The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 4:31 pm 
:party great new story Tulipp :clap

looking forward to the next part. :bounce

C

"Es ist fuer einen Menschen unertraeglich, ertragen zu werden." (Jean Cocteau)

"Ain't never gonna love you any better babe - And they'll never gonna love you right" (Kozmic Blues - Janis Joplin)



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 5:37 pm 
it's weird how at times you *just* know some things. take me, for instance. i was in the netherlands for some work stuff and unable to check the internet, let alone this board and... i just knew i was missing out on some great stuff. see? i was right. i was!



thank you. for what you write and how you write it.



>and i was talking to you, and i knew then it would be a lifelong thing...



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 7:58 pm 
I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't already been said...



Hearing Dawn's thoughts on the Hellmouth and the enormous influence it has had over all their lives perfectly explains her need to get away. It's as if she's been living in a different world, with different rules and dangers, and this is the first time she's realised that there is more out there. Hopefully a place where she won't have the most important things in her life taken away.

I didn't expect Hank's secretary to be a man lol.



I love how Willow and Tara's first forays into closeness happened while they were on the edge of sleep - it's not only an unguarded moment, but links perfectly to the previous chapter and shows the difference time can make.



Willow's realisation that she needs to be herself is such a crucial piece of character growth and I couldn't help but smile when she realised she would finally be all alone with Tara - it is something they really need.



Dawn's thoughts on Tara's words of wisdom were wonderful, as was the bread analogy and the glimpse into the past that she shared with Willow. She still needs to address whatever her brother and father put her through but it is a good beginning, a moving on with life - just as this whole episode was.



Plus, Willow in fuzzy pajamas is so cute



Great story



RalSt



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 10:11 pm 
Hello, wonderful update. The whispered words in bed was such a touching moment. I really like the pace you set with this, the overall tone of it is very pleasing, and enjoyable to read.



Garden of Eden is a book about 2 people, who are in love, and one of them, "the girl" (you know Hemingway language) grows darker as the story progresses. She finds another girl, and well, the story is sad, but beautiful. I like how Hemingway sets mood, by describing scenery, food, etc.. He never quite spells it all out, leaving much up to the reader. I like this, for me, it means the author does not treat the reader like a dummy.



Thank you.





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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2003 4:42 am 
Simply wonderful. I'm a bit daunted by all the insightful replies you've received. I'd love to give you an indepth analysis of you characterisation and style, but, put simply, I'm not that deep. I wish I was.



All I can say is that, when I'm reading this story, I don't want it to end. I get immersed in it. It is, simply wonderful.





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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2003 6:35 am 
okay, I had to add something about the caregiver idea that you explored too. because I think it's so important to Tara's character and Willow. that humiliation of knowing that someone has seen you at your absolute worst and how that has to irrevocably change your relationship. Tara wondering how Willow could ever see her as desirable after bathing her and feeding her (and helping her use the bathroom!) was so dead-on and heart-wrenching. and I think that has been one of Willow's issues for so long. that she was the one who had to be rescued and protected.



and on a complete tangent: I found out about a year ago that I'm deathly allergic to wheat and can basically never have bread again (or pizza or about a million other things). so it's a pleasure to read something so evocative of something that (to me) is so completely forbidden. kinda like bread smut for the gluten-free :)



anyway, thanks again.



xomel



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2003 4:24 pm 
Hey Juli,



I am loving this fic. It's disappointing to know that there is only one more part....we're fic addicts like that.



I remember home-baked bread. I could walk through the door and be immediately put at ease by the smell. Your stories are like that, calming in spite of anything else going on around outside. Like Tara's hand on Dawn's back.



Good grief woman! You made me like Dawn! I didn't think that was possible. I loved Terra Firma as well, and was shocked to find that I liked Dawn in that too. You took out the whiney and restored her humanity.



I wish it could have been your ending on TV, instead of the doughy-hack's ending. Even your Xander is better, and I still don't like Xander.



Looking forward to the last part.

Linda :cool

‘My girlfriend is a goddess,’ Willow thought again. ‘She is so gonna’ kick his ass.’ She almost smiled as she heard a song in her mind. ‘My girlfriend’s back and you’re gonna’ be in trouble…" Willow cleared her throat and looked around the room. ‘Okay,’ she thought. ‘I have lost it. -Tears of the Goddess by Lisa Countryman



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part II Replies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 7:07 pm 
Loved loved loved this latest slice of Bread, Juli. (I'm really the only one laughing at that, aren't I?)



Everything I adored about your writing in TF is here in spades and I'm just so giddy to be reading this. :)



You know I'm a bit of an imagery junkie, so I won't disappoint. This was just beautiful:



Quote:
They were lavender words, sleepytime tea words, and they had become the pillow under her head and the sheet pulled up to her shoulder, and she had nestled in and slept in them. In Tara.




It's fantastic. Truly. Oh, and soap...people really make it themselves? ;)

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song



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 Post subject: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 8:19 pm 
A few replies before I get to the final chapter, which is posted below; and thank you all for your really overwhelmingly lovely response to this story....

ISABIG, hi! Thanks for reading this; it’s always great to see your name and smilies.

Greatluna, thanks so much. I would think that this would be a bit of a letdown after the Netherlands, though. What a great place to have to go for work. I was in Amsterdam once and loved it…I embarrassed myself in front of my girlfriend’s parents by kind of sort of literally drooling over these banana crepes we had in this little café near the Anne Frank house….Ah. Thank you for reminding me of that.

RalSt31, you know, I wasn’t sure if people would really buy Dawn wanting to go away, or Willow and Tara wanting to let her, but you’re right; the Hellmouth has been this shadow over all of them, and I wanted to see what would happen if they all just…left. As for Tara addressing what her brother/ father put her through, yes I agree she needs to do that. I only hint at that, but I imagine it happening soon. Thank you for your feedback.

