Carefully not to disturb the crouched body under the blanket Tara closed the door behind her. It was kind of a challenge to shut the door and balance a tray with the hot tea on it but she managed it to her own satisfaction. There was only a little click but when she turned around to look at the bed her girlfriend hadn't moved. At least she hoped it was her girlfriend who was hidden underneath the blanket and not some kind of red haired monster, cause all she could see was the blanket and some red hair that emerged from somewhere between three huge pillows. Actually it looked more like a red bird's nest, the cutest one she had ever seen. She smiled as she tiptoed through the room towards the bed. But suddenly the disarray of hair moved and a small pale and feverish face turned to look at her.
"Your not supposed to smile when I'm sick as a dog." Willow pouted before a cough ragged her fragile body.
"Aww, poor baby." Tara rushed over to her lover, placing the tray at the nightstand before she sat down next to her. Her hands glided through damp hair, pushing it back from her girlfriend's face. Willow shuddered when Tara's finger touched her forehead. "You're hot." Tara commented concerned. But Willow forced herself heroically to smile. "If I didn't feel like I have to puke any second I would show you how hot I am." She giggled but soon enough it turned into a new cough that ragged her body. Miserably she looked at the blonde. "I don't like this." She whined.
"I know, honey." Tara answered. "Come here, drink your tea." Willow shuddered again, but this time not out of cold.
"I don't like this tea. I didn't like it yesterday and not today and definitely not tomorrow or ever again in my entire life." The redhead proclaimed, hiding deeper under her blanket. Soon enough the blanket was pulled aside and Willow grimaced as the bright light hit her eyes.
"Then do it for me, please." Tara begged.
Willow looked up at her lover and green eyes met with pleading blue ones. She sighed, she could never deny Tara a wish. "But I want something in exchange." She demanded, as she turned on her back to get a better view of Tara.
"What. A kiss?" Tara asked smilingly.
"Yeah, that would be a great start but it won't be enough. This time."
"Willow, I want sex too but I think we should wait till..." Tara started but she was interrupted.
"I don't mean sex. I want a story." Tara blushed, looking down at her fiddling finger.
"Oh, not that I don't want to have sex, cause I want it every time and everywhere. Well maybe not everywhere, cause I could never do it in a restroom at burger king's. That is definitely the "yuck"-category. Oho, babbling isn't good. Makes my head all spinny." Willow stopped and closed her eyes for a second till her world stopped spinning around. "I want my babbling back." She said, looking at the blonde for help.
"I want it back too. Drink your tea and I promise babbling in a day and a story." Tara tried to convince Willow.
"You promise?" Willow asked back. She got a nod and a smile as an answer. "okayyyy." She gave in and tried to sit up.
Tara helped her and shook up the pillows to give Willow a comfortable place to lean on. Then she passed her the hot steaming mug of tea. Grumpily Willow took it from her and looked up at Tara again. "Do I really have to? It's soooo hot."
"It has to be hot or it won't help."
"And I'm sure it also has to smell and taste this awful to help." Willow added with a grimace. "Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? Her medicine is always sweet." She guided the mug to her mouth and blew softly above the surface before she set it on her mouth to take a sip.
"Well I'm sure I can get you Mary Poppins but I'm not sure she'll have sex with you as soon as you're strong enough." Tara answered wickedly.
As soon as her mind had processed her normally shy lover's answer Willow's eyes popped out. Then her cheeks ruffled before she spit some of her tea on her nightshirt, coughing heavily. Guiltily Tara rubbed her back, till Willow could breath again.
"That's not fair. You can't do something like that to a serious ill person!" She screamed. Or at least she tried to scream as she wasn't in the condition to form more than a hoarse whisper.
"I'm sorry." Tara tried to hide a giggle.
"You're a mean person." Willow pouted. "A beautiful and caring but mean person."
"What can I do to make it up to you? I'll do everything." Tara said with a grin.
"I want my story. A really long, not 5 second story with a real plot. A fairy tale. But a non scary tale cause when I was seven I found this brother Grimm's book in my parent's library and I thought that they only had this kind of Cinderella and Snow-white stories. But their stories are brutal. There was one about a man who killed his brother to get the princess and he buried him in the woods and years later a herdsman found a bone and made a flute out of it. How sick do you have to be: He's in a Forrest full of wood and he takes the first bone and thinks: 'wow great, let's make a flute out of it.' And when he played his flute the dead brother would sing, cause it was his bone, I think his thigh bone, 'my brother killed me'." Willow shuddered again with disgust. "I couldn't sleep for two weeks. Every time I closed my eyes I saw this flute with its tiny mouth singing 'my brother killed me'."
"Poor baby." Tara rubbed her girlfriend's tummy. "Sometimes I think, you even have more childhood traumas than Woody Allen."
"He was lucky. At least his mother wasn't a shrink." Willow carried on. "Once she took me with her to one of her classes. She made me sit in front of her students at her desk and I should play with my toys whilst 25 pairs of eyes were about to watch me."
"See the tea is already working. The babble is back." Tara tried to cheer her up.
"Great. Babbling and childhood traumas. The irresistible combination." Willow mumbled wiping her nose. "And now can we please let my past rest? I want my story."
She lifted her blanket for Tara to lay next to her. The blonde followed her invitation and sat next to her lover. Willow scooped down and laid her head into Tara's lap, enjoying the caressing movements of Tara's fingers through her hair. She closed her eyes and snuggled closer. After a moment of just laying there Willow repeated her wish. "Now tell me my story. My long fairy tale, but I don't want a boring prince, I want a lesbian fairy tale."
