Author: Laragh PM
AU, set in contemporary setting. What happens when Willow and Tara are thrown together far away from home? Tara has secrets, Willow has a lonely past. They both want to be loved. A lot of fluff and a smattering of family drama. No demons/hellmouth!Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Willow R. & Tara M. - Chapters: 21 - Words: 56,463 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 1 - Published: 12-08-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6540196
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Five Years Later
Tara sighed and tapped her fingers impatiently against her knee, feeling quite silly as she sat in the passenger seat of the car she and Willow owned, blindfolded.
"Come on, Will..."
She wanted to check her watch to see just how much time her girlfriend had left her hanging in anticipation, but she'd promised she wouldn't take the blindfold off and she'd never broken a promise to the redhead.
What the hell is she planning?
It had been a relatively normal evening for the two girls up to the point that they had finished dinner the sun had gone down, when Willow had produced the blindfold and asked Tara to just trust her as she brought them to the car. So Tara had been blindfolded and Willow had started driving them around the streets of London before parking and telling the brunette to wait in the car.
The first weekend after 'The Great Escape', as it had become to be known jokingly between the two girls, had seen them deciding that they were going to stay in London. Tara had been in love with the city without even seeing it, purely from the connection she felt to her mother there, but once they both went and explored the area, Willow had been captivated as well and they had started looking for an apartment straight away and had found a one-bed place that hadn't been too expensive within the first week of being there.
It had been the first night in their apartment that Tara had broken down, all her emotion that had been building since they'd arrived in London and before finally exploding. She spoke, for the first time, about the mental, emotional and physical abuse that had been inflicted on her for all those years and Willow diligently listened, holding her girlfriend as she got out the years of pain and sorrow she'd gone through. Tara knew it would take a lot of talking, a lot of cuddling and a lot of reassurances, but that night has started the healing process for her and she was ready to start her new life with the girl she loved.
And so they had decided that they both wanted to stay furthering their education for the time being. Willow still didn't know what she wanted to study and the prospect of being able to go to college was so new to Tara that she had no idea either. They both set out to find jobs since, though they had had to use Willow's backlog of savings to cover their deposit and the first couple of months rent, Tara had been determined that her girlfriend's trust fund shouldn't be touched unless it was necessary.
It was in their fourth week of living in London that they'd both gotten a stroke of luck.
On a Sunday afternoon, Willow surprised her girlfriend by bringing her to Prose, the bookshop the brunette's mother had worked at in her youth. There had been seven bookshops in the London city area going by that name and Willow had called all of them, knowing it was a long shot that she would be able to find the right one, but had lucked out on the sixth attempt when an elderly women had answered the phone and known immediately who was being talked about when Tara's mother's name had been mentioned.
Margaret and George Thompson had owned and worked in the small bookstore, packed with any and all variety of books, for forty years and both had vivid memories of Elizabeth Smith, as a child who spent hours reading Enid Blyton, a young teen captivated by James Joyce and William Shakespeare and the worker she'd been for them in her later teenage years.
When Willow had brought Tara into the store that first Sunday, Margaret had pulled the brunette into a hug, saying it was like seeing the girl they knew all those years ago all over again and Tara had almost cried when she saw that the older couple had kept a photograph of her mother behind their counter in all the years she'd been gone.
She really did cry when they let her keep it. It was the only picture she had of her mother.
Willow had perused the books in the shop for an hour while Margaret and George had told Tara the memories they had of her mother, before the redhead had excitedly disrupted them when she had found an old copy of one of her favourite children's books. When Tara had smiled at the book and started talking quietly and knowledgeably about the author, the older couple had looked at each other for just a second and before she knew it, Tara was being offered a job. She had almost choked on air before accepting gratefully and rung up her first sale by selling Willow her book.
When they left the bookshop that evening, they stopped at the establishment right next door, a quaint and quiet coffeehouse. Willow had been ordering them a couple of mochas when she noticed a small 'Help Wanted' sign stuck to the back of the cash register. She asked the barista, who also happened to be the manager about it and when the redhead had been able to spout off ten different varieties of coffees and how to make them on the spot, she had been given the job straight away.
Tara teased her that it wasn't Starbucks. Willow responded that is was so much better.
One day on their way home from work, six months into living in London, Tara spotted a 'Volunteers Needed' poster in the window of an old-looking building and upon further inspection saw it was for people to help in a center for abused teenagers, to talk with the kids and do things like take them to the movies or for a milkshake. One look between the couple was all that need before they both walked into the building and put their names down.