Frau rosenclay, I’ll have to check out Garden of Eden now; I’m not surprised to learn that it’s a sad story; it seems like happy girl-girl stories are few and far between, doesn’t it? And thanks for reading.

MadeinNZ, Nicky, thank you. People around here are awfully insightful lately, aren’t they? I’m noticing it all over the board. But saying you get immersed in this is a huge compliment, and it means a lot to me, so thank you for that.

Lipkandy, my feeling is that the caregiver-caretaker situation, as short as it was, had a long-lasting effect on both Willow and Tara, and I see it playing a part in the forget spell situation: both in Willow doing it and in Tara feeling betrayed by it. They just had too much practice at one being helpless and the other taking charge.

I am so sorry about your allergy! Have you tried spelt flour? I have some friends who swear by it. But bread smut…I love it! And the next chapter has some real bread smut.

Tiyodragon, Linda, yay! You like Dawn! My job is done! Seriously, I never liked her myself on tv, but writing her changed my mind entirely. No whiney, all finey. Or something like that. You have me laughing with “doughy-hack.” It just fits. As for walking through the door and being immediately affected by the scent of bread…well, you are a mind reader. Next chapter. Thanks for reading.

BoredNow99. Emma, um, yes, the soap. Certain people seem not to let me forget the soap. What can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time? But the end result was really mushy, you know. Anyway, thanks for reading this chapter, and I’m so glad you liked it! Oh, and as far as I’m concerned, you can make several more bread puns.


Title: Bread. Part III: August and Epilogue.
Author: Tulipp.
E-mail: tulipp30@yahoo.com
Feedback: Yes, please, especially if it’s constructive.
Spoilers: Through BTVS season 5, “The Gift.”
Disclaimer: All characters and an occasional bit of dialogue are borrowed from Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: Willow, Tara, and Dawn struggle to come to terms with the events of season 5, Buffy’s death, and an uncertain future. (Third of three parts.)
Acknowledgments: Thanks again to Ruby, Ruth, darkmagicwillow, and J. You were all essential to this story in different ways; that's all there is to it.


Part III: August.

Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose,
Even a notary would notarize our bed
As you knead me and I rise like bread.
—Anne Sexton, “Song for a Lady”


She wasn’t dreaming.

Still, Tara paused outside the back door to the Summers house and glanced at the blue-hot August sky above. Through the kitchen window, she could see Willow, red-ponytailed and aproned, moving from sink to stove. She was talking to herself, it looked like, although Tara couldn’t hear her. And she was…she was making bread. Could Willow even make bread?

She had to be dreaming.

Tara glanced up, shielding her eyes with one hand to look for a gray bird that wasn’t there. The air was still, the sky quiet. And her other hand held a canvas bag of groceries.

She shook her head; it wasn’t a dream. But the sun glinted off the glass panes of the back door, and as she reached for the doorknob, Tara caught sight of her pale, bare arm and glanced up sharply, half-expecting to see Joyce’s face reflected back to her. It was just her, though, hot and damp and ready to be home.

Tara turned the doorknob, the moist scent of yeast overwhelming her as she stepped into the kitchen. It had been years since she’d been inside a scent like that; it slipped around her like an embrace. If she’d closed her eyes, she could almost have been walking into her mother’s kitchen. But she kept her eyes open; instead of the round brown table, she saw the butcher block island. And instead of her mother, she saw Willow.

As she watched, bemused, Willow threw down a sludgy gray lump and sagged forward onto the counter, dropping her head into her hands. “Stupid dough,” she muttered.

“What’s all this?” Tara glanced around at the flour-covered counters and bowl-filled sink. Torn yeast packets littered the floor, and a stack of open cookbooks teetered dangerously on the edge of the butcher block island; the top page was wet. Next to a pair of empty loaf pans sitting empty on the stove, the salt shaker had fallen over. And it looked as if Willow had simply upended the utensil drawer onto a cutting board: Tara saw several sets of measuring scoops and a pile of wooden spoons and…three?…rolling pins. As for Willow…..

Willow stood up quickly, narrowly missing the edge of the cabinet above her. She wiped hastily at the sweat on her forehead and—Tara peered at her suspiciously—at her eyes. “Hi!” Willow said too brightly, crossing and then uncrossing her arms before finally clasping her hands.

“What’s all what?” She seemed to notice the mess for the first time, glancing around the kitchen guiltily. She bit her lip and crossed her arms again. “Nothing.”

“It looks kind of like something,” Tara observed innocently.

“Well, see, it’s nothing,” Willow ran her hands through her damp hair. “It was supposed to be a something, but it turned out to be a nothing, so don’t make something out of it, or I’ll…I just…” She stopped suddenly, sighing heavily, and then she lifted her chin and looked directly at Tara. “I wanted to make something for you; I wanted to make bread for you.”

Somehow, it was the last thing Tara had expected. Her arms went weak, and she lowered her bag to the floor. “For me?” she managed to say, shaking her head slightly. “You did this for me?”

“Well, I tried,” Willow sulked, pushing at the hair around her face. “But it’s not working right. I thought it would be easy, like making cookies, but it’s not at all. Your mom did this every day? I don’t see how; it takes forever, and it’s a mess. I’m a mess, just look at me!”

There was anxiety in Willow’s voice, but Tara couldn’t stop her slow smile. She knew she shouldn’t smile; she could see that Willow was upset, but she couldn’t help it. Willow was a mess. Most of her short hair had escaped the sloppy ponytail, and her tank top clung to her skin in patches; her short skirt was streaked with flour. And she was breathing hard, the tip of her tongue caught between her teeth. She looked…perfect.

“I am,” Tara said simply.

“No!” Willow shook her head; her eyes traveled the room, looking everywhere but at Tara, who just waited. Finally, sighing, Willow shrugged and dropped her arms to her sides.

