Tally felt weird.
Not in the sense of uncomfortable or sick or any variation—but…off. More than usual. Her thoughts were racing, wholly encompassed by one Sarah Alder.
Which was interesting to say the least since she literally had just finished speaking to Gerit. Not that her thoughts drifting to the General was unusual…just that she thought she would be more angry and focused on how much she couldn't stand Gerit.
He'd 'bumped' into her, asking if they could talk. He gave a speech about how sorry he was for handling things the way he had, and she gave him a little time of her day to explain himself.
But truthfully she didn't really care. She was over him and their whole situation that had happened. She did appreciate that he brought some mulled wine with him—pretty much the only good thing to come out of that interaction.
Now though, her mind was occupied by one person.
She groaned aloud to herself—annoyed that her usual stream of consciousness regarding the General had decided to kick it into overdrive.
"You good?" Raelle asked, brow furrowed, as Tally entered the room. "You don't look so good."
"I don't feel great," Tally breathed, she felt nauseous. "I'm a bit shaky too. I saw Gerit and honestly I was totally fine. Maybe I'm getting sick?"
"Want me to walk you to the infirmary?" Rae pressed, already standing. "You're getting pale, Tal."
"Yeah, I think—" she trailed off, feeling faint. "I'm dizzy."
Then everything went black.
When Tally awoke, she was in the infirmary—Raelle and Abigail sitting beside the bed and talking quietly to each other.
"Hey," Tally rasped, drawing their attention.
"Thank the Goddess," Abigail praised, her eyes worriedly looking over Tally.
"I passed out?" Tally asked, already knowing the answer.
"You've been out for a couple hours," Raelle supplied.
Tally's eyes widened. "What?"
Abigail chimed in, "Raelle called for M and Gregorio to help carry you here. You were totally under."
"What the fuck?" Tally murmured more to herself. "I still feel like trash. What's going on? Do they know?"
Raelle shook her head. "By all their tests you're totally fine physically."
Tally was floored. "So no one knows why I passed out?"
Abigail and Rae shook their heads.
"Did you eat anything weird?" Abigail asked curiously, still trying to make sense of it as well.
"I had breakfast with you guys and then training…on my way back I ran into Gerit and we talked. Well, he talked. I sat and drank the mulled wine he brought and then when he said his peace I just left."
Abigail's eyes narrowed.
"Wait, you think Gerit did this?" Tally asked incredulously. "He wouldn't hurt me. Not physically at least."
"It's weird it started right after that," Raelle urged.
"It's too weird," Abigail added. "Did the wine taste weird?"
"No," Tally said with a shrug. "It tasted like normal mulled wine to me."
"You said you're feeling like trash…in what way?" Abs asked.
"Mainly dizzy. I'm not moving but the room seems to be spinning," Tally muttered.
"Shit she's passing out again," Rae said quickly. "Hey! We need someone!"
Then everything went black once more.
"What the fuck is going on?" Anacostia asked, voice on edge as she walked up to Tally's bed. Her eyes were focused on the other two members of the unit.
They quickly recounted what Tally told them, and what they witnessed.
"Shit," Anacostia muttered. "You really think he did something?"
"Must have," Abigail retorted. "She was totally fine beforehand and now look at her.
"We don't know what to do." Raelle rubbed her neck. "The Fixers say there's nothing wrong, but it's clearly something."
"She wouldn't be passing out like this otherwise," Abigail finished.
Anacostia nodded. "Keep me updated on her. I'll see if I can find anything more out."
She turned on her heel, moving quickly from the infirmary to across the base—her destination in sight. She moved easily through the administration building's halls, Alder's office appearing after she rounded the corner.
"Amber," Anacostia greeted, eyes flickering to the door.
"She has some time available now."
That was all Anacostia needed to knock on the door, opening it and stepping through when was permitted.
"Ana," Alder greeted, eyes glancing to her clock. "A bit early for dinner." She took in her foster daughter's rigid posture, and gestured to the chair across her desk. "What is it?"
"Craven is in the infirmary," Anacostia started, watching as the General's face turned to a worried frown. "Fixers say there's nothing physically wrong with her. But she keeps getting dizzy and passing out. She said she was totally fine and then all of a sudden she dropped."
Alder sat up in her chair, fully concerned now. "Is she conscious now?"
Anacostia shook her head. "She was still out when I left to come here. Collar and Bellweather are worried the Buttonwood boy did something. Apparently Craven had met with him to talk—shared some mulled wine and on her way back was when she worsened."
The biddies hissed, making Anacostia's eyebrows rise in question.
