After seeing Willow off to work, Dawn and Tara went about their chores. Tara was sweeping the porch when a tall man wearing spectacles approached.
"Can I help you?" Tara asked as he stopped in front of the steps. She noticed a worn book in his hand that had several sheets of paper tucked into it.
"Is Dawn home?" The thick British accent caught Tara off guard.
"She is. May I t-tell her who is here?"
"Oh yes, how careless of me. I'm Rupert Giles. I'm her school teacher."
"Oh, is it Tuesday already? Time passes s-so quickly here."
Tara went into the house and invited Mr. Giles in as well.
"Dawnie?" Tara called out.
"In the kitchen!" Dawn's voice rang out.
"Mr. Giles is here to see you."
Dawn appeared in the foyer a few moments later.
"Hello Mr. Giles."
"Hello Dawn. I wasn't aware that you have a new guest."
"Oh, Mr. Giles this is Tara. Tara, Mr. Giles." Dawn introduced the two and Mr. Giles shook Tara's hand.
"Tara is a friend that will be staying with us from now on."
"How lovely. How are you getting along so far?" Mr. Giles' pleasant nature made Tara like him very much.
"Very well, t-thank you."
"Well have you any need for a tutor, I come by on Tuesdays to bring Dawn her books and lesson." He handed the book and papers over to Dawn as he spoke.
"Thank you." Tara answered courteously. There was a bit more small talk and then Mr. Giles said his goodbyes and left the girls to their chores. They took a break for a quick lunch, and then they were back to their chores. As they washed and hung the laundry, Tara treated Dawn to her lovely voice by singing her a song.
Before they knew it, the sun was setting and they went inside to wash and prepare dinner. Willow came in soon after. She had had a very bad day at work and was in a foul mood when she came in. She had been put on the blast clean up crew, and all day she had done nothing but haul out the debris and rock that the blasting crew had blown out of the caverns. Tara and Dawn managed to get some conversation out of her while they ate and by the time she was getting ready for bed, Willow was in a much better mood. Tara knocked softly on the door and Willow opened it for her.
"I thought you m-might like me to read to you for a little while." Tara said as she held up a book.
"Of course. As long as you'll lay in the bed with me." Willow said with a slight smile.
They both climbed into Willow's bed and Tara began to read by the light of the oil lamp next to the bed. Soon Willow had dozed off to the sound of Tara's soft voice and Tara kissed her softly and blew out the lamp.
The weeks went by quickly, and each day Tara began to love her life with the Rosenbergs even more than the last. She became very fond of Dawn as they worked side by side on their daily chores. She and Willow spent the evenings with a blackboard in front of the fire and Willow learned very quickly, despite her protests that she was a slow learner. By the end of the first week, Willow had learned how to write her name. By the end of the second, she could read small sentences. After all she had a wonderful teacher.
By the time Willow was in her last week of work, they had all fallen into a comfortable routine. On a Tuesday night, they were relaxing in front of the fire after a long afternoon, when there was a knock at the door. Willow answered it with Dawn and Tara following her to the foyer. A look out the window revealed a tall young man in his twenties, with reddish brown hair. He wore the dusty, torn uniform of a Confederate soldier. He gave Willow a smile when she opened the door.
"Hello ma'am, I was wondering if you might have a place for a homeward bound soldier to rest his head for a night?"
Something about his mannerism nearly made Willow turn him away, until she thought of Xander and how she hoped someone would give him a warm bed on his way home. She nodded and invited him into the foyer. He removed his cap once inside and ran a dirty hand through his scruffy beard.
"I'm Willow, and this is my sister Dawn and our friend Tara. She lives here with us." Willow introduced them.
"Name's Donald ma'am. Thank you kindly for the bed. I've been walkin' a mighty long way."
"Is the war over?" Dawn inquired.
"Dawn, I'm sure this nice man doesn't want to hear a bushel of questions right now. He's probably tired from his long walk." Willow finished speaking to Dawn and turned back to address their young stranger. She saw the stranger was running his eyes up and down Tara's form. Tara looked at the floor at the sight of his attentions and Willow unconsciously took a step closer to Tara. Donald's eyes snapped back to Willow's face when she turned toward him but not before she caught him staring salaciously staring at her friend. He quickly cleared his throat and tried to bring Willow's attention away from the fact.
"It's no bother. Dawn is it?" At Dawn's nod, he proceeded to tell her about the battle he had last fought in and how his regiment was defeated and driven apart. He came upon a regiment of Union soldiers, who believed him to be a scout for the Confederate army, and was fired upon. He was wounded and left for dead, but a sheep farmer found him and nursed him back to health, then sent him on his way. Since most of his regiment had been scattered or killed, he was on his way home.
"We can't harbor a deserter. I'm sorry but I have too much to risk." Willow told him after he finished his story.
"I promise I won't cause any trouble. They think I'm dead, no one will think to look for me."
"Until the home guard comes by. I'm sorry but you can't stay here." Willow argued. She didn't like him for some reason, and she didn't really want him in the house around Tara and Dawn.
"Please ma'am. I got nowhere else to go tonight. I promise I'll leave tomorrow. If the home guard comes by here I'll leave with no argument. Please." He pleaded.
Willow thought for a moment. It was only for one night, she supposed.
"Alright but only for one night. And I don't want you hangin' around my farm when you're supposed to be gone."
"Thank you. May God bless all of you."
"The spare bedroom is down the hall there and there's some leftover stew in the pot in the kitchen. I'll put some water in a pitcher for you to wash with."
Willow nodded and went to fill a pitcher from the well. Tara showed him where the bowls were and left him to eat alone in the kitchen. She joined Dawn in the sitting room to wait for Willow. Willow returned a few minutes later and motioned Dawn and Tara to follow her upstairs.
"Dawn, I want you to sleep in my room tonight. You too Tara. I don't know that I trust him."
Dawn and Tara nodded and Willow retrieved a few extra blankets from the other two rooms. She spread them all out on the floor next to the bed and placed her old pistol under the bed within reach. They all changed into their nightclothes and Dawn and Tara climbed into the bed and Willow lay on the floor next to the bed with her hand on the pistol.
Note 1: I realize that in the series, Donnie is Tara's brother, but he always gave off such and evil vibe every time I saw the ep. 'Family' that I couldn't come up with anyone I despised more to have his particular part in this story.
Note 2: I have nothing against the Confederate army, nor was Donnie's association with them meant to imply that they were all evil. Please don't be offended if you are from the south.
Note 3: For the next update, you might go back to the first post and read the disclaimers, it might get a little rough from here on out.