaxed role in parenting the child. They all functioned as a family, each fiercely protective of the others and loyal to a fault.

Willow took a deep breath and exhaled through her nose. “Come on. Jeri will be back soon. Let’s get camp set, then it’s lessons for the boy.”

Faith sighed dramatically, but relented and the two set about their tasks.

Jericho returned a few hours before dark carrying a rabbit and two quails. He smiled as Theo raced to meet him, jumping into his arms and climbing up the broad man, settling on top of his shoulders. “Did you see any trolls?”

Jericho shook his head and smiled up at the boy. Though he was unable to speak, he and Theo had never had a problem communicating, usually through a serious of looks and gestures.

“How about giants? Any giants in the woods?” Theo was nothing if not persistent. One thing he had undoubtedly picked up from Willow was her inquisitive nature.

Jericho’s shoulders quaked with silent laughter as he reached up and lifted the boy off his shoulders and placed him firmly on the ground, his grey eyes twinkling. He smirked at his young charge and shook his head slowly. He kneeled down and made a fluttering motion with his hands, somewhat resembling the wings of a butterfly or bird. He smiled slowly as he pointed to the trees.

Theo’s eyes light up and he began bouncing excitedly. “Really?! Real fairies?!” Willow had told him stories of the enchanting creatures of the forests. The idea that he may actually get to see one thrilled him.

The dark haired man nodded with a grin and motioned for the boy to be very quiet. He pointed to the trees again then to his eye, indicating for the boy to look for himself.

Theo grew very serious as he took off once again for the trees, disappearing into the near darkness.

“You shouldn’t encourage him. We’ll lose track of him one of these days, then what?” Faith leaned against a near by tree with a smirk, having watched the entire encounter silently.

Jericho shrugged with a smile and stood, bringing the fruits of his hunting trip with him and laying them at the brunettes feet.

She laughed and picked up the animals, “Next time, I’m going hunting. You can stay and watch the boy.”

The man shook his head fondly and followed the brunette as she walked towards camp.

Willow looked up from her place on the ground and smiled. In her lap lay and open book, quill and ink well on the ground by her feet. She leaned back against a tall oak tree and watched as her two companions walked towards her. She noted the game hanging from leather cords in Faith’s hand. “Looks like we’re eating well tonight.” She cast and appreciative smile at Jericho, “Thank you.”

He smiled and nodded as he sat down beside her and pointed to the book in her lap.

The redhead grinned, “He loves it. He likes the idea of being able to write his own story. It really is a beautiful journal.” She shook her head with a chuckle, “Of course when he heard you coming he took off.”

Jericho’s grin matched hers as he leaned back resting on his elbows, seemingly content to just watch as Faith set about cleaning the nights catch.

The three sat in companionable silence as Faith continued preparing the meal for the night. Willow put Theo’s journal away, knowing full well lessons were over for the night. Jericho relaxed and looked up at the sky between the trees, watching as the evening light grew dim.

As night fell, Jericho stood and walked to the edge of the woods and brought his fingers to his lips. A sharp whistle pierced the still night air and he waited. He smiled as he heard small footsteps crashing through the leaves and underbrush. Theo was in his arms the moment he broke through the tree line and the man carried the boy to the camp site, settling him beside his surrogate mother.

The redhead smiled up at Jericho then gently ran her fingers through the boys tussled hair, removing a stray twig with a chuckle.

They ate, each talking about their day, with Jericho silently watching and nodding along as they included him in their discussions. The life they led was unconventional, to say the least. A gypsies lifestyle, only without the gypsies. They traveled from place to place, Jericho and Faith tracking down criminals and collecting the bounties in each town they passed through. And Willow was a sort of healer. She offered whatever aid she could to those most in need whenever possible. The people she helped offered what they could. Usually a warm meal and a place to sleep for the night was all that could be offered and it was graciously accepted. On the rare occasions that coin was offered, Willow would save it up to buy whatever was needed for Theo.

The kingdom they were currently in was unknown to Faith and Jericho, but Willow seemed to know it well. Faith smirked and nudged Jericho conspiratorially. “So, Will, where’s the nearest cobbler? My boot needs to be repaired.”

The redhead rolled her eyes, “You can just ask. I know you’re dying to.”

Faith leaned forward, leaning her elbows on her knees, “How did you know to come this way? We never would have found this road had you not been with us.” Despite how close they were, Faith and Jericho knew very little about Willow’s past. She had always been reluctant to share any details about her previous life, preferring to keep the past where it belonged.

Willow chuckled, the brunette looked like a child egger to receive a gift. “I’ve passed through here once before.”

Jericho nudged Faith’s foot with his own and nodded in the redhead’s direction. He clearly wanted more details.

“Passed through, huh? So no heartbroken lovers waiting for your return?” Faith teased, smiling as Jericho chuckled silently.

Willow’s smile slowly faded and she turned her gaze towards the fire crackling between them. She shook her head, her stare distant and cold. “No. I was just a stranger passing though.” After a moment a soft smile returned as she looked over at Theo, “Though when I was here, there was a grand festival. The entire city was filled with people and decorations. I had never seen anything so exciting in all my life.”