“Look at me, Tara,” she said, her voice climbing. “This is me. This is what you get now. I can’t save people—not without Buffy—and you’ve seen how my spells go all wonky. I mean, okay, yes I did a little damage to Glory, but I had to swallow half a magic shop to do it, and the aftertaste wasn’t exactly minty fresh, not that I would want it to be, and….” She waved her arms around at the kitchen. “And look at this place…I can’t even make a loaf of bread without destroying the whole kitchen.” She leaned back against the counter, looking defeated. Still, Tara waited.

“I just...I really miss her, you know?" Tara nodded, listening.

"And it's like I don’t know who to be now. I mean, I was Buffy’s sidekick for five years, and now…I’m just some girl now. That’s all I ever used to be before I met Buffy. I was a geek, Tara, a computer nerd. You always thought I was powerful, but I was just some girl until Buffy came along. And now she’s gone, and…you never even met that girl.” Twisting her hands, Willow looked at the floor.

“Hey, hey,” Tara said softly, crossing the room; she stopped inches away and reached to tuck Willow’s hair back behind her ears. “Buffy never looked at you and saw sidekick; she only saw her friend, her best friend. And as for me, well, the day I met you…remember? At the Wicca group? I wasn’t looking for a super mega witch, and I wasn’t looking for some kind of, I don’t know”—she cast about for something appropriately ridiculous—“slayer in training. I was just looking for a girl. For you.”

Willow’s face softened at that, and she raised her eyes to Tara’s. “Well, you found me,” she said. “Happy?”

“Yeah,” Tara said solemnly. “Yeah, I am.” She caught Willow’s chin between her fingers. “For a long time before I met you, I was just… cold? And when I talked to you the first time, the very first time, I thought ‘that girl can warm me.’ And you did. You do. You’re my fire, Will, my own private oven….only softer.”

The corners of Willow’s mouth turned up slightly, and she made a little dismissive noise. “Well, your oven kind of stinks at baking.”

Tara brushed some flour off Willow’s cheek and let her hand linger a moment before lowering it to fiddle with the strap of Willow’s tank top. “My oven is wonderful,” Tara corrected her.

She didn’t know how else to say it. Willow could always find a sentence to argue back with, as if she had a formula in her head that could add two positives together and still come up with a negative. Words weren’t always an answer. And the scent of the dough—even the slightly off-color aroma of the gray lump that Willow had managed to produce—was beginning to work its way inside her like a memory. She wanted it now, fresh bread. She wanted to make it with Willow.

“I’ll show you,” Tara murmured, leaning forward to touch her lips lightly to Willow’s forehead, to her left cheek, to the corner of her mouth. When she finally pulled back, her lips full of heat, Willow was smiling again, her eyes soft and longing.

“Show me,” Willow said. “I want you to.”

Tara’s stomach rumbled slightly; for a moment she couldn’t remember if she’d eaten that morning. Or was it that deep down, she sensed that the separate parts of her life were blending? The soft wheat color of her mother’s hair, the salty tears of living with Donnie and her father, the way her heart rose around Willow, the way Willow looked at her with hunger. They were the necessary ingredients. They were all part of her now.

Willow bent down to pick up an unopened yeast packet from the floor, and she handed it to Tara as if it were a gift. Reaching out, Tara accepted it, and she felt Willow’s fingers warm against her own.



* * * * *



It took time, making the dough.

Willow watched as Tara set the sponge, as she mixed the yeast with salt, water, and flour until she had a ball of dough the size of a cantaloupe. She panicked a little when Tara stepped back and nodded at her expectantly, but she thought she could at least try.

She tried to pat the dough into shape, but the movement didn’t come naturally, and after a minute, she felt Tara come up behind her, reaching around to cover Willow’s hands with her own.

“Like this,” Tara said; Willow relaxed and let Tara move her fingers, let Tara show her how to knead. Together, they turned and formed and punched and shaped, and Willow stopped trying so hard to turn the dough into something that looked like bread and just watched her hands moving with Tara’s.

Together, they lifted the smooth oval of dough into a bowl, and Tara draped a tea towel over top. Willow was going to turn around then, but Tara’s hand pressed hers onto the counter again, her warm, slick fingers tracing patterns on the backs of Willow’s hands.

Willow became aware of Tara pressing lightly against her back, of the softness of Tara against the sharp angles of her shoulder blades. She watched as Tara’s fingers played over her knuckles, drawing outlines in the flour on the backs of her hands, flicking under to tease at the undersides of her wrists.

Tara was kneading her.

Willow shivered at the touch, and a slow smolder lit deep inside her as the fingers moved up, leaving traces of flour on her arms. She could feel Tara’s breath hot on her neck, the ends of Tara’s hair brushing against her bare shoulders. She could feel the cool edge of the counter press against the bare skin of her stomach, below the hem of her tank top.

Willow turned around so she could reach, so she could slide her fingers inside Tara’s shirt and up to her shoulder blades, and then she was kneading, too. She closed her eyes and felt only the stretch and pull, the shapes her fingers made on the skin of Tara’s back. The give of the flesh as she pressed into it. The same thing happening to her own back, to her arms, to her breasts.

At first, she was aware of everything, every detail in the hot, humid kitchen: The ends of her damp ponytail clinging to her neck. The bare skin of her thighs against the hem of her short skirt and the satiny strap of Tara’s bra smooth over her thumb. A sharp ray of sunlight glinting off the flour tin and the quiet whir of the fan on the counter and Tara’s hand sliding up her waist to curve over her breast and the yeasty scent of the dough rising in the bowl behind her.

She tried to fire up her brain, to plan ahead, to remember the recipes that had always worked in the past: who to be with Tara and how to touch her; where to put her hands; when to place her mouth and when to lift it again; what to do next.

But then Tara kissed her, a swirl of tongue against her ear and on her throat and up, up to her lips, damp and wanting. And the kiss melted everything else away: layer after layer of memory and forgetting until there was just the two of them: her and her. Inside the movement of lips on lips. Inside the warm slick of a tongue. Inside the hot oven of a mouth. Inside them.

