Return to What's Your Tale, Nightingale? Chapter Twenty-Seven

What's Your Tale, Nightingale?

Author: Alcy
Rating: PG-13, possibly R a bit later on.
Disclaimer: The characters of Willow and Tara, Buffy and Giles all belong to TPTB, I'm just playing for a while.

A pleasant summer lazily drifted into a mild autumn. Willow sat crossed legged on a patch of grass outside the library, a heavy biology text propped on her lap. Several more volumes sat on the grass beside her as well as a hefty stack of well organised notes. She had been studying in the library when the sunlight had enticed her outside. No doubt there would be few such days left in the year and she was determined to take advantage of them.

Willow ran her finger over a line of text, she frowned and then scribbled down a few notes in pencil in the margin. A shadow fell across her page and she looked up to see Abby standing above her with a broad smile on her face.

"Hello," Willow grinned and patted the spot on the grass next to her, "Join me?"

"Willow, it's Friday afternoon and you are still studying? I didn't come here to join you I came here to extract you from the library... but I'm happy to see that you've managed to do it yourself, even if you couldn't quite manage to leave the books behind as well," the taller girl smiled and sat down beside Willow.

Abby reached over and gently flicked the book closed even as Willow was still reading. The red head pouted and tried to open her text, Abby struggled to hold it shut. Eventually she took it away from Willow altogether, holding it out of her reach with a look that said she had better not even try to get it back. Willow was eyeing her up as though she were wondering whether she could take Abby on.

Willow settled for diplomacy, "Please? I told myself I had to get to the end of chapter six today."

Abby was not at all sympathetic, "You're at the top of almost all your classes, you have finished every assignment that's due for the next two weeks and Professor Edwards said we don't have to read chapter six for another month! I know you want to do well here but honestly Willow... all of this is taking it just a little too far, you're giving the rest of us a bad name."

Willow sighed and looked longingly at the book in Abby's hand. Her roommate was right as usual, Willow had thrown herself into her college studies with the same enthusiasm she had at high school and consequently she was in no danger of falling behind if she finished studying for the day.

"Okay," Willow began shovelling books into her satchel, the pencil was tucked in the front pocket, "You win."

Abby handed her the biology text and watched her like a hawk until it too was stowed away and the bag fastened.

Willow looked at Abby and raised her eyebrows playfully, "Satisfied?"

Abby nodded, well pleased with her efforts and dug around in her own bag to produce with a flourish two bottles of coca-cola and two Hershey's bars. Willow accepted her treats, suddenly glad that she had agreed her studying was over for the day.

"Thank you," she said gratefully, "To tell the truth I wasn't even supposed to be studying this afternoon... I was supposed to go shopping."

"Shopping?" Abby's eyes flew open and she choked on hastily swallowed coke, "You were going shopping and you did not invite me?"

"Tara's birthday is on the 16th and I just thought that looking for her gift would be... you know... private."

"Ah, thinking of buying her something naughty are we?" Abby giggled and Willow blushed brightly.

"No, I mean... well, yes I was thinking naughty thoughts... but I'm not thinking of actually buying something naughty. No, definitely nothing naughty and besides, it's not like I'd even known where to buy anything naughty... and I am not naughty! Not the kind of naughty you're obviously thinking about!" Willow stopped her babble-fest by shoving a piece of chocolate in her mouth and chewing quickly before swallowing.

"If you're supposed to be shopping... why aren't you shopping?"

"I chickened out. I've been putting it off and off all week long. I haven't the faintest clue as to what to get her and I know I'll just wander aimlessly around the stores getting more and more depressed that I'll never find something for my girlfriend," Willow sighed and looked at Abby desperately, "Do you think this means I don't love her enough... that I can't think of what she would like?"

Abby shook her head and smiled reassuringly, "Not at all, you're just worrying a little more than you should... just buy something from the heart... something that shows how much you care about her and I'm sure she'll love it. Besides, she already has you, I doubt she's really wanting for much else."

