Set during Orpheus S4E15. Slightly AU- timeline has been stretched. This is set as post re-insoulment, with the goodbye set for the morning after. Willow never started dating Kennedy. Willow and Fred stay up late talking about spells and magick.
Written for darlaslilgirl at whedonland's Fic-fest.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Angel. No profit made, no infringement intended.


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They stay up talking long into the night, lost in their own world while everyone else succumbs to sleep. Willow never takes her eyes off Fred, her grinning face aglow in the candlelight. Fred's eyes sparkle as she eagerly asks Willow question after question about spells and magick. Her brow furrows as she tries to explain each spell within the laws of physics. Willow grins as Fred covers the table in calculations, numbers spilling from the pages.

Fred finally runs out of paper, and begrudgingly leaves to search for more. As she scours the office for more paper, she continues asking questions in a low voice, careful not to wake anyone. Once Fred returns with long parchments spilling from her arms, Willow returns to describing the spells.

Lost in the rhythm of the Latin, a dark magick spell tumbles from Willow's lips. Willow freezes by instinct, Tara's disapproving voice every bit as real in her head as the wooden table beneath her taut hands. Fred looks up, startled by Willow's silence.

"Willow?" Fred asks cautiously.

"Uh... yeah. I mean, yes?" Willow manages, distracted and disoriented.

"Is everything ok?" Fred adds softly.

"Yes. It's just- her," Willow mumbles, almost incoherent.

"Tara?" Fred breathes the name softly, the brief mentions from Willow and Buffy falling into place in her mind.

Willow nods, fighting against the tears that are forming. She's deeply embarrassed to be having this strong of a reaction in front of Fred.

"She was your... lover?" Fred questions gently.

"Best friend... soul mate... yeah, she was my lover," Willow answers, her voice breaking slightly. In a whisper she adds, "She was my everything."

Fred reaches out and squeezes Willow's hand gently. Willow manages to return a sad smile.

"Tell me about her," Fred says softly, leading Willow from the chair to the couch. They sit side by side, Willow's hand still in Tara's.

Willow bites her lip, and then begins. Tara comes alive again for a moment, each story painting her in the air. Her eyes across the room... their hands touching... their first spell... "I'm yours"... Joyce's death... tears streaming down her face... that kiss... the one she'll never forget... blonde wispy hair, soft lips, shy eyes... her face slowly appears, happy and peaceful.

Slowly the night begins to wear upon Willow, her eyes drooping, her head resting against Fred's shoulder. Willow fights against her fatigue, not wanting to let go of Tara. She finally relents, allowing herself to find peace from Fred's fingers as they weave through her hair.

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Willow stirs in the wee hours of the morning, her neck sore from holding the awkward position. Fred wakes up with Willow's movement, her eyes squinting in the early morning sun. Willow starts to feel embarrassed by her display of emotion yesterday and her close physical contact through the night with Fred, but she continues holding Fred's hand, the flush of her cheeks the only sign of her discomfort.

Fred can only look up groggily, still deeply exhausted from the night prior. Finally a solution to bright light steaming into the hotel foyer enters her sleep addled brain, and she forces herself to rise from the couch. Wordlessly, she pulls Willow up and leads her to her room. At the door Willow hesitates. She hasn't been in another woman's bed than Tara's, except Buffy's. And Buffy is, well, Buffy, her very heterosexual "bad boy vampires are my drug of choice" best friend.

Fred gives Willow the "I need sleep and so do you" look, and Willow relents. Fred pulls open the sheets, setting her glasses down the bedside table. She slides into bed first, pressing her body against the wall so that Willow has more than enough room. Willow joins her, carefully maintaining some distance between their bodies. Despite Willow's intentions to keep their sleeping arrangements thoroughly platonic, Willow finds herself still reaching for Fred's hand after a couple minutes. Fred hesitantly leans her head against Willow's shoulder, and Willow brushes the back of Fred's hand, signalling that it's alright. As Fred relaxes against Willow, Willow slowly brings her fingers to brush Fred's hair. As she waits to drift off to sleep, Willow realizes that she didn't have to let go of Tara. Tara could always be there, in her mind and in her heart, but she could also let Fred in. Despite her loyalty to Tara, Willow could tell that was what her heart wanted. She could only hope that Tara would understand.

She remembers Tara's voice so clearly. "I understand. You have to be with the person you l-love."

It's not fair. She does love Tara. Every bit as strongly as their last kiss... or the last time their bodies were intertwined. A tear slips down Willow's cheek at the memory. Tara isn't here. She isn't coming back. She can't be with the one she loves.

All she has is this, a bed shared with a girl who isn't Tara. A heart that flutters when Fred talks of physics and Latin as her glasses slide down her nose, but that flutter stings with the memory of Tara. The sting swells to an ache, and more tears stream down her cheeks. The soft sob that she tries to bite back awakens Fred. Fred looks back at her drowsily, her eyes worried and sympathetic.

Fred's fingers brush away a tear, and then find Willow's hand.

Fred whispers softly, "Willow, true love is wanting the person you love to happy, even if it's not with you. Tara loves you, and wants you to be happy. I'm sure of it. She wouldn't want you to become a nun or anything. She just wants you to remember her."

Willow nods, squeezing Fred's hand. She vows to always remember their life together... Miss Kitty Fantastico... her birthday dance... the way she smiled, everything moment painting her in the air for all to see. There will be extra flamey candles for Tara, but there can also be kisses for Fred. It doesn't mean she loves Tara any less, and Tara knows it.

Willow pulls herself up, and brings her lips to Fred's, kissing her lightly and tenderly. Fred smiles and brushes away the last of Willow's tears. They lie back again, their bodies curled together as they fall asleep.