Author:  Meltha

Rating:  G

Feedback:  Yes, thank you. Melpomenethalia@aol.com

Spoilers:  Through the series finale.

Distribution: Fanfiction.net and the Bunny Warren.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Willow's spell left a few unanswered questions.  What was actually happening there?

Author's Note:  Warning, multiple character deaths.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Dedication:  For everybody who cried mightily during the finale.

Lighting the Way

            Willow was tense.  That, actually, was the understatement of the millennium.  Possibly a couple of them.  The entire fate of the world basically depended on her being able to not only do a spell of so much power that it made restoring Angel's soul look as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but not becoming so possessed with the power that she turned evil and destroyed the every living thing on the planet all on her own.  It was going to be like walking on a tightrope as thin as a cobweb.  Then again, hadn't she read once that cobwebs were actually stronger than steel?  Here's hoping this one is extra steely, she thought wryly.

            Kennedy was sitting about ten feet from her, looking at her expectantly but with a tiny trace of disbelief still marring the corners of her eyes.  Willow understood.  She'd been doing spells for six years now and she still had trouble believing she was about to try to make every potential in the world a full-fledged Slayer in spite of thousands of years worth of tradition.  It was inconceivable, really. 

            She didn't know exactly how to connect with the scythe, but some part of her had told her to trust her instincts.  Taking one last deep breath, she held her palms over the ancient weapon and spread her fingers wide, feeling the power that emanated from it like ocean waves in a hurricane.  Willow concentrated all of her thoughts together and tried to sort through the confusion and the fear and delve down to the center of it all.  Unexpectedly, a feeling of intense calm flooded her, and she suddenly knew exactly what she needed to do.

            Arcane languages or powerful words or any of the herbs she'd brought were unnecessary.  With a feeling as simple as turning the knob on a door, she opened her heart and poured forth into the atmosphere one, simple thought.

            "Please," she mentally implored, "please help us."

            No sooner were the words formed in her mind than a feeling unlike anything she had ever experienced filled every pore of her being.  The power was unbelievable:  strong, swift, and utterly, purely good.  It was beyond goodness in the same way the sun was beyond a candle flame.  It was perfection itself.

            "Oh… my… goddess…" Willow gasped in ecstasy as her head was thrown back and her face was bathed in light.

            The world stopped.  Time held perfectly still around her as the core of all that was right and pure and sacred funneled itself through her, and she knew the place from which it all came, the place that had opened above her and was using her to carry out its goal, even before she saw the shape that slowly resolved in front of her upturned face.

            Tears started to her eyes as she felt the power ripple through her out to every corner of the globe towards all the young girls who were being called at once.  But in that one moment that was suspended, the instant when the Slayer line was forever changed from one lonely girl to a group, Willow was crying tears that took in more than their inevitable victory over darkness, the knowledge that evil would be defeated.  She was looking into eyes she'd never thought she'd see again.

            "Tara," her mind breathed in rapture.  "Tara!"

            It was not Tara as she had been in life, precisely.  There was the outer form of the woman she loved, to be sure, but her face!  Never in this world could there have been a face with such an expression of unadulterated joy.  Her smile was breathtaking, and Willow doubted whether she would be able to survive the beauty of it without her heart bursting from happiness.  A gentle hand stroked her face, and the palm was warm and soft as she had known it in life.

            "I'm so proud of you, Willow," said the dearly remembered voice, and fresh teardrops sprang to the living witch's eyes at the sound.  "I've always been here.  I would never leave you alone.   I'm so proud of you all.  If you could only see what I do, Willow.  Oh, if you could only see!"

            "I see you," Willow thought at Tara.  "I see you, and that's enough."

            "Listen closely.  We don't have much time, but we've been given this gift for a reason.  The Slayers have been called, and the battle will be won," Tara said softly as Willow's hair billowed back in white waves from her face, "but there will be losses.  I want you to let the others know that it's going to be all right.  You've all fought so hard for so long, and you need to understand that none of it has been or will be in vain."

            Overwhelmed by the sensations filling her, Willow could only nod mutely at her lover's beautiful face.  It would have been too much for her to bear, but there was something else keeping her going, letting her handle anything she had to.  It was humbling and thrilling at the same time.

            "I love you so very much," Tara whispered as a tear fell from her own eyes onto Willow's cheek, "and I'm so happy I was chosen to be the one to guide you through this and to bring the others home.  You're never alone, Willow.  Not one of you is ever alone."

            As suddenly as it had come to her, the connection was broken, and Willow felt the world begin to move again.  She vaguely heard herself telling Kennedy to take the scythe to Buffy, and then she felt herself fall sideways across the floor.

            "That was nifty," she mumbled, turning "Willow was tense" into the second biggest understatement ever.

            As the fight went on, first a young, newly-called Slayer fell.  She had seemed so unimportant in life that few of the others even knew her name, but when her soul broke free, Tara called that name gently and took her in her arms, pointing the way for the girl's soul to travel.  When Anya was cleaved by a Bringer, the one who had been so greedy and self-centered at times and yet who was, in the end, willing to save the life of someone else, someone she didn't even particularly like, at the cost of her own, Tara gave her a hand up from the floor, embraced her, and showed her the path.  Amanda, who had thought herself a freak in life, died in battle, and when the witch's warm smile greeted her a moment afterwards, she knew at once that there was no such thing as a freak where she was going, only love.  And in that final moment when Spike's face flamed in the sunlight and his skin became ash, there was a chuckle on his lips, for he saw the shy girl standing before him, laughing in delight and holding out her hands to him.  This had to be some joke, he thought in amusement.  But as Tara grasped his hand and led the unlikely demon who had saved the world into a light which did not burn him, he realized there was no mistake. 

            At long last, he was going home.