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

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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8a - His Master's Ghost: The Shadow of Death
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2002 4:48 am 
What is so inherently bad about dark magic in the first place ? Granted Tara had a bad experience trying it the first (and only) time... and her mother probably told her it was bad. But why is that?



I suppose I'm more Willow-like that way, in viewing 'dark magic' (stupid name) as magic for which a higher price is payed. As long as the witch knows the price in advance it's pretty much up to said witch to decide she wants to use it yes or no. Since 'dark magic' seems to be more concentrade it takes more of a strain on the body. As such it would not be terrible healthy to keep on casting such high power spells for years on end, there is only so much a human body can take after all.



It only becomes tricky because those spells are powerfull and usually not-so-nice to other people. I can imagine that the usage of such spells eventually corrupts a person, though I'll still say Willow was primairly defending Tara in that graveyard. Having a bit to much pleasure in doing so perhaps, but at least it was for a good reason. (it gets interesting once a witch can't decide whats a good reason anymore)



Why wouldn't so called light magic corrupt witches after long-term use/dependance ? Power addiction doesn't really care about the source of power really.



It's just that the entire easy light/dark magic divide sounds... to easy. Bwah, that probably didn't make sense :( . Seems more like a style divide to me; 'light magic' users of course claim that *their* magic is better and the *other* magic is bad. Makes them sound horribly rightous, which I dislike (take a guess what I think of Buffy).



As for Tara never using that kind of power; she would be dead by now then so that point is kinda moot. She's young, so I'll forgive her that reasoning for now :) . Light magic would have been too slow (which is why dark magic is often seen as a shortcut, though an expensive one) and outrunning a motorcycle is.....well it's difficult :) .



I did find it touching to see that Willow had mastered pretty all the magic she could get but hadn't any friends left :( Shows she can get all of life out of a book I guess.



Grimmy 'dark magic advocate' : -->>:



"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine

Edited by: Grimlock72 at: 11/26/02 3:52:42 am


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 Post subject: Re: The Dark Rose
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2002 9:46 am 
I'm with VampNo12...one of the most compelling things for me about this chapter and, in fact, the whole story so far, is the growing realization that Willow--although a powerful and dark witch--is in fact very fragile and very alone. That Tara picks up on that so quickly feels just right; they do need each other, and they don't have to be alone any longer, and I love seeing Tara thinking that way practically from the beginning.



As for the cliffhanger....oops. I probably encouraged you to do that. I am all for cliffhangers, especially ones that are so visually compelling and chill-inducing, as this one was.



Cliffhang away!

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



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 Post subject: Dark Magic vs. Light Magic
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2002 10:43 am 
I'll get to replies later today, but first here's an answer to Grimlock's post.



To discuss whether dark magic is bad or not, we have to figure out what dark magic is first. Like many things in the real world, there are overlapping and even contradictory classification schemes for magic, and there are often things that just don't fit well like the duck-billed platypus which shares both bird and mammal characteristics. I use three of them in the story.



One classification scheme uses INTENT as the measure of whether magic is dark or light. If you meant to do good, then the magic was light; likewise, if you meant to harm then the magic was dark. Of course, people differ in their views in what is good and what is evil so they will disagree on what they call dark and what they call light too. Willow's car driving spell in "Wrecked" may be good by this system if her intention was to save Dawn and not mainly to impress her. I think it's fairly clear that dark magic by this classification is bad.



Another classification scheme uses the RESULT of the magic to determine whether it is dark or light. It has the same problem of people differing in whether they think the result is evil or good, but there are substantial areas of agreement in almost all moral systems. In this system, Willow's "my will be done" spell would be dark because of blinding Giles and having demons attack Xander even though she didn't intend to harm anyone with it. While people may disagree on which magicks are dark in this system, I think it's clear that all dark magicks are bad by this standard.



The third classification system is by SOURCE. Drawing from sources such as demons, dark gods, living sacrifices, and human pain and suffering is dark, while drawing from good deities, willing sacrifices, nature, and human joy and love is light. You can have good intentions and achieve good results when using magic from a dark source, but it's harder to do, especially when drawing power from a demon or dark god who will always require a price. It's not only the power that can corrupt, but the source of the power will always be trying to insinuate its morals and needs into the caster. Magic is not just power, like electricity; instead, it's more like food, carrying the feelings and emotions from its source as well as its power like food can carry along antibiotics and pesticides as well as nutrition.



If you draw power from dark sources, you will be filled with darker emotions like anger and despair after you cast. If you call upon dark powers, then you also have to worry about them twisting the results of your spell to do the most harm. Be careful what you wish for is always good advice when dealing with such beings, but even the most legalistic mind can't make a spell completely ironclad when the other partner in the bargain is willfully twisting your words and there's no arbitrator to appeal to.



In my view, this is what happened to Willow at the end of season six. She accepted too much without question or reservation in order to kill Warren and save Buffy. That filled her with even more rage and anger than she started with, making her want to kill Andrew and Jonathan and to be willing to hurt her friends in order to do it. Finally, the dark powers were either controlling her or corrupting her judgement sufficiently so that she would try to destroy the world in order to end all pain and suffering.



Dark magic isn't more powerful than light magic, but with light magic the price is up front and part of it is almost always a restriction on what you do with the power, limiting your ability to control or harm people with it. You can lie and use the magic otherwise, but they're not going to grant power again to someone who violates their trust in that way so you'd only get one chance to misuse that power. Therefore it's more difficult to become corrupted by the power of light magic as bright powers won't give their magic to a corrupted caster, though if you can create enough positive emotions, there's nothing to stop you from drawing indefinitely on that power.



In certain places like Sunnydale, dark magic appears to have an advantage in power though as there are so many sources of pain and death as well as the Hellmouth itself. On the other hand, sources of light magic are often more subtle than those of dark, so there might be more in Sunnydale than first meets the eye, even dark black-in-black eyes.

--

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



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 Post subject: Re: Dark Magic vs. Light Magic
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2002 2:43 pm 
DMW,



I'll go with the SOURCE distinction, nice and clean to handle. I didn't mean to say light magic is less *powerfull* but that it's *slower* to do a spell with it. Thats what Willow used as part of her motivation for using it on the graveyard, her flaring hatred/emotion there did worry me. Though she did get that under control easy enough.



For non-combat purposes it's perfectly possible to use light magic. However in combat I would prefer not having to ask for a magic shield, since that includes the risk of being denied. (I'm not in favour of anyone judging what *I* do with power either, feels icky.. though it might be usefull... conflicting thoughts here...)



Seems Willow doesn't have the choice to use light power anymore, done lotsa evil things already. Willow probably knows stronger dark magic spells for offense/ defense compared to what she knows about light magic anyway. Would be interesting to know if and how much she investigated light magic. Ressurection is pretty much dark magic by default I think, kindly asking for a dead person being brough back probably ain't going to work. Since Willow is rather goal-orientated she likely skipped light magic unless she thought it was going to help her quest.



I just think it's to easy to label all 'dark magic' as bad and all 'light magic' as good. That irks me. For example, I don't see Willow attacking Glory in _Tough Love_ as a bad thing :) . It was foolish, true, but I liked the determination it showed anyway :D .



Whatever classification system you use, it's obvious that using strong or dark spells does require a lot (more) selfcontrol. Thats a risk the spellcaster takes, hopefully while being aware of it. Since Willow is still alive I'm assuming she figured that out. I am a bit worried she might made some powerfull enemies and left those alive, that would not be good. (and no, Amy does not qualify :) )



About the season6 final, I'm not so sure the dark magic corrupted her to the point where she wanted to destroy the earth. Remember she wanted to end the suffering of all people, which she felt after having absorbed Giles' light magic. I figured she really wanted to help all people but she choose a rather drastic method to do so. Not too different from the Tabula Rasa incident, lots of good intend there wanting to help people, just the method was not the best.



(see my comment in the _Tears in Heaven_ thread for more on the intend vs. method stuff, too lazy to retype that here :D )



Oh yes, I like Willow a lot so I tend to excuse a lot of what she does. So the above is probably slightly biased :D



Grimmy

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine



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 Post subject: Re: Dark Magic vs. Light Magic
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2002 4:48 pm 
You have just given a whole new meaning to the phrase: “Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!”



