Lauren felt a sudden stirring of excitement in her stomach as her plane touched down on the runway of Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris. She was here. She was actually here. Paris. Lauren couldn’t believe she’d done something so crazy. In the middle of one of the busiest parts of her PhD programme, she’d taken off and flown all the way from America to France, just to see a friend. It wasn’t a complete dereliction of duty, of course - with a laptop and Internet connection, there was nothing she could do back at her college that she couldn’t do here. Nonetheless, until a few months ago, she couldn’t have imagined anything that would have dragged her away from the quiet of the library college library, where’d she’d already spent so many hours in frenzied, exhausting research. But then she’d met Fleur.
Somehow, Fleur always knew exactly what to say to her. She had done ever since the two of them had met, on an online gaming forum of all places. They’d hit it off immediately, with their shared hobby giving them plenty to bond over. It helped that Lauren didn’t have much of a social life beyond video games. She was nerdy, trans, and her intensive studies as a grad student didn’t leave her with enough time or energy for things like clubbing and partying. That had only gotten worse in the long weeks of recovery from bottom surgery, but Fleur had made it all bearable. And so, her French friend had insisted that to thank her for it, as well as get a little bit of a break from school, Lauren must come to visit her in Paris, on Fleur’s dime.
Lauren had found herself powerless to refuse.
As she made her way off the plane and through the airport terminal, Lauren started to fill with the inevitable anxiety that came with meeting a long-distance friend for the first time. She just hoped she wouldn’t be too much of a surprise or a disappointment. She didn’t think so, at least. She was gay, and she knew Fleur was too, and so she felt safe in the knowledge that Fleur would appreciate her soft butch style. Lauren had re-buzzed her side shave the night before catching the plane, and she knew that with her dark hair, deep eyes and flattering curves, she could make a striking impression when she really wanted to. And she certainly wanted to with Fleur.
Mercifully, the moment Lauren caught sight of her friend, all her anxiety evaporated. Fleur greeted her with the warmest smile imaginable, and rushed towards her to offer the weary traveler a hug. Lauren returned it gratefully, but she was a little taken aback by Fleur’s stature. The two of them had exchanged selfies, of course, but that hadn’t prepared her for the fact that Fleur was perhaps four or five inches taller than her. Lauren knew her own height was decidedly modest, and positively tiny by trans girl standards, but she hadn’t been expecting Fleur to tower over her to quite that extent. Secretly, she’d been hoping it might be the other way around. Lauren liked it when pretty girls had to look up to her.
“Lauren!” Fleur cried out joyfully, in lightly-accented English. She drew back from the hug just long enough to kiss Lauren’s cheeks, making her blush a little. “Oh, chérie, I’m so glad to see you! You must be exhausted after that long flight. Let’s get you back to my apartment.”
Tired and bowled over by Fleur’s enthusiasm, Lauren nodded, taking Fleur’s offered hand and letting her friend lead her out towards the city.
The taxi ride back to Fleur’s place passed quickly and quietly. Lauren and her friend talked a little, but mostly Lauren was still tense and tired from the stress of air travel, and besides, she wanted to stare out the window and enjoy the sights of the city - not that suburban Paris was much to look at. Lauren had been to Europe before, but not for years, and being in a different country again was awakening an awkward mix of feelings in her. On the one hand, she wanted to sit back, relax, and enjoy the vacation for what it was. On the other hand, there was a sagging weight on her shoulders that wouldn’t leave, matched by a nagging mental hook reminding her that needed to be studying, or else she might fall behind. All the historic landmarks in the world couldn’t fix that.
Her mood improved once they reached Fleur’s apartment, and Lauren could finally slump on her friend’s couch and take the weight off her feet. Fleur did an admirable job fussing over her, making sure she knew where everything was and that she had everything she needed. Within a few minutes, Lauren had caught her breath, and the two of them were chatting and hanging out just the way they’d always done online. Lauren was beginning to feel the pleasant warmth that came with being in the same room as someone she truly cared about.
“I’m so glad you’re finally here!” Fleur told her, just as she’d done many times already. “I’ve been waiting for this forever. And now it’s… wow, it’s really you, in the flesh!”
“It’s really me.” Lauren blushed a little. She couldn’t get over the way that Fleur’s eyes kept running over her appreciatively. Her friend was checking her out. She decided to flirt back. “And it’s really you. Fleur, you’re even prettier than you look in your pics.”
Fleur giggled, blushing faintly; exactly the reaction Lauren had been hoping for. Encouraging, she shifted a little closer to Fleur on the couch and put her arm across her friend’s shoulder. Without any hint of hesitation, Fleur pressed herself against the butch girl, smiling as the two of them cuddled up together. Lauren was over the moon at the prospect of her friend returning her feelings. Aside from anything else, it had been way too long since she’d topped anyone.
“Chérie, let’s stay up all night playing video games,” Fleur suggested, purring. “It’s the perfect way to relax. We can go out some other night.”
