They were late. Too soon the day had turned into night and they were running out of time. Clare admonished herself for spending too much time in the grove. The peacefulness there had lured her into limbo. Only when the sun was low they had left the grove and even then it hadn't been an easy farewell.
Clare squeezed the small red apple she had slid into her pocket in an unobserved moment in the grove. From its seed she would grow a tree. The first one from many in their grove. She hadn't been able to put it aside in her room without Tasha getting suspicious, therefore she carried it around with her through the city.
Panic filled her and her palms became sweaty as she thought all that had to be ready tomorrow. They shouldn't have left the castle again, after they came back from the grove. They should have stayed and started to pack. However they went into the city again to visit Elisabeth and the other women for the last time.
More than two hours they had sat together talking about their plans. More than once Elisabeth had urgently warned them to be careful. But although she would miss them she had understood why they had to go and had supported their decision. Clare had enjoyed the last hours but as the minutes went she became more and more nervous, unable to sit still on her chair. She had shifted uncomfortable unsuccessfully trying not to show her impatience.
After a while the old woman had smiled at her and told them to go back and to get ready. She had blinked and told them not to waste to much time with an old woman. Clare had blushed then and had stammered an apology but the gray-hair woman had only taken her into her arms and hugged her tightly. Thinking back the redhead seemed to remember that there even had been tears gleaming in Elisabeth's eyes.
But her guilty conscience had left her as soon as they had turned around the first corner. With the soul-house out of sight her mind hadn't allowed any further diversion flooding her with everything that had to be done.
"We'll never make it." She muttered through clenched teeth as she marched through the streets back to the castle.
"Hurry." She stopped and turned around to wave at Tasha who walked slowly behind her. The redhead's right foot tapped impatiently while she waited for her girlfriend. Sometimes they were really different she mused. With her own nervousness increasing the blonde seemed to get calmer every second. She even looked around enjoying the view. They didn't have time for this and it wasn't like Tasha hadn't walked through these streets for years. Through really ugly streets, she added in her mind.
Even she knew them after two weeks. When she closed her eyes she could picture them perfectly. Sometimes after a draining day she even walked them in her dreams.
"We're late." She accused her girlfriend with a pout when the blonde finally caught up with her.
Tasha tilted her head her brows furrowed. "For what?" She asked surprised.
"Well..." Clare waved her arms thinking about where to begin. But there was so much to do that she didn't know which one to give the highest priority. "Things... everything." She sighed in frustration. Suspiciously she looked around before she leaned forward, closer to Tasha. "You know for our..." She looked around again somewhat relieved to see no one. "For our 'journey." She whispered and pulled her right eyebrow up to stress the word.
"Oh, our 'journey'." Tasha nodded with a grin. "I thought you had everything ready." The witch tapped her finger at her lower lip. "I remember a redhead who told me just a few hours ago, that everything was ready. That she just had to grab her things and could leave the city every minute on a single word from me."
"Theoretical that's true...but...literally..." The redhead stammered oblivious to her lover's teasing and stepped back. "We have to pack, to say goodbye to Nana, I have to get the gold coins from their hiding places." She began to count every activity with her fingers.
"More than one hiding place?" Tasha asked curiously.
"Of course." Clare looked in disbelief at her lover. What an odd question. Of course she had needed more than one hiding place. Over the weeks she had gathered too much gold to hide it just in her dresser. She had chosen every place carefully and every single one stood for the thing she wanted to pay from the gold that hid there. In her dresser was just the money for the farm. Behind the book about flora and fauna lay enough coins to buy animals and seeds. But splitting up the money had also an other reason. If the unthinkable happened and someone stumbled over a hiding place, only a small part would be lost, the rest would still be safe. And just to be safe she had at least installed three farms.
It had been hard work to get the money. But hard work, help from Nana and newfound criminal energies from her side had finally led to success. Suddenly to the treasurer's amazement the princess had needed much more new dresses and accessories than ever in her life. A little comment from Nana about a princess in love wanting to look nice for the Count accompanied by a sigh silenced further investigation from his side. Thank god he didn't want to see their shopping and so her dressers hadn't been filled with dresses but coins. The invoices Nana had given the treasurer had been created by her in long hours she spent at her library.
She took hold of Tasha's arm and pulled her girlfriend into a dark corner. "We have to be careful." She whispered into Tasha's ear. Involuntarily her hand reached out to a strand of blonde hair, twirling it around her index-finger. Thinking about her criminal 'history' filled her with excitement, her blood rushing faster through her veins. "Careful." She breathed, feeling the other girl shudder under her touch.
With parted lips Tasha looked up to meet her dark green eyes. Pure desire was looking back at her.
One gaze at the deep blue sea in her lover's eyes and Clare's mind forgot every detail of her plan. Time and place didn't count any longer. Just the blue eyes and their owner existed in her world.
Mesmerized she was pulled closer to the blonde till only a breath was between them and their kiss. Slightly she tilted her head and her tongue wetted her lower lip before she bit down on it. An aching long minute they stayed separated lost in the proximity of each other.
Suddenly the cry of a cat followed by a loud rattle cut through the night tearing them both apart. Both heads snatched to the source of the noise to see a little black cat – similar to Tasha's cat – cross the street. Obviously the cat had jumped from one of the roofs, it had strayed along, onto a pile of wood pieces someone had placed next to the wall.
Breathing heavily from the fright Clare looked with big eyes at the blonde. In them she found reflected what she already knew. They were getting careless more and more at the sight of their departure.
Stricken with guilt the witch looked down, avoiding her lover's gaze. "I'm sorry." She muttered.
"No." Clare reached out but stopped her hand before she touched Tasha. It was painful for her not to be able to touch her girlfriend, to ease the pain away with a single gesture like she always did. But touching was a bad thing right now. Touching lead to kissing and kissing might lead to detection. And detection was dangerous. It could destroy all their hopes and dreams. It could destroy them.
"It's my fault. I've stared that whole 'careful'-thing. I should be punished, like not being allowed to touch you for the next two months." Tasha lifted her head to look at her in disbelief.
"Days." She replied in a whisper. "Months is to hard. For both of us."
Clare grinned. "hours?"
Tasha nodded bashfully.
"Fine. Hours I can handle." They stepped out of the corner back into the streets.
"We should really hurry now." The princess repeated her earlier comment.
"To do things back in the castle?" Tasha asked mischievously, her eyes sparkling again with joy as she teased her girlfriend.
