Return to Hellebore Chapter Nineteen


Author: Chris Cook
Rating: NC-17
Copyright: Based on characters from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon and his talented minionators, and Diablo II by Blizzard Entertainment. All original material is copyright 2003 Chris Cook.

Tara dreamed of home, and always Willow was there with her: watching the sunrise over the snow fields on the slopes of Mount Karcheus, walking among the huge, ancient trees of Philios, lying on the island shore with the waters of the Great Ocean lapping around their naked bodies. Slowly the dreams turned into waking reality, the motion of the waves becoming the gentle rocking of the wagon, the warm sun and sand becoming Willow's nest of blankets beneath her and covering her, and dream-Willow becoming real Willow, stretched out against her, lightly kissing around her collarbone. Willow sensed Tara was awake, and gave her a little lick at the base of her neck in greeting.

"Good morning to you too," Tara murmured, her voice thick with sleep.

"I was... having..." Willow said idly, between kisses, "this wonderful dream... earlier..."

"Oh?" Tara asked. "W-what about?"

"This," Willow said, kissing her again. "And this," she added, moving a little lower, tickling the top of Tara's cleavage with her tongue. "And this." She turned her head and kissed Tara right on the breast, her hand appearing to hold it firmly against her lips.

"And then what?" Tara breathed, her body suddenly very much awake.

"Then... I woke up," Willow murmured, "so I was thinking... if you want... we could see what happens next?" In response Tara wove her fingers into Willow's hair and gently held Willow to her breast as her lips resumed their explorations. Willow took both of Tara's breasts in her hands and massaged them, Tara encouraging her by arching her back, pressing herself into Willow's hands as the gentle holding turned into firm squeezing. Tara was torn between the sensations of Willow's forefingers and thumbs teasing her nipples, just as she had the night before - 'She learns so fast,' she thought gleefully - and the heat of her mouth, slowly kissing its way up the curve of her right breast, her lips parting each time they pressed against her to allow her tongue to graze Tara's skin.

She stifled a groan of dismay as Willow, on the verge of kissing her nipple, moved her head to the other side of her chest and started working her way up that breast in the same maddeningly patient way. This time, when she was barely an inch from Tara's nipple, she began circling around it, kissing underneath her breast, then the other side, then above, then back down to nudge her breast upwards, licking the very sensitive skin on the underside. Tara tried to find a pattern in Willow's motions, to discern when she would finally reach her goal, but her mind was in no state to think. She had only brief instants between Willow's kisses, which allowed her to think of nothing else, and all the concentration she could muster in those intervals was being used to restrain her vocal appreciation of Willow's attention to an aroused sighing.

"Please, Willow," she whispered, "please... goddess, please..." Willow moved up to look in her eyes, both hands squeezing her intensely, holding Tara's breasts to press against her own as she laid her body out on top of her.

"Touch yourself?" Willow asked in a whisper. "Please, Tara? While I kiss you?" Tara nodded at once - a moment longer and she wasn't sure she would have been able to wait for Willow to ask, and in any case she knew there was nothing she wouldn't do for the smile on her lover's face as she reached down with her free hand. Willow ducked back beneath the blanket covering them and resumed her attentions on Tara's breasts, going back and forth, kissing and licking closer each time. When Tara's hand went between her legs Willow lay her stomach down on top of her forearm, so that every move Tara made with her hand was passed through the contact with Willow. Tara perversely teased herself for a long moment, stroking the sensitive skin where her inner thighs met her body, then running her fingers over the surface of her sex, keeping her thumb well clear of her clit for the moment. Even when she finally parted her lips she denied herself, letting the tip of her finger slide inside herself just a fraction, then pulling it back as her hips moved of their own accord, trying to deepen the penetration. Willow seemed to sense what she was doing, and began allowing brief, feather-light touches on her nipples, quickly and lightly licking them, her head bobbing from one side to the other. Tara made herself wait for Willow - the need she felt each time she refused to allow her sex more than a taste of satisfaction was nothing compared to the feel of Willow's mouth on her breasts.