“All night?” Lauren checked the clock, her heart sinking as she realized how late it already was. “Actually… I think I might have to turn in pretty soon.”
Lauren sighed. “It’s not that. I just want to be up early enough in the morning tomorrow, so I can study.”
“Study?” Fleur sat up, appalled. “Lauren, no! This was meant to be a break for you.”
“I know,” Lauren said miserably. “But I just… there’s just too much going on right now. I promise we’ll have plenty of time to hang out together! But no crazy late nights, sorry.”
“But you look so exhausted!” Fleur protested, disappointment and concern writ large on her face. “Don’t you think you should at least try to-” She cut herself off mid-sentence and just stared at Lauren with her piercing, blue eyes, as if deep in thought. When she spoke again, she seemed to have changed her own mind. “Very well, Lauren. I understand. We don’t want you to be stressed about having to catch up when you get back.”
Lauren nodded. “That’s exactly it.”
“However!” Fleur added quickly. “You have to at least let me help you relax my way.” She flashed a dazzling smile. “I insist.”
Her smile was infectious, and Lauren quickly found herself returning it despite her regret, glad they weren’t going to fall to arguing. “That sounds great. God knows I need it.” She reflexively rubbed at her back, sore and aching from so many hours spent hunched over a book or a laptop. “So, Fleur, what’s your way to relax?”
Lauren was more than a little taken aback. “Hypnosis?”
“That’s right.” Fleur nodded seriously. “Trust me, it really works. I have a background in psychology. It’ll relax you, help you sleep better, and most importantly, get all those books and articles right out of your head.”
“That does sound pretty good,” Lauren giggled. “As long as you’re not going to turn me into a chicken or something.”
“Oh, no,” Fleur assured her, with an odd, serious smile on her face. “Nothing like that.”
“W-well, OK then!” Lauren agreed after an awkward, intense pause. “Since you insist. What do you need me to do?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Fleur’s voice was very gentle and soothing. “Just sit back and get comfortable. Or, actually… why don’t you rest your head in my lap?”
“In your…” Lauren blushed at the thought. “OK.”
The two of them arranged themselves on the couch until Lauren was lying on her back, with her head rested on Fleur’s soft, warm thighs. Her friend smiled down at her, her face framed by her long, platinum blonde hair, and Lauren had to fight not to squirm. She was used to this being the other way around.
“Now what?” she asked, to break the intimate silence.
“Now you just lie there and let me do all the work.” Fleur laughed. Lauren couldn’t get over her delicate accent. “Doesn’t this sound nice?”
“Yeah, it really does,” Lauren sighed. It had been a long time since anyone had said anything like that to her.
“Of course it does.” Fleur’s voice had become little more than a melodious whisper, and despite how close they were, Lauren found herself focusing all her attention on her friend’s words to make sure she could hear her properly. “You poor thing. They’ve been working you far, far too hard. Look at you. You’re still so tense, and you don’t even know it.”
“I am?” Lauren felt a lot of things, but in that moment, resting in Fleur’s lap, ‘tense’ wasn’t one of them.
“You are,” Fleur told her confidently. “Perhaps you just need to pay a little more attention?”
“I… guess.” Given how sure Fleur sounded, Lauren couldn’t help but wonder if she was right. Maybe Fleur could see something she couldn’t.
“You know better than me, of course,” Fleur continued. But when was the last time you took a few moments to truly focus on your own body? You might notice how weary and sore your spine feels. I know you’ve told me about this. Or maybe it’s your neck, stiff and weary, even now that I’m supporting it for you.”
“Y-yeah…” Fleur’s voice was incredibly relaxing, but through that, Lauren couldn’t help but notice the deep, enduring exhaustion in her joints and bones. Fleur was right, she realized. She was tense. So very tense.
“You see?” Fleur smiled warmly. “You need to relax. That’s why we’re doing this, no?”
Idly, as if it was unconscious, Fleur’s fingers started playing over Lauren’s cheek. The touch was intimate enough to make Lauren go still.
“Shhh,” Fleur insisted softly. “Just listen, chérie. Relax.”
Lauren fell silent with a small nod. She had butterflies in her stomach. She wasn’t used to following someone else’s lead like this.
“There’s a very simple way to get rid of all this tension.” Fleur’s hand kept stroking her cheek. Lauren couldn’t stop thinking about it. “Very simple. Effortless. All you have to do is this: take a deep breath, and when you do, imagine you’re pulling all this pain up into your lungs. And when you breathe out, imagine you’re pushing it all out. But nice, deep breaths, yes? Let me give you the rhythm. Breathe in.”
Lauren took a deep breath. She could already feel herself settling into Fleur’s lap, more relaxed than she’d been in what felt like a lifetime. She was so tired. She felt like she could go to sleep like that.
“Good. And out.”
