Saint Michael's Boarding School for Girls, the bane of Tara Maclay's existence. Four years, four precious years that could have been spent out in the real world, traveling the country and probably the globe wasted behind ivy covered red brick walls.
Tara knew that if her parents hadn't been so worried about what the rest of the world would say when they found out their only daughter, their baby girl was a lesbian, one of those girls she would never have been sent away. She wondered while she slept under the covers at night, staring into the darkness that surrounded her small room if she had done the right thing by telling them.
It wasn't as though her parents would ever have questioned her when she had 'friends' spend the night. At most her mother would tell them not to stay up to late eating junk food.
"Too much sugar is bad for your complexion, Tara darling." Her mother would say as she sauntered through the living room looking particularly lovely on her husband's arm before the two left for some important party where just everyone would be there.
And then Tara and her 'friend' could sneak upstairs and under the covers for a night of fun. But that wasn't what Tara wanted. No, she needed something untouchable, something epic. something real.
So while her parents sipped martini's with New York's finest, insisting that it was 'best for Tara to get a good education. A young girl really needs the finest in life if she's going to get ahead', Tara wasted away in classes that she couldn't care less about.
Sometimes she wondered if maybe she could just run away, pack her bags, gather her sketches, notebooks, and all the spare cash she'd saved from her parent's bi monthly allowance and disappear through her window under the cover of night. But as brave as she acted she knew that there was no way she could possibly run away.
Instead, she snuck out to meet girls who would simply die if anyone found out their strong love of the fairer sex. It didn't matter though, none of it did. All that Tara held dear were her drawings and journals.
Being, by every definition, a 'difficult student' Tara had managed a single room since her Sophomore year. It made life easier, being able to lock herself away in a place all her own to write and draw where no one could judge her. Being a senior now, Tara knew there was no way on earth she would be giving up that freedom any time soon. Or so she thought.
The library was not somewhere the girls of Saint Michael's would normally think to find Tara Maclay. She was a bright girl, managing to keep a 3.7 GPA while going out to bars at least 3 times a week and avoiding most of her classes. Teaches and student's alike were amazed at the girl's natural intelligence.
"If only she would apply herself." Tara had heard more than once from teachers as she made her way through the halls. She would simply roll her eyes and keep moving, her messenger bag swaying in time with her hips.
Deciding that it would be nice to get out of her room and sketch people in action, rather than imprinting the image in her mind and recreating it on paper later, Tara made her way to the library. She'd only ever been to the library twice since starting at Saint Michael's and it took her a moment to find her bearings before settling down at a secluded table near the back where she could spread out her things and really work.
There were only three other girls back there with her. One girl sat with her nose buried in a book, chestnut curls swept back out of her face in a low ponytail, while two blondes sat at the other end of the table, seemingly lost in the wonderful world of gossip. Feeling three sets of eyes on her as she sat down.
Tara did her best to ignore it as she began to draw. Time melted into nothingness as pencil flew against paper. Making sure to take advantage of her subjects while she had them Tara tired her hardest to capture every detail of the girls in front of her as well as their surroundings. Days could have passed for all the blonde artist knew.
So lost in her own world, Tara didn't even see the three girls pack their things and leave. Glancing at her watch she concluded that it was time to leave if she was going to make curfew. Sure, sneaking into her room through the window at two in the morning was fine if she'd been out at the bar or meeting up with a girl. There was just something about sneaking into her room because she'd been in the library that made her feel slightly studious and that idea never sat well with her.
"Ah, Tara." Stopping in her tracks, Tara clenched her jaw and rolled her eyes. Mrs. Angelo, the head mistress. Turning on her heels, Tara plastered a fake smile on her face, walking back to great the older woman. "Just the girl I was looking for. Nice to see you've finally learned that you're window isn't the only way into your room." Mrs. Angelo clasped her hands in front of her body, chuckling softly.
"Mrs. Angelo, I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about." Tara smiled smugly, resting her hands on her hips.
"Yes, I'm sure you don't." The head mistress sighed, taking a step forward. "Walk with me." She said evenly, linking her arm with her student's.
"We've got a new student arriving at Saint Michael's tomorrow afternoon. She's never been to boarding school or any private school for that matter. But her parents feel that if she's going to have any real chance in life, she needs a good start. And that means a top notch high school. She's a computer whiz, even TA'd at her last high school." Pausing, Mrs. Angelo glanced at Tara out of the corner of her eye.
"Not to be rude, Mrs. Angelo, but what does any of this have to do with me?" Tara asked, meeting the other woman's gaze without fear.
"Well Tara, because of your...reputation here at Saint Michael's none of the other girls with singles are willing to either give up their solitude by taking this girl in or moving in with you. And I'm sure you know that your room is not meant to be a single, but a double. I'm sorry to say that Willow will be rooming with you until your graduation at the end of the year."
Tara's face noticeably paled and she pulled her arm free, crossing both over her chest.
"Willow? You're rooming me with a girl named Willow? And you're sure there are no other places for her to stay?" Tara exclaimed with wide eyes.
"I'm sorry, Tara. I really wish there were some other way for this to work out, I really do." 'More for her sake than yours.' Mrs. Angelo added silently. With a quick shrug of her shoulders, Tara gave in.
