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

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((46/?-April 27, 2019))
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:59 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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Dibs! :whip
The last scene had me in tears again, luckily I was alone at home this time. Many writers (and readers) don't like Dawn, but you really manage to let us feel with her, making us realize that she essentially lost both her surrogate mothers that horrible day. And Willow who until now thought leaving Tara alone after her death was her greatest sin has to face that forsaking Dawn was even worse.
I love that Willow isn't crippled by this newfound guilt but that she has the strength to apologize to Dawn. And I'm so glad that Dawn lets herself believe that her surrogate mom Willow has returned, relishing the memories she probably surpressed during Willow's absence:

Quote:
She knew this Willow. The one who'd brought gifts while Mom was in the hospital and helped tutor her in math so she wouldn't fall behind when she was sick. Who held her hand and rubbed her back whenever she cried that dark, backwards summer. Who tinkered for long hours in the basement working on the Buffybot after helping tutor Dawn during summer school. The Willow who coordinated schedules and tried to help the endless bills with small computer gigs after Buffy died (and long after she came back). The one who Dawn heard crying sometimes at night after soothing one of Tara's nightmares. She fell into Willow, throwing her arms around a small part of her family who'd finally come back.


Such a beautiful summarization of the "good" aspects of Willow's personality, loving, supporting and protecting the members of her chosen family.

As to Tara I'm glad that she tries to find her way back to the "real world", dares to hope again and that she and Spike are there for each other. I agree with Tara that Spike telling the others about her at this point would probably do more harm than good. They probably wouldn't believe him anyway and the anger the "lie" would cause could lead to serious harm for the messenger.
Now I really hope Isis has an open ear for Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((44/?-April 15, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:45 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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edited b/c apparently I don't know how to work the quote thing :)) I think you'll get it though

Zooeys_Bridge wrote:
@shirrey: Hey now! Nuh uh, no apologies necessary. This fic is so old, I had to go back multiple times to remember myself (and also retcon some small things here and there). If I had to dust it off the shelf, I can only imagine how it's been for you, my poor dear reader(s).

ok lol fair enough

*bites lip* SOON. ANSWERS ARE SOON, I SWEAR.

ooooh I am on to something! am I on to something??? no, don't tell me

I could read your comments all day (and in fact, re-read them many many times with a stupid smile on my face). Not only for the joy they bring but also the incredibly rich insight they bring, connections they make and cast new light.

I am so glad :)

Quote:
Stone is permanent- the gravestone and Willow's rocks- but life isn't, the spirit changes and forms
Gosh, why aren't you writing? That's good stuff right there.

Thank you. :blush I don't know if I have the drive or patience to write- but maybe, someday....

Calling on Isis seems like such a Tara move, go for the benevolent goddess rather than the hungry god. I understand so much her not wanting to risk hope but am so glad that she seems willing to ask for help if she cannot do it alone. She is considerate, but not a martyr and that's a good thing.

Poor Dawnie- being ignored, or at least not being heard (same thing really) is one of the most hurtful things there is, especially when it's in your own tribe, if they don't take the time for you, how can you except others to? And I like that Willow is guilty of that here too, because its uncomfortable, its not a nice thing, and its human. It is good, for Willow, that she already wrestles with the guilt of abandoning Tara's body or Dawn's words would have crippled her. How could she not have though, considered that in the after days she wasn't supposed to be living. But as you have Willow saying: she had already checked out, she was, in her mind, already gone because she felt she could not live through accepting Tara's death and being with her body would have forced that realization. I doubt she even thought that way at the time though, more just: I have already died, but not before I have my revenge. I wonder if she feels survivor's guilt? Tara died and she didn't. Man, that's sad.
And Dawn remembering Willow's actions, her day to day care, just who she was and is in heart and soul, that is more precious that the ignoring is hurtful in the end. And THANK YOU for mentioning that Willow took side jobs to help pay for things. Willow and Tara get a bad rep sometimes for 'freeloading' off Buffy, while Buffy is drowning in debt. (some of this supported by sloppy writing in those episodes) I have lots of theories of how they were absolutely not doing that, how they both gave everything they had to keep life going for themselves and Dawn, so thank you for adding that little bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((46/?-April 27, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 4:02 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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@Will's_redemption:
In this house, we love and respect Dawn Summers. And Willow done did a lot of fucking up, so yeah, time to air some grievances. The anger's been building up in Dawn about Willow for a long time, now. We saw it in 'Same Time Same Place' at the airport while they're waiting for Willow to arrive, and we see it in 'Help', too. It kind of disappears after that (along with a lot of other S7 plotlines and character arcs but what else is new). I wanted to put more tension on that string until it snapped. There's a way forward, but not until they address the grievances of the past. Especially because Willow probably didn’t know Dawn was the one to find Tara’s body and sit with her all day. I mean…oof. Aside from Same Time Same Place, this confrontation with Dawn is one of the first real times she faces consequences for the actions of the finale, in a concrete, social way.