Lauren exhaled. The moment she did, her body felt different. All of a sudden, it was as light as a feather, and filled with a pleasant, airy warmth. It was incredible. She wanted to say something, but she was too relaxed even to speak.
“Wonderful.” Fleur’s praise sent warm ripples through her. “And again. In.”
Lauren obeyed. She felt like she’d be floating away, if not for Fleur there anchoring her, holding her firm.
Lauren practically moaned, but she was too relaxed to feel any embarrassment.
The rhythm was already becoming second-hand nature; it had the feeling of an old, familiar comfort. Lauren’s vision was beginning to blur and fade as her eyes unfocused, finally succumbing to an exhaustion that had been building for years.
Once she expelled her pain, Lauren was left with almost nothing. It was so lovely. No thoughts, no worries. Just Fleur’s sweet, captivating voice, and that maddeningly pleasant touch on her cheek.
“Wonderful,” Fleur repeated. Her voice was angelic, carrying Lauren along like a leaf on the wind. “You’re doing so very well. Good girl.”
As deep as she already was, that particular term of affection made Lauren blush and stir a little.
“There’s just one more thing,” Fleur explained, ignoring Lauren’s reaction. “And you’re so close already. It’ll be perfectly natural.”
She brought her hand up Lauren’s face, using a light touch that raised all the hairs on Lauren’s skin. Her fingertip came to rest in the middle of Lauren’s forehead.
She pressed down, and somehow that little touch was enough to make Lauren close her eyes. She saw nothing but blackness, and she quickly fell, fell, fell, until she was deep, deep, deep in trance.
And that was the last thing Lauren remembered.
‘No crazy late nights’. That’s what Lauren had insisted on - and at the time, she’d meant it. But somehow, it didn’t trouble her at all when, just six days later, she found herself stumbling back to Fleur’s apartment with her friend at 3 am, decidedly tipsy.
“See?” Fleur teased, giggling and clinging to her. “Isn’t this fun?”
Fleur was drunk too. The pair of them had headed out for a night on the town, and had wound up drinking and dancing together in a nearby bar. It was the most fun Lauren had had in years.
“Yeah, it really is,” Lauren admitted.
It had all been fun. She was so glad she’d come to Paris. It was exactly what she’d needed. Getting away from school made all those pressures and stresses seem more distant, and as such, she was more relaxed now than she could ever remember being - not least thanks to Fleur’s hypnosis. At Lauren’s request, her friend had taken to hypnotizing her every single night. She’d felt bad about asking, but Fleur seemed incredibly eager to help, and their hypnosis sessions were simply blissful. It was like the most perfect massage imaginable. She wished she could remember more of what Fleur said and did to her once she was under, but her friend assured her that hypnotic amnesia was nothing to worry about.
Nothing to worry about. It was almost miraculous how fast that had become Lauren’s motto, so much so that she’d even been neglecting her promised morning study sessions. She kept sleeping through the mornings, for one thing. Somehow, her evenings spent cuddled up on the couch with Fleur alway seemed to pass in a pleasant, comfortable haze, until before she knew it, it was long past midnight. And even on the days she managed to pry herself out of bed early, Lauren found that concentrating on her studies was all but impossible. Her eyes kept glossing over the words of the articles she tried to read, and whenever she tried to write anything, she always ended up lost in enjoyable daydreaming.
Normally, Lauren would have scolded herself viciously for being so ditzy and lazy. But, now that she was together with Fleur, it hardly seemed to matter. It was easy to reason everything away, telling herself that she’d catch up later, or that a few idle days wouldn’t make any difference. And somehow, that was all it took to disappear her anxieties. Lauren wished it could always be so easy.
“Let’s do this again,” Fleur suggested eagerly, as the two of them started climbing the steps to her apartment building. “A few more times, before you have to leave.”
Lauren found herself nodding in agreement. So far, Fleur had been right about everything, about how she needed to cut loose and relax a little.
“By the way,” Fleur added, with a strange, knowing smirk. “Your French is getting much better.”
“Oh!” Lauren giggled. “Merci. All thanks to you, I’m sure.”
Fleur giggled too. Lauren had taken some French classes in high school, but she’d never been much good at it. Now that she was in Paris, though, it was all coming back to her. She kept accidentally slipping into the occasional French word when talking to Fleur, something that amused and pleased her friend greatly.
“I’m exhausted,” Fleur sighed as the two of them stumbled into her apartment. “Maybe we should head to bed soon. But not before your hypnosis, no?”
The mention of hypnosis sent a chill of anticipation down Lauren’s spine. “First, let me pay you back for those drinks,” she replied, and started hunting around for her handbag.
“Oh, there’s really no need,” Fleur said quickly. “I can cover it all.”
“No, no,” Lauren insisted. “You’ve already been so kind, Fleur. At least let me do this.”
Despite Fleur’s protestations, Lauren kept searching around the apartment for her handbag, gradually sobering up as she began to grow alarmed at how long it was taking. Finally, she arrived at a horrible realization.
