Return to Changing Worlds Chapter Nine

Changing Worlds

Author: Justified
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimers: I don't own any BTVS characters...(but if I did, season six and onwards would have undergone some serious reconstructions. )
Note: Italics are thoughts

"Hurry Willow!" Tara called from astride her horse, Phoenix "We have far to travel".

"Ok, I'm trying." Willow whimpered helplessly, still on the ground. She didn't like horses... Never had and the very large daunting-looking beast before her wasn't helping to quell her fear at all. Carefully she placed one foot in the leather stirrup.

"No." snickered Tara, "The other foot... How are you meant to saddle your horse with that leg?" The girl was almost laughing. Willow's face began to tinge red and she changed feet in an attempt to pull herself over the horse's large back.

"Ouch!" The petite redhead came crashing to the ground, landing on her side. Determined, Willow quickly scrambled to her feet and tried again, only to gain the same result. Tara looked puzzled.

"Have you never ridden a horse before?"

" really." Somehow Willow didn't think that the mini-carousel at her old super-market counted.

"Then how do you travel?"

"By car-" Willow had to stop herself. The car obviously hadn't been invented yet and so it was best if she just kept her mouth shut "Um I mean, by carriage." she offered instead.

"Oh..." Tara was shocked. "How very different your way of life must be to mine." she simply shook her head and to Willow's relief didn't ponder on it too much, momentarily letting the subject drop.

After much struggle and with Tara's gentle guidance, Willow was finally on the back of her very large, loaned horse, Charlie. He was a magnificent beast, chestnut in colour with a back mane and tail and a large white star on his forehead. Had he not looked like he could chomp off Willow's arm in the blink of an eye, she might have actually found him kind of beautiful. Feeling more at ease in her position on the saddle, her churning stomach began to settle. That was before they started moving. Charlie took off beneath her, speeding up as he followed Tara's horse, Phoenix, into the distance. Willow grabbed on tight and fought to keep her balance as the horse cantered onwards, continuing to pick up speed. Before she knew it, the redhead had passed the fuzzy blur that was Tara and headed toward a dense forest of oak trees. "Willow stop!" She heard from behind her. But how? she thought to herself. Clenching her legs around Charlie's stomach, she reached for the reins and pulled. The horse began to slow and with a few more tugs Willow managed to get him to stop completely. Tara came up beside her at a fast trot.

"What was that?" Willow gulped.

"Charlie was galloping; you do not want to be going that fast, not yet. After a few times out with me and Phoenix you might become comfortable enough to ride at a quicker pace." Tara patted the horse's neck fondly and smiled. "Charlie is a very timid horse, he was my mother's before she died." At this Willow looked at her apologetically but Tara didn't seem bothered. Her gaze was more of fond remembrance than of sorrow. "He was just doing as he was told."

"But I didn't tell him anything!" Willow protested.

"Did you kick his side a few times?"

"Maybe... I-I'm not sure."

"That's why then." Tara laughed. "It's okay Willow, just stay close to me and Charlie will follow Phoenix on his own."

"Ok." Willow hesitantly gave her horse free rein and tried to trust Tara's reassurance that everything would be ok.

They reached Tara's surprise destination in good time, only an hour and a half. Willow was hot and sticky, as were both the horses and Tara. They dismounted and the blonde led them through a small patch of thick wood before stopping at a pristine blue lake surrounded by dense bush and scattered trees. The sun outlined the abstract rock forms jutting out along the edges of the glistening clear water. After such a hot day, Willow could think of nothing better than diving in head first. Unfortunately though, she soon realized her complete lack of bathers.

"Wow, it's really pretty here." Willow smiled, her eyes drifting hazily over their surroundings. Tara watched her take in the sight as she tied the horses to a nearby tree. From this position, they were free enough to drink and lie down for rest but not run off at any second. Tara strolled back over to Willow, gave her a fleeting playful glance and then set off towards the lake.

"I wish we could go swimming." Willow sighed, turning slightly to look at the horses. From a distance they almost seemed gentle and soft. She was broken from this reverie by the sound of a loud splash. The redhead quickly turned to see Tara's head bobbing up from the water.

"Tara! You're going to get your dress all-" Willow's train of thought ceased entirely as she noticed the pile of clothing by the water's edge. Her eyes went wide with the realisation that bathers were once again, not to be invented for years to come. Gee I really gotta get used to this whole 1400's thing.

"Join me Willow, the water is wonderful." Tara glided across the clear blue lake with a form of backwards breaststroke. Willow watched her in awe for a few seconds only stopping when she began to feel her skin tingling with the idea of Tara's soft, wet body sliding across her own. Shaking her head, Willow grinned at the blonde.