Finally Willow relented, and Tara gasped and threw her head back as warmth closed over her, the warmth of Willow's mouth sucking on her nipple, her tongue caressing the nub of flesh between her lips. For a split second Tara felt as if her body had inverted itself, as if her own hand between her legs was just a mild stimulation, and her real orgasm was about to burst out of her chest into Willow's mouth. Then, with the rhythmic pressure of Willow's stomach on her wrist urging her on, she let her finger go deep within herself, and the real strength of her sexual urge came into play. She felt as if her arousal was moving through herself and Willow, she arching her back, thrusting herself up to Willow who licked and sucked her nipple with abandon, her lower body rocking against Tara's wrist, returning the arousal into Tara's sex through her hand. Tara felt her climax building with incredible speed.

"Not yet," Willow gasped in the brief interval as she moved to Tara's other breast, lavishing the same affection on it. Tara felt as though her hand and her sex were no longer entirely under her control - she thrust and curled her finger within herself, finally letting her thumb rub against her clit, circling and stroking it, but at the same time, despite the intense pressure building inside her, she believed it would be impossible for her to find release until Willow let her. The conflicting sensations - Willow bestowing such pleasure on her, giving her so much, while at the same time having such power over her - were intoxicating. Tara didn't know whether, in her mind, she was reclining regally for Willow to please, or giving herself over for Willow to feast on. Both images flitted through her thoughts, as she continued to feed Willow the pleasure she was thrusting into herself. The tiny part of her mind still capable of rational observation flatly refused to believe she hadn't reached climax already. Her sex felt voracious, hoarding the pleasure it should have released by now, and the thought of the flood of feeling building inside her was so erotic it was almost frightening.

Willow's word or no, Tara knew she couldn't contain herself much longer. Her entire body was tingling, and where there was stimulation of any kind, whether it was Willow's lips around her nipples, with her tongue working furiously, and her hands grasping both breasts in a massage of delightful intensity, or her own fingers on her aching sex, both inside herself and working her clit and her lips, of even just the contact of Willow's body on hers, where even amid the dizzying sensations she was aware of Willow's breasts against her stomach, her legs around Tara's, no matter where they touched Tara felt as if the gods were giving her body new life. Her climax built, and Willow, sensing it, looked up at the same moment as Tara lifted her head to look down, her eyes sparkling in the shadow of the blanket over her head, her parted lips breathing hot air over Tara's glistening nipple.

"Now," she said, before returning to bury her face in the softness of Tara's breasts, sucking her nipples as if she were trying to swallow them, lavishing attention on her with lips, tongue and hands. Tara felt something begin within herself, like the tremble of premonition before an avalanche, and buried her finger deep within herself as she rubbed her clit as hard as she could bear, bringing herself finally over the edge. It took all her self-control not to scream, such that she lost all control of her body and went completely limp beneath Willow, arms and legs useless, her hand on her sex moved only by Willow's gyrating stomach, all except for her core, which gathered all her pleasure, held it for a tortuous moment, then released it in a cataclysmic wave that turned her skin to heat, her bones to water and her blood to pure arousal. For a moment she forgot nearly everything, where she was, who she was, how she was touching herself and what Willow was doing to her - all she knew was that Willow was loving her, and as far as she could tell that had always been and would always be. A tightness in her chest reminded her to breathe, and brought her back to reality.

"Don't stop," Willow gasped. Tara had begun to move her hand away from her sex, but Willow caught it and pressed her soaked fingers onto her clit, and the pent-up sensitivity that would in a second more have made it too tender to comfortably touch flashed into a burning need to come again. Tara didn't fully understand what Willow wanted, only that her body did understand, and was complying without question. Her fingers, still wet with her own juices, moved around and over her clit in quick, desperate motions, her other hand squeezed her breasts which Willow had unaccountably left to their own devices, moving from one to the other, gathering the moisture Willow's mouth had left there. She felt another climax begin to build within herself, and wondered how it could exceed the first, then Willow's lips touched her sex, and she knew.

She was suspended for a moment in time, experiencing that first kiss to her sex, Willow's lips soft against her most intimate place, caring, loving, not demanding but merely asking, gently pleading for her climax. Tara felt herself tense to come again, then tentatively, almost shyly, Willow's tongue was parting her lips and tasting within her for the first time. Once more Tara became blind to everything around her and inside her except for Willow. Then she came, and felt everything in minute detail, in slowed time - her body exploding, bursting with pleasure and life, her sex tightening around the gentle intruder within it, the liquid proof of her arousal travelling within her in a tide, and Willow's lips opening to accept it.

