Precious Evermore

by BiSound

Tags: #cw:noncon #brainwashing #dom:female #f/f #fantasy #pov:bottom #sub:female #bondage #closeted_character #dom:magic #hurt/comfort #impact_play #magic_school #objectification #ownership_dynamics #ritual_of_the_familiar #sadomasochism #the_main_couple_is_consensual #transformation #transgender_characters

A Ritual of The Familiar Story. When ‘Magus-Bait’ and closeted trans girl Ronin becomes Precious, the masochist submissive of the Sadistic Terror of Year two: Anastasia, she finally sees a path to becoming a Magus. But none of them realize how deep their bond will go.

just want to drop a big CW up front that if you haven't read any RotF or are here because you know my HDG stuff. This story goes to some dark places and deals with some heavy topics. There are no sexy plant ladies here to make sure everything will be okay in the end. I have tried to tag the story appropriately so you know what you are getting into, please make sure to read them over!
 
While this story can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone  you would be doing yourself a huge disfavor if you didn't check out TsukiNoNeko amazing Ritual of the Familiar that originally inspired this story as well as the wonderful Doeposting and her amazing An otter Loss. As well as keep an eye out for more RotF stories to come!
 
Finally I would just like to make it clear that while this story is tagged as non-con that is because of the mechanics of the universe, not the dynamic this story focuses on. Precious and Anastasia are in a consensual D/s relationship.
Ronin was hiding underneath the hood of his academy cloak as he dodged between buildings to avoid the eyes of his fellow students. He was only a second year, but the pressure on some, especially someone like him, to just surrender already, to just give up his soul, his personality, his very being. To become a familiar. 
 
There were plenty of offers, taunting and cocky, from those with middeling results, those whose fate was still uncertain once third year arrived. Ronins fate, on the other hand, was already sealed. It had been sealed since that moment when the government agents came to test him for magical talent. Thous, not long after his 18th birthday, life in his backwater village ended, and the countdown to his doom truly began.
 
Magus-bait, that is what they had declared him, at the end of first year. Someone with no real skill or potential. Someone who didn’t try hard enough or lacked the talent to win the ritual of the familiar, an especially callous professor had even advised him to find a filthy rich apprentice willing to take him. “Might as well secure your family a payout.” Ronin shivered as the words repeated in his mind, watching where he was stepping in case someone had set out a trap ritual, before, with one look from side to side, he stepped through the door to the women's dormitory. 
 
The world spiraled around him but soon the building accepted his presence, and he found himself at the doormat in Anastasia’s dorm. “Welcome back, Precious. You know the rules. Strip, then come join me.” 
 
There she was, a Goddess, seated so casually on the sofa, with her pillow right beside her. Her fiery red hair was perfectly framing her face. The stuffy and practical school uniform was replaced with a red robe that, while probably cheap initially, had been enchanted with just enough magic to look stunning, and as always she wore nothing underneath. Just like anyone that had the inclination to, she was always perfectly groomed, with flawless makeup and even small adjustments to her own looks. Ronin, on the other hand, had been having issues just keeping up with basic hygiene spells. All that had changed when he met her, Goddess, Mistress; Anastasia. 
 
Ronin stripped down, placing each items neatly on the chair by the door, as his boxers joined the rest of his uniforms Ronin went with it, and in his place Precious sank to her knees and crawled across to Mistress, kneeling on her favorite pillow and resting her head against her knee. “How did classes go today, Precious? Did my charms help your concentration?” Precious nodded, before nuzzling her Goddess’ leg, but then she hesitated for a moment. “Permission to speak, Precious.” Anastasia said in her usual half amused tone. 
 
“It helped a bit, but It’s still there, the wrongness, the hurt, the uncomfort.” Precious stared up with a desperate pout, knowing this would disappoint her Mistress. Indeed, she let out a long sigh, and leaned backwards on the sofa.
 
“I know, My Precious. But that can be fixed.” Anastasia stood, and with a twirl of her hand the crop was in her hand. Precious looked down with a gulp, this part was never pleasant. But Precious needed the pain, the marks. The reminders of who she really was for when she left her Mistress’ side to return to the hell that was life as Ronin. “Eyes on me, Precious.” Anastasia put a single finger under Precious’s chin, forcing her to look up at her Mistress. “You need this, just as much as I do.” Her Goddess lowered the crop down until it was resting just in front of Precious’s lips. “My dearest, kiss the crop.”
 
Precious gently leant forward, and never letting her eyes leave contact with Mistress’, she placed a gentle kiss on her crop. “Good Girl… Off the pillow, kneel on the floor.” Anastasia pointed her crop towards the cold wooden floor and crawled over. Every time was a little different. But it was still similar enough to create a comfortable ritual to it all. Precious was allowed to anticipate the freedom of the pain, revel in her ability to please the sadist part of  her Mistress’ cold and studious exterior. It always hurt, but it was always worth the pain. 
 
A single hempen rope fell from the roof at Anastasia's will, hovering just out of reach of Precious in her current, kneeling position. “Reach up, Precious, and grab the rope for me. hold on tight.” Precious did as ordered, and as Anastasia ran her crop along Precious’ wrists, the rope followed, wrapping them up tightly and expertly. 
 
Next came the gag. With a single finger sliding between her lips, Anastasia pushed Precious' mouth open, before guiding the leather strap, inscribed with runes and connected to an orb of swirling gas, between her lips. It had just enough give to let Precious bite into it comfortably, and let a little bit of muffled noise pass. Mistress secured the gag tightly, before running her hand through Precious’ hair. Precious let out a whimper of anticipation that quickly turned to one of euphoric pleasure once she heard the tone and cadence of her muffled voice, mixing nicely with the slight vibrations from the magic at work. The gag was there not just to muffle Precious’ screams of pain, but also to enchant the noise that did come out, to let both of them hear Precious as she should sound. Gorgeously feminine. “Now. My Precious.” Anastasia was wandering behind Precious, before crouching down to bite her ear, and whisper. “Scream for me.”
 
The first smack hit like a lightning bolt. It always did. Precious never enjoyed the initial impact. It hurt, and not in a good way. But what she did love was the sound of Mistress’ hums when precious screamed, the feel of the crop running slowly across her skin, and the dulled burning once the initial strike faded. The next shot hit her just as hard, across the other cheek. Mistress always made sure to never fall into a pattern Precious could follow or predict, that way every hit created another scream or whimper of pain, and another hit of euphoria as Precious got to hear her true voice. The voice Mistress had promised her. 
 
Anastasia kept playing with her Precious. The crop came down time after time, each time pulling these delicious sounds from her girl's lips. She needed this. Someone accepting of her. Someone who could love this side of her. Someone like Precious. But she knew her girl well, and she knew they both had somewhere to be that evening. She looked down, spotting her Precious’ shaft. It had grown hard, as it always did, and she knew it bothered Precious. More than anything. “This thing, it is what hurts you, is it not?” Precious nodded, tears streaming down her face. But she wasn’t sobbing, not yet. Anastasia was about to change that. 
 