"Yes, things." Clare decided not to sleep tonight. So she would have enough time to do 'things' with Tasha and to get everything ready for tomorrow.
They took the shortest way back even if it meant to take the main-street past all the taverns. She had been scared at the first night and with a shudder she thought back to the man who had devoured her with his eyes, ravishing the whore in his lap.
But she could handle that memory now. Over the last two weeks she had learned to deal with a lot of things. It was life that she met here. Raw pure life. It had touched her, leaving its marks on her mind. She wanted to be a part of it, not just a bystander like she had been for most of her life. If this life included to deal with it's ugliness too, she could do it. The beautiful parts outweighed the bad parts three times at least.
When she now walked through the street she didn't really register what happened in the taverns, her eyes and mind traveling ahead to her destination. On the streets there was nothing new that could occupy her mind right now. Except for her lover. But Tasha was on her mind all the time.
Clare led them through the smaller streets. Normally they would have taken the longer but illuminated tour but today they were in a hurry and had silently agreed to take short cuts through the narrow dark streets.
The last one was the smallest one as they could only walk next to each other with their shoulders and arms touching. It was a welcome excuse for Clare to touch Tasha again; to feel her nearness and her warmth. Their fingers entwined forced by a power not their own. They shared a short glance and Clare felt Tasha tightening her grip in a reassuring gesture.
The end of the street was already visible. The light from one streetlamp located at the next street fell into the street, illuminating it. She was drawn to it, involuntarily fastening her steps. After this street it was just a turn to the left and one single street behind and they would reach the castle. But suddenly the light vanished leaving the small street to darkness.
This time her hand was gripped in fear as she felt Tasha stiffen next to her.
"What...?" Clare tried to adjust her eyes to the new darkness. She could feel the same fear that paralyzed Tasha creeping up her spine. Protectively she stepped between her girl and the shadow.
Only when the shadow moved toward her, she realized that it was a person, his frame visible in the light from behind. The bulky man slowly made his way toward them.
Tasha drew in a sharp breath as she recognized the figure. "Run." She whispered and yanked Clare with her as she stumbled back further into the dark street. But Clare couldn't drag her eyes from the man. Deep inside she was sure she had seen him before. She just had to figure out who he was, give him a name and the fear would leave her.
As Tasha suddenly stopped Clare bumped into her, nearly sending both of them to the ground. Clare followed the blonde's gaze to the entrance of the street. It was also blocked.
They were trapped.
"Hello, little sister." The figure said and suddenly Clare knew where she had seen him before. It was Tasha's brother. The same person that had dragged his beaten up sister out of her hut to sell her. The same person who had beaten her up in the first place. The princess needed all her willpower to stop herself from throwing up as the bile rose in her throat.
Next to her Tasha hyperventilated and shrunk back into herself in the effort to hide from her brother.
Clare's fear was replaced by hate and rage as she heard Tasha whimper. She wouldn't allow them to hurt Tasha ever again. She had sworn it and nothing in the world could stop her from keeping her promise. Softly she pressed Tasha against the wall behind her and grabbed her hand as she stepped in front of her, shielding her from the approaching men.
The other man to their left kept his distance as Daniel came closer and closer. He took his time enjoying the fear he elicited. He grew bigger and bigger, feeding on his sister's nightmares he had planted and nourished over the years.
"Didn't Daddy tell you to stay at home?" He stopped and looked at them with cold pity in his eyes. "The city is dangerous. Especially at night. He told you over and over again. But you wouldn't listen. You never listened. There's only one language you understand." He shook his head and clenched his right hand into a fist and smacked it again his left palm.
He wanted to play with his pray, tease her till he would land his final hit.
Clare heard the other man giggle drunken behind her but her attention stayed with Daniel. Somehow she had to overcome him. The other one was just a drunken 'friend' that had followed his master in promise of 'fun'. They would have to redefine 'fun'.
"Leave. Her. Alone." She hissed through clenched teeth.
For a moment her words stopped him dead in track, his surprise visible even in the dim light. For the first time he really looked at her, his eyes traveling up and down her body, estimating if she was a real threat. Never in his life someone had opposed him. Sure there had been fights in taverns but he always emerged victorious. Most of the time he had been the one starting the fight out of boredom or to consolidate his reputation.
But he had never been challenged by a small, skinny girl. It was ridiculous. His head snapped back as he laughed out loud, his voice filling the street.
Clare backed off, pressing Tasha behind her more against the wall and felt the blonde trembling against her back. She wanted to turn around and take the blonde into her arms to rock her and to tell her that everything would be alright and that she would protect her at any price.
He underestimated her and that might be the only chance she got. Never underestimate your pray, her father had once told her in one of his seldom efforts to bond with his daughter and to inspire her for the hunt. He had failed back then but she had never forgotten his words. How could she, it had been the first time he had addressed her as a person but his interest had dropped fast.
As sudden as the laughter had started it stopped. His head snapped back to fixate her. Her first impulse was to lower her head but she resisted and strengthened up.
"Oh, you found yourself a friend. At least." He shook his head and addressed Clare. "You should be careful whom to choose as a friend. My sister brings nothing but sorrow to hers.
"She's worthless." He snorted. "I'm sure she just ran away from her new masters." His alcohol colored breath surrounded her and this time she flinched and turned her head to take a clear breath.
For such a bulky man he was really fast, cause Clare didn't see his attack come as he shoved her aside, sending her to the ground, to grab his sister. For the third time this day her mind registered before everything became blurry.
Tasha cried out as his big hand closed around her arm to pull her up. "But she won't run away from me." He lowered his face to inspect his sister. "You should have learned by now that you can't run away from me. Looks like I have to take you back home to teach you again."
Something snapped inside Clare. She didn't see the huge man in front of her, just Tashas horrified eyes. She had to act or she would lose Tasha. Without a second thought she jumped up and onto his back and clutched his head. Instinctively her fingers scratched his face and dug into his eyes.
He cried out in a mixture of surprise and hurt but at least he let go Tasha. The blonde slumped down against the wall. "Run" She screamed at her but the blonde didn't react. Tasha retreated further into herself and curled up into a ball.
The other guy just looked around with his bottle still in his hand too drunk to take in the whole scene or to help his friend.
Clare knew, she was running out of time but she couldn't do anything but hold on to her enemy. She prayed that Tasha would get up and run as fast as her legs could carry her but the witch didn't move.
"Get off me." Daniel hissed, rotating around. His arm snatched back and grabbed a handful of her hair. Then he tore at it pulling out a few strands of red hair in his try to get Clare off him. She screamed in pain but wouldn't let go.
