Title: Tara's Wish

Author: Jeanny

Spoilers: Season 6 Through Normal Again, with General Season 6 Spoilers and Spoilery Speculation

Rating: PG

Feedback: Yes, please! jeannygrrl@hotmail.com

Distribution: Go ahead, I don't mind, just credit me and tell me where it's going.

Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the characters that appear on the show are the exclusive property of Joss Whedon, Fox, Mutant Enemy, Inc., UPN and any one else with a legal binding claim to the shows and/or characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Tara recalls something magical.

****************************************

It used to be, if you asked me when the happiest moment of my life was, I would have said my ninth birthday. Some days, like today, the memory's amazingly clear, like it just happened, except it shines a bit. That's how memories are, I guess, at least the good ones; they shine because time has edited out all the little moments that were maybe less than perfect. Kind of like your mind is panning for gold, you know, and all the dirt and silt is gone and only those little valuable, pretty nuggets remain.

My ninth birthday was the happiest because it was just me and Mama. Dad took Donnie on some kind of 'manly' activity, a grouse hunt, I think, and they actually left the two of us alone for a whole week. He said he'd make sure someone looked in on us, to make sure Mama wasn't getting 'out of line'. But on my birthday it was just the two of us. The day was bright and clear, and we spent the morning in the garden. Mama baked me a cake; lemon chiffon, my favorite. And instead of putting candles on it, she whispered something and blew into her hands and then passed them over the cake. All at once there were all these little lights, moving in patterns and shifting colors, all over the top of that cake. That was the first spell she ever showed me. It was the most wonderful thing I'd ever seen, and I loved her more at that moment than any other I can recall.

She told me to make a wish, like the lights were birthday candles. She told me that the wish I made would come true. I closed my eyes, thinking hard, but before I could make my wish she grabbed my arm. I remember that scaring me a little. She said to be very careful what I wish for, because if I wished wrong, for the wrong thing, in the wrong way, it could be bad. I didn't understand, but I trusted my mama. I asked her what I should wish for.

"Something that matters," she said finally, after thinking for what felt to a nine year-old like an eternity.

"What matters?" I asked. I can still see her eyes, how she looked at me then. The same love and affection as always, but with some kind of fierce longing I'd never seen there before. She waved her hands again over the cake and the lights all merged into one larger ball of light, that she held in her palm. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I didn't think I'd ever see anything that beautiful again, and I never did...not until I saw Willow smile.

"I think we should save this wish, until you know the answer," she said, and the ball moved slowly from her hand and floated towards me. I remember feeling strangely excited and a little anxious...and then it was gone. The ball of light went poof, like it had never been there at all. It went poof from my head, too.

That's the weird thing. I've always remembered the lights on the cake, and that later we ate the whole thing, just the two of us, and that she gave me my first crystal, a beautiful rose quartz one I still have. But until today, I had totally forgotten about that wish, and the ball of light. Yet those weren't dirt and silt memories, those were golden. How could I have forgotten, unless I was supposed to. Unless Mama wanted to make sure I didn't waste the wish on something before I could use it on what mattered most. And as soon as I thought that, all I could think about was Willow.

Willow's marvelous smile. Willow's laugh. Her touch. Her love. I know why I remembered, Mama.

I knew what I wanted to wish for. All I could think was that I've spent too much time without what I care about the most. Willow. First I was lost, and she found me. She was lost, and I couldn't help her. Then we were both lost, and now we'd finally found each other again. All I could think was to find her, to tell her about my mother's gift, to share this wish. I wanted to share everything.

God, I was so happy when I walked into her room. I don't think I've ever felt so content. I finally knew what I wanted and where I wanted to be. There was nothing else that would ever mean more than to hold her in my arms. I knew I would have the happiest life if I was just able to share it with Willow, until I...

There was a flash. At first I thought it was Mama's light, but it was different, cold and hard and there were other flashes, colors, ugly ones, black and red. Something moved through me, and there was pain...I saw his face, shocked and drawn but not sorry, not at all sorry...

The pain's gone now. I'm glad, though I think it's not good, somehow. I can't see the door, I can't warn Willow about the...about Warren. About Warren and his gun. Oh, please let Willow be safe...please let her be safe...that's my wish, that's my wish, that's my wish...

I'm so sorry, Willow...I don't want to go...

Everything's wrong, Mama...please, help me, I know what matters...it's Willow, Mama. I love her, I'll always love her. Forever...

Willow? Are you there? I can't see you...I want to see...

Mama?

Don't cry, Willow. It's Mama, she's here...look, Willow, she's holding the light. My birthday wish is in there. This is my Willow, Mama. Isn't she beautiful?

I can almost reach out and touch the light...I know that if I touch it, it'll be okay...

I can almost touch it...

I can...

I wish...

***********

Please leave feedback!