Her handbag was gone.
“Lauren, chérie, calm down,” Fleur pleaded, as Lauren tore through her apartment in a frenzied search. “It will all be OK.”
“But it won’t!” Lauren was almost in tears. All of her stress was flooding back. It was like a nightmare. “Everything’s in there - my wallet, my passport, my ID, my plane tickets! What am I going to do?”
“You still have your laptop, no? So you can still study?”
“That’s not the point!”
“But if you can study,” Fleur pointed out soothingly. “Then it’s OK for you to stay a little longer, no? What does it matter if you have to miss your flight? I’m sure your bag will turn up.”
“No, you don’t understand!” Lauren protested shrilly. “I’m already behind! I haven’t been studying. And if I don’t get back then… my course, my PhD, my-”
“Shh,” Fleur interrupted suddenly. “Lauren. Remember? Breathe. In.”
Lauren froze. It was like her body was being smothered. All she could do was breathe in, in that special, deep way Fleur had taught her.
“Yes, good.” Fleur’s voice was quiet and melodic, just the way it always was when she put Lauren in trance. “Now, out.”
It didn’t feel right, but Lauren did exactly as Fleur told her. She let all the air flow out of her body, taking her stress and tension along with it. She was left floaty and weak, and confused.
“N-not now,” she pleaded. “I need to find my… Fleur, what-”
“In,” Fleur repeated. Lauren obeyed, filling her lungs with air. “Out.”
Lauren’s legs were turning to jelly. She sank down onto the couch, and Fleur swiftly sat next to her, still hypnotizing her.
“There, chérie.” Fleur pulled Lauren close to her, until they were cuddled up together. “Isn’t that better?”
Lauren whimpered. It was better. It felt amazing. But she couldn’t quite banish the nagging sense of wrongness that was haunting her. She shouldn’t be this relaxed, should she? She’d lost something very important, and she needed to find it. So why was she just sitting on the couch, letting herself get hypnotized? Why was Fleur so eager to hypnotize her? Why couldn’t she resist? It was all so confusing.
“You really do think too much,” Fleur chided. “It’s so very difficult, is it not? Much better to let your head be a little more empty, for a change.”
“N… nng…” Lauren moaned weakly. Her head was full of fog, her eyes losing focus and turning into vacant, glassy orbs. What was Fleur doing to her? What had she been doing all those nights?
“I’m sorry, darling,” Fleur told her sweetly. “You weren’t supposed to notice right away. But you’ve been making such progress. I can’t let all of that slip away.”
Her words would have set off all kinds of alarm bells in Lauren’s head, if only she’d been conscious enough to comprehend them.
Lauren obeyed, and remembered nothing.
“Three… two… one… wake up.”
Lauren opened her bleary eyes, feeling herself slowly coaxed back to consciousness by Fleur’s words. As always, she looked up at her friend’s warm, smiling face, and couldn’t resist the urge to pull closer to her, curling up in Fleur’s welcoming lap.
She’d been in France for six weeks now - a month longer than planned. Her handbag had never turned up. Lauren hardly ever thought about that at all. It surprised her, just how fast staying with Fleur had become her ordinary life. So much so, in fact, that she could hardly remember any other. Those memories, when she dwelt on them, felt more like a dream than anything else. More often, though, she chose to simply live in the present. It was much better that way.
Though, hadn’t there been some reason she was supposed to be eager to get back to America? It took Lauren several long moments to remember. Oh, her studies. Lauren giggled. Studying seemed like such a silly notion. She hadn’t so much as touched her schoolwork in weeks.
“How do you feel, darling?” Fleur asked her. Lauren sat up slowly, still clinging to her taller friend.
“Good.” Lauren sighed happily, and giggled a little more. “Just, very… good.”
She didn’t have the words. Lately, words didn’t come to her easily, especially longer ones. She didn’t think much about that either.
“Wonderful,” Fleur purred, and started to stroke Lauren’s hair. Lauren closed her eyes again, leaning into her friend’s touch. It was the kind of gesture that would have embarrassed her a few weeks before. Now, it felt perfectly natural.
Just as natural, in fact, as Fleur’s hypnosis. Fleur had now hypnotized Lauren every single night for six weeks straight. Lauren had joked that her friend probably knew what was going on in her head better than she did. Thanks to her friend’s tender care, she felt more relaxed than she could have ever imagined - but it had gone beyond that, now. It had become part of their routine, and so Fleur had suggested using hypnosis for other things, like helping her learn French.
“So,” Lauren said, giggling blissfully. “How’s my French coming along?”
“Your French?” Fleur seemed bemused by the question. “It’s perfect, of course.”
Lauren was confused. “Of course?”
“We’re speaking French right now.”
Lauren blinked. “W-we are?”
