"Goodnight, Willow." As she gently took the book that had been cradled in her daughter's lap, Shelia Rosenberg smiled softly at the young girl.
"But Mommy…" Willow whined, looking at her mother with a pout present on her lips, and sadness in her big green eyes. "I wanna finish the book! I'm almost done!"
"You can finish it tomorrow, honey." Continuing to smile at her daughter, the older woman reached out and pushed some of Willow's red-hair behind her ear. "It's time to go to sleep. It's late, and you're going to see Xander tomorrow, remember?"
"But I wanna finish the book!" Her pout refusing to wave as she laid down onto the bed beneath her, Willow could feel almost nothing but frustration coursing through her brain. She had spent most of the day reading her new book, which her grandmother had bought for her as an early birthday present, and just as she was about to finish it, it had been time to go to bed. "I'm almost done, Mommy. Pretty please?"
"You can finish it tomorrow, honey." Leaning down and giving her daughter a small kiss on her forehead, Shelia turned and began to walk towards the door. "Goodnight, Willow. Sleep tight."
"Night, Mommy…" Turning onto her side as the lights were turned off, her security blanket wrapped around her, Willow closed her eyes. Try as hard as she might, she couldn't stop thinking about what was going to happen in the book. The prince had almost been rescued, and she needed to know if Tare slayed the dragon in order to get to him. Rolling over onto her opposite side, she tried to sleep, pouring all of her energy into just staying still.
Finally unable to stay still any longer, she sat up, her blanket still wrapped around her. Reaching over onto her small night-table and grabbing the book, she held it close to her chest as she reached under her bed, feeling around for her flashlight. Finally feeling the familiar touch of the torch, she gripped it and pulled it up onto the bed.
"Shelia?" Looking up as she heard her father's voice echo into her room from underneath the door, Willow froze. Had her parents heard her moving around? She had tried to be as quiet as she could, but there was always the chance her parents had heard the flashlight moving around on the wood floor. "Is Willow asleep?"
"I just put her to bed a few minutes ago." Letting out a long, drawn out breath, Willow slowly moved the flashlight underneath her pillow. Still holding the book tight to her chest, she waited, almost able to hear her heart's beat in her ear. "She should be asleep."
"Busy day for her?"
"She read the book your mom got her all day. It's the only thing she wanted to do." Continuing to look towards the door as she heard footsteps rapidly approaching, Willow pushed the book back onto the night-table, and tried her best to look like she was asleep. Able to see the faint glow from the hallway light as the door to her room was pushed open, she remained entirely still, even as the footsteps led up to the side of her bed.
"Is she asleep?"
"Fast asleep." Mumbling a little in her false sleep as she felt her father's hand ruffle her hair slightly, Willow curled herself deeper into the sheets and her pillow, able to feel the flashlight through the pillow itself. Retaining the appearance that she was asleep until she heard the door shut, she waited a few beats until she was sure that her parents had moved away from the door. Cautiously sitting up in bed, she reached under her pillow and grabbed the flashlight before likewise grabbing the book off of her night-stand.
Pushing the sheets off of her, she swung her footie-pajamaed feet over the side of her bed, carefully sliding off the mattress and down onto the floor. Carefully taking a step over the loose board she knew would creak, she alternated her gaze between the floor in front of her and the still closed door. Repeating her steps until she had finally reached the corner, she set both the book and the flashlight down. Wrapping her security blanket around her pajamas and her head, she settled into the corner, before grabbing the book and flashlight once more.
Opening the book in her lap, she quickly turned on the flashlight, making sure to aim the beam down directly onto the book, taking care not to let even the smallest ray of light go anywhere near the door. She knew what would happen if her parents even suspected she wasn't asleep. She didn't want to have her book taken away, nor did she want a time-out in the morning.
As her eyes read over the printed words at a furious pace, the story once again began to unfold inside her imagination. The dragon was doing everything in its power to stop Tare from rescuing the Prince who she had come so far for. But more than ever, Tare was determined to accomplish what she had set out to do. As she raised her sword in order to finally finish off the dragon she had had on the ropes for so long now, she-
"Willow!" Looking up, obviously startled by the sound of her mother's voice sounding out her name, Willow dropped the flashlight to the floor, its beam casting a light on the wall beside her. Continuing to look at her daughter, Shelia placed her hands on her hips, her annoyed expression plain to see. "You're supposed to be in bed!"
"But I wanted to finish my book!" Curling a little more into the corner, the open book pressed against her chest, Willow buried her head into her blanket. "I wanna finish it!"
"Willow…" Saying her daughter's name as she watched her virtually hiding away from her, Shelia gave a small sigh before she made her way over to her child. "…you need to go to sleep. It's past your bedtime."
"But I wanna finish it…" Willow repeated again, frowning as she felt her mother pick her up and gently pull her blanket away from her face. "I wanna find out if Tare saves the Prince…"
"And you can find out in the morning, honey. It's time for you to go to sleep." Rubbing her daughter's back as she walked to her bed, Shelia sat down onto the mattress, her hand continuing to rub small circles into Willow's back. "You're gonna be tired tomorrow if you don't sleep."
"But I don't…" Willow yawned, her arms draped over her mother's shoulders. "…wanna…"
"I know you don't want to, but it's time to go to bed." Managing to work the book out from between the two of them, Shelia pulled the bookmark from the back cover and pushed it into the page before closing the book. "You're going to be cranky if you don't."
"I wanna read…" Her eyes beginning to droop, Willow squirmed a little against her mother's touch. "…pretty please…"
"Ssshhh…sleep…" Shushing her already half-asleep daughter, Shelia gently placed her back down onto the bed before tucking the sheets around her. "You can read tomorrow."
"Mommy…" Subconsciously curling into the warm sheets, Willow closed her eyes, her hand sluggishly continuing to search the bed around her for the book for a moment more. "…don't…wan...na…"
"Goodnight, Willow." Smiling down at her daughter, Shelia pressed a small kiss to her forehead before heading to the door, and turning off the light. Her eyes closed to the world around, Willow felt her thoughts slip away into the beginnings of a dream.