Return to Changing Worlds Chapter Ten

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

With their near kiss encounter clawing at her mind, Willow absently allowed her horse to follow Tara's back home. The trip seemed to take only minutes and Willow was surprised to soon find herself in the stable, her mind still back at the lake. "Are you okay Willow?" Tara queried as she looked up at the red head atop her horse.

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. I'm fine" Willow replied, dismounting at once. The girls hastily washed and fed the horses, getting ready to settle down for the night. They headed in to make tea before the men returned home but when Tara was half way through the preparations, Willow noticed that they weren't out in the field.

"Tara, where's your father and brother?" Placing a pan on the stove, the blonde joined Willow at the window. Tara searched meticulously with her eyes, scanning the fields and even out the back. It was then she noticed the cart missing.

"It appears that they aren't back from town yet." She noted curiously. "Now that I think of it, I did not see the cart horses on our way past the outer field."

When dinner was ready and Tara's family still had not returned, the girl started to worry. Willow did all she could to quell Tara's growing fears about their safety but nothing seemed to calm her. Eventually Willow came up with the idea of riding over to the neighbours to see if they had heard anything. They headed outside to make their way to the stables but they hardly got out the gate before a strong built, stocky man was seen walking up the path.

"Are you Tara Maclay?" he asked upon reaching them.

"Indeed I am. Have you news from my father?" She returned quickly.

"Yes ma'am I do. I regret to inform you that a storm is brewing over town and it is impossible for your father and brother to make it across the lake. It is said to be heading over this way soon, set to hit by nightfall. If I were you I'd head home and stay safely inside until it's over."

"Uh... okay thank you." Willow stepped in.

"Good evening." He said politely, bowing his head a fraction and turning on his heel to leave.

The girls stood in silence for a while before Willow lead them back inside. "Has this happened before Tara?" She asked curiously.

"Yes... just once." The blonde replied slowly.

"Tara?" Willow pressed gently.

"My father took my mother into town once and they almost drowned trying to get back across that river to my brother and I. It was horrible... but I'm glad to see that he has learnt from his mistakes." She whispered.

"How long until they return?" Willow questioned.

"Last time it was three days before the flood went down enough for them to travel across." Tara sighed.

"Three days?" Willow blurted out.

"Do you think it will be that long this time?" The blonde's brow creased as she pondered the idea.

"I do not know...Let us just continue with the days as normal and await their return." Willow could tell the girl was stressed and suggested that maybe they do something to take her mind off of the situation.

By night the storm had hit, shaking the house and rattling the stable roofs. Tara had begun to settle a bit with the knowledge that her family was okay and the two girls were soon changing into their nightgowns and climbing into Tara's father's bed for the night. It seemed that whenever her father was out Tara and her brother were allowed to sleep in their fathers bed as it was bigger and much softer, made partly of wool and feathers. It wasn't often that the girl had this opportunity as her father would only be out for the night maybe three times a year and generally on those occasions, her brother got to use the bed, not her.

They lay beneath the covers and talked for a while about their day and what tomorrow would bring. Tara suggested that they go for another ride as she had something she wished to show Willow. Hesitantly, Willow agreed, the thought of being back atop Charlie making her stomach churn slightly. Silence followed their decision and Willow decided to try and get some sleep, the roaring storm outside lulling her into a state of total relaxation. The redhead had always loved storms. Beside her, but further away that normal due to the size of the bed, Tara tossed and turned uneasily.

"Are you okay Tara?" Willow turned to face the girl.

"Yes. I am fine. I just get scared in storms...e-ever since Mrs Winters had her roof stripped away by a gust of wind and all the rain fell into her house." Tara stated innocently, like a small child afraid of a monster in her wardrobe.

"Oh, Tara. Don't worry. Your house is stronger than that." Willow reassured the blonde, reaching out her hand "And you have me here." She smiled warmly.

At that Tara smiled back and to the redhead's amazement the girl moved closer, her face right in front of Willow's. "I am not used to you being so far away Willow." She whispered softly.

"I'm here." Willow replied nervously although her voice was barely audible. "Is this close enough?" She asked, moving forward a tiny bit so that their feet were pressing together. Willow felt the girl's breathing increase against her face and her heart sped up. Whoa... wait a minute...What's going on? Willow jolted as Tara's hand caressed her hip, resting there a while before sliding slowly down to hold her hand. The girls had maintained eye contact the whole time and finally the intensity was too much for Willow. Her eyes fell to Tara's lips. She couldn't take it anymore. She pulled off the pillows slightly, leaned over and pressed her lips firmly against the blonde's.

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