Dawn broke through the curtains of Lily's bedroom. Normally they'd be up. Running, exercising. But... even that was tainted now. So they refused to get out of bed, pulling the covers tight to block out the light. They tried to go back to sleep. Any semblance of unconsciousness was better than dealing with the events of the night before. With Magnolia's decision.
They hadn't been this depressed in years. For months, they were too busy, too excited, to be depressed. Too preoccupied with pleasing their Mistress, and getting showered with what they finally could see was love. Of course they didn't understand until after she was gone.
It felt so empty to sleep alone, now. It hadn't felt that way when they fell asleep by themselves before. Then, they'd had the promise of another night with her afterwards. They would kill for another night now.
Was Magnolia just as hurt as they were? She didn't want to get rid of them. Lily knew that, by now. She wouldn't have spent so much time, money, and energy on them if she didn't care. If Magnolia had any thoughts about abandoning them, she would have done so the minute Kassandra forced her to stop hypnotizing Lily. Or, well... they had been Delta back then.
They knew that people with dissociation issues had trouble remembering things. But this was different. They still had the gaps in their memories, scattered throughout. Small things, but also big stretches, where time just seemed to flow together. But those memories... they had been locked away, not just scattered. They remembered more about their history, but it still felt faded. They hadn't used those memories in years, so it made sense.
But the time with Magnolia was crystal clear. Time didn't flow together at the gaps, it stopped, defined. Those memories were just that special to them. Solid, unbreakable, even by their own stupid mind.
She was just that special to them.
They had to do something. There had to be some course of action they could take to fix this. To fix themself, themselves, to give Magnolia a reason to stay with them. But Lily didn't know what to do. They didn't know anything.
They gripped the pillow tighter, burrowing into it with increasingly loud sobs. The pillow quickly got damp. Slowly, horribly, Lily cried themself back to sleep.
"This is how things should be."
It had been a while since Lily had a dream where Kassandra was there - though, it was unsurprising, considering the turmoil of the past week or so.
She wasn't happy, though. Six months ago, she would have been ecstatic that they were freed without worry of recapture. Ecstatic to get them back where they belonged. Not that either of them knew where that was.
But now, she just kept repeating that phrase.
"This is how things should be? Bullshit," she grumbled.
Kassandra hated seeing Lily like this. In the dream, Lily could feel her emotions as if they were their own.
Lily didn't say anything, just sat down beside her.
"I hope you eventually move on, Lily." They could feel Kassandra putting a hand on their shoulder, even before she did it. Somehow, that shared sensation felt... less wrong. They didn't respond, though. She could listen to their thoughts if she wanted an answer. "You deserve to be happy, and free. She never cared about you in the first place. She saw you as an object, a toy, remember. You don't want to be with someone who sees you like that. You deserve better. Maybe you'll find better."
Something about the way she said that felt wrong. Both in how she was saying it, and what she was saying.
"No," they stammered. "I am... w-was happy, and was free. I never felt that way with anyone except Magnolia."
"And you'll feel that way again," Kassandra said. "I promise."
Lily recognized that strange feeling now.
Kassandra didn't believe a word of it.
Lily looked up at her, meeting her eyes. "No. I won't," they emphasized. "I know other people, and I know myself. You know it too, don't you? I thought you hated her, but... You know I need her in my life. I need Mistress Magnolia."
Kassandra sighed. Lily could sense the frustration in that. Magnolia was always frustrating to her - the fact they were still, at the core, in captivity, did bother her. That part wasn't a lie.
She wanted to say something else, but Lily spoke over her. "I know. When she first bought me, I was hesitant. I was scared. I thought, y'know, this could end a whole lot of ways. Maybe with me back on that stage. Maybe with me being tortured and abused each day. Maybe with me... dead." Kassandra nodded slightly. "But... my Mistress, Mistress Magnolia... Well, how it ended with her wasn't even something I thought was possible. Sure, she likes to make me think I'm being tortured or abused, but it's not really that. You know that. And she said it to you, right? That if we didn't want to be with her, she'd let us go. That she always made sure we were ok with things. Unless I'm remembering that wrong, too? I mean, we can’t really trust my memory these days."
