SOMEBODY ELSE NOT ME
Now that the music's slow
The two young women danced together at the Bronze until the manager had to inform them that they were closing for the night. The redhead had been lost in the blond for so long that time meant nothing to her. The blond smiled at her beloved. A smile tinged in sadness. She knew that she would never hold her beloved Willow in her arms again, and she intended to make this moment last forever, to etch it in her memory.
As the two women left the Bronze, Willow turned to her girlfriend and said, "Thank you for tonight. It was everything I ever dreamed of."
Her companion turned her head away, and Willow could sense her sorrow. "Hey, honey," she turned her friend's face back to her own with a gentle finger. "What is it? Something wrong?"
Tara looked down at her feet for a few seconds, and then back to the face of the one she loved more than anything. "I'm glad we had this time together too. I just wish it would never end."
"Hey, the Bronze will be open tomorrow," Willow assured her love. "We'll cut ourselves some more rug, make Xander's jaw drop--"
"No, no, not just the dance," Tara explained, the tears welling in her eyes. "Everything. Meeting you, being with you, loving you, you've given me everything I ever wanted. And now,--" her voice caught in her throat, and she couldn't continue.
I guess you've known it for a while,
Willow took Tara's hands in her own and gazed into her pale blue eyes. "You have to go." It was a simple statement, not an accusation, not a question.
Tara blinked away the tears, and met Willow's gaze with her own. "You knew?"
"I knew that there was something different about you," Willow answered, "something unnatural. I wasn't ever sure what, though."
Tara stood there in silence, figuring out how to explain the truth to Willow. "My real name is Tara Mueller, and I was born in the Year of Our Lord 1629. I died twenty years later, in what you call 'The Burning Times'."
Willow took Tara's confession in stride; dealing with vampires, demons and other sundry supernatural types, one tended to be pretty jaded.
"So you're a ghost?"
"Something like that," Tara answered. "I had been burned at the stake for witchcraft and other 'unholy acts' by European witchhunters. I think I was the only legitimate witch those idiots ever convicted." She smiled ruefully. "Remember that movie Xander showed us a couple of months ago, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'? The scene where the crowd accused a girl of witchcraft, and the one guy said, 'She turned me into a newt'?"
" 'A newt?'," Willow answered in an appropriately campy British accent.
" 'I got better'!" Tara delivered the punchline, and the two women laughed together, grateful for the release of tension that their laughter provided. "Anyway," Tara continued after they collected themselves, "that scenario wasn't too far off from the truth. I was caught in a 'blasphemous act', actually I was just kissing a girl I liked, and burnt at the stake."
"Oh, Goddess," Willow breathed, "I'm so sorry."
"It's not something I recommend you try, let me just say. My spirit had been wandering for the last few hundred years, but I never understood why. Then I heard you pray for someone who understood you, someone who loved you. There was a great power in that prayer, one that brought me back to a semblance of life. I think it had something to do with that spell you were trying before, the one I overheard, let me see," she tried to recall the exact words, "Control without, control within, Land and sea, fire and wind--"
"Out of my passions a web be spun," Willow finished the dreaded spell, "From this night forward, my will be done. Please don't remind me, I still have flashbacks of Buffy kissing Spike! But you're saying that my 'Will Be Done' spell brought you back to life? Whoa!"
"Yeah, something like that. But it was only for a short time, until I found the love I sought back when I was alive. The happiness that had been ripped from me by the madness of the witch burnings. I found that in you. I was happy. And I have you to thank for it."
When love is real
"Then stay with me," Willow pleaded with Tara. "I love you too. I don't want to lose you, now that we found each other!"
"You'll never lose me, Willow," Tara smiled sweetly. "But your true love is still waiting for you. We both know that. That's why I have to go. So the two of you can be together."
And I could carry on with you
Willow was about to shout at Tara, to insist that the blond witch was her true love, but something stopped her. She looked at Tara, whose face bore an expression of understanding, of patient concern. She was right. They both knew who Willow truly loved.
But it's not defeat
"I knew all along that she loved you, Willow. But she was forever fighting these emotions. Clinging to Angel even though she knew he was off limits, then Riley, even though they had precious little in common. She was putting up walls between the two of you, fearing that you didn't feel for her as she feels for you."
"That's not true," Willow protested, "She's my best friend! She saved my life time after time, she gave me more than anyone. I love her, Tara, I--" she stopped herself as she said the words. She had always loved Buffy, she had known that for so long, but not in the way she loved Tara. At least, that's what she thought. But now, it was like the last missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle of her life had fallen into place, revealing every vibrant detail of the picture. She knew that there was no going back now. She loved Buffy.
"Oh, Tara, I'm so sorry," Willow started, but Tara silenced her. "Don't be," Tara said, as a light seemed to shine over her. Willow knew the truth. It was her time to go. "Go to her," Tara said, her body shimmering in the celestial radiance. "Love her."
As Tara disappeared from the world of the living, Willow could have sworn that she saw her smile one last time.
She wanted to cry, to grieve, but she only felt joy and peace. Tara had died long before Willow's ancestors ever came to America. She had come back to take one last grasp at happiness, and Willow was priviledged to give it to her. And now, it was Willow's turn to find her own happiness, and Tara had pointed her in the right direction.
As she entered the dorm room she shared with Buffy, she was surprised to see her roomie wide awake sitting at her desk. "Hey, Buff, what's up?"
"Oh, just wound up from patrol," Buffy said, "and I have midterms next week, so I'm doing Studyfest 2001. How did your hot date with Tara go?"
"It went okay," Willow answered, pulling her chair next to Buffy's and sitting down. "Actually, Tara and I won't be seeing each other anymore."
Buffy's head shot up, and she looked at Willow, expecting to see her friend burst into tears at any minute. "Oh, God, that's not an okay date, Wills. I'm so sorry to hear that. Did she hurt you? Cause if she did--"
"I'm fine, Buffy," Willow smiled, and Buffy was amazed when she realized that the smile was genuine, not just for Buffy's benefit. "We both agreed that we weren't on the same path. And she left me with something to think about." Willow placed her hand on Buffy's knee, and the Slayer's skin tingled at the contact. Was Willow about to do what Buffy had fantasized about for so long?
The redhead looked at the blond, mischief playing in her deep green eyes. "Buffy, we have a lot to talk about." Buffy grinned at the promise in the eyes of her friend, and soon-to-be lover.
And somewhere beyond the sight of either woman, the ghost of a young witch smiled as the one she loved found her own true love at last.
Can you let go?