They kneaded one another.

“The bread,” she remembered to say later, gasping the words around the corners of Tara’s lips, but Tara’s hands were everywhere, insistent and ravening and tugging gently at her tank top and not so gently at her skirt.

“It needs more time,” Tara murmured from deep down in her throat.

Leaning into Tara’s neck, Willow inhaled the salty tang of light sweat, and she tasted the buttery skin of Tara’s fingers when they passed over her lips, and she felt the light dusting of flour on Tara’s arms when she turned them both around so that Tara’s back was to the counter.

Greedily, hungrily, she pushed Tara’s long skirt up her thighs and, reaching underneath, pulled down the fabric her fingers found there; Tara stepped out of the circle of yellow and kicked it aside, and then Willow helped her raise herself onto the counter.

Tara closed her eyes, leaning back onto the flats of her palms, and Willow sank down, flickering her lips along the length of Tara’s thigh and pressing gently against the insides of knees so she could reach, and then it was all feeding and soft fluttering, time passing as she shaped Tara’s skin with her tongue; as she tasted.

When she pulled back to catch her breath, she saw only the whites of Tara’s knuckles where her hands gripped the edges of the counter, and she heard only the sound of Tara’s wanting in the air above her, and she felt only the smooth shapes of Tara’s heels touching her back.

She wanted only one more thing: to touch Tara, to feel her inside, smooth as butter but warmer, more liquid. But a flash of that night by the tower, months ago now, stopped her—an image of her hand getting ready to pierce Tara’s scalp, and her fingers hesitated.

“What do you want to do?” Tara asked her, lifting her fingers from the counter to trace the hollow of Willow’s throat. The touch was so loving, so tender, that Willow couldn’t speak for a moment.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she whispered finally; her mind was all flame and few words. “I just want….”

“You’ve never hurt me, Will,” Tara said, her voice low and moist. “You only thought you did.” Tara’s hand traveled up and cupped her face, and she leaned into it, feeling the humid warmth of Tara’s palm on her cheek. She could almost believe it; all that was left was the touching.

Willow held her breath for a moment as she leaned down to kiss Tara’s knee, and then she trailed her hand up Tara’s leg again and closed her eyes.

It wasn’t the first time they had touched each other that summer; it wasn’t the first time they had pressed up against each other’s naked skin, quiet and shaking. But it was the first time in months that Willow had been this brave.

This time, her fingers weren’t scraping Tara but smoothing her. And the memories her fingers found weren’t sharp shards of nightmares from Tara’s childhood but soft, fluid dreams they had shared before: a dark night tinged rosy-pink, a petal against her thumb, a word pressed into the small of her own back with fingers like fairy-lights. That’s how it always was with them; she remembered it now. All of it.

When Willow felt Tara’s thighs go taut around her, when she felt one hand grip her hair, when she heard her own name curling from Tara’s mouth, she bent her head again, pressing her tongue hard against that warm place to memorize the flavor.

And Tara rose.

This is how we do it, Willow thought, dropping her head onto Tara’s thigh and opening her eyes so she could see the quiet trembling up close. It wasn’t a resurrection. It wasn’t a forgetting. It wasn’t even magic, at least not the kind you did with spells. It was just what it was: homemade. From scratch, every time, until you could see and taste and smell the thing you had made with your own hands. Until you could touch it.



* * * * *



“You can use all the metaphors you want,” Tara laughed into Willow’s ear later, lifting the damp red hair from her neck. “It’s still sex on the kitchen counter and…um… floor.” Willow giggled into her shoulder and leaned back, settling across Tara’s lap. “I think maybe we should get dressed.” But she shifted so that the cabinet handle didn’t dig into her back quite so much, and she moved her hands down to Willow’s shoulders.

“Why?” Willow complained lazily, letting her head fall back. “No one’s here but us. Giles isn’t due back until tomorrow, and Xander and Anya have physical therapy until six, so…we could…”

“Yeah, but you know Anya,” Tara said, smiling. “She might want to show us her ring again, and you’ve seen how she manages those wheels. Xander might try to get her to finish her session, but he can’t keep up with her when she drives that thing.”

“He’s never been able to keep up with her,” Willow said drily, raising an eyebrow. “Besides, Anya’s never needed to stand up to get moving.”

“Willow!” Tara pretended to be shocked, but it was true. And Anya had been remarkably matter-of-fact about her injury. After a thousand years of walking around on high heels, she’d said, she was perfectly content to look at things from a different perspective for awhile, and she was already talking about a roller derby costume for Halloween. As for Xander, well, he had been building ramps all over Sunnydale since they’d returned from their honeymoon.

“Willow!” Tara squeaked in a different way as Willow’s hand moved downward. But the ringing phone startled them both, and before Willow’s hand could go much further, Tara pushed it away playfully and reached for her blouse.

“Tara!” Dawn’s voice squealed into her ear when she snatched the phone out of its cradle on the third ring. “What are you guys doing?”

“Dawn, sweetie,” Tara winked at Willow and bit her lip. “Um, nothing. Just, you know, hanging out in the kitchen. The usual.” She watched Willow blush as she tugged her skirt back down and looked around for her tank top.

“I miss you guys so much, but Dad and Monty are taking me fishing next weekend, and I met this girl who lives down the street—Elizabeth—and guess what?” Dawn’s voice dropped to a whisper. “She has tarot cards. She said she’d teach me how to use them and everything.”

Tara smiled. “Just be careful, Dawn, okay? Take it slow.”

“Don’t worry,” Dawn said, and Tara thought how good it was to hear that lift in her voice. “I saw her mom’s room the other day, and she had some of the same stuff you and Willow have…you know, books and candles and…stuff. She’s super nice, Elizabeth’s mom, I mean.”

Dawn went quiet for a moment, and Tara could hear wistfulness coming across the phone line in waves and then a click as Willow picked up the extension.