Alder's face twisted to a scowl. "Do they think he spiked the wine?"
"They think he's involved somehow."
Alder nodded before she stood from her desk, eyes sweeping over her biddies. "I want to see her condition myself. If there's truly nothing physically wrong, then it's magical."
Anacostia agreed, following her out of the room with the biddies in tow.
So when can we kill him? Harley asked finally.
Only after we find out what he did, Sarah replied.
The biddies all 'awed' through the link. Sarah admitting her feelings to herself was hard enough, but admitting it to the biddies had taken a great deal of support and reminders from Harley that they could feel her feelings for Tally.
What're you thinking he did? Marjorie asked next.
Alder sighed. Not a clue. Once I see how she is I can speak with Izadora. She should be able discern what the cause is.
They reached the infirmary soon after, and all the women filed into the room.
Tally was awake, her eyes immediately falling on the General. A smile crossed her face, followed by the widening of her eyes—almost fearful.
Sarah stopped at once, only a few steps from the door. She took a moment to look the redhead over. She had been rather pale when she first entered, but now it seemed her color was beginning to return—flushing her cheeks shortly after.
"Goddess you're beautiful," Tally said, fairly loud.
Alder was certain her soul momentarily left her body before returning. Tally's hand had risen and slapped across her mouth in mortification.
She could feel her cheeks warm. "Thank you, Tally," she said seriously, hoping the warmth in her cheeks wasn't too noticeable.
Tally was still looking mortified, her eyes flashing with many emotions at once.
"Tally," Sarah began, incredibly concerned now. "What's wrong?"
Tears were welling in her eyes now, and Sarah strode quickly across the room. Tally's eyes only widened further.
She had a look on her face—one that Sarah recognized whenever Tally wanted to say something but knew she shouldn't.
"Breathe, Craven," Alder urged as she did the first thing she could think of. She leaned forward and touched her forehead to hers.
"Oh," Tally murmured softly—warmly.
Alder pulled back slightly to see Tally better, wondering what was going on.
"Fuck, you even smell good," Tally practically whimpered. Her eyes widened again, hand slapping up over her mouth once more.
Sarah reared back—narrowly avoiding Tally's hand. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Her body was reacting to Tally's words, but she needed her head about her to see what was affecting Tally.
She looked at Raelle and Abigail. "I'm going to step out for five minutes. Then I am going to come back in."
She wanted them to speak with Tally without her being there—clearly. She hoped that something would give them more information. It seemed as if Tally wasn't in control of her own words.
She moved to the hallway, biddies in tow.
Tally, meanwhile, was still mortified that she had said those words out loud to the General of all people.
"Tal, what was that?" Raelle asked, a smile twitching on her face.
Abigail couldn't help but chuckle. "Yeah what was that?"
"I don't know I just," Tally breathed, eyes frantic. "As soon as I saw her I just wanted to confess all these things I feel and think."
Raelle couldn't help but laugh. "So much for never letting Alder know you're thirsting for her."
"It isn't funny, Raelle!" Tally hissed.
"It kind of is," Abigail snickered.
"Why is this happening?" Tally said, panicked.
Her sisters calmed their laughter and realized Tally's plight.
Abigail looked her over. "Tal, you're getting pale again. Are you okay?"
Tally shook her head. "I think I'm going to pass out again."
Abigail turned and looked to the door. "General!"
"Abs," Tally protested weakly. Her vision was already spiraling.
The door opened quickly and Alder strode in, coming straight over to them.
"What is it?" she questioned, looking Tally over. She was pale again.
"She's going to pass out," Raelle answered.
Tally shook her head. "No, no I'm good."
"Tal," Raelle pushed.
"Really," Tally said, her eyes shut tight.
"Her color is returning," Alder commented, relieved. She wasn't sure what was afflicting her, but she was going to find out.
Tally's eyes fluttered open and she released a sigh. Her eyes slipped to the side of her bed, trailing up long legs, up the jacket, and to that—
"Sexy jawline," Tally said aloud.
Alder's eyes widened as she looked down at Tally. She was definitely blushing now.
Damn, Sarah, she's really putting it out there, Harley jabbed in the link.
Tally's hands covered her mouth again and looked at Raelle and Abigail for help.
"Um," Raelle began, drawing Alder's attention. "Tally said that she feels like she suddenly can't control what she says around you…but it seems like she's better when you're here?"
Alder's brow furrowed as she thought it over.
We need to find the rat, Corinne growled.
Agreed, came the resounding agreement.
What's the plan? Harley asked.
