Willow got on her horse and sped away from the castle as soon as the sun had set. She hadn't a second to waste. To see Tara again was an emergency on various levels. Firstly, she had to tell her about the mercenaries that her father had hired. If the war took place, the mercenaries would sweep the Highlands' army as if they were a group of children playing against adults. They couldn't let this happen.
Secondly, she just had to see her, to have a confirmation. She needed to look inside Tara's blue eyes and breathe safely. Her head kept toying with the idea that she had simply dreamed it all, and it scorched her with fear. She so wanted it to be real... Because she had never felt nothing like that; never felt so connected to anyone. In fact, she had never thought about those things; she had never looked at someone and thought God, you're so beautiful, never felt the impulse to kiss anyone.
Her childhood had been spent dreaming of becoming a knight, dreaming of battles, and her teenage years had vanished while trying to be a knight and achieving it. She had never dreamed of loving someone, never wrestled with the weight of a relationship. Grown men had pleaded her for mercy that same afternoon while training, but no eyes had ever pleaded for a kiss. At least, no one before Tara.
She tied her horse and scurried to the castle. The fear of being discovered never came to mind; and so, she wasn't discovered; all she could think of while climbing the wall was reaching that window.
When she did, she didn't just enter the room; she rested her chin on the windowsill and let her eyes get used to the lack of light. Tara was sitting on the bed, which was covered in books, but she wasn't reading them. She was just staring at nothingness, seemingly thinking deeply.
Not wanting to disturb her, Willow closed her fist and knocked softly on the side of the window. Tara turned instantly, but at least she wasn't startled. Now was the moment to look at Tara and get the confirmation she died for. She jumped inside the room and stood there, one hand grasping the other, getting instantly nervous. Why doesn't she say anything? And why don't I?, she wondered, I don't know. Well, then say something! Okay, okay.
No answer. What the...?
"Uh... No candles?" she asked, looking around.
"I missed you."
What? Willow turned to look at her, and realized that she had spoken. Oh God. Finally, she had been reassured; those three words, the way they had been said, meant that it had happened. Her knees started to buckle, and she stumbled to a sitting position on the floor, her arms and head resting on the bed.
"I missed you too..." she said "Actually, more than missed you."
"More? How's that?"
Tara smiled for the first time, making Willow feel instant warmth inside. The blonde turned and lied stomach down, her head resting on her hand, and her face close to Willow's.
"Uh..." Willow muttered "I-I've suddenly forgotten."
"What have you forgotten?"
"H-how to talk."
The blonde laughed, and reached out to grasp some strands of Willow's red hair. She loved it when Tara did this; it fuzzed her mind completely.
"O-okay, I've remembered. I was telling you I had more than... missed you."
"That's right. Explain?"
"Y-yeah. This morning, when I woke up" Willow licked her lower lip "I... kinda thought that it had all been a dream."
"Really? So... what do you suggest I should do? Convince you?"
"No, it's okay, I know-" Willow saw the look on Tara's eyes and cut her sentence abruptly "Well, I think I maybe need a little reminder..."
Displaying her sideways grin, Tara lurched forward and captured Willow's lips between hers. The redhead was taken by surprise, but her body reacted faster than her mind, returning the kiss. A couple of seconds later, her mind finally switched on and went where her body was going. Her hand rushed to Tara's cheek, and she kissed her deeper, to which Tara seemed happy to oblige. More than happy.
"I... I didn't really need the reminder" Willow grinned devilishly, pulling slightly away "But God knows I really needed that kiss."
"Who said the kiss is over?"
Before Willow could rise her eyebrows in surprise, Tara had already grabbed her and dropped her on the bed. Her world turned upside down for a moment and, when everything had settled where it belonged, Tara kissed her again.
For a moment, Willow didn't know where she was. When she opened her eyes, she was still lying on Tara's bed (her feet on some of the books), and the beautiful blonde was curled up on her side, her face nestled on Willow's neck. She pressed her cheek against Tara's forehead, and then kissed it.
"I don't know how you do it, but I see you and everything's just... okay. Everything relaxes. I came here fast as ever, wanting to tell you something urgent, and now I have trouble remembering it."
"I also wanted to tell you something. I wish I could forget about it and just stay here."
"Me too. Maybe we could just bolt the door and the window for a month" Willow smiled "and by the time we open them, everything will be over."
"I wish we could do that" Tara said "but we can't."
"Yes. Okay..." Willow sat up "I came to tell you that my father has hired about a hundred mercenaries for the battle. They aren't knights, they're warriors, and they're scary."
"My father..." Tara sighed and sat up too "He knows that your father's employed those mercenaries, and he has re-employed them."
"I mean. He's paying them more, so, on the day of the battle, they'll turn against your kingdom's army. Plus, the chief mercenary, or whatever he's called..."
"John Mason!" Willow's anger exploded; she stood up on the bed, with her fists ready "I'm going to kill that man!"
"Willow... don't. Come on, sit back down."
Being aware of how ridiculous she looked -her fists clenched, standing on a bed-, she dropped down, her hand fastening to Tara's, squeezing it.
"There's no point in killing that man. Think. We've got more knowledge than any of them, than any of our fathers. Now, relax" Tara stroked Willow's hair "There's still some things I have to tell you. That man, John Mason, told my father that the Slayer's around there, training your knights."
"It's true, Buffy's there. Oh, but she isn't fighting. She knows that wouldn't be fair."
"Well, my father thinks she is. And... he asked me a few favors."
"He wanted me to study my mother's things. Her books..."
"Magic?" Willow asked, her eyes wide "I knew something like this would come up..."
"Not just magic. He wants it dark. He's figured that, if the Slayer's on your side, we had to side up with the others."
Demons, Tara thought, recalling her father's demand. He wants me to request their help, to call them in with a spell. With the mercenaries and the dark forces, they would wipe Willow's kingdom to nothingness. To dust, she thought, and then they'll blow on that dust.
"So, what have you told him?" Willow looked scared, looking at the books that were scattered on the bed.
"I have told him yes, of course, and luckily, he believed me. Don't worry, I brought my mother's stuff to study it, but to try to find a solution."
"A solution? With magic?" the redhead wrinkled her nose.
"Of course. It has to be done with magic. Or what do you recommend?"
"I was going to attack John Mason" Willow got nervous, seeing the silliness of her plan "Okay, that... was... silly. Then... use witchcraft. Have you thought of something?"
"Not really... and I still don't know how am I going to trick my father into believing that I've invoked all the demons in the area..." she remained silent for half a minute, thinking "One thing's for sure. We need to talk to Buffy and tell her this."
"Yeah, okay, work together. Don't worry, she's my friend."
"Oh, I know Buffy" Tara said, shocking the redhead "My mother knew her Watcher."
Willow was almost dizzy with information, but she managed to stand up and help Tara pack some books. When that was taken care of, she sat on the windowsill, prepared to descend.
The redhead looked up.
"I'm sorry I haven't mentioned it, but... you look dazzling in that dress," Tara winked an eye.
She blushed. And kept blushing until she could feel her cheeks burn. She had discarded her boyish clothes that night, and had chosen a dress she thought she looked quite good in... for Tara. It was the first sign of coquetry she had shown in all her life.