As for this intriguing discussion on light and/or dark magic (I was going to write write "versus" but...), I tend to believe that the dividing line between the two is a mystical “Ligne Maginot,” in places so porous so as not to be much of a line at all. I also imagine that there might be some magic that manages to straddle the line or alternate between the light and dark. Finally, the Freudian side of me (getting bigger by the day!) wonders about the question of motivation (what is compelling one to use magic), which I think is just as important as intent (what one wants to do with the magic), result (what happens), and source. I guess I had no problem with what Willow did to Warren, because I accepted and understood her motivation (Tara’s death). And I got to use the word "flay!"



Oh, and damn you for the cliffhanger!



SB



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 Post subject: Chapter 8a replies
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2002 9:37 pm 
It sounds like the cliffhanger was a hit. Or did it just make you want to hit me to get the next update out faster? (-;



I picked Lucas as Tara's last name for a reason. I found it in the list Amanda gave me of names and sites--thanks again for all the research you helped me with in this story. The name is not connected to the Buffyverse in any way, but the solution to the rhyming riddle can be found in Judaism as Willow suggests. Thanks to Rane for helping me out with that. Only one of their names rhymes with one of the others, and people do have more than just two names.



barnabasvamp: I'm glad it's gripping you.



allyson12: There might be a redhead in the chapter yet, but sorry, no promises on the rescue.



Grimlock72: It's a really long chapter, more than twice as long as most. I didn't want to overburden you with too much reading. (-; Okay, I didn't have time to revise that much text with moving and the holidays. I should get that turkey yet tonight too...



The spectre can be as corporeal as it wants; a very nasty talent. The Heart has plenty of power, but the drawbacks are incredible too as you'll see. As for the bikers, Giles knew what they probably were, but he doesn't know how they might be connected to the Master.



You're right, Tara doesn't have much time...



mollyig: I hadn't thought about Amy that way, but she isn't taking the care she should with an artifact like the Heart. I like the image of Tara as a smitten kitten.



Silver: I couldn't believe I did either. (-;



FlereImsaho: I'm glad to lure another lurker out of hiding, especially one from such a distant place. I didn't know the Culture had access to Pens. Or is it just SC?



deixs: Some wishes will be granted, but all can't be.



VampNo12: Dualities run deeply through the characters of this story: there is shifting balance between the dark older Willow and the younger softer Willow, the mostly as yet unexplored duality between the old Tara and the new Tara, and the subtle contest between Amy's cunning and the Master's brute power, both characteristics necessary to make a great villain but here divided between two opposing figures united in a shaky partnership.



And of course there's the duality between Willow and Tara, in their magic, their ages, and so much else, but duality can become oneness. As you say, Willow has captured Tara, and Tara of course, has had Willow all along.



tiredsoul: Almost is definitely the operative word in that sentence, and Willow is definitely afraid of revealing too much too soon.



Tulipp: Fragile and powerful, it seems like a contradiction, yet it fits my image of Willow so well. You helped me see that more clearly with your feedback. Thanks for the cliffhanger encouragement. (-;



Sister Bertrille: Ah, the heart. This story is all about the heart if not always so literally. I like the difference you illustrate between motivation and intent, looking at the process a step earlier.



Flay is a fun word. How about defenestrate? Or I am giving you more bad ideas for work?

--

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

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 11/26/02 8:40:26 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8a replies
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 1:52 am 
Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!



Sorry DMV, I've just started reading this fic, and I absolutely adore it, but I got left at a cliffhanger :cry



This fanfiction is absolutely wonderful. Your writing is beautifully descriptive, and you've captured the characters perfectly. I have to admit that I can't wait for Giles to meet Willow again, and for Tara to find out the truth of who she really is. Only, um, I don't get the linkeage of names either. Am I just being really dumb?



Gem



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 Post subject: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 10:13 am 
Cliffhanger Warning: Still in effect.



Miss1234Kitty: Thanks, and no, you're not being dumb. It's a hard riddle and it takes a little external knowledge to figure out.





Title: The Dark Rose - Chapter 8b (His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness)

Author: Dark Magic Willow

Email: darkmagickwillow@yahoo.com

Rating: R, mostly for violence, no explicit sex

Pairing: W/T

Spoilers: All episodes through the end of season 6 though this story takes

place 18-19 years after the end of season 6.

Feedback: Yes! Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Summary: A dark spectre arises and attacks the slayer and her companions.

Magic Note: Magic, even dark magic, is not addictive in my universe, so there

are no withdrawal symptoms and no dark magic dealers. Here Rack was a dark

magic teacher who used his students, not a dealer. However, you can use too

much magic and you can be corrupted by the power it gives you.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the copyrights or anything else

associated with BtVS. All rights lie with the production company,

writers etc.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Amanda and Juli for beta reading.





The Dark Rose

Chapter 8b: His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness






Tara felt the beat of her heart falter, losing its struggle with the icy grasp

of the spectre. Her limbs fell weak and bloodless. She was going to die. She

heard Giles approaching, but she knew he would be too late.



Then she suddenly remembered that she was still holding the open vial of holy

water. It took all her remaining strength to lift her trembling hand and throw

the vial into the spectre's demonic face. The spectre let out a terrible

screeching wail as it clutched clawed hands to its face and backed away from

her. Tara knelt on the floor, shivering and her hands still shaking as her

heartbeat slowly returned to normal.



Giles dared to take advantage of the spectre's discomfiture. He threw his

entire jar of holy water at it. The sacred water flared into a pure white

brightness of its own as it struck the evil green luminescence surrounding the

spectre. The hissing of the holy water's assault on the emerald evil was

overshadowed by the terrible screams of the Master's ghost.



Giles saw that each droplet of holy water had burned a hole in the

insubstantial fabric of the evil spectre, but he didn't stop to see if the

spectre was dead or simply hurt. He ran to Tara, pulling her to her feet,

before going to Spirit who was already getting back up. "Hurry, we must get

into the office."



Neither girl questioned his order. All three of them ran into the office,

Giles pausing to grab the remaining holy water from under the front desk. As

he did so, the spectre caught up with him, striking him hard with its fist.

The blow knocked Giles half into the office where he lay still. Tara reached

down to pull him inside. Before she could though, the slayer attempted to rush

past her. "He hurt Giles! We've..."



Tara blocked Spirit's path with her arm. "No, pull him in now!" she

commanded. The two young women pulled their mentor fully into the office as

the spectre reached the doorway and was thrown back with a brightly flaring

clash of white and emerald fire.



Spirit looked impressed though still ready to pull the spectre limb from limb

for hurting her Watcher. "How did you do that?"



"I consecrated the office with a spell," Tara answered as she pushed the door

shut. "The undead can't enter. Mr. Giles thought it was a good idea after the

noontime vampire attack."



Spirit looked down at the Watcher, concerned. "How is he? Will he be okay?"



Tara felt for his pulse. Giles' heart was beating steadily which was more than

she could say for her own which still felt a little wobbly after her encounter

with the spectre. "I think he'll be okay," she said. "He was just knocked

unconscious."



They started as the spectre smashed its fist against the barrier. There was a

hissing sound each time it struck the area of the spell as the dark magic of

its essence damaged the protective barrier. The flare of white fire fighting

back against the unholy emerald brilliance seemed a little weaker each time the

ghost's fist crashed into the consecrated zone. Physical blows couldn't damage

the spell, but dark magic could.



It was only a matter of time before the spectre destroyed their only protection

and entered the office.



"Can he break the spell that way?" Spirit asked.



"I think so," Tara answered. She had never been in a situation like this and

had expected to use the spell to protect them from vampires who had little in

the way of magical power to attack the spell. She hadn't thought that a ghost

could break the barrier either, but the spectre with its evil green aura was

clearly not a normal ghost.



"How long will it take?" Spirit asked.



"Not long," Tara admitted, her eyes full of fear. She glanced around her at

the books of magic that lined the walls of Giles' office. If she had time, she

was sure could find a spell in one of the tomes that would exorcise the evil

spirit. If only Mr. Giles was conscious, he could tell her which book she

needed.



Spirit surveyed their resources. There was only one exit to the room and the

spectre was blocking it. They had several jars of holy water which might

distract the ghost long enough to get out of the library, but what would they

do afterwards? It could walk through solid walls and seemed rather intent on

hunting her. That was it! The spectre wanted her, not her friends. "I have

an idea," she said. "I can lead it away. The spectre wants me, not you or

Giles."