Lauren took a few moments to double-check the words she’d been saying. Sure enough, they were French. She’d been conversing with Fleur in French, as fluidly as if she’d been doing it her whole life. When had that started? Lauren wasn’t sure. In fact, she wasn’t sure she could firmly remember the last time she’d spoken English.
“I-I don’t understand.” Lauren was trying to make sense of how this was possible, but her head was still so foggy from the hypnosis. “But… how?”
“I’m not sure what you mean.” Fleur sounded perplexed, but she kept stroking Lauren’s hair calmly. “You’ve been speaking French forever, haven’t you? You studied it in school, remember.”
“Oh…” Was that right? Lauren wasn’t sure. It didn’t sound right. But she couldn’t be sure; she couldn’t think. As time passed, the suggestion seemed to settle with her, and her sense of unease dissipated. “I… I guess you’re right.”
“I’m always right.” Fleur giggled. “You can be such a ditz, you know.”
Lauren couldn’t help but giggle too. It was true. She’d been such a ditz for the past few weeks. She’d been so relaxed, it was so easy for her to forget things. It was just like her. She’d always been that way. Hadn’t she?
“Then… what were you teaching me? While I was hypnotized, I mean.” That was the last thing Lauren couldn’t figure out.
“Oh, a few things.” Fleur waved away the question. “But you really shouldn’t worry yourself about it, darling. You think too much.”
Lauren found herself giggled again. Fleur was right. She spent way too much time wrapped up in her own head. Fleur was helping her get better at that, though. It was much better not to think instead. Almost meditative, in fact. And Fleur had more than demonstrated that she could do all the thinking for the both of them.
“Come now,” Fleur said from above her. “We have something more important to talk about.”
Lauren slowly sat up. “We do?”
Fleur nodded. She still had a smile on her face, but for once, she looked serious; maybe even a little nervous. “Well… I don’t know quite how to say this, but… we’ve been getting very close lately, don’t you think? And so… I wondered if you wanted to, perhaps, make that official?”
A broad, irrepressible grin spread across Lauren’s face as she grasped what Fleur was actually asking her. “Are… Fleur, are you asking me to be your girlfriend?”
A faint blush touched Fleur’s cheeks. “Yes.”
“Oh my god.” Lauren couldn’t believe this. She couldn’t believe she was so lucky. Fleur returned her feelings. “Honestly, I’ve felt the same way for weeks now.” It was true. But, uncharacteristically, she hadn’t been able to muster the courage to make the first move. “So… yes. My answer is yes. I’ll be your girlfriend.”
Fleur kissed her.
Any concerns Lauren might have had about hypnosis, or about the fact that they still technically resided in different countries, vanished completely. She pressed herself eagerly into the kiss, delighting in the taste of Fleur’s lips on hers. She was so happy.
“Oh, darling, this is wonderful!” Fleur cried, as she pulled away. In a single moment, all her nervousness vanished, replaced by the utter confidence and calm Lauren had come to expect from her new girlfriend. “And this means, we can finally do something I’ve been waiting for for far, far too long.”
Lauren was cut off when Fleur shoved her, hard, sending her sprawling on the couch on her back. Instantly, Fleur was atop her, straddling her.
“This,” Fleur answered, her voice low and sultry. Lauren felt like a deer in headlights, able only to mewl and moan as Fleur’s hand went between her legs, teasing her as she began to quickly remove her clothes.
“I… um… um…” Lauren didn’t know why she was acting this way. She wasn’t a blushing virgin, and nor was she a bottom. But something about Fleur seemed to bring it out in her. “I… usually… um… you know… I’m used to being on top,” she protested shyly.
“Not with me,” Fleur growled, firmly and possessively.
Lauren turned a bright shade of red, and giggled as all the resistance went out of her. “Yes, Fleur,” she moaned submissively. Following Fleur’s lead felt like second nature. As ever, it was proving so easy to let Fleur do all the thinking instead of her.
“Good girl.” The praise sent happy butterflies somersaulting in Lauren’s stomach. “I love you, Zoe.”
“I love you too, Fleur,” Lauren responded at once, and then parsed what Fleur had said. “Wait, um, ‘Zoe’?”
“It’s just a pet name,” Fleur told her. “I think it suits you. That’s all. Don’t worry your pretty head about it.”
Lauren nodded meekly. As always, when Fleur told her not to worry about something, it was easy to obey. She thought no more about Fleur calling her ‘Zoe’, and as her new girlfriend lowered herself to kiss her neck, she quickly stopped thinking about anything at all except pleasure.
Zoe giggled, surprised and confused, as Fleur handed her the flyer she’d picked up from the coffee shop, advertising an open barista position.
“You… want me to get a job as a barista?” Zoe asked dumbly.
She wasn’t sure why the idea seemed so strange to her, but then again, she wasn’t sure about a lot of things. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been staying with Fleur for. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been in France for. For all she knew, it could have been her whole life. She wasn’t sure if she could speak English or not - she thought she could remember speaking it, but those memories seemed fainter and fainter by the day. Strangely, though, that didn’t trouble Zoe. Almost nothing did. She spent so much time with her head completely empty, and it was doing her a world of good - and it was all thanks to Fleur.
