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What Makes a Family?

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Tara sat on her bed in the dorm room, hugging her knees to her chest. Moonlight illuminated her tear stained face.

It had been just over a month since she had left Willow. Nothing was the same. And now, as she looked down at the plastic stick beside her on the bed, she knew nothing would ever be the same again.

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The next day.

Giles was sorting through books at The Magic Shop, clearing the back table of yesterday’s research, when he heard the bell above the front door ring. He looked up to see Tara making her way inside the shop.

“Tara! Good to see you, it’s been too long” Giles put down the books he was sorting and made his way towards the witch.

“H-hi Mr. Giles” Tara replied from behind her light brown hair falling in front of her face.

Giles’ smile quickly turned to a concerned frown as he got closer and noticed the young woman’s hair was hiding red and swollen eyes.

“Dear god, Tara are you alright?”

Tara could only shake her head, as Giles guided her to a seat at the back table. Giles sat opposite the vulnerable looking woman as he handed her a hanky from his pocket, one of the many he used to clean his glasses. Tara accepted the kind gesture, taking the hanky and dabbing her nose.

“Is Anya here?” the witch asked, nervously scanning the shop.

“Day off”

“OK, good” Tara replied, relaxing a bit in her seat as she fiddled with the hanky in her hand.

“Is this about Willow? I know it has been a difficult separation for you both and I must say…”

“It’s not that” Tara interrupted, lifting her head to look at the concerned man in front of her.

“Well it’s not just that”
“Mr. Giles, I’m sorry but I didn’t know who else to talk to. Last night I took a test, and I’ve just come from my doctor and….” Tara couldn’t finish the sentence. She felt like she was going to have a panic attack. All she could do was try to breath.

Giles leaned in and took the witches hand “Tara are you sick? You can tell me”

Tara shook her head and looked pleadingly at Giles, willing him to say what she couldn’t. But the watcher just looked confused “Tara, I don’t understand. What’s happened?”

Tara took a deep breath and forced the words out “I’m….I’m p-p-pregnant”, before promptly bursting into tears.

“Oh” Giles retracted his hand in surprise “I didn’t think…I didn’t know…you’ve been dating? Since Willow?” Giles knew his shock and confusion were obvious. He immediately wished he had responded differently, especially when he saw the embarrassed expression on Tara’s face in response to his line of questioning.

“Mr. Giles that’s the thing, I haven’t b-been with an-an…” Tara sighed in frustration, hating that her stutter was so prominent at this moment. She took another deep breath and tried again “It’s only been Willow, there has been no-one since Willow.”

The watcher’s confused expression remained, “Tara are you saying…”

“That’s why I came to you Mr. Giles, I think somehow…” Tara hesitated

“You think this is Willow’s child? Willow and your child?” Giles interjected.

Tara nodded finally allowing herself to exhale knowing now it was out in the open “I did a test, an old wiccan test for pregnant women. It’s traditionally used for determining paternity and gender. I made a witch’s ladder out of hair and one of Willow’s rings and when I dangled it over my belly it rotated, three circles clockwise and then three circles counter clockwise. If the test is right it’s Willows and...” Tara touched her belly “…It’s a girl”

“Right” Giles stated still in astonishment.

“I thought maybe you’ve heard of this sort of thing before, with two women. I mean how would this even be possible?” Tara's words were urging Giles to provide her with some wisdom or guidance.

Giles thought for a moment and then abruptly rose up from his chair. He quickly made his way towards a bookshelf, looking for something in particular.

“It’s rare, but not unheard of in witchcraft. There have been pregnancies aided by magic, maybe even between two women…” Giles searched the shelves as he spoke. “…And you are both powerful witches. I mean Willow has shown…” Giles stopped himself mid-sentence, glancing over at Tara only to see her drop her head down towards her lap again. Giles made a strange coughing sound and refocused on his book search.

Giles tried to move from his previous statement as he scanned the shelves “…but an unplanned pregnancy through magic, I’ve never heard of that”

Giles stopped what he was doing, seeming to take note of something important within his own words. He took off his glasses and turned back to face Tara who wore her own knowing look.

“Tara, I know Willow was going through a dark time before you left and she was channelling magic in foolish ways, but to purposefully impregnate you without your knowledge? I can’t imagine…”

“I couldn’t have imagined so many things she did, why not this?” Tara asked with a flash of uncharacteristic anger. The pain of what Willow had done in the recent past was still so raw for the heartbroken witch.

