Lily’s face broke out into a wide grin as they landed the final blow. “Alright! Another one down!” They set the controller down and idly flexed their sore fingers before taking a sip of water and bouncing back in to another match.
Their local Pokkén group hadn’t been able to meet since the lockdown started. It was a little sad not getting to hang out with their friends as often, but they’d managed to keep in touch over Discord, so it wasn’t too bad. Rye was planning to play with them over the weekend, so to practice they were jumping in to the online lobby.
Lily barely even registered the door opening. They were completely engrossed in the match, right up until they felt their hair getting yanked backwards and saw Magnolia’s face upside-down.
Magnolia did not look happy. “Why haven’t you gotten ready yet?” She didn’t sound happy, either.
Lily looked back at the screen just in time to see their character get comboed into oblivion. Well, there goes that match. “Ready for what, Mistress?” they sighed as they set the controller down.
“Oh, come on,” Magnolia scoffed. “You can’t seriously tell me you’ve forgotten! I know your mind has an alarmingly low ability to retain information, but surely you can remember something this important!”
“What are you…” Lily stood up from the couch and gasped. Magnolia always looked beautiful, but today she looked stunning. She wore a sleeveless black evening gown, with tiny bits of what looked like diamond sparkling and twinkling in the light. I don’t think they’re real diamonds, but… with Mistress, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. “Wow, you look-”
“Gorgeous, radiant, yes, yes, I know,” Magnolia sighed. “But you still haven’t answered my question. Why haven’t you gotten ready?”
“Ready for what?” Lily scrunched up their face and tried to remember whatever Magnolia could be referring to. It’s… it’s definitely not her birthday, I think. And it’s not our anniversary either…
Magnolia rolled her eyes and tapped her foot impatiently. “I would have thought the new dress hanging in your closet would have jogged your memory, at least.”
“There’s a new dress in my closet?”
“Yes! How could you have missed it? You-” Magnolia’s eyes narrowed. “You did get dressed this morning, did you not?”
Lily blushed. “Um…” Since they hadn’t been going out very often these days, they sometimes wound up wearing the same clothes for more than one day in a row. They tried to remember whether they changed this morning, but since they didn’t remember any new dress they felt like the answer was probably no.
“Ugh, honestly! Even if you just lounge about, you should at least put on fresh clothes.” Magnolia pulled out her phone and scowled. “It’ll take about 20 minutes to get there… we’ll have to get your makeup and hair sorted in the car. Just go get changed.”
“R-Right. Sorry!” Lily stared down at the floor and walked past Magnolia into their room. They went straight to the closet and opened it wide.
They spotted the dress instantly. “Oh, gosh…” they whispered, pulling it gently off the rack and laying it on the bed so they could get a better look at it. It was a soft, baby blue, sleeveless just like Magnolia’s, with little… sleeve things? They didn’t know what they were called, but it looked like they were supposed to slip their arms into them. It was simple and unassuming, but beautiful nonetheless.
Lily wasted no time putting it on. They looked at their reflection in the mirror and beamed. “I look so pretty!” Somehow, even though they’d never worn it before, the dress fit perfectly. They idly swung from side to side, watching the long skirt spin around their body.
Magnolia knocked on the door. “Are you done? We don’t have all night, plaything.”
“Oh, thank you, Mistress!” Lily said as they swung the door open and hugged Magnolia tight. “Thank you, thank you! This dress is so amazing, I look-”
“-so cute, and…” Lily blinked. Suddenly, they weren’t in the apartment anymore. Instead, they were in the back of what appeared to be a limousine, with Magnolia sitting next to them. “Wait, what?”
“I thought we didn’t have time for your babbling adoration,” Magnolia sighed, “as enjoyable as it was. So I dropped you and got you ready without your mind getting in my way. But I suppose I may have been wrong, since it’s already been 20 minutes and we’re barely halfway there. Why is there so much traffic?”
Lily looked out the tinted window and saw a mass of cars, all at a standstill. They could dimly hear honking and yelling from outside the car. “Jeez… I hope it’s not an accident or something.”
“It’s probably construction,” Magnolia muttered. “It’s always construction.”
Lily shrugged and sagged back into the seat. “So where are we going, anyway? I seriously can’t remember you telling me anything.”