"...No. No, you aren't wrong," Kassandra sighed.
"It's not just that," Lily continued with renewed strength. "She taught me to be stronger. To be more confident in myself. To... to make friends! To get out there, and pursue new hobbies! I mean, yeah, I know. She ordered me to. But I'm glad she did! I'm glad she gave me orders to better myself, to live a good life even under her - no, to live a better life because of her - to... to feel, to be myself, more freely and openly."
Lily knew they were dreaming, but they could feel themself crying into the pillow. Crying out in desperation to Kassandra, in hopes that maybe she would understand.
"And I'm not done. I'm not finished talking, not finished with her, not finished with this life. I've come so far in getting better, getting over my trauma... though I never knew what that was, did I? But either way, it's because of her that I stopped resenting you. It's because of her I learned to accept myself. And it's because of her that I'm here now! I can't lose her now! I just... can't.
"And that's not even considering the fact... well, the fact of how I feel about her. All my life, I've felt disconnected from people. Separate. You remember too. Not because they didn't understand me, but because I couldn't... I couldn't get past that block. It's because I was scared they were going to hurt me. Like I was hurt before. I've tried to date people in the past, and I could never do it, because... because of how this feels. People always talk about love, and stuff like that, but I never felt that way about anyone. Anyone except Mistress Magnolia. I love her, Kassandra. Like I've never loved anyone before. And... she feels the same way about me, too, right? Neither of us want this, this... being apart from each other, and I know that for a fact! I can't live without that love now that I've had it. Not like this. I can't connect with people who aren't her, not without regretting what I lost! I don't want to live without it! I need that love, and I need it from Magnolia! I never want to be apart from her! I'll do anything! So, please..."
Lily realized that they weren't fully asleep any longer. Their throat was sore from shouting. They were lucky they were alone.
"Please help me... help me keep that close to me..."
Kassandra just stood there, waiting for Lily to say more. As if they hadn't already said enough. Now she knew, now she had to know how they felt. It was the first time Lily had articulated their feelings like that. The first time they'd stood up, shouted, and been angry at her. She had never seen them so adamant, so passionate. When they first were bought, they were an empty slate, most of their life missing, naive, willing to go with whatever happened to them because it would be easier. But now they were standing up for themself, and with so much conviction.
"Lily," Kassandra said quietly. "Listen to me."
Their mouth opened, but no words came out.
"I need you to hear this. You went through hell, as a kid. And... you... well, our brain made me. As a survival tactic. I was what kept you safe, kept you alive. I was your anger. Your conviction. And, well, Chain had his role in that too, I suppose. Our last resort. But..."
Kassandra picked her next words very carefully.
"We were how you survived when you were unsafe. When you needed my fire, or his cold steel. But... you're not there anymore. So in a way, you don't really need us. You don't need us to keep you safe from those memories that just came back," Kassandra paused, as if it was hard for her to continue, "because you can handle it on your own. I know it's hard, but those memories, know that you're not there anymore. You have that strength now. I won't be in the way. And..." Kassandra bit her lip, closing her eyes and turning away, struggling to speak. "You're safe with her."
Lily shook their head, surprised at how strong their reaction was. "I... yeah. I'm safe. But... Kassandra. I don't want to lose anyone."
"You won't lose her. You can find a way to make it work."
Lily met her eyes. "I don't want to lose anyone. You're right. You helped me. I don't need you to help me anymore. Maybe I will sometimes. You're right. I can be strong. With her. But... you can too. With me."
Kassandra stumbled back. "You're... you're sure? That you want me? And... the rest of it. That you want to go back to her. Forever. Do you trust her that much?"
