“So,” Mirabilis began, straightening out a stack of papers on her oversized—or, rather, affini sized—desk. “As I mentioned when we first began, I’ve been making the arrangements for this since the day after I brought you home. That actually makes this process quite easy for the both of us. There’s some legal paperwork we need to go over, which I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up. Bear in mind that I’ve deliberately left some parts of this document blank, those are for your own wishes and expectations. Since you have been a cooperative and well behaved human, I’m affording you a lot of flexibility and agency in this process.” With that, Mira slid the paper across the desk to Serena.
Tentatively, she reached out and held the documents up to her face. It was all fairly standard stuff, as far as she could tell. Before putting Kenzie to bed, and after Serena had asked Mira to take her as a floret, both Kenzie and Mirabilis had explained the gist of the process to Serena, so she knew what to expect. As such, Serena found little in the way of surprises as she looked over the contract’s content. There was the surrender of her citizenship and political rights in exchange for the guarantee of her physical, mental and emotional wellbeing as outlined by Section 57 of the Human Domestication Treaty, as well as a section outlining her status as a floret, and Mirabilis’ status as her owner.
The next section Serena happened across was the one outlining Mirabilis’ specific expectations and stipulations. This was where things did start to get a little more unexpected. In particular, there was a clause explaining Mirabilis' plans for Serena and Kenzie’s individual Haustoric Implants to be ‘linked through a wireless neural interfacing network.’ Reading the sentence over a few times in the hopes of piecing it together, Serena gave up, and looked to Mirabilis. “Can you explain this?” She asked, indicating the clause in question.
Calmly, Mira took the page, looked it over, and smiled. “Of course, Serena. As you know, the Haustoric Implant is a bioengineered symbiote created from a floret owner’s cells. It regulates mood, drug dosages, hormones, and can encourage, manufacture or reinforce certain thought patterns. Honestly, when combined with 'xenodrugs,' the biggest limitations to the implant’s capabilities are the imagination of the affini in question, and the rules outlined by the Human Domestication Treaty. If this sounds alarming to you, please know that, as always I neither could, nor would non-consensually use it to permanently fundamentally alter what essentially makes you, you in a metaphysical sense, unless as an absolute last resort to keep you or those around you safe. As for the interface itself, this would allow your mind and Kenzie’s to be more closely linked. I could use it to allow you and Kenzie to share moods, drug regimens, to certain extent even thoughts and behavior patterns. Ostensibly, anything Kenzie’s implant could do to affect her mind, could then be copied over through your implant to identically affect yours, and vice versa.” With that, Mirabilis leaned in closer, running a vine along the back of Serena’s hand, then wrapping it securely and possessively around her wrist. “I’ve spent a long time thinking about this,” she cooed. “And I can’t wait to show you all the wonderful heights of mindless pleasure I can take you to once my two special girls are unbreakably bound like this. And I’m sure having little Kenzie in your head will speed your training along wonderfully.” Something about her truly had changed, Serena realized, because everything Mirabilis was saying just made her want to melt.
“W-well then, I um, I supposed I don’t see any issue with that. As long as Kenzie is okay with it,” Serena stammered.
“She is,” Mirabilis answered, returning the papers to Serena, who continued her readthrough of the contract. The rest of the contract mostly stipulated lifestyle habits Mirabilis expected of a pet. Serena was expected to keep herself clean, under ‘threat’ of Mira doing it for her. Similarly she was expected to maintain her appearance, dress in appropriate affini companion clothes, maintain a proper diet, and get plenty of sleep, all under the threat that failure to do so would result in Mira forcibly enacting her own interpretations of these guidelines upon Serena. Reading through the section, she couldn’t help but feel the entire thing was written with the implication that Mirabilis very much wanted Serena to force her hand. And, honestly, if Mirabilis was eager to take full control over all the basics of keeping her in good health, Serena was in no position to argue against having fewer chores.
She continued to flip through the pages, finding little else of note, before finally reaching the portion of the contract Mira had left open for Serena’s own stipulations. Seeing that, Serena paused for a moment, looking over the empty space, trying to imagine what she could fill it with. Uncertainly, she looked from the contract, to Mira, then back. “I don’t—I don’t really know what to put here, Mira.”
A thoughtful rumble rose from somewhere deep inside Mira’s simulated vocal chords. “Well dear, that’s a little difficult, since the whole point is what you want for yourself, not what I want for you. I guess, think about it for a moment, what do you want out of this, why do you want to be my pet?”
Scanning the blank space with her eyes as though it might somehow manifest some secret answer, Serena sat back, drumming her fingers on the table thoughtfully. What did she really want? Why was she doing this? The truth was, the reason Serena was even here at all was for Kenzie. “I just want Kenzie to be okay. I want her to be safe, and happy.”
