Lily sighed in satisfaction around their mouthful of toast and eggs. They leaned back and grinned at Magnolia, who was typing intently at the other end of the table between bites of her own lunch.
That had been the norm lately. While it was certainly inconvenient, it did mean that Magnolia spent more time with them, so the quarantine hadn't been all bad.
It had certainly meant they had less to do, though. They'd been chatting with Jenn on Discord, and playing Pokken online, but it just didn't feel the same.
The gym isn't open, either, a feminine voice grumbled in their mind. So there went my weekly diversion.
I mean, you could fight her here, couldn't you?
Kassandra snorted. The halls in this house are too cramped. The shelves would hit harder than either of us do.
I think I'll ask you to hold off, then.
Fair enough. Although, you did get a new toy today, didn't you?
Lily sat upright. "Right! I was going to tell you..."
Magnolia raised an eyebrow. "Care to fill me in?"
"I got a new game I've been playing, on the Switch! It's really fun, though not like Pokken is. It's an Animal Crossing game!"
"Oh?" Magnolia pushed her laptop aside, looking at them with amusement. "Do tell?"
"It's a slow game, where you build a town - or, well, this one's building an island. You go around and collect resources and furniture, and build up your island. I just got a museum built!"
"Really, now." The edges of her lips twitched, but Lily didn't notice.
"Yeah! I really think you'd enjoy it, or at least trying it, Mistress!" they beamed.
"I have to say, I think I agree. Especially since I've been playing it since it was released." She took a sip of her tea, smiling smugly.
Lily blinked, taken aback. "You... but don't you not have a Switch?"
"Easily fixed, pet."
"But how did you know about the game? You don't follow that kind of thing, right?"
"Some of my employees had mentioned it was probably a good thing for the current situation in the world. I decided to investigate."
"I have a five-star island already, of course."
"Alright," they said, eyes wide. "You don't do things by halves, do you?"
"You know me better than that, pet."
Lily blinked awake. There were sounds coming from the main room, and they could see the light of a screen against their walls in the predawn darkness.
They glanced at the timer by their bed, then started.
I'm sorry, it's what AM? Kassandra sounded more tired than usual. Well, they usually didn't get up at five in the morning.
They grimaced, then glanced over to the side. Magnolia wasn't there.
Is she... Lily thought, and Kassandra nodded, snickering.
They padded out of the room, and turned to see what they had expected. Magnolia sat, her Switch plugged into the TV, playing Animal Crossing. They sighed, drawing her attention.
"Do you have something to say?" Magnolia said with a slurred monotone. If they didn't know any better, they'd think she was drunk, but... had she stayed up all night?
"Uh... are you okay, Mistress?" They winced at their voice, sounding painfully loud to their tired ears.
"My meetings for the day have been canceled because of this stupid virus. Plans ruined, nothing to do. Do I look okay?" Magnolia spat, glaring at Lily.
"Is there... anything I can do to help?"
"Just be quiet. And I can't handle you right now," she said, waving her hand toward the air beside Lily, "so you be quiet too."
Kassandra's will crashed into Lily's as they strained to prevent her from telling Magnolia just what she thought about her quiet. Kassandra let up after a few moments, breathing deeply to try to calm herself down. Although she didn't technically need to breathe, and breathing heavily didn't technically do anything, going through the motions still calmed her nerves.
Well, might as well... Lily thought, grabbing their own Switch off the shelf. They turned the volume off and started the game, sitting close enough to Magnolia she could grab them if she wanted.
Which, clearly, she did. A hand, moving unsteadily and slowly, wrapped around their shoulder, pulling them in to lean against Magnolia's side.
Magnolia glanced at their screen as they walked into their house, and snorted.
"You haven't paid off all your loans yet? Scrub."
Lily blinked, unsure if they just heard what they thought they heard.
"Uh... I got the game only a week ago, Mistress."
"As I said. Scrub."
They blinked again. Did that just...
It didn't feel real. They had a sudden, distinct sensation of disconnection, as though they were looking through someone else's eyes. Because that couldn't have happened, right?
Their mind stuttered, running over that statement again. Magnolia said... scrub?
It just didn't make sense. What would... why...
Lily shook their head, trying to focus back on the present. "How did you even..."
"Oh, I bred blue roses as soon as possible, of course. They're quite profitable. I also harvested tarantulas, before they made that harder..."
"Tara- there's tarantulas?"