“I…” Magnolia paused, furrowing her brow. “I’m… I’m sure I told you… Well, in any event, I suppose I’ll explain – re-explain, rather – what’s going on. Tonight, we’re going to an auction so exclusive you need to be making at least eight figures to even get in the front door.”
“Wait, an auction?” Lily sat straight up, a look of concern on their face. “Like… with people?”
Magnolia chuckled. “Why, would you like a roommate?”
Lily thought for a moment. “Not really, I-”
“Rhetorical question, plaything. And no, we’re not bidding on people. It’s a charity auction, a place where rich people like me get to spend extravagant sums on what mostly amount to novelties in the name of helping the less-fortunate.”
“So the money goes to charity?” Lily rubbed their chin. “Why don’t you just donate to charity without an auction?”
Magnolia glared at Lily. “You don’t get to be as rich as I am if you give away your money without getting something back in return.”
“I… guess that makes sense.” Seems a little cold-hearted to me, though… “So why am I going with you?”
“Because without you,” Magnolia replied, “I would be bored out of my mind. Hours and hours of mindless small talk with people I hate and bidding on items of no interest to me? I’d need something there to amuse me.”
Lily smiled and scooted a little closer to Magnolia. “Well, I guess I am pretty amusing!”
“Yes,” Magnolia said, kissing Lily on the forehead, “you’re not just a clown, you’re an entire circus unto yourself.”
Lily’s smile faded. I’m… not sure that’s a compliment.
After an uncomfortably long ride, the car finally stopped outside a large concrete building. The driver stepped out and held the door open for Lily and Magnolia. Lily wondered how much the driver knew about their relationship with Magnolia. Maybe he’s paid not to know.
They looked up at the building and squinted. “Are you sure this is the right place? Seems a little… dumpy.”
“Yes, the façade is rather unsightly,” Magnolia said. “Brutalism is a plague on us all. But the interior is quite lovely. Come along now, plaything.”
Lily followed Magnolia inside, and after a quick temperature check they rode an elevator up to the top floor. When the elevator doors opened, Lily’s jaw dropped. It was an ornate ballroom, bathed in golden light, full of people in fancy, expensive-looking clothes. Compared to them, Lily felt downright plain. There was a fully-stocked bar off to one side, a DJ on the other side playing soft piano music, and a large stage at the back of the room. “Gosh… there’s so many people…”
Magnolia patted Lily reassuringly on the shoulder. “We’ll mostly be keeping to ourselves. Trust me, it’ll be fine.” She motioned for Lily to follow her, and they made their way to what Lily assumed was an assigned table. Waiters snaked through the crowds, serving champagne and table snacks. They probably don’t call them table snacks, though. There’s that French thing… hor-something?
They racked their brain trying to remember the “proper” name for them. As they became lost in thought, their pace slowed down, and before they knew it, they were lost in the crowd, Magnolia nowhere in sight. Oh, crap! They called out Magnolia’s name, but they weren’t sure she’d be able to hear them over the cacophony. Panic started to grip them, and their breathing began to feel heavy.
“Are you lost?”
Lily spun around and nearly lost their balance. Stupid heels! When they felt stable, they looked up and saw an unfamiliar woman in front of them. She wore a light purple velour jumpsuit with flared bottoms and a bright green jacket, her dirty blonde hair tied into buns on either side of her head, and held an empty glass. “Um… y-yeah,” Lily said, “I’m a little lost.”
“Well,” the woman said with a kind smile, “I’m sure I can help you get where you’re going. My name’s Indigo, what’s yours?”
“Lily,” they replied. “I’m Magnolia’s s- uh, assistant.”
“Oh?” Indigo raised an eyebrow, grinning wide. “I didn’t know Maggie had a new assistant. But then, nobody knows much of anything about her. She’s so secretive, isn’t she?”
“Maggie?” “Um, yeah, she-”
Lily felt someone grab their arm and spun their head around, only to be relieved when they saw it was Magnolia.
“There you are!” Magnolia sighed. “Try to keep up your pace, it’s-” She looked at who Lily was speaking with and scowled. “What are you doing here?”
Indigo waved at Magnolia and idly set her glass on a passing waiter’s tray without even glancing at him. “Hi, Maggie! I’m just here to give back to all those poor… well, poor people we make our money off of! Plus, the bar here doesn’t cut you off!”
