Return to Cinderella: The Alternative Tale Chapter Three

Cinderella: The Alternative Tale

Author: Jeanne (a.k.a. kindagay)
Rating: G
Disclaimer: All things BtVS related & Cinderella related belong to people who are not me; I own nothing, not even a castle, or a horse named Chestnut.

For lunch that day Willow had requested a picnic by the lake for herself, Tara and Elizabeth and they all now sat on a large soft blanket of finely woven wool; feasting on freshly baked bread and fine pastries, boiled potatoes, various cuts of meat, a selection of cheeses and fresh fruits from the orchard.

"You mean to say that Cinderella is Prince Charming's soul mate? That is perfect Nurse; we already know exactly where she is." The princess effused excitedly about this latest development, hardly daring to believe how wonderfully things seemed to be turning out.

The Princess and her Nurse spoke at great lengths about Cinderella and Prince Charming; discussing what would be the most effective methods of ensuring that the two fated lovers would meet and fall in love. Tara however remained unusually quiet, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. This did not go unnoticed by either Willow or Elizabeth, both of whom made various attempts to involve the young girl in the conversation, but to no avail.

"Tell me what is troubling you my dove?" Willow enquired tenderly as she stroked her thumb soothingly along Tara's forearm.

"I am worried that Donald will be most disappointed by this information, he has always been so very fond of Cinderella."

Elizabeth's heart melted at how close her children were, since the day Tara was born Donald had devotedly cared for his baby sister and sheltered her from harm; and as soon as Tara was old enough to make herself heard she had protected and stood up for her brother with the same intensity.

"There is no need to worry about Donald my child, one day he shall meet his princess just as you met yours." Elizabeth assured her daughter with a knowing smile.

Willow and Tara's gazes met shyly and the girls shared a deeply affectionate smile, which Elizabeth took as a signal to leave the two youngsters to enjoy one another's company. She gave a quick excuse and exited the picnic area with the feeling that even if she had stayed her daughter and the princess would not have registered her presence for the fact that they were so very lost in each other.

Today was not at all the first time that the princess had gazed upon her companion, in fact, over the years she had found that studying Tara's great beauty was, without doubt, her most favourite pastime and as such, Willow had dedicated her life and her studies to trying to capture Tara's beauty.

She had learnt to play the piano in order that she might depict Tara's beauty in melodies; she had studied poetry in an attempted to encapsulate Tara's beauty with words; she had even spoken at great lengths to the gardener in hopes of some day cultivating a rose that would be as beautiful as Tara. Sadly, none of her attempts so far had done any justice to the source of inspiration; however the Princess was not completely deterred from her mission, her latest venture was art and Willow felt sure that she would be able to replicate Tara's beauty in charcoal and paints.

"May I draw you my dove?" Willow enquired enthusiastically.

"Draw me? Why ever would you want to draw me my sweet?"

"Because the only reason I pay attention in my art lessons is so that I am proficient enough at drawing to produce a true portrait of you."

"I do believe that I shall never understand why it is that I inspire such creativity in you my princess. I suppose, if it will help you with your lessons, I can hardly refuse you, not that I could ever refuse you anything of course, my sweet."

"Oh how wonderful, thank you Tara, I shall fetch my easel and charcoal at once. Stay right here my dove, you look simply breathtaking with the sun reflecting off the water to shine on your face so prettily."

Before Tara even had a chance to timidly thank the princess for the compliment, Willow had hurriedly ran off towards the castle in order to collect her drawing materials. She almost stumbled and broke her easel in the course of the journey, so keen was her haste to return to Tara, who was still sat beside the lake as per Willow's request.

The tip of Willow's tongue peeked between her teeth as she concentrated intently on the first feint strokes that she made with carefully considered precision on her blank canvas. Tara remained compliantly still so that the sunlight would shine on her face just so, which took a great amount of self restraint as she resisted the urge to giggle at the princess's adorable focused expression. Once Willow felt confident about the markings being made by her charcoal, she fell into a comfortable patter of conversation, telling Tara all about that morning's encounter with Prince Charming's mother.

"Did I tell you what Queen Gertrude said about me? She is a ghastly woman. I wish I had had the foresight to put maggots in her sandwiches; that would have amused me to no end. She was complaining about my hips; I do not have child bearing hips, ha, can you imagine? Me? Having a baby? It is quite preposterous. A poor specimen that is what said that I am, a poor specimen! She should take a look in the mirror some time; she is no great beauty herself. Tara, do you think that I am beautiful?" Willow enquired with a small pout.

"More beautiful than I could ever describe in words my sweet. Never mind what Queen Gertrude said, she is just a horrid, bitter old woman. What was the prince like? Is he horrid like his mother?" Tara enquired attentively, making sure not to move too much.

"No, he was not horrid. You should have come to meet him my dove, he was quite pleasant, for a prince that is. I could not imagine having to spend any significant amount of time with him though."

