Take Your Time
DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No copyright infringement intended. A few minor characters of my own making will show up now and then. < > indicate thoughts and/or feelings
Year - 1810
Willow walked the damp streets of London, keeping a close eye on her ladies pocket watch and the setting sun. She rarely allowed herself to be out at night anymore. Only when it was absolutely necessary for her job did she scamper quickly down crowded streets, under a lamp-lit night. She wasn't taking any chances of running into vampires, and if that made her life a little more difficult, then so be it. < I deserve it. >
It had been 57 years since she fled the cottage she shared with Spike. Those first days she rode as hard as she could for the ferry that would take her to England, knowing that Spike and perhaps even Angelus would not be far behind. She rode day and night, only stopping to feed and rest the horse, not allowing herself to do the same until she was safe on the ferry.
For a long time she refused to give into despair, instead she chose to cling to her anger like it was a lifeboat. Whenever memories came back to her, as they did everyday, of a happier time, she pushed them away. Not feeling that she deserved any happiness after her failure to save Angel, she rarely allowed herself to remember the good times back in Galway or Sunnydale. Not even of Oz. The only memories she allowed to run through her mind like a 24-hour film festival were of her last night in Galway. She would never forget the look in Angelus's eyes before he tried to kill her, or the feeling of Spike's fangs puncturing her neck.
At first the memories were empowering. They made her angry, which in turn gave her the drive to survive for so long. She also had a plan and that gave her some hope, and for now she even allowed a glimmer of forgiveness for herself.
Willow knew her initial goal should be to contact the Watchers, but she thought it was best to avoid London for the near future. She figured it would be the first place that Spike would look for her. So, instead, her first years were spent at the various centers of study-- Oxford, Cambridge, and others, searching desperately for any clues to the spell that had brought her here or even to the soul restoration spell that she had done back in her own time. Endless nights were passed without sleep as she exhausted herself trying to remember the spell that she had cast twice before, but only fragments of it remained with her. She remembered the order of the spell and many of the herbs but could recall little of the words that she would have to recite. So, she had resorted to what she did best. Research.
She spent the equivalent of years in those libraries, devouring every book and manuscript she could find on magick, witchcraft, druids, and so on, and finding very little. And she did whatever it took to find this material as well. Often she had to dress as a boy to even enter the libraries and had even taken to sneaking in the private rooms of museums and universities where information on these more controversial subjects was often found. She visited monasteries and churches, anywhere that she thought might house the information she desired, but found nothing.
Even her attempts, years later, at locating the Watchers Council were largely unsuccessful. When she was finally able to find a Watcher, he was of no use whatsoever. He had looked down at her, glasses perched on the end of his nose, and declared her to be a fraud. Willow quoted Slayer verse and recited important moments in Vampire history, but was unable to convince him of her integrity, let alone her sanity. She had read that they had been a stoic and closed-minded group in the past, but never did she imagine them so pretentious and unreasonable. In a last attempt to persuade him and to perhaps alter some future events for the better, she handed him a thick manuscript. It contained page upon page of her encounters of the not-so-normal kind in Sunnydale, as well as some select information as to how she came to be in the past. The man took them from her with a snort, but as soon as she was out of sight the manuscript was thrown on the fire. Willow was on her own for now and she knew it.
During these many long years, she managed to survive financially different ways. She held countless jobs, but none for very long. She would barkeep in the town near a monastery while she researched, or she would nanny for a professor near a university. She did what she had to do to survive at the time, and with the combination of that tenacity and the money she had taken from Galway with her, she had managed to spend very few nights sleeping out of doors or going hungry.
The one good thing, she often had to remind herself, was that she was finally able to see England like she had always dreamed, as well as Scotland and Wales. The petite redhead also occasionally made the journey back to Ireland, but her visits were few and short, and she avoided the areas of Dublin and Galway at all costs. At this point she wouldn't allow herself to dwell on Angel's family and what may have become of them. She knew it would compromise her thin hold on, if not her sanity, then at least her hope. After more than 30 years chasing every lead, talking to anyone that claimed to be a druid, or even a descendent of a druid, chasing down wandering gypsy clans, and of reading every book on ancient religions and the occult, she finally gave up.
It happened suddenly. One night she was tending bar in a quiet pub in Carmarthen, Wales, perusing the pages of a yellowing manuscript that claimed this town to be the burying place of Merlin, when it finally hit her. She was never going to find the spells, either of them. This was not going to work and her only way out of this was to meet up with Spike at some point in the future, until he performed the spell to take them home. Either that or never meet up with him and live in the past until she either forged a new life for herself, or couldn't stand it anymore and took her own life. In that instant, the minuscule amount of hope that she had clung to was ripped away from her, and the desperation and loneliness of the past years, and of those yet to come, secured itself in its place. ~~~~~