Doctor Wesley Pryce was sitting in his parlor when Willow Rosenberg burst in, dripping wet and bleeding.
"Good lord! What happened to you Willow?" The Englishman was startled to say the least.
"I'm fine but you have to hurry. He hurt Dawn and Tara and-"
"Willow! Willow slow down! Now who hurt Dawn? And who's Tara?" Wesley interrupted her.
Willow took a deep breath and tried again.
"There was a soldier and he asked to stay with us. Tara is a friend that will be residing with us from now on. I went to the quarry this morning and when I came home Dawn was hurt and Tara isn't waking up. I think he did something to her." Tears came to her eyes as she spoke.
Doctor Pryce placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes.
"Let me get my bag and we'll go see to them. What of the soldier? Where is he?"
Willow showed no remorse as she looked him back in the eyes and said plainly, "I killed him."
"I killed him. I drowned him in the stream near the farm."
"Do you know what home guard will do to you if they find out? We must never speak of this again." Wesley instructed her.
Willow nodded sagely and stepped toward the door. The wound on her side was beginning to hurt intensely and she could feel the warm blood running down her side. She forced her thought away from the pain however and focused on thoughts of Dawn and Tara. She hoped Dawn was okay and that Tara had woken up, but she had her doubts that Tara was conscious.
"Willow, can you hitch the horse to the carriage?" Wesley asked as he gathered his instruments.
"Yes." Willow said and went outside into the cool evening air. As she made her way to the stables she stumbled and fell, then picked herself up out of the dust. She stumbled into the horse's stall and pulled his halter to lead him outside. She stumbled again as she passed through the door and nearly fell, but Wesley caught her and steadied her on her feet.
"Easy now. I'll get the horse, just stay here." Wesley said as he leaned her against the stable doorway.
"I'm fine. We have to hurry."
"We will get there soon enough. You'll be no good to your sister and your friend if you are too weak to care for them." Wesley gently chided her as he hitched the horse to his small open carriage. He climbed in and offered Willow his hand. She took it and gingerly climbed into the carriage, falling heavily into the seat.
"Just rest now. We'll be at your plantation shortly." Wesley said as he spurred his horse on towards the east. Each jolt sent a resounding jolt of pain through Willow's side and she tried to hide her cringes of pain. The trip was short by horse and when they arrived it was nearly dark. Willow was relieved to see a faint light in her bedroom window. Wesley pulled the reigns of the carriage and brought it to a halt near the front steps. Willow jumped off the carriage and tried to run up to her sister and her lover but found that it was much more easily managed to walk quickly. She quickly made her way upstairs and to her room, and was immediately enveloped in a crushing hug from Dawn.
"It's okay Dawnie, I'm here." Willow soothed her. She looked toward Tara. "Did she wake up?"
Dawn shook her head against Willow's shoulder. Doctor Pryce entered the room and took in the situation, then turned to Willow.
"I'm going to need some hot water Willow." He said as he began to unpack his various medical instruments. Willow nodded and smoothed Dawn's hair away from her face before turning and going downstairs to boil some water. Doctor Pryce leaned over the bed and looked over Tara, checking her pulse and breathing before turning her head to the side to look at the laceration from whatever blow she had obviously taken. He turned to Dawn and beckoned her to him and examined her cut over her eye. It was deep enough to need a few stitches. He prepared what he needed and then sat Dawn in a chair next to the bed by the light of the oil lamp on the nightstand. Willow returned with a pitcher of hot water, a basin full of hot water and an extra basin that was empty. She also had several clean cloths draped over her arm. She sat them on the nightstand and turned to Wesley.
"Well?" She asked as she put a hand to her own wound.
"Dawn needs stitches and Tara seems to be in reasonable shape considering the blow to the head that she took. I don't know why she hasn't woken up yet but she will eventually. I need to do a full examination but I don't want Dawn to be in the room for that." Wesley rolled up his sleeves and poured some water into the empty basin to wash with. Willow handed him a cloth to dry his hands and he began to clean and sew up Dawn's cut. Tears ran from Dawn's eyes and Willow sat next to her in the floor and held her hand. Wesley finished quickly and rewashed his hands.
"Dawn, I need you to leave for a while." Willow gently guided her sister to the door.
Dawn nodded and stepped outside the room, closing the door behind her. She leaned back against the wall and slowly slid down to the floor. She could hear the doctor and Willow speaking in low tones and she tried to make out what was being said, but to no avail. After what seemed like forever, Doctor Pryce and Willow emerged from the room.
"Okay Dawn, you may go in." Doctor Pryce said.
Willow had a look of pain and anger on her face and Dawn wondered what had been said that her sister's countenance would be so dark. Doctor Pryce had sewn up her knife wound in her side, but Willow had felt no pain, only anger that she had let such a monster into her home with Dawn and Tara.
"I'm going to go home now. Remember to care for her as I have instructed. Don't forget to cleanse Dawn's wound as well as yours, and no work for at least a week. You must let the wound in your side close. I'll stop by in a few days time. You know you can come get me if something should arise or if she doesn't wake in a few hours." Doctor Pryce shook Willow's hand and turned for the door.
"Thank you doctor. I'll repay you as soon as I'm able."
"Nonsense. You just focus on taking care of your sister and that young lady upstairs. Good evening." Wesley climbed into his carriage and Willow stood on the porch watching him leave. As soon as the light from his carriage lantern disappeared, she went back into the house. Dawn was standing just inside the door waiting for her. Willow embraced her sister and held her for a long time. When she pulled away, she attempted a weak smile and brushed her sister's long brown hair from her face.
"Go to bed and get some rest. You've had a long day."
"I want to stay with you. I want to make sure Tara is going to be alright."
"I'm going to stay with her tonight. I'll wake you if she awakens alright?"
Dawn nodded and Willow walked her upstairs and to her room. She kissed her sister on the forehead and closed the door softly. Venturing back down the hall, she entered her room and took up the seat near the bed. She carefully laced her fingers through Tara's and let her eyes rest on Tara's pale face.
"I'm so sorry Tara. Please, wake up. Please." Willow began to cry. She kissed Tara's lips and laid her head on the cold sheet near Tara's hip. She cried until she fell asleep, her dreams turned nightmares as she saw visions of the terrible thing that had happened under her very roof.