Till his other fist hit her really hard in the face. The pain filled her whole system her world suddenly nothing more than blinking stars in the dark emptiness. Her mind screamed at her to get up and to fight on but she couldn't. The metallic taste of blood, her blood filled her mouth and she blinked a few times trying to set the world together again.
Two Daniels crouched in front of her. "Bitch." his angry voice rang in her ears.
"Dan, she has enough. Let's go." His friend approached Tasha's brother.
"The bitch scratched me." Daniel was panting heavily. He stood up and wiped the sweat from his face. He flinched as his fingers touched the scratches. "You'll pay for this." Daniel took the bottle from his friend and took a gulp.
His leg swung back as he was about to kick her into the stomach. But the hit never came. A blue light bolt shut over her hitting Daniel and his friend. The men flew through the air before they hit the ground and laid there motionless.
"I killed them." Tasha whispered emotionless.
With some effort Clare stood up. She had to hold onto her girlfriend as she swayed. When she had stabilized herself she stepped over to the two men to check on them. To her relief they breathed and moaned but were still out cold.
"They're not dead." She tried to reassure the blonde but Tasha didn't react. "Do you hear me? You didn't kill them." Clare's voice quivered. They had to get away before Daniel came around. But she was more concerned for Tasha than for the two men. Tasha still hadn't registered her, her blue eyes gazed empty at her. She reached out to caress her lovers cheek.
"Let's go." She said quietly and laid her arms around Tasha's shoulders to guide her back to the castle.
Clare sat Tasha down onto her bed before she shut the heavy wooden door to her room and locked it. The blonde hadn't said a single word since she had knocked her brother down with magic. She hadn't shown a single reaction. Not tears, not relief. Nothing. Just the same blank stare.
It scared the redhead more than Daniel had scared her. even though they were in the same room she never had felt so separated from the blonde. Tasha was in a world of fear and terror and she couldn't reach her.
Clare crossed the room to crouch down before her lover. Her fingers trembled as she pulled a strand of blonde hair back to get a better look. "Anybody home?" She teased softly.
"I'm bad." She witch whispered without looking up, a single tear running down her cheek.
"No." Clare was shocked about the desperate sound of her lover's voice. "You're the best, most generous being I know." Her finger reached out to wipe the tear away.
Slowly like waking up from a bad dream, Tasha came back to her. Her breaths deepened and the color returned to her cheeks. But most important her blue eyes looked back at Clare and recognized her again.
"That's my girl." She stood up and smiled before she sat down next to the blonde, never letting go her hands.
"I used magic." The blonde looked guilt stricken at her.
"To save me." Clare added softly.
"I was so afraid he might kill you." Tasha looked down at their entwined fingers. "I can't lose you." She reached out to wipe the blood from the small cut at Clare's lower lip. Transfixed she looked at the deep red blood that covered her fingertip now.
"And you won't." Clare reached out for Tasha's hand and guided it down into her lap out of Tasha's view. Then she leaned forward and planted a kiss on Tasha's forehead. "I'm sticky." She joked and was rewarded with a shy smile.
"I missed that smile." Clare smiled back and laid her arm around Tasha's shoulder. The blonde still trembled under her touch. Carefully she guided her down till they lay next to each other on the bed. Her fingers trailed up and down Tasha's side till the blonde started to relax to her touch. Tasha's eyes fluttered as she fought to keep awake. The earlier encounter had drained her and sleep was already claiming her but she still resisted.
"I'll be punished. Magic should never be used against a living being. It'll come back to you." Clare's fingers stopped their track at her lover's words. She leaned back to look at her.
With effort the heavy lids opened once more to gaze at her in sorrow. It were the eyes of a small frightened girl.
"You've been punished enough in your life. Tonight, that was self-defense. Whatever is watching over us must be blind if it doesn't see it." Clare insisted. Soothingly her fingers brushed through the blond hair.
Then she grabbed behind Tasha and pulled the blanket over them. "Sleep. You'll need your strength tomorrow."
"What about the packing?" Tasha mumbled, her eyes already closed.
"Tomorrow." A day more or less didn't count. The day after tomorrow was soon enough. Nothing would stop them now. Clare probed her head onto her elbow and watched her lover drift off into sleep. Only when she was sure that Tasha was asleep, her breathing deep and regular, the redhead whispered into her ear. "I won't allow it."
"Tara?" A tug at her sleeve caused Tara to look down at her lover who rested in her lap.
"Yes, honey?" She asked softly.
"They suffered a lot." Willow stated before she turned onto her side, breaking eye-contact with the blonde.
Tara bit her lower lip as her hand reached out to stroke Willow's head. "Yes they have."
"But the story isn't over." Willow closed her eyes.
"No." Feeling her lover's distress Tara continued. "You know, no story is really ever told till the end. There is no end. It just depends on when you stop to tell it. Maybe they wake up the next morning, pack their things and just leave the castle. Living happily ever after."
"And nothing more?" Willow asked in a tiny voice.
"Only happy memories when they're old and sit together at the bench outside their small house." The blonde leaned down to place a light kiss at Willow's forehead. "With their watchcow next to them."
For a moment Willow stayed still lost in her thoughts, her inner fight visible on her face.
"No. I want to hear all of it." She decided. "There are too many unfinished problems. I need to know." Again she turned this time to look up to her girlfriend. "I'm strong."
Tara nodded. "Strong like an Amazon."
With gaining consciousness after a dreamless night the pain came. Her whole body was wrapped up in pain, countless needles torturing her brain. A little sigh escaped her throat as she started to remember the cause. Hitting the ground with your head three times in a single day could do that to you she had to realize. But the warm body tangled with hers made all the pain worth it. More than worth it.
For a moment she enjoyed the closeness, not to know where her body ended and the other began. She took a deep breath, filling her nostrils with her lover's scent. With every breath she took the pain eased a little bit till it was only an unpleasant sensation in the back of her mind. Then she opened her eyes to take in the sight before her. Even with her eyes open she wasn't sure which hand or leg was hers. They both lay on their sides facing each other in the same position as they had went to sleep. Her left arm was still protectively wrapped around Tasha's back and the blonde's right leg was caught between hers. While sleeping the blonde had managed to snuggle even closer to Clare, only physical boundaries keeping her from crawling into the redhead. Tasha didn't need to crawl physically into her to be under her skin. She was always there. In every breathing moment.
