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until the thunder roars

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The tiny bolt of lightning didn't actually look much like the drawing in the grimoire. True, seventeenth-century illustrations were usually pretty stylized and unrealistic -- Willow hadn't really been expecting a perfect jagged-edged bolt shape like you saw in cartoons. Real electricity didn't work that way. But this looked more like a stray piece of yarn from one of her sweaters. The only indications that it wasn't just yarn were the way her skin tingled wherever it touched and the fact that it lit up Tara’s dorm room like a floodlight.

Willow stared in fascination as the lightning crept down her index finger and onto her palm, sending out tiny tendrils of light to pull itself along. Concentrating, she mentally nudged it out onto her pinkie, making it curl around her finger like a ring. As soon as she stopped thinking about it, it wormed its way out of the circular shape and started down the back of her hand.

"Maybe if I made it bigger," she muttered to herself, watching the hairs on her arm stand on end as the lightening made its way past her wrist. She picked it off her arm with her other hand and rolled it between her fingers, forming it into a ball, then took a deep breath and poured just a little more energy into it. The ball grew from the size of a pea to the size of a marble, and when she let it unroll into her hand the bolt was thicker, longer, like a broken rubber band instead of a piece of yarn. The tingling was stronger, too, and continued for a few seconds even after the lightning had moved further down her arm.

"Cool," Willow breathed, and looked up excitedly when she heard the door handle turn. "Tara, look what I can do!"

Tara set her bookbag down by her desk and wrinkled her nose. "So that's why it smells like ozone in here."

Willow rolled her eyes. "That's not the cool part, silly."

"Oh, I know," Tara said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "I'm just kind of over lightning. It looks really cool, but I've never been able to do much with it."

"What did you want it to do?"

Tara shrugged. "Boil water, power small appliances, that kind of thing. But if you make it big enough to generate that kind of power, it gets really dangerous to work with." She nods at the tiny bolt of lightning, now creeping slowly up Willow's forearm. "That one looks safe enough, but it's too small to be useful."

"It doesn't have to be useful," Willow said, gathering up the lightning between her thumb and forefinger and moving it back into the palm of her hand. "It's just pretty!"

"It is definitely pretty," Tara said, scooting closer to Willow. "Can I--?"

"Sure!" Willow said, holding out her hand. Tara touched her index finger carefully to the little strip of lightning, trying to scoop it off of Willow's palm.

"I can't get it to come with me," she said.

"Probably because I conjured it," Willow said. "It's running off my energy." She tries to push the lightning off her palm and onto Tara's finger. Instead of moving, the bolt fractures into a web, sending thin tendrils over Tara's skin but staying mostly pooled in Willow's palm. "Yeah, I think it's stuck to me."

"Or it just likes you better," Tara said forlornly, pulling an exaggerated face.

"But I like you," Willow pointed out. "So it has to like you too." She nudged the lightning down to the tip of her index finger and ran her finger down Tara's forearm.

Tara shuddered. "Wow, that's... that feels really interesting."

"Is interesting a good thing or a bad thing?"

"I think it's a good thing," Tara said. "I don't know. Do it again?"

Willow refocused the lightning on the tip of her finger and brushed it over Tara's arm again, this time lingering by her pulse point. When she took her hand away, Tara gasped like she had been holding her breath.

"Definitely a good thing," she said.

Willow bit her lip. "You're done with class for the afternoon, right?"

"Yeah." Tara smiled. "You?"

"Yep," Willow said, and leaned in to kiss her.

Tara kissed back slowly at first, shyly, like she always did – a lot of their relationship was still trial and error, things neither of them had done before, and Tara was always so tentative with new things. She had lots of ideas (excellent ideas -- that thing with the candle and the lavender oil had been truly inspired), but a lot of the time she couldn’t find the confidence to carry them out. Willow had gotten used to taking Tara’s ideas and making them happen, and the results had been pretty excellent so far.

