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

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 Post subject: It's not over yet
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2003 7:17 pm 
I will get to detailed replies later, but I wanted to let you know that yes, there is one more chapter to come. I'm trying to get it off to the betas tonight, but it might not be ready for Pens until next week. I'm finding it hard to wrap everything up and say goodbye to this story which has been my constant companion for so many months.





--

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

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 3/3/03 6:17:55 pm


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 Post subject: Saying goodbye
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2003 9:32 pm 
I understand, DMW...It's powerful, isn't it, how stories and characters come to visit your daydreams and night dreams and even when we realize that it's time to bid adieu, even temporarily, we feel the loss.



Great work.

Mary



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2003 9:34 am 
*Slam*



Uhh, great story.



TVN from the floor.:devilish

"He beats me with wet noodles!" Amber Benson.

"Bored now." Vamp Willow







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 Post subject: It's not over yet
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2003 2:04 pm 
I'm so glad that there's a bit more to look forward to. I cannot fathom the mixed emotions that probably comes with the completion of such an involved - and involving - undertaking. I guess there would be the thrill of accomplishing something that captivated the imaginations and stirred the emotions of so many people; and the sadness at writing "the end" on the final page.



You've done a wonderful thing here...for what that's worth. To me it's worth a great deal.:love



^^^Suse



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 Post subject: The Dark Rose - Chaps 23-25
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2003 8:54 pm 
Hey DMW



Here you go – feedback as promised. :)



Your writing is so deliciously dense, like really good cheesecake. It’s so very descriptive (the fight scenes, the magical spells) and yet the fic doesn’t lack dialogue.



One of the things I love about fanfic is how certain phrases of dialogue can be re-used, recycled or echoed. This from Chap 23:
Quote:
"Do you trust me?" Tara asked.
echoes very nicely the “I trust you” spoken by Willow in S4 “This Year’s Girl”. The situations are different and yet the context remains the same. For me, that S4 “I trust you” is Willow’s first declaration of her love for Tara. Here, you use it as a question and Willow declares her answer: “I love you.”



And then there was
Quote:
I'll always find you," Willow promised,
– a re-use/echo of one of my fave S6 lines (Bargaining) when Tara explains to Anya that “Willow and I always know how to find each other”. You expand on that in the next few lines, explaining that Willow had been lost in grief but in finding Tara again, she’d found herself again. I loved that.



The next bit from Ch 23 that I liked really is the foundation for the entire fic. “The Dark Rose” is a post S6 fic; Tara has died. Willow did everything she did in those last three eps and then some. And yet your fic is based on the hope of Tara’s return.
Quote:
Tara was who she was, not simply a reflection of the past, but a person who still shared that past with Willow through some miracle she couldn't explain.
Tara lives again. Not through some wish or dream or by evading anything that happened in S6. She is reincarnated. Different but the same – and I loved that concept from the very beginning.



In Chap. 24 you use one of the staples of fantasy and magic: the power of the true name. I loved seeing that here. And I loved seeing Willow’s love for Tara overcome that power. Badly injured she refused to allow Tara to be sucked into the vortex too.



Dawn. What to say. She’s not one of my favorite characters, at least not until the scene in the hall in “Seeing Red” and her joyful shrieks of “I love you guys!”. That redeemed her. Here, in your fic, you do it again.
Quote:
Dawn pressing her bloody palm into the air as if it were a solid surface. Dawn slowly dug her fingers into the air.
The Key active again. What’s not to love? You and Tulipp share honors in making me like Dawn.



What else did I like? Well, how about the thought of Dawn’s blood coating the gem’s protection, becoming the impetus for the formation of a new solar system in the Void.
Quote:
Under the surface, billions of living blood cells, each filled with pure green energy, swam through the protections, seeking to open. Inside the chrysalis, the purity of their living power found its twin in age and power enclosed in the lifeless form of a gem.
This was simply awesome writing in my opinion.



Then there was the penultimate chapter.



The cemetery. The scene at the grave. So necessary and so neglected in this current season. You handled it beautifully, the way it should have been.
Quote:
"I wanted to say that I'm sorry," she said. "I did so much that I shouldn't have." Her face twisted as her tears began to flow more freely. "I was so lost. I should have trusted..."
Willow should have indeed. Such a beautiful goodbye to the past.



And this
Quote:
"I have always loved you," she said, her voice fervent with promise. "I will always love you."
is quintessential Willow. No other Scooby feels as deeply as her.



Finally, that lovely exchange between Tara present and Tara past in the dreamworld mirror – that conversation with Tara present stuttering, Tara past smiling lopsidedly, and the description of the jewel and its facets – that was wonderful.



Quote:
"Good," the other Tara said to her with a smile. "It's your turn to shine in the light."
It is indeed.



Thank you very much DMW for such a wonderful story. Needless to say I anxiously await the closing chapter of this fic and the first chapter of the next.



Ciao, Melissa



**********************




I brought marshmallows!



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 Post subject: Chapter 25 replies
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 10:51 am 
I love you, kittens. It's been so great writing this for you and getting all your feedback, but it's not over yet. There's still one more chapter to come.



Chapter 26 is off for a final look by my betas and should be ready for posting this week.





Patches: I hadn't thought of that song in years, but you're right, it's so fitting for this chapter. You see everything so clearly in your feedback, and I just love how you describe this chapter making you warm. Thanks so much.



yana: Yes, the first few paragraphs were meant to stretch out the cliffhanger. Southern California may not get snow, but it does have a relatively rainy winter as opposed to the drier summer.



Insanity: Thanks. The next chapter will reflect a bit on what's happened in their lives over the past couple of months.



Sea: I'm so happy the balance between the old and new Taras worked for you. I kept thinking I hadn't addressed that issue deeply enough in this story so I came up with this chapter to resolve any remaining thoughts, though it ended up being more feelings than thoughts that unite them.



bronwyn: Thanks, and one more chapter to go.