“Hey, Dawnie, we miss you,” Willow’s voice said in her ear.

“Willow, my dad’s been telling me what Buffy was like when she was just little. She had this doll she carried around all the time. Can you just imagine Buffy with a doll?”

“Yeah,” Willow said softly. “Yeah, actually I can.” Tara walked with the kitchen phone to the hallway, until she could see Willow holding the other phone in the living room, twisting the cord in one hand. She caught Willow’s eye and held it for a moment.

“I can’t wait to see you guys,” Dawn said after a brief pause. “ It’s so cool that you’re going to be living like an hour away. We can see each other all the time. When are you leaving again?”

“Well, we told Giles we’d help him get the house ready for the real estate agent to show,” Willow said, her voice perking up again the way it did when she had a list to work with. “But we’re packing today; I think we’ll probably leave on Saturday. We just have so much to do, and you know, my parents want us to have dinner with them before we go. They’re so relieved I finally decided to transfer.”

“Me, too,” Dawn said excitedly. “Maybe Elizabeth’s mom can show you this cool spell she can do. First, you have to have a frog, so….” Willow dropped the phone onto the sofa abruptly and stepped back. Tara just smiled and leaned against the wall to listen to Dawn talk about magic.

A few hours later, packing up candles and jewelry in the bedroom, Tara’s hand knocked against a ceramic bowl and spilled the contents over the top of Joyce’s dresser. The scent of lavender reached her nose as she swept the dried herbs and flowers into her palm, and she saw one sprig that she didn’t recognize. She held it up to the light, squinting at the tiny brown latticework of the branch.

“Hey, what’s this?” she asked as she felt Willow’s arms slip around her from behind. Willow’s chin rested on her shoulder, and for a moment, they looked at the dried flower silently.

“Oh, nothing special.” Willow’s lips brushed Tara’s neck before she pulled away, plucking the flower out of her grasp. “Just…something I thought I might need some day.”

Tara watched, curious, as Willow turned the flower over in her fingers speculatively and, without warning, crumbled the flower in her fingers and dropped it into the trash bag on the floor, brushing her hands on her skirt.

“Not anymore, huh?” Tara had the sense that something important had just happened, but they had a lot of packing to do, and whatever that dried flower had been, it was only dust now. Nothing of importance, just one more thing to leave behind. She thought about all the Willows she knew—shy and sweet Willow; supportive Willow; self-doubting Willow; smart Willow; sexy Willow; even the almost sinister Willow of dark magicks and revenge that she had glimpsed through Glory. She loved them all; she did. They were all her Willow.

The Willow who turned to her now was smiling and inches away, her green eyes wide open and unguarded, and Tara thought that she loved that Willow best.

“No,” Willow’s voice was calm. “Not anymore.”

Tara could smell the bread baking downstairs, and she knew she had to remember to go take it out of the oven in a few minutes. She had to remember to take one of the loaves over to Xander and Anya later; she had to remember to pick up Giles at the airport the next morning; she had to remember to call the agent in Massachusetts and make sure that the electricity had been turned on in the tiny apartment they had rented. And she had to remember to ask Willow about every little thing that had ever happened to her in her entire life and to tell her the same in return.

But then, as if she had forgotten that only hours before they had been half-dressed and sweat-chilled, kitchen tiles pressing into their thighs, Willow kissed her. And after a moment…Willow kissing her was the only thing she could remember.



Epilogue: September.

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone;
it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time,
made new.
—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven


On a hot September day, Tara sat beside Willow in the front seat of the car and saw, in the rearview mirror, the dashes of yellow highway line blurring and fading into the road behind them.

Tara laughed inwardly at herself as she shredded the last loaf of the bread she and Willow had made, tossing the crumbs out the open window. Perhaps she was only being superstitious: the gray bird circling the house this morning as they packed up the car had not been Buffy’s spirit watching over them; it was just a bird. But being reminded of the bird in her dream, being reminded of Buffy, she felt a flutter of sorrow. Buffy had sacrificed herself to save them all; she had flown into the portal and given the rest of them wings.

And here she was, flying down the highway toward a place that was new and exciting and just theirs. She was sad for Buffy but grateful…so grateful. And she was leaving a trail of crumbs on the road out of the Hellmouth; it was the only thanks she could think of. She saw Willow’s quick, questioning glance, and she smiled sheepishly; she couldn’t explain. Some things she could never explain.

She and Willow had a car full of stuff, an address in Massachusetts, and each other: that was all. Maybe it was selfish, Tara thought, to leave the nightmare behind. To leave that particular fight behind for another Slayer and her friends to face. Or maybe—closing her eyes, she felt the hot September wind in her hair—maybe their ordinary life, the life of two girls together, was hard enough without vampires and monsters and demons. Maybe it was brave.

“I feel like an explorer,” she said suddenly. “Like Captain Cook, only without the part where I get eaten by the lesbian natives.” She blushed when she realized what she’d said, and then, winking shyly at Willow, she added, “No, actually, I think I’ll take that part, too.”

It wasn’t that funny. It wasn’t even a joke. But Willow reached over to touch her arm and laughed, and in that quiet moment, something unspoken rose soft and warm between them: a quiet heat. A whole conversation without words. A future without tragedy. A life of daily things like school and love and bread.

Tara smiled, and catching Willow’s hand in hers, she studied the shape their laced fingers made.

And Willow drove.


The End.

"And I'm eating this banana. Lunchtime be damned!" -- Willow in "Doppelgangland

Edited by: Tulipp at: 1/16/03 12:17:33 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 8:26 pm 
YIPEE!!! new update :party going off to read it now :bounce but what do I see: The End already? :cry thanks for the story. :love

C :wave

"Es ist fuer einen Menschen unertraeglich, ertragen zu werden." (Jean Cocteau)

"Ain't never gonna love you any better babe - And they'll never gonna love you right" (Kozmic Blues - Janis Joplin)



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 Post subject: New Bread Rising
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 9:44 pm 
As I've read this story, the bad events of season six have faded from my mind, erased by the enticing and familiar aromas of newly baked bread with all the memories those wonderful smells bring me. I've lost myself in the firm reality of this painful and beautiful summer that you've created here. What we saw on television was merely a bad smell that has since dissipated.