The boy’s eyes light up and he scooted closer, “Really? Were there gypsies and dancers?” He had never been to a festival. They were always moving from one village to the next. He desperately wanted to see more of what the world had to offer, but they always moved on too fast for him to explore.

The redhead nodded, “Oh yes, many dancers and fortunetellers. Music filled the streets and there was more food than you could ever eat.” She smiled down at him and wrapped her arm around his shoulders. “One day, I’ll take you. Would you like that?”

Theo nodded enthusiastically. “Can we go tomorrow? Just for a little while?”

The hopeful question nearly broke her heart, but she knew they had to move on. “I wish we could, but we have to keep moving. We can’t stop here long, there’s no money to be made here.” She sighed softly and pulled him into a hug. “I promise, as soon as we find a decent place to settle for the winter, we’ll find a solstice celebration to go to, alright?”

His bright smile faded with her words and his shoulders slumped. “But, that won’t be for months. What if we don’t find a place before winter solstice? Why can’t we stay here? I like it here.”

Faith reached out and nudged his knee affectionately, “We’re too close to the city. They have an army dedicated to hunting down the bad guys, they don’t need a couple of bounty hunters like us.” She smiled, “Will’s right. We’ll be settled before Solstice, we’ll take you then.”

Theo desperately wanted to explore the city. He tried once more to convince them, “But the Summer Solstice was yesterday. Won’t they be having a celebration in the city now?”

Willow and Jericho shared a look and the man shook his head sadly. They had to keep moving. They couldn’t afford to lose an entire day’s worth of travel. Willow sighed sadly and brushed her fingers through the boys hair, “I’m sorry, Theo, we can’t go tomorrow. I promise, we’ll go to the next one, okay?”

The boy bowed his head in disappointment but nodded. He wanted so much to see all the wonderful things Willow had told him about. There just had to be a way. Ideas and possibilities raced through his head as he idly toyed with a stick, drawing random patterns in the dirt at his feet.

Their conversation ended for the night, all of them deciding that there was nothing left to be gained from carrying on their discussion. They all settled down by the fire. Theo stood and waited for Willow to get situated before settling in close to her, using her stomach as a pillow, with his feet pressed firmly against Jericho’s back. Faith flanked them on the opposite side, smiling as she looked across at the familiar sight. They all fell asleep, comforted in the knowledge that they were together.

_________________
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.


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 Post subject: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:11 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm
Posts: 6
Topics: 1
Chapter 1, Part 2: Consequences

Theo lay still in the near darkness, the sun had not yet risen above the tree line. The steady rise and fall of Willow’s breathing would normally have lulled the boy back to sleep, but instead, his mind was racing with possibilities. The images of bright banners flying in the morning breeze, music filling the air and dancers performing in the streets had filled his dreams, and when he woke, all he could think about was how to get to the festival. He knew Willow and Jericho wouldn’t budge from their decision and Faith wouldn’t go against them. But the temptation was too great.

He turned on his side, making sure Faith was still sleeping soundly. The brunette lay sprawled out on her back, snoring softly. He then sat up slowly, being careful not to disturb Willow, and looked down to where Jericho slept. The dark haired man was curled up on his side, his head pillowed on the crook of his arm as he too slept peacefully.

Theo stood and stared down for a moment at his adoptive mother. She stirred slightly before turning over onto her side and drifting back into a deep sleep. He sighed in relief before backing away quietly. He know he would be in deep trouble when he returned but the consequences were worth it in his mind. He smiled as he hurried down the road. Perhaps they would come after him, and after a brief scolding, they could enjoy the festival together.

They had camped close to the city, Willow insisting that it was best, so it only took him a half hour or so to reach the city center. He stopped in his tracks as the castle came into view. Colorful flags caught high in the morning sky as music and laughter drifted to his young ears. He had never seen so many people in all his days. A wide grin broke across his face as he ran across a long bridge and into the heart of the kingdom.

The streets were alive with so many different things, Theo didn’t know where to go first. A juggler stood near one of the many merchant stands, performing for a small crowd that had gathered. He eagerly made his way to the front and watched at the man tossed several apples into the air. The boy clapped happily and grinned as the juggler winked at him and tossed him an apple. Theo giggled as he caught it and pushed his way back through the crowd, egger to see what else the festival had in store for him.

******************************************************

Jericho was the first to wake. He sat up stiffly and rolled his broad shoulders, working out the stiffness in his muscles from another night spent on the ground. He cast a sleepy glance around the camp, spotting Faith in the beginning stages of waking up herself. He smiled as she grumbled and groaned. She wasn’t keen on mornings. He then turned to watch as Willow still slept soundly only to pause. Theodric was usually the last to wake. Only the smell of breakfast cooking could rouse the boy without a fight. The dark haired man stood quickly, whistling loudly into he still morning mist.

Faith sat up with a groan and eyes him grumpily. “What in the hell are you doing? It’s still early!” She stifled a yawn then stretched out her own sore muscles.

The silent bounty hunter shook his head and gestured to where the boy usually slept. He looked around the small clearing with worried eyes before whistling again.

The brunette watched him, still confused in her sleep addled state, before realization finally dawned on her. “Where’s Theo?” She stood quickly and began calling for him. “Theodric!”

