Title: "Forget Me Nots"
Author: mala
Spoilers: "Once More With Feeling"
Rating/Classification: SAC, angst, language, slash.
Disclaimer: Grrr aargh. A few lines are courtesy of the Master, Joss Whedon. Summary: Possibly a very off-kilter Tara fic, inspired by the revelations from the gorgeous musical and the gorgeous Amber Benson.

The bath water is tepid. You float in it, feel your hair fan out amidst the rosemary and lemon essence. You take your time. Like Ophelia, you think. Dead in the water, sightless eyes staring up and seeing heartbreak.

It is three a.m. and this house full of women is silent. No one will disturb you. No one *could* disturb you.

*"Shh...shh...it's all right. Bless your heart and blessed be, Tara Leigh. I'll keep you safe. I'll teach you the way."*

*"You ain't nothin', Tara Leigh. You're fat and you're sad and you're ugly and you're bewitched. You're going to come to a bad end. Just like your mama."*

*"It was just a game. Don't you be tellin' anybody about this. I ain't no dyke. Heather Rae Masters ain't no dyke and I'll tell everyone you're fuckin' nuts if you say anything to make 'em doubt that."

*"You smell like her. She's all over you...do you know that?"*

*"That fight you guys had about magick and stuff...? It gives me belly rumblings when you guys fight."*

*"I love you, Tara."*

You remember everything that's ever been said to you. You've always had an uncanny memory. The only time you've ever lost is Glorifried time...and those are days best left in the darkness from whence you were rescued. Beyond that, you hold visions and snatches of conversations close to your chest like badges of honor. You've traveled to insanity and back, suffered a thousand things no person should ever have to suffer. And your memories, pristine and untouched, are your gift.

She took your gift away.

She reached inside your mind, like she has reached inside your body and soul in the bed you share, and she took away an ugly present, wrapped in black paper and spider web bows simply because she wanted to return it. She wanted to pretend it was never given.

Ugly or pretty...functional or useless...the knickknacks inside your head are a part of you. They are as central to the essence of Tara as your eyes, your nose, your ten fingers and ten toes. Perhaps more so.

And she took one away.

Simply because she could.

Simply because she has that much power now.

What makes the woman who claims to love you any different than the Hell god who loved no one but herself? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Both made an idiot of you.

You trail your fingers along the sides of the porcelain tub. Somewhere in the farther reaches of the Summers' home, a clock chimes. Four a.m., not three. You were wrong. As you were wrong about so many things.

The steam on the mirror is slowly fading. If you climb out, wet, and slide on the tile towards it, you'll be able to see yourself. It's funny, but you remember singing about how what people saw in you was her. Her light. Her power. Her faith in you. Her passion for you. And, it's not just other people...you learned to see her inside you, too.

You think you won't see her milk-white skin and sunset hair in the glass this time...her beloved lips curving as she smiles for you. Maybe, for the first time in two years, you'll see your own slightly lopsided face. Your too-big teeth and the stare your cousins used to call the "Moon Dog Eyes". Maybe not so beautiful...or made beautiful by loving her...but it will be *your* reflection staring back at you.

And you won't forget it.

You won't ever forget it again.

You aren't anything like Willow Anne inside or out.

You're Tara. Tara Leigh.

And the spell that you were under is broken.


November 8, 2001.

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