This story is the truth of what happened that summer.



I like what you've done with Willow's upset feelings about her failures with the bread, how she ties that into the deeper things that she's thinks she's failed in from being a geek to not being able to save the world on her own. I love how Tara realizes that she can't win by arguing, that Willow will always have a retort to anything she can say positive about her, but instead she can show Willow that she loves her, that Willow is worth loving, by loving her.



And I love how you turn making bread into making love, bringing together both actions like kneading and the ingredients for making bread in that scene, some literal like yeast and flour, some in memory like Tara's salty tears and her mother's wheat colored hair, and others in imagery: buttery insides, Tara's moist voice. Finally, you connect it to the beautiful LeGuin quote of your prologue and epilogue with the last paragraph of that scene. Tara's laughter about those very metaphors is a perfect beginning to the next scene.



In the last part, I love how you reduce the Lethe's bramble to nothing special, breaking its hold on Willow completely. You reinforce this beautifully with all the mentions of remembering for Tara here, and also in the previous scene where Willow is trying to bring back something from Tara's memory by the making of bread and how she tries to memorize Tara as they make love.



Like so many kittens out there, I want for the story to go on and on, but my head tempers the desire of my heart and makes me understand why the story is structured in only three parts. The structure is part of the beauty as is the bread metaphor which if overextended would either be too few crumbs to nourish the reader in each chapter or so much bread that the reader would be overstuffed, tummy unhappy and unable to eat any more.



No story should go on for too long. We've seen in another place what happens when one does.



Juli, though, you're a good baker. You know when the bread is done and take it from the oven at just the right time. You've put us down on firm ground once before, and you've done it again here with this wonderful loaf of bread. This story ends with our heroines looking forward with hope, free from the bonds of their past.



And that's the best ending I could wish for.

--

"Omnia mutantur, nihil interit." -- "Everything changes, but nothing is truly lost."

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 1/16/03 3:44:52 pm


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 Post subject: Bread
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 9:49 pm 
Beautiful. Pure beauty.



Thanks a lot for telling us this story. Thanks a lot.



Sea



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part III
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 11:08 pm 
I can't believe you've taken all the misery and character assasination of series six and positively addressed the issues in three, superb, installments. I just wish the people at ME had taken the time to really get to know the characters they created as well as you obviously do.



For me the whole thing seemed to come together when Willow was trying to force the bread into what she considered a bread-shape, and how Tara encouraged her to let the process take its natural course. That was Willow's problem in a nutshell and you handled it beautifully.



Tara's line about the metaphors deserves to become a classic, the timing was just perfect. Her promise to ask Willow all about her life and in return reveal all about herself just proves that theirs will be a long and true relationship and no matter what the hurdles, I think after this they'd be able to pull through.



Buffy dies and life goes on, more importantly they accept themselves for who they are... perfect. The glimpses of the others; Dawn, Xander, Anya and Giles, also gave a hopeful image and I can just imagine Anya in her wheelchair, racing down the street with Xander flagging behind lol.



A beautiful story, told beautifully



RalSt



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Part III
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 11:14 pm 
All through this part i was like oh my god this is wonderful, i wanna quote those lines and those and those..... to tell you how much they touched me but i quickly understood that if i wanted to do that i'll be quoting each and every line.

So i thought, sometimes the shorter the better, so there are only 3 words that come to mind



PIECE OF ART



Thank you



The earth is blue like an orange
Paul Eluard

Edited by: Tawilove  at: 1/16/03 2:17:37 pm


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 Post subject: Bread
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2003 11:40 pm 
Wonderful. The epilogue to Season Five as it should have been. I wish W/T the best of luck in their new lives, away from the Hellmouth. They deserve it.



:bounce for your story!





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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 12:16 am 
Wondeful fic, amazing!

I've loved reading it

You write W/T so well

Absoutely brilliant!:heart



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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 2:09 am 
Oh goddess, Tulipp, how do you do it? This was just such a beautiful ending/beginning, and your story has reached the form it was meant to have because you haven't tried to force it or shape it into something it's not. You kneaded it enough but not too much and we have this wonderful gift as a result.



I don't know what else you've written beside this and "Terra Firma" (and yes, I'd very much like to know of any other works), but one thing that sounds so strongly throughout both pieces is the idea of redemption, of happiness earned and taken. I love Tara's observation, in the epilogue, that they were evincing a very different kind of bravery now: two women, making a go of it together in ordinary life. In both stories, it seems, there is a beautiful unveiling of the challenges faced in pursuing happiness with the abiding belief that happiness is possible, and is deserved. Yes, so much has happened to these women, and tripping blithely along as if it hadn't is a recipe for collapse. But they recognize, they acknowledge, they accept, AND they forge on. I was very excited to read of their departure from Sunnydale, and not just up the road a bit--they're hauling Sapphic ass across country. (I'd be glad to meet them on I-80 on their way East; maybe they'd like to stay over with me for a night or 50.) That epilogue, by the way, was a wonderful completion to the original image, the one that started the story, when it wasn't clear exactly what the emotional tone was as Willow drove.



One of the things I've noticed that you do especially well is to use a single sentence to convey meanings/truths across a span of time or situations. Thus we have Willow asking incredulously, "Your mom did this every day?" She's ostensibly talking about making bread, but it seems to me that she's also talking about the strength and dedication that Tara's mother showed in just living, in doing the unglamorous things that are nevertheless imperative in building love, building a home. Bread is so deceptively simple, isn't it, until you try to make it. And Tara helps her see that she doesn't need to force it, mold it--indeed, she can't. I also loved the image of Tara as "hot and damp and ready to be home." Again, it described her current physical state (and my, wasn't it glorious to envision?) but it also conveyed her need, her readiness to be back with Willow (to be home) fully and completely.