Staring down with digust she used her feet to lift up the pathethic slab of unwanted meat that was torturing her Precious. “I will deal with it.” Anastasia lifted her crop, and channeled her magic into it. It was a simple spell really. For a while Precious would not need to feel her unwanted appendage. Instead there would be nothing but pain, sweet, sweet euphoric pain. Precious broke as the crop came down. Anastasia knew that right now Precious crotch was nothing but agonizing, burning pain. She had once suggested another technique to mitigate the hurt precious’ shaft was causing her. But her girl had refused. Not that Anastasia would ever be able to resist when Precious begged for this. Nothing got her off quite like it.
 
With Precious sobbing from the agonizing pain, her eyes filled with grateful reverence and running with tears, Anastasia grabbed hold of her girl's head, and forced her between her folds. The vibrations from the enchanted gag pressed against her clit and the feeling of Precious tears running down her thighs was more than enough to bring her to a very satisfying climax. 
 
Precious felt her Goddess slowly pulling back, and as she did Precious’ bindings gave way, allowing her to collapse to the floor. Except Mistress didn’t let her, and soon she found herself levitating over to the sofa where she was allowed to curl up with her head in MIstress’ lap. “I think I have perfected a temporary version of our little gag.” Mistress informed her, as the crop whose impact her ass, thighs and crotch were still burning from ran across her neck. Then, when her gag fell from her lips, Mistress gave a simple order. “Speak, My precious, as much as you’d like.” 
 
“G…Goddess.” A warmth filled Precious as she heard her voice, she knew hearing it like this, hearing it right, would make it even harder to go back to living as Ronin, but for now she simply basked in the utter euphoria of her voice. Mistress was smiling down, very happy and very satisfied with her work. “You went easy on me mistress.”
 
Anastasia couldn’t help but laugh, of course her precious would notice. “Yes I did Precious. You have to be functional for Familiar 101’ and I have limited time to put you back together again.” Her crop brushed across all those areas it had hurt earlier, magically repairing any serious damage, but still leaving Precious with the burning she enjoyed so much, and the marks to show for being so good. Precious leant back, as comfortable as one could be after a cropping like she had just received.
 
“Goddess… why are you taking ‘Familiar 101’?” Anastasia tensed up. She had known this question would be coming at some point, and was honestly surprised it hadn’t already. However, Precious, ever terrified to mess up, to lose her Goddess, her only friend, had to justify her question before Anastasia had time to answer. “You’re the strongest in second year, by far. You’re bound to become a Magus…” There was more there, but Anastasia silenced her girl with a single finger against her lip.
 
“It’s a good question, my dearest. I am going to have to pick one of you, one apprentice, and execute them. I have to leave one of you a soulless husk. I have to remove someone's dreams and aspirations and realign them to my own. I will have to sever them from their magic. I am going to be a murderer, a monster.” Precious was tensing up in her lap. Anastasia managed to keep herself calm, to focus on Precious care. But she couldn’t stop talking, even for her girl's comfort. These feelings had been boiling inside her for so long, and this was their first chance at escape. “And I will do it, because I will become a magus, but would I rather know what it is like. I won’t be a coward. I will know the fate my victim is sentenced to… At least, the padded version they teach us.” 
 
Precious was nuzzling up against Mistress. Her Goddess was hurting, and like a good girl Precious did what she could to make her feel better. “You are no monster. You are my Mistress, My Goddess. You are helping me, helping me learn. I have been catching up with the others. With your help I can even handle the hurt.” Precious was crying again, but her mistress remained strong, a caring presence looming over her. “You told me I deserve to win my Ritual. To fight with teeth and claw to be who I want and deserve to be. Wouldn't that make me a monster too?” 
 
Anastasia stared off into the air, holding her Precious tight, before finally letting out a sigh, and looking down at those teary eyes. She loved her dearest tears, but not like this. “No, my dearest. You will be treated like an easy catch come the third year. Those too lazy to harvest their own potential or too mediocre to feel safe will come down on you like sharks smelling blood before those more prepared can do the same to them. But you will be ready, and you will be able to defend yourself, and then you will have the potential to be yourself, my dearest. I know you will treat your familiar better than if the wand was in the other hand. Though you might need another name.” Anastasia let out what was supposed to be a caring laughter, but turned out just a bit too hollow. 
 
Precious had nothing more to say and was left to ponder her Mistress’ words as she took care of her. But not for long. Ronin had to be at ‘Familiar 101’, and he couldn’t be seen arriving with Anastasia, so on still wobbly legs Precious got up, and once again put on the mask that was Ronin. 
 
***
 
Ronin felt the pain with every step, every second, and he reveled in it. It was her pain, a reminder of what existed behind the mask he had to put on to even make it to third year. The only thing that stood out about Ronin was his lackluster results. He may no longer be as clumsy as during first year, and while he was no longer being as heavily tested, his place on the pecking order  had been firmly established by the end of year one. Ronin knew that he was improving, because mistress wanted Precious to improve. She wanted her to make it. Ronin just wanted her to be free. Free of the mask that was him. But the only path to that freedom was through the ritual. A path Ronin had no illusions of ever being able to walk. There simply wasn’t enough time left. Ronin would become a familiar to whatever middeling apprentice got him first. His only hope left was that whoever got to him first would not allow him to feel the hurt any more. 
 
That was the spiral of doom Ronin was swirling down when he took a seat in the middle of the half empty lecture hall. Familiar 101 was seen as an afterthought by most of the administration and staff. As a result it had been left almost entirely to one Professor Quilt.  Most assumed the middle aged man was trying to tackle the guilt of his own ritual duel. The official goal of Familiar 101 was to ‘familiarize future Magus with the reality of their familiars existence.’ But that was a whole lot of bullshit. This class had one goal and one goal only, to convince someone like him not to do something stupid before the start of third year. 
 
There were two types of apprentices in Professor Quilts class.Those who had made an agreement with one of the rich lordlings to go down willingly, surrounding themselves in a blanket of lies and luxurious comforts until the deal would be sealed in mutually agreed upon and already decided ‘duels’ at the last day of year two. Dressed in lavish clothes and treated with luxuries far beyond someone like Ronin, yet already at the whim of their Magus to be. He could see why it was a preferable fate for some and was unable to feel anger towards them.
 
The other type was those like him, struggling in class and knowing so, exceedingly likely to be the first swooped up by the sharks of mediocrity, left behind by the school, their instructors and their peers. They where the most likely to become desperate, to try something stupid, like an uprising, or a futile attempt at ending it all. 
 
And then there was her. Anastasia, her Goddess and Mistress. The only one that knew who he truly was, the one who loved her. But also, the only person in Familiar 101 with any real shot at becoming a magus. Ronin sighed as he returned his attention to Professor Quilt. “And once again, it is vital that all of you understand that while a familiars soul has left its body, that soul is not gone. They still exist as part of the Magus. The soul of Elrick, my familiar, is what fueled my ascension, and by treating both his former vessel and his soul right he continues to make me stronger to this day.” He then went on to rattle off statistics about how Magus’ who treated their Familiars ‘humanely’ tended to be more powerful and influential. Before moving on to familiar trendsetters in fields like art, literature and fashion. 
 
