February has always been an anomalous month. Still and dark, the quiet death of winter and the quieter birth of spring, all seemingly lost after the fanfare of the new year. Except to witches, who know that in early February, the earth is alive, busy making way for struggling seeds.
There was, of course, Valentine’s Day, and that holiday certainly could have been a day of planting seeds, especially if looking at its possible Roman origins, but neither Tara nor Willow chose to celebrate it. Willow hated the hearts and saccharine capitalism. Tara saw the good in people expressing love but was always bothered that beautiful flowers had been rushed through their natural growing cycle, or grown in artificial settings, so people could hand them out in the middle of winter, just to toss them a week later. They’d decided that it was unnatural, and so spent the day with Chinese take-out a few lesbian romance movies- Willow insisted she needed those for her “gayducation”. They’d made love under the slanted light of the half- moon which had fanned across their bed. Really it was like every other night, or most of them anyway. Still, despite the light protest, the fact that it was Valentine’s Day affected them, and they both knew, that this first V- Day together as an official couple was a milestone- and that they were very very lucky.
The part about that was on Willow’s mind was that it’s also the one month that actually got cold in Southern California- and Willow was suffering. Wrapped in thermals she only really kept around for these few weeks, she was huddled next to the space heater, turning every few minutes to try and spread the warmth as she and Tara studied. Well, Tara was studying at the desk, and Willow was watching her from her place on the floor. Next to the heater. Tara was definitely in serious study mode - she was wearing her thinky face and everything. That face always made her smile. Each time Tara stopped typing, a small crinkle would form between her brows and she would chew on her full bottom lip, releasing it to mouth words silently- as if just thinking wasn’t enough to fully form what she wanted to convey. Willow was loving every nuance of expression on her love’s face; her love, who was in nothing more than a sweatshirt and pajama pants. Willow shivered looking at Tara so exposed to the elements, or at least the air inside their dorm. Air was an element. And that element was so cold. Just look at her nipples. Or feel them, rather, as they masochistically tried to cut their way out of Willow’s thermal top.
But it wasn’t Tara’s lovely features or her under-dressed state that kept pulling Willow’s gaze her way. It was always a reason, but right it wasn’t the only one. Willow was worried. She knew it was silly, knew it was probably nothing, but logic didn’t stop her insides being all twisty. It didn’t help her busy mind as it tripped over itself with catastrophe. Tara was busy and Willow wanted to respect that, but she had to say something before she blurted something stupid. Closing her textbook and pushing it to the side, Willow pulled the wooly blanket around her body, scooting even closer to the blessed, but tiny, heater, as she watched Tara some more. She needed to find the words so they, she, could get past this. In fact, she decided, this might take more than words. It took some maneuvering to get up while not disturbing the blanket, and her walk to Tara was much more like a shuffle, not unlike a penguin, which in this weather?
Willow reached her destination and snuck out an arm, braving the cold to loop it around Tara’s neck. She kissed behind Tara’s left ear, “Baby?”
“Hmm?” Tara asked, still focused on the screen before her, but she did lean into Willow’s embrace. It was an unconscious move, like gravity joining the planets in orbit. The attraction of love that is reciprocated. Despite the lean, the distracted response made Willow pause. It would be harder if she had to share Tara’s attention. But she had gotten half Tara’s attention, and saying ‘Nothing’ would make Tara concerned. Neutral ground then. Well as neutral as hypothermia could be.
“It’s so cold, how can it be this cold?” Perhaps it was the tone in Willow’s voice, one that indicated that she was miserable, or maybe it was light kisses that were being dotted down Tara’s neck. Either way, Tara stilled her hands and tipped her neck further to the side, exposing the soft skin to allow more butterfly kisses. Willow increased her attention with a grin - now they were getting somewhere.
Slim fingers wove into Willow’s hair before Tara pulled back slightly and with a twist of her torso pressed their lips together in a playful kiss. Tara teased her tongue across Willow’s bottom lip, giving it a slight nip, before Willow met Tara’s tongue fully, caressing it with her own. Tara mewled in delicious satisfaction as they parted and the sound permeated Willow, leaving her heady and high, a silhouette in an opium haze. She couldn’t remember why she had come over to Tara, and she didn’t care, until Tara snickered. It took a moment for Willow to understand as she watched Tara trying to fight a grin, lips twisting valiantly until she was too amused and gave in. Willow was offended, in a mock ‘I know you’re teasing me but I also know you love me’ kind of way.
“Did you just snicker at me?” If more than one arm had been free, Willow would have put her hands on her hips. One would make enough of a point. Since she wasn’t really mad anyway.
If anything, the response only increased Tara’s amusement because now she was laughing, “Sweetie, you look like a burrito,” and giving Willow, by way of her woolly blanket, a playful tug, added “It’s not that cold.”
“It’s 45 degrees!!” How had Tara possibly missed the fact that it was arctic. Tara wrapped her arms around her girl.
“My poor baby, It’s a good thing there are no actual seasons here, you wouldn’t survive.”