Sarah caught a brief flash of an image of Harley hanging Buttonwood by his pants from a tree. She chuckled at it before thinking another moment.
"Bellweather, Collar, I want you to find the Buttonwood boy. He needs to explain himself immediately. Get him and bring him here." Her eyes shifted to Anacostia's. "Help them."
Anacostia nodded immediately and gestured for the two women to follow her.
She silently asked the biddies to wait outside of the infirmary. No one was to enter unless absolutely necessary.
Once they were alone, Tally looked even more nervous.
"Tally, it is alright." Sarah assured, sitting down on the edge of the bed and fixing her with a soft look. "We will figure out what is causing this."
Tally took a deep breath and focused. She was trying to get the words to form to explain better what was happening. But instead all that came out was—
"I really want to cuddle you."
She immediately groaned and flopped back on the bed. This was it. This was how she would die. Embarrassment.
Sarah laughed, a smile on her face as she looked down at Tally. She leaned over and unzipped her boots—feeling Tally shift to see what she was doing. She stood, removing her jacket and folding it over the back of a chair.
Tally was watching her with wide eyes as she laid down on the bed and opened her arms.
Tally was speechless—which was a very good thing. She quickly cuddled against her, wrapping herself around her and practically shivering.
"Are you okay?" Sarah asked softly, her arm coming to rest over Tally and stroke her hair.
"I've dreamt of this."
Sarah smiled to herself. She was enjoying hearing Tally speak so openly—but then she wondered if it was truly her and not the influence of what was causing this.
"Is this really how you feel? Or is this new?" she found herself asking—silently cursing herself for how small her voice sounded.
Tally tilted her head up to look at her. She wondered briefly if she could be honest with her about her feelings—if she could control exactly what came out of her mouth.
"I've had feelings for you for a long time," she said. She breathed a sigh of relief that she was able to do that. She couldn't meet the General's gaze. "I feel better with you."
Alder's throat was tight. She refused to get teary-eyed right now. Her eyes caressed Tally's face. Her brow was furrowed in concentration, and she found herself reaching up and smoothing the crease that was forming.
"I really like when you touch me," Tally confessed. A frustrated sigh left her—eyes slamming closed.
"Tally, look at me," she instructed gently.
When Tally did, her beautiful brown eyes looking so mortified at what she was saying—she cupped her cheek.
"Whatever you say is okay," she told her, voice firm. "I would like to address everything you say, once we figure out what is happening and how to stop it."
Tally nodded, eyes softening to a less worried gleam.
"Your eyes are so striking."
Sarah couldn't help but chuckle, eyes lighting up. "Feel free to continue complimenting me," she teased.
Tally laughed, face brightening and making Sarah's heart speed up in her chest.
She guided her back down to rest her head on her chest—Tally effortlessly tucking her face against Sarah's neck.
"Why do you smell so good?" Tally practically moaned.
She felt the heat pool to her center and sucked in a steadying breath.
"I showered," Alder remarked, a teasing smile on her lips. She felt Tally chuckle against her neck. "Are you feeling better physically?" she asked curiously. She no longer seemed clammy or cool to the touch.
"I felt better the second you touched me," Tally replied, nuzzling into Sarah's neck more.
Goddess she's going to kill me.
Everything good, Sare? Harley asked. Sarah could feel her smirk through the link.
She's nuzzling my neck.
Ah, so that's why you're feeling so loved.
Shut up, Harley.
Sarah tightened her arms around Tally.
"I want to sleep with you."
Sarah stiffened as Tally shot up to look at her frantically.
"Sleep," Tally stressed. "That too though." Her eyes flickered over Sarah's face. "So bad. I would live between your legs."
She slapped her hand over her mouth.
You should marry her, Harley quipped.
Sarah reached up, gently took Tally's hand from her mouth, and pulled her back down to lay with her. "You can nap if you wish."
Tally nodded—eternally grateful that the General was being so understanding.
Sarah stroked her hair and rubbed her back. She could feel Tally's breathing begin to slow a little, her head nuzzling closer to her neck.
"I love you."
Sarah glanced down, feeling Tally's breathing even out—fast asleep.
Did she just… Harley trailed off.
Yes she did, Marjorie replied.
They couldn't hear what Tally said but the feeling they got from Sarah had said it all.
She said she loves me, she told them softly. A sigh left her and she pulled Tally tighter against her. Even if whenever this was fixed, if she didn't truly feel that way for her—at least for a bit she could pretend what it would feel like to be loved by Tally Craven.
"General," Anacostia addressed. A smirk on her face as she glanced down at the sleeping witches.