Ronin leant back, putting his weight on his developing marks and letting the comforting pain rush through him. It was all lies… mostly. Out of an average class not a single familiar would ever be remembered as more than ‘that guy who lost to X’ and then promptly forgotten as the school year ended and a new class started their rituals. Sure, there would always be some who were remembered, who put on an extraordinary fight, the victims of surprising upsets, or those who were allowed to mimic self expression. But he would be lucky to spend the rest of his life running errands, forgotten by everyone, except maybe Anastasia. 
 
He managed to steal another look at her while nobody was watching. The person who loved her. Ronin knew Anastasia wanted Precious to survive, to make it. That was why they had been training in secret. They were both realistic about this. There was no way Ronin would ever beat a top student. But with the right training, and the element of surprise, maybe he had a chance against those desperate enough to challenge him. That was the light at the end of the tunnel, the point when Ronin could stop existing, and Precious could finally live her life. Ronin chuckled, Anasatsia was right, she would need a new name.
 
“I know you have been told by society and those around you that losing your ritual is the same as death, but it’s simply not true. Instead, look at it as a new beginning, a realignment of priorities for both sides, and try to find comfort in that regardless of what part you end up in, both Magus and Familiar will find happiness and fulfillment in their new relationship.” Lies. But at least they were comfortable lies. He was fully aware of what the ritual did. It would forccefully realign the loser to fit the whims of the victor. Draining the now Familiar soul to bind it to their Magus, for life. Ever subservient, a person nevermore. 
 
Anastasia was still seated with her nose in her notes when Ronin left the room, only slightly lagging behind the rest of the class. She was the only one taking notes in these classes. What to others was a grim lie they were forced to endure, or a weak comfort for them to cling to, was to her a puzzle. Clues to figuring out what exactly she would be sentencing another to. A need to unravel the layers of comfort Professor Quilt wrapped the topic in and reach the cold hard truth of it. Until that evening Ronin had never understood why she took this class so seriously. But for the first time ever he felt he finally understood her Mistress. The seemingly perfect apprentice, cold, unyielding, studious and prepared to do whatever it took to win her duel. But Precious knew what lies beyond that, the care, the warmth, the regret of which he had just learned. Even when hiding behind the mask of Ronin he couldn’t help but feel her Mistress’ pain. 
 
“Look who we got here.” As Ronin slipped out the door and into the hallway he was met with the usual suspect of second graders. There might not be many students taking familiar 101 at Sinslar. But there were plenty willing to wait by the door to harass those who did. Ronin had made sure to pull his sleeves down as far as they went, hiding the rope bites he would be spending the rest of his evening admiring. Usually the jerks would be happy just throwing insults at the Magus-bait, the spoiled familiars to be usually shielded by servants or picked up by their Magus fated. 
 
However, today Ronin wasn’t so lucky. “Hey, Familiar, I’m talking to you.” Ronin could pretend he didn’t hear it, that he thought it was meant for someone else. But he recognized that voice. Yorn. Ronin and Yorn had been friends once. During their first semester they had partnered on multiple projects and usually hung out during lunch or after classes. By the time it became obvious to Ronin what a terrible study group he found himself in it was far too late. Yorn had mediocre talent and little motivation, and Ronins hurt would sometimes leave him unable to do anything but attend class with a blank stare on his face for weeks at a time. Yorn and his other buddies had avoided the osterication that came with being in the bottom 10% of class by little but a hair, and Yorn had since decided Ronin was his pick for Familiar. 
 
“Ey, Ronnie boy.” Ronin felt those words shoot through his body, and Yorn took the moment of paused movement as an invitation to grab Ronin by the wrist and pull him around. Ronin couldn’t help but wince as Yorn pushed down on the marks left by Anastasia's ropes, every welt on his body screaming from the sudden movement. “Have your Magus taken your hearing away or something?” Yorn laughed.
 
“Fuck off Yorn, you know I’m not gonna duel you.” Ronin tried to pull away but Yorn held on tight. his grip digging into Ronins sleeve and the skin beneath. 
 
“I don’t get you Ronin. You’re already fucked. None of the rich kids wanted your ass. You don’t stand a chance come third year. We could be done with this tonight. You would no longer have to worry all the fucking time. I promise you will be very happy.” Ronin wanted to spit in his face. Truth was, Yorn was an idiot, and if he somehow ended up getting to Ronin first come the start of Third year, Ronin was convinced he had a shot. But he wasn’t ready. Not yet.
 
“I told you already Yorn, no way I’m spending the rest of my life slobbering on your mediocre dick.” Ronin tried to pull away once again, still to no effect, and in retaliation the physically stronger Yorn pulled him closer. 
 
“It won’t fucking matter, girly boy. In a couple more months the protection is lifted, and then your ass is mine.” Ronin looked up at Yorns face, trying desperately to hide his emotions and deliver a quippy response. That was when that crop smacked into Yorns shoulder.
 
“hmmmm… Strong, boisterous, and an infuriating attitude nobody will miss… an excellent option.” Ronin saw Yorn turning deeply pale as he recognized the voice behind him and no doubt felt the pain spread throughout his entire body. That voice that filled Precious with familiar warmth, and every other Apprentice in second grade with ice cold dread. “But I wonder, do you have the magical potential I require?” That was the moment Yorn decided to book it, his buddies not far behind. 
 
Even for Ronin, there was something about that look on Anastasia's face whenever she was like this. The ice cold eyes of an executioner, a predator, and he was the trapped prey, only able to hope he wouldn’t be eaten. except… He didn’t have time to finish that thought before Anastasia softened. They were alone. “Precious.” Precious dropped to her knees, the clothes still on, but the mask of Ronin washed away by a single word.
 
“Goddess.” She looked down on the floor, a little ashamed she didn’t do better.
 
“You did good, Precious. Hiding your improvement from our classmates will be vital for your survival come third year.” Precious couldn’t help but smile, looking gratefully up at her Mistress. She gasped as her Mistress brushed gently across her cheek. “I expect you at the practice rings tomorrow, Precious. At midnight.”
 
***
 
Ronin approached the practice ring as she had promised. It was late, very late. Technically there was no curfew at school, but nobody would be here at this time. Those not asleep would be down in town drinking themself silly. They were alone, she was safe. Safe to be Precious. Ronin spotted the little gift her Mistress had left for Precious, one of her womens summer uniforms. Sans underwear. Precious smiled as she placed the last piece of Ronins armor down next to her gift, before putting on the, she now realized, slightly modified uniform. The skirt was shorter, the top was tighter and the flats fit her just perfect. Leaving Ronins uniform behind, Precious skipped through the gate to the practice rings, head held high.
 
