Disclaimer: Still not. Mine, that is. And, yes, I'm still very sad, so I'd rather you didn't rub it in.
A/N: Well, hey. I wasn't really sure about updating when I wrote the first part, but lookee here. Reviews. Aren't they nifty things? It's been a while since I've had any kind of slew of reviews, so it was nice to wake up and find several in my inbox. Thanks, guys, I feel loved again. Ooh, and hey, here's a switch. I feel like doing a Tara-perspective. Hope y'all don't mind.
I couldn't believe my luck. One minute, I was standing in the library—right in the middle of one of the stacks; people would've been upset if there had been any around, I supposed—just minding my own business. That my business happened to have nothing whatsoever to do with class or even with reading didn't make me uneasy, for once; I was content with just standing there.
It's a weird feeling in my life, being content. I've spent so much time running from things—my dad, Donny, every fiber of who I am—that it seems strange to just be standing still at any given moment.
Anyway, I was just standing there, looking at nothing in particular. It was probably a good thing that I was fairly unoccupied, because a face kept floating into my mind, pressing its way toward the front of my consciousness. A girl, with flame-colored hair and bright green eyes and a melt-your-heart smile. Her name was Willow, if I remembered correctly—and I knew I did. Ever since I first saw her, at a meeting of the so-called "Wicca group", I'd had that beautiful face memorized. She was just so…so many things that I wasn't. And that drew me toward her like a helpless moth to flame.
It occurred to me as I stood there, that if she were ever to speak to me, if she were ever to ask me anything at all, I would never be able to refuse her.
Weirdly, that thought didn't make me as nervous as I thought it should have.
I'm not sure how long I was there; all I know is how warm it made me feel. Libraries have always been something of a safe haven for me, especially since my mother's death. When she died…all the safety seemed to fade from my existence unless I was buried in a book.
I was just debating reaching for a book when it hit me. The shift in the air, the tiniest change in the musty aroma that floated around the shelves—and the flash of red that peeked out from behind the tomes. My heart threatened quite suddenly to stop.
I didn't follow her on purpose. Or, at least, my brain didn't. My legs, on the other hand, seemed to have a mind of their very own. Before I knew it, I was sneaking along the opposite side of the shelf, watching her surreptitiously as I held my books tightly to my chest.
Her eyes were fixed on a book. Understandable; she was in a library, was she not?
Well, you're in a library—selfsame one, actually—and you have yet to find yourself something to read.
I jumped about a foot in the air as two emerald eyes met mine through a hole in the row of books. Pulling back, I clutched my things closer to my chest and tried to remember how to breathe.
"Hey, where are you going?" her voice asked, sounding concerned. I bit my lip, thinking over all the combinations of words I could use to response as quickly as I could.
Finally, I managed to spit out a sentence. "I-I'm s-sorry, I w-wasn't t-trying t-to…"
Was she mad? It was hard to tell with an entire shelf between us, but she seemed to be seeking my eyes out with her own, so…that was a good sign, right?
"Hey, calm down." She caught my gaze with mine and I thought I heard the hint of a smile in her voice. "I don't mind. It's nice to find someone else here for once. Are you interested in witchcraft?"
I bowed my head, terrified that anymore eye contact would tear away all of my self-control. If I jump around this shelf—or, worse, through it—and kiss her, how many states would I have to run through before the pain stopped?
Quick, Tara, what was the last question she asked you? Focus, focus—it was about witchcraft, wasn't it? Yes, good, something I know. Except…I probably shouldn't tell her that I know so much about magick. No, because that might scare her…except she has been in Wicca group an awful lot. Doesn't that mean she's interested in that sort of thing?
Finally, I settled on stammering, "Y-yes. I mean…yes." Behind the shelf, I kicked myself in the left ankle.
"That's neat," she replied with another bright smile. "Are you a part of the on-campus Wicca group?"
I nodded, uncertain of what else to do. She gave a happy little bounce, as if there was no better answer out there, then stuck her hand through the gap in the books. I frowned at it.
What is she…
"Nice to meet you. I'm Willow."
Resisting the urge to say, "I know", I answered simply, "T-Tara." Cursing my stammer, I took her fingers gingerly in my own and squeezed very, very gently, convincing myself that she was indeed real.
"How come I haven't seen you before?" she asked suddenly as I released her hand. I flushed, ashamed as the realization of exactly how invisible I'd become hit home. I'd noticed her—hadn't been able to focus on anyone else, really—at every single meeting and she'd never even—
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean I…I just haven't ever…I mean, maybe I was too distracted or maybe you were sitting behind someone…do you usually sit behind someone?"
Was she babbling? I'd heard her do that a couple of time, and found it terribly cute.
No! Not cute! Bad Tara, bad! Don't find anything about her cute, you fool, she doesn't even know you exist!
…well, I mean, now she does…
But don't go there.
I couldn't help a smile, despite the desperate thoughts zooming around my brain. "N-no. I u-usually sit on t-the floor."
