Titus woke up with a migraine. His alarm's screeching felt like a jackhammer to the head. He hadn't gotten drunk last night, had he? He contorted his face in pain as he blindly flailed in the general direction of the sound, eventually rewarded with blessed silence. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd had a migraine this bad - not that he'd want to remember it if he could. As the pain of that screeching faded, he turned his scattered attention towards the more important problem. He knew he was hungover. Why?
He clumsily rolled out of bed, stumbling to the bathroom with his eyes only open a crack. Even still, the bright light stung his eyes as he navigated to the medicine cabinet by memory, feeling around inside for the familiar shape of the painkiller bottle. He risked opening his eyes to confirm it was what he'd hoped, then popped it open and extracted a few pills. He filled up the cup that sat to the side of the sink, and used it to wash them down.
With that done, Titus returned to his bed and sat on the side while he waited for the medicine to kick in. He had a prescription for an especially potent alchemical concoction for blunting pain, meant to deal with the migraines he got every so often. It was relatively fast-acting, but it still felt like an eternity before the pain finally began to subside.
"Fucking hell..." Titus sighed in relief, his mind once again able to string together more than a single word in thought. "That one was particularly awful. I didn't drink, so that wasn't a hangover... what happened?" He took mental inventory of the previous day. In the morning he had been stressed, and worried about Ariana oversleeping. He'd distracted himself with work, and then when she woke up, she had...
Titus groaned as the memories of the previous day's events came back to him. The proposal Ariana had for regaining her memories, his reluctance, and then her meeting him in the shower with her eyes burning with the light of psychic charmcraft... he spaced out a bit as he remembered that. It had felt so nice at the time, to stare... and listen...
Titus shook his head, forcing himself out of the foggy state his mind had been trying to return to. He had a fairly good idea what had happened now.
He wasn't sure why it would have happened, though. Why would his slave hypnotize him? He loved being her master, and she loved being his slave...
He paused. That wasn't right, was it? Would he have thought that yesterday?
*It doesn't matter. I'm not going to worry about it.*
With that, the pain returned, slowly ebbing away as the painkillers surged to match it. Well, he didn't understand why she'd try to alter their relationship like that. Sure, he'd been reluctant to use her idea for regaining her memories at first, but he did love her body. He'd have come around to the idea without her help, right? He winced again as the pain resurged.
"Well, it's fine. I'm still her Master, so I guess she didn't change anything major-" *What? But she made me-* He cut off mid-thought. "I'll need to reprimand her and ban her from hypnotizing me again, though. Although I can't be too harsh on her." She had no way to know about those old wounds.
He grimaced as memories of his time spent with... her flashed through his mind. That was mostly in the past, but some things didn't heal easily. Ariana would probably be emotionally dependent on someone for the rest of her life. Nadia would never quite be able to shake that negative self-worth. And he would keep waking up in pain whenever he went into trance, or particularly deep REM sleep. He counted himself lucky that he'd mostly managed to unravel the psychological changes, but one or two things stubbornly stuck around. There were precautions he could take, which had taken no small amount of painful trial and error to derive, but none of them had been used. So, pain.
And where was Ariana, anyway? He remembered tucking her into his bed last night, but clearly she wasn't here now. Had she woken up on her own and left him sleeping while she went to do something? That would be a first. If so, maybe her scheme had worked after all? The thought brought a smile with it. Of course he loved being Ariana's Master, and she was a great Slave, but that didn't mean he didn't want her to be able to be independent again.
He opened the bedroom door, the smell of fresh French toast and bacon confirming his suspicions. At once it hit him just how hungry he was. He'd had a very... intense... time the previous day, and hadn't exactly eaten much to recoup that expenditure. And that food smelled delicious.
Ariana was just about done preparing plates for the two of them as he entered the room. Judging by her wearing an apron - and nothing else - she'd clearly elected to greet her Master with a feast for the eyes to complement the one for the stomach this morning. He would've assumed this was something she was programmed to do while cooking, but he knew for a fact that all of the programming for household tasks had been removed from her, so this was something she'd come up with on her own. He wasn't sure whether to be happy about it or not, though. He certainly loved the view of her bare back and shapely ass, but he wanted to get her acting like herself, the glorious woman and Slave she was, instead of a mere sex slave. At least she'd remembered how to cook now.
Well, he supposed it was fine so long as she was choosing to do it of her own accord. And as Ariana turned and smiled at him with genuine excitement and happiness, he couldn't help but blush. She was so beautiful, and he loved having her around and being her Master. Why hadn't he realized that before? He'd been so blind... or...