Tara looked up, shocked at Spirit's plan. Going out there was suicide. The

spectre was stronger than any vampire they'd ever met and couldn't be harmed by

physical weapons. "No!" she said urgently. "It'll kill you."



"It might," Spirit said, forcing her voice to remain calm while thinking inside

that she was only 16. She was the slayer though, and she would do what she had

to do to save her watcher and her friend. "But better me than all of us."



Tara saw her friend was deadly serious about this. Spirit believed in being a

vampire slayer with all that it meant, including sacrificing yourself for the

good of the world, but Tara wasn't ready to accept such a sacrifice. "Let me

think for a minute."



"Okay, but only for a minute," Spirit said. "I don't think we have much time

left." The power of the unholy emerald magic was clearly beginning to prevail

against the white magic of Tara's spell. The flares of white fire continued to

diminish with each blow delivered by the spectre. She looked worriedly down at

her watcher, knowing that he couldn't run from the spectre if it broke through

Tara's barrier.



Tara didn't know what spell would work against the spectre, but Willow might.

The only problem with that idea was that Willow wasn't here. She wondered how

far she could reach with her mind. "I have an idea, Spirit," she said. "I

have a friend who can help us."



Tara sat cross-legged on the floor and focused her mind inwards, gathering her

strength. It was difficult to calm her mind with the spectre's constant

assault against their protections, but years of practice enabled her to still

her mind after a few minutes. She reached for Willow's mind, searching for a

slender thread of the familiar connection that they always had when they were

together. She hoped that some part of their connection remained visible to her

magical senses even when they were miles apart.



She found it! A gossamer strand running from her heart to an invisible point

far in the distance. She held onto the immaterial thread and sent all her

feelings of distress, calling for Willow to answer. Willow, I need you.

Please answer me.




It seemed to take forever for Willow to reply. When her answer finally came,

she was clearly worried. Tara, what's happening? Where are you?



Tara answered, her words flowing more rapidly from her mind than they could

from her throat, The Master's spectre attacked us. We're trapped in Giles'

office which is protected by a consecration spell, but the spectre will break

down the spell any minute. I need an exorcism spell fast.




I'm coming there- Willow began.



There's no time, Tara interrupted.



It won't take any time, Willow answered. I can teleport. I've never

been to Giles' office so I'll need you to anchor me.




What do I have to do? Tara asked. She could hear the spectre tearing

away at the protective barrier and knew whatever she did, it had to be fast.

There was no time for elaborate preparations for this spell.



Focus on our connection while you hold an image of the office as it is now

in your mind. Don't leave anything out as teleporting into a wall or floor can

be fatal.




Tara wasn't certain if Willow understood how much she was trusting Tara with

this spell. She wasn't a deeply experienced witch like Willow and she had

never done anything like this before. Or had she? What about the dream she'd

had about being the anchor for the red-haired girl? Are you sure? she

asked.



Tara could feel the warmth of Willow's trust through the mental link as her

friend answered, Yes.



Tara prepared herself, maintaining her focus on their mental link as she

brought up an image of Giles' office in her head as clearly as she could. Her

training in the visual arts helped her keep every aspect of the office clear in

her mind. She had to be sure that Willow wouldn't end up in any solid object

so she had to visualize precisely where each and every person and piece of

furniture was placed in the room. Finally she had the image perfect in her

head and called to Willow, I'm ready.



Willow said, Now and cast the teleportation spell. Tara immediately

felt a tremendous pull on the gossamer thread connecting their two minds as it

strained to hold the burden of Willow's discorporeal self. As Tara struggled

to hold onto the physical fabric of the office, it felt like she was being torn

in two. Her heart started beating heavily with the strain, its rhythm becoming

irregular. The spectre's unholy touch had wounded her more deeply than she'd

suspected. Still, she held onto Willow with every bit of her strength.



Suddenly the pull stopped and Tara slammed open her eyes, suddenly afraid that

she'd lost Willow somewhere in the ether. She saw the familiar black-clad

figure of Willow in the air about a foot off the ground. Tara realized that

she had been a little too careful about solid objects as Willow fell to the

floor and landed on her feet with a catlike grace. Spirit jumped back,

startled by the sudden appearance of the dark witch.



As Tara's gaze traveled up Willow's body towards her face, she realized that

Willow wasn't wearing her sunglasses. Willow had an uncomfortable look on her

face as if she wanted to look away. Then Tara's blue eyes met Willow's.



Willow braced herself for the reaction she knew was forthcoming from Tara.

Hearing the desperation in Tara's mental voice, she hadn't taken time to cover

her dark eyes. Now she was going to pay the price. She wanted to look away,

but she forced herself to let Tara see her for what she really was.



Willow's eyes were deep pits of blackness, not the beautiful green eyes of the

girl from her dreams.



Tara almost looked away.



Almost.



But she didn't.



This was Willow, her friend and perhaps more than that, the woman she'd dreamed

about, the person who saved her that night in the cemetery and who had come

here tonight to save her again. She couldn't reject her, not for how she

looked, not for what she knew those dark eyes meant, not for anything.



"Thanks for coming," Tara said, gazing steadily into Willow's dark eyes.



Willow almost couldn't believe that Tara was accepting her, dark eyes and all.

A sense of amazed relief filled her body. It was going to be all right. Then

she remembered how Tara had sounded when she called her here. "Where's the

spectre?" she asked.



Spirit pointed to the office window. "Just outside."



Willow looked outside and saw the spectre of the Master limned with malevolent

emerald radiance. The spectre was still battering at the failing barrier

spell. "It really is the Master's ghost," Willow said wonderingly.



Tara started to ask Willow how she could know that, but realizing they had

little time she asked the more important question, "What can we do about him?"



Willow's dark eyes flashed as she thought of the spells she knew that could

destroy a spirit. There were magicks that could destroy the soul and she

suspected that they would work just as well on the undead as the living, but it

would be safer if she simply summoned something that would devour this spectre

utterly. Nothing would be left to trouble the world again.



Tara could tell that Willow was thinking of a dark magic solution. She

rephrased her question, asking "What can we do about him together?" in an

attempt to divert her friend to thoughts of safer spells.



Spirit could see that there was a conflict between the two witches even if she

didn't understand what it was about. She didn't know why it was important to

do magic together or individually and she didn't care right now. The most

important thing was to do something fast, before the spectre broke into the

office. She was going to give them a few minutes to resolve whatever it was

but that was all.



Willow looked into Tara's blue eyes, understanding why she'd asked the question

a second time. They could banish the dark spirit, sending it back to the hell

from whence it came, by breaking the spell that held it to this plane. She

didn't have to destroy it completely. "Spirit, guard the door," she said.

"Tara and I will cast a spell to banish the spectre."



Upon hearing Willow's words, Tara felt a great sense of relief. She just hoped

that she had the strength to do the spell as the irregular heartbeat was still

troubling her, but she couldn't tell Willow of her doubts. They had to do this

the right way.



Spirit took the remaining vials of holy water and opened the door. The door

wouldn't stop the spectre, but it would block her throw. She might not be able

to destroy the spectre, but she could hurt him badly enough to buy them some

time if they needed it. All that remained of the barrier's protections were a

dull sparking response to each of the spectre's assaults. She thought they

were going to need all the time she could get for them.



Willow took a piece of blue chalk from the small blackboard in the Watcher's

office, thankful for Giles's preference for archaic technology. She carefully

drew a blue circle around Tara and herself, scribing four runes just outside

the circle, one for each of the cardinal directions. Then she took Tara's

hands in her own and guided her slowly down to the floor where they sat

crosslegged facing each other.



As Tara's hand touched Willow's bare hand for the first time, she felt the

electricity of their contact stronger than ever before. She swallowed, feeling

the attraction she'd always felt towards Willow. The magic flowed through

them, warm as fire and sweet as honey.



Willow looked into Tara's eyes as she instructed, "Repeat the words after I say

them."



"Dark spirit, born of hell," she began.



"Dark spirit, born of hell," Tara repeated after her. They were dark words for

a spell of the light. Willow looked serious as could have been expected in

such a dangerous situation, but there was a hint of a smile about her mouth.

Tara couldn't help returning the smile as she chanted the first phrase of the

spell.



"Return now to your home."