"Goddess!" she yelled as she felt Willow drink from her sex, the sensation magnified in her mind out of all proportion, to herself gushing like a raging river, and Willow the ocean into which she flowed.

"Lady?" came a concerned voice from the other side of the canvas separating the inside of the wagon from the driver's seat at its front.

"Just praying!" Tara called out, without ever consciously forming the idea or the intention to speak. She then clamped her free hand over her mouth as Willow gently lapped up her arousal, setting off a series of trembling aftershocks in Tara's sex as she diligently cleaned every inch of skin she could find. Finally, after Willow had licked the entirety of Tara's sex, her inner thighs, her hand lying limp next to her clit, and a substantial portion of her waist and stomach where she couldn't possibly have gotten any of her juices, she moved up and peeked her head out of the blanket. Tara had just enough strength to wrap her arms around her as she settled beside her.

"Just praying?" Willow asked quietly. Tara again clamped her hand securely over her mouth, but could do nothing to prevent the fit of giggles she and Willow both collapsed into.

"Well," she gasped at last, keeping her voice down, "it seemed appropriate."

"Amazon gods do that sort of thing?"

"Oh yes," Tara said, stroking Willow's hair, "all the time. Athulua and Kethryes... Zerae and her husband Hefaetrus... and especially Elasia. She's the goddess of love... well," she corrected herself, "that's not quite accurate, all our gods feel love. Elasia is the goddess of sex."

"Wow," Willow murmured, "you've got one of those?"

"Absolutely," Tara said, "it's a very important part of life, just as much as the seasons, and the harvests."

"So that was a prayer to Elasia?" Willow grinned.

"That," Tara said languorously, "was you making me scream for joy." Willow grinned broadly and wriggled herself against Tara.

"Elasia blesses any..." Tara searched for the right word, "any sharing of pleasure between people. Even if it's two people who aren't truly in love having sex because they want to please each other. Elasia shares her love with people then, so that even when they aren't truly in love, they're never completely without love, either But when two people are truly in love, and share their love, Elasia knows there's nothing she could do to make it any better."

"I love you so much," Willow whispered, burying her face in Tara's hair.

"I know," Tara said, "oh, goddess, I know. I love you, Willow. Even the gods couldn't give me love like this."

"Oh Tara," Willow sighed, "Tara, Tara... you know, at this rate we'll have nothing left to do when we finally get our own bedroom." Tara laughed with Willow, winding her fingers through her hair and stroking her.

"Oh I don't think so," she said, "I think we'll have plenty to do, once we don't need to worry about making too much noise, or bumping into the sides of the wagon." Willow looked up at her, and Tara gave her a sly, thoughtful grin.

"What've you got in mind?" Willow asked, narrowing her eyes with playful intensity.

"Well," Tara purred, "you know those kisses you like so much?"

"Oh yes," Willow said happily, "lots of those!"

"I thought," Tara said softly, interrupting Willow's glee for a moment, "I'd lie down between your legs, and kiss your sex just like that. And," she added, giving Willow a shy grin, "I won't stop until you climax." Willow was wide-eyed, and looked slightly stunned.

"Well," she gulped, "that'll take all of two seconds."

"Wait and see," Tara promised, "I think it'll be much, much longer... just as long as you can bear." She leaned over to whisper in Willow's ear: "And one second more." Willow shivered, which felt quite delightful to Tara as she was still lying tightly up against her.

"Speaking of arousing me to complete distraction," Willow said, "do you think it's possible for an Amazon to bring a sorceress to climax just by whispering in her ear?"

"One of these days I'll find out," Tara grinned.

"Very nearly today," Willow replied, leaning up on her elbows to kiss Tara. She took her time, Tara letting her tease and taste her mouth with contented patience, only occasionally trapping Willow's tongue between her teeth for an instant and licking it. Willow took full advantage of Tara's relaxed state, indulging herself in exploring Tara's lips, mouth and tongue at length and in detail.

"I didn't want to start the day without giving you a good morning kiss," Willow said matter-of-factly as she lay back down, her head on Tara's shoulder.

"Of course not," Tara replied, "seeing as you've kissed just about every other part of me already."

"Yeah, there is that," Willow admitted. "You know what? You taste absolutely divine." Tara felt herself blush. Willow kissed her again, just quickly, and sat up to reach behind herself for something. She turned back with a small package wrapped in paper and a gourd to find Tara shamelessly enjoying the view of her naked body.

