A/N: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"Aren't you going home for Christmas?" Willow asked.
Tara shook her head. When Willow gave her a sympathetic look, she added a bit flatly, "It's okay. I'm not much of one for Christmas." She could tell Willow thought that she wanted to go home for Christmas and Tara let her believe that. It was easier than telling her the truth. "What about you?"
"I'm Jewish. My holiday has been over for weeks. I always go over on Christmas to Xander's to watch Charlie Brown Christmas, though. It's nice. We even had snow last year."
"It snowed in Sunnydale?"
"Oh, it wasn't real snow. Or, it was, but it was special snow to stop my friend from killing himself. Life on the Hellmouth means people dismiss things that don't make any sense, but I still loved it. It was beautiful."
"Only in Sunnydale."
"Only in Sunnydale," Willow replied as she fell back against the pillows, clearly exhausted. They talked for a little longer, but Willow was fading, so Tara cautiously nestled herself on the bed as well, but she didn't close her eyes. She kept thinking about the woman beside her. Willow was coming over almost every day now and Tara loved it. She still got a shiver up her spine whenever there was a knock on the door. Sometimes they did magic, sometimes they just talked. She'd never been able to talk to someone so easily. It was nice having Willow. Slowly, Tara drifted off as well.
Tara awoke as the sun was setting. She looked to the other side of the bed and saw a note from Willow. "I had to go, but I'll see you soon." Tara smiled, then got up to continue looking up spells to try with Willow.
The next morning, Tara woke up shining. She was happy because she could still smell Willow on her blanket and because no Christmas would be much better than any Christmas she had ever had with her family. Every Christmas since she was 12, Tara had always stolen away and reread her favorite book, Dealing With Dragons. She found it comforting to read the story of the princess who did magic and consorted with dragons when her family told her not to. She grabbed it off her shelf so she could start reading over breakfast, which would surely be a quiet affair with nearly everyone at home for the holidays. She opened up the door and was surprised to find Willow sitting in her hallway.
"Willow! What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I think I left my bracelet in here last night. Do you mind if I look?"
"Sure. I was just going down to breakfast, but I can wait."
"No, no, this won't take long and then I have things I need to do. You go down to breakfast."
Tara felt a pang of disappointment, but went down to breakfast anyway. It was like a ghost town in the cafeteria, but Tara didn't mind at all. She had her book for company.
As she walked back up to her door, Tara thought about what Willow would do today, hanging out with Buffy and Xander and all her friends, maybe even fight some monsters. It made her smile again. A special smile she only had when she was thinking of Willow.
She opened the door of her room and immediately saw dozens of festive ornaments splashed around the room and Willow standing in a party hat.
"Surprise! Merry Christmas," Willow said in a singsong voice.
"Oh, Willow. I don't know what to say. This is amazing." Willow bounced over and put a party hat on Tara too.
"We didn't have any Santa hats, so I got the next best thing."
"We've got cider and music and streamers and anything Christmasy you could ever imagine. Even a baby tree that we can probably even whittle down into a stake when Christmas is over." Tara laughed. "I just wanted to give you a real Christmas this year since you can't go home. Christmas is special. You're special." She hesitated. "We're special.
Tara embraced Willow as tightly as she could for as long as she could. She only pulled back enough to see Willow's face. A tear ran down Tara's cheek and Willow caught it with her pinkie.
Willow took a deep breath. "I, uh, brought mistletoe too."