"Return now to your home," Tara echoed. She felt her heart beating faster as

the magic flowed more strongly into her from their clasped hands. Everything

was sweetness and warmth inside her.



They heard a cry of anger from outside as the Master's spectre smashed at the

barrier with all his strength and finally shattered the spell of protection

with a final bright flaring of white sparks. As the barrier broke, Spirit

splattered the insubstantial form with all their remaining holy water. The

spectre howled in terrible pain as the fluid burned at its emerald aura like

vitriol.



"Feel our light," Willow chanted, the speed of her cadence increasing with the

urgency of their situation.



"Feel our light." Tara's heart began to flutter, beating fast but without its

normal rhythm. The magic burned in her blood with a searing heat. It had been

so wonderful before, but her faltering heart was breaking the concentration she

needed to control the magic. She gasped for breath, determined to finish the

spell no matter what it took.



The spectre recovered from its pain and turned again to the four of them, dire

intentions obvious in its malevolent green eyes. However, its translucent form

was flickering like a flame blowing in the wind as their spell tore at the

magic holding it to this reality. The dark spirit struggled to enter the

office, but each step seemed to require tremendous effort from the ghost.



Willow saw that something was wrong with Tara. The magic wasn't flowing

smoothly any longer--she could feel a turbulence that wasn't right. Joining

together had always made spells flow easily for them, but this time it felt

like she was swimming against a powerful current. Willow pushed towards the

completion of the spell, fighting to get each word out, knowing that they had

to finish before the spectre reached them. "And begone forevermore."



"And begone forevermore," Tara weakly echoed then collapsed inside the circle.



They finished the spell as the spectre reached the office. The insubstantial

fabric of its being began disintegrating into thousands of tiny droplets of

luminous emerald ill as it stepped over the threshold. Still struggling to

reach the vampire slayer with one spectral claw, the Master's ghost gave a

final despairing cry as its dissolution was complete. The remaining motes of

emerald corruption were swept away as if by a powerful wind.



The doorway was suddenly empty--nothing remained of the spectre.



Willow bent over the still form of Tara, desperately trying to awaken her.

--

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

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 11/28/02 9:16:38 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 12:21 pm 
Ahh damn cliffhangers. Totally love the update though. Tara has to be alright or Willow is gonna be seriously piss off. I think I lost count on how many times Giles knocked out. Oh well. I wonder when Giles wake up Willow will still be there cause I badly want to know what Giles will do. Once again love the update and can't wait for the next one!!



-Trinity-





"Hey, I'm a friend of lady Imbolc, get over here and do some quality bowing." Anya in Unexpected Consequensed by Lisa of Nine



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 12:39 pm 
Whats wrong with Tara's heart, did it get damaged that bad by the Master ? Yet again an evil cliffhanger....getting suspicious here.



Even though I understand Tara's reasoning I don't think it was very wise of her to insist on helping with the spell, bit idealistic. Willow could have dealt with the ghost (easily probably), saving Tara straining her heart. It's not like Tara at her current level can help much with spells anyway, Willow could teach her some non-dark spells. She's bound to know at least a few more light magic spells Tara could use safely.



They might try a normal conversation about that topic, when none of them are in danger. Re-enforcing the office seal would have provided them with more time for the banishment spell, why didn't they (or Willow alone) do that first ?



Seems teleportation works differently from the way Anya/Vengance Demons use it. They seem to need to no anchor what-so-ever. Maybe she only needed the information on where she was teleporting to ? Indeed a lot of trust placed there, ending in up in wall doesn't sound nice :) . How did Tara know it was the Master's Spectre anyway ??



As with the dark magic itself, it was inevitable that Tara would see Willow's eyes sooner or later. Lets see what comes of that once everybody is out of danger. Oh oh... and when Giles wakes up...he better not start spouting his rightous talk again.



Hmm.. so far the biggest downside to using dark magic seems to be horrible black eyes. I told you Willow should have used contacts, no one would notice then :) .



Now go and get Tara to a hospital. Giles is used to being knocked out, he'll wake up with a headache but should be fine :) .



Grimmy (who is counting down till Monday, next update IS on monday right?)

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine

Edited by: Grimlock72 at: 11/28/02 12:04:48 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 1:13 pm 
Poor old Giles, still being knocked out after all this time!



Tara was surprised, but proud I'm sure, of the innate trust Willow showed, a trust which was returned in her acceptance of the dark-eyed Willow.



Really interested in the reason for Tara's weakened state.



Thanks!

Adding up the total of a love that's true, multiply life by the power of two
Indigo Girls



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 3:04 pm 
hee hee! Giles is still knocked out! Although i don;t hink he would have been been very helpful after Willow's appearance. I'm just glad they banished the master.



Loved it!!!



-Will

"Hear that baby? You're my always."





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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 9:09 pm 
Oh, WOW!! :clap



:bounce :clap :bounce





That was...wow..just terrific!! I SOOO love this fic!!! *grins*



Now, my question is...Willow's eyes are black huh? Okay, so... can I sorta kinda hopta guess that when (and i'm counting on this) they get together..*realize their love* that WIllow's eyes will be green again?? HUMMM? PLEASE??? *grins* I HOPE SO!!



I really love how you are writing this fic and describing Willow and Tara. Tara's doubts about the magick, but she's already getting willow to do magick with her other than reverting to the darkest magick.. and even with all that power, you're showing WIllow's insecurities as far as being seen as good in Tara's eyes. *Sighs*



I can't WAIT for another update!!!!



~NICKOLE~

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

"I found you. I will always find you"



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 10:13 pm 
Dear darkmagicwillow,



Oh my, another update, and another cliff-hanger! Do you like scaring us? You must realize that today many of us are already dealing with Thanksgiving Day trauma. And I haven't opened the wine yet! Actually I was not anticipating an update on the holiday. Thank-you for posting today. This is great! Lots of interesting things here. I was anxious about what would happen if the Master had broken through the barrier and interrupted their chosen spell. I found myself empathizing with Spirit and her attitude towards getting the job done.



As for your earlier reference to the Culture, apparently you have resources of surprising reach and talents other than writing.



Due to your system being near the edge of the spiral arm, the Culture did not previously have access to Pens, a situation that needs to be corrected soon. While traveling far from home, a few light-years from Earth we passed through the electromagnetic wave-front of BTVS. The ship-mind was intrigued, especially with the development of the Willow/Tara relationship. A detour was deemed justified.



After our arrival I discovered Pens while doing Willow/Tara research. This site is a treasure trove that will take some time to mine. We do have pressing business in another system for a uh swap-meet, yes, that's it, a swap-meet, but we are reluctant to leave while your story is in progress. The insurrection, or uh the swapping of meetings can wait a while longer.



I am quite encouraged by the behavior of my biological associate since our arrival on your planet. He is showing a renewed enthusiasm for work, quite unlike his more recent habits I assure you. He has even chosen some Earthly phenomena to investigate in depth. By the time we leave here to resume the mission he should be quite expert on the subjects of "dark chocolate" and "tequila". I am reluctant to take all of the credit for his behavioral change, but there is an apparent connection between my inspired lectures on developing a positive work ethic and his vigorous investigation of margaritas. While he is busy researching these discoveries, I shall focus on learning as much as possible about Willow and Tara.



As for "SC", I must confess ignorance on the subject. I am a simple machine, a library drone with some diplomatic training. The only group with which I am presently affiliated is the Benevolent Society, or BS for short. We are sometimes confused with the Beneficent Machines organization.



Now please, I have taken up far too much of your time. Do continue with your valuable work on the next installment of this exciting story, which we are all anxiously awaiting. We have to hope and trust that Tara has not suffered serious injury. It will be very interesting to see the reactions of Spirit and Giles to Tara's new friend. How will Giles react when he regains consciousness to find an injured Tara in the company of a dark eyed Willow? And how will Willow's and Tara's different approaches to magic affect their long-term relationship? I shall feign patience while waiting for you to light the way.



Your admirer and humble servant,

Flere-Imsaho





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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2002 10:25 pm 
DMW, I love how W&T's connection is so palpable to me, which conveys so well that W&T may be "different", their circumstances may not be completely the same (ie compared to the past that Willow experienced with Tara), but their bond, remains intact, (they indeed can "always find each other").



