by Sara

Cordelia sighed. It had been a particularly tough day at the dress shop, weird customers, messed up shipments, and they had been one person short, due to one of the part-timers calling in sick. She stretched her arms out, rolling her shoulders as she headed for the Espresso Pump, thinking to get coffee and then head home. As she approached the counter, she spotted Willow sitting at one of the corner tables reading a book.

"Willow, hey," she said. "What are you up to?"

Willow looked up from her book. "Cordelia," she said, smiling. "Hi. Just doing some reading."

"Someday I'll teach you the meaning of summer vacation," Cordelia said, grinning wryly.

"It's a spell book," Willow explained as Cordelia settled into the seat across from her.

"What kind of spells?"

"Just little ones. Personality spells."

Cordelia frowned. "I don't get it."

"Like, if you're depressed, there are charms that'll cheer you up. Or if you're shy, they'll make you a little more outgoing. Stuff like that."

"Have you tried any yet?"

Willow shook her head. "Nah. They're not really meant for one person to try. A lot of them involve transference, so I would need someone to- feed off of, I guess. Well, it's not really as weird as it sounds. But the happiness has to come from someone, so."

"Oh." Cordelia frowned. "Why don't you try it with Oz?"

"He's had practice all this week. I've barely even seen him."

"That's too bad."

"So what have you been up to?"

"Not much. Mostly just working. Trying to figure out what I'm going to do in the fall."

"Sounds like big fun."

"Only in the sense"

Willow smiled. "It can't be that bad."

"You have no idea," Cordelia said. "I'm just one big ball of neurotic tension lately. I feel like I haven't relaxed in weeks."

"That's not good," Willow said sympathetically.

"No," Cordelia agreed. She sighed.

They sat in silence for a few moments, before Willow tentatively spoke up. "Do you want to come over to my house?"

Cordelia stared at her, surprised.

Willow flushed. "I mean, I don't we don't hang out much, but. We could watch movies or something. Eat some popcorn. Just hang out and relax. You know. If you want."


"Really, you don't have-- okay?" Willow said, eyebrows raised.

"Yeah. Let's go." Together, they headed out.


They were halfway through Say Anything when Cordelia said, "Hey. Try it on me."

Willow, after a moment, tore her eyes away from the screen. "Try what?" she asked distractedly, already drifting back to John Cusack.

"One of the spells. I'm tense, so. De-tensify me."

"I don't know if I can," Willow said, frowning.

"Sure you can," Cordelia said encouragingly. "You're all laid-back, so just give some of that to me."

"What? But. No. I'm a bundle of nervous tension, really. I don't think it'll work." Willow nervously picked up the popcorn bowl and rifled through it, avoiding Cordelia's eyes.

"Willow." Cordelia frowned, annoyed. "What are you, scared? It's just a little spell. And you've gotten so good at that stuff. One little transference spell won't be a problem. Come on," she wheedled.

"I don't know, Cordelia. Something could go wrong."

"Something can always go wrong," Cordelia said matter-of-factly. "That's life on the Hellmouth for you."


"Please?" Cordelia leaned forward, placing a hand on Willow's shoulder. "I'm asking you as a friend, Willow. I'm going nuts here. I need this."

Willow wavered. Playing the friendship card was low, but effective. "Fine."

Cordelia smiled triumphantly. "Excellent. So how do we do this?"

"I need some supplies. And we probably shouldn't do this in the living room. Come on, my room." She stopped the movie and led Cordelia upstairs.

With a sigh, Cordelia sat on the bed and looked around while Willow paged through the spell book. Idly, she ran a hand over the bedspread. "This is nice fabric," she commented.

Willow looked at her, grinning slightly. "It's Laura Ashley." She looked back down at the book. "Got it. Spells for releasing tension. Let's see, foxglove, cloves, lemongrass, marrow root, cinnamon, and a length of ribbon. I'm pretty sure I have all this."

"Yay," Cordelia said, feeling as if she were expected to respond. "How long will it take?"

"Not long," Willow said, still reading. "Could you reach behind you and grab the scissors off the bedside table?"

Silently, Cordelia handed her the scissors. Willow set the book down on her desk and rummaged through the drawers, pulling out a few bags and a long, bright red ribbon. Carefully, she measured out spoonfuls of herbs onto a sheet of lined paper.

"Okay. Almost ready." Willow brought the ingredients over to the bed and sat across from Cordelia. "Now, we just need to cut the ribbon in two. And we both need to be holding the scissors, so just. Grip my hand, okay?"

"Right." Together, they cut the ribbon into two long pieces. "Now what?"

"Tie it around your neck. Like a collar." Willow lifted her hair, tying her half of the ribbon around her own neck.

Cordelia raised an eyebrow, but complied.

"Now, take a bit of this," Willow said, taking a pinch of the mixed herbs between her fingers, "like this." She rubbed her fingers together and pressed them to Cordelia's clavicle.

"Okay," Cordelia said, frowning, and did the same to Willow.