Willow stirred, rolling onto her back before groggily sitting up. “What the devil are you two doing?”

“He’s gone. He wasn’t here when we woke up.” Faith explained in a rush as she jogged towards the tree line.

The redhead scrambled to her feet, “What do you mean he’s gone? How long have you been up?” Her worried green eyes surveyed the clearing, “Theo!” She listened for only a moment before panic began to set in. “Theo, get out here this instant!”

Jericho kneeled at the edge of the camp sight and sighed loudly. He snapped his fingers together in an attempt to get the others attention.

Willow and Faith quickly made their way to him and kneeled at his side. Jericho outline small footprints with his index finger and pointed to the direction of the city. He shook his head as he looked into Willow’s worried eyes.

Faith sighed and her shoulders slumped. “The little scamp went to the festival.”

The redhead nodded her agreement. “He’s in the city.” She returned Jericho’s steady gaze, “He’s there alone. Jeri, he’s never been anywhere without us, especially a city so big. He’ll get lost or-or stolen! Someone could take him and we’d never know. What if they already have? Oh God, what if we can’t find him? He’s still so small, how…”

Jericho reached over and placed his hand gently over her mouth, effectively silencing her. He shook his head firmly and stood. He held out his hand, which she took graciously.

Faith was already gathering her boots and what little gear they would need for the short trip. “We’ll go. Find him. Bring him back.” She quickly grabbed her belt and dagger, “Then I’m going to kill him.”

**************************************************

Theo wandered from merchant to merchant, in awe of all the beautiful things. He gently picked up a small purple crystal. He smiled as he remembered Willow teaching him about the different uses for such things.

The merchant smiled down at the boy as he marveled at the precious stone ,”That’s a special one, it is. All the way from the Western Lands.” He reached for the stone and examined it carefully. “A stone like this is rare indeed.”

The boy nodded as he gazed at the crystal in wonder. He knew that Willow would love it. He looked up at the merchant with wide, innocent eyes. “How much, Sir?”

“Oh, I could get 4 shillings easy from a stone like this.” He watched at the boys egger expression faded. “But for you, I think a shilling is fair.”

Theo dug in his pocket and pulled out all the coins he had saved from helping Jericho with chores. He counted out each one carefully. He looked up at the merchant and frowned. “I don’t have enough, Sir.”

The merchant placed the crystal back in its place. “Well, perhaps another time.” He smiled sympathetically down at the boy before turning his attention to another customer.

He turned in disappointment from the merchants stall and kicked a stone on the ground. He just knew that Willow would have loved that crystal. As he was walking away he saw something glinting on the ground. He made his way over and a grin spread over his face. There, just a step away was a shilling on the ground. He bent down and picked it up, a bright smile covering his face.

An angry voice broke over the crowd and an old man grabbed his arm roughly. “Hey! Thief! That’s mine!”

Theo’s eyes grew wide as the mans grip tightened. Fear filled his chest and he tried desperately to get away. He pulled with all his strength but he couldn’t break the mans hold.

“Guards! Thief! He stole my coin!” He waved his free hand at the guards standing by the gate and a cruel smile set on his lips when they began running towards him. He looked down at the struggling boy and pulled him closer. “Now it’ll be the stocks for you!”

Theo’s heart raced as he saw the guards getting closer. A flash of memory hit him and he desperately stomped on the mans foot with all his might.

The old man shrieked with pain and his grip loosened. He howled furiously as the boy wrenched free and took off through the crowd. He looked at the guards and pointed, shouting to the top of his lungs. “There! There he goes! Towards the bridge!”

Theo sent a silent thank you to Faith for teaching him that trick but his relief was short lived. He looked back over his shoulder and his eyes grew wide. The guards were quickly gaining on him. He prayed that he could make it back to his Willow and Jericho. He knew they would keep him safe. He quickly darted down an alley and prayed he was going the right way.

Willow, Jericho and Faith split up as they reached the city. The festival had drawn a large crowd and they knew they would never find the boy if they stayed together. They agreed to meet back at the bridge at noon.

Willow cursed under her breath as she grew closer to the towering walls of the palace. Being this close brought back unpleasant memories, ones she’d rather forget. The next moment, her world went spinning and her breath was knocked from her lungs as she crashed against a wall. She was just about to give whoever had run into her a firm piece of her mind when her eyes grew wide and she managed to breath again.

“Theo! Where the devil have you been?!” She helped the boy to his feet and checked him over for injuries. Once she had determined that he was unharmed, her green eyes grew hard, “I told you not to come to the city! What were you thinking?!”

He trembled as tears began to spill from his blue eyes. He flung his arms around the redhead and held her waist tightly and pressed his face into her chest. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!”

Willow’s temper quickly faded and she wrapped her arms around him and leaned her cheek against his soft hair. “It’s alright. I found you, you’re okay.”

She was once again startled as the sound of guards shouting caught her attention.

One of the guards looked left, then right and his eyes grew wide as he looked at her. He shouted and pointed. “There he is!”

Willow looked down as Theo began to tremble more violently. “What’s happened?”

He looked up at her as more tears streamed down his cheeks. “I didn’t mean to!”