What spoke to me in this chapter was the trust demonstrated by W&T. With this in mind, I think Willow conveying her trust through their link, as well as the feeling of doing something similar in being an "anchor" in her dreams, gives Tara the strength/courage to fulfill her part of the teleportation spell. Also in relation to Tara's dreams, I think it's becoming clearer to Tara as she spends more time with Willow that her dreams, hold meaning/significance, and she will find the answers in Willow.



The moment Tara saw Willow without her sunglasses, and saw her black eyes really struck a chord with me. Even though, Willow is acting on the outside as the experienced "take-charge" witch, inside she is still insecure Willow, who expects to be "rejected". And what I loved was by holding Willow's gaze, and simply saying, ("Thanks for coming"), she allays Willow's doubts/insecurities. Also the saying "the eyes are the window to your soul" really fits perfectly here. Meaning, even in all of Willow's "darkness" I believe Tara can see her "light", a "light" that may be hidden underneath the pain/darkness of the past, but still present (ie just needs help to bring it out). Therefore, it should be interesting as Tara realizes the extent the "darkness" has played in Willow's past/present, how they struggle to find a comfortable balance in regards to use of "light"/"dark" magic. Or in other words, as they get closer how this issue continues to affect their growing relationship?



Poor Giles "knocked out", and I can't wait to see his reaction when he finally comes face to face with the past (ie Willow). As for the spell for the "spectre" Tara emphasizing "together" was smart in getting Willow to focus on ways, other than dark magic to rid the ghost, but at the same time not wise by putting herself at risk (ie Tara knowing the "spectre" somehow affected her heart). Thus, another "cruel" cliffhanger ;) with Tara collapsing, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Edited by: VampNo12  at: 11/28/02 10:46:30 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b - His Master's Ghost: Eyes of Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2002 12:47 am 
What a cliffhanger!!!

Please update soon!!



Stef :p



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 Post subject: Chapter 8b replies
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2002 3:45 am 
Thanks to all the kittens who took time away from Thanksgiving to read this. It's almost 3:00am here, but I'm almost done packing for tomorrow so I'm taking a little time before packing the computer to reply.



Tulipp has graciously agreed to handle the story while I'm away from my computer. You will be in her capable hands until I return next week, and she will post chapter 9, "Wards" on Monday.



XWickedXWiccan: I know, I know, everyone knocks Giles unconscious, but I wasn't ready for him to meet Willow quite yet.



Grimlock72: No more cliffhangers for a while, I promise. Tara is idealistic and remember, she's only 19. Willow needed Tara to help her because she was teleporting to someplace she'd never been before; it wouldn't have been a problem if she had been to the new library previously. The ritual to reinforce the consecration spell would likely have taken longer than the rather short exorcism Willow knew. There's also the issue of spell components. Giles identified the spectre for Tara in the first part of the chapter.



mollyig: The moment of Willow's appearance is really the focal point of this part, and the issue of trust is essential to both of them as you point out.



willntlover: Thanks, I'll try to take better care of Giles later. He is getting older after all.



Silver: Thanks so much. As for Willow's eyes turning green again, I can't say anything yet.



FlereImsaho: I'm glad you like Spirit. I wanted her to be different than the vampire slayers we've seen on Buffy, but I don't get as much time to work with her as I'd like. Willow and Tara keep hogging the story! (-; I'm happy to have intrigued a ship Mind with my humble story.



VampNo12: You're so right about the eyes being the window to the soul, and that Tara can see a light in the darkness of those eyes that even Willow herself can't see. Even though there's a growing sense of trust between them in this chapter, the shadow of Willow's darkness hovers over them. Perhaps more important than the source of Willow's magic is what she did with it, and we've only seen a few pieces of Willow's past so far. They do have their connection to get them through this, but it's very new to Tara and in some ways new to Willow too as she has to learn to accept it again after losing it so terribly 19 years ago.



deixs: You'll have to wait til Monday, but then it's smooth sailing for a little while, at least as far as cliffhangers are concerned.

--

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

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 11/29/02 2:46:14 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b replies
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2002 4:45 am 
Ah yes, their age difference. It's quite a significant difference as well, not only in years but in (probably bad) experience too. Gawd, Willow is 39 now ?? Now, there's something to think about :) . Old Willow, heh.... and she's never stopped searching in all those years, now there's dedication for you.



On one side I hope Tara stays idealistic for a long time, on the other side I hope she gets rid of some of it 'cos it might get her killed rather easily in Sunnydale. Esp. since Master jr. will probably target the witch interfering with his plans next, odds are he'll guess that it's Tara.



It's probably best to destroy the Heart gem altogether. Anything that gives random people that much power, so easily is way to dangerous. Most witches at least have to work to get that power, so they have some idea how to handle it. With that Heart gem, any looser (i.e. Master jr.) can get the power without knowing a thing about it...<>. Hmm... how did that power get in there in the first place, stolen from other witches perhaps ??



Just re-read this story (on copying it to a word-doc to be exact) and I still adore the Willow whirling her cloak/cape around her and being so proud of that fact :D .



Have a nice holliday btw :wave .



Grimmy

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b replies
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2002 9:09 am 
Heh. I scrolled through and read about all the poor cliffhanging kittens, so I had to come and respond to this chapter.



You already know what I think about it, but I'll say it again. Love this chapter. Tara finally getting to see Willow's eyes is so important, as is her ability to not look away from Willow that first time.



Ah, and poor Giles! Getting knocked on the head again. You'd think his brain would be half baked by this day and age with all the knockouts he's gotten. ;)



Happy moving, DMW!





"We've got the only librarian who can rip off your arm with his leg. People respect that." - Terry Pratchett



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 8b replies
PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2002 8:43 pm 
Damn, you are going to give me a heart attack!



I mentioned before that I appreciated your talent for keeping your readers off balance, and that knack is very much apparent in this update. A real sense of dread permeates your writing, and for me it has to do with the way you do the unexpected unexpectedly. For example, I suspected that Willow had “black eyes,” but Tara’s reaction to them surprised me (even though it was completely consistent with the growth you have shown her character undergoing.)



A couple of other things – I really like Spirit, and your description of the Master’s successively more successful attempts to break down the protection spell was gorgeous.



SB



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 Post subject: Re: Fic:The Dark Rose
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2002 4:15 am 
Lucy was right!!



This is truly good (even if you do seem to be vying for the cliffhanger of the year! - you bad person,you!).



One thing...I truly look forward to how you are going to have Giles react to Willow of the now!



We'll be watching...

vive,valeque.



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 Post subject: Re: Fic:The Dark Rose
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2002 2:01 pm 
*sniffles*



update soon??? :pray





*GRINS* I'm addicted!! I can't help myself!!!





~NICKOLE~

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

"When did morning happen?"

"After the moon went down"



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 Post subject: Subbing for DMW
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 7:10 am 
Many of you Dark Rose readers are probably saying to yourselves, "who the frilly heck is Tulipp and why is she responding to darkmagicwillow's feedback?"



Well, dmw is moving, and I have been entrusted with the task of thanking everybody for reading and posting the next chapter. So please bear with me; I'm no substitute, but I do have chapter 9 right in front of me….



Grimmy, I also keep coming back to that age difference….but now that I’m in my 30s', too, well, honestly? 39 doesn't seem very old anymore to me. It might to Tara, but I like the subtle ways that Tara wonders about Willow's age in the early chapters. Oh, and I love the way you refer to "Master Jr."



LeatherQueen, well, you know everything that happens already, so what can I say? As for those cliffhanging kittens, well….did you encourage that particular habit of leaving the chapter on a desperately suspenseful note too? :wink



Sister Bertrille, "Off balance" seems to me a great way to describe what happens in these chapters. From the beginning, certain elements have been off balance…for me, Willow's age and character are the most important of those elements, but that off-balance-ness really pervades the whole story. I wonder if there is also a stylistic off-balance-ness that comes from a contrast between dialogue that is sometimes short, often leaving things deliberately unspoken and those lush, descriptive, atmospheric scenes like the one you pointed to with the Master breaking down the protections.



Emily First, Yay Lucy! I seem to recall some quite interesting scenes between Willow and Giles, like the one…. Oh. Wait. I bet I’m not supposed to do that. :)



SilverWingedNemesis, the update is coming up later today (Monday). Oh, and as for being addicted? Don't worry. Willow dealt with that once. By the next chapter, you’ll probably find that everything is connected. :wink



Well, on behalf of dmw, thanks to all you Kittens who are reading, and look for the next chapter around lunchtime (EST) today (Monday).