Tara smiled and looked down at her girlfriend. "Cause princes are just boring. They always think the girl can't rescue herself and she would be head over heels if she is offered to marry him. Whether she knows him or not." Willow mumbled on.
"Three wishes at once. A long, lesbian fairy-tale?" The blonde sighed. "I really have an imperious girlfriend." She only got a little grunt as answer that made her giggle. "Okay, where do I start? Of course... Once upon a time there was a really beautiful princess." Tara caressed Willow's hair. "She had ruby-red, silky hair. That one you can't take your hands off." She smiled.
"Princess? Hm, think more than 25 pair of eyes were watching her." Willow mumbled sleepy.
Tara giggled. "Not that much more. But now be quiet."
She was the king and queen's only child and from her birth on she knew she could never live up to their expectations because she was a girl. But she wasn't an ordinary girl. She had never been interested in dolls. She was interested in the world but at the same time she was scared of what lay behind the save castle's walls. Once she had heard the servants talking about war, diseases and death and that had scared her to death. So she decided that she would learn all about the world surrounded by her save walls. And she drove everyone around her nuts with her questions. Someday her parents saw only one solution to get rid of her. They allowed her to learn how to read. You have to know, normally girls weren't allowed to learn how to read but her father was the king and so he allowed it. So she could stay the whole day and sometimes even the night in the library and out of their sight. But for her it were the luckiest moments in her life. And she spent years in there. It didn't take her long to read all the books and so she started over again with the first one. But soon this wasn't enough for her either and so she started to write her own thoughts down. She hid them behind the biggest, most boring book, were she knew no one would ever search. Well if they knew that there was something to find maybe they would have searched, but they didn't know and so no one ever found "her" books.
But there was one thing missing in her life. A friend she could talk to. And so one day she decided to step out of her library and try to find a friend. But this task was more difficult than she thought. She took her favorite book and clutched it to her chest to give her a feeling of safety and something to talk about. She had planed it all in her head. She would walk through the castle and sooner or later someone would approach her to talk to her about the interesting book she was carrying around.
"Tara?" Willow interrupted her.
"Yes?" Tara asked back.
"What was her name?"
"Oh, I didn't tell you her name?" Willow shook her head. "Hm, lets' see, it was... hm, a royal name... like... Clarissa." The redhead opened her eyes in shock and looked up at her lover.
"You can't be serious. It's an awful name."
"Who's telling the story, baby? And I didn't give her her name." Tara explained.
Willow snuggled back defeated. "Fine, now I know why she hid all these years. I would do the same with a name like this."
"Her name was Clarissa." Tara stressed.
Clarissa walked the whole day through the castle from the top to the dungeons beneath but she didn't find anyone who seemed interested in her and her book. Frustrated she sat down in the library thinking about what went wrong. But even her sharp mind couldn't come up with a solution. She still sat there between her books when it turned dark outside.
Her train of thoughts was interrupted when the door was opened and in the light of the candle she was carrying an old stooping woman entered the room.
"Ah, I know I would find you here." She said as her old gray eyes adjusted to the darkness outside her candlelight. "It's bedtime child."
Clarissa turned around and faced her nurse. She tilted her head and watched her closely nibbling at her lower lip unconscious. She could ask her nurse for help. She had always been right her whole life and she was old enough to know about things. And she was for sure more of a mother to her than her own mother. "Nana, can I ask you something?"
"Of course, Sweety." The old woman answered as she stepped closer and rested with a sigh in the chair next to the petit princess.
"Am I different?" the redhead asked quietly.
"Of course you are." Nana straightened herself up. "You're the Princess."
Clarissa sighed, that wasn't the answer she had hoped for. "No, I mean different except from me being the Princess." She looked down at her fingers. "I don't have a single friend." She whispered.
"Did you say something? You know my ears are not what they used to be." Nana laid her hand on her ear building a funnel.
"I just wondered, if I ever will find someone." Clarissa nearly shouted into Nana's ear.
"But of course you will. Next week. At the bride's gathering."
Clarissa looked at her in shock. She had totally forget about THAT thing. No, she hadn't forgotten, she had repressed it successfully till now. Till now. Frustrated she buried her face in her hands.
The featherlike strokes through her hair made her look up, meeting the old woman's gaze. "Don't worry. I'm sure you'll find a handsome, good looking prince. Look at you. They will fight for the right to marry you." Nana predicted.
"I don't need someone to fight with but to talk to." Clarissa whispered as she followed her nurse to her room.
She had really tried to believe her. She really had wanted to. With her whole essence. Every night till today she had whispered to herself that she would find the one at the festival. And every night she would pray to god that he would send him to her.
But the first thing she noticed when she woke up at the most important day in her life was the nausea that gripped her stomach. She clutched her arms around her stomach and rocked forth and back to find some comfort.
Great, things like that always happened at really important days. She wanted to look good and interesting and now she felt like she had eaten a slug. The ones without houses. She held her hand before her mouth and breathed into her palm. Then she took a deep breath. Well it least her breath didn't smell like a slug. The first positive thing at this morning.
But if she had known what the day would bring she would have been more than willing to eat a slug and stay the rest of the day in her bed. With one word: boring.