"I would have been far too timid to speak to him. He looked rather handsome, do you not think?" The smallest hint of insecurity caused Tara's voice to waver for, although she knew that Willow was fond of her, she could not be sure that the princess's feelings were completely akin to her own.

"I dare say that I would not have noticed if he was. I would not know a handsome prince from a frog, and I am equally averse to both." Willow's nose scrunched up in disgust as she spoke of the slimy creatures that she detested so much.

"You are quite adorable my princess." Tara smiled affectionately, much to Willow's delight.

"Oh, that is perfect; please hold that smile for a moment."

The princess took an extended moment to study Tara's half smile in meticulous detail, before hurriedly, yet accurately, sketching a few tentative lines around the mouth area of her portrait.

"There, you can relax now; I just needed to capture that endearing smile that I love so much."

"Y-you love m-my smile?" Quite forgetting that she was supposed to be sitting still, Tara dropped her head in order to hide behind curtains of golden hair; seeing this, Willow set her picture aside and moved to sit beside Tara.

"Please don't hide your face from me my dove." The princess requested tenderly, smiling brightly as Tara pushed her hair behind her ears and away from her face. "I love everything about you Tara."

"Th-thank you princess. I, I love everything a-about you also." Tara gazed upwards shyly and Willow was sure that she had never before seen the girl look quite so alluring.

"Tara...?" Willow spoke boldly, as if with the intention to speak further, but instead she faltered, looking away slightly as her resolve faded.

"What is it Willow? Is everything okay?" Tara couldn't help but worry; it was not often that Willow became nervous about anything.

"Tara, I wish to ask you something but, I am afraid that you may deny me my request."

"I have never denied you anything my princess, why should I begin to do so on this day?"

"I would, uhm, that is to say, if it would be acceptable, I mean, if it would not cause offence, I would very much like it, uhm, if you grated me permission to, to kiss you?"

The princess held her breath as she tentatively waited, with hopeful eyes, for Tara's response.

"Yes, please." Tara sighed softly, almost swooning at the princess's request.

Willow leaned forwards ever so slightly, but needed just a little extra reassurance.

"Are you sure?"

"Oh yes."

It seemed to take an eternity before Tara felt Willow's warm breath softly caress her lips. When mere millimetres remained between them, both girls took the opportunity to quickly moisten their lips and as a result, it was the tips of their tongues, and not their lips, which met initially. They remained completely still for one delicious second as jolts of pleasure washed over them, dancing down their spines to settle warmly in the pits of their stomachs. With gentle reluctance two tingling tongues were slowly withdrawn and two pairs of honey lips met with a soft, eager intensity, the likes of which neither girl had ever experienced before.

The magical moment lasted somewhere between an eternity and no time at all before the instinctive need to breathe forced them to part far too soon.

Their hearts raced; their breathing came in short, shallow gasps which merged in the small space between them and they found assurance in the subtle way that their noses rubbed gently together in cute little "Eskimo kisses" - which the girls had learned of from a book they had once read together about far away lands.

"Willow, uhm, may I kiss you now?" The question was redundant but politeness prompted Tara to ask, despite the fact that she had no intention of waiting for an answer.

Lips pressed together much more confidently than the first time; as any small doubts which had existed previously were now long forgotten; and before long the second kiss rolled into a third, and eager tongues were brought tenderly into the mix as soft hands caressed softer cheeks and wandering fingers tangled lightly in flowing hair.

"That was nice." Willow smiled dreamily, her hands resting lightly on Tara's shoulders in order to keep her near, not that Tara had any plans to go anywhere.

"That was much nicer than just nice my princess." Tara chuckled softly.

"I would very much like to do that again, preferable very often and very soon." The princess's tongue peeked out cutely as she gave a sassy grin and leaned in to capture Tara's lips once more.

A small myriad of innocently soft, sweet kisses followed, both girls safe in the knowledge that nothing on Earth made more sense than this simple act of intimacy.

In time the two girls settled peacefully and contentedly into a warm embrace, resting safely in each others arms, their fingers absently tracing patterns over the palms of one another's hands as they gazed up into the clouds.

Tara caught sight of the disregarded canvas on which Willow had been sketching, before they had been distracted by kisses.

"You appear to have abandoned your portrait my sweet."

"Yes. I have concluded that you are unique my dove, I rather think that God did not intend for you to be replicated. I believe that when He made you, He gathered all of his angels and told them 'this is my masterpiece; my greatest work and no creature shall ever be able to replicate her for nobody and no thing shall ever be able to comprehend her beauty.' And then he sent you down to Earth and every man, woman, child, animal, bird and insect which sees you, knows that they have truly been blessed and honoured to be allowed to gaze upon God's greatest work."

It was at that very moment, as Willow's sweet, sincere words washed over her, that Tara knew; no matter how many princes came along, no matter how many ridiculous schemes King Ira proposed; Willow would only ever have eyes for her, just as she would only ever have eyes for Willow. For every moment in their lives, they would belong together, in every conceivable sense of the word.

Continue to Cinderella: The Alternative Tale Chapter Five

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