“Why not?” Fleur replied. “You need a job sooner or later, don’t you?”
“I guess…” Zoe giggled nervously. Something was itching at the back of her mind, she just couldn’t figure out what. “But… aren’t I supposed to go… home?”
Fleur laughed, and reached out to pet Zoe’s head condescendingly. “This is your home, silly! Where else would you want to be?”
“Oh yeah.” Zoe couldn’t help but nuzzle Fleur’s hand submissively. The way her toppy girlfriend treated her always banished all her worries - but not this time, it seemed. “But then, um, maybe there was, like… something else I was supposed to be doing?”
At that, Zoe was lost for words. “Maybe… maybe… going to school or something?”
“Going to school?” That just made Fleur laugh even louder. “Where do you get such silly ideas, cutie? I think we both know you’re not suited for that, darling. I love you, but intelligence has never been your strong suit.”
“I guess you’re right.” Zoe giggled in turn. She couldn’t put her nagging sense of unease, so she decided to stop thinking about it. Not thinking was always the right answer.
“No, you’ll be much better as a barista,” Fleur continued. “You’ll look so cute in the uniform! And I’m sure the customers will love how girly and ditzy you always are.”
Zoe blushed at her girlfriend’s praise. “I guess I’ll apply then! Just as soon as I can-”
Her phone buzzed, and Zoe paused to look at it. It was an email. She almost didn’t look at it. She hadn’t looked at her emails in weeks. But something possessed her to take a look, and before Fleur could stop her, she started reading. It was in English, but she could just about make out the words.
‘Lauren,’ the email began. ‘Consider this your last warning. You’re missed several deadlines now, and haven’t returned any of my recent emails. Since you’ve always been an exemplary student, I’m choosing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but unless you contact me at once, I’ll be left with no choice but to take disciplinary action and terminate your scholarship. Professor Shepherd.’
And just like that, it all came flooding back to her.
Lauren dropped her phone, head throbbing as memories of another life poured back into her. She looked at Fleur aghast. “What the-”
The hypnosis. It had to be the hypnosis. When she thought about the way Fleur had been acting, it was the only explanation that made sense. Her head was still foggy, but it was all starting to come back to her.
“Fleur!” Lauren cried - still, to her alarm, in French. “I… I don’t… how could you do this?”
Fleur’s only response was to let out a long, sad sigh. “Oh dear. I was truly hoping it wouldn’t come to this.”
“You… thought that you could brainwash me and take my life away without a fight?” Lauren couldn’t bring herself to be angry; she was just confused.
“It’s… not like that,” Fleur explained awkwardly. “Please believe me, I was trying to help you.”
“Help me?” Lauren echoed, astonished. “By ruining my academic career? By… by making me dumb?”
She thought about how foggy she’d been, and about how much she’d come to depend on Fleur for anything intellectual. She could barely remember the life she was accusing Fleur of having stolen away. She thought about her English fluency slipping away from her. How could any of this have been to help?
“Just calm down,” Fleur said patiently. “Zoe, calm down, and let me-”
“My name isn’t Zoe!” Lauren exploded. But inwardly, she lacked conviction. She’d been going by ‘Zoe’ for weeks now. It felt more like her name than ‘Lauren’ did.
“Just…” Fleur sighed again, and made her voice soft. “Just breathe.”
Lauren shuddered as a soporific wave hit her, and against her will, her breathing started to turn slow.
“That’s… not… fair…” she whimpered, trying and failing to resist the hypnotic compulsion of Fleur’s words.
“I’m simply trying to help you understand.” With Lauren pacified, Fleur was able to reach out and stroke her cheek, softening her even further. “Breathe. Relax. Listen. This is all for you, after all.”
“You… you keep saying that.” Lauren could hear her voice already drifting. She was so completely under Fleur’s spell.
“Darling, when you came here, you were so unhappy,” Fleur said sadly. “Even here, with me, on vacation, you couldn’t allow yourself to relax. I wanted to help. I knew hypnosis was the only way to get you to take a break for a little while. I never meant for it to go this far, of course. But with every step I took, you seemed happier and happier, and, well…”
“It seems a little more self-centered than that,” Lauren snorted weakly. “You made me your girlfriend.”
For once, Fleur looked bashful. “That… wasn’t part of the plan. Or, well, it was part of a different plan.” She made herself look straight at Lauren. “Darling, I’ve had feelings for you a lot longer than you think.”
Lauren didn’t know what to say to that at all.
“So,” Fleur continued. “What are you going to do now?”
“I…” In truth, Lauren didn’t know what to say to that either. “I-I’ll go home, and then, um…”
“You silly thing.” Fleur smiled. “Can you actually remember what you were supposed to be studying at school? Can you even speak English anymore?”