A smile crept over her features as she watched Tasha's face. In sleep it was a different face than during the day. Normally her features would show furrows of fear and pain that had dug deep into the face over the years adding age to her features.
Only asleep or in intimate moments the additional years were washed away leaving behind an innocent girl. Clare loved to watch that transformation. She loved both Tashas. How couldn't she love every detail of the blonde. It would have been a crime to nature which created such a wonder to not obey.
Without touching the skin the princess's fingers followed the barely visible furrows, trailed along her jaw and over the full lips, anxious not to wake her girlfriend. Her fingers lingered over the dark red lips, the soft breath that escaped a slightly opened mouth tingling against her fingertips. In that moment Tasha's tongue sneaked out to moisten her lips but they found another aim.
Still caught between sleep and consciousness the blonde's tongue took the lead. Slowly it circled around Clare's fingertip, making it almost impossible for the redhead to stay still. But she couldn't hold back the moan as the full lips darted out to take her finger into hostage.
"Hmm, Clarefinger." A drowsy Tasha mumbled.
"Hey, you're supposed to sleep not to seduce me." Clare pouted, embarrassed that the blonde had caught her staring at her. A blush covering her normally pale cheeks.
Tasha smiled, still holding the finger in place with her lips when she opened her eyes. Blue desire gazed at Clare. The hand that had rested at the princess hip over the night now covered her still captured hand before Tasha's lips released the finger. But before Clare could protest her palm was presses against the same wet lips.
"Clarehand." Tashas muffled voice stated contently.
Transfixed by her lover's actions Clare's stared with big eyes at her, her breathing fastening.
"I'm hungry." The blonde continued with a sensuous smile, her eyes glistering wildly. "Can't get enough." She leaned closer to kiss the pale offered neck. A sigh vibrated against her lips as Tasha worked at the throat.
Although she lay safely in bed Clare felt the world falling apart around her, pulling her with it. She grabbed the only real thing in her world as her fingers dug into full blonde hair, pressing the blonde closer.
At that moment a nagging thought announced its existence in her mind. With all the willpower she had left under Tasha's hot touches she pushed it far away. But it wouldn't give up. With every pushing back it just returned stronger than before. It fought for her attention with Tasha's hand that pulled at her hem, bringing it up over her pelvis.
As hard as she tried she couldn't get rid of it. It had sowed its seed in her brain, worries already growing fast.
Her hand stopped Tasha's as it was about to crawl under her skirt, she still wore from the previous day. Her hand stopped in place Tasha increased her fierce kisses and for a moment Clare surrendered, giving into the sensation. She trembled under her lover.
Just to be reminded again of her fear.
"Tasha." Her hands cupped Tasha's face, pulling it back. A frustrated sigh escaped Tasha as she loomed forward to continue. But Clare drew back, keeping a painful distance between them.
"Tasha. Look at me." She demanded sternly.
The sudden turn in emotion got her lover's attention. Confused Tasha looked up to find worry in Clare's deep green eyes.
"What's wrong?" She asked anxiously. "Did they hurt you yesterday?" Her hands started to fuss over Clare's body again but this time in search for injuries.
"No." Clare stopped her. "Well my head hurt a lot when I woke up, but just one look at you and all the pain was gone. Also I could do without getting hit at the head three times a day. But that isn't what I wanted to talk about. It is in some way but then it isn't." She took a deep breath, trying again to explain her inner struggle. "Is this... just to forget about yesterday?" she asked in a tiny voice afraid of the answer.
Tasha jerked back out of her touch. "Of course it isn't." She frowned. "How could you..." Her features darkened, tears glistering in her eyes.
"I didn't..." Clare fought with her own tears. "I..." She reached out again for Tasha, glad that the blonde allowed her to caress her cheek. "You were so afraid last night and then just after one night sleep it's like you suddenly don't mind."
"I'm still afraid." Tasha admitted, her hand cupping Clare's as she leaned into the touch. "But I won't allow my fears any longer to interfere with my life. I want to live." Her eyes pleaded desperately. Still the fear of last night was visible in the blue eyes but something different was there too. Determination. And hope. How could she deny this to her lover.
The redhead nodded in understanding.
"Are you ready for your new life?" Clare asked Tasha hoarsely, leading the blonde's hand back to her last stay at Clare's hip.
The blonde nodded and bit her lower lip. "I've already started it."
From her position on the bed Clare had a perfect view of her lover. While her own fingers laced up her bodice she watched Tasha leaning over the small dresser. The blonde's slender hands dived into the bowl placed on its surface. Filled with water they came up again to splash the clear fluid into Tasha's face.
Biting her lower lip and gulping audible Clare watched the small droplets running down Tasha's face and as the she straightened up running down her neck. A single droplet even managed to hide into the blonde's cleavage under her unbuttoned shirt before Tasha could catch it with the white towel.
Clare remembered the first time she had watched Tasha like this. Only then it hadn't been after love making in the sunset but after a hard day out on the field. Memories of water running down her muscular arms washing away the dirt of the day filled Clare's mind. Had she been already in love with Tasha then. She couldn't remember precisely when friendship had turned into love. Looking back every single memory of the blonde was colored wit love. She shook her head slightly. As much as she tried she didn't know when her feelings had changed. Maybe they never had changed. Maybe it had been love at first sight and it only had taken her a while to realize this.
The thought of love at first sight made her smile inwardly. She liked the idea. It sounded like destiny. And you couldn't stand against destiny.
There had been something between them from the beginning. Their first touch (actually their first touch when she had been conscious and not been pampered by the blonde while she lay knocked out on her bed) had sent a shiver through her body. Tasha had held her hands, comparing their palms with each other. The blonde had convicted her of lying. Her smooth soft palms betrayed her that she had never worked out on the fields in her life. Tasha hadn't been angry about the lie. She had accepted it and Clare. Trusting her to tell her the truth when she was ready.
Clare stood up and stepped behind her lover. Tasha was still busy washing her neck and chest when the redhead wrapped her arms around her waist. The blonde leaned into her, resting her weight against her.
"Hm. I could get used to this." The redhead whispered into Tasha's ear as she rested her chin on her shoulder.
A small giggle vibrated through the blonde. "Honey, You ARE used to it." She teased her, reminding Clare that she watched Tasha getting ready every morning.
Clare turned her head to burry her face into the blonde tresses. "I'm not used enough to it." She mumbled before her tongue sneaked out to lick a droplet from Tasha's neck. She smiled proudly as she felt her lover tremble slightly under her touch. She always found that spot.