"If there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can do. Is it alright if I go now?" She asked calmly, running her fingers through her hair.
"Yes, yes, of course. Go. Hopefully you can make it to all of your classes tomorrow." Mrs. Angelo smiled before sending the teenager on her way. Tara turned and stalked away as calmly as she could before reaching her room and slamming the door despite it being against the rules.
Red hot tears welled up in her eyes as she punched the door. Now what was she going to do? "Willow." She grumbled, pushing off the door and walking around her room. Shedding her uniform she pulled on a pair of pajamas. She crawled into bed and shut off the light, snuggling up to her favorite pillow.
It was going to be an interesting year.
"Boarding school?" Buffy Summers asked her best friend over mochas.
"Boarding school." Willow Rosenberg confirmed, taking a sip of her chocolaty caffeinated drink.
"How could your parents even think of sending you away to boarding school? You just started your senior year." Buffy pouted, leaning forward on the table they were sitting at.
"It's got a great computer program, the classes are more challenging, and it's a great way for me to get ready for college next fall." Willow explained, sitting back in her chair.
"But what about me? What am I gonna do without my daily dose of Willow time? And Xander will go crazy with you gone. Who's gonna keep him in school? And Oz?" Buffy was now getting excited, bouncing slightly in her seat.
"You and I can still be best friends." Willow assured the blonde, brushing her red hair back out of her face. "I mean, we can write and call and we'll be able to visit each other on breaks. And.and Xander and I have been friends since we were like.born. And me and Oz, we can survive the distance, right? Right?" Willow panicked, her breathing shallow and her eyes wide.
The blonde instantly felt bad for starting Willow on this rant and reached out to pat her hand. "Of course you and Oz are going to work out. You won't be that far away and Oz is totally in love with you. You have nothing to worry about." Buffy assured her friend, smiling happily.
Finishing her mocha, Willow moved to her feet.
"I should get home and make sure that I have everything packed." Willow sighed, holding her arms out to Buffy for a hug. Standing quickly she wrapped her arms around the redhead in a bone crushing hug. "I'll write to you as soon as I get settled down." Willow said softly, squeezing her eyes shut to keep the tears at bay.
"Good. Now have fun. Meet new people. Make new friends. But don't you dare forget about us." Buffy forced a watery smile, squeezing her friend one last time before pulling free from the hug. Willow nodded and did her best to smile before walking out of the coffee shop and heading home.
The idea of boarding school was none one that the redhead was fond of. When her parents had first suggested the school, Willow instantly refused. She wasn't ready to leave her home and her friend's and especially not her boyfriend. Not yet. Wasn't that what college was for? She still had one year left with all the people that she loved so much before being thrown out into the real world.
But the more she thought about it, the more she realized exactly why her parents wanted this for her. Willow was an only child and her parents had always been willing to do anything to ensure the best for her, and to them that meant this school. After a bit of online research, one of her many technological specialties, Willow fell in love with not only the classes at Saint Michael's, but the campus as well. She knew then that if she wanted to reach her goal of MIT, Saint Michael's was the way to go.
The lights were off when she finally got home, which wasn't surprising. As much as her parents loved her, they loved their work. It wouldn't be the first time in her young life that she made dinner for one before curling up in bed with a good book. Just as she sat down to the table she heard a gentle knock on the front door. Having already said her goodbyes to both Buffy and Xander, she knew that knock could only belong to one person.
"Oz." She grinned as she pulled the door open, reaching out to take his hand. "Come in." She nearly whispered as she gave a gentle tug on his arm.
"I can't stay." He replied softly as he pulled his other arm out from behind his back.
"What's this?" She asked, taking the letter from his hand. Her eyes remained locked on his as he searched for the right words to explain. Oz was never the type to freely express what he was thinking, let alone what he was feeling. It was one of the things Willow had always found endearing about him.
"You're leaving tomorrow. That's just something to let you know how I feel." He said casually, smiling softly. A warm smile enveloped Willow's features.
"Are you sure you don't wanna come in?" She asked hopefully. "I just made dinner. There's more than enough for two." Bouncing slightly, she smiled.
"I just wanted to drop that off. I know you want to double and then triple check to make sure you've got everything." Oz smiled as Willow giggled.
"Yeah, you're probably right." She whispered. "I'll write you as soon as I get there, ok?" She squeezed his hand, pulling his body closer slightly.
"Ok." Oz replied simply, wrapping his arms around her slim waist.
"I love you." She whispered tearfully. Oz pulled back slightly to dry her tears, kissing her forehead. "No tears." He whispered calmly before placing a gentle kiss to her lips. Willow nodded slowly, meeting his eyes.
"I'll see you soon." He promised. And then he was gone, leaving Willow to stand I the doorway, alone. Appetite lost the redhead made her way up the stairs to her bedroom. Once she was entirely sure she had absolutely everything she could ever need she changed into a pair of pajama's and curled up in bed, deciding against reading for the first time in years.
Staring at the ceiling she could feel the butterflies fluttering nervously in her stomach. Fear of the unknown and a hint of excitement welled up in her chest as she rolled over.
"It's going to be an interesting year." She whispered to the darkness before forcing herself to sleep.