Although it started with a rare sensation. It had been the first day in years that her mother had entered her room. She had looked around before she had turned to her daughter and had smiled at her with one of her false smiles. "My child." She had told her. "I hope, you know HOW important this day will be in your life." Her shrill voice didn't help to get rid of her nausea, Clarissa noticed but she put all her strength together and nodded what she hoped would look enthusiastic. Either she succeeded or her mother didn't bother at all. "Fine, fine." She examined Clarissa's new dress that was spread over her chair. "Yes, I think, that will fit her." She told herself, like her daughter wasn't in the same room any longer. Then she turned around to Nana. "Nana, help her get dressed. She has to look good today. Or she will never find a rich, handsome prince." Her fingers played with her long golden bracelet. "Rich" had always been the key to her mothers ears and heart, Clarissa knew only to well. And suddenly she knew that the day wouldn't be about her wishes but her parents plans for her. To find a rich husband. She shuddered.
The rest of the day didn't turn out any better. She wasn't sick anymore but at some moments through the day she had wished to be able to puke. In fact every time one of the 'handsome, rich' guys approached her. They were boring. They didn't talk about anything else than hunting, their horses or how rich they or rather their fathers were. Some of them had another subject. How they would reign over their land and donate her lots of children. And one of them even tried to talk her into starting with making children right there.
And for that her parents had forced her into that really uncomfortable dress. She took a deep breath. Maybe she would be able to find at least a friend if not her soulmate here. She strolled through the rooms and garden watching the other princesses and princes. Once more she felt different without knowing how different she felt. Finally she decided to make the best out of this day and go to the library. The sun had vanished behind dark clouds and she didn't see any reason why she shouldn't vanish too. She still had enough time. And no one would really miss her, even on her own festival she wasn't more than a fringe figure.
She just was about to walk around a corner, when she heard some voices talking. She stopped and pressed herself against the wall. Other people were the last thing she wanted right now. Maybe if she just stood there stock still the others would finish their conversation and walk back to the festival. For sure she didn't want to listen to their boring talks but when she heard her name she pricked up her ears.
"The pale redhead?" a shrill voice asked back the one who had dropped her name.
"Sure, who else could I mean. She thinks she's superior. But have you seen how she shrieked when she came near that horse?"
The other voices giggled.
Clarissa confessed, she had shrieked but who wouldn't have if an enormous monster suddenly emerged in front of them its snout torn opened to devour one? It had been a totally normal behavior from her side.
"I heard that her parents don't let her out because she's afraid the wind would blow her away. One time they tried and she screamed till five of their servants were deaf."
Deaf? Clarissa was near to beat them till they were deaf and blind, but she held her anger back, clenched her fists and took a deep breath. It was all about self-control she once had read. Self-control she repeated like a mantra in her mind while she listened to the conversation in front of her.
"The night she was born there was no moon at the sky. All people born in a night like this are labile, my nurse told me. You can scare them if you talk to loud to them."
She had enough, she would show them that nothing in the world scared her. She wasn't a freak, she was just different. Better. Yes, she was better than them and she would prove it to them.
She took a deep breath before she turned around the corner and smiled at them as she passed them on her way out. Her smile grew wider as she noticed them blushing and lowering their heads. Yes, she was still the Princess of this castle.
The sky had darkened up and she could hear a far off thunder. But that didn't count for her. Thunder or not, she would show them that they were the one scared not her. She turned right before she remembered that the stables were left.
"Good horsies." She whispered as she tiptoed through the stable. "Many horses, too many horses." Just now she registered how many horses it took to transport a bunch of idiotic royals. She didn't know where to look first. Right, left, behind and in front of her everywhere horses. They snorted and neighed angrily at her. Suddenly the black stallion on her right stood on its hind legs, slamming its front hoofs into its box. She shrieked and jumped back only to land in a stack of straw. She laid there for a minute, her arms protectively shielding her face before she was brave enough to look up again. A deep sigh escape her mouth as she realized that it hadn't been able to brake through. Actually it had lost its interest in her and was now busy eating its straw. For a second she thought about to confront the beast but that self-destructive whish only lasted for a second. Then she concentrated all her strength to fight her way out of the stack. And it wasn't that easy with her long uncomfortable dress. But she made it. Somehow. But now she felt sweaty and with her dress she looked more than a scarecrow than a princess. From every piece of embroidery hang straw and wiping it away proved itself as impossible.
"Were there any half camels?" Tara heard Willow's voice from her lap.
"No not this time, honey."
"You know, I liked the half camels."
She took off her overdress and stood there only in her underdress. "Now I only have to find something to wear." She talked to herself. "And then I will ride one of those beasts. And if it's the last thing I do in my boring life." She promised herself while she walked further through the stable looking for a calm horse. At the last box she found what she was looking for. It was an old really calm looking horse. And it didn't snap at her when she stood at its box. Definitely a plus. A very big plus. It didn't take her long to find a bridle and next to the bridle she even found a jacket she could wear. It was a little to big for her but it would do to show the snobs just how much better than them she was. She took the bridle back to the old horse's box and carefully she opened the door.
"Good horse. You don't hurt me and I don't hurt you." She soothed, a little tremble in her voice. And the horse seemed to agree. From her books she knew how to saddle a horse and it took her only three trials to implement it. She was really proud of herself although the really hard part was only to come.
She took rein and led the horse out of the stable. The weather didn't look too good, even she could see that but she also knew that if she didn't do it now, she would never be able to do it again. And a little rain couldn't harm her. Not today. She patted the horse´s neck to sooth it and cleared her throat before she made a deal with it. "Good horsie, fine horsie. Nothing to be afraid of. It's just me, plain old Clarissa. And I promise I'm not that heavy, not like some of the other idiots here. Just me. Light as a feather me. And see, I don't wear that heavy dress anymore. And it won't take you long. Only a little ride around the castle. Nothing more, I promise and after that lot of carrots for you. Or straw if you prefer. Just say a word. Well, I know you can't talk but a little neighing of approval will be enough. Fine? Fine." She straightened herself up, took a deep breath and grabbed the saddle. With one foot at the stirrup it only took her some minutes of jumping on one foot around (and the moving horse didn't make it better) before she finally managed to sit onto the saddle.