"We should stop." Tasha whispered breathlessly. Her hands covered Clare's to stop them from roaming around and guided them back to her waist.
Although Tasha couldn't see her face Clare twisted it into a pout.
"I know." She answered grumpily. She had been the one to push them to get ready and leave the castle. But with every ticking minute it was harder to concentrate on that long journey. Everything she wanted was in the room with her and for the moment the world was alright. More than alright.
Tasha turned in her arms to face her. Her hands cupped Clare's face as she forced her to look at her. "Let's get ready. The sooner we'll go the sooner we'll reach our destiny." She promised the redhead with a half-grin.
One look into the blue pools that promised more then she ever dreamed of and Clare knew she would have followed Tasha into hell just to be with her.
She nodded hesitantly.
"Get everything you need. I'm making breakfast and search for Nana so we can say goodbye." Tasha placed a kiss on the princess' forehead. "How long will you need?"
"An hour." A gaze at her lover's face and Clare changed her mind. An hour was too long to stay away from the blonde. "Half an hour. Maybe less if I run. Don't you need to pack?"
Tasha shook her head. She looked at the small bundle next to the bed that contained her possessions. It's wasn't more than what she came with. Then she locked eyes with her girlfriend. "All I need is right here with me." She said, love radiating from her eyes.
"Vixen." Clare whispered as she leaned into the blonde. "How am I suppose to get ready if you say thing like that. That's not fair." She whined halfheartedly and stomped with her foot.
"I know." Tasha's grin widened. She laid her hands on Clare's shoulder and turned her around to face the door. With a little push and a clap on her lower back she maneuvered the redhead to the exit.
"Not fair." Clare mumbled as she opened the door. She turned around to cast a quick glance at her lover.
"Hurry." The witch mouthed silent before she threw her a kiss. Looking into the promising eyes, Clare knew she would be faster than ever in her life.
Clare looked skeptically at the pile on the library's floor. A frown developed on her face as she tilted her head to watch it from a different angle. Left. Right. Left. Still no difference. Even as she walked around the pile, her arms crossed in front of her body it didn't change it's shape or height. Not even in her third round.
A sigh escaped her lips as she cast her head downward, her arms hanging lifelessly down. "It's too much." She muttered to herself. In her mind it never had been more than a little comfortable to carry bundle. Now Clare thought seriously about getting a donkey to carry all the stuff.
Clare closed her eyes, her thumb and index-finger pinching the bridge of her nose as she concentrated. She had to find a solution quickly. They needed all the money so she couldn't leave behind the heavy coins. Her clothes built only a small part of the pile. Nothing she could or should leave behind.
With regret in her eyes she gazed at the top of her belongings. Books. Actually too many books she had to confess. Not so long ago she had told Tasha that she didn't need her books. But to do it was way harder. Too hard for her. There was the first book she had ever read, the memories of an unknown monk. It had been boring to read about his daily life. Ora et labora. Nothing else. But it had been the first one she ever read and she was kind of nostalgic. She still remembered the first time she entered the library. Her small fingers had glided over the different leather clad spines till her eyes were caught by the shiny unloaded golden letters. The content had disappointed after the shiny wrapping but she had started it and she would finish it. She always had been stubborn. And she never had started a book without finishing it also.
Clare looked around. She could remember the content of every single book standing in the crowded shelves. She could hear the words, the rustling of the pages being turned over, smell the old dust and feel the rough paper under her fingertips as the texts spread before her mind's eyes.
Slowly she took every single book from the pile and placed them back one by one. Then she closed her eyes, picturing the library. It was all there. All inside her head. She didn't need the real books. She kept only one book. Her latest diary. She had started it only days before she met Tasha and now it contained everything they had experienced. Clare opened it and flipped through the pages. Now and then she was able to read a word, a sentence bringing back sweet memories. She stopped when she reached her bookmark. It was a neatly folded piece of paper. Clare didn't need to unfold it, to know what was written on it. It was the only letter she ever had received from the blonde. Only yesterday she had placed it there before she had joined Tasha outside. Till now she didn't even had time to write down what had happened. She would do it as soon as they found a new home. Their home. For now her brain had to keep it all safe. She closed the book and wrapped it into a scarf before she placed it back on the pile.
Satisfied she looked at her remaining belongings. The pile had shrunk to an acceptable size, small enough to fit into three big cloths.
Just as she had knotted the last one, already exhausted from her preparations, a soft knock at the door jerked her up. Panic flooded her system. Hastily she looked around to find a hiding place for her belongings. Neatly stacked rows of books stared back at her, offering not the tiniest possibility. It would take too long to open the tunnel entrance and hide everything there. She had to go with the fastest but more dangerous alternative. She threw everything into the corner that wasn't visible from the door. Then she took a deep breath and prayed to every deity she knew including the Greece and Roman ones before she walked to the door and opened it slightly. It took an aching long time to open the door.
"Nana." She exhaled deeply as she recognized her nurse. "Come in." She opened the door, took hold of the old woman's arm and pulled her in. With a fast gaze down the floor she assured that no-one had seen her before she closed the door again leaning against it.
Nana opened her arms and with a grin Clare accepted the nurse's invitation and scooted into her embrace.
"I'll miss you." The nurse said, fighting the tears that threatened to flow.
"Me too." Clare mumbled into the shoulder her head rested at. With a deep breath she inhaled the older woman's scene. It smelled like safety. Like childhood. She knew that her childhood was over now. She had to leave it behind and with it the most important person of this time. She clutched the fragile woman tighter.
A small cry escaped Nana's lips, causing Clare to loosen her grip and to step back.
"I'm sorry. I didn't want to hurt you." She whispered, her sad big eyes looking at the nurse before her gaze went down to the floor.
"Sweety. You could never hurt me." Nana smiled softly at the young woman and cupped her cheek. "Are you ready? I told Tasha I would get you." She spotted the bags in one of the corners. "The breakfast is waiting."
Clare's eyes had followed the nurse. Seeing the bags made everything so real. She would really do it. She would leave everything she knew behind. A new panic rose in her. How could she have been so convinced that everything would be fine? She didn't and couldn't know what would happen. Her stomach tied in a knot, she answered. "I'm not hungry."
"You need a big, healthy meal before you go. You'll need all the strength you can get. It'll be a long day. Weeks. And it will be the last time we'll eat together. Make me a happy nurse and eat as much as your little stomach can take." She patted Clare's tummy. "I never figured out where you put all the food. It's too small to take in everything you ate." The nurse became nostalgic. "You're still too skinny. I'll tell Tasha to feed you good." A single tear had escaped the old woman's eyes as she brushed through Clare's red hair to arrange it neatly.