Magnolia narrowed her eyes. “I see. Come along, Lily.” Without waiting for a response, she yanked Lily by the arm and dragged her over to the table.
Lily stumbled after her, waving goodbye to Indigo before the brightly-dressed woman was swallowed up by the crowd. “She seemed nice.”
“I don’t want you to speak to that woman ever again,” Magnolia said sternly.
“What? But why?”
Magnolia stopped and turned around to face Lily. “She runs one of my competitors,” she explained. “Awful woman, positively vile. She goes against everything I strive to be as a professional.”
“Vile?” Lily asked, cocking her head to the side. “Like… from Mega Man?”
Magnolia blinked. “…Just don’t talk to her again. Understood?”
Lily nodded, and Magnolia brought them over to the table. As they both sat down, Lily noticed that there were only ever two or three people at a table, even when there was room for at least six. Guess they’re splitting everyone up? That makes sense. They looked around and saw that the tables next to them also had people. “We’re not gonna get sick or anything, are we?”
“Oh, assuredly not,” Magnolia replied, taking a mirror out of her purse and double-checking her makeup. “Most of these people are rich enough to stay completely isolated for years on end.” She turned towards Lily. “You’ve been cooped up in that apartment too, haven’t you?”
“Yeah,” Lily said. “I mean, the Pokkén group hasn’t been meeting, and you made sure all my groceries get delivered, so I haven’t really seen a reason to go out.”
“Then I see no reason for concern.” Magnolia put the mirror back in her purse and pulled something else out. “Lily, get me a sparkling water, and be sure to get yourself something too.” She handed Lily a credit card. “Do try not to spend too much.”
Lily took the card and nodded. “Right away, Mistress!” As they walked over to the bar, they took a closer look at the credit card. It didn’t feel like any card they’d ever held before. Instead of plastic, this seemed like it was made out of brushed stainless steel. Fancy…
A few minutes later, they returned with the drinks. They handed Magnolia her sparkling water and sat down just as a man walked on-stage and stood at a podium. “Good evening,” he said, “and welcome to the 32nd annual ██████ Museum of Modern Art charity auction. Tonight, we have a wonderful selection of pieces from local artists and internationally-renowned icons, as well as a few unique pieces.”
He motioned to an assistant, who brought out a canvas covered by a sheet and set it on a table. “This first piece was created by the elephants of our local zoo, and is intended to be a tribute to one of their fellow elephants who tragically passed away earlier this year.” With a dramatic flourish, he yanked off the sheet, revealing an abstract series of dots and lines in various colors.
Lily squinted at it. “Wow, that looks… bad…”
“Be quiet, Lily,” Magnolia whispered. She examined the painting using a pair of opera glasses, a contemplative look on her face.
The MC turned back to the audience “We shall start the bidding at one thousand.”
Lily leaned back in the chair and rolled their eyes. A thousand bucks for that? I know they’re elephants, but come on! Even I could do better than that. Probably.
Thankfully, Magnolia did not bid on the elephant piece. Nor did she bid on the next few items. Lily studied her expression closely. Magnolia was deathly serious throughout the entire event, never even showing any sign of what she thought of each piece of art. But even though her expression never shifted, Lily could see the gears turning in her head, the careful decisions and calculations she ran through for every item.
When they brought out something Magnolia was interested in, a collection of black-and-white photographs by someone named Ansel – Wait, the guy from Baby Driver does photography? – her face lit up. There was a hunger in her, a competitiveness. Whenever someone outbid her, she immediately raised her paddle back up to stay in the lead. But she was never angry. She had the determination and patience of a chess player, waiting for her opponent to slip up and forfeit. I wonder if she looked like this when she was buying me…
“Now,” the MC said after a few more items had come and gone, “this next item is rather unusual. It is not necessarily a work of art in the traditional sense, but rather a relic of recent history.”
The assistant brought out a small object and set it on the table. “This,” the MC said, “is the Nintendo PlayStation.”
