16. (Un)leashed abilities
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Reading old comments was enough to send me into a writing frenzy after 2 weeks of slow progress. Thank you all so much!

Next chapter in 4 hours, need to proofread it.

It was only a few days after their sleepover, and Sarah and Erin were once again back in the forest. Unfortunately, as fun as that night had been for both of them, their situation didn’t allow for much leisure, and they’d thus resumed their efforts on unlocking Sarah’s power. Moreover, the uncertainty of the whole situation set them both on edge.

All the stress and worry was starting to affect them, even Sarah, who was usually such a calm and collected person, and Erin had thus decided that she needed to be more active in her efforts.

Normally, she would have been more than happy to let Sarah experiment and explore her powers at her own pace, as she wanted her to enjoy learning magic and have fun with it, but they both agreed that the situation didn’t give them much choice. Erin’s goal had thus become to find a way for Sarah to kickstart her magical discovery as quickly as physically possible. Fortunately, she’d already had an idea in mind.

It had taken her a few days, as she’d wanted to make sure her plan would actually work and that it would be safe, but she was finally ready. It wasn’t too soon either, as the constant frustration of failing to unlock her magic at such a critical time was starting to weigh on Sarah’s mind.

“Are you sure it’s going to work?” Sarah asked, looking at Erin with a mix of nervousness and anticipation.

“No,” Erin sighed, looking back at her with a similar expression. “The only thing I’m certain of is that it won’t hurt you. At worst, nothing will happen.”

“That’s reassuring,” Sarah commented with a wry smile on her face, trying to ease some of the tension in the air. “Are you finally reveal that plan of yours to me, then?”

“Yeah, sorry about that, by the way,” Erin apologized bashfully. “I didn’t want to give you false hope, but it looks like that failed spectacularly. Anyway, my idea is actually pretty simple. I’m going to pulse magic through your body to trigger your powers. You’ll just have to sit there and tell me if you feel anything.”

“That’s it?” Sarah asked, surprise on her face. “I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it.”

“It is a pretty simple plan, but, from experience, complex ones tend to blow up in your face,” Erin replied with a smile, before taking a deep breath. “Now, are you ready? Just sit down and we can start.”

Not wishing to delay any further, Sarah promptly plopped down, crossing her legs, with Erin quickly imitating her. Once both friends were properly settled, Erin reached out and took Sarah’s hand in her own. Bracing herself, she was about to call her magic forth when she was interrupted.

“Wait!” Sarah cried out, a hint of a blush on her cheeks. “What are you going to do, exactly? Why do you need my hand?”

“It’s okay, Sarah, I’ll just send some magic through your hand, and then through the rest of your body. I promise it’s safe,” Erin answered soothingly, squeezing Sarah’s hand in an effort to appease her.

“O-okay, sorry. Just nervous, I guess,” She replied with a shaky laugh.

Erin didn’t say anything at that, deciding her best bet would be to start as quickly as possible. Sarah was obviously a bit scared, and she didn’t want her to wait in anticipation for too long. Closing her eyes, Erin gently began pulling on her reserves of magic, guiding strands of power towards her arm. Soon enough, the magic left her own body, travelling from her hand to Sarah’s, who let out a quiet gasp at the sensation. Idly, Erin thought that the fact she’d been able to feel the magic was interesting, but she quickly cleared her mind and poured her focus back into her task. The last thing she wanted to do was to lose control and somehow hurt her friend, as unlikely as that was.

As the next minutes slowly ticked by, Erin meticulously poured more and more magic into Sarah, making sure not to overdo it while also providing a sufficient amount of power. It wasn’t exactly easy, as this was something Erin had never tried before and which required a good amount of precision, but she was making progress, gradually expanding her power through her friend.

Slowly, once everything was in place, Erin began to send some light pulses of power through the strands she’d carefully woven through Sarah, each time hoping for some form of reaction from her friend, be it a conscious one or not.

- - -

A few more minutes passed, with nothing happening. Outside of Erin’s complete focus, Sarah was starting to get a bit restless, as nothing was visibly happening on her end, but she remained calm. The last few days meditating, if nothing else, had definitely helped her become more patient. Plus, she could also distract herself with the strange feeling that permeated most of her body.

It had been weird at first, she’d started feeling a sort of strange heat in her hand, which had then progressed through her arm, and then had progressed through her whole body. It had been unlike anything she’d felt before, but contrary to what she’d expected, the sensation hadn’t been unpleasant. Instead, it’d felt oddly soothing, like slowly getting submerged in a warm bath.

Then the little shocks started. While the previous sensation of calming warmth was still there, it was being overshadowed by tiny flares of energy that suddenly coursed through her body. It was energizing, the best way she could describe was as if tiny bursts of adrenalin suddenly overtook regions of her body. A first it was her arm, then a leg, then her heart, and so on.

Finally, just as she was starting to get the teeniest bit annoyed about all the taser shots she was receiving, one of said bursts of energy travelled from her arm, through her ribcage, and climbed all the way to somewhere behind her eyes. Something was different this time, however. While she’d still felt that little tremor of power, she’d also felt something more. She’d felt so much more, actually, it was hard to even remember what it had been like.