Antigone: You're right, it's been a delicate balance all along; I was so afraid that no one would accept Tara Lucas as Tara from the beginning, and yet I also didn't want her identity to be erased by making her too perfect a replacement. I still wonder if made it too easy by making their first names identical.



While the dream scene with the two Taras is all my own, I can't claim credit for the jewel/facets metaphor for reincarnation because, as I noted in my acknowledgements, I found the metaphor first in Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels, though I don't know for certain if he's the first to come up with it either. The image was too good to pass up, especially as I wanted to return to the Soul Gem in the ending.



I love your description of the gentleness of this chapter, and I'm glad the imagery of planting and rebirth worked for you. Thanks so much for all your wonderful feedback.



VampNo12: I found your comment about this chapter affecting you emotionally when you usually deal with things analytically interesting and insightful because I started trying to deal with the problem of the two Taras and their identity analytically, as I always deal with problems, only to find that I couldn't, that I had to express what I knew to be true about them emotionally and symbolically. Thanks for your insight as always.



JustSkipIt: I like your thoughts about pacing; I hadn't looked at it that way before. And I'm happy that the final scene worked without being explicit about what happens afterwards.



jixer: Thanks. It sounds like the grief was as hard to read as it was to write, but I'm glad the essential hope came through as well.



Tulipp: It was your writing that taught me that sometimes the indirect approach to an important moment is best, so I'm very happy to hear how that worked for you. I found your comments about Willow learning to be a One without TaraM, while Tara learns to be a One who includes TaraM very insightful. I hadn't looked at it quite that way, but you're right; that's the essence of each of their different journeys on their way to becoming a Two who are on the same journey into their future together.



tiredsoul: Foiled again! And I'm all out of cliffhangers. Heart-wrenching and uplifting were the feelings I had as I wrote this chapter; it was hard to deal with Tara's death again, but I had to come back to that as I approached the end of the story to bring us full circle.



Grimmy: All will be explained about the true name spell and its failure in the next chapter. Amy was definitely headed in the wrong direction, and I'm not sure after so many years of making herself in that image willfully that she could have changed here. Tara didn't want Willow to give up the Heart, but she wasn't in a good position to do anything herself, and it turned out that the time it bought saved them in the end.



Cindy Lou Who: I love your eagerness for a sequel, but this is a story meant to heal and resolve issues, so I won't be writing one. I am in the middle of outlining and researching a new story set after season 5 though. Your descriptions of Willow carrying the weight of her grief are lovely and evocative. I hope you'll be there to give me feedback on my next story.



Antigone: Yes, I've had the experience of leaving a world that I've read about, but it's different when it's one you're writing. I'll just describe the difference as ineffable because I like the word and I can't describe it myself at the moment.



vamp nurd: Thanks.



Cindy: The Dark Rose has been the center of my life these past months. I've made new friends and learned so much, none of which I expected, and I'm really getting into what I should be writing in my acknowledgements so I'd better quit now.



Triscuit: Mmmm....cheesecake. I like that description! (-; I'm glad to hear that it doesn't lack dialog as I always worried that I didn't have enough, but dialog isn't how I think. Thanks so much for this wonderful feedback; I love how you looked back at all the pieces of the conclusion and put them together in your post.



That moment in "Seeing Red" is what redeemed Dawn for me too, and I'm happy she works for you here. I thought she had a lot of unrealized potential on the show. As for the interaction of Key and Heart, I knew Willow would be thinking analytically how to imprison or destroy it, but I kept thinking transformation because it's, well, the heart after all, and then it came to me that the key is a metaphor, that the doors it unlocks don't have to be physical; keys can unlock our potentials too.

--

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



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 11:18 pm 
DMW -



I just delurked today :wave and I wanted post some praise before this wonderful fic comes to an end. It has been an absolutely incredible journey and I'm a little sad to see it end. Thank you for allowing us to come along for the ride:clap



-shuyaku

Edited by: shuyaku at: 3/11/03 10:48:16 am


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 Post subject: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 9:16 am 
Title: The Dark Rose - Chapter 26 (Sunrise)

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 celebration, stargazing, and all good things must come to end.

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.



Acknowledgments: First, last, and always, to my devoted beta readers. Amanda, you've been with me all the way, from the very first rough draft of chapter 1, and I can't thank you enough for all the encouragement and feedback that helped me make it to the end. Juli, you always knew where I needed to feel more intensely or see more vividly and, more importantly, you knew how to make me see that. You've been wonderful beyond my imaginings and I can't thank you enough for all your help.



Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback, emailed or posted, short or long, frequent or occasional. I loved it all, and I learned a great deal too, as you gave me so many new perspectives through which to see my writing. And thanks to everyone who read my story, whether you sent feedback or not. I'm simply amazed that so many people were interested in my vision of accepting and moving beyond the flaws of season 6.







The Dark Rose

Chapter 26: Sunrise






"Why are we going to the Bronze?" Willow asked, gazing at Tara with her best pleading puppy eyes.



"Because of your birthday," Tara answered, surprisingly patient despite all the times that Willow had asked her this question.



"This isn't a joke about my age, is it?" Willow asked in an ironic tone. "You know, bronze age, and all that."



Tara couldn't stop herself from smiling, but Willow wasn't going to be able to tease the secret out of her with jokes either. "No, honey. It's so we can dance."



Willow rubbed her belly through the slippery fabric of her scarlet dress. "I had too much dessert to dance," she suggested innocently, encouraged by Tara's small revelation but certain there was more to the surprise than dancing.



"You knew about this before dessert," Tara answered with an oblique glance.



"But their tiramisu was perfect," Willow protested. "I couldn't let any of mine go to waste."



"Or mine either," Tara said, turning to poke Willow gently in the stomach with her index finger. "But you knew we were coming here."



