Willow Rosenberg has never been one to fall in love slowly. She’s the girl who spots someone across a room and immediately wants them, the girl who decided one day in middle school that she was besotted with her best friend Xander, the girl who is secretly a romance novel aficionado. She wholeheartedly believes in love at first sight and soul mates, in the instant lighting-strike moment of meeting someone and just knowing. And even if she’s never experienced it, she knows deep down that someday she’ll bump into a guy and love will bloom in her chest like a flower.
So naturally, her entire world flips on its head when she realises she’s fallen in love without even noticing.
The moment comes without fanfare or swelling music, or even a dramatic declaration of adoration. It is, however, enveloped in magic. The incantation Willow has been chanting is clinging to her lips, still tangible in the crackling air. Tara’s hands are clasped in hers, slightly sweaty but firm, the steady pressure of her fingers keeping Willow grounded.
Tara’s gazing up in awe at the tiny constellation they just conjured, right in her cramped dorm. A perfect Ursa Major floats in the air above them, millions and millions of minuscule stars held in place by the joint force of their power. It’s stunningly beautiful, intricate in a way that shouldn’t be possible at their level of inexperience – and yet somehow they’ve managed it in their tiny circle of two. The pinpricks of light cast a glow on Tara’s face in the dimness of the room, and crazy as it seems, Willow isn’t even looking at the result of their hour-long spellwork.
Her eyes graze over Tara’s face; warm hazel eyes glowing with pure wonder, full cheeks pink from exertion, her lips full and parted and curved into a blissful smile. She’s inconceivably lovely when she makes magic, bright as a goddess, radiating pure power. Although, if she’s honest with herself, Willow thinks Tara is beautiful whether she’s casting a spell or taking notes. Willow feels a tug in her belly, and it is with a thump of her heart that she thinks: Oh. I’m in love with her.
It is both a shock and a moment of clarity. Because of course, of course she’s in love with Tara. Wonderful Tara, strong, warm compassionate Tara, the girl who saw more in Willow than anybody else ever had, the only person Willow trusted enough to perform complicated magic with, the bright spark that had emerged from the darkness of the past year.
Love had crept up on her – it had settled into her very bones, curled its vines up around her heart, ensnared her slowly, so sweetly. And now she’s realising she’s hopelessly entangled.
Tara’s gaze falls to meet hers. Magic pounds in Willow’s veins, heady and hot, sending ripples of tingles down her arms, She keeps hold of Tara’s soft hands, feeling the small fingers gently squeeze her own. She’s too dumbstruck to speak just yet, eyes locked on Tara’s.
The stars begin to dim, fading from sight as the magical energy slowly dissipates. They could have held it there for longer, Willow is sure of it, but the magical current running though them is definitely not focused on the spell anymore. They stare at each other for a long time. Tara usually would have glanced away by now, her social anxiety taking control, but things are different with magic. And different with Willow. She’s herself, the Tara she’s supposed to be, the brightness shining from beneath the layers of guilt and fear. Willow’s heart thuds again, hard.
“Wow,” Tara whispers, finally breaking the silence. Her voice is hoarse from nearly an hour of chanting incantations, and the sound of it sends a jolt up Willow’s spine.
“That was so intense, and beautiful. I’ve never conjured something so lovely.” Gently, so as not to jostle the still-dissipating cone of power around them, Willow releases one of Tara’s hands.
“Lovely,” Willow agrees softly, pointedly not looking at the faded constellation. Tara’s cheeks flush even more, her mouth curling slightly at the corners. Willow’s almost drunk on the energy of the spell, a potent cocktail of magic and affection and awe and trust and love. With a shaking hand, she reaches out and draws her tingling index finder lightly down Tara’s cheek. A pink line is left in its wake. Slowly, as though in a dream, Tara reaches up to press Willow’s hand to her face. Her eyes drift closed.
Willow gently bends her fingers, stroking down Tara’s jaw. She feels the other girl’s breath catch slightly as she cups her chin. The aura of power surrounding them makes the moment feel otherworldly, and this is what gives Willow the courage to shuffle closer. Her knees bump against Tara’s, and she opens her eyes, her gaze directly meeting Willow’s. Willow breaths in the subtly sweet scent of Tara’s hair, simultaneously comforting in its familiarity and incredibly arousing. Moving slowly, almost having to push through the crackling magic between them, Willow leans in. She pauses, watching as Tara closes her eyes again. And there, on the dingy carpet of the dorm floor, Willow kisses the girl she loves.
Tara’s lips part with the faintest sigh, drawing Willow’s bottom lip softly between hers, and Willow knows she’s done for. There is a surge of electricity between them as a hand curls into loose red hair, Willow’s fingers finding the warm skin of Tara’s waist. Tara kisses her deeply for a moment, stroking hair back from Willow’s forehead, before breaking away to rest her mouth against Willow’s neck.
“Wow,” she breathes again, fingers tracing down Willow’s back, making her shudder slightly. Willow pulls back, holding Tara’s face in her hands to meet her eyes. Her face is warm, and her heart is pounding, but she holds Tara steady.
“So... this is okay?” Her voice is significantly shakier than she intends it to be. Tara simply chuckles softly in response, bringing Willow’s mouth down to meet hers again.
Neither of them notices the tiny constellation above their heads, blazing even brighter than before.