"Did they ever tell you how high you are." She asked the horse insecurely. "Really high." She added and nodded.
First everything went good. Like she had considered it. The secret lay in the pressure of her thighs. This was the way to lead the horse. But it sounded easier than it was. Somehow they had managed to reach the gate, although she would have had preferred a short round through the garden first, but they could go there later. No need to hurry. Right. First there had to be the "getting one with your best friend the horse" thing, then they could ride, well better walk back.
She could hear the thunder. This time it was nearer than before. Too near. She hadn't known that a thunderstorm could be that fast in approaching her.
"Horse, I don't want to interrupt you but maybe we should... you know... go back. Look, it seems there will be a storm. There you can see the dark clouds and dark clouds mean storm, you know?" When she horse didn't look up she tightened the rein and pressed her right thigh at the horse's back. But now it started to walk to the right, farther away from the castle.
"No wait, we need to go the other way." She grew nervous and pressed her left tight to the horse. But it didn't react. Her nervousness grew bigger. For a moment she thought about climbing down, but it didn't seem like a good idea while the horse was still moving. She started to tear at the reign and press with her tights. But that only made the horse go faster and suddenly she it was in gallop.
"NOOO; bad horsie. Stop, now... Please, please. I will never ever climb you again, if you stop now." She pleaded as she wrapped her arms around its neck to find a hold.
And that was when the storm reached her. It didn't take a minute before she was dripping wet, but the horse didn't seem to notice, it only started to gallop even faster. She closed her eyes, her arms tightening their grip around its neck. Even with her eyes open she couldn't see anything. The dark clouds had transformed the day into night. And then there was the thunder. Looking back she didn't know who was more afraid, she or the horse who suddenly stood on its hind legs. She lost her hold and the last thing she knew was that she hit the ground. Very hard.
And everything went black.
"Horses are evil. They're nothing but big ponies. And ponies, small, big or giant are always evil." Willow interrupted.
"It wasn't the horse's fault." Tara tried to tell her, gently brushing Willow's back. "It was scared because of the thunder and Clarissa's hectic movements. It felt her nervousness and got nervous itself."
"Just camouflage." Willow insisted.
"You'll see. Everything has its import. Even a fall from a big pony." Tara bent down to kiss Willow's forehead. "Just be patient, baby."
The first thing Clarissa noticed when she woke up was her headache. The second thing was, that she wasn't wet anymore. And the third thing was that she lay between two blankets and that through the blanket beneath her she could feel the itching straw. When she came to the fourth thing her head started spinning and she decided just to be quiet for a moment and maybe to find out where she was. Adrenaline rushed through her veins as she realized that straw could only mean one thing: she was back at the stables. A very unpleasant thought. She would never in her entire life go back to this place. Even if they put a library in it with books she didn't know. But she couldn't smell any horses. On the contrary she smelled herbs, their essence hanging soothingly and calmingly in the air around her. And she could hear a fire crackling. That would explain the warmth she felt. From somewhere deep down her analytic mind a small voice reminded her of something and it only took her a minute to figure it out. Of course she had eyes she could open to look around and find out where she was.
Carefully she opened her eyes only to close them again in an instant, her face twitching with pain. Clarissa took a deep breath before she opened her eyes again and this time the hurt wasn't that bad. Her gaze fell on the ceiling above her. Herbs. The whole ceiling was covered with herbs that hung there for drying. Slowly not to strain her stiff neck, her gaze followed the ceiling to the wall opposite to her. It was covered with shelves, filled with jars, all different sizes. Her look traveled further. She was in a farmers house she realized now. It was only one small room with a table, two chairs and a bed. The bed she was lying in. And when her gaze fell upon the fireplace she saw the inhabitant of this poor hut. A girl, her age lay next to the fireplace, but far enough to not get burned by the flashes. She lay on the bare ground her head resting on her arm and she was only covered by a thin blanket. She looked content, her blond hair shimmering in the fire's light like gold. Her other arm embraced the blackest cat, Clarissa had ever seen and it looked straight at her. Her shimmering eyes looking right through her, like it was trying to estimate her, if she meant any threat to her owner. It gave her the shivers and she broke the eye contact only to see the dress that hung near the fire. It was her underdress. Suddenly she realized she was naked before she fainted again.
When she woke up again the sun already shone, bathing the room in warm light. Clarissa snuggled deeper into her blanket. She didn't want to wake up right now. Sleep felt just too good. But she altered her decision when she heard the door open creakingly. She turned her head and locked eyes with the girl that had lain at the fireplace the night before. The blonde blushed and looked down, her hair covering most of her face.
"Y-you're awake." She established.
Clarissa only nodded. She propped on her arms carefully not to expose her breasts. She watched as the blonde placed her water bucket near the fire. The whole time she avoided Clarissa's green eyes. When there was nothing else to do, the blonde wiped her hands at her shirt and stepped to the bed.
"H-h-how do you f-f-feel?" She asked her as she knelt down so till their eyes were the same level.
"My head hurts a little bit but I feel better as I'm no longer on the back of an evil horse and I prefer to lie in a non-evil bed even with a little headache." She caught the little smile that played around the other girl's lips before she hid it again behind her hair. "I'm talking to much, don't I?" She asked. "It's only there aren't that many persons I can talk to." She stopped when she realized that she was telling all that to a total stranger. But the kneeling girl only shook her head.