Seeing that her first objection was going nowhere, Willow changed tactics. "I can barely walk in this, much less dance," she said, plucking at the long skirt of her dress. Only Tara could have talked her into wearing a dress, but despite her complaints she loved it. Tara's breathless reaction to seeing her wear it for the first time had convinced her that the dress was a good thing.



Tara took Willow's hand, raised it up, and twirled her around, watching as the hem of the skirt flared out with a proprietary smile. "See," Tara said. "You can dance."



As Tara released her hand, Willow looked up and down the street, but thankfully found no one to see her. "Okay, okay," she said. "I can dance." As she looked around again, it struck her that that the street was too quiet for a weekday night near the Bronze. "Tara?" she asked uneasily. "Where are all the people, the music?"



"They're around," Tara said too quickly, taking Willow's hand to pull her toward the door. "It's perfectly normal." She had to get inside before Willow suspected anything more.



Willow dragged behind Tara, feeling that there was something she wasn't understanding here. She reached out with her otherworldly senses, but found no traces of darkness near them. Shrugging, she let Tara pull her through the door into the brightly lit room.



There were floating balloons, colorful streamers, and a small table piled high with brightly wrapped presents. That wasn't too much of a surprise, but what made her stop in her tracks were the people. There were so many of them. There were all the girls from the campus Wicca group where she was acting as the adviser, the previous one having mysteriously disappeared. And there was Giles. And Dawn. And ...



"Xander!" she exclaimed. His hair was showing the first signs of greying, but he was still strong and fit from years of working with his hands. He looked comfortable in a dark blue button-down shirt and khakis. His dark eyes were warm as he looked at her.



She dashed forward and wrapped her arms around her old friend. After the briefest of hesitations, she felt his arms wrap around her too, squeezing her tightly as if only with this touch could he believe she was real. A long moment later, they relaxed their embrace enough for Willow to look up at Xander. Both their eyes were wet with tears.



Tara smiled broadly as she watched the two old friends embrace. She had been worried about this reunion, but she knew Willow missed her friends of the past even if she was too afraid to call them on her own.



"Will," Xander said. "You haven't changed a bit."



She paused a moment, looking closely at her old friend, noting the scars and wrinkles that hadn't been there before. "You have though," Willow said. "You're more ... solid."



"That's because he keeps eating those ice cream bars," a familiar, matter-of-fact voice interrupted from behind her. "I told him to stop, but-"



"Anya," Willow said with a smile, as she turned to face the woman who it seemed had married her best friend after all. The years had been good to Anya. She was older, but the bitterness Willow remembered was gone. The lines on her face told a story of laughter and smiles. She found hope in that. If Anya could find a mortal life and love after a thousand years of being a demon, then surely Willow could too. "It's good to see you."



"That's not what you said the last time," Anya pointed out.



Willow couldn't help herself from glancing back at Tara as she recalled the disastrous wish she'd made the time she'd met Anya.



Tara took Willow's look as her cue to step forward. "Hi, I'm-"



"Tara!" Anya exclaimed, enthusiastically wrapping her arms around the surprised girl. "It really is you! It sounded like you on the phone, but I wasn't about to believe it until I saw you. How have you been?"



Tara wasn't quite sure what to say, and looked over at Willow. She thought that she'd be ready for meeting people who knew her past self after meeting Dawn, but it wasn't easy to explain who she was. Her understanding was intuitive, emotional, and didn't lend itself easily to words.



"Oh, sorry," Anya said, noticing Tara looking away from her. She released her embrace and clapped her hands over her mouth for a moment. "I shouldn't have asked with you being dead and all. People tend to be sensitive about that. I'm just not used to this sort of situation any longer."



"I'm sure it's okay, An," Xander said, putting a reassuring hand on his wife's shoulder. He looked over at Tara. "Tara," he said. "It's great to see you." He paused a moment, then added, "And thank you."



Tara blinked, looking confusedly at Xander, but Anya interrupted before she could say anything.



"Thank you for ... you know," Anya said, silently clapping the heels of her hands together and leaving Tara completely mystified.



"I'll explain later," Willow whispered in Tara's ear. She hadn't told Tara about the wish Anya had granted her and Tara's subsequent breaking of Anya's talisman.



"I don't mean to interrupt," Dawn said, her long, forest green skirt swishing back and forth as she walked over to Willow. She was accompanied by a lanky, blonde teenager who looked a bit like her. "But I have someone I'd like you to meet. Willow, this is Hope. Hope, this is Willow, your mother's best friend."



"Hope," Willow said softly, regarding the young girl with a sense of wonder. She hadn't known that Buffy had a daughter. The name was so appropriate though. Buffy had lost hope after Glory had arrived and hadn't found it again when Willow had brought her back. Now Willow saw that Buffy had found hope in her life after all. She opened her arms to offer a hug to the girl. "It's wonderful to meet you."



Hope wrapped strong arms around Willow. "You don't look like I imagined," Hope confessed once they broke their embrace.



"Younger?" Tara asked. She had been wondering how everyone would react to Willow looking just like she did in her pictures from university almost twenty years ago.



"No," Hope said. "Shorter."



"Shorter?" Willow said with a surprised laugh.



"You were always such a big part of mom's stories," Hope said, "that it just seemed like you'd be bigger too."



"I told you I was the tallest," Dawn pointed out. After Xander coughed discreetly, she amended her statement, adding, "of the women."



"I know, Aunt Dawn," Hope said, "but some of your stories are hard to believe; all that stuff about portals to other dimensions."



Dawn shot Tara and Willow an amused glance. Her niece gave her no more respect for being the Key than she had given Buffy for being the Slayer when she was a teenager.



Willow turned to Xander and Anya. "Don't you two have any children?"



"We left Arsinoe and Ptolemy at home with a sitter," Xander said. "They're still a bit young."