"Considering another drawing?" she teased.

"Maybe," Tara allowed, "but you know, I-I kind of prefer drawing myself for you."

"Are you sure?" Willow asked playfully. "I could pose for you."

"You could," Tara said, "but I don't think I'd get any drawing done. What's that?"

"Breakfast," Willow said, unwrapping the package to reveal half a loaf of soft bread and another paper-wrapped object which turned out to be cheese. "Bread, cheese, there's an apple back there if you want it, and fruit juice. Tryptin dropped them off just after I woke up."

"Nice of him," Tara said, "I thought we'd missed breakfast. We're moving," she added, "what time is it?"

"Still at least couple of hours to midday," Willow said. "We got underway while you were asleep."

"I noticed when I woke up," Tara admitted, "but then, someone distracted me before I could think about it."

"Well, sorry about that," Willow grinned, "but you just looked good enough to eat."

"You don't need to be sorry at all," Tara assured her. "I've never in my entire life felt so, so loved, so cherished... so satisfied..." She sat up and knelt next to Willow, wrapping her arms around her waist. "I-I've never come so hard," she added with a bashful smile.

"Get used to it," Willow purred, grinning from ear to ear. She glanced down at the half-prepared breakfast. "You know, suddenly that doesn't look so appetising anymore." Tara kissed her softly, just opening her mouth the fraction she needed to grab Willow's bottom lip and suck on it, then swatted her lightly on the bottom.

"Vixen," she said at Willow's surprised squeak.

"Guilty as charged," Willow admitted. "My poor tender bottom," she added, pouting adorably.

"Poor Willow," Tara said consolingly, "want me to kiss it better?" Willow's expression changed instantly from pretended sorrow to sincere satisfaction.

"Maybe later," she murmured with a smile. "We should eat, even if it is just boring old caravan food." She and Tara divided up the meal and made short work of it, both having something of an appetite from not having eaten until so late in the morning. Tara ended up leaning back against the side of the wagon, a blanket around her shoulders, with Willow sitting between her legs and leaning back on her, holding up an apple for her to take bites out of now and then.

"Not so bad," Willow said idly, finishing the last of the bread roll in her free hand. "Still, get me a fire and some pots and we'll have a proper meal some time."

"You cook?" Tara asked.

"Oh yeah," Willow said, "yeah, my mother started teaching me before I went to learn sorcery, and I kept dabbling in it over the years. Don't you?"

"Well, I can cook," Tara admitted, "but, you know, only if there's no alternative. I wouldn't say I'm better than average."

"It's a lot like magic," Willow went on, "sort of a mix of method and inspiration. Part of it is knowing what to do, which ingredients, how long to cook them, which flavours work and which don't... and part of it is just instinct. You feel how everything is coming together as you're cooking, and you just know what to do. I used to practice after lessons every day. It took a while - sometimes I ended up wishing I'd just gone to the dining hall like everyone else - but I'm pretty good at it now. When we get the chance I'll make you something. You don't eat meat, do you?"

"Not if I can avoid it," Tara said. "I mean, out in the wild you eat what'll keep you alive. I don't mind it, particularly, but I prefer not to."

"I've got a cream sauce that goes great with vegetables," Willow said, "and given a couple of spices you'll just love what I can do with carrots."

"I bet I would," Tara purred. Willow missed the meaning of the comment for a moment, but after nodding vaguely she sat bolt upright and spun around, looking amusingly scandalised.

"Tara!" she protested, trying not to laugh. Tara licked her lips seductively, then couldn't help herself any longer and fell sideways, laughing as she hit the blankets. Willow jumped on top of her.

"You naughty little minx!" she proclaimed, straddling Tara's hips.

"Who's little?" Tara laughed. "I'm taller than you."

"Not when you're lying down you're not," Willow declared hotly, shifting herself up to Tara's waist to keep her from getting away, and tickling her sides. Tara writhed beneath her, laughing herself silly and in no condition to defend herself. Her efforts to catch Willow's wrists, or at least tickle her in return, were hampered by her distraction at feeling the warmth of Willow's sex pressing down on her stomach.

"You're enjoying this," she said, after managing to gulp down a breath of air between giggles.

"You bet I am," Willow replied. She gave Tara some respite, sitting back on her heels and looking down at Tara beneath her.