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



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 Post subject: Dark Rose Chapter 9
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 9:53 am 
Well, I'm double-posting because I don't want to risk messing up the ezcode/html stuff.



But here it is....enjoy....



Title: The Dark Rose - Chapter 9 (Wards)

Author: Dark Magic Willow

Email: darkmagickwillow@yahoo.com

Rating: R, mostly for violence, no explicit sex

Pairing: W/T

Spoilers: All episodes through the end of season 6 though this story takes

place 18-19 years after the end of season 6.

Feedback: Yes! Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Summary: Willow takes Tara to the hospital.

Magic Note: Magic, even dark magic, is not addictive in my universe, so there

are no withdrawal symptoms and no dark magic dealers. Here Rack was a dark

magic teacher who used his students, not a dealer. However, you can use too

much magic and you can be corrupted by the power it gives you.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the copyrights or anything else

associated with BtVS. All rights lie with the production company,

writers etc.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to my betas, Amanda and Juli, for quick turnaround of

this chapter so that a chapter can be posted while I'm busy moving. Special

thanks to Juli for understanding what holds this chapter together and giving me

a better title than the one I thought of.





The Dark Rose

Chapter 9: Wards






Willow slammed open the emergency ward doors with her mind as she carried

Tara's unconscious form across the threshold. It was less than an hour after

sundown so there were only a couple of patients sitting in the waiting

area--later in the night, the ward would be full of "neck trauma" victims.



Willow ignored the patients, scanning the room for a nurse or doctor. Spotting

a nurse behind the desk at the far side of the room, she stared into him with

her dark eyes and commanded, "Get a doctor now!"



The nurse immediately disappeared through the door behind the desk. Less than

a minute later, a doctor and a couple of nurses wheeling a gurney rushed

through the double doors that led back to the emergency department. One of the

nurses started to pull Tara out of Willow's arms but desisted when Willow

glared at her with her black-in-black eyes.



She gently placed Tara on the gurney, then reluctantly moved away so the

medical professionals could examine her. The nurses checked the blonde's heart

rate and blood pressure, while the doctor, a short-haired woman in her early

thirties, asked, "What happened?"



Willow was ready for this question. "She lost consciousness and has an

irregular heartbeat," she answered.



The doctor quickly verified that Tara's heartbeat was erratic, then asked,

"What was the cause?"



"I don't know," Willow responded. She didn't know exactly what had happened

with the spell and the ghost, but Spirit had told her that the spectre had

reached inside Tara with its ghostly hand. That wasn't something she could

tell the doctor though. She had felt so helpless when Tara had collapsed.

Demons and ghosts she could deal with, but an injured girlfriend was a more

difficult problem even if she wasn't quite your girlfriend yet.



"Has she had any symptoms like these in the past?" the doctor asked.



Willow shook her head impatiently. "No," she said. She knew that all these

questions had to be answered, but she wanted the doctor making Tara better now.



The doctor continued asked her questions. "What's her name?" she asked. "Is

she taking any medications and does she have any known allergies to

medications?"



"Her name's Tara Lucas." But Willow didn't know the answer to the other

question. She knew that in the past Tara didn't have any allergies or take any

medications, but she didn't know anything now about her. Yet she should have

known! She knew what kind of life Tara lived so she should have been prepared

for a simple hospital visit. Distressed, her voice was small and almost

ashamed as she confessed that she didn't know the answers to the doctor's

questions.



"Okay, we'll take her back now," she said. "Wait here." The nurses wheeled

the gurney carrying Tara through the double doors. They were followed closely

by the doctor.



Willow started to follow, ignoring the doctor's order. The doctor turned,

holding a hand. "I'm sorry," she said. "But you'll have to wait here. We'll

let you know what's happening as soon as we know."



Willow started to raise a hand, beginning a gesture that would throw the doctor

out of her way. Then she stopped, realizing that she couldn't help Tara like

that. Standing over the doctors while they worked would probably be

distracting. The best thing she could do was wait, but she didn't have to like

it. She turned away and started pacing, impatiently checking the clock on the

wall every few seconds.



After only a couple of minutes, Willow resumed worrying. What was taking them

so long? Could the erratic heartbeat indicate something more serious than she

thought? If it wasn't serious, why had Tara collapsed? The doctor seemed to

be competent, but maybe she should have gone to the best hospital instead of

the closest one. What was the best hospital in Sunnydale anyway? She should

have researched that too.



Looking up at the clock, she saw that another minute had passed. Perhaps

taking a long time was good, indicating that they were able to help Tara. If

they came back quickly, that could be bad. But what if taking a long time

meant something else? What if they were taking Tara into surgery without

letting her know? They probably didn't think she was a family member so they

might not even tell her.



The doctor finally emerged from the double doors. Willow rushed over to meet

her, asking, "Is she going to be alright?"



"Yes, we've stabilized her heart rate. She's sleeping normally now."



Willow turned abruptly away from the doctor as felt a wave of relief wash

through her body. "Can she come home?" she asked, then wondered whether she

should take Tara to her dorm or the mansion.



"No," the doctor said. "We want to keep her overnight to monitor her heart to

be safe."



Willow was disappointed at the news but she was all for being safe where Tara

was concerned so she didn't object. "Where can I see her?" she asked.



"Are you family?"



"No, but..."



"Then you can see her in the morning during visitation hours," the doctor

interrupted.



Willow's stared at the doctor with her dark eyes, pushing with an iron will

that had sustained her for nineteen years on her dark quest. "No," she said.

"I'm going to see her now." The doctor started to object, but Willow

intensified the stare, silencing her. Willow pushed past the doctor and walked

through the double doors.



Willow focused on her link with Tara, letting it guide her to the right room in

the hospital. The different wards of the hospital were a maze of identical

corridors and rooms, but she never faltered or had to backtrack. She followed

her sense of Tara's presence through the children's ward then the orthopedic

ward before finding the private patient's rooms. Reaching room 97, she opened

the door and saw Tara sleeping in the bed, her blonde hair spilling over the

pillow. She stepped inside, closing the door quietly behind her.



She sat down in the uncomfortable chair that faced the bed and settled down to

wait. She didn't know how long it would take for Tara to wake but she would be

here when Tara did. The room was only dimly lit by a bank of electronics by

the bedside that Willow supposed were monitoring Tara's heart rate, but she

could still make out the golden color of Tara's hair. Tara's face had a

serenity in her sleep here that it had lacked in her earlier unconsciousness.

She was an angel in repose.



Willow felt like she could sit here and watch Tara sleep forever. It had been

so long since she had. Tonight she had been terrified that she was going to

lose Tara again, but she could feel her worries lifting as she watched the slow

rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.



There was an inherent purity in her expression that called to Willow, reminding

her that this was the same Tara she had loved and lost so long ago. Despite

the small differences in their features, that purity brought forth an essential

sameness in the face she watched now and the one she held close in her memory.

This was her beautiful Tara. She was so calm and still, looking like she

always did when Willow watched her sleep.



Her fingers trembled as she reached over to touch Tara's face. She had wanted

to do this since the moment she had met this Tara. Willow lightly stroked the

velvet softness of Tara's cheek. It had been so long since she had been able

to touch someone this intimately. She wouldn't have dared this now if she

had been watched by Tara's wakeful eyes, but someday they would be this close

again.



Willow became very still as she heard someone walk by the door. If it was the

annoying doctor again, she was going to do something drastic. Then the

footsteps continued down the corridor, allowing her to relax. She didn't deal

well with authority figures, especially after her experiences with the Council

of Watchers. She let her mind drift back to the night when she had discovered

how dangerous the Council was.



Willow woke suddenly in the dark, immediately aware of the

presence of several people in her room. They were completely silent. How had

they gotten past her wards? Then there was no more time for questions as she

heard two of them stealthily approaching her.



Feigning sleep, she waited until they were close, then she struck the man to

her left with all her force, throwing him into the wall with a loud crunch.

She flowed forward with her blow, tumbling out of bed. Behind her, she heard

the sound of a blade hacking into the mattress.



They weren't here to capture her.



They were here to kill her.