They both offered two evenings a week to the program and through the time spent with the kids, Willow started to become interested in a possible career as a counsellor. Tara had been thinking of continuing with her education as well and so they started looking into college.
At first it seemed as though it would be almost impossible to apply to college since they hadn't technically graduated high school, but after it had come up in conversation with Ira - who kept sporadic contact with the couple and kept to his word of always trying to help when they got themselves it a bind - it had turned out he had a friend at one of the London universities and two months later, both girls were official college students. Willow started a 3-year degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy Studies and Tara one in Literature.
They both kept their jobs as they went to school, though reduced their hours by a small amount so they could continue with their volunteering. They had less discretionary income, but they had each other and a roof over their heads and they really couldn't have been happier. The only thing that bothered Tara was that Willow had used a significant chunk of her trust fund to pay for both of their tuition fees. There had been no choice really, and she'd vowed to pay her girlfriend back every penny, but Willow was adamant that wasn't going to happen – the money was there for that exact reason, she had said, for their future.
The three years passed with no major events as they studied and worked and loved each other. The trust fund had to be dipped into once again just before they started college when they saw how far away from campus their apartment was and had decided to invest in a small car to get them to and from their destinations.
They graduated from their university on the same day and on that afternoon, Willow found out she'd been accepted into her Masters' programme and Tara was told that Margaret and George were retiring and wanted her to take over as full-time manager of the store. Willow was also offered part-time work as a counsellor within the center they volunteered in, so she'd given up her job in the coffeehouse, splitting her time between working on her Masters and the center.
Neither girl ever heard another word from James Maclay. Tara didn't know whether he ever tried to find them or whether he just went back to Alabama and lived his life; the only thing she knew, courtesy of Ira, was that he had sued the school, looking for the return of the tuition fees he had shelled out and that his case had been dismissed.
But she didn't really care what her father did. Her life had started the day she met Willow Rosenberg and he had been free of him the moment she stepped on the plane to London.
London, where she'd spent the most magical five years of her life. London, where she walked the same streets her mother walked and breathed the same air she breathed. And London, where she was currently still waiting, now with slight irritation, for Willow to come back to the car and tell her what the hell was going on so she could finally take the damn blindfold off.
I swear I'm gonna just snatch this off in a second...
She was stopped from doing anything rash as she felt the passenger side door open and a small, familiar hand take hers.
"Sorry for the wait, baby," Willow's warm voice rang out, "You can step outta the car."
"Can I take the blindfold off?" Tara asked, swinging her feet out of the car.
"In just a sec, gorgeous," Willow replied, slamming the passenger door shut and pressing the button on her keys to lock the car, "Just follow me."
Tara obligingly and blindly followed as Willow walked them around the car and then forwards a few feet until she heard a door being opened and they both walked over the threshold. She heard the door close again and recognised the scent in the air, the familiar oaky and slightly musky smell of the bookshop she worked in. She felt Willow pull the blindfold off of her and gasped when she saw that she was indeed standing in the bookstore, but it certainly didn't look like it had when she'd left work that evening.
Each of the mahogany bookshelves that lined the store were topped by evenly-spaced oil lamps, casting the room with a dim and romantic glow. There were rose petals sprinkled all along the floor and if Tara hadn't been so blown away by the beauty of everything, she would've been concerned that she would have to clean the petals up before she opened up the next day.
"Willow, wow," she said lovingly, reaching a hand out a cupping her girlfriend's cheek, "It's beautiful."
Willow just grinned and entwined their fingers, facing the brunette.
"You really love this place, don't you?"
"You know I do," Tara chuckled, looking around, "I love it."
Willow waited until the taller girl's gaze settled back on hers before speaking again.
Tara looked at the redhead strangely.
"It's yours, baby," Willow said excitedly, gesturing around the store, "As of 3pm today, this place is all yours."
"Willow, what are you talking about?" Tara asked, her eyes wide and her breath quickening.
Willow rushed over to the sales counter and picked up a large brown envelope that was sitting there. She took the papers that were inside them and walked back over to Tara.
"I bought the store, Tara. Everything's in my name right now 'cause I wanted it to be a surprise, but I'm gonna transfer everything into your name straight away, the lawyer who drew up these papers is expecting us tomorrow."
Tara gaped at her girlfriend in complete shock.
"You...you bought the store? How? Why?"
"I bought it for you, baby," Willow replied, putting the papers on top of one of the bookshelves and retaking the brunette's hands, "You know how Margaret and George said a couple of months ago that they were thinking of selling their house over here and buying somewhere in Spain, you know, living out their retirement in the sun?"
Tara thought for a moment, remembering the older couple saying something to that effect, but it had only been a passing comment. She nodded.
