Willow unfolded a large circular yellow cloth and spread it out on the floor of her living room. She gathered the ingredients needed for the spell - St John's wort oil, 2 yellow candles and 2 bunches of yellow flowers, daisies, honeysuckle, dandelion and sunflower, tied together with twine.
She was a little nervous, it was the first time she did a spell in sync with someone. Well, technically not with with, because Tara was all of 3 years in the past. But when she discovered the Flower of Light spell and suggested to Tara that they should try it out 'together', Tara quickly agreed.
I'm sorry for being a selfish dummy and making you miserable, all I was thinking was me, me, me (again). I feel like I owe it to you to cheer you up and stop the dark thoughts. What about a spell? I read about this spell in one of the Magic Box's older volumes, it revitalizes spirits when days are dark and gloom settles upon us.
Willow had been practicing magic since high school, and though her proficiency level had steadily increased, she knew that she could become more powerful if she had a spell partner. Giles tried to find time to teach her, but he taught like a Watcher training a slayer, she did not feel any of the specialness, the romanticism she had always associated with magic, when practicing with him. She also thought he was holding back because of the shadow of his Ripper past.
Anya taught her a little, but not having too much power herself, was too impatient to sufficiently nurture a young witch's inquisitive questions.
So she progressed in stops and starts. For every walk-through-Buffy's-mind spell there was a my-will-be-done fiasco. Potions still turned out soup. And she was still working on the ball of sunshine spell so it did not bring forth hammer-wielding trolls.
Now that she found Tara, she was not going to let a little matter of a time warp stop her.
They discussed and agreed on early evening, since it was the time of day with the most beautiful sunlight. At the appointed time, they spread the circular cloth on the floor and sprinkled the St John's wort oil around the circle, on the candles and rubbed a few drops on their palms.
Taking a calming breath, they sat at the center of the circle and placed one bunch of flowers on either side, at the edge of the circle.
The candles they lit and placed carefully in front and at the back, also at the edge of the circle.
Taking one full, perfect flower in each hand, they held it in each palm, focused on the glow of the candle and chanted:
"Oh healing light, surround me now,
They could feel the light from the scented candles flowing from the apex of the flame to the flowers in their palms, and from there they felt it permeating through their bodies. First their own, then a passage opened and the light flowed in a leisurely circle between them. There was no beginning, no end, just a continuous channel of light and sensations that brought both witches to a point of extreme euphoria.
They stayed in the circle for many minutes, meditating and allowing the light to spread fully to the entire circle.
To complete the spell they returned the 2 flowers to Mother Earth by burying them in a pot full of soil they had previously collected during a moon blessing to the Goddess. Before the next new moon they would bury the whole pot at a secret spot in their garden.
As soon as they broke the circle they immediately felt the difference. The melancholy that had hung over them was replaced by a heady feeling of being in tune with nature and at peace with themselves. There was also a feeling of incredible connectiveness with each other, as if they could just reach out and feel each other in the same room together.
"Beautiful," they said. Three years apart, but at exactly the same moment.
Tara was planting bulbs and shrubs in the garden, taking advantage of the last warm days of fall to get the plants in before winter. Not that California winters would create much of a challenge to a country girl used to winters of the harsh and bleak variety.
It all started when Willow reminded her one day that it was time to plant the apple tree. For someone who had spent very little time in a garden in her life, Willow attacked the gardening project with gusto, searching through the internet for tips and suppliers where Tara could buy seeds and seedlings.
Naturally she had the benefit of seeing the garden when it was matured and could tell Tara where the flowers, trees and bushes would go. She made a 3D model of the garden on her CAD software, and devised a monthly gardening calendar, all printed in color. All these she sent to Tara via the mailbox.
Tara regarded this with amusement. She really did not have the heart to tell Willow that, well actually, she grew up on a farm and horticulture was as natural to her as programming was to Willow. She planted by feel, gut instinct telling her where and when. Still she played her part in the project by studiously taking pictures of each stage of the process and sending them to Willow.
"Hello Tara," she looked up from her crouched position beside the rose bushes, a warm smile appeared on her lips when she saw it was the caretaker's wife.
"Becky, hi. How're you feeling today?" she asked.
"Like a big fat whale, which is nothing new. They tell you about getting big and the backaches and the lethargy, but they never told you about all the different kinds of cravings," Becky sighed as she sat heavily down in one of the garden chairs.
"What have you got Paul rushing out for this morning? I thought you get fewer cravings as the pregnancy progresses."
"See, that's the thing. I don't have a craving for food, I had a desperate urge for the smell of grass and soil."
"That's weird. But then, just as well, cos we've got the garden here."
"I know. Imagine if I lived in a high rise apartment block. Anyway, what are you planting?"
"Some shrubs, roses, and this apple tree. I think it'll be nice when the tree's grown a bit to sit under it with a nice book or a picnic. And when your daughter is older, it'll be big enough for Paul to build a treehouse in," Tara waved her hands in the air where she imagined the tree would be.
Becky smiled and rubbed her tummy. "She's not even born and we're thinking treehouses, but that's a nice thought. You sure I'm not disturbing you?" she asked politely.
"Of course not, it's nice to have company," Tara answered.
"That's because you never go out. You, missy, have no life. Why?"
"I'm quite happy being on my own, I don't get lonely."
"A nice girl like you should have someone to come home to," Becky said gently.
I already know who I want to come home to, but it'll be another 2 years before she starts living here and by then I'll have moved out.
She was spared the embarrassment of having to answer Becky's all too obvious prodding by the arrival of a small black furry bundle, which had jumped over the fence from the next property.
Her eyes widened as she recognized the newcomer, but she remained still and did not try to approach or distract it.
Then it noticed her, and with a flick of a tail, came up to Tara, brushed itself against her legs and started purring.
"Hello, you must be Miss Kitty."