“She already is, dear. We outlined her own wants very extensively in her own contract. Though, if I may, I find your concern for her very endearing.” Mirabilis reached across the table and squeezed Serena’s hand, causing her to blush. “Still, I can understand how it can be hard to let go of your worrying over her, after everything you’ve been through.”
“It is, yes.” Serena agreed. To a certain extent, Serena realized. She very much had been the closest thing to Kenzie’s caretaker for a long time. Did she even know how to define her own wants outside of that anymore?
Patiently, Mirabilis took one of the blank pages, along with a pen, and placed it before herself. “I can see this has you a little distressed, dear. Would it make you feel better if we restated some of Kenzie’s guarantees to wellbeing here? It really wouldn't make any difference in a legal sense, but perhaps it could offer some reassurance, or inspiration.”
“I think I’d like that, yes,” Serena muttered.
“Say no more. I’ll also stipulate that under no legal circumstances can you and Kenzie be separated from one another, just for a bit of added comfort.” Smiling warmly, Mirabilis began furiously scribbling on the page with a flurry of arms, vines and pens. Despite the almost chaotic way her appendages were flailing, Mira’a face was a calm and casual eye amidst the storm of paperwork. “While I do this dear,” she said with an idle casualness that contrasted quite comically with her frantic penwork. “I’d like you to think about what you actually want. As your Mistress-to-be, I will not be satisfied if your contract says ‘Kenzie’ more than ‘Serena’ by the end.”
Blushing, Serena nodded and sunk down in her chair a little. For a while, she sat in silence, watching as Mirabilis scribbled away, stewing in the surprisingly difficult question of what she really wanted. It was a hard question, at least, it was hard to boil down into concrete stipulations. What Serena wanted was to live a happy life with her girlfriend, to continue to explore and develop her relationship with Mirabilis, to stop having to fight and worry so much. But Mirabilis seemed to already be guaranteeing that. Still, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to make a few specific requests. “I’d like to have time with Kenzie, just her and I. It doesn’t have to be every day, but I’d like to spend time alone with my girlfriend.”
“Of course.” Mira didn’t miss a beat, continuing to scribble. “I would never deny my florets time to themselves.”
“I’d also, um,” Serena trailed off, blushing a little. “I’d like to keep spending time alone with you as well. It’s been nice getting to know you more intimately and personally. It doesn’t have to be every night on your couch, but I’d like to do that.” Serena smiled a little, then looked to Mirabilis for her confirmation. To her surprise, the affini had gone completely still; her gaze soft, eyes twinkling.
“Serena, dear. I… thank you. I’d like that very much. I’m glad I’ve made that kind of impression on you.” As Mira began to write again, Serena saw a little shudder pass through her leaves as what sounded like a stifled little giggle escaped from her lips.
Encouraged by her affini’s frankly adorable behavior, Serena continued. “I don’t really know what you’d need to do to manage this, but I’d like to fly again. I spent most of my adulthood living as a pilot. I think I’d miss it. Whatever restrictions and safety measures you need to implement, that's fine, just whatever you can do for me.”
Again, Mirabilis had gone still, watching patiently. Slowly, she nodded to herself and gave a thoughtful hum. “I will see what I can do. It may take some time to figure out your options. We may need to add an addendum later if that’s okay. I’ll make a note of it.”
“That’s alright,” Serena replied. “There’s um, there’s another thing I’d like.” Serena paused, turning over her request in her mind. Honestly, what she was about to say scared her a little. She wasn’t sure how she could even go about forming the words. Seeming to notice her human’s distress, Mirabilis stood from her spot, plucked Serena off her chair, and carried her around to the other end of the table, depositing her in her lap.
“Whenever you're ready, dear, it’s okay,” She encouraged.
Serena took a slow breath. “I’ve spent so long now worrying over Kenzie. And I want to trust you. I want to trust the affini. That’s not even correct. I do trust you; I do trust the affini. You have our best interest at heart, and have the means to deliver on that. But… I’m not sure I can always say I will. Some days I might have bad days, some days I might be paranoid or scared, especially about Kenzie. I don’t know how long it will take me to unlearn that instinct, that kernel mistrust. So I, um, I’d like it if you didn’t let me.”
“Can you explain that a bit more, dear?” Mirabilis asked.
“Don’t let me think those thoughts. Don’t let me stop trusting you, don’t let me ever doubt that you’re going to take good care of Kenize, that you’re going to take good care of me. I don’t want that stress, I just want to know that everything’s going to be okay.” Serena fell quiet, and found herself leaning instinctively back into Mirabilis’ grasp.