"Oh. The floor is nice. I mean, some civilizations have forsaken chairs entirely for the floor, haven't they?" Yep. Babbling. That really is—
Just another feature of just another person who won't remember your name in five minutes, I reminded myself firmly. Stop it.
I found myself coming slowly out from behind the shelf—and don't think there's no irony in the 'coming out' factor, oh no… She was blushing a little, apparently annoyed with her own babbling. I clutched my books closer, as if they could somehow save me from the heartache I could already feel coming off of her—
Wait. Off of her? What's going on here?
I've always had a strong sense of empathy, ever since I can remember. Mama used to say it was my special gift, like the magicks were. Dad just said it was another useless part of a useless woman, but Mama always told me not to listen to him. Empathy, she said, was one of the strongest gifts a witch could ever be blessed with. I was meant to do great things, she always said.
It's funny. I wonder what she'd say if she could see me now.
"Have you been…," she began, then froze. I very nearly panicked, assuming automatically that she'd noticed exactly who I was—or, worse, what—and realized that she didn't want to be within thirty feet of me.
Calm down, Tara. She doesn't know you, remember? She can't possibly hate you.
Forcing myself not to run away, I tilted my head to the side and waited. From the look on her face, she appeared to be struggling with something, although I had no idea what that could be.
"Have you been part of the group long?" she blurted finally. I nodded, weak-kneed with relief. She's not running away!
"For a c-couple of m-months now," I answered shakily. "You?"
"Same. I'm a freshman."
Same page, at least. Not like she's still not completely out of my league, but at least she's not way older or something…not that I thought she was…not that I should be thinking about this…
"Me t-too," I managed, trying in vain to keep the color out of my cheeks. What was I doing? This was the last thing I needed, to fall for this amazingly beautiful, agonizingly out-of-reach woman.
"And you…do you help out a lot with the bake sales and stuff?" she asked after a moment of just watching me. Was she staring? Or was that just the simple intensity with which she normally watched people?
Don't stare, don't stare, don't stare—damn, Tara, you're going to scare her!
Wrenching my eyes away from her face, I focused on the question she'd thrown my way. The words clicked in my head and I found myself—surprisingly—laughing out loud.
"N-no. I…I don't f-follow with that sort of s-stuff." And should I tell her what sort of stuff I do follow with? Or will that scare her?
Well, if your staring didn't freak her out…
"Oh?" She lifted an eyebrow. "What sort of stuff do you…I mean, do you actually…what I'm trying to ask is, are you a—"
Is she asking what I hope she's asking?
The bell cut through her babble and I mentally cursed the timing of everything. Likewise, her expression changed from smiley to upset; I hated seeing that changed, hated seeing her anything less than happy.
And isn't that just so sweet? Tara, you're hopeless.
"I h-have to go," I blurted, pulling my books closer to myself. "I've…I've got a c-class." And if I stay here any longer, I'll probably snap. "I'm sorry," I added as an afterthought.
"No, it's okay. I've got one too." Flashing a heart-breaking grin, she added, "Occupational hazard of going to college, I guess."
I found myself smiling back. She was just so open, despite the hurt I felt coming off of her in small waves. I couldn't help but feel comfortable with her.
"But I will see you again?" she asked suddenly, sounding like the answer I gave might send her day pitching either into the realm of happiness or depression. "At the group?"
"I-I'd like that," I stuttered, nodding to hide the burst of happiness her question had sent off in me.
She grinned more brightly. "Hey, maybe you can save me a spot on the floor next to you! I'd love to see the wacky view from below."
Did she…just ask me to save her a seat?
Don't hop and down, Tara. Don't do a little dance. Don't break into song. Don't do anything. Just smile, nod, agree. Don't screw this up.
"I-I'll be sure to…to save you a spot. Like y-you said."
Good, Tara, good.
"Cool." Still smiling, she reached out—what is she doing, what is she—and touched my arm. It was brief moment, probably born of nothing important, but it left my skin tingling pleasantly. A dorky smile threatened to pull at my lips and I bit it back.
"I'll see you," she said, turning away. I released the death grip my teeth had on my tongue.
"B-bye," I called after her. She glanced back and bestowed upon me one more angel grin. I felt my heart melt.
She's going to be the death of me, I thought, practically overcome by the battling bliss and fear in my chest. She's never going to want to have anything to do with me and it's going to rip me apart…and I don't care. Goddess, I don't care.
As I walked out of the library, I felt like I was walking on air for the first time in my life. Somewhere, in the very bottom of my stomach, I could still feel the weight of her smile.
Suddenly, the next meeting couldn't come fast enough.
A/N: Finished! Heh, it took me a while…I'm planning on at least two more chapters (and let's hope my writer's block doesn't fall back into place just because I said that), possibly four, depending. All things considered, I like this fic. I think I've managed to set up dividers for the two personalities, which is good. I hate when they blend—and you all really don't care. So I'll shut up and just post this and you can all read it and tell me what you think, 'kay?