Willow raised her eyes from the ground. “Tara.” She tried a smile. It felt sort of wobbly.
“You … you look upset.”
“Upset? No, I’m not upset. I was, um, just sort of sitting here, alone, by myself.”
Tara joined her on the bench and reached a hand out but drew it back before she touched Willow. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. Really.” Willow looked over to see if Tara was buying it. Tara looked very earnest. Nope, she wasn’t fooled. “It’s just … it’s sort of my birthday and Buffy seems to have forgotten and Xander hasn’t been around much lately, and maybe … maybe I’m just being silly.”
“Birthday, huh.” Rising, Tara took Willow by the hand. “Come with me.”
“But … where are we going?”
Not letting go of Willow’s hand, Tara turned and placed one finger over her mouth. “Hush. It’s a surprise.”
In her dorm room, Tara closed the curtains but left the lights off. “Close your eyes.”
“Close my eyes? But why …”
“Close. Your. Eyes.”
Willow heard drawers being opened and shut and the sound of a match being struck.
“Okay, open them.”
Tara’s arms were stretched out towards Willow. Cupped in her hands, as if it was a precious offering, sat a muffin with one birthday candle rising from the center. “I’m sorry it’s not a cake.”
“No, no. It’s perfect.”
Tara was grinning that grin that made her look like a mischievous sprite. “It’s a magical spell Make a wish. Blow out the candle.”
Willow blew out the candle but didn’t need to make a wish. Everything she wanted was standing before her.