"Good morning, Master!" Ariana said cheerily. "I hope you're hungry! I made an old favorite recipe of mine that I remembered thanks to your help and I can't wait to hear what you think of it."
Titus nodded and smiled back blankly, far too tired for her seemingly boundless energy. "I'm starved, and I'd love nothing more than to fulfill that wish of yours. Thank you, Ariana."
They moved to the living room, sitting down at the coffee table to eat in lieu of the still undelivered new kitchen table. Titus jerked in surprise as he took the first bite of French toast, tears beginning to form. It was edible! Beyond that, it was actually tasty! He hadn't ever told her to use spices like this. Whether she'd looked parts up or remembered the recipe in full, it was a sign of independence orders of magnitude greater than any she'd had before. She really had been restored. It had worked! And, in more practical concerns, she was more than capable of handling the cooking from now on.
There wasn't much talking as they ate. Titus savored each bite of food, silently celebrating the breakthrough. Ariana ate hungrily as well. After all, she'd had the same draining experience yesterday as he had.
Sighing in satisfaction, Titus set his silverware down and laid back in his chair, smiling at Ariana. "That was fantastic, Ariana. I'm so proud of your progress."
Ariana blushed a bit at the praise of her Master. She fidgeted nervously, a conditioned wave of pleasure washing over her, but she barely paid it any mind. She was Master's Slave, sure, and pleasing him made her happy... but she felt a different kind of happiness too. It was hard to put her finger on what it was exactly, but she definitely liked it. "Thank you, Master," she said, tail swishing happily behind her. "I'm really happy to hear that... did you sleep well?"
Titus winced a bit at that, remembering his migraine. He didn't really want to sour the mood so soon after that wonderful breakfast, but he really did need to address this. "I did, except for when I woke up. Which brings up an important topic," he said, his smile fading as he changed gears to reprimand. "We need to talk about what you did to me yesterday."
Ariana wilted a bit as the topic shifted, ears flattening against her head and tail lowering to the ground in shame. She'd been deathly afraid of this precise conversation. Her slave programming was still intact, so she didn't regret her decision exactly, but with much of her history and self restored she understood that if Titus reverted to normal, he was going to be very unhappy with her. And he looked quite unhappy with her right now, despite her best efforts.
He was a hypnotherapist, so it wouldn't surprise her if he had some sort of automatic defense that undid any mental alterations performed on him during the day while he was asleep. Her heart beat faster and she began to sweat as she thought of that worst-case scenario. If he had reverted to normal, he was going to feel guilty about yesterday. That meant she would have failed to prevent that guilt, and he would be upset with her. Maybe he'd even send her away for her rebelliousness! She didn't want that! She liked her Master. He was kind to her, and he'd worked so hard to help her. If he kicked her out, then...
"I know you were eager to enact your plan yesterday," Titus began, making Ariana wince. "But you using hypnosis - and especially using charmcraft - to seduce me before I was ready for you was unacceptable."
Ariana's breath caught in her throat, and she squeezed her eyes shut to block out the nightmare unfolding before her. But... what had he said, exactly? He wasn't upset about her brainwashing him into being her Master... And he thought she'd just used her hypnosis to seduce him! He didn't realize what she'd actually done, which meant the programming was still in effect! She would've cried in relief if she wasn't afraid it might give her away. She'd been so certain he'd broken out of her crude charmed hypnosis and was about to punish her for it, but this... she could work with this. She had to fight to keep her tail from swishing.
"I'm... I'm sorry, Master," Ariana said, lowering her head. "I was just so eager to fulfil your desire to restore my memories that I felt like I had to do it." Not technically a lie. That had been a large part of her motivation at the time, after all. She wouldn't directly lie to Master, but what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
"I understand, Ariana," Titus sighed. He saw Ariana's obvious stress and panic, but to him this was nothing more than a Slave afraid of being scolded. Why would it occur to him that there was anything more to her reaction than that? "However, what you didn't know was that I have a... condition," he grimaced. "Whenever hypnosis is used on me, if a certain trigger isn't used before I go to sleep that night, I wake up the next day with a very painful migraine."
Ariana's ears twitched at this tidbit. Master... had a trigger? That explained why he looked so upset. A migraine would explain the irritability and desire for quiet. He must've woken up in serious agony. She felt quite guilty about that. Of course she'd have used it had she known. Still, why did Master have a trigger at all? She'd have understood a security measure to prevent him from being brainwashed and used to enslave his patients, but he hadn't actually been freed from her spell. And why would it make him feel pain, instead of just knowing what was done to him? Those questions were secondary for now, though, as Master wasn't done talking, and her slave programming directed her to absorb her new instructions.
