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Red Raider

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Red Raider". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: A redheaded witch, a tomb raider, a quest - How it all began.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Other Genre > Tomb Raider
Harry Potter > Willow-Centered
(Moderator)acsFR18820,53113322,6103 Apr 0419 Apr 10No

Prologue (Part I) (Mourning)

Disclaimer: This is a derivative work using characters and intellectual property belonging to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, Eidos, J.K. Rowling and probably others.
When/Spoilers: BtVS Post Season 6 / Tomb Raider (post AoD (game) and CoL (movie))
Pairings:None (except those mentioned in other parts of the series)
AN[1]:Prologue in 4 short parts. Part I (The Pilgrimage) will be 6 parts, Part II (The Quest) - 18 parts.
AN[2]: The odd lengths of some of the parts is due to how and when they were written. The very first part (this) started out as a series of drabbles a long time ago in a land far, far away. Someday I might rewrite it.
AN[3]: BtVS = canon during prologue. TR = an AU merger of the games and movies, taking place after Angel of Darkness and Cradle of Life with Croft Manor moved to Westbury from Surrey and using the movie versions of the characters. Details on my blog for those who like details. See series index here on TtH for a basic timeline and where this fits into the entire series.
AN[4]: Feedback appreciated as always.
Note: Minor revisions - 20-Mar-2006

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An English Summer
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Back in England again for the first time in months, Lara could tell it would a good day for riding. She could almost feel the motion and smell the sweat of her horse under her. It had been a difficult year and she was glad to finally be home with no plans for another trip any time soon. She felt a desperate need to reconnect with her home and the few friends she'd managed to keep through almost two decades of travel and exploration.

Shaking off the dust of one too many tombs, Lara directed her horse down a country lane near Croft Manor, the horse stepping lightly in the gentle heat of an English summer. Coming around a sharp corner she spied the small, fragile seeming form of a young woman, short red hair blowing in the light breeze as she walked along the side of the road. Drawing Lara's attention as she rode by, the petite figure would occasionally stop and bend down to gently touch the wild flowers growing there with such abandon, sadness almost visibly radiating from the petite figure.

The sadness struck a chord deep inside her, dredging up the remembered sorrow of losing her father at a young age. She saw her again a number of times over the next few weeks. Once, Lara caught a glimpse of her softly walking among the daisies in a nearby meadow as she rode by. And later, sitting on a sun warmed rock next to the cold, flowing water of a local brook.

Even though the air of sadness surrounding her never seemed to dim, the redhead became a familiar sight in the often solitary life of the adventurer. She often found herself watching for a glimpse of red hair when she was outside during the day, welcoming her appearance as a gift not to be squandered.

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She'd gone up to London, planning to spend a day taking care of several business matters. Hillary had driven her up the night before so she could make an early start.

Meeting with nervous curators at several museums, and the heads of her preferred auction houses, to discuss the disposition of her most recent finds, the day seemed like it would never end. Lara wasn't quite sure what the attraction was but her thoughts kept drifting back to the image of a sad face behind a curtain of red hair. She'd never actually gotten close enough to see the eyes behind the hair and wondered what they looked like. She suspected they radiated the same deep sadness as the rest of her.

Pausing for a moment to gather her thoughts, Lara just escaped being drenched by a sudden rainfall on the way back from her last meeting for the day. From her perch just inside the entryway to her solicitor's office, she watched the rain begin to fall in silver sheets, driving all but the hardiest Londoner indoors. She wondered what the rain was doing to the flowers and if 'she' would still be out there picking them.

The chirping phone pulled her back to the present. Pulling the small device out of an inner pocket, she glanced at the display before answering.

"Yes. That was expected. I'll wait. Make sure she gets home." She wasn't that surprised at what she was told. She'd asked Hillary to keep an eye out for the young woman, halfway expecting her to have ignored the weather.

The faint scent of wildflowers mingled with the rich smell of leather in the Bentley as Hillary drove her home from London. The smell had a slightly hypnotic effect, lulling her to sleep as they traveled.

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Even in a downpour, Willow found that walking along the grassy lane, picking the wildflowers Tara had loved, would briefly ease the ever present feeling that her heart was being slowly and cruelly crushed. Their delicate scent summoned visions of Tara, wearing a garland of daisies, swaying nymph-like in a gentle breeze, listening to nature's musical hum. But the effect was only temporary. They couldn't bring Tara back or lessen the guilt over her reaction to her death.

She stopped for a moment to stare blindly across the rain shrouded valley in the direction of distant Stonehenge, rain dripping from her eyelashes and nose. With a start she was brought back to herself by tires splashing through silver puddles as an imposing car gently stopped beside her and the epitome of a gentleman's gentleman got out and approached her, holding a large umbrella over them both.

"Miss?" He gently addressed her in a soothing voice.

"Yes?" she mumbled in a waterlogged voice, trying not to look as pathetic as she felt.

"Lady Croft requested that you be given a ride home."

"Thank you." She wasn't sure whom this Lady Croft was. But it was raining and now that she was no longer walking she was getting cold and a ride back to the cottage she was living in while staying with the coven was too tempting to resist.

The subtle, oddly comforting odor of the leather seats in the car lingered in her hair for days afterward.

--- --- ---

Willow was getting to know the countryside she wandered through while trying to escape the pain in her heart fairly well. It felt like Tara's death had left a permanently gaping hole in her soul. She'd found this spot unexpectedly. It was more deep spring than well. Old even before the legions trod the nearby hills and built roads and walls, the sound of running water was soothing.

The local coven's lore claimed coins placed in the spring would bring peace and new love to an aching heart.

It wasn't cheating was it ? She didn't need a new love with Tara's love forever branded on her heart. But on lonely nights, crying, alone in her cold bed, a little peace would be a relief. It wasn't really a wish. Or doing any magic. She wasn't actually placing a coin in the spring. Just a silver button from one of Tara's favorite blouses.

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It was early October when Giles came to take her home. The coven had patched her up as much as they were able to, the quiet English countryside had worked its own magic, and the rest was up to her. After taking one last walk through her favorite meadow and stopping one more time at the spring, Willow gathered up her things and her courage and prepared to once more face her friends.

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It was mid-autumn when Lara realized it had been several weeks since she'd last seen the redhead. Neither Hillary nor Bryce could recall having seen her for weeks but promised to let her know if they did in the future. Asking her neighbors resulted in little new information. A few of them recalled seeing her during the summer but none admitted to knowing her name or where she'd been staying. Planning for her next trip later that autumn distracted her from the mystery and she gradually stopped looking for the redhead every time she went for a ride, ignoring the ache her absence caused.
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