"Good idea... but I love her so much... and that means a really, really big expensive gift... which I can do of course," Willow's face fell slightly when she considered the source of all her money, "Daddy's going to ask me why I would need to draw such an amount from my allowance..."

Abby frowned, she had met Willow's parents at several college outings over the past few months. They seemed like exceptionally nice people, even if her mother was a little overbearing. However, she now looked at the expression on Willow's face and saw the red head was struggling with some inner turmoil. Money for a present for Tara... Abby finally realised and her heart went out to the young woman sitting next to her.

"Will... does anyone else besides Faith, Anya and I know about you and Tara?"

Willow nodded quickly, "Of course, definitely. There's Mr Giles... he owns the bookstore Tara works at. I think he may very well have known before we did... he was with us in Paris. And my best friend... Buffy..."

Abby frowned, she had spent a lot of time with Willow over the past few months and had never met nor heard Willow mention anyone named Buffy. Willow looked at the quizzical expression on her friend's face and knew exactly what she was thinking.

"Buffy and I... had a falling out, we haven't seen each other for a little over three months now."

"Falling out?" Abby's frown deepened, "You mean you told her about your relationship with Tara and she reacted badly?"

"Reacted badly would be putting it politely," Willow said, just the barest hint of regret in her voice.

"I'm sorry Will."

"No, don't be, I'm over it," Willow brushed it off with a wave of her hand and another piece of chocolate.

"And your parents don't know?"

"Most certainly not," Willow replied quickly.

"Forgive me for being so forward because it's certainly not my place to make any judgments on the way you live your life... but to someone like me, spending time with you, and you and Tara together, hearing the way you two talk about each other, it seems as though you two are meant to be together. Are you going to keep your relationship a secret for the rest of your life? Forgive me for being so blunt... but I don't see how you can live like that."

Willow was about to open her mouth and blurt out a very heated and angry retort. Snapping at Abby for sticking her nose in where it did not belong... and besides, the brunette didn't have a clue about just how horrible it was to live a lie. Willow hated concealing things from anyone and to conceal such a huge part of her life from her own parents was almost torture. Abby's expression, however, was nothing but sincere and Willow bit her lip to stop her angry rant before it even emerged.

"I have to," Willow whispered eventually, "You don't understand..."

"You're right Will, I don't know what it's like for you and god it must be hard. You never cease to amaze me though. You and Tara both... you love each other so much it often makes me wonder if I'll ever find someone to love me that much!"

"I'm not so amazing," Willow shook her head.

"Yes you are! You're defying the world you come from to be with the person you love... how much more amazing can you get."

"Well, I could tell my parents and to hell with what they think... but I can't, I'm too scared... I'm scared they'll disown me or something. I don't think I can live on my own... and it'll mean the end of college..." Willow sighed, "I should be able to do it if I want to be with Tara... but I can't. I'm too used to having everything."

"Willow, you're eighteen, it's okay to be scared about being on your own..."

Willow sighed again and looked off into the distance as though she were being bogged down by heavy thoughts. When she turned back to Abby her face had brightened somewhat, even if it was a rather forced effort.

"Can we talk about something else, it seems to nice a day to get bogged down with grown up stuff?"

"Back to the birthday present!"

"Still stumped," Willow shrugged, airing out her concerns had certainly not helped her think of the perfect gift to buy Tara.

"Any ideas? Or just the naughty ones?" Abby tried her best to lift the gloomy cloud that had settled over Willow.

Willow sighed dramatically and for a moment Abby panicked, thinking she was about to burst into tears as a result of their conversation. Her eyes were brimming and her lip trembled.

"I'm a horrible, wicked little girl," Willow whispered in a distressed tone, "I just cannot seem to get scanty lingerie out of my head..."

Abby blinked before she realised the tears Willow was struggling to hold back were tears of laughter. Willow looked at her and giggled lightly as she saw the other girl let out a sigh of relief.

"...but I don't think we've reached that level in our relationship yet," Willow continued.

"You are a horrible girl Willow Rosenberg," Abby said playfully before returning to the subject at hand, "Not at the lingerie level... you will one day though and giving it to her might be enough to push you to that level," Abby winked.