Mistress was already waiting for her, standing in the middle of one of the false circles. Ronin had been here many times before, but for Precious this was the first time. “Welcome, my  Precious. You are not required to kneel, join me in the sircle.” Precious scurried across the dirt, and stood in front of her Goddess, staring into the dirt in front of her. “You look wonderful, my dearest, look into my eyes.” Precious couldn’t have resisted if she wanted to, the mere presence of Mistress, along with the pressure of her fingers under her chin. She felt Mistresses whip drag against her neck, and her voice became just right. “You have been working very hard, Precious, and I am confident you are improving faster than anyone else in our class. It is time for you to put what you have learned to the test, my dearest.” Mistress took a step back, and at the same time gave Precious a push to do the same. “Once you agree to my terms we will perform a series of mock duels. As many as we can fit within the next hour.” She looked very grimly at Precious, this was serious. “When you lose, you will be inflicted just a smidge of the type of pain becoming a familiar would cause, but with every loss, the pain gets worse. Do you agree to these terms?”
 
“Yes mistress.” Precious was scared, but she knew this was important. Still, fighting Anastasia would not be fun. Ronin had done it once before, during the aptitude tests at the end of year one. It was the most painful experience of his life up to that point, and had lacked all the caring burning and wonderful pride that always came along with the pain since Mistress had taken her in. However she would endure and she knew mistress would be proud. Normally in a situation like this she would ask what she would get for winning, but Precious wouldn’t win. It was that simple. 
 
“Then let us begin.” Immediately Precious noticed a twist of the crop, and in the next moment found herself on the ground, incapacitated by pain. Searing hot pain, all across her. Making her scream in agony and euphoria as her true voice radiated from her.
 
Then, just as suddenly as it started, the pain stopped, and things got so much worse. It felt like her entire body was shifting, changing and it hurt so much. Precious was contorting and sobbing on the ground as Mistress loomed over her. But then it ended, and nothing had changed. “That was my closest interpretation of what becoming a familiar would be like, toned down.” There was a tap of the crop against Precious’ knee. “By a lot.” Suddenly just a little bit of the energy the pain had taken returned to her, just enough to make it back to her feet. “Focus on your fighting Precious, things will only get worse from here. I promise you won’t die, but that is my only guarantee.” 
 
Precious put up her best defenses, then nodded, and Mistress came for her once again.
 
“Get up my dearest, we are just over halfway through.” The pain was unbearable, indescribable. Yet there were no injuries, no changes despite how much her body told her it shifted and morphed. Each time Mistress would give her just enough of her energy so Precious could get back to her feet, and then they would go again. “Do you understand the point of what I’m doing to you, Precious?” Mistress asked, cuping Precious’ face as she was helped to her feet. Precious tried to speak, but she still hurt, so, so much. “I have two reasons. Firstly, you need to know what it feels like, what it will be like if you lose.” Mistress was holding precious close, letting her rest against her shoulder. “But just as importantly. I need to know I can do it, that I can inflict this pain upon another person. If I can do this to you, Precious, I can do it to anyone.” Precious could feel the doubt in her Goddess' voice, but she didn’t say anything, even if she wasn’t muted by pain and exhaustion there was nothing she could have said. “Now… again!” Mistress pushed Precious away, and Precious dutifully put her defenses up.
 
When the hour finally passed Precious had lost count of how many times she had lost. All she knew was that everything hurt and that Goddess had the most comfortable lap in existence. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to do. Precious could bask in having endured for Mistress, and mistress was beaming with pride as her hand brushed through Precious’ hair. “Today was very productive, my lovely. I can already see your reactions and awareness improving, even while dealing with pain and exhaustion you are doing better than you did when we started.” Mistressed hummed happily, brushing gently against Precious’ cheeks with one hand while the other was busy guiding her crop in search of injuries. “Such a good girl. You did wonderfully for me tonight, my dearest. You may rest now. I will make sure you get home safely.”
 
Precious closed her eyes. She believed Goddess when she told her that, just like she believed everything else Mistress told her…
 
Almost everything.
 
***
 
Ronin was back at the training rings, but this time it wasn’t so Precious could train with Mistress, no, they had been doing that for months now. This time it was for scouting. Anastasia had given Precious a simple order after her caning last evening. She was told to don the mask of Ronin and head out to watch the other second years mock duels. 
 
Technically, you were only allowed to be at the training grounds if you were open to accepting mock duels, but this was the one privilege his status as Magus-bait provided him. Nobody wanted to ‘betray’ the class by helping those at the bottom improve, that just made for fewer easy rituals come third year. There was also nothing to learn from fighting a Magus-bait, supposedly, so except for the occasional staged humiliation he was left alone.
 
That effect was doubled today, as a few seats over sat someone nobody wanted to face, but for the exact opposite reasons: Anastasia. 
 
Usually Ronin and Anastasia would avoid interacting in public, it was vital for Ronins survival that nobody realized they had a relationship, if there was even a smidge of doubt that Ronin was incapable in a duel his third year may be near impossible. 
 
This was different though, they both had good reason to be on that same tiny stand overlooking the mock duels, and nobody would be wanting to bother them. 
 
“You are to call me by my name today and keep your eyes on the training field. Understood?” Anastasia said, never making eye contact or looking towards Ronin, instead her eyes were fixed on the duels taking place below. On her lap sat her notebook, and if he leaned over just a little bit it would be obvious what was written on it, a list of names, growing shorter by the day. Ronin didn’t need to lean over. Precious had seen that list many times. 
 
“Yes Anastasia.” Instead Ronins eyes were scanning the crowd of dueling students. Theoretically any of them could decide to challenge him, but no, the actually skilled ones wouldn’t bother with him. He was Magus-Bait, and thus assumed to lack any significant potential. The stronger the Familiar used to be, the stronger the Magus would become, after all.
 
They sat in silence for a while, Ronin observing the sloppy yet flashy elementalist styles of Yorn and his friends, as well as the differing styles of some of his other possible challenges. There were a lot of elementalists focusing on fire. Easy to conjure, hard to control. Ronin was more than ready to deal with that, same with those relying on simple hexes and enchantments. His strategy was simple: survive, endure and slowly drain their energy. It wasn’t grand, it wasn’t flashy, but if he did it right his opponent might not even realize it was happening before it was too late. But that was just the thing, wasn’t it. His survival relied entirely on catching some desperate soul off guard. Would it really be an act of self defense at that point? Or was his perceived weakness now the bait in a deadly trap?
 
“No. None of them are right.” Anastasia grumbled, just loud enough for Ronin to hear. “There are assholes, bullies, snobs and goons, but none of the monsters remain. All of them are getting a Familiar bought and paid for with their Daddies' money, confidently peacocking around as Magus fated’.” Anastasia was clearly struggling to keep her frustration in check, to keep her voice calm and impossible for those down at the field to hear. “No monsters left but me.”
 