"And we didn't feel Sunnydale was safe," Anya added, practical as always.



"That too," Xander admitted.



"Arsinoe and Ptolemy?" Willow said, raising an eyebrow. "When did you become a history buff?"



"He didn't," Anya interjected. "I didn't like any of the modern names, and it's not like anyone we knew had common names."



"So," Tara said. "Presents, then cake?" Xander's stomach chose that moment to rumble loudly. "Okay, cake, then presents."



Everyone laughed.





* * * * * *






After cake and conversation, Willow sat at the small table opening her gifts. She paused a moment to speak with each guest, still amazed at how many people had showed up for her first birthday celebration in years. In a brief pause between guests, she looked across the room to check on Tara and found her in an animated conversation with Spirit, who must have slipped in once she'd finished her patrol. She was glad the two of them had gotten past their fight. Friends were important, and she didn't want Tara to make the same mistakes she had.



"Willow," Giles said, startling her. She glanced up to see him looking in the same direction she had been. "I'm glad everything worked out between you and Tara."



Willow was surprised to see the warm approval in Giles' eyes as he met her gaze. She had never expected to see that look from him again. "Thanks, Giles," she said. "That means a lot to me."



"What are you planning to do now that you're staying in Sunnydale?" he inquired.



"I'm not quite certain," Willow admitted. "I'm happy the Wicca group decided that they didn't need a faculty member to be their adviser, but that doesn't take too much of my time. I'm thinking of going back to school, but that feels a little weird at my age."



"You should get a real job," Anya interrupted. She was carrying a medium-sized box with an orange bow. "I didn't go to school and look at how well I'm doing."



"Still partners in retail?" Willow asked, looking over to Giles.



"No," Giles said with a look of relief. "I'm happier in the stacks of a library than behind a cash register. Anya's taken over the business."



"We moved the Magic Box up to San Francisco after Giles left," Anya agreed, then added excitedly, "I've got three shops now, and we're planning on opening another one in L.A."



"Life is good?" Willow asked.



Anya looked thoughtfully at Willow for a moment before speaking. "It's not always easy; I've gone through so many changes. I spent over a millennium as a demon without experiencing nearly as much of life as I have these last twenty years. But I've got my children, Xander, my friends, and my business, everything I ever wanted without knowing it."



Willow looked at Anya, surprise showing on her face as she realized how well Anya had understood the subtext of her question. She wasn't sure what to say.



"I'll leave you two to talk," Giles said. "I should go check on Spirit."



"Speaking of the new Slayer," Anya said, deliberately changing the mood. "Tara was telling me about your adventure with our old friend Amy, but Spirit interrupted before she could tell me how you survived the 'true name' spell."



"I'm Jewish," Willow said simply.



"Ah," Anya said, immediately understanding with her centuries of experience with magicks. "So you have a Hebrew name given to you by your rabbi. But wait, wouldn't there be a record of that?"



"I helped my rabbi store all the temple records on a computer one summer," Willow smiled. "Somehow my records got lost."



"Planning ahead," Anya said. "The secret to business success. Thinking of which..." She put the box she was carrying on the table. "This should help you with that. Planning ahead, that is."



Willow smiled as she took a crystal ball from the box. This present was something to share with Tara. Tara had told her about the accident with the bowl of seeing. With this, they could share the seeing together with no secrets between them. "Thank you," she said to Anya.



As the pile diminished, Dawn and Hope came to her together. Hope was holding a tiny festively wrapped box with an ornate green ribbon.



"We got you a gift together," Dawn said. "I hope you don't mind."



"Not at all," Willow said, gesturing around her. "I wasn't expecting any of this. Just dinner and a night with my girl, which isn't just at all of course; I'm so happy with every night that we have together, especially nights when we have something to celebrate, though I haven't usually been much for birthdays, but you know what I mean, right?"



Dawn and Hope both laughed. "So I see that Willowbabble hasn't entirely disappeared," Dawn said.



"So what did you get me?" Willow said as she looked at the little box on the table in front of her.



"You'll have to open it and find out," Hope said solemnly.



Opening the box turned out to be more difficult than Willow had anticipated; it was very tightly taped and wrapped, defying her attempts to open it with her fingers. Once she finally got all the paper off, revealing a small jewelry box, the size for a ring, she looked at Dawn. "Is there something you want to tell me?" she said with a wry smile.



Dawn slapped her lightly on the shoulder. "No," she said with a smile. "Now go ahead and open it."



Inside the padded box, Willow saw a ring that looked very familiar. "Is it?" she asked, her voice catching in her throat as she looked up at Hope and Dawn.



Hope nodded. "She wanted you to have it."



It was the friendship ring that Buffy had given her in high school, the one she and Tara had used to access the nether realms to discover that Faith had switched bodies with Buffy. She had left it behind when she had departed Sunnydale long years ago, never thinking to see it or her friends again.



"Thank you," Willow murmured softly. Her hands trembled as she took the ring from the box. It meant so much to her that Buffy had kept this ring for her, never giving up hope that she would return some day.



Once Dawn and Hope left, Xander appeared and handed her a present wrapped in bright red paper. When Willow tore open the wrapping paper and saw what was inside, she paused a moment. Then she removed the familiar picture in its hand-carved wooden frame from its wrapping and held it up to regard it closely. She used to keep this picture in her room when she lived here before.



The three of them - Buffy, Xander, and herself - looked so young and so happy together. She remembered the day when they had taken the picture. It had just been an ordinary Saturday, no school and no apocalypse looming over them. They'd gone to the mall, seen a movie, had lunch, window shopped. It hadn't seemed like anything special at the time, but as she held this frozen moment of time captured on film, it felt like one of the most important days of her life.



"I hope you like it, Will," Xander said. "I carved the frame myself ... and well, I've always kept the picture in the hope that it would be like that again. I know it can't be, though. It's just ..."