Magnolia ruffled their hair, a smile of mock-pity on her face. "It's ok, plaything. I know you're slow to pick up on these things."
Well, that meant Magnolia was feeling good enough to joke around, at least. Lily was comforted by that, even as their cheeks burned at the insult. They leaned closer, trying to seem small and weak. Magnolia responded by wrapping her arm underneath their shoulder, holding on to her property tightly.
As it should be.
Lily yawned. Normally, they wouldn't be so tired so soon; it wasn't even midnight yet. But Magnolia had woken them up early, even if she hadn't intended to. They idly walked around their island, trying to find anything they'd missed.
They froze. Something was running towards them, fast. They snapped the control stick in the opposite direction, eyes wide in panic.
Kassandra's eyes snapped open, and Lily found themself pushed back to the side as her instincts took over. "Are you in danger? I felt..." she trailed off, pursing her lips. "What is this, Lily?"
A... tarantula? I guess?
"I hate it. Can you kill things in this game?"
"Well, what else do we do? We're running out of island to run on."
Lily shrugged. Kassandra moved her avatar frantically, but her eyes were hard. She always did that when she panicked, trying to put on an impassive front.
Does that... really scare you that much?
"No. Shut up."
Lily giggled, and Kassandra whirled to look at them. In doing so, the tarantula caught her, and she let out a startled eep. Lily covered their mouth in surprise.
That was adorable, Kass.
She turned, and found Magnolia in the doorway. "Uh... Yeah, it's me."
"Could you or Lily wake me up next morning? It's Sunday, so I need to get in on turnips. And... I'm fairly sure that staying up all night was a bad idea." She yawned to punctuate that statement.
"I could have told you that."
"Well, I'm the Mistress here, and what I say is what's best. Even if it's stupid." Magnolia paused, cocking her head. "That doesn't make sense, does it? I really do need some rest."
"I'll make sure to wake you up tomorrow, Mistress!" Lily piped up.
"Thank you, Lily," Magnolia sighed, retreating to the bedroom.
Lily poked their head back into their room. Magnolia hadn't woken up when they had an hour ago, at eight. She had asked them to wake her up, but there wasn't exactly a rush before noon.
She could use the rest, right?
Kassandra pondered that for a moment, then nodded.
Well, they had an appointment in a couple of minutes. We'll wake her up afterwards, Lily. Don't make April wait...
They sighed, collapsing onto the couch and pulling open a laptop that had been sitting on a shelf by the TV. They quickly poked through their inbox, and found the invite.
After a minute of waiting, April's face filled the screen.
"Lily, Kassandra!" she smiled warmly. "How is quarantine treating you?"
"Not any better than last week..."
"Well, it was worth checking." She leaned back, and then jerked forward as she reached the limit of her headset's cable. She sat up straight, chuckling sheepishly.
"I... I must apologize. I find I'm not exactly in the right frame of mind to act professionally at my home."
They held their hands up, waving them in a placating gesture. "No, no, it's alright! I'm just glad you're still willing to take appointments right now."
April raised an eyebrow, giving Lily a flat look. "And why wouldn't I? Do remember that I could very comfortably live off what Magnolia pays me, even if I stopped taking all my other clients." She picked up a cup of tea, sipping it with a look of amusement.
Lily's mouth opened, then closed without saying a word. April smirked.
"I am sorry I'm being such a poor source of serene stability, today," she chuckled. "Although levity might be just as helpful, depending on how you're feeling. So, then, do you want to tell me about your week?"
They nodded, and started to talk.
Lily shut the laptop, putting it back into its place by the TV. They checked the time. One hour later... surely she can't be that tired, right? Kassandra grumbled.
Lily shrugged, walking back into the bedroom. Despite Kassandra's protests, Magnolia still lay on the bed, sleeping in a sort of dignified disarray.
It's not just dignified because it's her, Lily.
They giggled. "Isn't she, though?"
Kassandra just projected intense disapproval at that.
They gave her a playful mental shove as they walked over to stand by their Mistress's side. Trying to gently shake her awake proved futile, and they didn't want to actually hurt her.
Need me for that?
"No!" they cried, aghast.
They slumped down against the side of the bed. They didn't want to intrude, and they didn't know exactly what she wanted, so - in their estimation - they couldn't just do the task for her. They took out their phone, setting a timer for half an hour ahead. Jumping up, they grabbed their own Switch from where it had been resting next to Magnolia's by their bed, placed so they could check their island as soon as possible when they woke up.