"Abby no! Could you imagine me going into a store to buy that sort of thing? What on earth would I tell the shop assistant?"

"You could say it's for your mother?" Abby shrugged.

Willow snickered.

Abby tried another tact, "I can tell you want to buy it!"

Willow shook her head quickly, a pink blush creeping back into her cheeks, "I've seen more of your skin than I've ever seen of Tara's!"

Abby raised her eyebrows, trying to gauge exactly where Willow was going with the conversation, "Hopefully, that doesn't turn you on quite as much?" she asked a little hesitantly, unsure of what her answer would be if Willow said it did.

"No, Tara's naked forearm turns me on more than your naked bottom," Willow laughed much to Abby's relief.

Talking about naked skin finally did make Willow blush again and the topic predictably sent her off into her own little world of naughty Tara-thoughts, Tara's butt! Oh my goodness!

"Did I hear the word 'naked'?" a voice from behind them caused both Abby and Willow to jump with fright.

It was Faith, she came up behind Willow and grabbed her in a gentle headlock, "Why are you talking about Abby's naked arse Will... is there something going on between the two of you that I should know about? Because if there is naked fun to be had... then I want in dammit!"

"No," Abby giggled, "As much as I like Willow... we were just discussing ways she could make it to the next step in her relationship with Tara."

"We were not!" Willow protested, "I just wanted ideas for a birthday present!"

"I was reading between the lines," Abby said to Faith with a knowing nod.

"Look Red... it's pretty simple," Faith sat down and Willow immediately pounced.

"I don't want to hear any of your advice!" Willow tried to clamp her hand over Faith's mouth.

Faith rolled Willow over on to her back and pounced on top of her.

"Look, just get the girl alone... lock the goddamn door and tell her you want to fuck her... it's as simple as that... and the way you two look at one another..."

"Faith!" Abby snapped, punching the dark girl in the arm, "I don't want to hear you give Willow advice either!"

Faith laughed and helped Willow back up into a sitting position. Willow brushed grass from her cardigan and threw a reproachful look at Faith who was still grinning naughtily.

"You will tell us though... when you two finally get around to it," Faith asked hopefully.

Willow spluttered and blushed furiously, "I-I..."

"Don't worry Faith," Abby said quietly, "I think we'll know... Willow will finally stop blushing whenever we bring it up... either that or she'll blush even worse."

Willow shoved another piece of chocolate in her mouth and wondered if it was too late to request a change of dorm room... then Faith threw her arms around her neck and planted a big kiss on Willow's cheek,

"Sorry cutie!" she said brightly, "I'll behave I promise!"

"And pigs can fly," Abby said wryly, she and Willow both broke out into a fit of giggles while Faith could only grin guiltily.

"Okay, tell me you cannot see a thing!" Willow was walking awkwardly behind Tara, her hands covering the blonde's eyes as she lead the way.

"Nothing... you're not planning on leading me down any stairs are you?" Tara asked anxiously.

Willow Rosenberg had been a very busy young woman all day long. Her preparations for Tara's birthday had been labour intensive to say the least. Not that she minded one little bit, in the end, it was all for Tara and every ounce of effort spent had been put to good use. She was herself was fairly bursting with anticipation even though it was not her birthday.

"I promise I'm not," Willow giggled, "Almost there."

She steered Tara into the Rosenberg's formal dining room, the one usually reserved for important guests and occasions. Willow gently bade Tara halt and slowly took her hand away, Tara still had her eyes squeezed shut.

"Open your eyes," Willow whispered quietly.

Tara opened them, her mouth fell.

All the lights in the large room had been turned off and it was instead lit from a variety of sources. There were candelabras placed around the room, each one ablaze with the glow of half a dozen candles each. They sent up a warm light that danced happily on the walls, softening the otherwise alien and imposing room. Willow had also pilfered some party lights from the Christmas decorations and these had been strung, somewhat unevenly by Willow herself, around the room. Now they twinkled merrily.

