Just in case anyone was wondering, it’s been nigh on two months since our last update, but here we are, liliaeth and I, at long last with the next interlude of Beloved, offered for your enjoyment. And yes, you know the drill – it’s still six months into poor William’s captivity. Doesn’t time just seem to drag? This takes place sort of the same time as the last chapter. Please follow the Warning Alert System.
2014 - November
We turn our attention to our long-absent wandering Jew, and find out what she’s been doing for the past four years. I’ll bet you thought we were gonna pull an old All My Children stunt and just never mention her again. Nope! Herein lies her tale.
Please, as always, read and comment! The muse apologizes for the long delay in posting, and has been earnestly plotting several forthcoming chapters to make up for it. She also says it’s okay to call her by name now, which is so much nicer than ‘hey, you!’ (See? BuffyMuse is waving at you all). Feedback is always welcomed.
Goddess bless romani_inks - my very prolific friend and beta-supreme, and gillo, for her multiple beta sessions, a good ear for character voices and the patience of a saint in getting me back on track, and just_sue, for not letting me give up and toss in the towel when the going got tough. If any errors remain, they’re all on my head.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go Here.
Full-sized banner by sueworld2003 beneath the cut.
Beloved – Interlude 21-22 – Secret Garden
Willow sat at the edge of the blue flannel blanket, enjoying the feel of the cool grass between her toes. She was reminded of her childhood. She’d only been five years old when the Rosenbergs moved to Sunnydale. Even then, Sheila and Ira’s only daughter had been deemed too far above the rowdy, mindless play of other children. No public pre-school for her, no sirree bub! The summer before kindergarten would begin was spent in solitude in the backyard, on a blanket much the same as the one she sat on now. Blue skies, warm, soft breezes, organic peanut butter and fresh strawberry preserves spread on multi-grain bread for lunch…simply idyllic until she’d caught sight of a little brown-haired boy, staring at her noon-time feast with longing through a gap in the fence. It wasn’t long before she was sharing her sandwiches with Xander almost every afternoon.
With a smile, she tore off a corner of her sandwich and placed it gently into the mouth of her current companion, shivering with delight as the young woman’s lips and agile tongue made quick work of ridding her fingers of the sticky spread. Thoughts about Xander promptly vanished from her conscious mind.
“Mmmm... definitely one of your kind’s better inventions. Pee-a-nut butter,” Thespia purred, licking her lips as she leant forward, brushing Willow’s in a gentle kiss. She then pulled back, reclaiming her spot on the blanket; turning her face to the warmth of the sunshine.
“Yup! Peanutty goodness,” Willow nodded happily in her agreement. “What’s not to love about the little goobers?”
Willow smiled, entranced, as the Rubensesque brunette drew a handful of peanuts from the air with the slightest flourish of her fingers. In the month or so that she’d been in the archive, watching Thespia conjure anything and everything without the slightest effort filled her with a wonder she’d not felt since floating her first pencil a whole lifetime ago.
“I can’t even begin to understand how you do that, Thia,” Willow sighed, shelling a peanut and popping it into her mouth. “I can’t get a feel for the magicks in this place. I know that everything’s all connecty. At home I drew my power from the earth, herself. Here…” Holding both hands over the lush grass, Willow barely managed to raise a small handful of raggedy-looking daisies. “…it’s like I’m all fumble-fingers. I just don’t get it.”
With another wave of her fingers, Thespia swept the yellow and white flowers into the air, weaving them into a circlet of perfectly petaled blooms that settled itself gently on Willow’s head.
“Magicks are nothing I have ever thought about, my witchlet. It is all that I am, all that I have ever been and will continue to be.”
“All in one beautiful package, too.” Willow reached out to push a handful of dark brown curls from Thespia’s shoulder. “And much prettier without getting peanut butter in your hair.”
Thespia’s eyes twinkled as her hair twisted itself into a loose chignon, leaving nothing but a few wispy tendrils curling about her ears, and then Willow’s own long red tresses plaited themselves into a French braid.
“You know,” she began, toying gently with the remaining daisies at her feet. “With all the power you have at your fingertips, I don’t understand why you can’t conjure up the thingy I was sent here for. I mean, it’s not like it hasn’t been a little slice of heaven lazing around with you, but my best girlfriend is still all statuefied, and my favorite guy’s still big with the broken heart issues… how can I be so happy when… I mean, I don’t have the right… oh, pooh! It’s just all mixed up.”
“Time will take care of it all, my sweet.” Thespia grasped Willow’s hand, gently caressing her fingers. “That is the way things happen here. What you need shows up when you need it most. When it is time, the object of your desire will appear at hand. It has been said that sometimes the library has lessons of its own to teach. If you are without patience, it will make you wait that much longer. It is wise in its own way.”
Willow couldn’t help but feel frustrated at the lack of a more positive answer. “Can’t this place make more with the cooperation and less with the lesson teaching?” she whined, feeling much like a child being denied a treat before dinner. “I mean yes, I’m all for the patience having, but the heebie-jeebies crawlin’ up and down my spine are telling me that time is running short.”