Today seemed like one of those Willow-needs-to-take-the-lead days, so Willow deepened the kiss herself, tracing the curve of Tara's lips with her tongue. Tara opened her mouth and made a happy sound in the back of her throat when their tongues tangled together. She slid backwards on the bed, pulling Willow along with a hand on the back of her neck.

Willow broke the kiss and looked down at her arm; without her focus keeping it in place, the lightning had managed to wriggle its way up to her elbow. She brushed it back down with her mind and her free hand, wrapping it around the tips of her index and middle fingers. Then she leaned back in to kiss Tara, tracing her lightning-covered fingers up Tara's arm.

Tara moaned and grabbed harder at the back of Willow's neck, then slid her hands down and under Willow's shirt. Willow mirrored her motions, carefully pushing up the hem of Tara's shirt before she touched her stomach with the lightning; she was sort of worried that the lightning would set the gauzy fabric on fire. Tara groaned and arched her back, leaning into the brush of the lightning against her skin.

Willow pushed Tara's shirt up further and reached around her to undo her bra one-handed, a skill that hadn't taken nearly as long to master as men in pop culture implied it would. Tara slipped the straps off of her shoulders and tossed the bra aside, then arched her back again as Willow cupped Tara's breasts, dragging the lightning along the inside curve of one breast. Willow slid her lightning-covered fingers up to Tara's nipple, touching them to the dark pink skin as lightly as she could.

"Ah!" Tara gasped, and grabbed Willow's wrist, moving her hand away. "Sorry," she said. "It's just a little bit too much."

"Okay, I'll be more careful," Willow said, and went for the drawstring of Tara's skirt, undoing the knot and tugging on the waistband until Tara could lift her hips and slide it down. As she did it, she brushed the lightning between Tara's breasts, by her collarbone, on her stomach and down to her hips. As far as she could see, it didn't leave any marks, but every time the lightning touched her, Tara would tense and gasp. By the time Willow had worked her way down to Tara's hipbones, Tara was panting.

Willow ran her fingers along the inside of Tara's thigh, the lightning skittering over the soft skin, inward and upward until Tara was whimpering, her legs spread wide.

"Does it hurt?" Willow asked, concerned.

Tara wrinkled her nose. "Sort of -- but mostly in a good way? I don't think you'll be able to go much farther up than where you are, though. It's going to get too strong for me to handle-- there." She blushed, biting her lip.

"If I could make it be not too strong," Willow asked, "Would you want me to keep going?"

"Oh, yes."

Willow stared at the lightning, which had migrated onto the back of her hand, and imagined half of it sinking into her skin. The bolt shrank gradually, pulling in on itself until it was thinner than it had been when she first conjured it. She picked it off her hand and rolled it between two fingers, pressing the tiny ball that resulted onto one fingertip. She swiped her finger up the inside of Tara's thigh.

"Better?" she asked.

"Much better," Tara said. "Worth a try, at least." She smiled tentatively.

Willow worked her way further in, dragging the lightning down the crease where Tara's thigh met her pelvis, then carefully touching it to her outer labia. Tara made a choked noise, and Willow jerked her hand back, but Tara grabbed her wrist.

"No, it's okay," Tara said breathlessly. "That was a good sound."

"Oh, okay." Willow grinned shakily. "I can't always tell."

She used the hand without the lightning to spread Tara's labia. She brought her finger almost to Tara's clit, then stopped, considering. "Water conducts electricity, right?"

"Yes, and?" Tara said, doing a pretty bad job of holding back an impatient glare.

"So, you're all wet," Willow pointed out. "I just don't want to electrocute you."

"The bigger bolt didn't stop my heart when you touched it near my chest," Tara said. "So either it's not behaving the way regular lightning does, or it isn't strong enough to do any damage."

"Stop your heart?" Willow looked down at the lightning in horror.

"I didn't think it would be an issue," Tara said, waving her hands dismissively. "This is magic lightning, it doesn't play by the same rules. Now come on, Willow!"

