It's been fifty-seven days.
Tara rings the date and puts the calendar back on the wall, then clicks the lid of the red marker back into place. This has become a daily ritual for her; seven o'clock every morning. There's something calming about the ritual of it, even though what it signifies still scares her a little.
It's not that she doesn't want this. She does. This was most definitely a 'planned pregnancy', right down to the colour-coded chart that Willow made to put on the fridge. It's there now, all blue and red and yellow boxes, the edges of the paper curling slightly from the sun that splashes across it every afternoon.
Tara makes tea. Lemon and a dash of honey; no milk. She really ought to drink more milk, now. She's sure she's read that pregnant women should.
She laces her fingers across her stomach as she waits for the kettle to boil. She can feel a slight swelling there. Anya says she is just beginning to show; but Tara thinks that the only thing showing is too many packets of Oreos.
Willow sometimes teases her about the cravings. Tara gets her revenge by demanding foot rubs. It amazes her how good those feel. Not as good as the alternative, but neither of them is comfortable doing that any more. Not at the moment.
Dawn pads into the kitchen, hair still mussed from sleep.
"Morning, Dawn. Tea?"
"Please. Do we have any waffles?"
"I'll make some. You should start getting ready for school. Willow said she was leaving early, today."
"Yes, mom." The tone is teasing, dry. The younger girl is still not completely over the events of the past year, but things are getting better. Slowly. Hope is growing in pace with Tara's body.
"You want syrup and cream with those?"
Dawn shakes her head,
"No we aren't. Willow just hid it behind that tofu crap." Dawn answers Tara's mock scowl with a sly grin, "Didn't she tell you?"
"She told me. It's you who wasn't supposed to know."
"I'm impressed. You didn't tell me off for my language."
"I'm not your mom, Dawn." Tara shakes her head slightly, "I can't tell you what to do."
"It's funny, that's not what you say when I want to go out." Dawn frowns a little, remembering her mother. "Besides, you and Willow are the closest thing I have to family, now." She looks pointedly at Tara's stomach. "How's my little sister?"
"I think she's okay." Tara rests a hand protectively over the slight bulge, "But I've never been pregnant before, so ..."
"No-one's ever been pregnant like this." Dawn reminds the blonde witch, fidgeting nervously as she speaks, "Do you really think it will work?"
"Willow researched it all, and she thinks it will. I trust her."
Dawn nods, runs upstairs to shower.
Alone, the older girl stares out of the window, and tries not to think about the things that could go wrong. The five of them knew the risks when they started this.
Willow, Xander and Giles. Spirit, Heart and Mind. The three who had joined with the Slayer.
Dawn. The Slayer's sister. Flesh of her flesh. Blood of her blood.
And Tara herself. Somehow the mother, the one in whom the rebirth would occur. The one in whom the spirit of Buffy Summers would once more become flesh.
She felt fear. But she also felt hope.
Tara made waffles.
Tara. Hopeful. Calendar.