The love in the old eyes broke her own inner barrier and Clare's tears fell freely down her cheeks. Once again she threw herself into Nana's arms. "I love you." She wept.
"I love you too." The older woman said gently. She freed herself form Clare's hug and looked closely at the young woman. "and I always will."
"But I will leave you." Clare answered anxiously. How could Nana love her when she was about to go away, to leave her behind.
"And I'm proud of you." With her thumb Nana wiped away the trail of tears that ran down Clare's cheek. But the tears were replaced by new ones as soon as Nana had finished. With a sigh the old woman took a handkerchief that was placed in her sleeve to dry the new tears. "You're a grown up now."
Clare looked up and sniffed loudly. "But I don't feel like one." She took the offered handkerchief from her nurse and wiped her nose. "Can't you come with us? I need you."
"You don't need me any longer. And we talked about it already. I'm old. I would only delay you."
"Never." Clare interrupted indignantly.
"Clare, my bones are old and my body is weak. Such a long journey would be too strenuous for me. And I can't leave the castle. I've been here longer than anyone else. It whispers to me in my dreams telling me all it's secrets. I'm part of the old bricks. And I can't imagine to live somewhere else." Lovingly she gazed at the walls that surrounded them. "and someday I'll die here." She added.
"No." Clare shouted shocked. She knew that Nana was old and that every one had to die once. But death and Nana had never occurred to her in the same sentence. For her Nana was immortal. Was and would always be immortal.
The old woman laughed and sat down at the table. "I'm not planning to die today. But when I die I want it to be here. Among the ghosts of my past, my life. When I'll go they will be no longer. After me there won't be anyone to remember them."
"I won't forget you." Clare promised as she knelt down in front of the nurse and laid her head onto her lap.
Nana's fingers slid through her hair. "I know you won't. This little head of yours keeps everything." They sat in silence for another moment, both enjoying their presence for the last time. And in the silence Clare almost hear whispered stories of long gone times.
Slowly Nana's caresses stopped, till her hand rested at Clare's head. The princess heard Nana taking a deep breath, preparing herself for her next step.
"Let's go. Tasha's waiting." Nana said softly and patted the princess' back and motioned her to stand up. "She made pancakes, funny sizes."
Together they walked back to the rooms, Clare's hand safely captured by the older woman's hand.
Clare opened the door to her room. "We're back." She called as she stepped into the room and closed the door behind Nana.
When she got no answer she looked around. The table was already laid for three. Three plates, three mugs with milk, fruits and in the middle of the table a huge pile of pancakes all sizes, their smell filling the room.
But no sign of Tasha. With one step Clare was in Nana's room next door hoping to find Tasha at the small oven. But still no sign of Tasha.
"Where is she?" Clare asked Nana as she turned around to face her nurse but the old woman shook her head.
"I don't know. Breakfast was ready when I left her. I'm sure she went to get something from the kitchen." She tried to reassure the princess.
"No." Clare shook her head vehemently. Something was wrong. She could feel it deep down in her stomach. The breakfast table was too perfect, nothing was missing and Tasha's bundle still lay next to the bed.
The laid table was an invitation, calling to her. She and Nana just had to sit down and Tasha would appear with a funny story why she had disappeared. Then they would share their meal, laugh about jokes and remember their good times together. But something was wrong.
It was too... Too peaceful.
"Clare!" Nana grabbed the redhead's arm before the princess could storm out of her room in search for Tasha.
"Let me go." The redhead hissed, her face contorted in panic and fear. She loved Nana. More than her own mother but she wouldn't allow her to come between Tasha and her.
Tasha should be here, by her side but she wasn't. The burning sensation in her stomach grew, consuming her with fear. Every cell in her body screamed at her that something terrible must have happened to prevent Tasha from being here. She had to find her and not even Nana would stop her.
Anger mingled with fear as her eyes narrowed and stared at the nurse. The love she had felt for the woman only seconds ago was forgotten. Right now she was only an obstacle, preventing her to find Tasha.
"I have to find her." She spat and wrung her arm violently out of Nana's grasp. Clare didn't even hear the small cry of pain as she yanked herself free, bending old arthritic bones too fast into an unnatural direction.
Before the old woman could react, Clare was out of the door and down the floor. She heard Nana call after her but she didn't stop. Talking wouldn't help Tasha. It would only cost her precious time. She didn't waste a single thought on how to find Tasha, she just let her body choose the rout, hoping that two hearts in love would always find each other.
"She will find her, won't she?" Willow asked softly as she snuggled closer against Tara. She squeezed her eyes tight, fighting against the throbbing pain in her head. She hated being ill and right now the tale didn't help either.
Tara had registered Willow's movement and pushed a strain of red hair carefully out of her lover's face to get a better look. "Honey, are you alright?" She asked worried.
Willow laughed out dryly just to wince again at the sudden movement. "Alright?" She asked back. "Of course I'm not alright. My head feels like its bigger than this bed and you should think that in a bigger head, there is more room to think but nope all the tiny little thoughts get lost in the fog in there." She tapped against her forehead. "And the tale isn't helping either." Accusingly she looked up at her girlfriend. "Tasha vanished and Clare's running heedlessly through the castle. And I can't think straight to figure it out. This isn't fair." She pouted.
"Poor baby." Tara looked down guilty. She hated to cause her lover pain. "I can still change the story." She offered but Willow stayed stubborn.
"No I chose it and I'll stick to it, till the end. Just wait till I can think again."
As fast as she could without stumbling over her own feet or the hem of her heavy skirt Clare run down the stairs, taking two steps at once.
Only half way down she realized that she had chosen the way to the kitchen to start her search for Tasha. And it wasn't the worst choice she tried to reassure herself. Tasha had to be in the kitchen, where else should she go without telling her? Maybe she needed sugar and one of the kitchen staff had kept her there, asking for help with some little complaint. Suddenly she felt a wave of hate for the unknown maiden who had caused her so much pain washing through her. And she greeted and embrace that feeling. It was better than pain and fear. Hate was a very active feeling, you could act on anger and hate, but you had to endure fear. Fears left you back immobile. You had to bear it as it washed over you unable to fight it. But she could work with anger. Very well indeed.