"It can be, Xander," Willow said suddenly, looking away from the picture of her past and taking Xander's hand in hers. "I mean," she hesitated for a moment, "we've both changed and we can't go back to the past, but that doesn't mean we can't be happy as friends again. I'd like to try, at least." She looked up at him with hope in her eyes.



"I would too," Xander said. This time there was no hesitation when he embraced her.



Willow smiled as she saw Tara, resplendent in her gold and green dress, approaching them. Xander followed her gaze and smiled too. "I'll leave you to your lady, Will. We'll talk tomorrow, okay?" She squeezed his hand in promise of their friendship, then her eyes were only for her beloved.



"My dance?" Tara asked softly.



Willow let Tara take her hand and lead her out to the dance floor as a slow song started. Tara had her hands on Willow's waist, while Willow's hands were on Tara's shoulders as they began to dance.



"Good birthday?" Tara asked.



"Best birthday," Willow said. Her smile was so bright that it dazzled Tara.



"I still can't believe you didn't tell me that your name was Sarah," Tara said. She whispered the last word discreetly in Willow's ear.



"Sorry," Willow said, tenderly tucking a strand of blonde hair behind Tara's ear. "I didn't think it would ever be so important as it was that night."



"I'm just glad we got through everything," Tara said with a sigh of relief.



"We didn't." Willow shook her head. When Tara gave her a look of confusion, she continued, "All that was the past. Everything's just beginning for us."



"I'm so proud of you," Tara said. "Everything you've been through ... and you came out of it with such hope and love."



"It's you," Willow said. "You always make me feel special. How do you do that?" She cocked her head as she looked into the love and clarity of Tara's eyes.



"Magic," Tara said, her smile starting crookedly at one side of her mouth before blooming into the fullness of her joy.



They embraced, putting their heads on each other's shoulders as they moved to the music. Blissfully unaware of the other couples on the dance floor, Willow and Tara floated slowly up until they were several feet above the floor, gently swaying in each others' arms.





* * * * * *






The night air was cool and crisp on Willow's cheeks as Tara pulled her through the back door of the mansion and into the garden. In the quiet darkness, it felt like the two of them were the only people in the world as they walked hand in hand through the small labyrinth of hedge-lined paths. They had just begun reclaiming the backyard, its myriad of plants tangled and unkempt after years of neglect.



Willow had always felt so alone in this hour before the faint glimmering of dawn would appear on the horizon, but tonight felt different, a time reserved for the two of them. She let Tara lead her by the hand until they reached the center of the garden, where layers of blankets and two sleeping bags were set out in the middle of a circle of grass enclosed by neatly trimmed hedges. She looked inquiringly at Tara, wondering when she'd done all this.



"You were telling me you missed the stars," Tara said, sitting down on top of one of the sleeping bags. Her face was faintly luminous in the darkness.



"I do," Willow smiled, taking the other sleeping bag for herself. She lay on her back to better watch the stars. "You know, I used to love to look up at them when I was little. They're supposed to make you feel all insignificant, but ... they made me feel like ... like I was in space ... part of the stars." She pointed up at the starry sky. "There's ... the Big Pineapple."



"You know, I'm not sure I remember that one," Tara said with a slight frown.



"Oh, it's, it's a major one," Willow said with a knowing smile. She pointed more carefully this time. "See those three bright stars right over there?"



Tara wriggled across the plush sleeping bags to put her head on Willow's shoulder so she could look along her pointing arm. "Yeah."



"And see those stars along there?" Willow said, sweeping her finger across the sky while she wrapped her other arm around Tara. "That's the bottom of the pineapple."



"It's big." Tara pressed her hip into Willow's.



"Hence the name," Willow said in a mock pedantic tone of voice. She dropped her arm and looked at Tara, her face suddenly serious. "They're your constellations, you know? The ..." She hesitated for a moment before continuing. "The past Tara said that the real ones never made sense to her, so she created her own and taught them to me. Ever since, I've looked for them in the night sky instead of the ancient ones."



"Teach me," Tara said, her lips slightly parted as she turned her head to see the love and tenderness in Willow's eyes. There was no searching in those eyes, looking for someone else wearing her features, but only a small worry that she might hurt the one she loved by mentioning the past.



Willow traced the outline of Tara's cheek with her fingers, as if trying to memorize her features in the darkness. "I love you," she whispered, bringing her lips to Tara's in a sweet, short kiss.



"Always," Tara promised with a soft sigh.



After a long moment of looking into each others' eyes, Willow resumed the conversation. "See those stars over there?" she said, pointing at another loose grouping of stars. "That's 'Short Man Looking Uncomfortable.'"



They both giggled.



"Uh," Willow said, pausing a moment as she searched the night sky. "There's 'Moose Getting a Sponge Bath,' and over there's the 'Little Pile o'Crackers.'"



"Tha-that was a bit of a stretch," Tara said with a hint of a laugh in her voice.



"You do it," Willow said. "What would you call ... mm, that one?" She pointed at a sheaf of stars almost directly above them.



"Hmm, let's see," Tara said, gazing into the vault of heaven for a long moment. Then she smiled with certainty in her eyes, as she turned to Willow and said, "Two Roses Intertwined."



Willow looked up into the heavens and smiled, finding two roses made of faint tracings of starlight nestled together in the heavens. As she brought her gaze down from the stars, she saw the faint pink glimmering of dawn.



Tara sat up to better see the horizon, her eyes following Willow's gaze. Willow pulled herself up to join her, scooting back between Tara's knees. Tara wrapped her arms around Willow, bringing her close to her chest, and rested her head on Willow's shoulder, as they watched the beginning of a new day together.





The End

--

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

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 3/12/03 10:49:35 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 9:43 am 
I'm first I'm first :bounce :bounce :bounce .