"Now stay still." Willow looked at the book, then slowly began reciting some words in Latin.

A slow, creeping heat began to radiate from where Willow's fingertips were pressed, sliding through Cordelia's body and making her shiver with the force of it. The ribbon around her neck tightened just enough to make her feel light-headed as the heady scent of cloves and lemongrass rose up and invaded her senses, leaving her dizzy. Willow's words faded to a low murmur.

Dreamily, Cordelia stared at Willow. Everything seemed to disappear except for Willow's words, and the softness of the bed beneath her, and the tension at the base of her spine, rising slowly up her back and to her shoulders. The light around them dissolved, and then Willow was silent and staring at her, just staring.

Cordelia blinked, and then Willow was leaning forward, her fingers still on Cordelia's collarbone, spreading out and pushing her onto her back. "Willow, what are you-" Cordelia started, and then Willow's thumbs were stroking over Cordelia's collar, and oh, this was tension, divine, sweet tension.

Willow was staring at her, an odd, focused look in her eyes. She crawled forward until she was straddling Cordelia, her knees resting against Cordelia's hips, corduroy pressed to denim and it felt like there was nothing but heat. Her hands slid to Cordelia's waist, pushing her shirt up past her bra and urging Cordelia to raise her arms further. Cordelia, blinking, complied.

"Willow," Cordelia tried again, "what-"

Willow leaned down and kissed her hard, their lips sliding together, slick with lip gloss. Willow's lips tasted like cherries, Cordelia noted, and then realized that she was kissing back. Kissing harder, even, pulling Willow down while pressing up against her, blinking as Willow's hair fell forward and covered their faces. She pushed impatiently at Willow's shirt, and Willow pulled away for a second to remove it, then leaned down and kissed Cordelia again, sliding her tongue over Cordelia's lower lip and pulling it into her mouth, sucking gently. Cordelia gasped, feeling Willow's fingers sliding over the silk of her bra and then Willow pulled away, kissing her way down Cordelia's neck.

With a whimper, Cordelia threaded her fingers through Willow's hair as Willow licked at her nipple, darkening the blue fabric and causing Cordelia to cry out. She could feel Willow grinning against her breast before she finally pushed the fabric away and began sucking lightly.

Cordelia shivered, pushing up against Willow's body, damning her jeans and Willow's corduroys for the cruel barriers that they were. As if she heard Cordelia's thoughts, Willow sat up and went for Cordelia's jeans, unbuttoning and unzipping them before tugging them off and tossing them on the floor. She smiled wickedly at Cordelia and then pulled her underwear off.

"Please," Cordelia said quietly. "I need." She stopped. "I just. Need."

"Shh," Willow said, and slid her fingers up Cordelia's thighs lightly, then lowered her head, flashing Cordelia one last grin.

Cordelia gasped as Willow lightly kissed her clit, then teasingly ran her tongue up the length of Cordelia's pussy before thrusting it aside. Mindlessly, Cordelia pushed forward, desperate for more, and Willow obliged her, sucking on her clit hard until Cordelia tensed and shuddered her way through an intense orgasm. Heat suffused her face as the ribbon around her neck tightened, making her head swim and doubling the force of the orgasm, inciting her to moaning and thrashing.

Willow sat up, looking satisfied. "Still tense?" she asked.

"Um," Cordelia said, struggling for breath. "No?"

"Good." Willow smiled serenely. Then she inhaled sharply, reaching for her neck where the ribbon was unraveling as Cordelia watched, until it was nothing more than a pile of threads in Willow's hand. Her expression changed to one of shock. "Cordelia, what-" she said, then looked down and scrambled away, nearly falling off the bed.

The sleepy aftereffects were slowly wearing away, and Cordelia felt the ribbon around her own neck unraveling as well. As it did so, a dawning sense of reality set in. She'd just had sex with Willow. Willow, a girl with a boyfriend. Willow, a girl. She sat up and reached for her clothes in as subtle a manner as possible. "Um, so, thanks," Cordelia said, tugging on her clothes and trying not to make her haste too obvious. "Definitely not tense anymore, nope, not at all."

"Okay. Yes. Good," Willow said, clearly alarmed as she pulled her shirt back on. "I really didn't know the spell was supposed to go that way."

"Of course not. No. Because." Cordelia struggled for words. "Right. So. I should get going."

"Right," Willow squeaked. "I probably have homework. I mean, um. Not homework, because it's summer. Reading. Reading to do, yes. But not the spell book," she added hastily.

"Yeah," Cordelia. "I'm just going to-" she gestured to the door.

"Oh, do you want-"

"I can let myself out."


"Okay." Cordelia stood at the threshold, on the verge of saying something more, but really, there was nothing more to say. She settled for a forced smile and a half-wave.

As she unlocked her car and got in, Cordelia reflected that she at least knew one thing for certain now: whatever happened in her future, it would definitely take place outside of Sunnydale.

Still shaking a little, she started the car. Further up the coast, maybe. She was sure Los Angeles held a lot of opportunities for a girl like her.


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