Willow shook her head and gently held his cheeks in her hands. “It doesn’t matter. Listen to me! I want you to run. Run as fast as you can. Get to the bridge. Jericho will be there, tell him what happened.” She quickly glance towards the guards who were pushing there way through a crowd of people. They were almost to them. She kissed the boys forehead firmly then looked into his frightened blue eyes. “Don’t look back. I’ll be right behind you.” She gave the boy a quick shove and shouted. “Go!”

Theo took off running through the crowd, easily slipping between the horde of people and was out of her sight in mere moments. She turned quickly as she heard the guards approach and held her ground.

One of the guards stopped in front of her and glared, his dark eyes flashing dangerously. “Where’s the boy.”

The redhead stood firm even though her heart was pounding in her ears. She lifted her chin defiantly. “He’s my responsibility. Whatever he’s done is my fault.”

The other guards surrounded her and watched as the slender redhead defied their captain.

The Captain stepped closer and slowly drew his sword. “Your boy is a thief. He’s broken the law’s set fourth by the Queen, he will be punished accordingly.”

Willow shook her head resolutely, “He will not face your judgment. He is a child.”

“Child or not, he broke the law.” The Captains voice rose above the din of the crowd. “Where is the boy?!”

The redhead knew the consequences of her actions, more importantly, she knew what would happen to Theo if he were taken by the guards. A steely determination settled in her heart. She remained silent.

The Captain nearly growled with frustration at the woman’s silence and leaned closer until his face was barely and inch from hers. “Then you’ll pay for him…” A triumphant grin broke across his face. “… you’ll pay dearly.” He pushed her into one of the waiting guards, “Take her. She’ll tell us where to find him after some… persuasion.”

The guard gripped her upper arm painfully and half dragged her towards the palace. Fear flashed in her wide green eyes, but as quickly as it came, it was gone again. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. After all, he was no where near the worst she had faced.

************************************************************

He ran until his lungs felt like they were going to explode. Tears blurred his vision and he wasn’t sure if he remembered his way around the maze of city streets. He couldn’t hear Willow’s footsteps behind him but he dared not stop. She had told him not to look back and this time, he was determined to listen to her.

Faith climbed the nearest pillar and began surveying the crowd. A blur of movement caught her attention and she sighed in relief as she watched Theo draw closer to her. But the closer he got, the more she could tell that something wasn’t quite right. She jumped from the pillar and moved to intercept him as he ran straight into her.

He struggled violently as arms wrapped around him and lifted him from the ground. His fear driving him to panic. “No! Let me go!” He squirmed and kicked with all the strength he had left, but the arms around him held firm.

Faith kept her grip tight as she tried to calm the frantic child. “Theo, Theo stop! It’s me, calm down! It’s Faith, stop!”

The boy heard her voice over the sound of his own blood rushing through is ears and finally he collapsed. He struggled to breath as gasping sobs wracked his body. He clung to her desperately, wrapping his arms around her neck and his legs tightly around her waist as he cried.

Faith could do nothing but hold him as a thousand thoughts raced through her mind. Clearly something had happened to him but he didn’t appear to be hurt other than the tears falling on to her neck and shoulder. “It’s alright. Whatever it is, it’ll be alright.” She looked up and saw Jericho approach them, confusion clearly written across his face.

The former soldier stood beside her and placed a hand on the trembling boys back. He frowned as the boy flinched at his touch. He looked helplessly into Faith’s eyes.

“I don’t know. He hasn’t spoken.” She quickly kneeled and pried the child from her arms and put her hand under his chin, encouraging him to look at her. “Theo, what happened?”

The little boy’s voice shook and he tried to wipe the tears from his face with the back of his hand. “I w-wanted to buy W-Willow a gift. B-But I d-didn’t have enough. S-so I prayed really hard and then I found a w-whole shilling on the ground. But w-when I picked it up a m-man got r-really mad and grabbed my arm. I s-stomped on his foot just like you taught me! And some men s-started chasing me. I w-was scared so I ran.” He took a quick hiccuped breath before continuing. “I ran until W-Willow found me. But s-she told me to k-keep running until I f-found you!” He looked around with wide blue eyes, more tears falling from them. “S-she said she would be right behind me!” His words ended with a pitiful, muffled cry as he buried his face between her neck and shoulder. “W-we have to find her!”

Faith looked up at Jericho, her own eyes wide with concern. She rocked and shushed the boy for a moment before pulling back once more. She placed her hands on his shoulders and tried to speak as calmly and evenly as she could. “We’ll find her. I promise we will. But I need you to tell me. What did the men look like? The ones that were chasing you?”

He sniffled several times before answering. “T-they had armor on. A-and swords. T-they looked like knights.” He looked up at Jericho and shook his head. “B-but they weren’t the good knights were they, Jeri? They w-weren’t the one’s like you?”

Jericho kneeled and took the boy into his strong arms, holding him closely. He looked over the boys shoulder and into Faith’s eyes, his own hard and cold and filled with concern. He shook his head slowly, making sure the boy could feel the movement against him. The truth was, if the guards were anything like he had been during his time as a soldier, he feared what lay in store for his chosen sister.

Faith recognized the look in Jericho’s eyes for what it was. She nodded in understanding. “We have to find her. Now.”

They stood together, Theo still cradled in Jericho’s arms, and took off towers the castle.