Ronin fidgeted with the locking on his cloak, struggling to do as Anastasia said and to keep looking at those practicing. “You’re no monster Anastasia, there are plenty out there worse than you.” He barely managed to say those words. Precious would never have managed to oppose Anastasia like that. But Ronin still had his uses for a little while longer, and this was one of them. “What about Yorn? He’s been harassing me all year.” It was a half hearted suggestion. Yorn was a bully and a brute, but most of all he was afraid, afraid of becoming a Familiar and willing to do almost anything to avoid that fate.
 
“Maybe… but no. Yorn is no monster. He’s a scared little boy who knows he’s exceedingly likely to die in just a few days. I’m honestly surprised you’re not scared as well.” Anastasia's comment hit Ronin in a way he hadn’t expected. Should he be more worried? Should he be scared? Ronin had lived his entire life barely even able to imagine a tomorrow. But now that there finally was a light at the end of the tunnel, shouldn’t he feel something?
 
Ronin thought about it for a second, and yes, he did. He was scared, but not for himself. They had already done what they could in that department. Now it was all down to fate. All Ronin would have to do was endure, one more time, and she could finally leave that mask behind forever, having served his purpose.
 
No, Ronin was scared, scared for Anastasia. 
 
“But I will have to pick someone, though it won’t be Yorn. I’m leaving him for you.” Ronin knew she was trying to seem strong, strong like her classmates expected her to be, but also strong so Precious would stay calm, but she could not. Precious wanted out, and she wanted to be with Mistress.
 
She wanted Mistress to hurt her, to make her scream. To let Godess take out her insecurities on Precious. To endure for her. Precious could hear it in the way her Mistress chuckled at her own joke. Mistress was afraid. Afraid of the monster staring back at her in the mirror. 
 
Precious wanted nothing but to comfort her Goddess, but she couldn’t let the mask slip. There was too much on the line for that, so instead Ronin sat still, looking down upon the students frantically trying to be ready for their third year. “I’m not getting anywhere sitting here. Our next meeting will be in two days. I expect Precious to be in my dorm after dusk.”
 
In two days, their last night as second graders, and then, at midnight, their protection would be gone. That night may be their last one together. 
 
Precious would not let that happen.
 
***
 
“Such a Good Girl. You are doing very well for me, Precious.” Precious was tied up to the small table in her Mistress’ dorm. spread out with one limb tied to each of the four table legs. The crop was rubbing sensually along her inner thighs, and she could feel the magical pain slowly spreading behind it’s path. Precious gritted her teeth. She didn’t like the pain, not really. But she loved the sound of Mistresses voice more than anything, and it was more than worth the pain. “I love to watch you take it for me, my dearest. I love to see that look on your face as you endure for me. Sacrifice for me.” The first strike from the crop hit suddenly, just like they always did, the physical impact mixing with the magical pain to create a wonderfully all encompassing shock. “I admit, I have been stressed lately, and it pains me to say I have yet to find the right victim. But we don’t need to think of that now, do we?” Goddess put the whip against the underside of Precious’ chin and she felt the enchantment of pain spread throughout her jaw. “Answer Precious.”
 
“We don’t, Mistress.”  The crop disappeared from her body in an instant, and the pain in her jaw slowly started to subside. Then it connected again, once again down on her thigh. Followed right after by a delightfully euphoric outburst of pain. 
 
“Very good, you most wonderful girl.” Luckily for Precious, her time with Goddess did not require her to perform or focus. The pain was too much for that. Instead Precious could just be there and endure. Every spell, every strike from the crop, the way the ropes dug into her in just the right way, and those perfect words of praise coming from her Mistresses mouth.
 
Precious' body was on fire. She could feel all of it, all of that wonderful pain her Mistress had tasked her to endure and she did. She could do it, for her. For Mistress, Precious could do anything. She had proven that again and again, and she would do so again tonight. 
 
Anastasia helped Precious from the table over to the couch, where she placed Precious's head in her own lap and started to slowly stroke her hair and heal her wounds, at least a little. She knew her Precious loved those marks. Those were her price, her reward. But Precious needed to be strong tomorrow, she needed to be at her peak when her ritual duel went down. Anastasia looked down upon her Precious, resting in her lap. So calm, so content, so innocent. That innocence would be gone very soon. Precious wouldn’t have to perform an execution the way she did, she wouldn’t be a murderer. But Precious would still need to take a life, destroy a soul to form her familiar. It was going to happen.
 
The alternative was just too much to bear.
 
Precious looked up at her Mistress, those eyes carrying such a heavy weight. She shouldn’t need to do this. Precious thought, her Mistress shouldn’t be forced to make a choice like this. She was the kindest person Precious had ever met. The only one Precious had ever been allowed to be herself around. But when her Goddess looked in the mirror all she saw was a monster looking back.
 
That was when they both felt it, like a wisp of wind or a slight shudder something changed as the clock struck midnight. The protections were lifted, for them and everyone else in their class. Soon enough, half of them would be Maguses, and the other half would be familiars.
 
Anastasia stared out into the air. She still hadn’t picked her target, figured out who in their class deserved to have done to them what she had to do. At least she could enjoy this moment, for a little while longer, for just a little bit nothing would have to change. “Anastasia.”
 
Anastasia looked down at her adorable Precious in her lap. “I go by Mistress, but I also accept Goddess.” She said with a predatory chuckle, before she noticed the look on Precious’ face, filled with a determination she had never before witnessed.
 
Precious looked up into Anastasia's confused eyes, and then she started, once again, from the top. “Anastasia, I challenge you, under the watchful eye of Sinslar and the sanctity of the Circle, to the Duel of the Binding of Souls. May the worthy mage win, and claim the other as Familiar.” 
 
***
 
No more words were said that evening, and the next morning Precious left before Anastasia awoke. She checked in with the first prefect she saw, and then it was official. Anastasia would Duel Ronin in two days at the latest. It was the first challenge of the year and one that nobody saw coming.
 
Ronin had been prepared to be swarmed with challenges, but once the news of their duel started spreading everyone left him alone. He may be a third year Magus-bait, but there was now a link between him, and Anastasia. Nobody was foolish enough to attempt to steal from the sadist monster of third year. 
 
In fact, the predatory grins and words meant to hurt, quickly changed to worried looks of pity, confusion and grateful thanks. He might have always been Magus bait, but nobody deserved to be the familiar of an evil torture Magus. 
 
But Precious had chosen this for herself. Precious wanted this, and Ronin was more than happy to serve his final purpose.
 
The night before their duel, Ronin still hadn’t talked to Anastasia. He had seen her around, in classes, in the cafeteria, out in the yard. Every time their eyes met she looked away.
 
That was the main thing on Ronins mind, sitting on the first row by their assigned ritual circle. The duel would happen tomorrow morning, in front of the entire school. With everyone watching Ronin would shed the mask forever, and Precious would give herself to her Mistress, body, soul and mind. Bound together forever. 
 
Ronin was prepared for the pain. Anastasia had inadvertently made sure of that. He didn’t like it. What Precious had gone through during those mock duels had been torture. But it had taught her one thing. Precious knew she could endure it for her Mistress. 
 