"Okay... but you have to turn around." Tara gave her a knowing smile and slowly turned her back.

Willow rushed to throw off her borrowed dress. It was a light beige colour, similar to Tara's dresses. At first she thought that she had looked a complete idiot with it on but when Tara came to see if it fit, the look in the girl's eyes told her otherwise. At the complete reassurance of the blonde, Willow had agreed to wear the dress for the day. Now, totally naked and utterly vulnerable, Willow anxiously climbed into the water. It was cool and refreshing against her hot skin and she shut her eyes at the pleasant sensation.

"Can I turn around now?" Tara asked gently from a few meters away.

"Oh... um yeah, sure." Willow replied, swiftly lowering everything but her head into the water. Inadvertently, she hugged herself with her arms and began backing ever so slowly away.

Tara turned and smiled at Willow cowering in the water.

"Don't be afraid, this lake is safe. I have swum here many times before." The blonde gestured with her arm.

"Oh, right. No, I'm ok. J-just a little cold." Willow offered as way of an excuse.

"There is a good way of helping that you know." Tara spoke slowly as she made her way over to the other girl. Her mischievously glance was making Willow sink further into the water until her eyes were almost submerged.

"You need to move around!" Tara laughed, splashing Willow with her arms. At this, the redhead relaxed a little and joined in the game - all the while keeping her body immersed so as to not reveal her nakedness to Tara. They chased each other around the lake, splashing and flailing wildly as they giggled with delight. At one point, Tara managed to grab Willow's head and push her completely underneath the water. The redhead exploded upwards and pounced on her attacker. They fought madly for domination in the shallow water until neither could breathe properly anymore. It was only then that they realised their intimate position.

Willow's body was pressed tightly up against Tara's. Skin on skin, arms wrapped around bodies, cool water the only thing around them. Willow's heart was beating faster than she ever thought possible. Her green eyes locked onto Tara's blue and they shared an intense moment. Willow could feel her head buzzing but before she could do anything stupid, she hastily removed herself from the embrace.

As she backed away, she could see Tara's deep breaths as she too fought to keep herself steady. Their touch, although in reality lasting only a few brief seconds, had felt like hours and left the two girls both feeling exhausted. Willow swam over to the water's edge and Tara instantly turned her back, knowing it not right to look. After she was dressed, the redhead sauntered to the horses trying to seem caught up in patting them. She heard Tara climb out of the water as well and put her clothes back on.

The awkward atmosphere between them continued to build when Tara joined Willow by Charlie and Phoenix. Avoiding the redhead's gaze, she reached into Phoenix's saddlebag and pulled out two carrots. She held one out to Willow and finally made eye contact.

"Would you like to help feed Charlie?" Smiling, Tara tried to loosen the air.

Willow grinned back, glad that things between them were still okay. "Sure."

Tara placed a carrot in her hand and guided her to stand in front of the horses. Once in this position, Willow suddenly became nervous. Sensing this, Tara placed a hand on the girl's shoulder.

"Are you alright?"

"Uh yeah. Of c-course. I just, well... I'm a little afraid of horses when it comes to their mouths... and teeth. Like, what if Charlie decides at the last minute that the carrot's not enough and he wants a nice chunk of hand or arm as well?" Willow smiled sheepishly, knowing she was being excessive.

Tara just laughed at her cute babbling.

"As far as I know, horses don't really like hand or arm that much. Especially Charlie, he would never bite you. There's no need to be scared Willow." At this, Tara gently caressed Willow's back, trying to soothe her nerves.

The soft touch made Willow shiver slightly and close her eyes. The air was once again thick with unspoken words. Tara slowly moved the hand that Willow was holding the carrot with towards Charlie's mouth. The girl's eyes snapped open at the tickling sensation on her palm. She saw that Charlie was eating the carrot from her own hand and it wasn't hurting at all. She smiled back at Tara and as they locked eyes, the desire to kiss the blonde became overwhelming for Willow. She unconsciously let her head fall towards Tara's, their lips growing closer by the second.

Tara also inadvertently allowed gravity to move her face into Willow's. She could feel the girl's breath on her lips and just as their mouths were about to meet, Phoenix let out a loud neigh. They sprung apart, breathing heavily at the near encounter. Lost for words, Willow began to giggle. The intensity of their situation was becoming difficult to bear and the laughter seemed to calm her tension. Tara joined in to the playful giggling, smiling uncontrollably at her own daring.

Continue to Changing Worlds Chapter Eleven

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