Repeating Willow’s good qualities are really important, both for me as a writer (bc I love to rake the poor girl over the coals) but also for the characters - Willow, lost in guilt, easily forgets or dismisses those parts of herself, lost in guilt, and other characters can follow suit. But there’s a reason she was a hero in the first place and had so far to fall. It’s all still in her. She’s still Willow.


@shirrey:
y’know, even if there were other options for Tara to have at her fingertips to even consider (there aren’t, because of all the blank books) she likely would have still gone for Isis anyway for the exact reasons you said.

I hate to throw more pain on the pile (who am I kidding, I love it), but a small Drabble came out of this chapter as I was writing it a few years back (or maybe this chapter came out of the Drabble. I forget) and it feels appropriate to share at this moment, because I think it’s really important. Between Willow’s actions at the end of S6 (“I’m not coming back.” “Willow isn’t here anymore.”) and the start of S7 in England with Giles (“I thought it was to kill me.”), it’s pretty clear Willow literally had a death wish. Either what she was going to do was going to kill her, or she was praying for someone to do it for her. So yeah, absolutely, she’s suffering from survivor’s guilt on top of survivor’s guilt -Why couldn’t she have gotten shot instead of Tara? Why couldn’t she have died instead? Why, after everything she put her friends through, is she still alive?

It drives me nuts that people rag on the Scoobies for not helping Buffy with the bills. a) Willow and Tara don’t have jobs! They’re students! B) Xander, Anya, and Giles were the only ones to have incomes! Who’s to say they didn’t float whatever money they could for Dawn while Buffy was dead on top of their own bills? ARGHH

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((46/?-April 27, 2019))
PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 7:41 pm 
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Ooooh I have read that drabble before! but, now, in this context, it is even more powerful.
Agree 1000% that Willow was on a murder(revenge)/ suicide mission. There have been many fics where Willow during that time tried to kill herself and I fully accept that as cannon, either her trying or trying to try. She was, in her mind, done, and I fully agree that part of her would hate Buffy for saving her.

to add to the rant: not only were Willow and Tara being students, and you touched on these things in your writing, they also were caring for Dawn, helping keep a safe and familiar roof over her head, feeding her, mothering her. Plus patrolling, plus fixing the bot, plus dealing with their own demons and nightmares and grief- I appreciate the little moments you have thrown in as peeks into their life after Buffy died- Willow drifting, Tara's nightmares. And even more, what was the mortgage on that house, how much money went to two burials and services? Anya's medical bills? and on and on....

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((46/?-April 27, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 6:10 pm 
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@shirrey:
Quote:
She was, in her mind, done, and I fully agree that part of her would hate Buffy for saving her.
Man, their friendship sure is complicated :P

Here’s to the memory of our darling and beloved Tara who passed away 17 years ago today. זכרונה לברכה May her memory always be for a blessing.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Note: This chapter takes place in Selfless, Episode 5 of Season 7. They're sort of like scenes in-between what we, the viewers, saw. Think about them logistically and place them chronologically. Any questions, please feel free to ask!



"For god's sake, shut your whimpering mouth."