“RONIN!” He heard the desperate scream coming from the gate to the ritual field. He recognized that voice and when turning to look Yorn was rushing at him. “Ronin! I challenge you, under the watchful eye of Sinslar and the sanctity of the Circle, to the Duel of the Binding of Souls. May the worthy mage win, and claim the other as familiar.” Yorn’s voice was broken, desperate. He stood before Ronin with a look of desperation on his face. His buddies, looking on from the gate with stares of defeat on their faces. 
 
“You’re too late, Yorn. I’m dueling Anastasia tomorrow morning.” That was that. Yorn would obviously have known this. But he was desperate. He had one plan, and Precious had taken that plan away from him.
 
“Why? Ronin, why? Would being my Familiar really be that bad? Am I so horrible you would rather throw yourself at the sadistic torture lady? Her foci is a fucking crop Ronin! What are you thinking? At least tell me why!” Ronin sighed, he imagined most of the class had asked themselves that question when challenger Ronin versus Anastasia appeared on the list of upcoming Duels of binding Souls. The girl nobody wanted to face, challenged by the boy everyone thought they could beat. “I thought we were friends!”
 
Ronin looked up into the desperate eyes of Yorn. “You threw that away one year ago, Yorn. I don’t owe you anything, least of all my soul.” Yorns goons were slowly getting closer to them.
 
“Duel me Ronin.” Yorn said, struggling to keep his voice from breaking.
 
“No.” Ronin didn’t see the punch coming. 
 
When Ronin came back to consciousness he was coughing, and his mouth tasted like blood. His jaw was hurting, but no worse than what her Mistress would do to Precious. He had been unceremoniously dumped into the ritual circle and in front of him stood Yorn. “Why isn’t it working? I challenged you! Where in the circle! The ritual should be starting!” Ronin made his way back to his feet, with a cough and a chuckle, pulling his standardized wand from his pocket.
 
“There is a grace period, fuckface, you need a prefect or my consent to activate the ritual early.” Ronin kept his eyes on Yorn. While this wasn’t an actual duel he still expected Yorn to start casting, and on top of that he had to keep an eye on the goons. They may not be able to activate the ritual with more than two apprentices inside the circle, but they could surely give him a beating. 
 
“Duel me Ronin.” 
 
“No.”
 
This time he saw the strike coming, and managed to put up his defensive barrier in time. A blaze of fire exploding against his magic shield. His training kicking in he twisted his wand under the cover of flame and smoke, a little bit of Yorns energy drained to fuel Ronin’s wards. 
 
“Duel me!”
 
“No!”
 
Another blazing inferno and another trivial protection ward. Ronin could really sense the desperation in Yorns eyes now, delirious, scared, acting out in desperation. He was sure not to notice how every spell he cast was just a bit more draining than normal. All Ronin had to do to win this was to endure, the one thing he had always been good at.
 
“Boys, what are you waiting for?” Yorn said, whipping around to look at his goons, and was therefore the first of the combatants to notice the horrified, agonized look on their entirely frozen faces, their eyes staring not at Yorn and Ronin, but up into the stands. Following their sightline Ronin and Yorn saw her. Anastasia.
 
She was simply sitting there, that same scowl on her face she always had. But Ronin knew her, he could see how tense she was, and he noticed the two words she whispered to him across the field. “Do it.”
 
Ronin looked away, returning his focus to Yorn right before the horrified boy did the same.
 
“Duel me Ronin!” 
 
“Won’t happen.” Yorn struck out with spell after spell. Fire, then ice, then fire, then ice. Explosions of uncontrolled elemental power, Ronin could feel his brain screaming in discomfort but with every spell Yorn cast a little bit of relief was provided by Ronins draining spell and as the onslaught finally ended Ronin was still standing, if barely, and an utterly exhausted Yorin collapsed in the center of the ritual circle. 
 
“Do it.” Ronin heard her voice, and looked up to find her Mistress, Anastasia, standing at the edge of the circle. “You have his consent, just give him yours and he will be your Familiar. Please, Precious. Become a Magus, you can have everything you ever wanted, your voice! Your body! Just the way you want it.”
 
Ronin stepped towards Anastasia,until they were face to face. He could see it now, she was crying. It looked like she had cried a lot lately. “I trust you to give me those things.” Ronin could feel himself on the brink of crying too. Inside him Precious was screaming, sobbing, begging him to stop hurting her mistress. But he knew, no matter how much this hurt for both of them, it would be for the best. “I won’t allow you to become the monster you see in the mirror.” 
 
“But… Your magic, your soul! I can’t ask you to give that up to me.” They were standing on the edge of the circle, Anastasia outside, Ronin inside, holding onto each other as they cried together, 
 
“You didn’t.” Ronin could feel his mask slipping, he was tired, tired of living, of his body, of his constant struggle. But Precious couldn’t handle this. He still had one thing left to do before he could fade away. “I did. I chose this for myself. I’m forcing your hand, Anastasia. You no longer have to pick.” Yorns goons looked between each other, utterly horrified. What Anastasia had done to them seems to have worn off, but it didn’t seem to make them interested in interfering. 
 
“But what about being seen as your true self. If I’m the one to transform you, they won’t know it’s what you wished for.” Anastasia pleaded with Ronin and he couldn’t help but tremble, to cry, he wanted to break, to give in, to let Precious be a good girl who obeys her Mistress. But if he did that he couldn’t do what was right for Anastasia.
 
“The only person I care about is you, and you already see her. You see Precious. Soon the world will see her too, as who she is, who I truly am: yours.” Ronin was struggling to keep her voice steady, but his resolve was strong. Yorn was still out on the ground behind them, not having moved from the spot where he fell.
 
“It will hurt.” Ronin could hear it in her voice. She was tearing, her arguments falling apart. The goons could see it too, and the look on their faces was one of utter shock. The ice queen of their grade, the sadist torture mage, pleading in desperation.
 
“You’re worth the pain.” Anastasia started to sob, and Precious was finally allowed out to comfort her as the two girls embraced. 
 
***
 
The stands were abuzz with excitement and speculation that next morning, as the minutes ticked down to the first Ritual of The Familiar of the year. Very little was known about how this duel came to be, and while all were ecstatic they would no longer have the presence of Anastasia the torture sadist hanging over them, this was still perplexing. All had assumed Anastasia would have her pick from the rest of the class, but instead she had been challenged by Ronin, an apprentice whose only notable moment while at Sinslar was landing in the bottom 10% after first year. On top of everything there was a rumor going around that Ronin had the chance to take Yorn as his Familiar last night after beating him in an unofficial duel, but turned it down in favor of this very duel with Anastasia. But they knew they soon would have their answer, whatever was about to happen.
 
“Are you sure this is what you want, my Precious? We could go in there, like any normal Apprentices, and put on a show, give them something to remember you by.” Mistress looked genuinely at Precious, who shook her head firmly.
 