The long, lonely table had been set up as inviting as possible. Another candelabra sat in the middle of the table. Only two places were set, both at one end of the table. Near them sat a simple white vase overflowing with bright red roses. Both places settings were laid out perfectly, silver cutlery, folded napkins lay next to covered plates.

While Tara took it all in, Willow was rocking nervously on her heels, waiting for approval.

"Willow," Tara just whispered, her eyes dancing with the light of dozens of candles.

She turned to her and threw her arms tightly around her, drawing her close, smelling her rose-scented hair. Tara squeezed even tighter, holding on to Willow as though all of this were a dream and it would vanish if she did not.

"Help!" Willow whispered, "I need to breathe!"

Tara quickly stepped back, although keeping her arms around Willow's waist loosely, unshed tears were shining in her eyes and a small smile played with the corners of her mouth.

"You did all of this?" Tara asked quietly.

Willow nodded proudly, "Burnt my thumb lighting all the candles," she held up the wounded digit and Tara kissed it gently.

"It's already the best birthday I've ever had... just because I have you... and now you go and make it even better," Tara said, her happiness well and truly evident in her voice.

Willow beamed, she was still smiling when Tara leant across and kissed her ever so softly. Just a brief brush of the lips, a slight flick of the tongue across pink lips.

"Dinner will get cold if we stand here all night," Willow whispered, stroking Tara's cheek with light fingertips.

She lead Tara to the table and pulled out her chair for her, laying a pristine white napkin over her lap when she was seated. Her hand went to the plate cover and she drew it away with a flourish to reveal...

"Spaghetti and meatballs," Willow smiled almost guiltily, "I wanted to cook for you myself but unfortunately I can't cook... well, I can a little now, I had my first lesson..."

Tara just reached up and drew Willow into another kiss, "It's perfect... I love spaghetti and meatballs."

Willow grinned and picked the bottle of wine out of the cooler, "And I have no idea what sort of white is supposed to go with spaghetti and meatballs, I figured something white... because spaghetti is white and then Italian because it's an Italian dish... sort of..."

Willow struggled a little with the bottle opener. Tara couldn't resist a giggle as the red head struggled to wrestle the cork free from the bottle. It finally came free with a pop. Willow poured two glasses of wine. Her tongue poked adorably from the corner of her mouth as she did so. Tara just watched, watching to reach up with her mouth and trap that delicious pink corner of tongue.

Wine poured two glasses with barely a drop spilling on the table, Willow sat and raised her glass,

"To the first birthday we share together, may it be an end to all the ones we have spent apart," Willow said fervently, their glasses clinked together.

"I love you Willow Rosenberg," Tara whispered after taking a small sip and setting her glass carefully down.

"You might not be saying that after you try my cooking," Willow said eyeing the spaghetti and meatballs dubiously, as though they could be the downfall of the entire evening.

As it turned out however, Willow's cooking was just fine. They ate and slurped spaghetti happily, neither caring that it was quite possibly the messiest food Willow could have chosen to cook. However, as Tara brushed yet another spot of sauce from Willow's cheek, she was beginning to think that the food choice had been deliberate for the very reason that it was messy.

No sooner had the spaghetti disappeared, Willow was up and bustling. Clearing their plates to a serving table against the wall. She replaced the now empty wine bottle with a chilled bottle of champagne and poured another glass for each of them. Tara sipped hers while Willow seemed to be occupied with something, her back turned so Tara could not see what it was she was doing. When she turned around, she was holding a cake, many little candles placed carefully around the edge. As Willow walked carefully to the table, she sang happy birthday in a soft, sweet voice.

The cake was placed on the table. It was a passionfruit cake, Tara's favourite. The fruit seeds scattered throughout icing made with passionfruit pulp. Atop the cake, in bright blue frosting letters was written, 'Happy Birthday Tara.' The letters were slightly wonky and cramped at one end where Willow had run out of space but it was just perfect nevertheless.

"Willow, it's absolutely beautiful... but if we eat all of that we'll be ill!"

"That's the point of cake!" Willow handed Tara the silver knife, "Birthday girl gets the honour."