*********************************

Note: Tara will be in the next chapter. Next post should be up in a few days. Still looking for a beta, so if anyone's interested just let me know. Thanks for reading!

_________________
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:02 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe
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Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:25 am
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Looks like a beginning of a very interesting tale, don't end too soon, please ^.^ Also imho you can do fine without beta :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:39 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm
Posts: 6
Topics: 1
Wolf wrote:
Looks like a beginning of a very interesting tale, don't end too soon, please ^.^ Also imho you can do fine without beta :)


Thank you kindly! I'm glad someone is enjoying it so far. I appreciate your kind words. As I've mentioned, this is my first fic, so having a beta would be nice while trying to navigate the process. Plus I'd like to have someone to bounce ideas off of. But I'll do what I can on my own if need be. Once again, thank you and I hope you continue to find my little project interesting!

_________________
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:39 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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Yay, a new story, and a "historical" one, I love those! I'm hooked and very curious to learn more about Willows past. You say Tara is in the next chapter, now I'm wondering if Willow will actually meet her in the palace dungeon or wherever she is brought to or if she will have a memory about Tara (I guess Tara is Willows lost love?). Hopefully Faith and Jericho can save Willow from the torment those guards have planned for her.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:17 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm
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Chapter 2: Her

She watched, unamused, as the throng of festival goers passed below the ramparts. She leaned out over the wall, hoping to catch a glimpse of something, of anything really. She sighed wistfully. She wished she could join her people in their merriment, but as Queen, such activities were frowned upon. She straightened up and brushed some errant dust from her clothing. She smiled as she took in her current fashion. Lord Giles would have himself worked into a frenzy if he saw her in such garb. Her brown leather britches and white tunic were hardly suitable for the Queen, but she never would have made it up to the wall, or out of the palace for that matter, in her formal gown.

She sighed again as she watched a couple walk hand in hand just below her. A flash of green eyes and red hair invaded her memory for a moment before she banished them from her mind. Looking back would do no good. She couldn’t dwell on the past.

“You’re not suppose to be here.”

The Queen turned quickly, obviously startled by the sudden voice from behind her. She breathed a sigh of relief as she located the owner of the voice. “Don’t do that.”

A petite blonde woman bowed deeply, “Forgive me, Your Highness. I did not intend to frighten you.” She grinned as she straightened up, “Of course, if you were where you’re suppose to be, that wouldn’t have been a problem.”

The Queen rolled her blue eyes, “I can’t take another moment of Lord Rain’s arrogance. Buffy, I swear, if he weren’t one of the wealthiest land owners in the kingdom I would throw him out before nightfall.”

Buffy chuckled and placed a hand on the Queen’s shoulder. “Tara, you’re too nice. I would have thrown him out ages ago.” She smiled as she leaned back against the stone ledge. “So, what brings you out here?”

Tara let out a puff of air as she once again leaned over the wall, “Just watching people live their lives. Going where they want, when they want.” Her voice grew quiet as she glanced over at her friend. “Falling in love with whomever they want.”

The blonde nodded in understanding. “Still thinking about her, huh?”

“I can’t help it.” The Queen returned her eyes to the crowd of people below. “I could have done so many things differently.”

Buffy turned and leaned out over the wall beside Tara, gently nudging her shoulder. “But you didn’t. Things happened the way they did for a reason. You can’t go back.”

Tara sighed softly, “I know. I just wish…”

“I know.”

They stood there together for a long time, each lost in their own thoughts. Only the sounds of desperate voices and a crying child brought them out of their own private worlds.

Tara straightened and looked at her friend. “What was that?”

Buffy shook her head, “Not sure. But it’s coming from over there!” Buffy pointed at the palace gate. They both watched as a man and woman argued with two guards. “Something’s going on.”

Tara leaned out further, trying to get a better view as one of her guards struck the man with the shaft of his spear. Her eyes grew wide with anger as she saw that the man was clutching a child to his chest. She quickly dashed down the steps, Buffy right on her heels.

“Your Highness, we don’t know what’s going on. Let me handle this.” Buffy pleaded as she followed the Queen across the courtyard.

Tara shook her head and her fist clenched. “No. He was holding a child, Buffy. A child!” Tara quickly reached the gate and threw it open, startling both guards and the couple standing opposite them. “What’s the meaning of this?” She fixed a merciless gaze on the guards.

One of the guards struggled to regain his voice while the other looked suitably shocked by the sudden appearance of the Queen. They both quickly regained their composure and kneeled before her. “Forgive us, Your Highness.” They remained kneeling but looked up at their Queen before continuing. “These two were trying to get into the palace. They said they needed to find their friend.”

The second guard quickly interrupted, “We tried to tell them that no one is permitted inside palace walls, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Tara looked over at the man and woman, neither bowing in show of respect. She quirked a curious eyebrow before continuing. “Is this true?”

The dark haired woman shook her head, shooting daggers at the guards with her dark eyes. “We only wanted to know where our friend has been taken. We didn’t try to breach your precious wall.”

The man, who still cradled the child, nudged her with his elbow. A chastising glare firmly in place.

“I see.” Tara paused, studying the couple closely. She finally turned her attention back to the guards. “You struck a man who was clearly carrying a child. Explain yourself.”