You two are addicted to that game.
Lily drew their lips to a line. Can't really argue with that one, Kass...
Are you certain she didn't take sleeping pills before going to sleep? I swear, she's sleeping like the dead...
The comment sparked a moment of irrational horror, but it quickly faded as they saw her chest rise up and down. Of course she's not dead, Kass.
I wasn't being serious... Well, if she's not going to wake up, she's not going to wake up. Want to go do something until she does?
They smirked, instinctively knowing the 'something' Kassandra had been considering. What, you think you've suddenly gotten better?
Please. You get lucky. My times on those levels we came up with may be worse, but that's just because I haven't practiced enough.
They grinned, closing out of Animal Crossing and loading Mario Maker 2, choosing the levels that they'd made together for just this purpose.
We'll see about that.
Lily froze at the icy tone, turning shakily to see that Magnolia had woken up while the two of them were engrossed in their competition.
"Uh. I... guess?"
"Interesting. I remember quite distinctly asking you to wake me up before noon, and look at that! More than an hour past then."
Lily blinked in horror as they checked the time. She was right, of course.
"I... tried to wake you up, Mistress, but-"
"No excuses, slave. I gave you a task and you failed to carry it out. You know full well that I can't get turnips except on Sunday - did you forget even that? I had been building up my money to renovate my island, not that someone with as little creativity as you would appreciate the effort. Now, what would be a fitting punishment..."
Lily's heart plummeted even as they felt a little warm twinge at the insults and the idea of the punishment she would give them. Kassandra scoffed, fading into the background as she always did whenever sex became even tangentially involved.
"How about you do my island chores? Picking weeds and flower patches, watering, and collecting fruit. Seems like it fits the crime, does it not?"
Kassandra shot back into focus, cackling on the ground beside Lily, who sat there stupefied by that response.
Well played, Maggie! Well played! she choked out between fits of laughter.
Magnolia's face shifted to an unreadable expression. "I will... prepare it for your task. I expect that you will begin tomorrow, and I will use custom designs to leave instructions for you. Do you understand?"
Pointedly ignoring Kassandra rolling on the floor beside them, they nodded. "Of course, Mistress."
Magnolia realized what she had done right as she said it. As soon as Lily had left to make Magnolia brunch, she pulled out her Switch, and ran over to a little shrine she'd set up by her airport.
On that shrine sat a Lily of the Valley, with a damning statement spelled out in a custom design below it.
I have an image to maintain, thank you very much!
She pulled out her phone, opening up a sketchpad app and drawing out a quick replacement. She inspected her rush work, nodding with satisfaction, before copying it into the game.
'Mine,' the new design read.
She sighed, feeling a quite uncharacteristic sense of embarrassment. Honestly, the things I do for them.
She did drop a single item at the gate of her island, though.
Lily blushed as they picked the item up, reading its name.
"A... Cute Lily Crown. Thank you, Mistress!" they grinned.
"I worked hard to get that, my plaything. You had better appreciate it. I had to learn how to use some messaging service called Discord to get it, too..."
Lily choked in surprise. "You. Used Discord?"
"Yes, I did. I had heard that was the best way to find people who had recipes you wanted, so I waited until someone had it. They did like to refer to me as a 'scrub', though. I looked it up, and once I knew what it meant I made it very clear I didn't appreciate it. They seemed to think that was amusing, for some reason."
Lily blinked. "Did you... threaten them?"
They grimaced, knowing the answer before they asked. "You left after getting the recipe, didn't you."
"Well, yes, why wouldn't I have?"
They sighed. "Never mind." It's not like they'd want her any different than how she was, after all.
"Have something to say, Lily?" She raised an eyebrow, grinning.
"I... no, Mistress. Nothing."
"See that it stays that way," she chuckled, patting their head. They flushed, stammering.
"I- I got KK today, by the way," they said, trying to change the subject.
"Good job. I'll want to see your island when you make it to five stars, of course, but keep going."
They had been expecting an insult. Not... encouragement?
"No witty put-down?" a deeper voice snorted.
"Why would I, Kassandra? If my property performs well, am I not entitled to be proud I own them?"
Kassandra had no answer to that. Lily, however, did.
They gripped Magnolia in a sudden hug, startling her. After a moment, she relaxed, chuckling.
"Alright, alright. A little reward is in order, after all."