Tara cut a generous slab of cake for each of them. She then took a forkful to discover it was perfect, light, fluffy and moist. Willow grinned guiltily,

"I had a lot of help with the cake... and several attempts. I tried to make the first one myself but it didn't rise and came out looking like a pancake. In the end, Mrs Jenkins made it for me... but the frosting was all me! But then again... you would've guessed that already because it's all wonky and terrible looking..."

Tara broke off a piece of her cake with her fingertips and shoved it in Willow's mouth to stop her babbling. Startled at first, Willow chewed and swallowed and reached out to catch Tara's withdrawing hand. Tentatively, she licked off a stray blob of icing from Tara's finger. Tara let out a breath, their fingers entwined.

"I wanted to write 'Happy Birthday my love' but I think that would have given everything away," Willow admitted, she was staring into Tara's eyes.

"Your love is already in the cake Willow... you made it for me... wonky frosting and all."

Tara drew Willow to her, gently licking a stray crumb from the corner of Willow's mouth. Willow twisted her head slightly so that their mouths met in a delicious kiss.

It took an age for them to pull apart and when they did, both girls were breathing heavily. Willow finally realised she still had more surprises. She hopped to her feet, tottered a little when she realised she had a little more wine that she had first thought, and crossed to a small cabinet. From inside she withdrew two neatly wrapped packages, one small and one large.

"Will, all of this is wonderful enough!" Tara said as they were placed in front of her, "I don't need two presents."

"I would've given you a hundred... but the thought of wrapping all of them was a little too daunting," Willow grinned, "Open the big one first baby."

Tara peeled off ribbon and wrapper to reveal a long box. When she opened it, she found the cutest pair of shoes she had ever seen. Bright red, not too much heel... just perfect for dancing the night away in. She ran her fingers over the designer footwear, never in her life had she owned such a gorgeous pair of shoes.

"They're too..."

"Don't even say it!" Willow jutted in quickly, "I expect to be well rewarded with many hours of dancing with you in those shoes... so they're not too much at all. In fact, now that I think about it... it was quite selfish of me..."

Tara giggled, "And I get to dance with you, so we both win."

"I like that kind of winning," Willow clapped her hands happily.

Tara's hand moved to the smaller box. She carefully peeled off the layers of wrap to reveal an ornate little box, well worn with age and yet still beautiful. Opening it revealed a gorgeous amethyst locket on a fine silver chain. Tara gasped as she drew it out and held it reverently in her hand.

"My grandmother gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday, it was her mother's... I thought you could put a picture of your mother in it," Willow said quietly, worried that Tara would not know what she meant by giving it to her.

"Willow, it's a family heirloom... I can't..."

"Tara, it's mine to give as I see fit and you are my family," Willow said firmly, reaching out to fold the locket into Tara's hand, covering the fist with both her own hands.

"Put it on for me?" Tara asked quietly.

Willow stood and gently placed the locket around Tara's neck as Tara held her long hair out of the way. The clasp secured, it hung down between Tara's breasts, the amethyst shining in the candlelight.

Tara fingered it delicately, it was gorgeous and precious indeed, made all the more so by was it signified for Willow. You are my family... Willow crossed to where she had set up a record player and she flicked the arm over to start playing Dean Martin. The song that had merely played out in their heads while they were dancing on the banks of the Seine came back to them for real.

Willow held out her hand and drew Tara to her feet and into her body. Willow settled her arms around Tara's waist while Tara encircled Willow's neck with her own. She gazed lovingly at the beautiful red head.

"Thank you so much... everything was just perfect," Tara whispered.

"My pleasure," Willow smiled.

"No..." Tara lent so close her lips were brushing Willow's cheek, "This is your pleasure..."

Their lips met, just nuzzling at first. Tara nibbled on Willow's upper lip, catching it between her lips. The kiss then deepened, mouths moving against one another's, stroking and caressing. Willow sighed and her mouth parted, admitting Tara's tongue. The blonde pressed in eagerly, searching out Willow's tongue before playing with it teasingly. Every time Willow reached out with her tongue to stroke Tara's, the blonde would pull hers away until they were playing a sensuous game of 'catch the tongue.' Tara finally allowed Willow to catch her and they kissed long and hard, matching each other stroke for stroke. Each could feel the others heart hammering away in their chest.