“I appreciate it, Goddess, but no. I want everyone to see me. As who I truly am, for who I have always been.” Precious placed a peck on her Mistresses cheek. The two of them were just around the corner from the circle, the last stragglers not paying enough attention to spot their intimate moment.
 
Precious was wearing her gift from Mistress, the skimpily enchanted girls uniform, and the runes of voice modification were visible across the side of her throat. “I want them to know this was my choice. I want to proudly wear your collar, Mistress, for everyone to see.” Mistress nodded gently. They were soon to be on public display, expected to put on show for a crowd. They deserved this private moment of intimacy.
 
“Then kneel, my Precious, my dearest girl.” Precious did as ordered, looking up into Goddess' eyes, those beaming, proud eyes. She saw the collar in her hand, and then her Mistress held it out for her to touch, to feel. She did just so, feeling the cold leather that would soon be wrapped around her neck for all to see. “Present your neck to me.” 
 
Precious leant forward and she heard the clasp of the collar come loose, then, slowly, deliberately, Goddess took the collar and secured it around Precious’ neck. “Comfy?”
 
Precious nodded. “Yes Mistress.” She looked back up at her Mistress, so strong, so smart, so kind. A single tear of joy running down her cheek.
 
“Good.” Her crop pushed against the collar, and Precious could feel the stream of magic. “Because it’s never coming off again.” There was a swirl of black, and suddenly a leash extended from her collar, ending held firmly in the hand of her mistress. “Now, my dearest, shall we show everyone how much you're willing to endure for me?”
 
Precious smiled widely. She had never felt more in her life. Excitement, fear, happiness and just a little pinch of dread all mixing together into a cocktail she didn’t know how to handle. But with Mistress there she felt safe, she could hold her head high, and endure whatever was to come. “Yes Goddess, let’s do it.” 
 
Precious stood on shakey, anxious legs, but followed as Goddess tugged on her leach, it was that or falling. Precious had no intention of falling at that moment. 
 
The crowd went near silent when Mistress led Precious through the gates towards the ritual circles, the sun shining down on them as they both held their heads high. Precious didn’t see Yorn in the stands, but hadn’t expected it either. She heard the whispers start breaking out in the crowd, wild speculations abound.
 
The prefect didn’t say anything, and mostly just seemed satisfied he wouldn’t have to pull someone kicking and screaming to their ritual. He gave a nod to the both of them, as Mistress took the first step into the ritual circle, closely followed by Precious.
 
When they reached the center of it, Goddess circled Precious, stopping behind her and taking a grip of her neck, forcing her to face the crowd. All those eyes, some shocked, some confused, some disgusted, some even envious. “Kneel, Precious.” 
 
Precious fell to her knees with a little help from Goddess, the crop rested against her collarbone. “You know your line, Precious.” Mistress stated, ice cold for the crowd, but Precious felt her warm grip, her caring squeeze, that moment of eye contact they shared together. 
 
“Mistress, do you accept my challenge? Do I have your consent to become your Familiar?” Precious took a long breath, she had finished her part, now all Mistress had to do was consent. She waited.
 
The crowd waited.
 
For a long moment Precious could feel the insecurity coming from her Mistress. She knew she was to look at the crowd, to keep her eyes off her Goddess, but no, they both needed this. 
 
Precious looked up at Mistress, her eyes begging. “Please?” 
 
Anastasia took a deep breath. “Yes, my dearest.” 
 
The ritual activated instantly, and it felt the intent of the two within its circle. The rays of energy shooting from the symbols towards the neck and collar of Precious. “Look at the crowd, Precious, let everyone see how much you are willing to endure for your Mistress.”
 
Precious did as ordered, she looked out at all those people, all those apprentices, staring at her as the pain kicked in. She could feel it, all of it, she could feel her body twisting and turning to fit Mistress’ will. It hurt, it hurt even worse than she could have imagined, and she screamed, screamed so loudly that everyone could hear her pain. Normally during the transformation Magus might hold and comfort their familiar, to try to ease their pain, but this wasn’t what they wanted. Mistress instead stood proudly behind Precious as the new familiar screamed and sobbed, her body shrinking, her curves filling themselves out, held up only by her leash and collar tightly gripped in Mistress’ hand. “Such a good girl, my favorite little thing. My pet. My Familiar. My property.” 
 
With one last scream the transformation was over and Precious felt… She felt better. Every part of her body was still burning with pain and exhaustion, but she felt like everything was just a bit brighter. Like something had fundamentally switched in her head, it was like a part of her she could never quite access before was now free, like a black cloud hanging over her life had finally cleared and the sun was shining on her for the very first time, And then there was- “can you walk, pet?” -Mistress. Her Magus. Just feeling her words sent waves of indescribable pleasure through her mind and pushed her to answer despite the pain and exhaustion. 
 
“No, Mistress.” Mistress chuckled and tugged on her leash. 
 
“Then I guess you are crawling.” Precious dropped to all four, and with a slight tug Goddess guided the first familiar of the year out through the gate. After a show that would never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
 
***
 
Anastasia sat at her desk in her newly acquired Magus dorm, sorting through offer letters from various institutions of higher education, and a few more direct possibilities for entering the world of Maguses. It had only been a couple of weeks since the Ritual and already things had changed drastically, even for someone like Anastasia. The way she was addressed by her professors had changed, suddenly they were all willing to talk to her, not just like a student or apprentice but as a person, one of them. 
 
It was honestly a little chilling to think about how distant everyone had been, and how ready they were to include her now, to bring her into the fold. Even her family, who had distanced themselves from her the day her powers were confirmed, were sending her gifts and letters of congratulations. She had been one of the best apprentices in her class, one of those everyone assumed would win, and still the difference was so stark. Sometimes she caught herself wondering how Precious would have handled it all.
 
Her Precious, sleeping off her last beating over in her pillow-pile in the corner. Part of her wondered if she would really have been happy being treated like this before becoming a familiar, a simple pet, not even allowed her own bed, fed by hand or bowl, allowed nothing but a collar for clothes unless going outside and regularly beaten for her Mistress’ amusement and pleasure. But no, Anastasia knew Precious, and Precious knew Anastasia. Her pet had known what she was volunteering for and Anastasia's grip over her mind would never let her regret it. She still had to pick an animal form for her. Anastasia had a leaning towards a black cat to match her personal aesthetic but wondered if that would be too mischievous for her dearest, well behaved Precious. 
 
The only thing Anastasia felt really unsure about was Precious’ body. There were so many small details, so many things to get right. Precious had entrusted her with the responsibility of giving her the body she always wanted, and she was determined to succeed. The issue however, was that Precious would be more and more ecstatic with every change she made, and how every change she made felt like it moved Precious further away from her ideal, and further towards what Anastasia wanted. 
 
There was a knock on her door, obviously magical considering how the dorms here worked. Anastasia did have an appointment, but hadn’t expected him to come, considering everything that happened that night. But despite that, here he was. “Precious. Open the door, then kneel.” Precious awoke in a second once she heard the order, and quickly, without running made her way across the considerably larger dorm compared to her old one. 
 