"I like it." She smiled and for the first time Clarissa saw her whole face.
"And it was beautiful." Willow commented her eyes directed at Tara.
"Well she didn't look that bad..." Tara gave an evasive answer.
"No, she was beautiful. And Clarissa fell in love with her right there right then." Willow insisted, jumping up from her comfortable place. "Don't you ever forget that."
Tara blushed but nodded. "I won't forget but they didn't fall in love right there." She said as she guided Willow back into her lap.
Again the blonde wiped her hand at her skirt. "May I?" she asked before she laid her palm against Clarissa's forehead. "Just a little temperature." She stated. Then she examined the redhead's eyes and nodded satisfied. "Show me your tongue." She nodded again. "Better." Then she stood up and walked over to the fireplace where a kettle hung over the fire. With the corner of her apron she took the kettle and poured some of its steaming fluid into a cup at the table. Some of the herbs from her shelves landed in there as well before she stirred it and brought it to the bed. She rested it on the ground in front of the bed.
"You have to wait some minutes." She told her.
"Can I ask you something?" Clarissa looked at the acid green fluid in her mug. "Where am I, How did I come here and why am I naked?" She squeaked.
"Oh." The blonde blushed again. "I didn't tell you. Some of the farmers found you out there in the storm and they brought you here." Clarissa went pale. "Oh no, they didn't undress you, don't worry." The blond laid her hand at the smaller girl's arm, squeezing it reassuringly. "Your clothes were dripping and I didn't want to risk a fever. I-I un-d-dressed you." She fought with her words. Their eyes locked and the redhead beamed at her thankfully. Suddenly the farmer girl registered where her hand laid and broke the contact. Hastily she stood up and Clarissa´s smile faltered. She had liked the contact. It seemed caring. Something she only knew from her Nana.
"Why you?" At least she wanted to talk to the girl further.
"B-because I h-help people." She blushed again.
"You're a witch." Clarissa concluded enthusiastically. She never had met a witch before in her life and everything she knew from her books didn't fit the girl in front of her. There was no wart, she wasn't ugly or scary. The only resemblance she could find was the black cat that strolled through the door and crossed the room to lie at its place near the fire. Clarissa's gaze followed the witch as she walked over and ruffled the cat's fur. The blonde didn't want to discuss this subject with her, the redhead realized.
"That's fine. I don't have anything against witches, actually I've never met one before so I can't tell but now I have met you and I don't think that you're scary or evil. And I won't tell the monks about you." She babbled not knowing how to explain that she like the girl although she didn't know her.
"I just help." The blonde repeated firmly.
Clarissa nodded to show her understanding. "Are you going to tell me your name? I need a name to thank you."
The blonde was about to answer when a loud angry man's voice boomed from outside. "Natasha!!"
The blonde startled, hiding her face behind her hair again. Even the cat jumped from its place, hiding behind the few blocks of wood that lay near. "I-I have to go. S-s-s-stay here." She whispered.
Clarissa watched the blonde leaving. At least she knew her savior's name.
She was bored. Really bored. She had slept for some time but now she was wide-awake. She had washed herself, had put her dress back on, she had even drunk that awful tea and she had examined every single jar on the shelves and every single herb that dangled from the ceiling. She had expected to know most of the herbs from her books but she had only been able to categorize four of them. Four of maybe 50. An aspect that made her restless. She wanted to know and the only one who could tell her about that stuff was the blonde and she was out there somewhere. There was nothing left to do, except to wait for the girl. Natasha she corrected herself. Her name was Natasha. Natasha and she was a witch. That was everything she knew for now. Not very much. But enough to arouse her curiosity.
She decided to go out and search for Natasha and on her way she could find out where exactly 'here' was. Considering the speed the horse had run with she could be everywhere. Well not everywhere in the world, but everywhere where they did speak English and that was a big place.
"Awful tea, huh? What is it with sweet witches and awful teas?" Willow asked.
"Don't you know honey? It's a curse. The ugly tea-witch from the North got jealous and she cursed the beautiful witches so they could only make bad tasting tea. The ugly witch got really rich with her tea and at the end she had her own successful tea-company and she could afford a cosmetic surgery and became Miss Tea." Tara explained serious. "and now back to your tale."
Carefully she opened the door a bit and slid her head through the gap to examine her surroundings. At first sight there was nothing that looked threatening to her. Just a farm. Right to the small house she was hiding in there was a bigger one. Its door was open but it was too far away and too dark in there to make anything out. Between the two farm houses was what looked like a small stable and Clarissa prayed that horses wouldn't be among its inhabitants. She closed her eyes and listened carefully. She let out the air, she had kept holding when she registered that there couldn't be a single neigh heard from there. For a single moment the lack of any horses on this farm boosted her mood only to be crushed again when she noticed that there wasn't only no horses but no human beings as well. Actually she had only hoped for one human being, for Natasha but there wasn't a sign of the blonde either.
The wavering heat hit her with full strength when she stepped out of the chilly hut. How could someone work in this oven? It was even too hot for her to lift her small finger. A difficult decision had to be made: Should she fight through this hell to find Natasha or should she wait in the safe and cool room for her to return. Natasha had even told her to stay and if she wanted to make a friend maybe she shouldn't start with passing over her wish.