The first guard nodded, “Yes, my Queen. He refused to answer any questions we asked him.”

The brunette woman laughed sarcastically, “He can’t speak, you idiot!”

The guard quickly stood and took a half step towards her, “Why you little…”

Tara stepped between the guard and the woman, her hand raised. She smirked as Buffy drew the sword that hung from her belt. “That’s enough.” She nodded at Buffy. “Take these two to the barracks. See that they’re dealt with accordingly.”

Buffy sheathed her sword and bowed in response before pausing. “What about the gate, my Lady, we can’t leave it unprotected.”

The Queen nodded in agreement, “Bar the gate, then take them.” She turned her attention back to the couple still standing before her. “Please, come with me. I’ll see what I can do to help you find your friend.”

Buffy opened the gate for the Queen and bowed shallowly as she passed through. Then allowed the three strangers to pass as well, then the guards, before closing it behind her and locking it securely. She motioned for the guards to follow her. “Let’s have a talk about the proper way to treat the Queen’s people, shall we?”

Tara watched as they followed the petite woman like two scolded children. She then looked to the couple once more. “Now. What was this about your friend?”


*****************************************

Tara listened to the entire story as they sat together in the court yard. Faith explained about the boy running off to the festival without permission and how he had come upon a coin. She watched as tears fell from the frightened boy’s eyes as Faith repeated the version of events that lead to his separation from, who she presumed to be, the boy’s mother. Her heart ached for the child who had clearly been through more that enough trauma in one day over a simple misunderstanding.

She smiled as the boy looked up as her with wide blue eyes, “A-are you going to h-help us?” His voice was soft and broken. Tara could see in his eyes the exhaustion and fear warring with one another.

She reached out and gently ran her fingers through his hair. Though he flinched at the contact, she still smiled softly. “Of course I’ll help you. You’ll be back with your mother soon.”

Theo shook his head softly and leaned back, his head leaning on Jericho’s broad chest, “She’s my Willow.”

Tara’s breath caught in her throat and she had to fight to keep from visibly shaking. “W-what did you say?”

The boy looked up at Jericho questioningly before answering in a louder voice. “She’s not my Mother. She’s my Willow.” He furrowed his brow in thought, “She’s sort of like my mother. But my real mother died, so now I have a Willow, a Jeri, and a Faith but-but now my Willow’s gone.” He pleaded with her as more tears filled his eyes. “But you’re a nice Queen and you said you would give my Willow back.” He eyed her hopefully, “You will give her back, won’t you?” He burrowed against Jericho’s chest and the man held him tighter as the boy whispered, “I didn’t mean to be bad. I promise I won’t ever do it again.”

Tara struggled to reign in her own emotions at the boy’s heartbreaking request. The name alone had shaken her to the core, but his soft pleas fortified her resolve. “I promise you, I’ll give your W-Willow back to you.”

Theo smiled softly and shook his head as his eyes grew heavy. Faith leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. “It’s alright, little one. Go to sleep. We’ll find her.” He finally gave up the battle and his eyes drifted closed as he clutched Jericho’s tunic tightly in his fist.

The Queen offered a small smile before standing on shaking legs. She spotted Buffy approaching the courtyard and hurried as best she could towards her friend.

Buffy saw the look in Tara's eyes and she picked up her pace. Something had clearly shaken the other woman. "Tara, what's wrong?"

Tara reached out once she finally stopped in front of her friend, taking both of her hands. "Buffy, I have to find her." Her voice shook and tears began to well up in her crystal blue eyes.

"Find who? Their friend?" Buffy shook her head in confusion. "Tara, what's going on? I don't understand."

The blonde closed her eyes and tried to calm herself. She knew that the woman they were looking for most likely wasn't her Willow, but the mere thought that it could be shook her to her very core. "W-Willow... their friend is W-Willow."

Buffy's eyes grew wide, "You mean... your...?" She shook her head, "No, you don't mean... I mean, you couldn't possibly mean..."

Tara's shook her head, "No.. I don't t-think... I-I don't know." She took a deep breath and looked pleadingly into her friends eyes, "W-what if it is?"

The young captains eyes turned hard and her shoulders rolled back. She squeezed Tara's hands tightly, "I'll get her out." She looked steadily into the Queen's eyes, "I promise, no harm will come to her."

The blonde nodded, tears slowly falling down her cheeks, "Buffy, if it's her... if it's my Willow... just bring her back to me."

Buffy gave her friend a sympathetic smile the turned on her heel and headed off towards the dungeon.

*************************************************

The guards waisted no time in their interrogation. Less than an hour after being brought to the palace dungeons she had been strapped to a chair and questioned, quite persistently.

She was no stranger to pain. No, the truth was, she had withstood a lot more that what the guards had dealt out. But it had been a while since her last beating. Her body had grown unaccustomed to blocking out the pain, she had forgotten how to let it wash over her, like a wave. Even so, she never cried out. Not even once. Too much was at stake. She knew if they got even the smallest noise from her, they would be one step closer to getting Theo, and she wasn't going to let that happen.