With new found strength she run on, only the sound of her feet and her heavy breathing echoed through the floor. She didn't pay attention to the surprised gazes that were turned to her as she run past. Just one more staircase and she would have reached the kitchen floor. Just a few feet more and she would see Tasha, she tried to reassure herself. She could already smell the different foods that were prepared for lunch. The spicy smell of fried food mingled with the scent of sweet bread and cake.
Her empty stomach revolted as the mixed smell hit her nostrils. She had to gulp twice to keep the urge to choke down.
Suddenly out of nowhere a black cat appeared in front of her. Clare nearly collided with it as she came to a sudden halt, to prevent them both from stumbling down the hard stone stairs. She wouldn't be of any help to Tasha with a cracked skull.
"Damn." The princess cursed under her breath. Now that she had stopped her legs turned jelly and the pain in her side throbbed through her body. She had to lean over to at least decrease the stabbing pain in her side. Her view was dazed with little dark stars that buzzed before her eyes.
It took her two deep breaths before she was able to straighten herself up again, with her arms around herself to decrease the pain in her sides. Clare looked down at the cat that now circled her right leg, rubbing its head on it.
The soothing movement of the animal was lost to her as her anger rose again. Another interruption. Everyone had plotted against her. She took a step back, hoping to get rid of the animal but it followed her movement, never breaking the contact. She sighed in frustration as she took a step to the left, than to the right, still without success.
Clare was about to take a more drastic step. She had tried every other way and the cat would survive it, she tried to reassure her guilty conscious for hurting an innocent creature. But was it really innocent? It played with her, enjoying her fruitless efforts to escape. Shouldn't animals have an inner sense for troubled persons? This one surely lacked it or used it to cause more trouble.
"Go away!" She screamed at the cat, her voice echoing from the walls.
Only then she recognized the cat. It wasn't an ordinary cat but Tasha's cat. Shocked by what she had done she leaned down and reached for the cat. Only when her finger clasped around the slender furred animal she realized that they were trembling. She rested the cat against her chest and scratched its head. The cat's content purring vibrated against her chest.
"I'm sorry. I'm..." She couldn't continue. The trembling in her hands grew and she pressed the cat tightly against herself. Suddenly she felt a soft paw being pressed against her cheek. The little touch was enough to send her over the edge. A little sob escaped her throat and tears started to fall. "I don't have time for this. I have to find Tasha." She explained as much to the cat as to herself.
She put it down again and patted its head. Just as she was about to step down the first step of the stairs the cat was back between her legs, making moving without hurting both of them impossible.
"Cat." She sniffed again. "I have to go. It's important." She stretched her words but the cat stayed unimpressed.
"Help me or let me go." She pleaded and suddenly the cat looked up right into her eyes. She knew that it wasn't possible but she could have sworn that something like intelligence looked back at her. Like the cat understood her. Her heart skipped a beat as a ridiculous thought flashed through her mind. She remembered the first day at the farm. The thick heat when she stepped out. No one was in sight just... just the cat. Back then she had followed it in hope to find Tasha. And it had brought her to her.
And now when she needed to find Tasha again, even more than back then it was here again, looking at her with it's deep knowing eyes. She knelt down to get a better look and the animal tilted its head, without breaking the eye contact. Was it all she had to do, just to ask the cat to bring her to the blonde? Was it that simple? She was desperate enough to give it a try. Time was ticking away and without some help she wouldn't be able to find her lover, she realized. It had been stupid to storm out of her room, deaf to Nana's words. The castle was too big, too many rooms Tasha could be in. She needed help and here was help offered. It was unexpected and from a dubious source but she couldn't refuse it.
"Where is she?" she whispered nearly inaudible, scared that if she spoke too loud, the cat would startle and the magic would be gone, leaving behind the blanc unconscious gaze of a wild animal. But the sparkle of intelligence stayed there and she continued. "Can you bring me to her, please?"
Only after she had spoken the words, the cat broke the eye contact and strolled to the next floor on the right side, away from the kitchen stairs. Clare stood up but didn't follow, still too astonished about her own doings. She had to be crazy. But the cat turned its head and looked back at her, this time an urge in its eyes that hadn't been there before.
Without a second thought she left the kitchen behind, without searching it for Tasha and followed the cat into the small floor.
It was a short-cut to the next bigger floor. Clare frowned as she realized which floor it was. Tasha had no reason to be here. What did she want on the floor that headed to her mother's wing? Her doubts were back. She had been stupid to follow the cat. What did she think? This part was the last part of the castle were she would find Tasha. She stopped. Except for the cat and herself no one was there. Clare looked back the way she came reconsidering her actions. She had lost precious time with the cat. Should she head back, continuing her old plan and start with the kitchen? Or should she search this floor against all logic?
The cat had stopped a few steps ahead of her and gazed at her.
"It's a dead-end." She worded her biggest fear. But she couldn't feel anger for the cat. It wasn't its fault. It was hers. "I'm sorry." She whispered.
She turned around to go back to the kitchen when she heard a muffled scream from one of the rooms on the left side.
"Tasha?" Her head darted to the door in question. Clare stood stock-still and even held her breath to listen closer. There! There was definitely someone in there. She heard furniture being moved and glass crashing onto the stone floor.
"Tasha!" Without wasting another second she stormed forward and tore the door open. The scene before her eyes froze as the two persons in the room turned her eyes to look at her. No one moved, too shocked by what had happened.
She had found Tasha. At first she couldn't believe her eyes. Tasha had really been at the kitchen, her mind realized in a split second when she saw the broken mug with sugar at the floor. A chair lay there too, like it had been thrown out of the way. The room showed signs of a fight but Clare grasped this only subconsciously as her attention was drawn to the two persons in the middle of the room. Tasha.....and Phillip....
Clare shook her head slightly, still in disbelief. The Count had pinned down Tasha between him and the big table that built the centerpiece of the room. He had pressed her against the table and held her down with his body's weight. The blonde's blouse had been ripped down forcefully over her left shoulder, revealing her bare breast. The otherwise pale skin was covered with red marks.
One of his hands was at her hip, her skirt pulled up half her leg. His other hand covered her mouth, suffocating her cries. There were tears running down Tasha's cheeks and the blonde breathed heavily. But the worst were the troubled blue eyes of her lover that looked at her. Never before had she seen her lover's pupils that big and still they couldn't barely contain all the fear and pain that emanated from her lover. Worse than the fear was the shame she could see in Tasha's eyes. Like she was ashamed to be caught in a situation like this. It was this shame that raked Clare's hate and rage.