"Well," she said appreciatively, "I can see one way you're definitely not 'little'." Tara followed Willow's gaze down to herself. She wriggled a little, enjoying Willow's aroused "Mmm" as her breasts wobbled.

"One thing I don't understand," Willow went on, laying herself down on top of Tara's legs, with her head resting on her stomach, "is how you don't just lock yourself in your room and play with yourself all day." Tara laughed, which caused her chest to shudder quite expressively, and Willow to "Mmm" again.

"I-I never really thought about them," Tara admitted, "they're just, you know... me. A bit bigger than most of the other girls, not too big to fit into armour and use a longbow with. There was a little while when I was, um, developing a bit earlier than most of the girls, and I felt a bit awkward... but apart from that, u-until you came along, they were just... my breasts. Nothing special."

"Nonsense," Willow said lazily, "everything about you is special, and that most certainly includes your luscious, soft, beautiful, abundant," she started drawing circles around Tara's breast with a finger, "warm, sensual, yielding," she poked Tara gently to demonstrate, "smooth, wonderful, bountiful, flawless," Tara was gazing down at Willow, wondering how long she could go on, "inviting, tempting, titillating, hah, luscious, oh wait, I already said that, doesn't matter, they're worth saying it twice... where was I?"

"Luscious, and titillating before that," Tara murmured, utterly entertained by Willow's ongoing declaration.

"Oh yeah, that's right," Willow said, "I'd just started on all the adjectives about how every time I see you naked I just want to leap into your arms and feel your breasts in my hands, and wrap my legs around your waist, and kiss you, and I'm getting sidetracked... I've lost my train of thought again."

"I-I think you were saying you like my breasts," Tara grinned.

"Well, just so long as you've got the idea," Willow allowed. She kissed Tara's navel, wriggling her tongue around for a moment, then shuffled up her body and laid her head down on her breasts.

"Mmm, I can hear your heart," she murmured. "This'd be a lovely way to go to sleep... it's not uncomfortable, is it?"

"Not at all," Tara said, "b-but isn't it a little early to be going back to sleep? I mean, we just woke up..."

"Not now," Willow explained, "I was just adding the idea to my list of things to do. I'm making a list in my head, 'Things to do with naked Tara'. It's quite extensive."

"Really?" Tara asked.

"Oh yeah... let's see, go to sleep using Tara-breasts as pillow, that'll be number... one hundred thirty-eight."

"You have an orderly mind," Tara observed.

"I do indeed," Willow agreed, "most of the time. Except when you kiss me, then my brain sort of melts, and the best thought I can come up with is 'mwaaa'."


"Something like that," Willow said, "it's difficult to concentrate."

"When I kiss you?" Tara asked seductively.

"It starts when you kiss me," Willow clarified, "although, sometimes even earlier..."

"Come here, my love," Tara breathed. Willow lifted herself up and leaned over Tara, lowering her lips for Tara to kiss. The way Tara kissed her, she felt as if her lips were the only truly real part of her, that their kiss was anchoring her to the world, and without it she'd be blown away on some ethereal breeze. Tara lifted her head, probing into Willow's mouth, making full use of her remarkably agile tongue to reach every corner. While it lasted, Willow was no more able to pull away from the kiss than she was to leave her own body - she lifted herself up over Tara, as high as she could, then arched her back, pressing their bodies together, then laid herself out along the length of Tara's body, writhing slowly to gain as much contact as she could. Finally, with one last tug at Willow's lip, Tara released her and lay her head back down.

"Mwaaa," Willow said, resting her head on Tara's shoulder, enjoying the sound of her laughter, and the way Tara's body moved beneath her.

The caravan halted for lunch, to rest its animals for the afternoon's long haul to the next town and to give its passengers a chance to stretch their legs. A stream passed fifty feet from the road, in clear sight of it, so Willow and Tara both took the opportunity to wash some of their clothes, trusting the cloudless sky to the north not to rain on them while they were drying later. After lunch Tara spoke with Tryptin for a while, and he passed on what he knew about the schedule the Duncraig ambassadors had decided on, while Willow made an effort to catch up on her studies and start work on a report to send from Duncraig, having fallen behind in her own self-imposed schedule due to unforseen distractions.

"Unforseen distractions?" Tara asked when Willow told her. "I'm an unforseen distraction now?"