Lily didn't hesitate. "One hundred percent."
Kassandra nodded, tearing up slightly. She understood. She always had. She was a part of them, in a way. She always had been, even if they didn't know how to recognize it. And now... they could coexist, maybe. Maybe even with Chain, if they approached him the right way. They could be functional, work together instead of against each other. Kassandra was willing to help Lily, rather than fight only for her perspective.
It felt... good. It felt right. This wasn't fixing them. They weren't sure if that was possible. They weren't even sure what that would mean. But this was better. To have Kassandra by Lily's side, as opposed to against them. Lily could lean on her, and she on them. Together, they could face those memories, that fear Kassandra alone had tried to bear. And they knew what they had to do.
Lily blinked awake, Kassandra by their side.
"Go get her," Kassandra said softly. Then, she stopped. "So... what exactly is the plan?" she asked hesitantly.
Lily threw open the curtains, and grinned. "I'm going to do what I do worst. Disobey orders."
Magnolia was going to be there at 5:30 to help them pack. Their dream with Kassandra had been long, and they'd woken up at 1:30, hours later than the latest they normally slept.
But this wasn't the time to think about that. Lily sat down on the couch, Kassandra beside them, thinking. Magnolia was still right about them. They weren't one for planning and thinking and strategizing. They could win a fight - real or in a video game, apparently - but they'd never win the war. So instead, the best idea was to distract themself. Find a way to overcome the uncertainty of whether they'd be able to convince Magnolia to let them stay with her - if they'd be able to prove themself to be worthy.
Lily looked over at the art supplies in the corner. There wasn't much there. Most of it had been in the bag they lost.
The paints were there, though. And they knew what to paint. It wasn't scenery, or animals, pretty pictures like they'd usually draw. It was something far more special.
Lily barely noticed the time going by. Thankfully, they had finished it in time. It was only a little after five o'clock now. The piece was a little rushed, but she had always liked their sketchier style. As she'd described it, it was cute that they were so incompetent as to not be able to draw a straight line. They put the watercolor canvas down, hiding it behind the TV as it lay there to dry.
Suddenly, they had an awful thought. Was she even going to come? She might not want to see them, to say goodbye. Or she might just be busy with work. The idea scared them a bit. Kassandra reassured them.
"You can do this."
Only minutes later, they heard the door swing open, followed by familiar footsteps. They stood up, silently greeting Magnolia as she walked into the room. Even now, she avoided eye contact with them.
She had brought along two additional suitcases. They looked new. That made Lily a little more unsure. Could they convince her, when she'd gone to all this trouble? Could they convince her? They weren't good at talking. Or anything, really. So...
Learn to have some faith in yourself, Delta...
No. They were set. Determined. Lily took a deep breath. They were doing this.
Magnolia looked at their face. "You look like you didn't sleep well," she said hoarsely. She'd been crying.
"I didn't," Lily said quietly. No stammering. No avoiding the point. If they were going to do this, they needed Magnolia to understand. To know what she was putting them through.
But Magnolia didn't respond, just turned away again. "Let's pack up your stuff. I'll be clearing out and selling this apartment. I don't think I'll need it for anything else."
Magnolia walked towards the bedroom, then paused as she noticed Lily hadn't moved.
"I... enjoyed my time with you," she sighed. "I don't think anyone can replace you. I don't think I'm going to try."
Lily just stayed silent, forcing Magnolia to turn to them, to meet their eyes, their hard, determined, unwavering gaze. They braced themself. This could go horribly wrong, and they had to be prepared for anything. But they believed in themself. Kassandra believed in them. They could rewrite their story. They would never let it be a tragedy.
"Let's go," Magnolia urged. "I've booked a plane for you. We don't want to be late."
Lily took a deep breath. This was the moment of truth. It all hinged on the next few moments. Everything.
Magnolia nodded, as if she'd assumed they'd say yes. Then she froze.
