Author: Selena Taiki
A soft touch lingered on Tara's wrist, imploring her to stay, but the purple ocean's roar faded into stillness. Her eyes fluttered open taking in the silver folds of the soft pillowcase that smelled vaguely of lavender. Tara sat up, not entirely sure she wasn't still dreaming; the sight of the room that greeted her was too fantastical to be real, let alone the events of last night. A Godfather coming to help her and actually make her his apprentice was absurd enough to make her distrust her own senses. Then she winced as blood flowed into her right hand, which had been jammed under her pillow, causing an almost painful tingling.
A voice dragged Tara's gaze away of the splendor of the room, her room, which she had barely seen the night before in her weary haze. The appearance of the speaker did nothing to assure Tara that this entire experience wasn't some sort of elaborate dream. A woman, no taller than a child, stood in the doorway. Twin horns curved out of her curly blond hair and hooves instead of feet peaked out from under the hem of her dress.
"Hello! I said 'good morning,'" the woman said impatiently, when no reply was forthcoming. "It's customary to say 'good morning' back. I didn't learn manners so I could be ignored."
"S-s-sorry," Tara apologized, ducking her gaze.
"Apology accepted," the woman said.
Tara looked up, surprised at the lightning change of attitude. She'd expected the agitated woman to continue berating her, make fun of her stutter, but the blond whatever-she-was was now beaming at Tara expectantly.
"You can call me Anya; that's not my True Name of course- and you are Miss Tara, Mister Giles new apprentice. I wish you happiness and joy in your new life style. Giles asked me to help you get ready. He's waiting in the dinning room."
Hurriedly Tara grabbed her dress, which she had laid out on a mossy green ottoman under her window.
"You're not planning on wearing that are you?" Anya interrupted.
"I d-don't have anything e-else." Her old dress was hardly more than rags, but Tara hadn't had anyway of getting new clothing, she certainly couldn't have asked Father for it.
"There's everyday clothes in this drawer," Anya said walking over to the dresser that was carved to resemble a dragon and pulled open the middle scale. She lifted out a warm amber dress and teal over tunic with silver fastenings.
"B-b-but I c-c-couldn't," Tara protested feebly.
"Nonsense! You are a Fairy Godparent's apprentice and must dress accordingly. Besides, pretty gifts are an important part of friendship. I love gifts," Anya added pointedly -although for her that was probably subtle.
Giving up the argument, Tara slipped behind a changing screen and put on the outfit; it fit perfectly. The swirling hem fell just above her ankles and Tara gave an experimental twirl causing the fabric to billow around her as she stepped out from behind the screen. "Wow," Tara whispered.
"Very nice," Anya said. "You eyes are leaking! Please stop," she added distressed. She clapped Tara on the back with one tiny hand in a brotherly fashion.
Blinking eyes that had indeed become teary with joy Tara couldn't help but giggle.
Tara finished dressing quickly and followed Anya through the cluttered house to the dinning room as the later chattered cheerfully. Many of the items, which Tara tried not to stare at as they passed, where quite odd and not at all the sort of think Tara expected a Fairy Godfather to own. Running the length of one hall there was an entire shelf of shoes, ranging from delicate slippers of glass or rubies to a pair of tiny work boots.
Giles was indeed already sitting at breakfast with a blond woman and a tiny dark haired man who Tara assumed was the Brownie, Xander, that Anya had shared entirely too much information about. Her mouth dropped open when the teapot walked across the table to refill Giles' cup on its own.
Hearing her gasp, Giles turned with a smile. "Good morning Tara. Did you sleep well?" He asked, gesturing for her and Anya to sit.
"Very w-well M-mister Giles, S-s-sir." Tara slid into one of the chairs softly, and jumped as a plate, dish, and silverware dashed to place themselves in front of her. Tara took her queue from Anya who imperiously ordered a substantial breakfast into the empty air and watched the dishes jump to serve her. Hesitantly and feeling rather silly Tara timidly requested eggs and sweet bread with ginger tea.
The blond woman cleared her throat impatiently as the dishes rushed to serve Tara.
"Ah, yes. I'm sorry, Tara allow me to introduce you to Xander and Buffy the Dragon Slayer. Xander and Anya help me run things here. Buffy is an old friend and charge."
"I just came over to bring this to Giles," Buffy said, setting a small crystal bottle filled with an oily dark liquid on the table. "He didn't tell me it was for an apprentice. It's a pleasure to meet you Tara."
"Y-you too. I-i-it's, um, n-nice to m-meet you t-t-too," Tara stammered, blushing faintly at how stupid she sounded but offering Buffy a small lopsided smile. She eyed the bottle and bit her lip, unable to keep from asking. "W-what is that?"
"Dragon's blood," Buffy said cheerfully. It was as if she had no idea this was disgusting, especially to discuss over breakfast. "It will give you the ability to talk with animals, assuming you can stomach the taste."
Stomach the ta-- Tara's eyes opened wide in disbelief. "W-w-what!?"
"Being able to communicate with those most people cannot is very important. Most dragon blood elixirs are very dilute solutions that have a temporary effect; those given to princes for the duration of a Quest for example. This vial is undiluted and will last your entire lifetime." Giles said as he picked up the vile and poured its contents into a glass flute. "No point in delaying." He handed it to Tara who accepted in reluctantly in order to stop it from shattering on the ground when Giles let go.
Tara looked at the glass fearfully and screwed up her courage. The thought of disobeying never really entered her mind. She took a deep breath and downed the contents. The stuff tasted as oily as it looked and burned in her mouth. Tara gagged, nearly spitting it back up but managing to keep her lips pressed tight. Someone pressed another glass in her hand.
"Here drink this to chase it. It'll help, I promise," Xander said.
Tara lifted the second glass it her lips and sipped its contents. A rich berry taste rolled over her mouth and down her throat, soothing the burnt passage way.
"Thanks," Tara gasped.
"No problemo," Xander said cheerfully. He then spoiled the effect by yawning. "Sorry, I'm not much of a morning person. If I don't see the sun before noon it's a good day."
In spite of herself Tara giggled and relaxed; the young brownie's friendliness was completely disarming. The rest of breakfast pasted quickly and pleasantly. To Tara's surprise she was disappointed when the dishes cleared themselves away and Buffy had to depart.