"I'm so proud of you, Tar'airah!" An overbearing voice with an accompanying slap on back sounded out next to the smaller figure. The owner of the voice came forward, regardless of the groans that escaped from the three women walking from the jail cell.
"Thank you, Perhamia," came the small voice. Tar'airah was regretting the unavoidable meeting with the woman, but seeing as she was the overseer of the Sacrament, there was no escape from it. She sighed at the trade up: Seven days with this woman for seven nights with Willow. That seemed reasonable. Thoughts of the redhead managed to convince Tar'airah that it was more than reasonable, in fact, the best deal since 'If you breathe, you live.' Only, she still wished that for once, Perhamia wasn't so... pushy. And over the years the woman was convinced Tar'airah was the woman perfect for her to push around.
Why? Why do you talk to me?
"It's been so long since you've been normal!"
Why have you ever talked to me?!
"Thanks," came the gritted reply. She could be nice. She could do this. If anything, she could do this for herself, for...
Tar'airah was walking from her cell to begin the ceremony's first ritual, just as she had a little over a week ago. But now it seemed she was to be delayed by none other than the one person she needed to start the damn thing.
Both Buf'aneah and Fa'aithlia were in tow, internally laughing at the conversation Perhamia was attempting with their friend. Apparently, it wasn't going well.
"I mean, I didn't mean that you aren't normal, it's just, it's nice that you're not the worthless being we were afraid you were becoming. And with your completion the trials, life-bondage is only the next step to becoming the tribe member we had all hoped you'd become."
At this, Tar'airah's head shot up.
She wouldn't... would she?
"A pretty girl like you," Perhamia said, and lifted her hand to stroke Tar'airah's face however upon the look the younger blond gave her (similar to that of the wild boar she ate this morning), she settled for patting her on the shoulder, "you should think about your future as a tribe warrior. Thea has always wanted you to settle down with someone respectable and important in our community-"
Tar'airah, fully-knowing where this disturbing, and unwanted conversation was headed, cut the woman off.
"Thea can sometimes be a little... confused... sometimes. Besides, it's against our beliefs to discuss my bonding with anyone during the trials - you know that. You WROTE that."
"Yes, yes, well particulars here and there aren't the big issue, Tar'airah," she said waving the offending hand into the air. She looked down at her with a wide grin.
You're so lucky to have me, you sad little animal.
"The important thing is that, well, this is your big moment! And let's leave future plans and joys for the, well, the uh... future," she said lamely, implying that life-bonding was Tar'airah's idea, "You'll have the rest of your life to make the right choices again and again," came the booming voice.
Tar'airah looked up at Perhamia and smiled as forcefully as she could - anything less would cause the blonde's face to crack into the grimace she was trying to hide.
You're so lucky I don't like to kill, you sad little animal.
"Sadly, I must depart and prepare for the cleansing. You know the rules from before. I suspect I won't have to repeat them for you?" Perhamia seemed to lean in a little at the silent request to do exactly the opposite of what she asked. The movement, while seemingly harmless, was made, if not to get closer to the girl, then to stare a little longer at the blonde's... wonderful attributes.
"No! I mean, no, I'm fine, really. I remember everything. So no need for you to stay," she said quickly and then louder, "you should go... a-and hurry with the preparation - don't want me to run away again," Tar'airah said with a forced chuckle. It seemed to get Perhamia to back off a bit, though.
"Yes, yes of course. Well that's why we have Buf'aneah and Fa'aithlia to keep you under control!" She said waving her hand, smiling at the two silent women, who seemed to be very interested in the ground at the moment.
What are they smiling about?
"Yes! Thank the goddess that they are here, and that you are going to prepare the Sacrament... now," Tar'airah said the last word as if to stir the thoughts of the taller woman.
"Of course, of course. Well, peace be with you, young Tar'airah," the older woman said leaning down to kiss the blonde's face, but missed with a quick ducking - lips ended up pressed against air.
"Peace be with you," Tar'airah said through gritted teeth.
The giggling from behind her had started to rumble a bit louder, as the retreating form of Perhamia faded into the green of the woods.
Tar'airah turned around sharply at her two friends who both fell to the ground laughing uncontrollably.
"YOU two, are in deep, deep hakja," Tar'airah said huffily. She reached down to Buf'aneah to show her exactly what her name meant when the small blonde ducked the blow.
"Whoa, whoa, no need to get physical with us, there Tar."
"Yeah, that's for Perhamia to do and us to fear," Fa'aithlia said laughing even harder.
Buf'aneah smirked at this and almost joined her fellow amazon in another bout of laughter, but stopped at the glare she received from Tar'airah.
"I don't see what's so funny."
"You..." Buf'aneah attempted to say to the now fuming blonde in front of her.
"...and Perhamia" Fa'aithlia finished. She started laughing again, but got a swift kick to the gut by her supposed comrade in crime.
"Look, Tar' I think what both of us are trying to say is that Perhamia wants you...to um..." she looked at Fa'aithalia for help in explaining.
"What? You said it all," she turned to Tar'airah and said slowly and loudly as in the girl was deaf and dumb, "Perhamia. Wants. You."
"Thank you, Fa'aithlia for that lovely translation," Buf'aneah sighed inwardly. Mental note: do not ever let her speak in public.
"What? NO. No, she's just being pretentious. She likes the idea that I can be her project - the lovely friend that praises her and worships the unfortunate ground she walks on," Tar'airah shrugged nonchalantly, "She does that to everyone."
"Well, yes, that's true," Buf'aneah said uneasily.
"Oh, cut the crap, Tar' she wants you," Fa'aithlia said, "badly. She always has. Now she just wants to act on those feelings - more so."
"She's like a hundred years older than me!"