Before she even had the time to say anything, Erin spoke up, her eyes still closed in concentration. “Did you feel that?” she asked. “Because I definitely felt something happen.”

“Yeah,” Sarah answered, excitement slowly rising. “Can you do it again?”

Wordlessly, Erin sent another pulse of power, and, just as before, Sarah could feel something happening, as if something had just clicked into place.

- - -

Once she’d sent the second pulse of energy, Erin waited breathlessly. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but they’d just stumbled on something. The moment she’d sent the pulse of magic she’d been able to tell something had been different. When Sarah had reacted, her pulse had started to quicken, hope and excitement battling to overthrow her cautious optimism. At Sarah’s request, she’d sent another burst of magic while pondering what she should do next.

She didn’t have to wonder for long, as her wandering thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Sarah pulling her hand away with a cry. With Erin’s concentration broken and their physical link severed, Erin lost control of her magic, which harmlessly dissipated from Sarah’s body. Idly, Erin noted that all her preparations had been worth it. Such an amount of uncontrolled magic in someone’s body could have led to catastrophic results.

Opening her eyes, she was met with the sight of Sarah clutching at her head, curled up in agony. Her heart skipped at beat at the sight, panic momentarily overwhelming her before she snapped out of it and quickly scrambled towards her friend.

“Sarah?!” she asked frantically, unsurely sitting in front of her friend. She seemed to be hurting, lightly twitching from the pain, but Erin didn’t want to do anything that might hurt her further. Helplessly, she watched, hesitating, until she couldn’t hold herself back anymore and carefully scooped Sarah into a hug, holding onto her tightly. Erin wasn’t sure if she was doing this more for her sake or Sarah’s, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t just watch.

“I’m okay,” Sarah eventually said, slowly untensing and returning Erin’s hug. It was a few more minutes until she felt well enough and gently pried Erin off of her, taking a look at her face.

“Erin?” Sarah asked with concern. Her friend wasn’t meeting her gaze, looking down and to the side, shame filling her eyes. A few stray tears were rolling down her cheeks, and she was holding back little sobs. “Why are you crying?”

“I thought I’d killed you,” Erin said in a small voice, closing her eyes as a fresh wave of tears pooled at the corners of her eyes.

“Oh, Erin,” Sarah said gently, pulling her friend in another embrace. “It wasn’t your fault, I promise. It’s something I did, you didn’t hurt me,”

“Really?” Erin asked timidly. “What happened?”

Sarah didn’t answer immediately, content to let the hug linger for a few more minutes and sort her thoughts. Finally, Erin pulled away while still staying close, having regained a bit of her composure. She smiled shakily at Sarah in an effort to convey that she was okay now, and her friend imitated the gesture with a small smile of her own.

“I’m not really sure how to describe it, honestly,” Sarah started, her expression turning uncertain. “It’s like, that last little shock you sent? It’s almost like it triggered a muscle I’d never realized I had before. When you did it again, I then tried to just “flex” this muscle on my own, and I must have overdone it, because the instant after I was feeling like my head was going to explode.

“It was weird. In a way, it felt the same as when I look at your bracelet, but multiplied a thousand times. Suddenly, I knew. I was aware of everything around me. So much information poured into my brain, it was overwhelming. There was so much, but it came into a burst and the next second I couldn’t recall anything clearly, only bits and pieces.”

“Wow,” Erin uttered quietly, eyes wide. “That sounds really intense. So it was like you could see everything around you?”

Sarah shook her head. “It was more than that. I knew what was around, but I also knew things about everything around me,” she said before letting out a tired sigh. “This is so complicated to explain, and I’m not even sure what exactly happened myself.”

Both friends went silent, pondering this new information. Erin couldn’t help but think that there was more to what had just happened. They’d triggered some sort of ability, and now they needed to figure out a way to control it.

That’s when it hit her like a ton of bricks. Looking at her friend, she saw her go through the same realization. Sarah had just performed magic! It wasn’t perfect, they were still in the dark about a lot of things, but they’d made a huge step forward.

Slowly, both of their expression shifted, thoughtfulness making place for happiness and elation. Radiant smiles on both of their faces, their started laughing in joy and pretty much fell in each other’s arms in happiness.

When they had both calmed down a little bit, Sarah stood up abruptly, still grinning, and reached out towards Erin with a hand.

“Come on, let’s go get some ice cream or something, to celebrate,” She said enthusiastically.

Without hesitation, Erin took her hand and stood up, both of them eagerly making their way out of the forest. After days of frustration and interrogations, they’d made some progress. The future could wait, they’d needed that victory, and they were going to savor it.

I've gotten almost 4 chapters written currently, and this one was the most problematic to write. I'm happy with it, but I can't wait to publish the next ones.

Also please go and check out The Enchanted Pond, my short story about a closeted trans teen meeting a dryad into another world!