Lily rolled their eyes. Wow, these guys are out of touch. They still think every game console is “a Nintendo.” They couldn’t quite get a good view of it from where they were sitting, but they gradually noticed that it didn’t look quite right. What’s that controller attached to it? It kinda looks like a Super Nintendo controller…
“For those who are unaware,” the MC explained, “in the early 1990s, Nintendo sought to create a CD-ROM add-on to their new console, the Super Nintendo. They first went to Sony, which had collaborated with them on the Super Nintendo, but after they had already signed the contract, Nintendo became unhappy with the terms and sought out another partner. They forged a new deal with Philips, and in 1991 announced their partnership, angering Sony and creating a rift between the two companies. Sony decided to develop the project further on their own, leading to the release of the Sony PlayStation in 1994, which proceeded to dominate the latter half of the 1990s and vastly outperformed the Nintendo 64.”
He motioned to the device on the table. “This is one of only a handful of prototype consoles known to exist today. Previously, one sold at auction for over $300,000. I’m curious how much this one will go for. We’ll start the bidding at $50,000.”
Lily gawked at it, their eyes wide and seeing stars. “I want it.”
Magnolia turned towards them. “You do?”
“U-Um…” Lily blinked and came back to themselves. “I-I mean, it would be cool, but I don’t need it…”
“None of these people need any of the crap they have here,” Magnolia said. “If you want it, you’ll get it.”
“You mean it?”
Lily thought for a moment. “…okay, go for it.”
Magnolia raised her paddle.
“And that’s $60,000,” replied the MC. “Do I hear $70,000?”
Another paddle went up. Magnolia’s head snapped towards it and scowled. “Oh, that bitch.”
“$70,000 for miss Indigo!” the MC announced brightly. “A pleasure to see you this evening.”
Indigo smirked and looked back at Magnolia, waving hello with a mean glint in her eye.
Magnolia raised the paddle again, her grip so hard her knuckles turned white.
“$80,000,” said the MC.
Indigo’s paddle went up.
This went on for what felt like ages, the two women locked in a constant back-and-forth. If anyone else wanted the console, they never had a chance to get a bid in; the second one paddle went down, the other went up.
“We’re now at $370,000,” said the MC, palpably excited by the intensity. “We have now gone past the earlier auction’s price. Do I hear $380,000?”
“Mistress, stop!” Lily whispered. “It’s not worth it! This is even more than you paid for me!”
“No!” Magnolia spat. “I am not letting her win!” She raised her paddle again, and again, and again, until Indigo finally gave up.
“Sold!” said the MC, “For $470,000.”
Magnolia leaned back in her chair with a satisfied smile.
What is the world coming to, where some old game console is worth more than a human life? “Mistress,” Lily groaned, “you didn’t have to spend so much!”
“Trust me, Lily,” Magnolia said, “this is practically pocket change for me.”
“But it’s even more than you got me for!”
“And if it makes you happy, then it’s worth every penny.” Magnolia reached out and touched Lily’s hand. “I may own you, but you’re not just a piece of property to me. I want you to have whatever your heart desires. Understand?”
Lily smiled and hugged Magnolia firmly. “Thank you, Mistress!”
“Y-You’re welcome,” Magnolia gasped, patting Lily on the head. “But please, not so tight!”
“Sorry,” Lily whispered. They let go of Magnolia and noticed Indigo staring at them. Gah, that was stupid of me! Everyone’s supposed to think I’m Magnolia’s assistant, I shouldn’t be going around with the PDAs.
“Now, after all that excitement,” the MC said, “I believe it’s about time for a break. Our staff will bring out your food shortly, and of course the bar is always open. We’ll reconvene in one hour.”
“Huh?” Lily said. “I don’t remember ordering anything to eat.”
“You had to specify your meal when you RSVP’d,” Magnolia explained. “We’re both having lobster.”
“What? But I don’t like seafood.”
“Well, you should have thought of that before I ordered it for you.”
“B-Buh…” Lily sighed. “Whatever. I’ll try it, I guess.”
“Good plaything,” Magnolia chuckled.
