Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No profit made, no infringement intended.
Tara's father has a loud, bellowing voice, and when she's only little, she thinks her real dad got replaced by a monster. She makes up fairy tales with her dolls of a good witch, torn from the arms of her beloved, her belly full with a tiny new witch. They stay, locked up the high tower, until the good witch finds the right spell to take them far away. Sometimes they free the boy too, but then Donny cuts the hair off one of her dolls, and Tara leaves the boy doll in the toy box.
Tara's father makes Tara's voice tremble and quake when she calls him "Sir" until she speaks with stutters. He says things like "children should be seen and not heard", and he doesn't like it when Tara's mother plays with Tara. Instead, Tara's mother wakes Tara up once everyone has gone to sleep, and makes Tara laugh with levitating dresses, and dancing dolls.
Tara learns her first spell at five, the night before she starts school. In a small velvet pouch her mother hands is a locket. Tara opens it carefully, looking up perplexed when she sees it's empty. Tara's mother smiles and whispers a spell. The glamour fades to reveal a photo of Tara and her mother with big grins, arms wrapped around each other. Tara repeats the words carefully, watching as the photo appears and disappears with the strange Latin words.
"I'll be there if you need me," Tara's mother says with a smile. Tara hugs her mother tightly, smiling with glee.
When Tara can't tell the teacher her name without stuttering, Tara wishes she'd learned a glamour to make her whole body disappear. Tara tries to pretend that her cheeks aren't burning, and her stomach doesn't feel like it dropped two floors. She tries to pretend she doesn't mind that everyone stares at her, and that no one will talk to her when they sit down for story time. She tries and tries, but all the pretending is just a fairy tale she knows is a lie.
She's on the edge of tears by the time she gets excused to the bathroom. Tara opens the locket with a shaky hand, and whispers the words. Suddenly there's her mother's face, and Tara can't help but smile through her tears.
When Tara is 8, Tara's father stops doing most of his work from home, and starts spending long hours at the office. Tara and her mother find that once a month Tara is miraculously sick enough that she has to stay home. Tara feels like every sick day is her birthday, a day filled with joy and giggles.
In the morning, Tara wakes up to the smell of butter on a hot pan, and she calls out either "Circles!" or "Funny Shapes!" to her mother. They both eat breakfast in bed, with levitating syrup bottles and sticky syrupy nose kisses. After breakfast, Tara's mother teaches her spells and tells her stories.
At 13, Tara has her first kiss with her best friend Molly when they're "just practicing".
The love letter she writes Molly becomes a rumpled piece of paper at the bottom of the backpack that Molly's boyfriend Scott slings over his shoulder.
Tara does a glamour so no one will see her cry.
At 15, April turns Tara's life upside during three hot and dry months of summer. April comes from Texas, staying with her Aunt and Uncle's a block from Tara's, while her parents recover from the devastations of puberty.
April seems like the opposite of everything Tara is, with her boisterous shouts, over-confident demeanour, and lightening fast bare feet. The one thing they seem to have in common is that they aren't too interested in the neighbourhood boys. April would much rather drag Tara to the secluded part of the river, spraying her with water until she concedes and jumps in.
The fireflies are just coming out when April swims up to Tara and brushes her fingers across Tara's cheek. She kisses Tara the same way she runs- fast and laughing. April's tongue darts between Tara's lips, twirling around Tara's tongue. She leaves Tara shocked and tingling as she swims to the shore.
April jumps back in a few moments later... naked. April calls out to Tara to join in the skinny dipping, but Tara stays still, blushing and smiling.
At 16, Tara's mother becomes sick, and there's no time for girls. Tara's father tries to keep Tara away from her mother, but Tara runs home from school so she can get there before he leaves work. Tara brushes her mother's hair, cooks her pancakes in funny shapes, and listens to the spells her mother whispers in her ear.
At 17, there are no more pancakes. There's no one to cook them for. Tara locks herself in her room, a thousand partial spells tumbling from her lips. They never found the right spell to free them, and now the good witch is gone, buried deep in the earth.
Once all the spells have died on her lips, Tara puts on jacket, and runs out of house before her father has a chance to stop her. Tara walks into the night, with no mind for danger or chill. Once her feet become tired, and her eyes become aware of her surroundings, Tara knows where she must go.
Tara walks to the Magick store she often buys her supplies from. Her hand forces the locked door open with a spell. Once inside, Tara makes her way to the counter, finding the carefully hidden drawer with the forbidden books.
Tara frantically turns the pages, trying find a spell. At her fingers is a book dreadfully powerful, centuries of black magicks held within the pages. Once again, the right spell eludes her. The spells are all variations of vengeance and violence, and Cancer isn't caporal. Eventually Tara closes the book, and curls up in the corner, crying herself to sleep.
At 21, Tara finds her fingers intertwined with a redheaded witch named Willow, magick sparking between their hands. Her heart pounds in her chest, first for the panic, and then for the way Willow forgets to let go once the spell is over.