When she entered, she was surprised to see Alder lying in bed with Tally, even more so when she saw how they were laying.
Alder was on her back, her right arm underneath Tally so her hand could reach and bury into Tally's hair.
Tally's head was tucked under Sarah's jaw, nuzzling her neck. Her right arm was partially under Sarah's shirt—hand resting on the top of her abs.
They looked like an exhausted couple that just had their first child. Anacostia chuckled to herself at the thought.
Alder stirred as she tapped her shoulder, blinking away her sleep and focusing on the Sergeant before her.
"Did you find him?" Sarah asked her quietly, voice rough with sleep.
Anacostia nodded, her eyes looking down at Tally's hand.
Sarah's eyes followed. She could feel her cheeks redden immediately.
"Where is he?" she asked, clearing her throat.
"Just outside, getting a very serious biddy death glare," Anacostia replied, a large smirk on her lips. "I notice you haven't moved."
Alder glowered at her, ready to stand—and then Tally whimpered and snuggled closer, like she knew she was trying to get up.
"I'll remain here," she told Anacostia. "Let him in in five minutes. I'll wake Tally."
Anacostia nodded, still smirking as she headed to the doors and left the room.
Sarah sighed and looked down at the sleeping redhead. She took a moment to steel herself for the inevitable popping of this bubble she allowed herself to have.
"Tally," she nudged softly. She ran her fingers through her hair, lightly scratching her scalp. "Tally, darling, you need to wake up."
Tally grumbled, but blinked her eyes open. A soft sleepy smile crossed her face as she looked up and saw Sarah.
Then realization hit her and her eyes widened. She noticed where her hand was and yelped, pulling it back as if it was on fire.
Alder couldn't help but flinch slightly. She didn't realize how much she was enjoying Tally's affection until her hand was gone—leaving her stomach cold instantly.
She cleared her throat. "They're back with the boy," she said, a little gruffly. "You didn't have to move your hand," she added a moment after.
Tally's eyes darted all over her face, trying to figure out if it meant what she implied—then the doors opened.
Gerit came in, eyes falling on Tally immediately—and then on the General.
Anacostia gave her an exasperated look that Alder read instantly.
'You couldn't have at least sat up on the bed?'
"Buttonwood," Alder addressed. Her voice was low, commanding—possessing an edge that was every bit the no nonsense General. She finally sat up, swinging her legs over the side to stand at her full height. Even without the boots she was above eye level.
"General Alder," Gerit addressed, eyes darting to Tally and then back at the General with confusion.
"Cadet Craven has been acting rather strange…saying things that she can't seem to help. You were the last with her. So. What did you do?" She looked down on him, an eyebrow rising expectantly.
He fidgeted. His eyes locked on Tally who sat just in view behind Alder's shoulder.
"Don't look at her," Alder ordered—voice of steel.
His eyes snapped to the General.
"I'll make this simple. Tell me, or I find out myself," she threatened.
The biddies all hissed lowly behind him.
Gerit swallowed. "It was a revelation potion."
Alder's upper lip twitched. "What sort?"
"A love revelation. I just thought if I did she would realize that she feels the same way she did before."
The General's nostrils flared. "I will be speaking with the Witch Father about your punishment. I suggest you never cross my path again," she growled. "Dismissed."
He left the room quickly—the biddies parting around him.
"Permission to kill him, ma'am?" Abigail asked, arms crossed and shooting Alder a look over her shoulder.
"Granted. Just make sure they don't find the evidence," Alder replied with a smirk.
"Fuck that was so hot," Tally said.
Everyone turned and looked at the, now very red, redhead.
Alder laughed and shot Tally a smile. "Give Craven and I the room."
Tally was still red as she watched her friends throw winks her way, as well as mouthing a few choice things.
When the door closed, Alder sat back down on the bed—blue eyes searching Tally's.
"So, this potion will wear off on its own. They never last more than 8 hours."
Tally nodded, a heavy sigh leaving her.
"The potion only reveals feelings of love that were already present. It can make them grow ill if they aren't in close proximity to the person they are in love with—" Sarah watched the emotions fly across Tally's face as she spoke. "—and when in proximity they can't say anything that isn't truly and wholly how they feel."
Tally hung her head, ridiculously embarrassed.
"Tally," Sarah urged softly. "Please look at me."
Tally's brown eyes met her blue, shimmering a little from the emotions she was feeling.
"I am sorry that the choice for you to speak of how you feel for me was taken from you. You should have been able to do that when…and if you chose to." Sarah sighed. "I'm not sorry that you said it though."
Tally's eyes widened.