Well, and what a worthy update to allow me to be first. Absolutely beautiful. I had thought about the Hebrew name thing but I guess since I don't consider my Hebrew name to be my "true" name, I didn't think that would be it.



But this update is packed with such unchecked joy. It is wonderful and beautiful. The reunion with updates of what has happened, how everyone has grown is just wonderful. And your show references from the Family/dancing scene to the star gazing and also the X/A/B picture were wonderful.



An incredibly beautiful and wonderful wrapup to a powerful story. Well done DMW. Props. :clap :clap :clap

---

"War may be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary it is always evil." - President Jimmy Carter after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize



Edited by: JustSkipIt at: 3/12/03 8:53:11 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 9:58 am 
:sob That was beautiful. i can't believe buffy had a DAUGHTER!! Was the father anyone we know?



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25 replies
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 10:08 am 
DMW - that was probably one of the most amazing fics i've ever read. i truly truly enjoyed your way with words, and i thank you for sharing it with us...although i must admit i'm sad to see it end. but what is it that they say? all good things must come to an end...so i hope to see more from you later?



~steph

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul. ~ Oscar Wilde



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 10:12 am 
:smash



That was the greatest ending one could have given to a story of that caliber. Glad to see that Willow can move on. And of course the fact that Tara was able to overcome her doubts.



-Will

"I think finding her soulmate would have made Tara a more confident and secure person" -Amber Benson



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 10:48 am 


DMW - thanks so much for sharing this awesome fic with us. Glad that everyone else other than Willow and Tara got a happy ending as well.



I'm eagerly looking forward to more of your writing. :)



Yana

"We are one, the gurus say. Aye -- I might agree -- but one what?" -- Edward Abbey



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 11:26 am 
Soooo, the end.... but what a great finish for this incredible story. I loved each part and I'm a little sad, that it's over.



Looking back, it's really amazing how you developed the charakters through the story. How they changed from the beginning. Their fears, hopes, dreams ... the old charakters and the new ones.....



I'm looking forward to your next story....(assuming there will be one *g*)



Insanity

"Nobody messes with my girl!"Tara, Bargaining



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 12:39 pm 
So "Arsinoe and Ptolemy"? Funny choice of names. I wonder where you took them from :D



I love everything in this story: the beginning, the middle and the end. The thrill from fear and love. The action-filled moments and the sweet and peaceful ones. It has been a wonderful ride. Thanks a lot for it!



You wrapped all beautifully in this last chapter, using reversed versions of some of the most loved and significant W/T moments and even including a surprise from Buffy! :) And you even brought back the ring from the Nether Realm spell!



Amazing, truly amazing :clap :clap



I will now sit quietly here waiting for your next story...





Sea



"The universe is an iceberg, and all that we can see and touch just the tip above a deep sea." darkmagicwillow -the Kitten-.

Edited by: The Inward Sea at: 3/12/03 11:40:43 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 1:33 pm 


I think I recognized some lines in that update,maybe watched _Family_ one time to many :) . I liked the image at the end the most, dawn of a new day and such.



Seeing Xander and Anya again was fun and it was nice to read how Anya seems to understand Willow's current situation. I get that Willow and Xander didn't exactly part as good friends but I don't know what else happened. Whatever, it was good to see Willow regain some of her friends.



As for the overall story; I'll try to explain why I like the premise so much. I like that Willow on her own is able to come so far and that she's so determined to keep on going for so many years. I like her solving most of her own problems, one way or another. I've always felt that season6 devaluated Willow as a charachter and that it was never rebuild. This story does the rebuilding in a long/slow and thus believable way. Did that make sense ?



You wondered in one of your replies if Tara L. would have been accepted as well if she had another name. That brings up the point of 'when is an AU fic on topic', which is an interesting question in itself. I suppose you could write Tara L. using any name you like but you would then have to work harder on 'proving' to the reader that she really is the reincarnation of Tara M. (or has her spirit inside her, however you describe it). Acceptance would have been more work as I already had some fixed expectations of Tara L. based on just her name being Tara to begin with :)



And you would have missed the moment where someone calls out 'Tara' to Tara L. with Willow's reaction to that. I myself don't believe in souls actually returning in other bodies but I'm happy to see Willow happy with Tara. Regardless of how this current Tara came to be really. I'm not that picky on happyness :)



How to get across I liked this story very much.... well it's one of the few long and well done Willow-centric stories *I* know. And I *like* Willow stories, partly due to the treatment she got in season6 and from which she (in my opinion) never recovered. This story is also one of 4 stories I made a Word copy of on my local disk. To be sure I won't lose it and to re-read it.... LOTS of times :)



Thanx for writing this story, feel free to write another one really soon :D



: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: Wow!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 6:23 pm 
hi darkmagicwillow!



thank you very much for this story. wonderful journey. thank you thank you!



D



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 6:44 pm 
What an amazing ending! Talk about conflicting emotions – the absolute joy at the reunion of the old friends, Tara and Willow greeting the rising of the sun and all the symbolism that entailed, the colours on the packages and the truly meaningful gifts reuniting Willow with her past, and then, the little biting sadness when I read ‘the end.’



I love the way you brought together some of my favourite Willow and Tara moments to round out the past and the present, warmly familiar and yet so completely new. I think Jixer really helped pull everything together. Willow’s epic journey was an Odyssey replete with monsters, both real and metaphorical, but her struggle with and ultimate victory over the darkness of her soul was what grabbed me and kept me going. What a glorious homecoming, in all ways.



This was such a wonderful tale, beautifully and thoughtfully written. I shall treasure it as one of my favourites for a long time to come. We’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough – thank you, DMW. Thank you!



Cheers!!