The magic had felt fudge-like: sticky, warm, and much too rich. With the spider gone, the shattering glass brought her back to herself and Willow stood back, gasping. It had taken more out of her—much more than she'd expected. She hadn't drawn from the earth this time, instead acting instinctively without thought to consequence. The aftertaste of the magic turned thick and sour.

Willow turned back to the girl, more afraid of herself than the spider that had nearly penetrated her barrier. Is that how Dawn had looked when I'd faced her? Tiny and frightened and alone?

"I-I'm sorry," she stammered.

It'd unnerved her. She was frightened at how easy it was still, after everything, to make the wrong decision. How instinctual it had become to pull from more powerful magics.

Despite months in England meditating, training, and focusing her energies, Willow herself could still be so easily unleashed.

The person that haunted her, the one with black eyes and unchecked arrogance and selfishness, wrecking havoc because she could. Because she had wanted to. The Willow she never wanted to be again. The one she was ashamed of.

The thought of it filled her with fear, set her heart racing, skin itching.

“Giles, no,” she said flatly.

“Willow you must. Magic isn’t simply a box you lock and ignore."

“Uh, yes! I can! With the biggest lock ever and a side of throwing away the key, please and thank you."

"It’s a part of you, it always has been.”

God, she hoped not.

“And look at me, Giles,” she shot back desperately, clutching at her chest. “Look where it got me,” her mouth twisted.

“Magic isn’t addiction, Willow," he said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "It is choice.”

“Choice? Choice!? You think I’d choose this?” she demanded. “Giles, I-I can’t breathe.”

“It was always there, Willow. The potential of choice.”

Who was she then? The girl who forsook Harvard to stay in Sunnydale with Buffy? Or the one who chose magic because she wanted to and it was easy.

At first she’d gotten more power because she needed to: To help. Protect. Save. And then, she got more because she could. Tara was right. Tara was always right. She was so blind and it had cost her everything.

“Willow, the first successful spell you ever did was a vampire ensoulment. A rare feat for even a practiced and expertly trained magic-user. And yet you did so from a hospital bed with less than a year of self-taught magics. That type of magic doesn't come without a price. I should know, remember? We're the same, you and I. From the beginning you were on your own. Suffice to say, it was always within you. You were always strong with thirst that begat arrogance, perhaps, but also determination. Bravery. Strength.”

She barked darkly. “Right, like I’m strong. Addict, Villain-”

"Scooby," he interrupts gently.

Amazon.

She deflates and looks at him wearily, so wearily. "I think I forgot, Giles. I forgot how how to be one." It comes out so small but his eyes, patient and kind, hold her steady.

She chooses.


"I can't," Willow said later when she met Buffy's eyes. "I'm sorry." As Buffy wordlessly turned to find Anya, emptiness filled Willow once more. She looked down shamefully as the front door slammed. When was the last time she was able to stand by Buffy's side when she needed her and faced the darkness together?

When she walked out that door, all Willow could see was the Buffy she faced against those months ago. It sickened her. Even with all the magics, it was never Willow's spells that were weak, it was Willow herself. The slip of control that morning at the fraternity was proof.

The magics, she realized with a start.

She might not be strong enough able to face Anya, to tell her the truths that burned too hotly in the shame of her heart, but she knew someone who could.

D'Hoffryn.
________________________________________________________________________

The walk back to her apartment was like molasses, slow and dark. Tears dried in layers on Anya's face, cheeks tightening as more still trickled down. Anya always hated crying, she found it so pathetically weak and human.

Which was exactly what she was, now. Again.

As the day roiled in her stomach, Anya absentmindedly wandered through the streets, keeping to the parks and side streets.

All of her friends were gone, human and demon alike—she'd managed to betray both in one day. Flashes of the frat house carnage replayed in her mind and Anya ducked off the sidewalk to dry heave into the bushes.

She wiped her mouth with the edge of her sleeve and continued into the apartment she called home, empty as it was. She lethargically dropped the keys on the table and jumped, startled by the figure on the couch illuminated softly by a small table lamp.