Wait, where did this come from? Friend? She tasted that word on her mouth again. It didn't taste that bad and why shouldn't she try to make a new friend. Her first friend? And having a witch as a friend could become handy if she needed someone to transform boring princes into toads. Yes, toads could be very handy. You could throw them against walls or into wells if you had to. But where was the magic book. Every witch needed a spell book for her spells, charms and magic brews. She hadn't seen any book but there had to be one. Maybe it was buried under the wooden floor or it was invisible. She had to know. Finally on her search she had found something new to learn and maybe someone she could be friends with. They could read together, discuss politics and the stars. A whole new world would enfold itself before her, she was sure. She only had to wait till Natasha came back and then she would convince her that they needed to be friends. And waiting out of this heat was good. There was only one problem: She was really bad with waiting. And what use would she be for her new friend in a bad mood?
After she had made the decision to fight the heat and find Natasha she had only to make one more decision. Where should she start her search? The fates were with her when the black cat emerged from the stable. It stopped and its yellow eyes locked with Clarissa's green ones. Not knowing how to react to an animals attention, Clarissa waved her hand. However the black cat didn't seem to be impressed as it stretched itself and continued its walk. And because there was no better alternative Clarissa decided to follow it. A black cat and a witch belonged together her rational mind told her and who was she to oppose.
Once again her mind had been right. As she followed the cat around the big farmer's house she found a view she hadn't expected. Only a one or two hours walk away she could see her castle sitting monstrous at its hill. Despite the heat around her, a small cold shiver went down her back, bringing back the feeling of being trapped and lonely with it. With a slight shook of her head she banished that look from her view and mind. Yearningly her gazed followed the black cat as it lay down in a shady place under the roof next to a pile of wood. But when she look at the small garden before her, her eyes found the small figure that was crouched between the plants. Her face was hidden from view through the big straw hat she wore. Her finger glided fast through the plants as she tore out the weeds.
Absorbed in her work Natasha never stopped or looked up as she worked herself through the rows. Only by watching her in the hot, wavering air, Clarissa felt her headache return and she decided to join the cat under her shady roof. She sat on the pile of wood, her feet dangling in the air. She would wait to talk to the blonde until she had finished her work. Now she would only interrupt her, painfully lengthening the time Natasha had to work out there. Her mind already used that time of waiting to picture their following talk in detail. A sudden weight in her lap made her look down, only to find the cat lying there. She smiled down. "Looks like I have made one friend at least." Her only response was a content purr as she began to scratch it behind its ears. She leaned back against the wall, enjoining its cooling comfort. Just watching Natasha out there made her sleepy again and it didn't take long before her eyes closed against her will and she fall asleep again, the cat still in her lap.
When the comforting weight in her lap vanished suddenly Clarissa woke up startled and jumped down from her seat. Her sudden rush shot back at her as she felt a dizziness infiltrate her, leaving her in darkness. Her knees buckled but before she could connect with the solid ground she felt strong arms around her holding her.
As her view came back into focus she found herself very near to Natasha's face, her arms still embracing her.
"Thanks." Clarissa muttered. Her chest rose and fell fast as she tried to get the air back into her lungs. A difficult venture, regarding the thick air around her. Hands guided her back, leaning her against the pile before they left her waist. Instantly Clarissa missed the touch, the steadiness it gave her as she noticed the dizziness coming back.
"You shouldn't be here." Natasha accused her. Shocked by the grim voice Clarissa looked up.
She gulped, feeling the tears that threatened to dwell up. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... I could leave if..."
But the blonde interrupted her. "No." Her voice a million degrees softer this time. "I-It's my fault. I'm... it's..." She sighed unable to articulate what she wanted to say. Her dirty hand moved to her forehead and wiped the beads of sweat away, leaving a smear behind. Arching her back, Natasha's features distorted in pain but an apologetic smile replaced it as she saw Clarissa's concerned gaze. "I'm sorry. It's been a long day."
"Oh, sure." Clarissa waved her hand dismissively. "I, I understand. Working on the fields in the hot sun is hard work, I know. Of course I know. Why wouldn't I know." She babbled on, glad that the blonde talked to her.
"Because you never worked on the fields." The blonde answered her, a smile covering her tired face.
The redhead looked in shock at her, her mouth wide open. "How, did you know?" Damn, she had tried to make a good impression and now she was caught in lie. 'Really good start. This will really help you to make a friend.' She accused herself.
"F-first your dress, I've never seen something filigree like this linen. Second your skin doesn't look like it's seen much sun and I'm sure it never sunburned." She showed her own bronze shimmering forearms. "And th-third: Your hands."
"My hands?" Clarissa asked turning them up and down without discovering what was wrong with her hands. "All ten fingers there." She thought aloud before she could stop herself. But to her relief Natasha just chuckled.
Then the blonde took the slender hands into hers and turned them to show their palms. Her thumbs stroke gently over the surface. "I've never felt something that soft." She whispered absently, brushing over them once more.
Clarissa felt a shiver running through her whole body but this time it felt good. She liked the feeling of Natasha's rough palms against the back of her hands. She gulped when it suddenly grew even hotter than before. But the feeling left her as soon as Natasha pulled her hands back.
For a moment both of them just stared at each other before Natasha lowered her head again.
"You've got me." Clarissa confessed if only to fill the unpleasant silence that stood between them. At least the blonde looked up again.
"I-I won't ask. I'm s-sure you have a reason you've lied." She bent down to take her basket filled with plants but she stopped and looked up again. "You're safe here." Clarissa could only nod thankfully.
At the back of her mind a little voice reminded Clarissa that she actually could tell Natasha something and that she really, really should tell her. "Well, there's one thing I can tell you." The blonde's attention returned to her. "I'm Clare." Okay that wasn't the whole truth but she always had preferred the short form of her name even though there had never been someone who actually called her Clare. Till now.