Patches







You know I've heard about people like me. But I never made the connection. They walk one road to set them free, And find they've gone the wrong direction. But there's no need for turning back 'cause all roads lead to where I stand. And I believe I'll walk them all No matter what I may have planned



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 7:26 pm 
DMW, amazing ending for an amazing story. :applause I know I'm not big with the feedback. I'm more of a lurker, you know. :shy And the other kittens give much better feedback than I can. :grin But I want you to know that I truly enjoyed reading your fic. It was truly a wonderful ride. :clap like what inward sea said, I loved the reversed versions. Thank you very much. I will be waiting for your next story. Please make it soon.:)

Edited by: daydreamer at: 3/12/03 6:57:09 pm


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 8:00 pm 
Taking the results of Season 6 as canon, and writing a Kitten fic is a tall order. Only the most talented Kittens have attempted the effort. "The Dark Rose" was the most ambitious. Taking us into the future, where Willow has 19 years to dwell only on her pain. Stunted emotionally, physically and socially, Willow wanders the globe looking for what she has lost. Ah, such delicious angst! And this was just the beginning of the story.



When great ideas are translated by great writers into something magical, sometimes words don't suffice. Thank you for this. This was one fic I never missed an update. I eagerly look forward to your next fic. May your muse be kind and generous.


More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. Woody Allen (1935 - )



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 10:59 pm 
Thank you. Thank you so very much. This has been a story that knew all the right heartstrings to tug.

The friendship ring was so very touching. To think that Buffy held onto it after all those years speaks to the value she placed on their friendship despite Willow's leaving. I realize I'm not saying anything that isn't easily gleamed from the story. I just wanted to point out a part of the story moved me. It was just one of many instances that added character depth that is not always explored in other W/T fics. I really appreciate your ability to develop relationships other than W&T's. It made me feel immersed in the story instead of a voyeur to the story.



This was such a wonderful tale. I'm sure it will experience many re-reads. I know that I started off by saying thank you but you deserve more. Thank you so very much, DMW.





Scott







Willow:In my world there are people in chains, and we can ride them like ponies.

Tara:You should ride with me some time. I guarantee safety and fun.
My website:elessar's Willow & Tara Wallpaper

Name my website: Click for details



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 Post subject: ...
PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2003 11:03 pm 
the end? how could it be the end already? :cry



this was such a fantastic fic, DMW. it had it all. and i'm sure if i had half a brain right now i'd be able to be more expressive. i'm just really tired from work but soooooo soooooo happy to see willow and tara start anew. it was great to catch up with xander and anya and dawn and even hope. beautiful fic. thank you!

"Take care of my heart, won't you please? Take care of it because it's all that I have. And if you let me, I'll take care of your heart too." Pure sweetness in the look between Willow and Tara.



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 1:17 am 
DMW, wow I don't know what to say that hasn't already been mentioned, but I must say thank-you so much for gracing us with this amazing "ride" :clap . What I loved about this story is yes, there was angst ("darkness"), but unlike a certain show ;) you conveyed wonderfully that "hope" exists... "the light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train". Instead you captured beautifully through your words (with such vivid description/imagery, as well as making their feelings so palpable), a journey where by conquering their inner-demons they were able to put the past ("darkness") behind them. Thus, W&T are truly able to move-on ( a sense of coming full-circle), where they can now revel (bask) in the "light"... a future together with all that entails.



Speaking of a future ("hope") you conveyed this perfectly (in this part) both literally and figuratively with Buffy's daughter named Hope, as well as with the scoobie reunion (ie renewing of old friendships... a sense of starting fresh). Also enjoyed how you captured ("reclaimed") dialogue from the actual show, but reversing the parts. With this in mind, I loved the star-gazing scene, especially the lasting image (symbolism) of "Two Roses Intertwined" as they await the "beginning of a new day together"... sigh so lovely :heart . So I'm sad this story has come to a close, but I'm so grateful for the enjoyment you have given me with your writing (not to mention I look forward to your next "creation"... story).



Vicki

Edited by: VampNo12  at: 3/13/03 12:35:12 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 9:59 am 
I guess all's I can say is:



Encore! Encore!



I'd love to read a sequel with these characters and how you have portrayed them. I'm sure, with Willow's past (and some of the flashbacks you've given us) Willow's made some pretty powerful enemies or met creatures that would want a piece of her.



I really enjoyed how you wrote Willow as a strong character. For me the current season features more of a 'broken Willow/not Willow' who seems to have lost her smarts, confidence and self reliance. Your character for me is more what I thought Willow would become.



Thank you for the great fic. If you ever write something non W/T related as well please let us know. (Heaven forbid tho...I'm holding out for a sequel to the Dark Rose!)



Frumpycat

PS - Loved the interaction with the ex Scoobies and the final W/T moment got a big "awwwww" from me.

Edited by: frumpycat at: 3/13/03 9:05:28 am


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 Post subject: Chapter 26 replies
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 10:33 am 
Thanks again to everyone who posted and to everyone who read this story. It's been wonderful, though a bit sad to see it ending, but I hope to see a few more feedbacks so I can write you a time or two more.





JustSkipIt: You are, and thanks. My thoughts on the Hebrew name is that it's given in a religious, hence magical, ritual, making it of greater magical importance than one's everyday name.



wishwritermo: I guess I answered all your previous questions, but brought up some new ones...



funkyasian: Thanks so much.



willntlover: Thanks. I'm so glad everyone's liking the ending.



jixer: Odysseus. Brilliant, I love it. Why didn't I, the person who always has a classical reference in mind, think of that comparison? (-;



yana: Thanks.



Insanity: It's great to hear that the character development worked. It was such a long journey and it's hard to remember everything.



Sea: Unfortunately, Alexander's son was Alexander, so I had to look for names amongst the Diadochi. I've always loved Arsinoe for some reason, though. Thanks so much.



Grimmy: That makes a lot of sense. I kept making the story longer, starting with about a dozen chapters outlined but expecting that I'd need about twenty to make the changes in Willow's character natural and believable. I'm glad you've liked my story so much, and thanks for all the feedback.