“You are so adorable when you are impatient.” Thespia stroked a spare bloom against her cheek. “It is something I hope you will get used to, sweet girl. Perhaps you will give some thought to staying here with me for a while?”
“I do want to stay.” Willow dropped her eyes, unable to take the longing in the brunette’s gaze. “In fact, once I get the scroll back to my friends, I can put my other priorities on hold for a bit and return. I’ve been gone so long already. I mean, a month! They must be worried to pieces about me by now.”
A brief glimmer passed across Thespia’s countenance as she whispered: “It feels like a day, at most.”
Willow knelt up, leaning across the blanket and kissed her companion with all the feeling she’d come to develop in the past weeks.
“Mmmm, so sweet. Like a fine wine,” she murmured.
“Is this what love is?”
“Haven’t you been in love before?”
Thespia shook her head. “I have read volumes on the subject, but…”
“Oh, Thia!” Willow moved their picnic’s detritus aside and sat down next to the bewildered young woman. “None of the words on paper can truly capture what love feels like. My fingers against your cheek, however,” she said, matching actions to words, “And the feel of one heartbeat against the other…”
The gentle hug quickly turned into a much more intimate embrace as lips met and tongues sought each other out.
“Is this love?” Thespia gasped in-between kisses. “I feel such a pounding, as if my heart would break my chest.”
“I… I think it’s a whole lotta like with a heaping side of potential.” Willow closed her eyes to breathe in the clean aroma of the meadowgrass, along with the hint of lilacs that always announced Thespia’s presence. “There are so many different kinds of love.”
“How does one find out if it is the right kind of love?” Thespia whispered. “And are they all as wonderful as this?”
Willow set to with lips, fingers and heartfelt murmurs of sweet nothings to show her girl exactly how many different types of love there were.
When they came to some time later, the young women dressed quickly, and Thespia reopened the gateway, leading them back to the library proper.
The brunette stopped short, seeming to be lost in thought. She slowly raised her right hand, producing a small scroll out of thin air. After a quick glance, she handed the parchment over to Willow, gently brushing the Wicca’s fingertips with her own.
Uneasily, Willow unrolled the first few inches, intimidated by the delicate feel of the parchment, itself, and the beautifully inked swirls of old-fashioned text.
Dear Ms. Rosenberg,
I hope this missive finds you well. There have been goings on at the Council of which you need to be made aware…
After the first line, Willow became distracted by Thespia’s soft humming, the melody drawing her attention away from the message from home.
“Is it good news?”
Willow blushed and turned back to the parchment, intent on deciphering the words in front of her without getting flustered by Thespia’s presence.
Dimensions… Shifts… blah, blah.
Physics… Time differentials… blahdy blah blah.
And to think we all thought Giles was Mr. Stuffy-Man, she snickered softly to herself, quickly scanning the rest of the scroll, barely registering the words as she read, until…
In an attempt at harnessing demon-kind into its service, I fear my brother Nathaniel has done something quite unforgivable. They have taken one we all hold dear from the bosom of his family and I feel your services are desperately needed in order to return him safely to his home.
He is out of control… untrustworthy. Your immediate attention is crucial! Young William is in desperate need of assistance. You must understand, it is vital for you to return post-haste!
Acting in conjunction with Rupert Giles
Council of Watchers
Willow’d only skimmed over the scroll’s contents until the final line, and the boy’s name focused her attention sharply. She frantically searched the missive line-by-line, looking for the details. Her breath hitched as she reached the end once more.
“Oh my Goddess!” she whispered, horror coloring her words. “The Council… they couldn’t… how could they?” Willow looked at Thespia with desperation in her green eyes. “How could Giles let this happen? Will’s just a kid. Angel must be out of his vampy mind with worry!”
“What is wrong, my dove? Must you leave now?” Her eyes wide, Thespia wiped a few stray tears from Willow’s cheek.
“I… I have no choice.”
Willow was gently enfolded in Thespia’s beckoning arms, struggling to maintain her composure; wishing she didn’t have to leave.
“But I can come back, right?” she sniffled, feeling nearly as torn up as when Oz left her all those years ago. “I couldn’t stand it if this was the end. I mean, it’s just the beginning of…”
Thespia’s fingers brushed through the curtain of red hair in front of Willow’s face. “You will always be welcome here, my heart. For all time.”
“And longer than that,” she promised, drawing a small, silver circlet about the size of a quarter, from the air. “All you have to do is wear this pin close to your heart, and I will know when you wish to return. Wherever you will be, I will hear your heart’s desire.”
“Oh, look at that lip… all pokey,” Willow teased, barely restrained tears shining bright in her green eyes. “You’re being so brave for me, Thia. I’m all with the not wanting to go and you give me a sure-fire way back. I’ll never take it off,” she promised, even as the portal opened before her. “I’m just sorry I don’t have…”
“Do not worry, my Willow. If the scroll manifests before you return, I will make sure you receive it.”
Clutching at Thespia tightly, despairingly, Willow crushed their lips together in a bruising kiss, and then ducked through the portal without looking back, the circlet pinned to her sweater; directly over her heart.