Clare's eyes narrowed as she turned her eyes to the Count. There wasn't shame in his eyes. She found only lust sparkling at her, there was even a small smile playing around his mouth, turning the normally handsome features into a grimace.
"Bastard." Clare hissed in rage before she jumped at Phillip's back. Her legs clutched around his waist and her hand scratched over his face when she tried to tear him off Tasha.
Over and over again she aimed for his eyes in blind fury. Now his screams filled the room but she didn't realize anything that went on around her. All she could see were Tasha's eyes filled with fear and shame that had burned their image into her mind. Clare didn't hear his cries and screams for help. She didn't even realize that he had given Tasha free and that the blonde had slinked against the wall in a heap, clutching her torn blouse against herself.
Only when four strong hands pulled her down and away from the Count the reality around her started to sink in again.
"Let me go!" She fought against the arms that held her back, her eyes still fixed on Phillip. At least she had wiped his dirty smile from his face. Now it was covered with bloody marks.
"What happened here?" A new voice filled the room. A voice that didn't allow disobedience or chaos in her castle.
Clare stopped her fight. She hadn't noticed her mother entering the room. But it wasn't only her mother. Like always she was surrounded by her retinue. Her ladies-in-waiting and her guards.
Suddenly the small room was over-crowed, barley taking in all the people that had gathered around the spectacle.
The queen's attention lay on The Count, her face showing her disapproval of the whole situation. Her mother hated every irregularity as long as it didn't come from herself.
Phillip brushed through his disheveled hair and spat at the floor. With his sleeve he wiped some blood from his lip using the time to find back into his role. When he looked up to meet the queens gaze finally, he was his old handsome self again.
"I don't know." He shrugged his shoulders and smiled at the queen. "This witch." He pointed at Tasha who had stayed unnoticed till now. With all the new attention directed at her, the blonde hid even more into herself.
A small nod from her mother was all that was needed and her other two guards were circled Tasha. A small cry escaped Tasha's lips as the rough hands pulled her up and threw her to the queens feet. She didn't dare to move.
Clare tried again to yank herself free to protect Tasha, but all her efforts were unsuccessful.
"This witch." Phillip repeated and looked in despise at the shaking girl to his feet. "She lay in wait for me when I was on my way to pay our Majesty my respect. She tried to lure me into this room but I refused her obscene offer. Suddenly she threw some powder into my eyes and spoke in a different language and some unseen magic pulled me into this room and closed the door behind us. I tried to scream but I was unable to form a single sound."
"Bastard. He's lying. He pulled her into this room and ... and..." Clare couldn't bring the word over her lips. Sorrowful she looked down at Tasha but the blonde didn't look up.
"Shut up." Her mother hissed at her and slapped her.
Clare looked shocked at her mother. She knew her mother was a violent person, but never before in her whole life she had slapped her. There had never been physical punishment from her, she had always had better and more insidious methods to punish her daughter.
Unimpressed the queen turned back to the Count, a sweet false smile again on her lips. "Go on." She asked him and he followed her order with pleasure.
"She pulled me against this table and started to undress me. I couldn't move. All I could do was watching her, what she was about to do with my body." He made a dramatic pause and even managed to form a little sob as he pressed his fist against his mouth to muffle it. Than he took a deep breath and continued. "And suddenly your daughter was in the room. Her eyes were black, there wasn't humanity in them and she screamed like a Fury. She jumped on my back and ... and..." He shook his head theatrically. "Thankfully
Your Majesty and your guards came by and freed me."
Most of the Queen's maiden had stepped back in fear out of reach of the witch. Only one still stood next to the Queen. Anyanka tilted her head and took a closer examination of the Count. "So you're saying, she's a witch and did all this things to you." She asked somehow amused.
But her humor was lost to everyone around her. "Yes." Phillip spit, his finger pointing again at Tasha. "She's a dangerous witch. She bewitched me and my fiancée."
"She didn't..." Clare started but a movement of her mother's hand silenced her. The Princess realized that no matter what she would tell them, they wouldn't believe her.
"Poor Princess. She bewitched your heart. Took away the love you felt for me and replaced it with this twisted satanic lust." Phillip addressed her and as their eyes met she could see the triumph in his eyes. He knew he had won and he would do everything to destroy them.
The Queen stepped forward and loomed over Tasha. For a minute she just watched her like she examined a new interesting but dirty toy. Then suddenly her hands snatched out and her fingers clutched Tara's temples. With a yank the Queen pulled Tasha up till the blonde kneed before her. Tasha whimpered when the older woman's fingers tore painfully at her. "I won't kill you, not now. For now I will throw you into the dungeon. Have you ever been there?" The queen asked sweetly.
Barely visible Tasha shook her head, transfixed by the queen's gaze. "It has lots of noisy little dark rooms. And there are things in the dark that will hurt you cause you're bad. Little pinching things that go in your ears and crawl on the inside of your skull. And you will never get out of there." With a last look into Tasha's terrified eyes she let her go and threw her back to the ground.
"No!" Once again Clare fought against her capturers. They couldn't throw Tasha into the dungeon. It would kill her. Even as a child her father had told her all the scary stories about the dungeon. How their enemies were tortured down there. Once when she had set free one of his favorite hawks he had taken her down there and had showed her all the instruments. Some of them were still covered with blood and she never would forget the smell of burned flesh down there and she had heard the screams and pleads for freedom or death as they passed the dungeons. After that she hadn't been able to sleep for a whole week and even years later she still heard the screams and smelled the burning flesh in her dreams. Her knees buckled under her and only the guards strong arms under hers kept her from falling over as her world crumbled around her.
"Bring her to her rooms and make sure that she doesn't leave it." Clare's mother ordered the guards who held her daughter. Then she winked one of her maidens to bring her a handkerchief to wipe her hands.
With a wave of her head she ordered the other guards that had stepped back to her side. She nodded at Tasha. "Bring her down and bring the priest to me."
As the guards pulled Tasha forcefully up, Tasha's eyes met Clare's. The blonde could barley stand and swayed from side to side. But suddenly she took a deep breath and strengthened herself. And for a second the fear in her eyes was replaced by something else. Clare knew that look. She had often seen it in Tasha's eyes and every time it had made her feel good, felt significant and worth. It was love.
'I love you' Tasha mouthed silently as a goodbye. Their eyes held each other till the guards dragged Tasha out of the room.
"No." Clare whispered, when the last glimpse of Tasha's blonde hair vanished. She didn't want this 'I love you'. She didn't want it's finality.