“I would if you were there to snuggle me,” Willow’s bottom lip pushed out, assuming full pout position as she tipped her head coquettishly. Willow needed Tara’s attention right now, so she threw in some fluttering eyelashes for good measure. On most other days, Willow would have respected Tara’s need to work, in fact, she encouraged it, brainy women were hot and Tara was already hot so add studying to the mix and- yowza! But today, tonight, Willow needed reassurance, and the need wouldn’t stop bothering her.
“Darling, I will always be there to snuggle you, and trust me I am tempted, but this paper is due Thursday- I have to get it done.” With a final squeeze, and a small kiss on Willow’s covered chest, Tara released her and turned back to the computer.
“But that’s like two whole days away,” Willow offered, resting her chin on her girlfriend’s shoulder and reading new words appear across the screen. She tried to keep the desperation out of her voice as she continued, “Maybe a day and a half now, but you have no classes after 4 tomorrow so – look how much time you have.”
Tara closed her eyes as she leaned her head against Willow’s, fully aware that her love was being uncommonly persistent, “This coming from ‘Miss I have all my papers written a week early or I can’t sleep at night Rosenberg’ ?”
“Just wanna snuggle my one and only baby, who I love more than anything.” There was something in the way Willow was speaking- it was her ‘I’m leading up to something’ tone. But Tara’s momentary bemusement was kissed away in little flutters that caressed her face and neck. Intoxicating. Distracting.
Tara groaned with the effort of denying this woman. Either Willow was feeling very very frisky or something was bothering her. The fact that Willow had strayed away from the blessed heater reinforced her suppositions. Either was possible. Probably both. “I love you too darling and I’d really rather…”
And now Willow was feeling guilty. How many times had she rebuffed an affectionate Tara when she’d had papers due in the next few weeks? Well, not often, but it happened, and what if Scoobyage was needed tomorrow? Tara shouldn’t be left out because Willow had taken this time from her. Getting work done early was partly so that they wouldn’t be scrambling the night before and then miss a deadline because someone was trying to end the world. It all made Willow a little panicky. She was panicky anyway, for a Tara related reason. Tonight was just going to be a panicky night, but at least Tara could get her paper written.
She resigned herself with a sigh and left one more kiss on the top of Tara’s head, “I know, I’m sorry. You need to be studious,” before moving back toward the heater. Tara watched her go. Something was wrong. Willow wasn’t the best at hiding her emotions, they colored her voice and her painted on her features, but even if they were subtle, Tara could read her. This wasn’t just disappointment about not being able to snuggle.
“Baby, you ok?”
“Just gettin’ toasty,” Willow said as she scooted next to the heater, pulling the blanket tighter. But she wasn’t looking at Tara, and there was just a hint of that tone that Willow couldn’t hide and it made Tara frown with concern. Tara left her chair and went to Willow, sitting behind her and wrapping her body around the huddled form of her love.
Willow knew Tara was coming to her, and she felt elated and guilty. And silly. Now that she’d gotten Tara’s full attention, she felt ridiculous for being so needy in the first place. Suddenly, she didn’t want things to be such a big deal. So, she snuggled into the warm arms and went for humor instead. Besides, it was fun to tease Tara, “Ha! It worked.”
Tara had to wonder if she’d just been played, even if the game was mutually beneficial. She didn’t think so, something was bothering Willow, but if her girl wanted to be that way…. With a playful slap on Willow’s arm, Tara shuffled back, loosening their embrace.
She wasn’t going to return to schoolwork, not now, but she could make Willow wonder, or hopefully share what was on her mind. And it worked. Two strong hands flew back, holding onto Tara's forearms, effectively stopping her movement. Willow pushed herself back into a firm embrace.
“No, baby, please, I just … I need you to know how much I love you.” Willow spoke with soft conviction that tugged at Tara’s heart. They both held on tighter and Tara swayed them gently back and forth.
“I do know that, what’s going on darling?”
“I just-,” Willow hesitated and snuggled in impossibly more, “It’s been, like, five days.”
Tara was silent for a moment. Willow could imagine the slight pensive crinkle as Tara worked it out. Then.
“Oh,” that hadn’t been expected. Tara loosened her hold a little so she could lay her chin on Willow’s shoulder, mirroring their earlier position. Tara thought of how to respond, this was obviously bothering Willow. “I guess so. That’s what’s bothering you? We’ve gone a few days without before.”
“A few. Not five.”
“Ok,” Tara kissed Willow’s hair, “And that makes you worry. Are you worried that I don’t want to? Because that is so definitely not the case.”
“I know I’m being silly. We’ve both been busy. There’s so much going on.”
Tara blinked, her mouth opened and closed trying to find something to say, but the Riley thing confused her, “I’m not sure what to do with that, sweetie. What does that have to do with us?”
“It just got me thinking, and that thinking led to worrying and then,” Willow shrugged, “The no sex. I just don’t want us to drift apart like Buffy and Riley did.”