Lily’s cheeks turned red and they took a sip of their wine. That’s not fair! She can’t make me all blushy and squirmy and then expect me to keep my cool! They scanned the sea of tables, idly speculating about all the other people. I wonder if I’m the only person here who’s owned by someone else. Those auctions must’ve been going on for years before I wound up there, right? So who knows how many people wound up bought and sold. That thought made a shiver run up their spine. I don’t think most of them are as happy as I am…
Then Lily noticed something out of the corner of their eye. They turned their head and saw a woman in a red dress, sitting in her chair and looking rather… out of it. Her head lolled on her shoulders, and her face was slack and expressionless. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was…
Suddenly her head fell forward as her body went limp, sagging into the arms of…
“Indigo?!” Lily exclaimed. They couldn’t see her face, but the garish outfit was unmistakable.
“Where?” Magnolia gasped, her eyes narrowing and a sneer forming on her lips.
Lily elbowed Magnolia in the ribs and pointed at Indigo. “Over there. I think she just… hypnotized that lady!”
Magnolia grabbed Lily’s wrist. “Okay, first of all? Never elbow me again. Second of all, yes, that is what just happened.” She sighed and took another sip of her sparkling water. “She does this every year. Trots out some basic stage hypnosis like it’s a cheap parlor trick. She’s an embarrassment to the craft, treating it like a novelty instead of the powerful tool it truly is.”
“So why don’t you try to one-up her?” Lily asked. “You could do way better than she ever could!”
“As if I have any need to impress these fools,” Magnolia said, rolling her eyes. “I only go to these events so no one starts any rumors that I’m dead. I could care less what any of them think about me.”
“Couldn’t care less.”
Magnolia glared at Lily. “It’s unbecoming of you to correct your mental superiors, plaything.”
Before Lily could respond, a plate was set in front of them. A large, bright red lobster, its beady eyes pointed directly at them.
A similar plate was place in front of Magnolia. She tucked her napkin into the front of her dress. “Yes, this will do nicely.”
Lily picked up their fork and poked at their lobster. “It’s not… alive, is it?”
“I very much doubt it,” Magnolia chuckled. She grabbed the tail of her lobster and, after a bit of effort, pulled it apart.
Lily observed this and tried to emulate what Magnolia just did. It was surprisingly easy to remove. They looked to Magnolia to see what they needed to do next.
Magnolia had cut the tail down its center, then pulled out the meat. “You probably don’t need to bother with the knife,” Magnolia said as she cut off a piece of the meat. “I’ll bet you can just rip it open.”
That sounds messy… But Lily shrugged and decided to give it a go. Sure enough, they were able to pry open the tail with ease. Wow! Guess I’m stronger than I thought. Heck, maybe I could bench-press Mistress! They giggled at the mental image.
“Something funny?” Magnolia said, narrowing her eyes.
“N-No, Mistress!” Lily stammered.
“Hm…” Magnolia cracked open one of the claws and frowned. “Ugh, see this? See how the meat doesn’t fill the shell? They held the claws together with rubber bands and it deformed them. Amateurs!”
“They probably didn’t want to get pinched.”
“A pinch is a small price to pay for my meal!” Magnolia grumbled.
Lily shrugged and cut off a piece of the tail meat. Here goes nothing!
They took their first bite. The meat was firm, yet also soft, with just the right balance of saltiness and tanginess. “Mmm! This is actually really good!” Lily beamed.
“Thought you’d like it,” Magnolia smirked. “But don’t talk with your mouth open.”
Lily nodded. They soon reduced the lobster to an empty shell on a plate, even managing to outpace Magnolia. They leaned back with a satisfied sigh and reached for their wine glass, only to discover it was empty. “‘Scuse me, Mistress,” Lily mumbled, “gotta get a refill.”
Magnolia reached into her purse and pulled out the credit card. “Go ahead and get a full bottle.”
“If I have to,” Lily giggled. They took the card and wandered over to the bar, handing the bartender the card and waiting for him to retrieve a bottle.
“I must say,” said a familiar voice, “I didn’t know Maggie had an interest in old video games.”
Lily turned and saw Indigo leaning on the bar next to them. She wore a confident smile and held her own glass of wine, gently swirling it with her hand.
“O-Oh, uh,” Lily muttered, “it wasn’t really for her, y’see.”
“Is that so?” Indigo raised an eyebrow. “Well, that’s even more peculiar. For someone who only seems to come out for charity auctions, Maggie comes across as maybe the least charitable person I’ve ever met.” All the while, she swirled her wine glass around and around, the red liquid sloshing rhythmically in a clockwise fashion.