"Lily, you're not going to change my mind. You should know that by now. Now, gather your things so we can-"
"I said, no." Lily held their breath, preparing for her to yell. But she didn't. She just stared at them in confusion. As if she hadn't even considered this a possibility. "I'm not done with here. Or with you. Or with learning to face myself. You can’t get rid of me that easily."
Magnolia frowned, searching their gaze. "Kassandra?"
They shook their head. “Nope. It’s me, Lily. Saying no to you, my Mistress.”
It almost felt like Kassandra’s presence, but it was them. They could say no. They were allowed to fight back.
"Well, you’re being ridiculous in thinking you can sway me," she scoffed. "You know that I'm better than that."
"I'm not being ridiculous," Lily snapped. "And I know you don't want this, either. We can work through this. We've come so far. We can figure this out, too."
"We are not going any farther in our relationship."
"Yes, we are," Lily snarled. "We have too much to do. Too much to talk about. Too many ways we haven't been together. I haven't had enough."
Silence. Terrifying, uncertain silence. Had it worked? Did she listen? Or had they just gotten her angrier than she'd been before?
They weren't going to wait to find out.
"I haven't given you permission to leave me, Mistress. I want to be with you. Do you honestly regret taking a chance on me?"
Lily took a deep breath. This time, they wouldn't back down.
"I love you, Mistress Magnolia."
They stood there, unwavering. They had said their piece. It was up to her, now. And they would not be afraid.
Magnolia dropped the suitcases, walking up to Lily, face contorting in anger. She stood in front of them and grabbed them by the shoulder, too angry to notice that they'd barely flinched. She slapped them across the face, then gaped as they took it without breaking eye contact.
"How dare you," she hissed. "Treating me like you're the one who owns me! I am not your bitch. You're my bitch! The disrespect, the audacity, the gall, to treat me like you make the decisions. Such a thing has no place in your tiny skull!"
"You want to keep being my Mistress," Lily insisted softly. "I know you do. And I want you as my Mistress, too. Now, and forever."
"But you don't get to decide that! I do! You don't have any power whatsoever over me!" Magnolia's voice rose to a roar, and even though Lily was frightened, they stood their ground, standing as tall as their short frame allowed. At least there wasn't anyone else living on the floor, with Jenn gone. Indignantly, she slapped them again, then grabbed their ass to pull them close to her, a gesture both protective and threatening at once.
"You really think you're going to be able to handle the things I'm going to do to you? I'm going to use you every night, share you with every single one of my friends, order you to do whatever I want whenever I want, edge you until you can't think at all, and turn you into my personal on-call plaything. I'm going to insult and degrade you in every possible way, and hypnotize you into losing your mind for good. And I'm not going to let your issues get in the way of what I want to do with you. I'm going to step over Kassandra or Chain or whoever else you have hiding in your head. I'm going to punish you until your mind goes blank, until you can no longer speak if you dare to think about disobeying me. Is that really what you want? Is that what you're asking for when you question me, when you demand to stay with me like you have any power here like a moronic idiot?"
"Yes. That, and more," they said without hesitation.
Magnolia let go in shock. She'd probably expected them to back down in fear. To flinch, to hide, like they had the other day. They wanted to do that, if they were being honest. What had possessed them to stand up to her? But this was their decision. This was their choice. She seemed almost in awe at Lily. The easily frightened, brainless little plaything having finally stepped up and gained some confidence. Confidence to demand that they were hers.
Magnolia's hand shot out, grabbing Lily by the neck roughly and pulling them in.
"Fine," she hissed. She dragged them like that into the bedroom, then threw them onto the mattress. Their neck hurt, but they didn't gasp for air. Slow breaths. Determined.
She leaned in, groping their chest roughly as she kept them pinned to the bed by the neck with her other hand.