“Baby,” Tara soothed, head tilted as she looked at Willow. Willow leaned back and to the side, gaining a better view of her love and the brief flicker of worry in her wide, deep green eyes faded at the gentle look she was given. It calmed her and the words fell loose.
“And I keep telling myself I’m being silly or a worry-wort, and I don’t want to be silly or,” Willow frowned, “a wort. Of any kind. And I know I love you and I know you love me, and I know that should be enough and it is. It so is. It’s more than enough. It’s everything even.”
Tara held her, listening. And Willow went on. “It’s just, I love you so much sometimes, I-I worry that it’s going to go wrong. That something will happen. And when Riley left, I mean, I wasn’t 100% surprised, but they seemed to be doing ok. And then-” Willow paused and let her gaze fall to the floor and when she looked up again tears formed in Tara’s eyes, clinging to her lashes. Because in Willow’s eyes was that same shimmering gaze, her lips pressed and tweaked fighting the fall of her own tears.
Tara used her hands to move so she was facing Willow. Legs still entwined, she crossed her ankles behind her girlfriend, using heels resting against the soft flesh of Willow’s butt and urged Willow closer into their cocoon. Tara cupped Willow’s cheek, her thumb tucking away an errant strand of hair and caressing her ear before weaving her fingers upward into soft fine red locks. Just once, just enough to make Willow shiver. Then, with her hand on the nape of Willow’s neck, Tara brought Willow forward meeting her lips in the in between. Tara pressed fiercely as she gathered Willow in her embrace, her arms slipping into the wool tortilla blanket and tightening around Willow’s back. With strong hands she fitted their bodies together. It was possessive and generous, a gentle admonishment and a fierce promise. It was the purest response Tara could give.
But Tara didn’t stop giving. She lifted the sweatshirt off her own body, tossing it on the bed and Willow shivered in sympathy. A small place in her mind remembered the chill in the air, her body had already forgotten.
Tara unwrapped Willow from her blanket, rubbing her arms briskly to keep her warm, before pulling Willow’s nightshirt off, red strands waterfalling from the collar and settling on Willow’s bare shoulders.
Tara said nothing. But, through her touch, her lips, her shallowing breath, Tara defined her Truth. She smoothed her tongue across Willow’s lips, parting them and pushing inside, soothing, sucking, dancing their tongues together. She sifted her fingers through Willow’s hair, gathered the strands and tangled them in her fists. She stood, darkened eyes locked with Willow’s own and pulled the fabric of her pants down, hooked her underwear by her thumbs and followed their path, leaving both articles pooled on the floor. Willow reverberated in a breathless whisper as her own bottoms were slid down and then away. Tara dropped her head and sucked Willow’s nipple firmly into her mouth, taking, reminding. Tara showed her Truth when they were naked and Tara held Willow once again with her legs. Entwined. Exposed. Tara felt Truth in small chilled bumps on Willow’s sensitive skin, hands reading them. Memorizing with touch where bones sculpted her flesh.
Tara kept Willow pressed to her, one hand between Willow’s shoulder blades, the other trailing between her breasts, in a diagonal across her stomach absorbing the flutter of Willow’s want. Tara trailed her hand through damp red curls, caressing the wetness just below. And then, as she entered Willow, as two fingers slid into warmth and stilled, Tara spoke, “I love you.” Then Tara moved in her.
Willow arched, her body restrained in Tara’s arms, breasts flushed together, taught nipples meeting, kissing. The clicking sounds of the heater were smothered by Willow’s moans. Her head thrown back, hips thrusting on stroking fingers. Tara held her from within. And when Willow peaked, desperate hands clenching and unclenching on Tara’s shoulder blades and in her tousled hair, a mantra rose in Tara’s voice, a sacred chant: “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Lost with one another they tumbled in an eternity of ecstasy and conviction.
Finally, they eased each other down with soft kisses and delicate caresses, drifting like feathers to solid ground. Two souls, overwhelmed with joy, reflected in wet glistening eyes, green and blue. Willow felt her chest expand, filling with gratitude and faith for Tara, wondering if she would burst from the pressure. “I love you,” Her breath shuddered as foreheads touched, “Thank you, Tara, thank you.”
Tara lifted Willow’s chin and met her eyes, held her gaze with the truth of them. Then, as her lips formed a half-smile, she leaned in and dotted Willow’s face with quick, playful pecks until Willow laughed, giddy and free. Willow tapped the tip of Tara’s nose and mirth sang in her tired voice, “I thought you were writing a paper.”
“I was keeping you warm,” Tara retorted. She moved to wrap herself closer to Willow’s body when Willow’s body twisted herself away, “Oof, why is this thing still on?” she asked, stretching out and catching the switch on the heater with just the tips of her fingers, clicking it off. Willow turned back, fanning herself with her hand, air puffing from her lungs, “I’m roasting!”
Tara burst into laughter, leaping at Willow. In one fluid motion Willow threaded her hands into Tara’s hair, catching her as she cupped the back of Tara’s head and pulled her into a searing kiss. Together, they sunk to the floor.