Fiona had been at the Home longer than most other girls- probably longer than all of the other girls, though she made an effort not to keep track. She had Awoken unusually early, barely past her teens. Her journey into submission had been swift and hard and wonderful, and by the time she was twenty-three, there was no going back. She had discovered what she believed was the perfect life, the perfect life with John.
But then John was no more, seized from her in the violence of the crash that had left her adrift and alone until the people from the Home had found her and brought her in.
She had been hopeful at first, like all of the other newly-alone submissive girls she had seen come and go over the years. And grateful- grateful to these people who cared for her, who provided the structure she had become accustomed to with John. These people who sheltered her, who gave her something to serve, even if it lacked the personal touch she craved. The Home provided for her needs, but it did not encourage bonding. The place had an institutional feel, with its spartan furnishings and hooded caretakers, and Fiona agreed that this was appropriate and right. It was an institution. This was not a place to belong. This was a place to wait.
Still, she had learned to be happy here, to be satisfied with her weekly whippings, to be satisfied in service to the State, to be satisfied in her new life. She smiled when new girls arrived, the one’s whose eyes shone both with tears for what was lost and with hope for what was to come. She had welcomed them into the life she had adopted for however long they stayed
She had smiled when they left, swept away in the arms of the Man who had Chosen.
She smiled as she went about her duties, carefully tending to her tasks, meekly presenting herself to the visitors, though without the fluttery tension she had felt at first. The presentations were just another task now, just a part of the daily routine. They were no longer a beacon of hope for her, a glimpse of what life might be like once more. She couldn’t remember how many times she had been presented, how many she had presented to, she no longer felt the urge to lift her eyes from the floor as they passed by, no longer felt the urge to steal a forbidden glance at the Man who might be the One.
So she did not turn from her dusting as she heard the soft footsteps behind her, did not move to coyly cover her reddened bottom as she heard the foyer door creak open behind her. It had happened many times before; the caretakers often assigned her duties in the public portions of the Home when visitors arrived, perhaps as a reward for her behaviour, perhaps because her long stay had earned her the privilege, or perhaps by simple coincidence.
She heard Him speak, and faltered in her work. His voice wasn’t deep, and might have sounded odd coming from a Man if not for the soft weight that he let his tone carry forth. She knew not what he said, letting the words wash over her as she had many times before, but even still she felt them penetrate a barrier she hadn’t known was there. It reached into her and pulled and without thinking she lifted her eyes to see the Man who had entered.
He had been talking with the custodian, but turned slightly to meet her gaze, his own eyes blue and sharp and clear. In the space of a breath, Fiona felt the ice within her shatter under his gaze, it’s fire suffusing her with a warmth she had all but forgotten.
“Continue,” He said to her, motioning for her to turn around.
“Sir,” she offered by way of apology as she turned back to her work.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, warm and firm as it bent her forward slightly. She felt a hand on her bottom, swift and quick and sharply painful. She caught her breath and remained silent, waiting for the next stroke, knowing her brief bout of insolence deserved far more.
It never came, though the hand on her shoulder lingered, it’s warmth still permeating even as the shadow of it’s mate on her bottom faded to a dull tingle.
“You are finished here; return tomorrow,” the custodian instructed from across the room. The hand lifted from her shoulder, releasing her more effectively than any spoken order ever could.
“When is she Due?” she heard Him ask as she turned to leave.
“Tomorrow, judging by her marks. Would you care to Witness?” the custodian responded.
She knew not what He responded, the voices fading as she hurried away, too well-trained to give in to the desire to linger, but too shaken to prevent a single tear, her first in as long as she could remember, from trickling down her face.
One small drop of hope.
It was just past midday when she was called for her weekly Appointment.
A pair of caretakers walked beside her, not so much escorting as accompanying her to the punishment chamber. She knew the ritual, and had long since outgrown the need to fight it.
She did not turn as she heard the door clang shut behind her, did not flinch as the latch clacked into place. She removed her robe with the grace of age and practice, folding it neatly and carefully, hands performing the motions as steadily as they did each night as she prepared for sleep.
She adjusted the frame by feel alone. She did not remember the measurements, had no need to reference the scales as she slid the bolts into place, locking the arms in position to support her without causing additional discomfort.
As she turned to kiss the whip the caretaker presented, she saw Him, standing silently near the door, his gaze the same brilliant, heart-stopping icey-blue she remembered, and no less intense than her first encounter. She trembled as she leaned forward, not quite breaking eye contact as she leaned in to brush her lips against the implement. He most certainly noticed, but if He minded the break in protocol He didn’t voice His objection.
The moment was broken by the caretakers, gently turning and securing her to the frame. She felt his gaze on her, and knew he watched intently, She longed to glance back at him, but knew the bonds would not allow such a movement. She tried to slow her breathing as she always did before her whippings, trying to find the center of her being that needed this experience, to let the pain soothe her deeper need, but her mind remained firmly locked on the knowledge of the frosty-cold gaze that held her from somewhere behind.
The fiery trace of the first lash made her cry out, a sound that seemed foreign to her ears. There was a pause, longer than usual after the first lash. She thought, perhaps she had taken the caretakers by surprise, or perhaps she merely thought that the time was longer, occupied as her mind was with thoughts other than those of the well-worn ritual.
The next lash came as surely as it always did, a parallel track of fire just under the first and eliciting a similarly vocal response. The pain was the same as it always was, and yet it felt decidedly different in His presence.
She twisted in her bonds as the third lash was delivered, rekindling the burn on her bottom that refused to be quenched by her struggles. She felt His gaze, she wanted to show him that she could accept this, but she could not.
The pain was nothing new, but now it felt wrong. She wanted to welcome it, to let it placate her, to console her, but it couldn’t. The same ritual that had brought her comfort for so long now felt horribly flawed, a shallow reenactment of something far more significant. As the next lash fell she broke into sobbing, allowing the power of the yearning she had held carefully within express itself in choking cries.
“You may stop,” He said. He spoke softly, yet the power of his words drew the proceedings to an abrupt halt.
“She is Due twenty more,” the head informed him. “It is what she needs. Harsh, perhaps, but she is further gone than most.”
“You may stop,” He repeated. “I have Chosen.”
Fiona knew the bonds that held her were strong, she knew that they did not simply dissolve to allow her to melt into his arms, but that is how it felt, and that is how she chose to remember her final moments in the Home.