"I was thinking of the whole demon-summoning incident," Willow corrected her with a grin, "but if I were going to blame you for not getting any work done, you'd be more of a 'delightful I've-found-my-purpose-in-life distraction'. I don't think the Zann Esu really need me to tell them that much detail anyway, it's not like they're watching over my shoulder exactly. They'll probably be surprised I'm writing a progress report at all."

The weather held fine during the afternoon, allowing them to roll up the roof of the wagon and ride in comfort with the sun on their faces. Tara set to work with pen and paper once more, teasing Willow that she wanted a visual record of their morning activities. Willow leapt across the wagon, blushing furiously, to find a landscape of the Kingsway highlands taking shape on Tara's page.

"You enjoy teasing me altogether too much," she protested playfully, picking up her fallen book and replacing it in its satchel. Tara merely raised an eyebrow and kept her eyes on her work. Willow lay down with her head in Tara's lap and hummed to herself for a while, basking in the sunlight and the soft caress of Tara's fingers through her hair whenever she paused to consider her drawing.

"Where are we staying tonight?" she asked after a short while.

"Sorenstad," Tara replied absently, tapping the back of her pen against her bottom lip thoughtfully, "it's more or less the northern border of the Kingsport realm. Beyond this the people are spread pretty thin until we get to Duncraig's southern outposts. We'll be staying at the inn tonight," she added, glancing down at Willow with a grin.

"Inn as in with separate rooms?" Willow enquired, suddenly very interested.

"I don't know," Tara admitted, "Tryptin mentioned that most of the caravan would be in communal bedrooms, but he said he thought they'd probably have a private room for the ladies."

"How private?" Willow purred.

"We'll have to wait and see," Tara said.

Sorenstad was a small town with farmland stretching for miles around it. However, all its people seemed to have moved behind the high earth and wood stockade surrounding the town proper - as the caravan made its way slowly through the single gateway and into the inn's yard, both Willow and Tara stared around at the mass of humanity crowding the small town, at the lean-tos and makeshift shacks that surrounded nearly every permanent building, and the men, women and children having their evening meals on stools and tables by the roadside outside their temporary lodgings, for want of space within.

"I wonder if the inn will have room for us," Tara murmured to herself. Willow took her hand, looking sympathetic. They gathered the gear that was too valuable to leave to the wagons, even with an unlucky few of the caravan guards on night watch - Willow's books, Tara's spear - and dropped down off the wagon as it rolled into the yard, the driver slotting it neatly into the space between one of the Duncraig wagons and the side of the inn and getting down to see to the horses. Tara, with Willow in tow, wandered towards the inn's front, where Tryptin was in discussion with a burly harassed-looking man who they took for the innkeeper. They caught only a word or two - "unforseen" and "trying times" from the innkeeper, "can't be helped" from Tryptin - before he signalled to the lieutenant of the caravan guards and shook hands with the innkeeper. He spotted Willow and Tara, and paused by them on his way back to the wagons.

"Miss Willow," he said politely, with a nod of greeting for Tara. "The inn is more crowded than they're used to," he explained, "they have enough beds for us, but barely. There's only one spare private room though, and you'll be sharing it with a woman and her child. Um, the room's only fitted for two," he added, looking slightly sheepish, "you don't mind sharing a bed?"

"Of course not," Tara said, squeezing Willow's hand to communicate her shared disappointment.

"Thank you," Tryptin said sincerely, "I'm sorry about this, I hoped for better, but there's little we can do. Some of the emissaries will be sleeping in the wagons as it is, although I dare say they'll be comfortable enough. Oh, while I think of it, I'll be sending Melcan down to the general store in a while to buy some extra blankets, just in case it gets cold tonight, could you use a few more? It'll be a few days to the next town, and we'll be moving further into the highlands."

"Thank you," Tara said.

"That's very kind," Willow added.

"Well, that's what I'm here for," Tryptin said, shrugging off the praise, "keep everyone happy and safe until we get home again. I've asked the innkeeper to show you to your room once he's finished talking to our lieutenant. There's a dining room here, but I'd recommend taking something up to your room from the supply wagon, it's liable to be a bit crowded and I can't say how good the food will be. Come to me if you need anything," he added, turning back to the caravan.

"Thanks," Willow called after him. "No room of our own?" she grumbled to Tara. "You've got to be kidding me."