"Well, I called them up one afternoon you weren't at home and asked if they were serious about that. And we got talking and I said that if they were thinking of selling the store then I was definitely interested and they came back the next day and said they wanted to sell. To me. To us. Except I asked them to keep it a secret so I could surprise you. So...surprise."
Willow started nervously wiping the hand that wasn't holding Tara's against her jeans when her girlfriend just didn't move or react in anyway.
"Please say something," she squeaked after a moment, before her gaze dropped, "I thought this was your dream."
Tara snapped herself to attention at the redhead's sad tone.
"Willow, it is," she said in disbelief, "But I don't under...I can't believe..."
Willow turned and picked up two books from the shelf behind them, holding them up.
"Baby, believe it. It's your store. These are your books. This..." Willow tapped her feet lightly against the ground, "This is your floor. That's your cash register and those are your walls. And, and look, over here!"
Willow ran to the back of the store, up a small three-step staircase to where a raised platform that currently just had more piles of books on it was located.
"You always said you thought this would be a great place to clear out and have an area where kids could just sit and read. We can get in some little furniture and everything and maybe paint this side of the store a lighter colour so it's all bright and appealing..."
Willow gestured around her before fixing her gaze back on Tara.
"Our kids can learn to read here," she said softly before she got a cheeky grin on her face, "We can have sex in the storeroom like I know you've always fantasised about."
Tara's smile broke out in a huge smile as she finally registered the entirety of what her girlfriend was saying and she walked forwards to where Willow was standing, taking her hand.
"It's really ours?"
"Yea," Willow nodded coyly, "Well, yours really, I mean, you're in charge of this place, I'm never gonna butt in or anything, but if what's mine is yours and vice versa...then, yea, it's ours."
"Willow..." Tara tried to speak, closing her eyes for a moment to calm herself, "Sweetie, this must have...it must have used up all of your trust fund."
Willow got a huge grin on her face and discreetly slipped a hand into her pocket.
"Not all of it. I had just enough left over to buy..." she brought her hand out and held up a sparkling diamond ring between them, "This."
Tara's eyes widened as she looked into the redhead's shining green orbs.
"Marry me, baby," Willow said softly before shaking her head, "No, gonna do this properly."
She got down on one knee and held the ring up, smiling widely.
"Tara Maclay, will you spend the rest of your life with me as my wife?"
Tara almost choked on air but managed to remain composed enough to hold out her hand and nod.
"Yes. Yes, of course I will."
Willow squealed and slipped the ring onto the brunette's finger before straightening up and pulling her new fiancée into a tight hug.
"Oh god, Tara, I love you, I love you," she said before pulling back just an inch to place kisses all over Tara's face, "I love you."
"I love you too," Tara whispered, cupping the redhead's cheeks and placing a soft, warm kiss on her lips before pulling away and looking at Willow in astonishment, "Am I dreaming?"
"No, Tara," Willow shook her head with a huge smile, "This is all for real. This is our future. Together."
Tara just stared in shock for another moment before pulling Willow back into a warm hug.
There she was, a 23-year old college graduate, owner of the bookstore she'd been in love with since the moment she'd entered the building and engaged to the woman that had given her life meaning for almost six years.
In that moment, she knew she was the luckiest woman on earth.
Another Seven Months After That
Willow couldn't stop staring at it. It looked so perfect and wonderful and just...right. It looked right. Her eyes were completely focused on what she was looking at, in a mixture of disbelief and awe.
Not even Tara's arms wrapping around her neck and the feel of soft kisses being placed behind her ear could avert her gaze.
"Come back to bed," Tara murmured, nuzzling into the redhead's neck, "It's warm...and it's soft...and I'm naked..."
"Uh huh," Willow replied, still her eyes still firmly focused in front of her, "Sounds good."
Tara chuckled, before looking over the redhead's shoulder and seeing what was entrancing her. She glanced back at the bed she'd just vacated, in the hotel room they'd been in since the ceremony the day before and realised she probably wasn't going to be able to get Willow to leave her seat.
Still...I can work with that...
She grinned and moved around so she was facing Willow, then sank down to her knees in front of the chair the smaller girl was sitting in, using one hand to quickly pull the robe the redhead was wearing open and placing her hands on her thighs, separating them.
Willow's head finally snapped away from the computer screen in front of her when she felt Tara's tongue slide into her core, throwing it back in ecstasy and moaning.
Her body was responding to the touch straight away, just like it always had when Tara touched her. But her mind...her mind was still completely captivated by the words she'd been staring at before.
Is Married To