"From now on, you're not to use hypnosis or charmcraft - magick at all, actually - on me without my permission," Titus instructed. "If you feel using it will assist in fulfilling your duties, you may request permission, but you are not to do so otherwise. Understand?"
Ariana nodded obediently. "Yes Master, I understand. I will obey your instructions," she replied in monotone. Internally, she winced. If Master ever did get freed from her spell, she'd have liked to have the option to soothe his anger at her. Still, it was a reasonable rule to bind her with... and at least he'd left the option open to use it as a tool in serving him, so long as she got permission first.
"Good girl," Titus said, smiling and reaching out to pat Ariana on the head. She blushed, fidgeting and squirming under his hand. "Now then, we have a lot of work to do today. Cataloging all the changes in your condition, psych evals, seeing what you remember... So go get dressed properly, and then we can get started."
Ariana pouted. "But I like dressing this way for you, Master," she whined, even as her body responded to the command and she got to her feet.
Titus was a bit surprised. Ariana had never complained about a command before, but he supposed that was actually a good sign. "I'm glad. I do love looking at you like this, but Nadia is scheduled to come again today, and you really ought to be properly clothed when she arrives," he explained, then blushed. "Plus I think we'll be more productive if I'm not distracted by your body while we work."
Ariana smiled. So Master liked what he saw, huh? Sure, she'd programmed that into him, but it still felt good to hear him say it. She couldn't really refute his logic though. If others were going to be coming by, she couldn't be dressed like this. Well, it wasn’t so much that she’d mind being seen like this. With her sense of reason back she understood just how many people must have seen her naked by now. Any pretense of modesty at this point seemed rather silly in face of that. And having the choice to let only certain people see her body was liberating in its own way.
Master felt differently though, and, thanks to her new restrictions, she couldn’t change his mind about it anymore. He’d been clever in his phrasing too. She had means of influencing him outside of her charms and her charms , but he’d banned any kind of hypnosis and all forms of magick. A lot of the contingencies she’d hastily planned in case something had gone wrong had fallen apart very quickly when he'd given that order.
Ariana opened her dresser drawers and rifled through her clothes, considering what she wanted to wear. The fact that this was the first outfit she was going to genuinely choose for herself since regaining her mind - besides just wearing an apron - was not lost on her. She couldn't take a choice like that by halves, could she? That just wouldn't feel right. She couldn't take the challenge of her new restrictions by halves either, but her plans kept coming up empty.
Before Master woke up, she’d scoured the house for useful items. She’d found alchemical ingredients, pendants with thaumaturgical properties that aided hypnosis, some technological brainwashing equipment, and a lot of locked safes and precautions that held the more dangerous tools of his trade. Well, now none of them would help her bring Master under again if she needed it. She considered possibly using a technological device to brainwash him in a pinch, but he’d said not to use hypnosis, and try as she might, she couldn’t make herself see that as different. He’d been talking about her magick, but brainwashing was still hypnosis.
Sighing in frustration, Ariana pulled out a lacey red blouse and some pre-ripped jeans. Her hands really were tied here. Her only option was to make sure Master never got mad at her in the first place. If she was a good girl, she wouldn’t need hypnosis to keep him happy. She just needed to think of how best to serve him moving forward.
As she put on her new outfit, Ariana tried to determine what it was Titus needed most now that her memories were back. What would make him happiest, and how could she provide that for him? He seemed to be happy when his patients got better, so perhaps helping him with that? Nadia was coming by today. Maybe if they talked, she could help Master find out why her treatment wasn’t working.
Then it hit her. A plan to help her Master, and give Ariana the safeguards she needed to put in place to ensure she didn’t lose him. Nadia was the key to all of it. Nadia clearly had a massive crush on Master. That had been obvious even before Ariana had gotten her memories and self back. Now that she had those things to give her perspective, it was almost embarrassing that Master hadn’t noticed it yet. If Ariana could get some alone time with her, she could help the girl with her actual problems with ease. And if she were to help Ariana out a bit in return… well that was only fair, now wasn’t it?
Ariana grinned. She needed to make up for the pain she’d caused Master, and she knew the perfect way to do it. Nadia loved Master too, after all, so Ariana was sure she'd be more than willing to help.