Author: Selena Taiki
Tara kept her eyes firmly closed the entire flight, not opening them until the carpet landed on the battlements of the Dragon Slayer's keep. With the cool stone under her feet and a thick wall between her and the edge, Tara didn't have a problem with heights. The understated rhythm of war-drums alerted her to the Dragon Slayer's presence. Opening her eyes, Tara saw Buffy leaning against the stone wall, waving off several men at arms who relaxed their alert poses' sliding half drawn weapons back into there sheaths.
"Giles, Tara, this is a surprise. Its good to see you both again," the Dragon Slayer smiled warmly and stepped forward to offer Tara a hand up. Tara took it gratefully, not really surprised when the slight looking woman pulled her effortless up to her feet. "So, I take it you have something for me to kill?"
"Not exactly, it's a bit of a long story," Giles said as he climbed to his own feet.
"Would you like to come in then? We were about to have dinner if you would care to join us."
"We'd be delighted," Giles accepted for them both, moving to follow Buffy as she led them down a curving stone stairway into the Keep. "It's been a while since I've seen Joyce; she and Dawn are well I trust?"
"They're fine. Although Dawn is driving me and Mom both a little nuts." Buffy sighed. "She's a nice kid, but she's a little too enamored with the Tradition. I understand why you sent her to be fostered here; she definitely needed someone to keep an eye on her."
The stair case had led them into the keep proper and Buffy guided them through the halls into a large open sitting room with a high ceiling.
"This is the back entrance to the dinning hall," Buffy explained, pushing open another heavy oak door. "Serena," she called to a servant who was busily setting places. "Giles and his apprentice, Tara, are joining us for dinner; could you send someone to tell Mom?"
The woman nodded. "Of course, Dame Summers."
Tara raised her eyebrows at the title. "You've been knighted?" She asked the Dragon Slayer.
"Yeah," Buffy shrugged. "By the Princess Rose actually, after I killed Glorificus, the Gold Dragon. My first kill. The only dragon I've killed actually; they are rather rare around here you know." Tara nodded, unsurprised that 50 ft, and upwards, flying reptiles would be solitary hunters with large territories. "I only know of one other," Buffy continued. "The Silver Dragon, Angelus, and he's actually quite nice, so no need for killing there."
"Giles?" a new voice called. Tara turned to see a slender older woman in fine clothes enter the sitting room behind them, accompanied by a dark haired girl with wide blue eyes. A very soft hum accompanied the girl, but it didn't sound as if the tradition was actively gather around her; it was more as if she simply possessed some innate magical nature.
"Joyce." Giles took Buffy's mother's hand and bowed over it. "How delightful to see you again. Miss Dawn."
The girl rolled her eyes. "Hi Giles," the blue eyes focused on Tara. "You're his apprentice?"
"Y-yes," Tara felt a blush rise in her cheeks at the stutter, resisting the urge to curtsey to these women. "Tara Maclay."
"Cool," Dawn nodded. She extended her right arm and Tara uncertainly met it in a warrior's clasp, assuming that Dawn had probably picked up this habit from the Dragon Slayer. "Do you, like, cast spells and stuff?" Her eyes practically sparkled with her excitement, reminding Tara vaguely of someone.
"Um, well I h-haven't done much y-yet, aside from my witch lessons. I only m-met the Fairy Queen a few days ago."
"Really? What was she like? Giles never tells me anything interesting."
Tara glanced at Giles for instruction, but he was involved in conversation with Joyce. Buffy shrugged her shoulders, but she looked interested in what Dawn had asked too. "Well..." Tara began.
Tara shut the door to the guest room Buffy had pointed her toward with a sigh and flopped backward onto her bed. They had stayed up quite late, making good use of the sitting room's fire place as parlor games and conversation carried them to the edge of exhaustion. Despite her intention to at least slip out of her gown and splash some water on her face, she was asleep a few moments later.
"Hey, Tara?" Willow asked, glancing sideways at the girl sitting next to her as her left hand nervously drew circles in the sand.
"Yeah?" Tara pulled her knees up to her chest and leaned forward, pillowing her head in her arms, her face turned sideways to face the other woman.
"Is something bothering you?" the circles Willow was tracing grew smaller, tighter. "You seem far away tonight."
Tara freed one of her arms to reach out and capture Willows hand, lacing their sandy fingers together. "I'm worried," she admitted. "I haven't tried to influence the Tradition directly before, much less try to force it to do something. What if Giles needs me to do something and I mess up? What if I don't have enough magic left to make it work? Since my tale has been broken I'm not collecting any more magic on my own and this trip was supposed to teach me how to drain it into myself but...." Tara shook her head wordlessly.
"Take some of mine."
"What?" Tara looked at Willow in shock. "I couldn't."
"Yes you can; I'm offering," Willow smiled teasingly.
There eyes met and Willow lifted a hand to Tara's forehead, letting her fingers trail against skin as she pushed a blonde lock of hair out of the way.
"Okay," Tara said softly.
"Okay?" Willow smiled.
"So," Willow moved so that she was kneeling in front of Tara. "What do I do?"
"Um, well Giles explained the theory to me." Tara moved to so she was kneeling too, and reached out both hands to Willow. "Ready?"
"Yep," Willow grinned, but she also sounded slightly nervous.
"Are you sure?" Tara asked.
Willow gripped Tara's hands tighter, stilling her words. "I'm sure," she said. "I trust you."
A warmth suffused Tara chest. She took a deep breath and let her next words fall in melodically even cadence. "Sorceress Willow, do you, freely and of your own accord, relinquish your power for the good of the kingdom?"
Willow nodded. "Yes. Uh, I mean I do, freely relinquish my power.... Oh, that feels weird." The gentle melody of Willows magic changed; first harmonizing with Tara, then blending.
"Then, I, Fairy Godmother Tara, do freely and of my own accord accept this power and the responsibility it entails, for the good of the kingdom," Tara voice drifted in their combined song, directing it.
"Oh, Tara look," Willows voiced was hushed. "They are turning blue."
"Huh?" Tara managed to ask, as she got caught up in the feeling of Willow's magic becoming hers.
"My green sparks are mixing with your aura and slowly turning blue; it's so pretty," She said, describing what Tara was hearing.
Tara's chest rose and fell rapidly, the feeling was so intimate. More intimate that she had expected.
Tara let go of Willows hands and the connection stopped. They sat quietly as their breathing slowed.
"Did you get enough?" Willow finally asked.
"Yeah," Tara nodded. "That was..."
"Intense," Willow finished for her.
"Are you okay? I didn't take too much?" Tara questioned, wanting to be sure, even though Willow looked fine.
"No, you didn't take all that much. I'm good. Better really."
"Better than good?" Tara teased, recalling their earlier conversation.
"Definitely," Willow smiled. "Do you feel better? About tomorrow I mean?"
Tara nodded. "Yeah, I mean I'm still nervous, but you help me not feel scared."
Willow blushed. "Good, I'm glad I could help. Even if it is only a dream."
Tara reached for her hand again. "You did help, Willow." The smile that accompanied her next words was slightly bittersweet. "Even if it is only a dream."