“Of course I… I… of c-course…”
Lauren trailed off, fighting internally to put the pieces of her mind back together. It was hard. It was so hard. Everywhere she turned, there was nothing but fog and confusion. It was as though Fleur had hollowed her out, leaving her mind utterly empty. She tried to piece her knowledge of English back together logically, but that went no better. What did she know? There had to be something. A few words, here and there. Every French person knew at least that much. But she wasn’t French! Was she? Her memories kept betraying her. But if she wasn’t French, did that mean she didn’t know anything? No, no, that wasn’t right. But then, what was? Lauren sagged hopelessly.
She was so dumb. And Fleur had made her that way. Everyone she had prized about herself - her brains, her academic success - it was all gone.
“There, there.” Fleur rubbed her head, as if she was nothing more than a dejected puppy. Lauren hated how much comfort she took from the gesture. Her instincts to be submissive towards her girlfriend went deep. “It’s OK. You can just stay here. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Answer me this,” Fleur continued, ignoring Lauren’s weak protests. “Are you happier now? Or before?”
“Of course, I was-” Lauren froze. The simplicity of the question stunned her. Was she happier? Had she been happy before? For all her achievement, she couldn’t say that she had been. And now? She thought about all those nights spent snuggled up with Fleur, without a worried thought in her head.
“You see?” Fleur smiled. “What life do you want? To be Lauren, a miserable, smart grad student? Or to be Zoe, a happy, dumb barista, living with your girlfriend in Paris?”
“But…” Lauren’s cheeks were flushed. She couldn’t believe what she was considering. “Isn’t… isn’t it wrong?”
“No,” Fleur said simply. “It’s not wrong for you to be happy, darling.”
Lauren blushed far more fiercely, and looked away. Fleur knew exactly what that meant.
“Breathe,” she intoned again, in the soft, soothing hypno-voice Lauren had come to know so well. “Let me make the decision for you. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.”
Lauren obeyed. It wasn’t as if she could resist. And besides, after everything, it was blissfully pleasant to let Fleur sweep her thoughts away again.
“In.” Lauren was filled with warmth, breathy and intimate.
“Out.” She let her mind drain of worries and memories both, enjoying the hazy uncertainty that washed over her.
“In.” She responded instantly to Fleur’s words, without thought.
“Out.” Her eyes unfocused, becoming glassy, vacant orbs and leaving the world around her blurry.
“It’s easy, isn’t it?” Fleur soothed. “To let me think, instead of you. You’re so good at that, aren’t you?”
Already, Lauren was beyond being able to grasp the meaning of what she was saying, but she nodded and smiled anyway. “So good.” She loved being good.
“You’ve done it so many times before, after all,” Fleur continued. Her voice was quiet and sing-song, and Lauren could have listened to it for days. “It’s so normal, for a ditzy girl like you.”
Lauren giggled reflexively, just the way Fleur had conditioned her to.
“Normal and safe,” Fleur repeated calmly. She took Lauren’s hand, guiding her to sit with her on the bed. “Because you trust me. Because you love me.”
“Normal. Safe. Love,” Lauren echoed distantly.
“And we’ve talked a lot about forgetting, haven’t we?” Fleur continued. “You’re so good at that. So good at forgetting for me. Because you know how forgetting feels, don’t you?”
“Feels… good…” Lauren answered slowly. “Good to forget bad thoughts. Good to forget bad things.” She had the feeling she was repeating back Fleur’s words from another time, though she couldn’t remember. That made her happy. She didn’t need to remember. She needed to forget.
“So I know you’ll be so very good at what I’m going to tell you to do.” Fleur leaned in, eyes shining with anticipation. “I need you to forget everything. Forget it all, all over again. Don’t worry, my darling. I’ll make sure this time, you never have to remember.”
Lauren nodded. She closed her eyes, and let the magnetic pull of Fleur’s words carry her away. It felt like falling. It felt like she was falling into water, sinking, letting it wash her clean of everything she didn’t need anymore. Her thoughts melted and disappeared as soon as they came to her, leaving her empty. It should have scared her, but it didn’t. She knew she was in safe hands.
When she opened her eyes again, she was Zoe.
Zoe giggled, leaning happily against her girlfriend. She’d never felt so totally carefree - and she couldn’t even remember what she’d forgotten.
“How are you feeling, darling?” Fleur asked, staring at her intently.
“Like… like…” Zoe giggled, and reached up to twirl her hair. “I don’t know.”
Fleur searched her eyes for a moment, looking for something; a flicker of remembrance, a spark of intelligence. There was nothing. Thanks to the lingering effects of her hypnosis, her girlfriend’s eyes were wide and vacant, shining with nothing but blissful ignorance, reflecting nothing but a dumb, puppy-like innocence and eagerness. All of Lauren’s torment and weariness was gone. She was staring into the eyes of a hopeless, happy bimbo.