Sarah smiled softly, reaching out to cup Tally's cheek. "Yes, Tally, I have feelings for you as well."
Tally's mouth opened, surprised. Sarah ran her thumb over her bottom lip, slowly.
"I really really want to kiss you," Tally said, eyes darkening and flickering to Sarah's lips.
Sarah knew she was telling the truth. Tally Craven really was in love with her…despite knowing much of her past horrors—she still loved her.
She leaned forward, capturing Tally's lips with her own and sighing against her. Her lips tingled, the hair stood up on the back of her neck, and she was certain she heard a crack of thunder nearby. She relished in the soft whimper she pulled from Tally. Sarah was overwhelmed by the smell of sweetness that was so distinctly Tally.
When they parted, a bright smile spread across Tally's face. Her hand came up to run along Sarah's jaw, tracing it.
"Would it be alright with you if we discuss this in full tomorrow when the effects of the potion have worn off?" Sarah asked, turning her head to place a kiss on the palm of Tally's hand.
Tally nodded, biting down on her lip to keep from saying anything.
"You can speak freely, Tally," she assured. "If you aren't ready to say it then that is okay. I will change the subject."
Tally's eyes softened and flickered down to Sarah's lips again.
The General chuckled, leaning in and kissing Tally softly. Tally's hands rose to caress the back of her neck, and she couldn't help but moan quietly.
"I want to hear every sound you can make," Tally said against Sarah's lips. Then she sighed heavily.
Alder chuckled and laid back on the bed, pulling Tally with her.
"I have no doubt you will, sweetheart," Sarah told her, voice raspy and low. She sighed in contentment as Tally snuggled into her side—missing the giddy, beaming smile Tally was sporting at the affectionate term. "I'll stay with you tonight if that is okay?"
"I want you to stay every night."
"Every night it is then," Sarah replied, placing a kiss on Tally's head.
It didn't take long for them to both drift off, and when they had—after nearly 30 mins of the biddies and three other witches waiting in the hall, they went back into the room.
Raelle and Abigail chuckled quietly.
"I guess the General has it from here," Raelle quipped as she and Abigail turned and left to go back to their room.
Anacostia looked at the biddies, shaking her head fondly and nodding for the women to follow her out.
When Tally woke, she was warm and comfortable. She nuzzled into the body against her, moaning lightly as she smelled the distinctive aroma of earth and spice that was uniquely Sarah.
She carefully pressed up, eyes soaking in the sight of the sleeping General.
Her face was relaxed, devoid of any lines. Her features, while softened, were still sharp and Tally couldn't resist placing a kiss to her impressive jawline.
Sarah stirred, eyes slowly opening to hone in on warm brown gazing at her. She glanced at the clock, seeing that it was very early in the morning, before looking back at Tally.
"Good morning," Tally said with a still sleepy smile. "I guess it wasn't a dream."
"Good morning," Sarah replied, hand rising to brush some hair from Tally's face. "It would appear the effects have worn off."
"It feels so good to have control over what I say," Tally confided with relief. "I'm so sorry for just blurting out everything—Goddess it was so inappropriate."
Sarah smirked. "Yes, but it wasn't unwelcome. You also had no control over it. It isn't your fault." She lightly grasped Tally's jaw and turned her head to face her. She captured her lips in a gentle kiss, her hand moving to thread in Tally's hair and keep her close.
Tally pulled back after a few moments. "Can we talk now?"
Sarah smiled and nodded. "Of course, Tally."
"So…" she trailed off nervously. "How do you feel about me? Mine are super clear now, so..." She chuckled nervously.
Alder's hand rubbed soothing circles on the back of Tally's neck as she hummed. She placed a chaste kiss to her lips, and then just a breath away murmured, "I love you too."
Tally gasped, and Sarah quickly swallowed it with another kiss. Tally quickly reciprocated, getting as close to Sarah as she possibly could. No matter how pressed against her she was, it just wasn't quite enough.
They pulled back, breathing heavily in the now thick air surrounding them. Sarah forced her body to calm, and met Tally's darkened gaze.
"If you are in agreement, we will have some forms to sign," Sarah offered seriously.
Tally beamed. "Is this your way of asking me to be your girlfriend?"
Sarah hummed thoughtfully a moment. "No."
Tally's face fell.
"Tally Craven, would you grant me the honor of being your girlfriend?" Sarah smirked at Tally's visible processing of her words.
"Yes," Tally replied happily, clamoring on top of Sarah to smile widely and press kisses all over her face.
Sarah's laugh rumbled in her chest—happiness threatening to burst out.
She was keenly aware that if it did, she didn't mind.