"Nice to meet you, Clare." Natasha answered her face lightened up in a half grin. "I'm Natasha." This time she lifted her basket up and they returned to the small hut.
"Drink this." Natasha ordered her pushing a big mug in front of Clarissa at the table.
"Uhu, not this awful tea again." The redhead grimaced.
"It's just water. I'm sure you didn't drink anything, otherwise you wouldn't have fainted out there."
"I didn't faint." Clarissa returned. "There was just this really short period of blackness in front of my eyes." Nevertheless she drank the water in one gulp. Then she sighed.
"Better?" Natasha asked from across the room were she washed herself over a bowl.
"Much better." Clarissa gave back, her eyes pinned at the blonde that had returned to her action. Green eyes followed the rout of Natasha's hand over her arm, washing away the dirt and sweat. She repeated the same action with her other arm. Rubbing over its surface three or four times till she was convinced that all the dirt was off. Than she lowered her face over the bowl, splashing the cold water into her face. After that her right hand pulled her thick golden hair from her neck while her left wet one cleaned and cooled her neck. The whole procedure looked very private but in spite of her guilty feeling Clarissa couldn't take her eyes off.
"Better?" Clarissa asked when Natasha turned around and caught the green eyes that were lingering at her.
"Better." She gave back with a smile, rubbing her hands dry at her apron. "Are you hungry?"
Only then the redhead noticed the hollow feeling in her stomach. "Now, that you have mentioned it, I could use some food. But only if it doesn't mean additional work for you." She didn't want to bother the blond more than necessary after her long draining day at the fields.
"We have to eat. And it's no work." Natasha answered. "I'll be right back." She said as she left the room.
Clarissa just waited at her chair, her fingers tapping on the table when she felt a soft furry rub at her leg. Looking down she found the cat again that self absorbed rubbed its back against her leg. She bent down and scooped it up.
"Hello there, ... cat." She ended when she realized that she didn't know the cats name. "Don't even know your name." She said, holding it up in front of her.
"She doesn't have a name." Clarissa looked up at Natasha who came back, carrying a stone pot and bread on its top.
"Why not?" Clarissa asked turning her attention back at the cat. "Don't you wanna have a name?" She addressed the cat.
"I-It's my fault." The blonde explained, her eyes fixed at setting the table. "I never found a name that fitted her."
"Oh, poor Miss Kitty." The redhead settled the cat back into her lap. "Well, it doesn't look like it's bothering her." Clarissa added. "Hmmm, looks good. And tastes good." Only then she registered how hungry she really was and she needed her whole self-control not to gulp down the cold soup.
"It's nothing special." Natasha blushed. "Only cold vegetable soup. I don't eat meat."
"It's great, really." The redhead had already eaten everything up and was now wiping the plate clean with her bread before Natasha had even started.
"You can have more."
They had eaten in a content silence. Clarissa enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, taking it in with every single cell of her body. Life could be good. Well there was the hard work but at least at the end of the day you could sit at you table filled with food and your cat in your lap. Every now and then her gaze would sneak at the woman across the table. Through their meal the blonde had fought against the sleep that threatened to overwhelm her. Sometimes her heavy lids closed for a second only to be opened up with force again. But the sleep won and the periods between closing and opening lengthened till her lids stayed close. Only then Clarissa allowed herself to stare openly at the blonde. In sleep she looked even more peaceful than awake. All lines of worry and exhaustion smoothed away. Her face embraced by her golden hair. The expression reminded Clarissa of the last night when she had woken up, finding herself in this room with the blonde sleeping on the ground. Except for Nana she never had met such a caring person. She had accommodated a stranger giving her her bed and food and never asked for an explanation. Clarissa nodded to herself. She would make friends with this girl. A panic knocking at the door let her jump up, the cat meowing in protest about the sudden loss of her lap.
Disorientated Natasha looked up, shaking off the last remains of her sleep. "I'm coming." She rushed to the door and opened it to reveal a small boy standing there.
"Nat, Daddy needs you." He said between deep breaths.
"What's wrong, Thomas." Natasha knelt down to be at one level with the small boy. "Did you run all the way?"
He only nodded, trying to regain his breath. "It's our cow, she's calving but the baby won't come out. It stuck."
"Shh." Natasha stroke his cheek. "We'll fix it." She reached for her bag hanging on a nail next to the door and filled it with herbs and jars. "I'll have to go, you can stay. I don't know how long it will take, don't wait for me." She told the redhead.
But Clarissa shook her head, she was way too much hooked up by the sudden adventure. "Can I come with you? I promise I won't disturb."
Natasha looked at her and nodded. "But we have to hurry." And with that Natasha run out, Thomas and Clarissa following her.
She couldn't hold up with the blond as they run through the fields. Their distance grew as the witch didn't slow down but fastened up while Clarissa had the feeling that her lungs would burst if she would make another step. But she didn't want to lose the both figures running ahead of her. She clenched her teeth and swallowed the pain down that shot up from her legs.
Suddenly Natasha stopped looking back at her. "Are you alright?" She shouted but the redhead only waved her hand dismissively as she stopped thankfully to take in a deep breath.
"Don't wait for me. I'll follow you." She shouted back. No one had invited her or expected her to come along but she had asked and now she didn't want to slow them down.
She couldn't hear what Natasha told Thomas but when the blonde ran on the little boy stayed back, waiting for her. It embarrassed her that she was that needy but at the same time she was glad that the boy was there so she couldn't get lost. Activating her last reserves Clarissa commanded her legs. To her own surprise they were willing to listen to her as she and the boy followed Natasha through the wheat fields.