"Fine," she growled. "Then I'll fulfill your selfish wishes. I'll take pity on the poor little idiot who wanted to stay with me even after hearing what I plan to do. I'll give them what they want." Magnolia tore their top off, then their bra, exposing their chest. Lily somehow managed not to pull back, not to flinch away. Yes, they had been hurt. No, they weren't over it.
But they were stronger than their past. Kassandra had shown them that. Magnolia had shown them that.
"I... I can handle it," Lily grinned.
"I'm sure you can, my stupidly overconfident plaything. Right up until I break your mind for good," Magnolia laughed, and even though they were being mocked - no, especially because they were being mocked - Lily enjoyed hearing her laugh. It sounded good. It sounded like warmth.
It sounded like home.
She scowled, beginning to choke Lily again. "You want to be mine? Say your mantras, both of them. Now."
Lily nodded. They hadn't expected that, but it wasn't a hard request. Those words were engraved onto their soul. "Obedience is pleasure. Pleasure is obedience. I only serve Mistress. Obedience is pleasure. Pleasure is obedience. I only serve Mistress. Obedience is pleasure. Pleasure is obedience. I only serve Mistress..."
"Good, good..." She chuckled. "To think I even thought of getting rid of someone as obedient as yourself. Now, stop talking. I'm going to give you a new mantra to burn into your memory. Let's see..." Lily stopped, breath held as they waited for the words that would become a part of them.
"I've decided." She met Lily's eyes with a glare as she continued to fondle their chest. "Your new mantra is 'I deserve whatever Mistress gives me.' You deserve whatever I throw at you. If I insult you, you deserved it. If I praise you, you deserved it. Be it lavish dates or punishments, what I give you, you deserve. You deserve to be thrown away if I want you to. You deserve to be mine forever if I want you to. Do you understand, plaything?"
"Yes, Mistress, I do understand," they choked out. She loosened her grip, and they took a greedy gulp of air as she moved to pin them down by their shoulder instead.
"What are you waiting for? Say it," she ordered.
"I deserve whatever Mistress gives me."
"I deserve whatever Mistress gives me. I deserve whatever Mistress gives me. I deserve whatever Mistress gives me!"
"Good plaything. Stop," Magnolia said, and Lily went silent again. "Then you understand. I'm going to give you the greatest gift I can. The gift of being mine. My property, forever. Just like you asked."
"Thank you so much, Mistress," Lily whimpered.
"Take off your pants," she ordered, "like the good good-for-nothing slut you are."
Lily immediately pulled their pants and underwear off, leaving their entire body unclothed. Magnolia began taking off her own clothes in a frenzy, wanting to be as close to Lily as possible as soon as possible, skin against skin.
"You knew that I didn't want to give you up," Magnolia laughed. "I guess you are smart, on occasion. Though I'm still going to have to make it clear to you," she slapped Lily across the face, just because, "that you do not speak to me that way."
"I-I understand, Mistress."
"Start touching yourself," she demanded. "Get yourself nice and ready for me, because I'm not going easy on a needy slut like you."
Lily obeyed, reaching down towards their cunt and began fingering their clit, starting with slow circles, but quickly growing frantic with need. Their Mistress started touching herself as well, not wanting to waste any time. She soon was hard, and Lily was soaked, dripping juices on the bedsheets.
"Look at you," Magnolia scoffed. "You need someone to degrade you and order you around to get ready to fuck, just like the debased whore you are."
Lily groaned in pleasure.
"You still need to be insulted more? Fine. You're a stupid slut whose only purpose is to be a living, breathing toy for me. The only thing that differentiates you from some kind of fleshlight is that you have blood flowing through your body. Though who knows if it ever reaches your poor head? Doesn't seem like it does," she laughed, tapping Lily's head as if to prove her point. They flushed.
"You know, I always do the hard work for you. Fucking you, thinking for you, getting you to be a useful plaything to me. I have to order you to be useful, since you can't even do that yourself."
"Y-yes, Mistress..." they moaned.