She quickly surveyed the room, her dark eyes easily finding the four black clad

men in the almost total darkness of the room. The man she had struck was

unconscious, but the man with the blade jumped over the bed, hacking at her.

With preternatural speed, she caught the blade in her hand as it swung towards

her and ripped it out of his hand, tossing it negligently behind her. The

blade had only made a crease in her palm, the sharp edge unable to cut through

the layers of protective enchantments embedded in her flesh. She backhanded

the disarmed man, smashing him hard into a wall.



Only two left.



They were ready with guns as she turned to face them. She hated guns. Before

she could react, they opened fire. Her intricately layered hexagonal networks

of protective spells shed most of the bullets harmlessly, but there were too

many of them for all of them to be stopped. Slowed by her defenses, the few

bullets that got through still ripped into her body painfully, tearing flesh

and cracking bones. A wave of agony rippled through her. She had been hurt

before, but never like this. She collapsed against the wall behind her as the

shooters emptied their clips, and slid helplessly to the floor.



As she struggled to get back up despite the pain, she saw the two men

approaching her. Her vision narrowed, seeing them through a red haze. Her

mind worked sluggishly, trying to find a way to avoid being killed here. More

out of instinct than anything else, she whispered a word of power.



The man on the right collapsed bonelessly to the floor, his body inhumanly limp

as it fell. As the other man turned to his fallen partner, she whispered the

word again. He emitted a faint mewl as he too fell to the ground, his bones

melted by her spell.



She struggled to stand up again. A giant burst of pain caused her to gray out,

and she slid back down to the floor. As she regained full consciousness, she

spat blood from her mouth. There were internal injuries, but she had to know

if these were the only ones trying to kill her now.



She'd have to crawl to them as she was too weak to read their minds from here.

At least her legs worked even if it was too painful to stand. Her body would

regenerate anything short of a spinal injury. The enchantments of protection

and regeneration had required some of the darkest rituals she'd ever performed,

but their worth was showing now.



She crawled over to one of the limp forms, each movement a burst of agony, and

pressed her hand to his forehead. As she read his mind, her first feeling was

relief. These four were the entire team that had been sent after her. Her

next feeling was rage.



The Council of Watchers had sent them, and they would send others once they

received word of this team's failure.




Willow had barely made it out of there before the police arrived, but she had

dealt with the Watcher's Council. She had made them an offer they shouldn't

have refused. It was far more of a chance than they had given her, but they

refused anyway. Now they no longer existed to trouble her or anyone else.



She shook her head to free it of the darkness of the past, and smiled again as

she looked at Tara. The darkness was behind her now. The Master had been

returned to his grave and would trouble them no longer. Once they were

together, they could leave this town where such terrible things happened with

appalling regularity.



She was growing closer to Tara with every day. With the thought that they

would be together soon in her mind, she settled down in the chair to watch over

the woman she loved.



Hours later, Tara rolled over and stretched like a cat, arms first then legs.

Her blue eyes blinked open as she realized that she wasn't in her bed. She

looked around the room, bewildered, trying to figure out where she was.



"Where am I?" Tara asked in a confused voice, surprised to see Willow. She

would have been afraid waking up in a strange place, but Willow's presence

calmed and reassured her.



Willow stood up, her movements stiff from spending too long in the

uncomfortable chair, and walked over the bed. "You're in the hospital."



"What happened?" Tara asked, her eyes wide with worry. She was still fuzzy

about what had happened tonight, but she remembered the spectre and that she

had been casting a spell with Willow.



"You're going to be fine," Willow reassured her. "You collapsed as we finished

the spell. Your heartbeat was erratic so I brought you here."



More details came to her as her mind grew more wakeful. "What about Mr. Giles

and Spirit?" Tara said, still looking worried.



"They're fine too," Willow said. "The spectre is gone. I left Spirit at the

library to take care of Giles. He's probably doing better than you are."



Tara felt better, knowing that her friends were safe. That settled, what she

wanted to do was to get out of here as fast as she could. Hospitals were the

worst places. "Can I leave now that I'm awake?"



Willow saw that Tara wanted to go now, but she knew it was best to be safe and

follow the doctor's orders. She didn't want anything to go wrong with Tara now

that she'd found her again. "No, they want you to stay for observation."



"But you said I was fine," Tara said worriedly. She had discovered when her

mother was in the hospital that doctors were less than forthright with bad

news.



"You are," Willow said soothingly. "The doctor said so, but she also wanted to

be sure that your heartbeat didn't become irregular again."



"I'll be fine," Tara said plaintively. "I don't get attacked by a spectre

every night."



"No, just by vampires," Willow retorted. She understood how Tara felt, having

not allowed injuries to stop her when she was helping the slayer, but that

didn't mean that she was going to let Tara out of here a minute before the

doctors said that she was okay to depart.



"So I live a hazardous lifestyle," Tara said, smiling crookedly up at Willow.

She hated being in the hospital, but Willow being here with her made it

better. Tara hoped Willow would stay with her through the night. Nights were

the worst when you were all by yourself in one of these rooms.



Willow sat down on the edge of the bed by Tara and looked somberly at her.

"You should have told me before we started the spell."



Tara looked down, letting her long hair fall forward to cover her face. She

knew that she should have told Willow, but she'd been afraid of what Willow

would have done without her help. How could she tell Willow that though? Had

she done the wrong thing because she'd been too afraid to confront Willow?



Why was she so scared of that? Willow had never given her a reason to be

afraid of her. Then Tara realized what she was afraid of--she was scared that

Willow would see that as a rejection and leave her. When had Willow become so

important to her?



Willow gently touched her shoulder, feeling the warmth of Tara's skin through

the thin fabric of the blue hospital gown. "I'm not angry with you," she

said. Her voice filled with pain and loss as she continued, "But I was so

afraid of losing you..." Only in her mind did Willow complete the sentence

with the final word again.



Hesitantly, Tara wrapped her arms around Willow's slender form. Willow froze

at the initial contact, unaccustomed to being touched, then relaxed and let

herself be pulled down to sit on the bed beside Tara. Tara hugged her friend

tightly, resting her head on Willow's shoulder. She murmured softly into

Willow's ear, "I'm sorry."



Willow enclosed Tara in her own arms, letting her head rest on Tara's warm

shoulder. She had wanted this for so long. She had carried a tremendous

burden of anger and grief all those years alone and this was the first time she

could put it down, and let herself feel safe and secure in someone's arms.

Even through the leather she wore she could feel Tara's heart beating strongly

against her chest. Everything would be all right as long as she could feel

that.



Tara didn't know what Willow was feeling, but she could tell that her friend

needed this deeply. She tightened her arms around Willow. Truth be told, she

needed this as well. It had been the most frightening night of her life. If

it hadn't been for Willow, that horrifying spectre would have killed all of

them. As Willow hugged her ever more closely, Tara sighed contently, feeling

cherished and safe.



Finally, stiff and protesting muscles demanded that they move. They slowly

broke the embrace and sat on the bed looking into each other's eyes for a

moment without speaking.



Tara finally broke the silence. "Since you're safety gal, what about meeting

someplace other than the graveyard?" she asked. "Would you want to go for

coffee?"



Willow's eyes widened in consternation. She didn't do public places. She was

much more at home in the desolate places of the night. Willow certainly felt

more comfortable meeting Tara in the graveyard than in a coffee shop. She

understood that her feelings weren't healthy, but she couldn't easily change

them after 19 years spent away from the places where normal people lived and

worked.



"I'm not much for public places," Willow demurred, looking down to avoid Tara's

eyes. "Their proprietors get all cranky the first time you destroy a demon on

the premises like it was your fault that it was there..."



Tara ducked her head, letting her hair fall forward to shield her face in her

habitual defense mechanism, but not before Willow could see the sudden

disappointment in her eyes. "It's okay," she said, without looking at Willow.

Her voice was dull, completely without inflection. "I understand."



"I-" Willow began then closed her mouth as she didn't know what to say. After

a few minutes of awkward silence in which neither girl looked at the other,

Willow tried to make her explanations to Tara again. "I'm sorry, Tara," she

said, reaching over to touch her friend on the shoulder. "I'm not used to...

It was so sudden. I didn't know how to react. I mean..."



Tara looked up, blonde tresses falling away from eyes in which hope was

rising. "Does that mean you want to go?"