She struggled to sit up against the cold stone walls of her cell, her ribs protesting vehemently against the movement. She winced as she finally succeeded. She needed to look over the injuries to know exactly how bad they were. She could feel the laceration across her temple, luckily is wasn’t very deep. She lifted her shirt and again winced as she saw the beginnings of bruising. The redhead probed her ribs as gently as she could but nearly screamed out when she hit a particularly sore spot. Broken rib. Maybe more than one. Being kicked in the ribs repeatedly will do that to you. She shook her head and let out a painful laugh as she slumped back against the filthy dirt floor.

They had ‘interrogated’ her for hours. At least, it felt like hours. They began easy, only dislocating one finger at a time. She looked at her left hand and her breathing increased. She would have to put them back. They had already been out for too long. She gritted her teeth as she held the length of her first finger tightly. With a quick tug she yelped as a loud crack reverberated around the small cell. She continued with the others. Slowly and painfully. After a short eternity, she cradled her hand to her stomach and tried to catch her breath. Stars flashed behind her eyes in the darkness and she grinned madly.

Of all the times she had imagined returning to the palace, this scenario had never even crossed her mind. The darkness claimed her soon after.

_________________
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:20 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm
Posts: 6
Topics: 1
Will's redemption wrote:
Yay, a new story, and a "historical" one, I love those! I'm hooked and very curious to learn more about Willows past. You say Tara is in the next chapter, now I'm wondering if Willow will actually meet her in the palace dungeon or wherever she is brought to or if she will have a memory about Tara (I guess Tara is Willows lost love?). Hopefully Faith and Jericho can save Willow from the torment those guards have planned for her.




Thank you very much. I hope you'll enjoy the latest chapter!


The next part won't be ready until this weekend, but rest assured, all will be well.... eventually...

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I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:36 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 96
Oh no, poor Willow! I guess captain Buffy will be very pissed with the guards responsible for the torture of a "captive" who wasn't even accused of a crime herself - of course I hope torture is truly forbidden under every circumstances in a kingdom ruled by Tara as a queen. I'm happy you include Buffy as Taras confidante and that Giles will probably show up too. Maybe you can also include Xander and Anya?
Now I'm really curious how the queen and a healer out of a remote mountain-village got together und what fateful incidents ripped them apart.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:46 am 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Well, now I'm hooked, you HAVE to continue! Great start, by the way ;-)

I'm curious to see what happens upon their reunion and more about their past. Faith obviously knew exactly where to go for help, whether she knew about Willow's past or not, something made her go directly to the palace. I have a feeling it won't be all puppies and kittens when Willow and Tara meet again. It sounds like there may be some painful history between them but hopefully, eventually, they will resolve their history and live happily ever after!

_________________
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


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 Post subject: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:42 am 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:29 pm
Posts: 6
Topics: 1
Thank you all for the comments! I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post this chapter. It is pretty short but I wanted to get something up tonight. I'll have the next chapter up by next week if not this weekend. Anyway, the new chapter is directly below!


Chapter 4: Rescue

Her footsteps echoed against the damp stone walls, lite torches lining the stairwell as she made her decent into the dungeon. She rarely ventured into the bowels of the palace, there was no need. As captain of the Queens personal guard, her duties lay beyond the stench of these dark corrodes. Regardless, she had a purpose here, and she would see it through.

Upon reaching the bottom of the steps, she called to the nearest guard who was leaning against a wooden archway. “You! I need to find a woman.”

The guard startled at her outburst and nearly toppled over. He gripped his chest tightly and regarded her with a glare. “Nearly gave me a heart attack you did! Bloody woman… what the bleedin’ hell are the likes of you doin’ down here?”

Buffy stepped closer to the man and into the light of one of the torches. She watched as his stern glare faded into shock as recognition dawned. “Bloody hell… you’re the Queens captain, you are… forgive me. I didn’t know. You startled me is all.”

The blonde rolled her eyes and dismissed his apology. “I don’t have time for this. I’m looking for a woman.”

“Don’t have many of them down here…” He scratched his head in thought then shrugged, “Just one that I can think of. Brought her this mornin’ for gettin’ in the way of the captain catchin’ a thief.”

“Where is she?” Buffy nearly growled, the young captain was steadily losing her patience.

The guard pointed down the hall, “Last cell at the end but…. hey! Wait!” He called after her but she was already sprinting down the corridor.

Buffy reached the cell door and pulled against the metal and wood door. She pounded at it with her fists when it wouldn’t budge. She called out to the guard how was making his way towards, albeit at a far slower pace. “Open this door! Now!”

He huffed as he jogged the last few feet and stopped at her side, “I was tryin’ to tell ya. I can’t. The captain will have my head if I do. He ain’t done with her yet.”

Fire flashed in her hazel eyes as she reached over and firmly gripped the guards tunic, pulling him closer and staring daggers into his wide eyes. “Get it open or I’ll tear it from the hinges myself. I won’t ask you again.”

The guard fumbled with the keys in his hand and quickly opened the door then stepped back. “It’s on you then… the captain asks where she’s gone I’m sending him to you.”