Willow shook her head hard, dispelling all thoughts of hurting Tara, and repositioned her fingers holding open Tara's labia. Aiming carefully, she touched the tiny circle of lightning to the top of Tara's clit. Tara shouted out a moan, throwing her head back and grabbing at the bedspread. Willow slid her finger down, moving the lightning towards the tip of Tara's clit, and Tara's whole body shuddered. This moan was even louder than the last one, and Tara bit down hard on her lip, then reached under her head for a pillow to muffle her screams.

Willow held the lightning just barely against Tara's skin, moving her finger in the tiniest circular motion she could manage. When she held it still, Tara's thigh muscles spasmed and her legs drew up to her body; when she pressed down on Tara's clit, she could hear Tara's moans clearly through the pillow.

Struck by sudden inspiration, Willow took her finger off of Tara's clit and pulled the pillow away so Tara could see her more clearly. "Hey," she said, grinning. "Want to see if it’ll stick to my tongue?"

Tara let her head fall back with a wordless moan.

"I'm taking that as a yes," Willow said smugly, and rolled the lightning between her fingers, holding it up at eye level to get it into a perfect ball.

"I'm really not going to last very long," Tara said. "Just so you know."

"That's what I'm counting on," Willow said. "Because as soon as I have a hand free, neither am I." She pressed the ball of lightning against her tongue, not quite on the tip, and hitched her skirt up far enough to pull her panties off. Then she shifted to her hands and knees, scooting forward until her face was almost in position.

"Ready?" she asked, hoping Tara could understand her with her mouth open and tongue sticking out.

"Go for it," Tara said, and then quickly pulled the pillow back over her mouth so she could scream without anyone in hearing it in the hallway. As soon as Willow's tongue stroked up the front of her clit, she arched her back, slamming her feet down onto the bed and curling her toes into the blankets. Willow moaned as loudly as she could with her mouth open and shifted her weight so she had one hand free. She went straight for her own clit, shuddering at the first touch, then working her fingers in circles.

Coordinating the motions of her hand and her tongue wasn't nearly as difficult as it had been when she and Tara first started dating, and to be honest the lightning was doing most of the work for her. She barely had to move her mouth at all; just varying the pressure of her tongue against Tara's clit had Tara's hips rising off the bed. Willow pressed the lightning down hard, then backed off until she was barely touching Tara, moving her head a fraction of an inch away. Tara's body tried to follow the sensation, and her hips lifted further and further until her lower body was completely off the bed, the muscles in her thighs and belly taut with the effort of holding herself up.

"You're doing that on purpose," Tara said breathlessly, pulling the pillow away from her face just long enough to get the sentence out. "Oh--"

"Nn-hn," Willow confirmed, and then pressed her tongue town hard, rubbing it up and down against Tara's clit. Tara came hard, her hips rising even higher for a moment before her muscles all seemed to relax at once, sending her crashing down onto the bed. Willow followed, bending down to just brush the lightning against Tara's inner labia and tease around her entrance as she shuddered through her orgasm. Willow's fingers worked frantically at her own clit, rubbing out a few final circles, and then she was coming too, rocking back on her heels and biting her lip to keep herself quiet.

Tara let the pillow fall to the floor and stared up at the ceiling, her body splayed out bonelessly. "Wow," she said, still panting a little.

"Wow," Willow agreed, crawling up the bed and nudging Tara's outstretched arm with her shoulder. Tara looped her arm around Willow and pulled her in close. Her fingers brushed against the bolt of lightning, which was making its way across Willow's cheek, and she jumped; Willow laughed and covered the lightning with her hand, pulling the energy back into herself until the bolt was gone.

"You should teach me that spell," Tara said.

“Yeah.”

“I mean, if you think it might be useful for me to know.”

“Could be.” Willow kissed Tara on the tip of her nose. “Won’t know until we try it.”

“Then I’ll study up,” Tara said, snuggling closer.

“Yeah. Later, though,” Willow said. “We have time.”