Willow relented, her desire to see Tara outweighing all her apprehensions about

public places. "Yes," she said with a bright smile. "How about tomorrow?"



She knew that she had to see Tara in the light. If they were going to have a

relationship, it couldn't be limited to the shadows of the dark places she'd

haunted all these years. Ready or not, she had to venture into the world of

ordinary life.



Of course, Willow wasn't ready. She needed time to prepare. It was going to

be a busy day tomorrow. She didn't have any clothes other than the type she

was wearing now. She needed something nicer for a date. Was it a date?



Tara smiled happily. "Oh," she said. "It's tomorrow already." Then she

yawned widely. "I guess I'm still tired from all the excitement."



Willow was disappointed to end their conversation here, but they had tomorrow.

"Do you want me to go?" she asked.



"No," Tara said, shaking her head. "No, I'd like to have someone here, that is

if you won't be too bored." She really didn't want to be in the hospital all

alone.



"I'm staying," Willow said with a firm look that brooked no contradiction.



Tara laid her head down on Willow's thigh, wishing she could sleep like this.

Hospitals gave her nightmares since her mother got sick. Willow reached down

to softly stroke her long blonde hair. Tara sighed contentedly, snuggling

closer to Willow.



Willow understood what Tara wanted so she pulled herself fully on to the bed,

careful to not disturb Tara's head in her lap. Tara looked up at Willow, her

blue eyes questioning. "It's okay," Willow said, smiling down at her. "Go to

sleep. I'll ward off any nightmares." She continued to run her fingers

through Tara's silken hair.



Willow smiled as she looked at Tara and thought about how this was a reflection

of their past. Then Tara had maintained a vigil over her sleep after Buffy's

death, before Willow had brought the slayer back to life. Willow had tried to

hide her recurring nightmares of Buffy's plunge from the tower, ashamed that

she hadn't been able to do something to stop it, but Tara had known. She

stayed awake night after night so that she could awaken Willow before she was

sucked into the sludgy morass of guilt and fear of her nightmare. That had

broken the cycle and she had been able to sleep peacefully again with Tara at

her side.



Willow watched as Tara's blue eyes fluttered softly closed and the blonde's

breathing took on the regular rhythm of sleep. Once she was certain that Tara

was asleep, she bent down and softly kissed her on the forehead. She felt

happier than she had in years as she watched Tara asleep in her lap.





Edited by: Tulipp at: 12/2/02 3:31:13 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Dark Rose Chapter 9
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 10:56 am 
Oh yay! I love this chapter. :)



This chapter ends on such a lovely image. So much love and happy possibilities are apparent in that last scene. *sigh* Great chapter, as always, DMW!



And Tulipp...
Quote:
LeatherQueen, well, you know everything that happens already, so what can I say? As for those cliffhanging kittens, well….did you encourage that particular habit of leaving the chapter on a desperately suspenseful note too?




Heh. Leaving chapters on desperately suspenseful notes? :shock I don't know ANYTHING about that. ;)





"We've got the only librarian who can rip off your arm with his leg. People respect that." - Terry Pratchett



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 Post subject: Re: Dark Rose Chapter 9
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 11:34 am 
Awww... such a nice image, Tara sleeping in Willow's lap (sort of). Trust Willow to take care of Tara :) . She should hold back on using magic for every-day problems though, like with that docter she almost threw out of the way. Bit overkill to use magic for that, which she realised kinda late. So cute she was all worried she didn't know Tara's medical history and in general wasn't prepared for something. Thats the panicing Willow we know and love :D



Now what why did the CoW send a team after Willow, she didn't want to fit in their grand plan? Idiots. It's troubling they got through the wards without detection though (which reminds me of todays museum robbery, which is beside the point:) ). Besides, anyone trying to harm Willow deserves to die, heh. I recommend a fire-shield against those bullets by the way, worked nicely in _FireStarter_.



I wonder if Willow will keep walking around without sunglasses, i.e. with black eyes. That ought to attract attention, most of which is unwanted. I hope she's not lulled into a false sense of security now that the spectre is gone (heck it's not even destroyed really).



Interesting that Tara doesn't really seem to care/notice those eyes much anymore. No doubt she'll think about that some more in relation to magic, but on a personal level she doesn't seem to bothered by them. I suppose thats a good thing :D .



Grimmy

"You hurt Tara," Willow said too calmly. "The last one who tried that was a god. I made her regret it." -- Unexpected Consequences by Lisa of Nine

Edited by: Grimlock72 at: 12/3/02 4:46:01 am


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 Post subject: Re: Dark Rose Chapter 9
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 1:52 pm 
Great update. It's interesting to see what I've come to refer to as Willow 1 (pre-darkness) peeking out sometimes amongst the actions of Willow 2 (current Willow), whom I'm a lot less comfortable with due to the ease with which she's taken to using her magic to get her way in all situations. But then W1 comes in and shows her sweet shyness and vulnerability, or tempers W2's gut reactions so that she doesn't wind up throwing innocent doctors around hospitals.



I also thought it interesting that Tara didn't seem too put off or disturbed by Willow's eyes and what they mean. Obviously in the heat of the moment wasn't the time to have a conversation, and the fact that they formed a bond before she saw the eyes is a factor. I suppose we'll see this play out a little more in chapters to come, because someone with Tara's upbringing and respect for magic wouldn't be able to sit idly by for long watching Willow be all scary with the darkness. She's already started trying to dissuade Willow in subtle ways. One can only hope Willow listens this time.



I'm sort've thrown by the way Willow is right now. She doesn't really care about the fate of her friends, no desire to see her mentor, Giles, or recconnect in anyway. Her whole existence at this point is about Tara. At the same time, she's fully embraced the one thing that really drove the 2 of them apart in the first place, but she's given no thought to that other than trying to hide it, which is sort've back to the beginning for her. You'd think that after everything she's gone through with the previous Tara, she'd almost be ashamed of what she does now, yet instead she seems to not even think about it or care. It just is, like a part of her. Is she going to have to confront this at some point?



Ok, done with all my ramblings and musings. Hope none of this was confusing, insulting, or anything like that (I'm always afraid of giving feedback).



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 Post subject: Re: Dark Rose Chapter 9
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 2:10 pm 
YAY!!!



AAWWWW> *SNIFFS* I love this~



GREAT update!! I really loved the interaction between Willow and Tara and how worried Willow was about her. I especially loved how Tara opened herself up to WIllow..in a way she let her know that she needed her.



So...is she gonna ask Will about her eyes? Smoochies anytime soon?



I LOVE THIS FIC!! I can't wait to read more!!! I'm hooked!!



Thanks again for this!!!



~NICKOLE~

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

She's my everything"



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 Post subject: Who the frilly heck is Tulipp?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 3:15 pm 
I know this one!



LeatherQueen and Tulipp are my wonderful beta readers. I wouldn't have gotten this far and the story wouldn't have been this good without without them, but you've been reading the acknowledgements section all along and know this already, right?



If you want a better idea of who they are, go to the Completed Fics Archive where you'll find LeatherQueen's bittersweet songfic Bleed to Love Her and Tulipp's lovely and compassionate story Terra Firma.



My kitty and I made it to our new home safely, but we still have a while to wait for all our things to arrive. Well, he has most of his stuff as well as new toys as a reward for being so good on the plane, but my books and computer have yet to arrive.



I'm on a borrowed computer with an ancient slow modem so I can't answer feedback right now, but I am working on getting chapter 10 ready for final beta and expect it to be ready for you sometime on Thursday.

--

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



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 Post subject: Re: Dark Rose Chapter 9
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2002 3:25 pm 
Wow. Guess my tardiness payed off since I didn't have to live through the cliffhanger of Chapter 8. Phew!



Poor Giles. That man seems to get the brunt of a lot of things. Just how many times has he been knocked unconscious? :p



I loved how well Spirit and Tara worked together. Your descriptions were incredible. The action, the mental link, the teleporation spell .. wow. ANd Tara being so accepting of Willow's dark eyes was great. They both have such a trust in the other. Beautiful.



It was nice to see WIllow pull back from using the majick when in the hospital, realizing that it wouldn't help Tara. It's good to know she has control.



That was an intense memory you portrayed. Chilled me to visualize that.



And a date? Yay!



Ending it on that image was a beautiful visual. *sigh* Thanks.



--celia



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



"That was just rude. Now I forget what I was saying."



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