You also have such nice, deft touches with humor. I thought it was wonderfully sly to have Tara groping for "something appropriately ridiculous" like "slayer in training." Yes, I think we're all finding that idea ridiculous, only in ME's case, it's inappropriately ridiculous. And Willow, simply dropping the phone when Dawn mentioned frogs...You never draw this big arrow to your humor with the caption "Laugh Here." You trust your readers to be sharp enough to get it w/ just a slice of wry.



Finally, your descriptive powers, esp. in this chapter, were remarkable. I saw the kitchen, I smelled the yeast, I felt the heat (in all sorts of delicious ways). And the image of Tara kneading Willow...I think that needs to go into a Pens Hall of Fame section for "Passage Most Likely to Make Readers Glad They Were Sitting Down When They Read It." (I know, it's a long title, but I think it can work...)



DarkMagicWillow captured it well, I think, in the appreciation of the fact that you knew when to end the story, even if we so very much want it to go on. Thank you, truly, for giving us this wonderful story. And remember--anything else that you've written, I'd love to know about.



I doff my cap your way,

Mary



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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 3:16 am 
Ojala that this could've been the way that things ended. There wasn't a moment in this story that I wasn't moved by the imagery, and the wonderful emotion you were able to convey. This is true, this is real, this is respectful in every way. This is what the end should have been. You truly have a better grasp of these characters than some I could mention. Thank you for the happy ending. I knew it was possible.



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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 5:52 am 
Yay!!!! :bounce :bounce :bounce Willow and Tara have found each other again. Now, they can move on with their lives.



Very beautiful the way you compared making bread to making love. A very interesting analogy to draw.

Tara: My heart doesn't stutter.


Tara: Willow, I got so lost.

Willow: I found you. I will always find you.




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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 8:46 am 
“If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you ...” Ah Bread.



So I was fiddling with that --- toaster, right? So, I’m messing with it and - it’s got settings! Did you know about this? Settings! It even makes Pop Tarts! But I get a Pop Tart stuck inside of it and I can’t get it out. And it bothers me because it’s not one of those nasty cinnamon ones. If that were the case, I wouldn’t even be telling you this story. But it was one of those milk chocolate ones with the graham cracker crust and the tiny little bits of chocolate. It wouldn’t come out of the toaster and I started banging and banging, but that just made crumbs fall out of the bottom and sparks were flying. I suppose it should have been unplugged. I can see that now. I was a mess. The kitchen was thrashed. All was lost. But then a beautiful blonde woman came in and we ended up having sex on the kitchen table. And all was well with the world again.



Okay, so none of that is true. However, I have nothing to say about this fic except to offer my own fake anecdotes that start out having something to do with the actual story, but really just end up being silly and irrelevant.



I’m not going to analyze it. I loved it. In many ways, more than TF. It made me smile, it made me a little sad, it made me think of baked goods in a whole different way than I did in home ec years ago (speaking of which, I actually made gray banana bread in that class. Don’t know how it happened, but it was pretty gross.)



I liked the kneading/needing thing you had going on there. And when Tara said “It needs more time” about the bread, but she’s not really talking about the bread. I love that everything, practically every word means more than its face value.



I can’t think. It’s 2:30 in the morning. Perfect story. Thanks for this.



Snipp



----------------------

Charlie: Catherine Keener’s at my house?



Donald: Yeah. We’re playing Boggle.



-Adaptation



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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 11:14 am 
Well. You know what I think. Although, having said that, reading this again thoughts kind of flee away and there's just a very gut-wrenching emotional reaction to this. That marvellous connection between Willow and Tara is what you write so well and it comes through so clearly here that it's almost like a huge neon sign blinking "Goodness - here."



You manage to strip the relationship right down to the basics, just leaving what matters. And I think what strikes me the most about your style is that you do that in your writing as well. I've always loved the simplicity of your style and narrative; the collection of short sentences and visceral images that don't lose themselves in overblown description. It's a very pointed comment on the way that you represent Willow and Tara as characters, and Dawn too. That's one thing that's always intrigued and impressed me about your writing.



I loved the phone call with Dawn, by the way. I liked the different responses to her from Willow and Tara; how Tara was the calm voice of reason and the maternal figure, and how Willow was the one who could still back off from the pain. I suppose that notion of taking a step back is something she had to learn, and that little moment just summed it all up for me here.



I'm so glad though, that Willow and Tara managed to find one another physically. Because, as always, their lovemaking is so much more than just a physical release. And it was the one barrier between them thus far. Weaving that in with the metaphor of the bread was a mark of genius. And I have a sneaking suspicion that that's what you are, love. Bloody hell. I'm getting all verklempt. That simply won't do, damn you. ;)



"Sarah dragged me into the bushes and begged for sex." ~ News of the World



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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 2:09 pm 
That was probably the best post season 5 fic I've read, bravo.



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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 4:09 pm 
this was a really good story, i definitely like your take on how Willow, Tara and Dawn dealt with Buffy's death than what went on last season :)



the image of the kitchen after Willow tried to make bread by herself was funny.

You can't just go declaring shenanigans on innocent people, that's how wars get started!
I'm not stealing, I'm just taking things without paying for them. In what twisted dictionary is that stealing?



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 4:37 pm 
Tulipp - this a letdown? no way! btw i wished i had your latest efforts with me while i was in the Netherlands (we had -16 °C, mind you!). what you write is warming in a way no heater could ever be...



how appropriate to use those verses by Anne Sexton? even because they're the only one verses i can think of when i think of bread (i'm so totally dumb!)...







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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 7:12 pm 
Juli, I can't believe you ever doubted yourself over this. But then, having said that, I guess that self-effacing quality of yours is probably what makes you such a phenomenal writer.