Lily blinked hard. When had they started staring at the glass? “I, uh… I dunno what to tell you…”
“Well,” Indigo replied, leaning in just a little closer, “perhaps you could tell me who she got it for?”
“She…” Lily frowned. Should I tell the truth? I’m supposed to be her assistant, Mistress wouldn’t get her assistant something that expensive… “I don’t think I can… tell you.”
“Aw, it’s okay,” Indigo cooed. She held up the wine glass so it was within Lily’s field of vision. “You can tell me. I can keep a secret. You can feel safe telling me, safe and secure.”
Safe and… Lily shook their head. “Wh-What are you… doing…”
“I’m not doing anything,” Indigo smiled. “We’re just talking, aren’t we? Everything’s fine. You feel safe talking to me, peaceful talking to me, happy talking to me.”
Lily’s head started to get foggy in that way they knew all too well. But… she’s been hypnotizing… others… but we’re just talking… feel safe… They nodded, their head feeling strangely loose on their shoulders.
“Very good,” purred Indigo. “Keep your eyes on the wine, sweetie. Watch it go round and round and round, pulling your mind deeper and deeper.”
Deeper… and deeper… Lily felt their body relax, their eyelids feeling heavy.
“That’s right,” Indigo whispered. “Now, why don’t you tell me the truth about you and- hey!”
Lily felt like a plug being pulled from its socket. They stumbled dizzily and fell on their butt, letting out a loud yelp that caught the attention of everyone around them. They looked up and saw Magnolia holding Indigo down and pressing her face into the countertop.
“Now you listen, and you listen good!” Magnolia spat. “If you so much as look at them ever again, I will bury you! Understood?”
“Back off!” Indigo groaned.
Oh, God… Lily looked around and saw everyone staring at the scene. Their heart started to race. This is a nightmare… how could I be so stupid! I feel for Indigo’s stupid trick and now I’m embarrassing Mistress! They felt tears welling up in their eyes as they rose to their feet and pushed their way through the crowd.
They heard Magnolia calling their name, but they didn’t dare turn around. They couldn’t stand to look at her, knowing what they’d done. They made their way out of the ballroom and into the hallway, turning a corner before they finally broke down. The tears came fast and hard, the taste of salt stinging their tongue.
“Lily?” Magnolia turned the corner and saw Lily crumpled up on the floor, sobbing like a wreck. She knelt down and wrapped her arms around them. “Oh, Lily, it’s okay.”
Lily wanted to shove her arms off, but they couldn’t find the resolve. “No, it’s not! I embarrassed you!”
“You did nothing of the sort,” Magnolia said firmly. She rocked Lily back and forth slowly, and kissed their tear-stained cheek. “It was Indigo who was embarrassed. I only wish I could’ve thrown it in her face even more.”
“I… I let myself almost get hypnotized by her…”
“You were hypnotized by her,” Magnolia sighed. “It’s my own fault, really. I hadn’t suspected anyone else would try it. We can work on that later. Your mind will become an impenetrable, if rather empty, vault, and only I will have the combination.”
Lily nodded and sniffled. “C-Can we just go home, please? I don’t wanna stay here.”
Magnolia petted Lily softly. “I want to at least stick around for the second half of the auction… Would it help if I took away some of these bad feelings? I’d make you forget what just happened, and make you a touch more confident. Temporarily, of course.”
Lily thought for a moment. I really would rather go home, but… if Mistress can help me, then I’ll stay for her. “Okay, Mistress.”
Magnolia grinned. “Right answer.” She reached into her purse.
The instant they saw the pocketwatch – the one Magnolia had used so many times before – Lily fell down into darkness. Their only guiding light was Mistress’ voice.
“Are you nice and deep for me, plaything?” she said.
“Yes,” Lily whispered, their voice soft and distant.
“Now,” Mistress said, “I want you to think about everything that happened in the last five minutes. Collect all of those memories for me. Can you do that?”
“Yes, Mistress,” Lily replied. They did as they were told, finding and recording everything that had just transpired. “I’m done.”
“Now, inside your mind, there is a large vault. I want you to place all those memories inside this vault, and then lock them away. Whenever I, and only I, say the word ‘unlock,’ these memories will return to you. Do you understand?”