Even before she saw the stable she could hear the cow's screams giving her the creeps. Never in her life before had she heard such a sound of agony. She stopped in midmotion suddenly not sure if she really wanted to be part of that "adventure" but Thomas tugged at her sleeve.
"We have to go." He reminded her as he walked towards the hovel to join Natasha.
"It was great." Clarissa beamed afterwards. "Have you seen its eyes? I'm sure he's the most intelligent calf I've ever seen. Actually he was the first calf I've ever seen but I'll bet my whole library that he's the smartest among all the other calfs at the meadow." She waved her hands around enthusiastically.
Natasha walked silently by her side back to her house smiling at the redhead's babbling. "And the birth, you were great." Natasha opened her mouth to contradict but Clarissa didn't let her. "No, you were really great. And so calm you knew exactly what to do. And thanks that you let me give him his name. Don't you think he looks like a Louis? Anyway he looked very satisfied with his name." She stopped and looked at Natasha. "Thanks, I've never had so much fun in my life." She said with a serious voice but then she crunched her nose. "But I could have done without you sticking your arm into the back of that cow cause that was really ewwwwwwww." She shook her shoulders, trying to get the image out of her mind. Natasha just smiled at her.
"She babbles a lot." Willow commented.
"Looks like redheads tend to do this." Tara smiled.
"Hey, I don't babble that much, only now and then and when I'm really nervous or excited." Willow defended herself.
"And I love it every time."
Clarissa stopped. "I talk too much." She lowered her head.
"No, I l-like it." Natasha said looking down herself.
Both looked up at the same time and their eyes meet. For a moment they looked at each other before Natasha broke the contact. They walked in silence but Clarissa wanted to talk to the blonde. She wanted to get to know her.
"You can be proud of yourself. You have a generous heart. You help people even if you don't know them and they don't tell you who they are. Your family must be very proud of you." First Natasha had smiled and blushed a little but when the redhead mentioned her family her face went pale and she looked down.
Immediately Clarissa knew she had said something wrong, she touched the blondes elbow. "I'm sorry, did I say something wrong."
But Natasha shook her head. "N-no it's just, my mother taught me everything I know and maybe she was proud of me. I'll never know."
Natasha inhaled deeply and she gazed at the clouds above them. "She's dead." She whispered.
"I'm sorry. I didn't..." Clarissa was shocked. She hadn't meant to open old wounds.
"It's not your fault." Natasha smiled sadly at her.
"And the rest of your family?" She had to ask although she knew that the bets were good for her to open up an other wound and she was right.
"My father and brother live in the big farmhouse. They don't like a witch in their house but they let me stay. They are ashamed of me." She couldn't look at Clarissa. "But I want to help people and that's the only way I know."
Clarissa cupped her chin, forcing the blonde to look at her. "And you do. You helped me and Louis and we're really grateful for it." Natasha closed her eyes as tears threatened to show up. Then she opened her eyes and Clarissa felt her blood rushing hot in her veins as the thankful blue eyes looked at her.
"Princess Clarissa." Suddenly a voice broke the moment and they jumped apart.
Angrily and shocked Clarissa found a young handsome man standing in front of them, leading his horse at its reign. She knew that face and the voice from somewhere but it took her a minute to figure out that she had met the count at the festival.
"Count Phillip?" she asked. He had been the nicest one of the bunch of idiots and had been able to talk to her about more than hunt and marriage despite her expectations.
"Thank God I found you. Your family was really worried about you after they found you and a horse missing. We've searched the whole day for you. Are you unhurt?" His gaze fell on Natasha.
"I, I'm fine thanks. This girl saved me." Clarissa gazed at Natasha. She wanted to tell her how sorry she was and that she never had wanted to lie to her. But the blonde wouldn't look at her. She knelt down and lowered her head. "I'm s-s-sorry Princess, I d-didn't know it was y-you. I would never.." She fell silent.
"No." Clarissa whispered but she didn't dare to say more with the Count standing next to her.
He looked back and forth between the two women his eyes staying for a moment with Natasha before he turned back to the princess. "If you allow me, I'll bring you back home. They are expecting you." He offered her his leather clothed hand.
First she looked at it like she didn't know what to do. The only thing she knew was that she didn't like what had happened but she although knew that there was no chance to make it better right now. She had betrayed her first friend as she was about to open up to her. Suddenly she felt very sick and didn't want anything else then to hide in her bed. She nodded and took his hand, letting him lead her to his horse.
She looked back at Natasha, who still knelt on the ground. She squeaked when the hands around her waist took her by surprise and lifted her up on the horse. Then she count sat down before her. He took the small leather bag from his belt and threw it down next to Natasha. "For your help." He told her as she turned his horse around, guiding it back to the castle.
"Don't worry you'll be safe." He told Clarissa who clung to his waist afraid to fall down although she didn't like the closeness. She looked back. All she knew was that she just had lost her safety.
"I don't like him." Willow stated.
"Will, he only had a small scene and you already don't like him? Just because he's a man? Where does all this prejudice come from?" Tara looked in played shock at her patient. "Have you been at this 'radical lesbians against patriarchy' homepage again?" Tara mocked her lover.
"No. But he interrupted them and he has a horse. Don't trust men with horses." Tara opened her mouth to reply but the redhead stopped her. "And don't tell me you don't plan on using him further in the tale. I may be sick but I'm not stupid." Willow stick her lower lip out and crossed her arms over her chest.
"You're just too smart for me." Tara bent forward and placed a kiss on her pouting lover's forehead. "And do you know what I'm planning for him?"
"No, but I will find out. Just give me more information." Willow promised her.