"What are you doing here, Willow," Anya asked raggedly, too exhausted to be irritated.

"I lied earlier. I do get it. Needing them to hurt. Knowing they deserved it," Willow confided softly, hands in her lap, eyes downcast. "Hoping it would feel better."

Anya's stomach rolled again but there was nothing inside anymore. She could see tears brimming in Willow’s eyes. Anya walked forward silently and sat in the chair opposite the couch but keeps a small distance, the space between buffering their hurts.

"We can be good again," Willow finally said thickly.

Anya barked a dark laugh, "Did you see what I did today, Willow?"

"I don't think that visual will leave me anytime soon, no," Willow admitted.

"Then how can you say that?" Anya accused angrily. "How can you say we can be good again after the things we've done."

"What other choice do we have?” Willow’s voice rose to meet Anya’s, “I close my eyes and I see—" she broke off and looked away. "It doesn't go away. I see him, and the cuts I put on Buffy and Xander's faces, and I just—" Willow deflated, looking out the window. “We can be good again because they want us to be. I don't believe in myself much these days, but Buffy's always been my hero, Xander's always been my best friend, and I trust them more than I trust myself, so. . . Fake it till you make it, right?" she finished with false cheerfulness. "All I want to do is give up, but the thing that keeps me going is knowing they wouldn't want me to. And I never want to hurt them again, so, I won't."

But Anya was too empty for saving graces. She had trusted Xander, once, and look where it had gotten her. She absentmindedly rubbed her finger where the engagement ring used to be. There was a rustle as Willow stood and shuffled to the door, but Anya made no move to escort her out.

Willow paused as she opened the door, "You’re not alone, Anya."

Anya wished she could believe her.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((48/?-May 7th, 2019))
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 6:59 pm 
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Here’s to the memory of our darling and beloved Tara who passed away 17 years ago today. זכרונה לברכה May her memory always be for a blessing.


To our precious Tara, though her journey has taken her spirit to the otherworlds, her gift remains in our hearts.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((48/?-May 7th, 2019))
PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 4:22 pm 
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I wanted to wait to reply to this until after doing a rewatch of Selfless- I haven't seen most of S7 since it aired and I found that I really didn't need to. It helped flesh out where Anya was , but your writing gives us what the show should have been exploring with Willow. Watching the ep, I didn't understand what Willow meant when she said "I can't" not really- maybe that she couldn't help kill Anya, in your story it seemed to me as "I can't go to the darkness again" and was much clearer within the context (unless I got that context wrong) So back to this chapter:
We can see and feel Willow really starting to heal here, making and accepting the hard choices rather than magicing them away so she doesn't have to feel bad or unworthy or that self-loathing. Her choice shows a maturity, learned through tragedy. And now I do wish Tara were there with her, because this is the hard stuff, but as Tara said, they have to know who they are now, if they can even fit in each others lives. Thanks for giving us what the show didn't even touch.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((48/?-May 7th, 2019))
PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 6:52 pm 
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@shirrey:
You’re not wrong in your interpretation of the context, but now that I think about it, it seems to me like it could be both: “I can’t go to the darkness again” and also “I can’t help kill Anya, not when I was was in the same place she’s in now and given grace.” I imagine she’d feel very much like a hypocrite. And on top of all that, she also feels miserable for letting Buffy go off alone and do the hard thing that needs to be done. “I left you to do the hard thing alone, again.” So much in so little.

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 Post subject: Re: Lotus ((48/?-May 7th, 2019))
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 4:26 am 
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Another great update! Although it didn't drive me to tears for a change, you made me feel for Anya. I'm glad that Willow visited her and told her she wasn't alone.
Because of the long time that passed since I watched season 7, my memory of what happened in most of the episodes was pretty dim. To better understand the context of the scenes you show us, I just read the plot synopsis of each episode on Wikipedia.
Now I'm curious if you will skip the (in my opinion rather stupid) episode "Him" or if you'll show how Willow will cope with horror of her false love for this guy after the spell is broken.


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