"I'm sorry sweetie," Tara said.

"Hey, I'm the one who should be sorry," Willow argued, "considering how I woke you up... I kind of figured we'd have tonight to ourselves."

"It's okay," Tara said warmly, "I'm fine, really."

"Really?" Willow asked. "Sharing a room with strangers?"

"I just have to think, would I rather be here with you," Tara explained, "or absolutely anywhere else in the world. That's not even a choice. Besides," she added, leaning over to whisper in Willow's ear, "I'm not the one who wasn't satisfied this morning."

"Oh I was satisfied plenty," Willow assured her. "Sated, you might say. If you're fine, I'm fine. Now let's go get us a room."

"Sounds good," Tara said. Willow nodded, then got a curious look in her eyes.

"'Sweetie'?" she asked. Tara grinned.

"Because you're so sweet," she whispered, "in all sorts of ways."

"So are you," Willow replied in a hushed voice, "and believe me, I'm in a position to know. Or, at least, I was in a position to know earlier, and I intend to be again as soon as possible. When's the next town due?"

"Five days, I think," Tara said. "Willow, do you... I-I mean, if it makes you, you know, worked up, w-would you prefer I didn't talk about... well, tease you so much?"

"Absolutely not," Willow said firmly, "I may end up being driven so nuts they'll have to put me in an asylum once we get to Duncraig, but gods it's wonderful!" Tara smiled broadly.

"Good," she said, "I'm glad. I-I like it too... I like making you blush," she admitted.

"Me too," Willow agreed. "I mean, you making me blush... and me making you blush, also, so I didn't really need to clarify that," she went on to herself, "'cause whichever way you took it, it still would've been right..."

"You have an easier job," Tara noted, "I blush easily."

"Yeah, you're real shy," Willow said, "right up to the point where you start making love to me like you're going to devour me."

"M-making love?" Tara asked.

"Well, you know," Willow explained, "I know we haven't, but I was thinking earlier, we kind of have... I mean, there's not a lot we haven't, um, shared between us, you know? A-and the way it feels, even if it's just a kiss, it's like... you've made love to me, you really have. I feel like you've given me all of yourself."

"I have," Tara whispered, "and I-I feel the same..."

"So, I guess," Willow went on, "I feel like we have made love, in all sorts of ways... a-and there's ways we haven't, yet, of course, but... I mean, if I had to choose, I'd rather just be with you, just together, like sitting on a bench in a park, or walking through a market holding hands, I'd rather that, and feel loved the way you make me feel, than have sex in every mind-blowing way humanity's ever thought of, if I didn't feel loved. It's just... it's you," she finished with a tiny, sweet smile, "you are love."

"Oh Willow," Tara murmured, "goddess, you are so wonderful... I love you, I wish I had words for how much."

"You do," Willow promised, "in your eyes, you do." Tara stared at her in complete adoration.

"If we weren't standing in the middle of a town," she whispered, "I would kiss you, right now, so much..."

"I know," Willow said, "I really do." She hugged Tara briefly, then held her hand as they walked towards the supply wagon. Behind them, the innkeeper had just finished talking to the lieutenant.

"When we get a room of our own," Tara said, "I'm still going to think of it as our first night, though."

"Yeah, me too," Willow agreed, "it'll always be special."

"Speaking of all sorts of mind-blowing ways of making love," Tara whispered in Willow's ear, "remind me later to tell you about the Books of Elasia."

"Elasia has books?" Willow asked, very interested. "How many? Are they... like, detailed books?"

"Very detailed," Tara said, "very long, and there's about a hundred of them."

"And they're..." Willow prompted.

"They're not the kind of thing I can tell you about in a public place," Tara grinned.

"Oh," Willow said, eyes wide, "and you've read them?"

"Not yet," Tara said, "but one day, maybe... if you want, of course... if we go back home, to Tran Athulua, we could read them together?"

"Consider it done," Willow said, keeping her voice low as they approached the innkeeper. Tara smiled to herself, slightly oblivious to the world around her. She hadn't realised, when she had thought of reading the books together, that a simple teasing suggestion would actually involve asking Willow to come with her half-way around the world. The way Willow had agreed without even a shadow of hesitation, and the sincerity in her voice, telling Tara she knew exactly what she was saying, filled her heart with joy.

Continue to Hellebore Chapter Twenty-One (Rated NC-17)

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