"Yes what? Yes, you agree? That's not something to agree to, idiot." She placed her hand back on their neck, cutting off their airflow. "That's an order. If you're going to stay with me, you're going to have to start pulling your weight. I'll make sure to work you to the bone, and I'll make sure you never have a moment where you can just be lazy and lounge around until I'm ready for you to be useful, either to yourself, me, or one of my friends."
Lily nodded. They needed that. They needed to serve Magnolia, to let her give them structure, to make her happy with their obedience. They were able and willing.
"I'm going to fuck you now," Magnolia snarled. "I'm not waiting for you anymore. I'm ready to fucking obliterate you, and that's all that matters."
Lily nodded, biting their lip in anticipation as their Mistress began to enter them again. She continued to choke them, which only amplified the pleasure for both of them. Lily coughed, and Magnolia let go to let them catch their breath, then went right back to choking them, moving back and forth as she began to pound them mercilessly.
This was fiercer, more primal, than anything they'd done before. Lily cried out through their strained throat in desperation and pleasure. They both needed this. They needed the other. They needed more.
"You're actually turned on by this," Magnolia laughed. "Fitting for someone as fuck-worthy and idiotic as yourself. You deserve this. You deserve to be my eternal fucktoy, my plaything, my slutty piece of goddamn property."
"I... I... ah..." Lily tried to come up with a good retort, but they could barely think through the haze of pleasure.
"Aww," Magnolia cooed sadistically. "The little plaything is trying to talk while I fuck them. How adorable. How f-fucking slutty and... adorable... you stupid, loyal plaything..."
Her words degraded into a slurred mixture of affection and insults as she finished inside of them, and Lily felt that warmth inside of them, and it felt like it was searing, blazing, wonderful, and they couldn't hold back any longer. They came. They both shuddered, feeling strangely empty as the momentum passed, but the aftershocks of some of the best orgasms in their lives - ones they shared, a life they would share - were enough to fill that void. Neither of them wanted to ever stop.
Unfortunately, time didn't stop, and they eventually collapsed to the bed, exhausted.
"Plaything," Magnolia sighed, running a hand down their cheek, a bright red from both blushing and being slapped. "I am very glad you spoke back to me."
Lily breathed out, trying to catch their breath. "Me too, Mistress Magnolia."
"Though I am serious when I tell you to never do it again."
"I... I won't," Lily answered. And if you don't threaten to throw me away again, I won't have to.
Magnolia climbed off from on top of them, laying down beside them. They basked in that silence for a while. They were content to be there, by each other's side. No words were needed to express that. They both silently vowed to never leave again.
"I'll... cancel that plane, for you," Magnolia breathed. "I don't think... I'll want you to go... anytime soon."
Lily nodded, though even that was an effort now. They looked straight into Magnolia's eyes, their fatigue overtaking them. Funny how so much sleep could feel like so little. As they began to drift off to sleep, they remembered something.
"Oh," they started, trying to keep their eyes open. "I... I made something for you."
"You made something for me," Magnolia echoed. "I should have expected nothing less... from someone as loving and loyal as you."
Lily smiled, starting to get up from the bed to grab it. Magnolia grabbed them before they could, pulling them back to the bed.
"Tomorrow," she said. "I want to be with you right now, and in case you haven't noticed, I get what I want." Lily nodded, exhaling as they felt their Mistress' heartbeat against their chest. It was calming. They weren't sure when they'd be okay with being touched by anyone. Even with Magnolia, they still had to work not to flinch. But if there was anyone they would put in that effort for, it was Magnolia.
"It's... a painting. Of us," Lily yawned. Magnolia smiled.
"That does remind me. I didn't answer you earlier." Lily cocked their head in a silent question.
"I am happy I took a chance on you. I always have been."
Lily blinked, then flushed.
"I love you, too, Lily."
They snuggled in closer, letting her heartbeat lull them to sleep.