“I promise, dear. I won’t let you ever doubt or regret this choice.” Dotingly, Mirabilis ran her hands through Serena’s hair, and began to write down her request.
“Thank you,” Serena whispered, sitting still, letting Mira dote on her for a while.
Seeing her human’s exhaustion, Mirabilis held Serena close for a while. After ample time to allow her to calm down, Mirabilis gently placed her hand atop Serena’s. “Are you ready to sign?” She asked.
With a wordless nod, Serena leaned forward and took her pen, combing the contract and signing or initially wherever was needed. With each tick, she felt something inside her kick. Perhaps it was her old resistance, her rebel instincts thrashing in their death throes. Perhaps it was just the normal, human anxiety that most people felt when making a life changing decision. It really was too easy to manufacture doubt, excuses. Logically, Serena knew she could trust Mirabilis, but as her hand drifted down the page, the ghosts of the lies she’d been told by the rebel command haunted her. Could it still, after everything, be a trick? The rational parts of her mind screamed no, that no one person’s willing enslavement was important enough to merit this much trouble and effort. Deception on such a scale was beyond a mere conspiracy. Still, what if she’d missed something. Or what if Mirabilis changed with time? This was exactly why she wanted Mira to stop these thoughts before they began to germinate. If she nurtured them, they left her frightened, angry, vengeful, reckless.
A soft stroke along her cheek, like a light in the dark, pulled Serena away from her thought spiral. Something cool was being trailed across her arm, and Serena realized it was Mirabilis’ pre-injection numbing agent. “Until you sign, I still need your permission, dear,” she whispered into Serena’s ear. Something about that gesture, about how even now, in the midst of signing her domestication paperwork, Mira still respected her independence, was enough to still Serena’s shaking hands and turbulent doubts.
“I’ll finish it,” Serena answered firmly, and began to sign once more, page after page until the final line. This one last space, at the very bottom, would make her domestication a reality. It was the one she needed to sign in her new name, not her old one. She stared long at it, feeling her hands start to shake again, then took a slow breath. “You’re not going to hurt me, or Kenzie.” It was more a statement than a question. Still, Mirabilis elected to answer anyway.
“I won’t, I promise.”
Nodding, Serena put her pen to the paper. With a few flicks of her wrist, the signing was finished, and Serena Luz, Seventh Floret, fell back into her owner’s arms.
* * *
Mirabilis wasn’t bothering to keep track of the time, but she knew it was getting a bit late for her newly minted floret. She decided, then, it would be best to give Serena a moment to process everything, to come to terms with her situation, then ask her if she were ready to head off to bed. In the meantime, though, she set about comforting the girl. Serena was still scared, anyone could see that; there had been a great deal of apprehension in her every pen stroke. That was something Mirabilis simply couldn’t abide; fortunately, Serena had just given Mira all the tools she needed to make sure she never felt scared that way again. With a little flourish, she slid the needle into Serena’s arm, and held her close as her trembling slowly gave way to deep, even breathing. “Good girl, Serena,” Mirabilis cooed. “My darling floret. You did well, I’m proud of you. I know that was a hard choice, but it was the last hard choice you’ll ever need to make, I promise.”
As Serena began to calm down, a relieved smile crossed Mira’s face. Kenzie and Serena were happy, reunited, and hers, what more could she want? As her own weariness began to creep in, Mira stretched, and stood, carrying Serena with her. “I think it’s about time we head to bed, don’t you, dear?” She looked down, and realized Serena was already asleep.
The next day was a lazy one, spent showering her florets pinnate with all the love and affection they deserved. Her only real responsibilities for the day aside from looking after her two lovely pets, were submitting Serena’s domestication contracts and confirming her implantation surgery appointment, which she was able to knock out in a matter of minutes. And, in a stroke of good fortune, when Mirabilis contacted the clinic to confirm the appointment, she’d been informed that another slot, in the afternoon the next day, was still open. One quick conversation and a bit of reassurance later, Mira had confirmed that Serena was okay with moving her surgery to two days sooner, and set the appointment.
Mira then spend the rest of her day, as well as the morning of the next, ensuring both of her florets were prepared for what the surgery and its aftermath would entail. Understandably, Serena was a bit nervous. But when Mira asked if these were the sort of nerves she should medicate away, Serena declined; apprehension about surgery, she reasoned, was only natural, and it felt right to her knowing that despite her nerves, Serena had no second thoughts about going through with it.
At her appointment, Serena was her usual self. Or, at least, she was what Mira hoped would be her usual self: happy, affectionate, and charming as could be. As her sedatives kicked in, Serena loosely gripped Mira's and Kenzie’s hands in her own, and drifted off with a smile.