Finally, out of breath, eyes glazed, they pulled back. They lent their chins on one another's shoulders and settled into a slow waltz around the dining room as Dean Martin crooned softly just for them.

Tara closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of her Willow in her arms.

The mild autumn did not lead to a mild winter. Instead, snow began falling well before Christmas. The streets of New York were paved with white, looking pristine and gorgeous... at least until the next car came along the street.

Willow had embraced the cold weather and at the first opportunity, had dragged Tara out ice skating, one of her favourite pastimes. While Willow had done it many, many times... Tara had never been, not once. To make matters worse, the blonde was in the grips of a terrible cold, her nose ran almost constantly much to her disgust.

It was with some apprehension that the blonde looked out at the rink while Willow laced the boots up for her. She watched adults and small children gliding around effortlessly... it didn't look that hard and yet... she blew her nose noisily, this was not going to be fun. Although she did get to hold Willow's hand.

Nice thinking Maclay, she thought as she watched Willow lace up the ungainly boots on her feet, If you break your arm at least Willow will be right here to comfort you... hmmm, Willow sympathy... Tara grinned.

Willow led her out onto the ice and Tara's feet immediately wanted to go in different directions. She could just see herself splayed ungracefully on the cold ice. Tara looked wistfully back to the safety of normal ground just outside the rink. If she gave up now then she could save her dignity and settle for watching Willow glide around and around. The red head was all bundled up in her heavy woollen coat, a fluffy pink hat adorned with a pom-pom clashed perfectly with her hair.

As Tara made to go back to the side of the rink, Willow grabbed her hand in her own mittened one. She was not about to let her give up so easily. Her cheeks were bright red, giving her a pixie-like appearance as she grinned happily.

Tara pushed her own white woollen hat back from where it had began to slip over her eyes, "Ah Will, this isn't such a good ideal... I feel a broken limb coming on... either that or I'll fall and drag you down with me as well."

"Being dragged down with you? That doesn't sound so bad."

"I should've known you'd say that," Tara said as Willow took both her hands in her own and began leading her around the rink.

Willow skated backwards effortlessly, pulling Tara along.

"You should know by now that I deliberately choose recreational events designed to force you into my arms... dancing, skating... making out," Willow added the last a little quieter and her mind was then filled with rather wanton thoughts, so wanton they made her pink cheeks even pinker, naked recreational activities would be even better... naked making out leads to naked making love... but you have to be naked to make love...

Tara grinned knowingly, "I know what you're thinking Willow Rosenberg!"

Willow ducked her head, "Okay, stopping now... I promise." naked Tara, naked Tara, naked Tara...

"You're still thinking it," Tara said quietly.

"Just shut up and skate," Willow said teasingly.

After almost half an hour, Willow judged Tara to be an expert ice skater and pulled her into a spin. The blonde squealed even as she was safely tucked into Willow's arms. Tara's eyes were wide and she gasped for air. Willow felt a little guilty but it did have the desire effect of bringing Tara into her arms.

"God you're beautiful," Willow whispered, drawing Tara close.

"Willow Rosenberg, don't you dare kiss me!"

Willow pulled back hastily and resumed her skating alongside Tara, "I'm sorry, I should've thought but I forgot there were still other people around us."

Tara looked around as though she to was noticing there were other's still on the rink, she looked back to Willow and smiled.

"It's got nothing to do with them," Tara whispered soothingly in apology, and then she grinned, "Look at me, I've got puffy eyes, my nose is running like Niagara Falls and I'm as liable to sneeze all over you as I am to breathe on you. Not to mention the fact you'll catch my cold..."

"...and then we'll both be snivelling and sneezing but at least we'll be able to kiss as often as we like! Between the sneezes of course."

Tara giggled, "Willow... you're incorrigible."

Willow grinned, "Cute incorrigible or annoying incorrigible?"