Again I'm following Ruth (I can have original thought! Honest!), but it's that quality that allows you to write such stunningly beautiful passages with such crystal clarity and simplicity. It's so truthful and true.



I'm just in love with your writing. I don't know how else to say it.



I'm missing it already.





Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 8:22 pm 
oh.wow. the three months gone missing were beautifully filled in. this was great. W/T and Dawn's reaction of Glory's final attampt at destruction and Buffy's death...really...these are one of those moments where I'm left kinda speechless....

Tk's new and improved "GrrArgg"...Tk's Heaven


"I've become really protective of her. I want to make sure if Tara comes back, it's for good reason." -Amber Benson
Tara ate her, devoured her from beneath. -The Edge of Silence giving new meaning to this season's catch phrase.
"Got it: that's a 'yes' to petals; a 'no' to pricks. I should remember that more often." -On Second Thought



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 9:10 pm 
Wow!



This entire tale has been just an amazing piece of work in all ways. The way that you've allowed all of the characters to move on in an organic way. To grow and move on from the grief of not only the loss of Buffy, but a loss of a way of life. And for Willow, a life that had transformed her in so many ways.



And it's nice to see that in the end, they can all be happy and find some sort of peace with what has happened.



thanks for such a wonderful story-

hermitstull

"I was feared and worshiped across the mortal globe. At now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High. Mortal. Child. And I'm failing Math." Anya in Dopplegangland



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2003 11:52 pm 
Quote:
But it was the first time in months that Willow had been this brave.



Or maybe—closing her eyes, she felt the hot September wind in her hair—maybe their ordinary life, the life of two girls together, was hard enough without vampires and monsters and demons. Maybe it was brave.
A declaration, touch, a long drive, a fresh start. I love how you play with the idea of bravery throughout this story, bravery that has as much to do with recognizing what is important and taking a first step, and then another, toward fulfillment, as it does with slaying vampires (or driving in Boston – the crazy woman who cut you off in the gray Maxima? My little sister!)



Others have commented on your marvelous way with words, images, characters, and stories, and I heartily concur. Two things struck me while I was reading these final chapters, the first occasioned in part by this passage:
Quote:
It wasn’t a resurrection. It wasn’t a forgetting. It wasn’t even magic, at least not the kind you did with spells. It was just what it was: homemade. From scratch, every time, until you could see and taste and smell the thing you had made with your own hands. Until you could touch it.
I must have reread that more than twenty times, amazed at how perfectly true it is. After what happened last year on BtVS, and what is happening in the entertainment industry in general, I wonder if we haven’t been a bit premature in trusting others to tell our stories for us, stories that are ultimately incomplete, erroneous, dissatisfying, infuriating. All that is to say that your writing rings true in ways that I had almost forgotten writing could. Thank you for the reminder.



The second thing that struck me was screw Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, how happy George and Weezie Jefferson must have been when they got their own show! How glorious it is to see the spotlight shifted on the almost always more interesting secondary (marginal?) characters, who, contrary to popular belief, are capable of not only bearing the full weight of a narrative, but taking it strong to the hoop and dunking it!



“Slayer(s) in training?” I call them baby slayers, BS for short. As in, “Tonight the show was brimming with BS!” And thank you for sending the girls to the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. Please let them know that although we’re crabby at first, we do warm up. Eventually.



I kneel before you,



SB





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 Post subject: Re: Bread
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 8:00 am 
Tulipp your fic Bread was wonderful. It is a gift the way you write (especially your use of metaphors) and how you can make the reader feel soooo elated afterwards. If I had your writing talents I would better be able to describe how much I enjoyed this fic but sadly I don't. I will just say that I absolutely loved it and am sorry to see it end. Looking forward to reading your next fic!!

"I think this line's mostly filler" - Willow in OMWF



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 Post subject: Re: Bread Replies and Part III
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 11:33 am 
Tulipp, what can I say but wow! I can't convey enough how thoroughly I enjoy your writing style, with the way your words evoke such an emotional response from the reader (you have a wonderful "gift").



So much touched me in this chapter with Willow's insecurities popping up (ie feeling like a "failure"), but Tara putting the "kibosh" on those fears, by simply saying, ("At the Wicca group? I wasn't looking for a super mega witch, and I wasn't looking for some kind of, I don't know....slayer in training. I was looking for a girl. For you."). And I just loved how the kneading of the bread, became the "kneading" of each other ;) , with Willow realizing that she couldn't "force" the bread into shape. In other words, leaving the "planning" aside by following instinct, just simply feeling, letting their connection (love) lead the way (ie "And the kiss melted everything else away: layer after layer of memory and forgetting until there was just the two of them: her and her.").



Really the way you capture their reconnection (finding each other again) was simply beautiful, truly something to behold, especially these lines, ("It wasn't a resurrection. It wasn't a forgetting. It wasn't even magic at least not the kind you do with spells. It was just what it was: homemade. From scratch, every time, until you could see and taste and smell the thing you made with your own hands. Until you could touch it."). With this in mind, all relationships will endure "trials" (it's a "work in progress"), but when you get down to the "nitty gritty" the key component is doing it together. Thus, W&T are understanding that by communicating "openly", allowing the other to "see" beneath the surface, realizing that being yourself isn't a weakness, but rather a strength, they will indeed "rise above the pain", and in each other find "completion".



Lastly, I'm so happy W&T are starting "fresh" a new part of their life in Massachusetts, and I just loved the image of Tara "leaving a trail of bread crumbs on the road out of the Hellmouth". Yes, W&T are leaving that part of their life behind, but the past (and the lessons learned) won't be forgotten. W&T have "paid their dues", and now they most definitely deserve "A future without tragedy. A life of daily things like school and love and bread." Thanks so much for giving W&T this future (a hope/excitement in what's to come), and thank-you for letting us to be along for this amazing "ride" :) !

Edited by: VampNo12  at: 1/18/03 3:14:10 am


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