“Good.” Fleur kissed her forehead, smiling. “That’s the right answer.”
Zoe giggled again. She felt unbelievably foggy, and she loved it. She loved being dumb. “My head, feels, um…”
“Don’t worry about that, darling.” Fleur let herself lie back on the bed, spreading her legs and reaching down to lift her already-short skirt. “There are much better things for you to do than think.”
Zoe took her meaning at once. She might not have been smart, but she was very, very good at pleasing her girlfriend. Fleur had trained her well for that, and Zoe loved being trained. She couldn’t imagine being a top. It was much, much easier to let someone else tell her what to do.
She shifted onto her knees, crawling between Fleur’s legs eagerly. Zoe knew her place. At a wink and a gesture from Fleur, she reached her hands into Fleur’s skirt and reverently removed her panties, then eagerly threw them aside. At another gesture, she planted her face between her girlfriend’s thighs and started to worship.
Fleur started to purr, simmering with relaxed arousal, as Zoe started to kiss her way up Fleur’s sensitive inner thighs, knowing it was exactly the kind of foreplay her girlfriend liked. She took her time with it, teasing Fleur until her girlfriend was stirring and shivering above her, crying out to be touched. By the time Zoe reached Fleur’s pussy, Fleur was both wet and impatient. She reached down, grabbing a fistful of Zoe’s hair in her hand and, with a dominant smirk on her face, pushing Zoe’s face into her. Zoe giggled. She loved goading Fleur into handling her like that.
“No teasing,” Fleur warned playfully. “Be a good girl.”
That made Zoe whimper, and she immediately obeyed. Again, she began slowly, drawing her well-practiced tongue along Fleur’s lips in long, slow strokes, feeling and tasting how wet her girlfriend already was. Fleur moaned gratefully, and took a firmer grip on her hair. Clearly, she was in an impatient mood. Zoe didn’t mind that one bit; she loved to please. She swiftly turned her attention to Fleur’s clit, lapping at it with her tongue in a way she just knew would send Fleur wild.
“Mmmff,” Fleur moaned again. “God. Zoe, you might be a ditz, but you’re so good with your tongue.”
“Thank you,” Zoe replied breathily, her voice muffled. She knew she couldn’t let up for one moment, or else Fleur would get impatient with her again. Admittedly, it was tempting, but Zoe’s urge to obey won out.
Fleur’s cries of pleasure only grew louder as Zoe pushed her tongue inside her girlfriend. With Fleur’s free hand, she gripped desperately at the bedsheets, starting to writhe uncontrollably at the feeling of Zoe’s tongue reaching her most sensitive places. Zoe was grinning wildly, her face drenched with Fleur’s wetness. She loved how good she could make Fleur feel. She was feeling good too, and reached down to press needily against her own cunt through her clothes. Fleur’s pleasure came first, but she knew Fleur enjoyed seeing what a slut Zoe was for having her face fucked.
“Fuck,” Fleur panted, already riding the wave of her first orgasm as she saw Zoe slip a hand into her panties to start finger-fucking herself. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!”
Zoe moaned too as she felt Fleur’s thighs clamp around his head, as her girlfriend came. She giggled happily, her heavy breathing only adding to her girlfriend’s breathing. She was so grateful for everything. This was something she was truly good at. And there was nowhere she’d rather have been.
Zoe hummed happily as she busied herself with cleaning her and Fleur’s apartment. She was two months into her new job as a barista in Paris, and while she couldn’t have been happier with it, she was also keen to make the most of a day off such as today. To her, that meant cleaning and cooking, to make sure everything would be perfect when Fleur came home.
Life was good. She had a comfy apartment, a girlfriend who loved her, and a job that suited her. She might not have been the smartest girl around, but she was more than capable of taking orders and making coffee, and her bubbly, cheerful, carefree personality made her a hit with the customers. Zoe was grateful for all of it. Not everyone found their true place in life, but she’d surely found hers.
Idly, Zoe opened the bottom draw of Fleur’s desk. She hadn’t cleaned it yet, and figured it was probably full of dust or junk. In fact, she found something quite different: a set of documents, neatly stacked together in a plastic folder. Curiosity got the better of her, and she opened it. Inside, she found, among other things, a plane ticket and an American passport. Her brow furrowed. Why would Fleur have an American passport?
Opening it, Zoe leafed through until she found a page with a photograph. The woman looked like her. Uncannily like her. The face was the same; all except for the eyes. Those were weary and full of stress, and shockingly intelligent. Nothing like Zoe’s at all. Still, the woman in the photograph could have passed for her twin. Zoe read the name. ‘Lauren’. It felt like it should have meant something to her, but it didn’t.
Zoe stood there for a moment, tapping her chin with a finger, wondering why Fleur would have something so strange hidden away in her desk. But after just a few moments, she giggled, defeated, and carefully put it back just as she’d found it.
Whatever it was, it was clearly nothing to do with her.