Lily felt themselves nod. They walked into the vault inside their mind and stored all their memories neatly, then walked out and closed the door. “It’s done, Mistress.”
“Good. You’re doing so well, plaything.” Mistress kissed Lily on the forehead, and they mewled in delight. “Now, for the rest of the night, I want you to feel happy, confident, and completely at ease with yourself. You won’t care what any of those other people think about you. When your memories come back, this suggestion will fade away.”
“Wonderful,” Mistress purred. “Now, on the count of five, you’ll feel wide awake, refreshed and energized, ready to carry on with the rest of the auction.”
She counted Lily up, and Lily opened their eyes. “Um…” They squinted, a confused look on their face. “…Why are we out in the hallway?”
“Oh, you had to use the restroom,” Magnolia said, rising to her feet and straightening out her dress. “Now, let’s get back inside, shall we?”
Lily grinned wide. “Heck yeah!” They practically sprinted into the ballroom, just managing to keep their balance in their uncomfortable heels. Weird… I feel super good all of a sudden. I guess I really had to pee… even though I don’t remember it? They shrugged it off and made their way back to the table, where a large bottle of wine awaited them.
“Slow down!” Magnolia said, finally catching up to Lily. She noticed what they were staring at. “Oh, yes, that. I had a waiter bring that out, since you were empty.”
“Nice!” Lily sat down and uncorked the bottle. They were about to pour themselves a glass, then paused. “Mistress, do you want any?”
“Have I ever had a glass of wine in your presence?” Magnolia replied, sitting down in her chair.
“Guess that answers that.” Lily then grabbed the bottle from the neck and took a swig.
Magnolia’s eyes went wide. “What on Earth are you doing?”
Lily sighed happily. “Oh, lighten up, it’s not like anyone else is gonna drink it.”
“It’s barbaric!” Magnolia looked around and noticed people staring at the two of them.
Lily, however, was blissfully unaware. They took another swig, wiping off a bit of wine that started dribbling down their chin.
The music in the room shifted from soft piano to light jazz. Lily got an idea. “Excuse me, Mistress.” They got up from the table, still holding the wine bottle and taking sips from it periodically.
“What has gotten into that idiot…” Magnolia grumbled.
Lily walked back to the table, sporting a massive grin. “Guess what music they have?”
The song changed again.
All this talkin’ to you
I don't know what I'm to do
Magnolia raised an eyebrow. “Did you… request this?”
“It’s Avril, baby!” Lily giggled and set the bottle back on the table before grabbing Magnolia’s hands. “C’mon, dance with me!”
“L-Lily!” Magnolia gasped, struggling to stay seated as her sub yanked her arms. “People are staring!”
“Let ‘em stare! I don’t care what any of these people think!”
Magnolia’s face went pale. “Oh, God…” she whispered. “I’ve created a monster…”
At last, Lily pulled Magnolia out of her chair and held her close. They awkwardly swung from side to side, unsure of what exactly they wanted to do but feeling compelled to do something.
Don't waste another day
Don't waste another minute
I can't wait to see your face
Just to show you how much I'm in it
Magnolia’s face was beet-red. She could feel the eyes of everyone around them, a small crowd gradually forming to watch the display. As Lily spun them around, she even caught Indigo’s stupid face smirking at them. “That does it…”
She scratched Lily’s side, slowly, rhythmically. “Every time I scratch you there,” she whispered, “you’ll feel more and more tired. All your energy draining away, making you want to lie down and stop… whatever it is you think you’re doing.”
Lily wasn’t quite hypnotized, but it didn’t matter. They’d been so conditioned by Magnolia that her just using a certain tone of voice could get them to obey. Sure enough, the more Magnolia scratched them, the more tired they felt. By the time the song was over, they could barely stay standing. They sagged into Magnolia’s arms, utterly exhausted.
“Poor thing,” Magnolia said loudly. “I’m afraid they’ve had too much to drink.”
A few polite chuckles could be heard from the crowd. She brought Lily back to the table and sat them down, still scratching at their side.
Just before Lily completely fell asleep, they saw Magnolia pick up her phone. “Bring the car around,” she said. “We’re coming home early.”