"Never stopped a girl before..." Buf'aneah said quietly
"Look," Fa'aithlia said pointedly, "you mean to tell me you seriously don't see how much she wants to bang-"
"Pots!" Buffy said clamping her hand over Fa'aithlia's mouth. "She wants to bang pots! To make... lots of noise... a-and celebrate her partnership with you!"
Tar'airah raised her eyebrow at her friends.
Sometimes I wonder how stupid they think I am.
"Cause you know... whenever we celebrate... you have to have lots of things to make noise with," Buf'aneah said bumbling through her words.
"Yeah, like people, for instance?" Fa'aithlia smirked.
"Shut up, Fa'aith.
"I would but I've run out of annoying-antidote."
And then I compare it to how stupid they actually are.
"Guys!" She said shouting getting the two amazons's short, but well-meaning attention spans, "Let's make something clear," Tar'airah huffed, "I am in no way going to partner up with Perhamia... EVER."
"Why not? I mean, true she's annoying, a pain in the ass, overbearing, pushy, obnoxious- Oof!"
"I think what Fa'aithlia's trying to say is that whether or not she's the perfect gal for you, it would help salvage what's left of your reputation here," Buf'aneah reasoned.
"I mean, it's not like you haven't been the best of all choices for bonding. You've... kind of scared off all approaching women... and she's respected among the tribe members! And the order-"
"I can't believe I'm hearing this..." Tar'airah said incredulously. "You want me to seriously contemplate marrying that... that..."
"Bitch?" Fa'aithlia supplied easily. However, both sets of eyes landed on her - hard. "What?! What'd I say?!"
Tar'airah went on, although inwardly she agreed with Fa'aith's word choice, "I could never bond with anyone I didn't love," she said pointedly.
"Well it's not like women haven't approached you..." Buf'aneah reasoned, "you've never been very receptive to anyone here. The tribe understands if you wish to..." Buf'aneah shuddered at this, "find a man - the order has understood and accepted those women in the past. You are who you are, I-I-I mean, I wouldn't freak if you were like that, and neither would Fa'aith," Buf' said turning to the brunette, who looked back with amused concern.
"Cause I would so not freak. Nope, no freaking out, whatsoever..." Buf'aneah tried to painfully explain further as Tar'airah looked on with Fa'aith. The two amazons shared a knowing look at the smaller blonde's discomfort with the words that just wouldn't stop,"...in fact, I'm glad you told us! Cause then that'd mean you love us enough to come out of the hut..."
"Buf'," Tar'airah said sternly. The small blond looked up fearfully. Had she explained well enough? Was she being the supportive friend she should be? Maybe she should try hugging?
"I am not," she said grasping the girl's shoulders, "straighia."
Buf'aneah let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding, "oh good," she sighed and then interject, "not that there's anything wrong with that."
"No, of course not," Tar'airah said," and I'm glad that if I was, you'd take it so well, Buf'," she said, smirking at Fa'aithlia who was giggling at the moment.
"It's what I'm here for," Buf'aneah sighed.
"It's just... I'm not sure what I'm looking for... but no one here has it... whatever that it is..." she said vaguely, all the while her mind continuously landing on one face. A beautiful face. With freckles. And the softest hair. Deep green eyes. A sweet mouth...
She almost kissed me.
Just a beautiful face...
And I stopped it. Why?
Difficulties swarmed her mind where the redhead was concerned, though. How would the tribe react? What would they do if they found out? Then again, she hasn't been the most popular member lately. But her helping to escape, let alone liking, a foreigner... it would put Thea into a head spin. She'd be banished for sure. It was best to stop anything further progressing with the redhead.
Willow... her name's Willow...
Tar'airah's mind was tumbling with thoughts as it attempted to stop the strong feeling pulsing through her being. Her brow knitted with frustration, and remained silent for the moments she had left. It was no use. Willow was supposed to escape - she had enough troubles as it is with that alone. No need to complicate things further.
She came to the same conclusion she made the night before: not to act on any of her feelings for the girl.
At least, for the moment.
She'd let the Seven Days act as a compromise; she'd get to be with the redhead.
And what's the harm in just being good friends? Really, good friends. Friends that touch and kiss each other...
Tar'airah shook her head of those thoughts.
"You okay there, Tar'? You kind of spaced out on us for a sec," Fa'aith asked.
"Oh, yeah I'm just... I was thinking about tonight's ritual," she said. That's not a total lie...
"You sure you want to do this? We could challenge Caranthia's decree; she can get one of her minions to kill the man," Buf'aneah said bouncing up and down.
Both guards looked at Tar'airah crookedly. She wasn't a shouter - Normally.
"I-I mean," she sighed, "I don't think it'll help to just get a new victim for me... I'm going to go through with this..." she said resolutely.
And I'm going to see her... maybe my feelings will dissipate...
"O-okay," Buf'aneah said slowly, "but if you ever feel like you can't handle it, we'll get you out of there. Remember you have us guarding the hut while the rituals happen. We'll get you out if it gets bad," she looked to Fa'aith for confirmation. The brunette took the look that she got for 'help me out here.'
"Yeah, Tar', we'll be right here if you ever need us to kill him for you," she said tapping the ground with her staff. It seemed they had reached their destination and were now situated outside of the prisoner's hut.
"Uh... no," Tar'airah said going pale, "that's okay, I-I-I'd prefer to um..."
"Do it yourself? Ah, I knew you had it in you," Fa'aith said smacking the girl's arm, grinning.
Tar'airah smiled weakly at this.
"Try not to let your fear get the better of you," Fa'aithlia winked, "at least with this one, sisterly-love shouldn't get in the way."
"You have no idea," she whispered to herself under her breath before entering the room where Willow awaited.