Anastasia had always known Precious wished she was shorter, but seeing her make her way across the room, eager to obey, she couldn’t help to wonder, did she go too far? Not far enough? She had already shrunk Precious by about one head during the initial transformation, and removed a bit more since, but was it enough? Too much? She didn’t have much time to ponder as the door opened and Precious joined her, kneeling on her pillow by her side as the portal swirled, and finally spat out one of Anastasia's least favorite third year Apprentices. 
 
Anastasia and Precious must have been quite a sight. The strong and ruthless Magus Anastasia. Then kneeling by her side weak and subservient, carrying the marks of her Mistress’ crop and ropes was Precious, her Familiar. It had quite the effect on someone like Yorn, who was currently standing on her doormat. “Anastasia.” He said with a trembling voice.
 
“That is Magus Anastasia to you, apprentice, now kneel, unless you wish for this conversation to end prematurely.” Anastasia pointed her crop to the floor in front of Yorn, and Precious looked up at him, a relaxed smile on her face, like everything was just perfect. Yorn shuddered as he did what the Magus ordered. “Now Apprentice. I heard you have been challenged to a ritual. I’m surprised it took someone this long to snatch up failed scum like yourself.” Anastasia said with a taunting huff. “You have permission to speak. Ask what you came here for.”
 
Yorn looked up and took a deep breath. “I know you must have thought Ronin, I don’t-“ Anastasia slapped her crop against the table, and waves of pain quickly interrupted Yorns sentence. 
 
“Her name is Precious. I will not have you disrespecting my Familiar, apprentice.” Anastasia allowed the pain to radiate a little while longer, before finally allowing Yorn back to his knees. “Continue. I don’t have all day.” 
 
Yorn was breathing harder, but despite that he managed to pick up where he left up. “I don’t know what Precious did, but I have to know it, please teach me Magus Anastasia, like you taught… her.” He let out the breath he had been holding while speaking, and Anastasia couldn’t help but chuckle. 
 
“Wise choice, Apprentice. But no. I won’t teach you. Even if I wanted to, you lack both the time and potential to achieve what Precious did.” Yorns face went pale white, and in exactly the same tone he had spoken on the dueling field that night, he started to argue. 
 
“But you… They were in the bottom 10%! She was a complete failurd! How-“ Yorn fell over in pain once more as Anastasia's crop smacked against the table. But while Yorn was once again on the ground writhing in pain, Precious didn’t even flinch. She was looking at Yorn with that same friendly, satisfied smile as when he first arrived. 
 
“I told you not to disrespect my pet, and now you are insulting her!” Anastasia said, her usual ice cold demeanor turning to anger. “I control her power now, I know everything. I understand her better than she ever did herself. Precious had magical potential to rival my own. She could… she could…” Anastasia could feel her mask breaking. First with anger, now with regret. It hadn’t been her choice. But Precious had such raw potential. If she hadn’t been forced to hide behind that mask, if her life hadn’t been a constant struggle just to get out of bed in the morning, maybe she could have rivaled Anastasia at the top of the class. 
 
But none of that mattered now, and Anastasia would use Precious’ potential to her fullest extent, she owed the girl that much, and so, so much more. 
 
Yorn was still rocked by pain, but through the sobs and the agony he managed to force out five words. May I… speak to her.” The spell ended, as suddenly as it started.
 
“That would be up to her, would it not? Precious.” Anastasia cupped her pet's chin and lifted it up so their eyes could meet. “Do you wish to speak to this apprentice?” Precious thought for a second, before giving a firm nod. “Permission to speak, Precious.” She guided Precious’ eyes back to Yorn, and the very good girl crawled over to the exhausted apprentice, sobbing softly on the floor. 
 
“It’s okay Yorn. I forgive you.” That just made Yorn cry louder. The two former friends sat there for a second, nothing needing to be said, until Yorn finally asked his question.
 
“What is it like, to become a familiar?” Precious sighed, looking back at those fond memories, Anastasia had seen that look before, every time they reminisce about that day, 
 
“To me it was the most special moment of my life. I got to express my love, myself, and my willingness to sacrifice for the person most important to me. It was terrifying, and it hurt, more than you can ever imagine, but it was all worth it for her.” Precious couldn’t help but look back over at her Mistress. Her perfect Magus. She now had the honor and privilege of serving her Mistress for the rest of her existence. However those words of truth did nothing to calm Yorn. 
 
“I have been totally ostracized since what happened. Everyone in class sees you as a hero. A magus-bait taking  the fall for the rest of us, so nobody else would have to belong to someone like her.” Yorn suddenly looked up at Anastasia, realizing what he just said. “No offense meant, Magus.”
 
“Oh I very much appreciate the compliment, apprentice." Anastasia laughed, clearly back to her usual self by now. Observing her pet interact with her former friend. 
 
“I tried to drag out the inevitable, but I could only stay in my dorm for so long and now…” Yorn once again broke into tears, and the always caring Precious couldn’t help but pet his head. 
 
“It’s okay, it will be fine. Being a Familiar is not a bad thing. I’m happy with Mistress. Happier than I ever was before I met her, happier than I ever was before the ritual. Mistress no longer allows me to feel sadness or hurt. I am sure your Magus will let you be happy too, if you ask them nicely.” Yorn collapsed on the floor again. No pain this time but too exhausted from everything to keep kneeling. 
 
“So that’s it, you expect me to give up? Just like that? To come begging on my hands and knees to be allowed to be a happy pet for him? I can’t do that Precious. He would never listen, not after what I did.” 
 
“I would. If I had taken you that night.” Precious said with such conviction, especially for a Familiar, supposedly hollow and unpersoned. “That would have been my responsibility, I would have done whatever I could to make you happy. But I couldn’t. I had to belong to my Goddess. I hope you can forgive me.” Yorn had nothing more to say, he had no idea how to respond to Precious. The now Familiar he once thought he knew. 
 
Anastasia coughed to gain the two's attention, and with a minimal gesture recalled Precious to her side. “I will write a letter to your potential future Magus. He will know that I forgive you for your transgressions against me and my Familiar, but I refuse to get involved beyond that. You’re excused.” It took Yorn a while to finally get up, but then he left without another word.
 
Anastasia finally let go of her ice cold demeanor as the door closed behind Yorn. That had been more intense than she thought it would be. She looked down at her precious Familiar. So lovely, so innocent, so eager to help her, to endure for her. And why should she not indulge? She was a Magus after all, she had the power, the responsibility, but what was that worth if she couldn’t enjoy herself. 
 
“Precious. Grab our toys, I wish to indulge."
Thank you for reading, a huge thanks to everyone who helped with spellchecking and sugestions for this project! It was my first real story not in the HDG universe and I hope you liked it.
 
If you haven't yet, scroll back up and check out those other stories I mentioned, or check out the #Ritual_of_the_Familiar tag for more stories in this wonderfully dark setting. 
 
And hug your doms yall
x43

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