Giles didn’t know what to say. He put his glasses back on and refocused on the books.

“Aha!” Giles exclaimed, a bit too excitedly for the moment and leading Tara to jump in her seat.

Giles rushed back to Tara with a heavy book in his hands. He flung it onto the table and skimmed through the pages, quickly finding what he was looking for. He picked up the open book and placed it in front of Tara as he stood behind her to look over the pages with her.

“Look at this chapter and tell me if you see anything familiar”.

Tara stared down at the page, the title of the chapter Mystical Pregnancy drawing her attention immediately. She eagerly skimmed through a few pages before stopping at something that she recognised.

“Giles look at this spell”

Giles leaned over the woman’s shoulder and reached his hand towards the page, reading out the words as he underlined them with his finger “The spirits of life spell is used to assist fertility in infertile couples, taking the light of life from one and placing it into the other. Used alongside an expression of love, mystical pregnancy can occur”.

Giles took a seat next to and asked, “Is this a spell you or Willow used?”

“Well, not exactly, but remember Willow’s simulated sunlight spell?” Giles nodded, encouraging Tara to continue “Willow has never gotten it to work, but it’s been like her pet project. She was always tinkering with it, sometimes at night….in our bedroom…sometimes before we…” Tara’s inflection implied there was more to the story that she didn’t intend to say out loud.

Giles caught on and a red hue began to form on both their faces as they each looked away from one another before refocusing.

“So, you think Willow could have confused the purpose of the spells she used as the foundation of her simulated sunlight spell…accidently developing a potent fertility spell?” Giles asked.

Tara sighed “It’s not like she has the greatest track record for accuracy when it comes to harnessing her power. Remember the whole everyone forgetting who they are saga?”

“Yes, unfortunately. I still can’t look Anya in the eye” Giles quickly continued, not wishing to elaborate “Willow does yield great power, but even if these incantations did occur close to inter……ah, umm…. expressions of love there would have to be a purposeful intention in the room for the impregnation to occur”

Tara’s face contorted into an awkward grimace “maybe that wouldn’t be such a stretch. I mean there have been times, esp-p-p-ecially during and around…. in-intimate moments, where I had fantasised about what it might be like to have a more with Willow, like a baby”

Giles appeared surprised by this confession. Tara quickly corrected “Not now! Not at this age and not in this way, but someday, with Willow, I used to think about it” Tara’s emphasis on the past tense did not go unnoticed by Giles.

Giles took a moment to absorb this information “Well it’s one hell of a coincidence, but it is possible that with your combined powers, Willow’s incantations around the time of certain…intimate behaviours and your desires to create a family some day…”

“Mystical pregnancy can occur” Tara chimed in.

The watcher and the witch sat back in their chairs, unable to speak for several moments.

Tara eventually broke the silence “What do I do Giles?”

“I can’t answer that, I mean a woman’s right to choose…”

“No” Tara interrupted hastily. “I don’t mean that, I don’t think I could, I mean what do I do about Willow? What do I tell her?” Tara looked pleadingly at Giles, once again willing him to have the guidance she craved.

“I can’t answer that either Tara” Giles responded, kindness in his voice, seeing how lost the woman in front of him was.

“She’s just so…and I’ve just…” Tara stood up from the table and began pacing back and forth.

“You’re worried what this will do for her sobriety” Giles stated knowingly.

Tara stopped her pacing “I don’t think she can handle this. I don’t know that I can handle this. I mean, even if it wasn’t intentional and maybe I had something to with it this just reminds me of…I mean it just feels like another…violation”

The pain was evident in Tara’s voice as she continued “I don’t even know if I feel safe with her around the baby. I mean what she did to Dawn, what if she started using magic again? what else could she do?”

Tara felt shame and sadness in how she was speaking about the woman she still loved, but she was already feeling her protective motherly instincts kicking in. She placed her hands on her belly once more.

“I understand your hesitation” Giles stated softly as he now stood to pace around the room “Willow is in a very delicate place right now. While I can’t imagine Willow would do anything to intentionally harm you or the baby, she has shown that she is not always in control”.

Tara nodded slowly as the watcher continued “Whatever you decide Tara, I will support you. But you don’t have to decide anything right now. This is all still a shock and I’m sure the answers will become clearer with time. Until then, your secret is safe with me and I will do everything I can to keep you safe, both of you” Giles gestured towards Tara’s belly where her hand still rested.

Tara gave a small smile “Thank you”