"Both! But I wouldn't have it any other way," Tara awkwardly drew Willow to her, still unsteady on the ice.

She planted a small kiss on Willow's cheek, they were all of a sudden very mindful of the fact that the rink was fairly crowded with people of all ages. Tara drew back and sensed Willow's frustration, especially in the way she clung to her waist. Tara sighed, loving Willow with her eyes instead.

"Do you want to come back to my place?" Willow asked.

"You may be on holiday but I have to work tomorrow Will!" Tara protested, "Christmas eve, busiest day of the year!"

"We'll go straight to bed! I'll be the very definition of well-behaved!" Tara raised her eyebrows and Willow had to grin, "Okay, okay, you've got me but I can't be alone with you and not touch you! How about just a cuddle?"

"Just a cuddle?" Tara asked doubtfully.

"Just a cuddle," Willow nodded emphatically.

Tara smiled wryly.

"But I make no guarantees that my hands will not wander..."

They made their way to the slowly side of the rink.

"I'd be disappointed if they didn't," Tara replied shyly.

They sat down to take their skates off, Willow had hers off in a flash and she knelt to help Tara unlace her boots. Tara winced when they came off.

"I think that's enough ice skating for one winter," Tara wriggled her toes to check her feet still worked.

"Nonsense, you'll be pirouetting by the end of the season!" Willow said confidently, handing Tara her shoes.

They sat side by side on the bench as they put their footwear back on, little clouds of frozen breath wafting in front of them. Willow watched Tara from the corner of her eye, hardly believing that the year was almost over. A part of her wanted 1957 to last forever because it was the year in which she had met Tara and her life had changed. However, an even bigger part of her was looking forward to all that the future held for them.

"So," Willow said nonchalantly as she helped Tara to her feet, "What are you getting me for Christmas?"

"Nothing," Tara replied with mock solemnity, "You've been a very bad girl this year Willow Rosenberg."

"And that isn't a good thing?" Willow asked teasingly, wrapping an arm around Tara's waist as they walked to where Mr Weiss was waiting with the car, "Because I can start being good you know?"

"You couldn't if you tried."

"Could too!" Willow pouted.

"Really?" Tara arched an eyebrow.

Suddenly, Tara whipped her around behind a nearby tree, shielding them from view of both the rink and the parked limo. She pressed herself back against the trunk, holding Willow at arms length. Willow gulped as Tara looked very calmly at her before very slowly running her tongue over her upper lip with a smouldering look in her eyes.

"Oh god!" Willow felt her mouth go dry.

"No one can see us, you have me at your complete mercy to do with as you please," Tara whispered softly, "What are you going to do."

"I'm going to walk away and leave you here!" Willow couldn't take her eyes off Tara's.

"Really?" Tara asked, her mouth parted ever so slightly, invitingly.

"Yes!" Willow squeaked.

And she did just that, she tore herself out of Tara's arms and marched back to the footpath and in the direction of the car without a glance back.

Tara meanwhile just smiled and starting counting, "One... two... three... f..."

Four never quite came into being as a Willow-shaped object suddenly launched itself into her arms. Her mouth was trapped beneath a pair of the sweetest tasting lips in the world, moving against her own hungrily. She quickly melted into the kiss, her arms encircling Willow's back and drawing the small red head as close as she possibly could.

Willow's gloved hands ran over the back of her neck in light caresses, up into her hair. In her enthusiasm, Willow pushed Tara's woollen hat completely off the top of her head. It fell unnoticed to the ground beneath them.

A few minutes later, Willow pulled back with some reluctance, well aware that poor Mr Weiss was still waiting in the car for them. If she didn't stop herself soon then she could very well keep on kissing Tara all night long, no matter how cold it got. Willow bent down and picked up Tara's hat with an apologetic look on her face.

Both girls were somewhat shaky and flushed as they made their way across to the waiting car.

"Don't you say a word!" Willow snapped playfully at Tara.

Tara smiled as Willow opened the door for her, she couldn't resist it, "Definitely no Christmas present for you!"

Continue to What's Your Tale, Nightingale? Chapter Twenty-Nine

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