DISCLAIMER: I don't own Buffy & Co. Joss Whedon and the WB do. No copyright infringement intended. Note: Text enclosed in < > represents thoughts or feelings. Things Change (1/?) Willow's Bedroom 3:00 PM Living on a hellmouth didn't usually give a person a lot of downtime. If there wasn't a demon trying to reopen the hellmouth or use it's energy to cause trouble then there was the at least the *regular* vampire out on the prowl for it's dinner. There were still instances of the later but all in all the past year had been uncharacteristically quiet. With Spike and Druscilla gone, hopefully for good, there was no vampire leader around to stir up trouble, and for that Willow was gratefully. It had given Willow some much-needed relaxation time. Not that the past year had been uneventful; not in the least. Since the night Buffy had banished Angelus to hell and stopped him from activating Acathla before disappearing herself, Willow had been busy changing. With Buffy gone the slayerettes had been left on their own to fend for themselves against the creatures of darkness. Now, even more than when Buffy had first invaded their lives, Willow was forced to grow up and learn to take care of herself. Along with Xander and Cordelia, they had become quite accomplished in the art of combat. If Giles had feared for the fate of Sunnydale after Buffy had left he was soon to learn that the slayerttes were not entirely incompetent. In fact, they quickly picked up where Buffy had left off and soon became quite a trio, warding off any vampire who attempted to show their game faces around the innocent unsuspecting citizens of Sunnydale. In addition to her slayerette training, Willow had taken it upon herself to continue her personal study of the Wiccan arts.

      Quite the dedicated student, Willow had found that she had 
some raw, untapped talent for witchcraft.  With the help of 
Giles extensive supernatural library, her now close friend Amy 
and the multitude of net resources Willow now knew just about 
all there was to being a witch.  Even Amy was impressed by the 
speed in which Willow had earned all she had needed. One night 
while the two young witches were casting a circle of protection in 
order to practice some spells, Amy had remarked "Willow, are you 
sure you're not a natural witch, your power isn't like any I've seen 
before in a mortal".  Willow had merely shrugged the observation off 
at the time but it was an idea that was always lurking at the back of 
her mind. It wasn't an idea Willow was gonna dismiss- perhaps 
sometime in the future she'd do some serious checking into her 
family tree. For now though, Willow had too many other things on 
her mind.

	Today was Willow's last day as a senior at Sunnydale High 
School. The day before graduation and the day before she had to say 
good bye to people she had known all her life.  Willow lay in bed 
afraid to open her eyes, wishing she could stay in bed all day. As 
if that could somehow slow things down and keep tomorrow from coming. 

	With a sigh of resignation Willow dragged her weary body out 
of bed, shrinking away from the sunlight pouring through the open 
window   Dragging her feet against the plush carpeting 
Willow stood in front of her full length mirror and gave her 
appearance a quick once over.   Willow stared at the young woman 
reflecting back at her. Willow still couldn't get over how much 
she had changed in the past year.  Her hair was still long and 
red albeit a bit more wavy.  Her body was a bit more curvy and 
developed.  But that wasn't the main difference.  The real 
changes could be seen in Willow's eyes, They were the eyes of 
somebody who had been tried by the fire and come out stronger 
than ever. They reflected her newfound wisdom and strength but 
also the pain off loss.  
	It had been a year since anybody had heard or seen 
from Buffy.  Except for the note she left her mother Buffy 
had simply disappeared the night she sent Angel to hell.  
Not even Giles knew where she was.  It was, as the cliche 
goes, as if she had fallen off the face of the earth.  
They had tried for awhile to locate her but with no real 
leads the trail had quickly grown cold.  All they knew is 
that Buffy had taken a bus from Sunnydale to LA and had 
disappeared in a sea of millions.  A year later Willow 
had put all hope of hearing from Buffy again away.  She 
regretted just about every day that Buffy wouldn't be 
beside her at the graduation ceremony tomorrow but the 
time of mourning was past.  Willow had to move on with 
her life and tomorrow's graduation would be one more 
step to accomplishing just that.

      Willow turned to look at the clock.  Damn, she 
still couldn't believe she had slept the day away. Willow 
had 3 hours to get ready. Three hours before sunset and 
possibly her last night in Sunnydale for who knew how long.  
And if that wasn't enough to make this day special there was 
always the fact that her love coming home today.

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