“Believe me, he and I will have our talk soon enough.” Buffy pushed passed the guard and stepped into the small, dark cell. The light from the torches in the hall cast a faint light, just barely bright enough to see a small figure awkwardly curled up on the floor by the far wall. She took slow, steady steps towards the woman before she stopped dead in her tracks, her breath catching in her throat. Red hair, though dirty and dull, still caught the dim light. She could just make out the curve of a pale cheek, the rest of the woman’s face was cast in shadow, but it was enough.

She kneeled on the cold floor and reached out a trembling hand, her heart pounding in her throat as she carefully placed it on a thin shoulder. “Willow?”

The slim form shifted slightly, a quiet groan breaking the silence surrounding them. The woman turned over on her back and slowly opened her eyes. She jerked back when she realized she wasn’t alone in the small cell and tried to shuffle closer to the wall but the pain in her ribs caused her to hiss and clutch her side painfully.

Buffy startled at the fearful reaction and leaned back on her haunches, raising her hands in front of her. “Hey, it’s okay. I’m not gonna hurt you.” Tears burned the back of her eyes as she saw the redhead gasp in pain. “Willow, it’s me… it’s Buffy. You’re okay now. I’m getting you out of here.”

Willow shook her head slightly, trying to clear her thoughts as she struggled with the searing pain in her side. The other person’s words finally registered and she looked up through teary eyes. “Buffy?” She reached out, trying to steady herself against the cold stone walls, but the moment her injured hand touched the stone she cried out and fell forward.

The captain was startled by the sudden scream and reached out to catch the redhead as she pitched forward, stopping her just before her face hit the floor. “Easy Will.” She cradled the redhead in her arms as she tried to catch her breath. “Just breath. I’ve got you.”

The redhead trembled in Buffy’s arms as the darkness threatened to claim her once again. She struggled to stay awake.

Buffy closed her eyes and tried to control her emotions. Anger coursed through her veins as she looked over her former friend, noting the numerous cuts and bruises marring her pale skin. It was difficult to see the extent of the injuries in this light, but she could guess by the way the redhead cradled her hand to her chest and how she had clutched her ribs that she had sustained several injuries beyond the superficial cuts. She knew she had to get the redhead out of here and to a healer fast. She gathered up all her strength and held the redhead tightly as she stood, struggling slightly with the added weight in her arms.

Willow cried out in pain when Buffy stood, a blinding light flashing behind her closed eyes. But she knew in her heart that Buffy would get her out, would keep her safe. She finally let the darkness claim her.

******************************

She was warm. That's the first thing she noticed when she began to wake up. The last thing she remembered was being in a cramped, cold dungeon cell, so being warm there was rather unusual. Slowly she opened one eye and winced as soft, white light hit her tired eyes. She squinted for a moment before her eyes finally fluttered open.

So, not a cell. She shifted in bed, the soft mattresses cradling her in it's warmth. It had been so long since she had slept in an actual bed. Even before the brief stay in the dungeon, she had been on the road with Faith and Jericho for so long she had forgotten how good it felt to sleep in a bed.
A soft smile graced her lips. Theo would probably be bouncing on it if he were here with her.

Her eyes widened as that thought fully settled into her still hazy mind. Theo... She sat up quickly and nearly passed out, sharp pain shooting through her body as her ribs screamed in protest. She fell back on the bed, clutching tightly to her side.

"You might not want to do that again."

Willow groaned and turned her head towards the voice. "Yeah, figured that out." she managed to get out through clenched teeth.

Faith chuckled and sat down carefully on the edge of the bed. "You were pretty beat up but you'll live. Gonna hurt like hell for a while though."

The redhead nodded, taking slow breaths she managed a smile. "How did you find me?"

"Didn't." The brunette shrugged, "Not really. Theo told us that palace guards were after him when you stepped in and saved his hide, we figured they'd probably taken you to the palace, so we followed."

The healer sighed in relief and settled more comfortably into the bed, "So he found you, thank the gods."

Faith nodded, "He's fine. He and Jericho are off exploring the palace." She chuckled and shook her head. "I'm sure he'll tell you all about it when they come by later."

Willow smiled knowingly, "I have no doubt."

The brunette sighed softly, trying to find the right words. "Willow, what's going on? How do you know these people? Why did they help you?"

The redhead shook her head and turned her gaze to the window on the opposite side of the room. She knew Faith deserved an explanation, they were family, but she couldn't. She knew that by telling the story, old wounds would be opened and she wasn't sure she would survive them twice.

They were interrupted by a quiet knock on the door and Faith huffed with annoyance before standing and walking to the door.

Willow watched as her friend stood just inside the room and noticed how her body stiffened. She shifted from foot to foot before turning to regard the redhead intently.

Faith took a deep breath before taking a step back and allowing the visitor to enter.

Green eyes widened as the new comer stepped through the door and paused, blue eyes filling with tears the instant they locked with green. Willow couldn't breath, it was as if all the air had escaped the room. She felt light headed and struggled to remain conscious.

Tears of her own streamed down her cheeks as she was finally able to whisper one word.

"Tara?"

_________________
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.


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 Post subject: Re: The Sacrifice
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:21 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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DIBS! :whip Yay for this update! I'm glad that Buffy rescued Willow. Hopefully the captain responsible for her torture will be fired from his post immediately. I'm looking forward to Willow's and Tara's reunion and to learning something about the history of their relationship and what broke them apart.


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