DaNzS: Thanks.



Patches: Thanks so much. It took me a while to get what I felt was the right combination of old and new W/T moments, as I wanted to echo the past but also show the opening of a new future, and I'm glad you also found it to be the right mixture of past and present.



daydreamer: Thanks for delurking. It's great to hear from everybody.



TemperedCynic: Thanks so much. Some authors write by finding the worst problem that they can give their character; I seem to write by finding the most difficult problem that I can give myself as a writer, as if the end of s6 wasn't enough. (-;



elessar: I'm glad the friendship ring resonated with you. I wanted to keep Buffy presence in this story as she's so important to Willow, despite it beyond belief that a slayer could survive until she was forty, and it sounds like I've managed to do that.



Rane: Thanks. I know how you feel, despite having worked on this for months and months, I find myself almost surprised that it's over.



VampNo12: Nope, no oncoming trains here. (-; The stargazing scene is one of my favorite W/T scenes, and it seemed such a wonderful way to bring them full circle. Love how you found the new constellation to be a lasting image.



frumpycat: Thanks. There is a lot of room for a sequel, or prequel for that matter, and I've even got a little sequel hook that I skipped putting in one of the final chapters, but I'll be writing something new and different next.

--

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

Edited by: darkmagicwillow at: 3/13/03 9:33:40 am


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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 11:07 am 
:cry Well, the party's over :sob



It's always sad to see such a wonderful story end, however it was well worth it.



Thanks again for sharing this fic, and making it such a great thing to read.!

BV

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to take the one I've never tried before"-Mae West



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26: Sunrise
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 3:59 pm 
There are so many things to praise about this final chapter. All the twists on canon and Willow's various reunions and apropos gifties. To finally see them both happy and home...If it had to end - it ended beautifully.:tear



So how pathetic am I to admit that I'm sad to see it end. But you taught me a lot; made me unearth feelings I once thought were better left at rest. Death is a hard thing. Dark leathers and jet-black eyes aren't the only manifestation of grief and longing. To find a way to hold onto some of it while moving beyond most of it is essential. You've helped without knowing it and I'm quite grateful in my way.



As to hoping I'll be there to give you feedback on your next story? Always. With a sense of privilege.



~Suse.



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 26
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2003 8:18 pm 
Ah, DMW...Dare I press my luck and add one final "Holy shit!" to the mix? This would have to be a rather mellow, nostalgic one, though, so perhaps I should go w/ something equally articulate, like "Golly..."



It was a stroke of genius (and when genius wants to stroke you, you should never say no!) to set the first part of this at the Bronze. It provided the perfect opportunity for so many things to come full circle...older, wiser, leavened by experience, to be sure, but back to the beginning in so many ways both literal and figurative.



The exchanges b/w Xander and Willow were very touching, and you had clearly given though to Anya's own evolution. She still has her very singular bluntness, but it's no longer so blindingly tactless and she's now equally likely, it seems, to speak bluntly in affection as in criticism.



I think what affected me most in the Bronze scene was the way that you made Buffy such a part of things. Obviously, her daughter was a very tangible expression of that. (And was that a fantastic touch, by the way--just a wonderful surprise and yet so believable, given what you had already told us about her subsequent growth and change.) There were lots of other subtle elements, too; most noticeably, the ring that Dawn gave her. The symbolism that the ring represented (Willow and Tara finding Buffy and helping her switch back; an early vision of Willow and Tara's profound connection) just brought a very affectionate smile to my face.



And oh God--the two of them laying under the stars, with Willow pointing out "the Big Pineapple" and Tara understanding now that Willow loves her as Tara Lucas...that was such a touching scene.



On a more personal note, DMW (and hopefully w/o being intrusive), I suspect that a story of this scope and intensity both took a lot out of you and gave a lot back. I hope it's abundantly clear to you that you gave a lot to us by taking us on this journey.



Just wonderful, DMW. Whenever the muse strikes again, count me among those in eager attendance.



Mary



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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2003 8:19 am 
:applause



:sob



I'm not going to say anything, because I usually fall flat on my face when I do so yeah greatttttttttt story.

"He beats me with wet noodles!" Amber Benson.

"Bored now." Vamp Willow.



"Soul mates are either shot in the back or stabbed with a sword." Things I've learnt from BtVS







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 Post subject: Re: Chapter 25: Blossoming
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2003 6:58 am 
A lovely and fitting ending to a beautiful story. I love the way the final scenes get me to recognize what's familiar in those moments but also understand something new about both these characters. It's strange to think of this being over, as it has been a regular part of my life for...it must be at least six months or more since I started seeing drafts, right? I will hardly know what to do with myself now.



But I have been thinking about the final chapter and the way it gives closure to this story; you couldn't have ended on a more perfect note, not just because you revisit two huge and important moments from canon but because you use those two moments to weave together, in a tight braid, the multiple storylines that made your story so unique and compelling all along. All along, you had Tara Lucas' dreams, Willow's memories, and the careful, fraught steps the two of them were taking toward one another in the present, and those three separate strands come together in the final scenes. Maybe entwined roses would be a better analogy than braids.



I remember saying way back at the beginning that it hurt to think of Willow having been dark for 19 years, but you made it work, and you made it necessary. I've been reading Aristotle lately for an introductory lit class I'm teaching, and the argument that strikes me the most is that in the best plots, "the complication and the unravelling are the same." That's true of DR, I think. It's all necessary. And even better here, the unravelling is actually a twining.



Thanks for letting me be part of this necessary story: sharing in the romance that you write about and, in a way, the romance of writing a long story. I think others will recognize this, too; there's a way that you fall in love with a story you're writing. You think about it all the time; it worries at the edges of your meals and your evenings out; you can't get it out of your mind.



Thanks for letting me into your romance. Wonderful story.







"Just call me the computer whisperer."-- Willow



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