The sting of Lily’s cheek brought them back to reality. Their eyes shot open, glancing wildly around to get their bearings. They were back home, in their apartment, still wearing their dress. Magnolia was standing over them.
She did not look happy.
She raised her hand again, and Lily realized what was about to happen. “I-I’m up!” they stammered. “I’m-”
“Ow!” they cried, cupping their cheek. “I said I’m-”
“I know you’re awake!” Magnolia shouted.
“Th-Then… then why are you slapping me?”
Magnolia sighed. “Unlock.”
And just like that, everything became clear. Lily remembered Indigo hypnotizing them, and more importantly, Magnolia hypnotizing them. And how they took her suggestions in a rather unexpected direction. “Oh, fu-”
“Ow!” Lily yelped. “P-Please stop doing that!”
“After what you did? Oh, plaything, a slap is the least you deserve!” Magnolia ran her fingers through her hair and scowled. “You embarrassed yourself, but more importantly, you embarrassed me, in front of all those people. God only knows what they’ll say. As far as they’re supposed to know, you’re my assistant; I’ll have to create some sort of cover story about ‘firing’ you after your supposedly-drunken escapades.”
“I’m sorry,” Lily whimpered. “I just… I just wanted to dance with you…”
Magnolia paused. “…You call that dancing?”
“I never really had a chance to practice, I just… kinda did what I do when I’m alone.”
“I see.” Magnolia didn’t look as angry anymore. She sat down on the couch and sighed. “Well, I suppose it wasn’t all bad. I managed to get some photos from my favorite photographer, and you got your… PlayBox, or whatever you call it.”
Lily sniffled, gently rubbing their sore cheek. “So, are we all good now? Are you still mad at me?”
“Furious. But I know how you can make it up to me.”
Magnolia grinned, her eyes twinkling with devious intent. “I shall teach you how to dance. Properly.”
Lily gulped. That sounds… ominous.
Magnolia stood up and picked up her phone. A few taps later, and a some light music began to play from the speakers. “We’ll start with the waltz,” she said. “I believe it should be simple enough that even you can understand it.” She walked up to Lily, holding their right hand and placing her other on their side. “Put your hand on my shoulder.”
Lily did as they were told.
Magnolia glared down at Lily. “Now, do as I say, and nobody has to get hurt.” They got the impression she wasn’t joking. “Right foot back.”
“Wha-” Lily winced as Magnolia’s heel landed on their toes.
“I said,” Magnolia growled. “Right. Foot. Back.”
Lily nodded, sliding their right foot back.
“Left foot to the side.”
They slid their left foot outwards, staring down to watch Magnolia as she lead.
Lily slid her right foot back towards their left.
“Good,” Magnolia said, “that’s the basics. Now, try to keep up.”
And keep up they did. It took them a couple tries at first, but soon they were able to match Magnolia’s pace with ease. Even when she intentionally sped up, faster than the tempo of the song, Lily didn’t slip up.
“I think I’m doing pretty good,” Lily giggled.
“It’s not your job to think, plaything,” Magnolia replied.
She scratched Lily’s side, and Lily suddenly began to feel tired. They started dragging their feet, lolling around like a ragdoll, until they felt like they could collapse at any moment.
“Oh, what’s the matter?” Magnolia grinned. “Are you tired, plaything?”
“Mmmuuhh…” Lily groaned. “Y-You’re… cheating…”
“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.” Magnolia knew Lily didn’t believe her, but that didn’t matter. She had them right where she wanted them, limp and sleepy and like melting into a puddle.
Finally, Lily’s legs gave out, and they sagged to the floor with a soft, adorably pathetic whimper.
“There you go,” Magnolia purred. She kissed her sleepy sub on the forehead. “Let’s get you into bed now, plaything.”
It took a surprising amount of effort to drag Lily into their bedroom. Once she got them tucked into bed, Magnolia took a moment to catch her breath. “Wow, you’re heavy,” she chuckled.
“It‘s all muscle…” Lily murmured. “You gonna… keep… new trigger…?”
“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We’ll have to see.” Magnolia cupped Lily’s cheek and leaned in for a kiss, savoring Lily’s quiet moan. She reached for the lamp and turned it off, then walked towards the door. “Good night, plaything.”
Lily smiled peacefully. “Good night… Mistress…”