Beyond the sliding door was a substantial room that held a matching suite of antique-looking elaborately inlaid wooden furniture: a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a vanity table with a mirror, a short padded bench in front of the vanity and a longer one against a far wall. One wall, as in the bathroom, was a single unbroken mirror. A small mound of black and white fabric waited on the longer bench, with a pair of low boots with alarming heels on the floor next to it.
“Hm, clothes first,” Flair decided, and picked up a handful of thin black nylon. “Just drop the towels.”
“I can get dressed by myself.”
“Trust me, you’ll need help. Here, put these on.”
Jillian untangled them, and found that they were black sheer thigh-high stockings with a rubber strip around the top inside to keep them in place, and a wide band of white lace around the outside at the top. She gathered each up, fitted it over her toes, and drew it carefully upwards, smoothing out any wrinkles. Against her hairless and sensitized skin, it felt distractingly sensual.
“Stand up. This is the bit you need help with.” Flair chose from the bench something satiny white that looked strangely rigid.
“No panties?” Jillian considered arguing, but that feeling of wrongness resurfaced until she stood up, then it turned back to the pleasant feeling of approval.
Flair sighed. “There’s no need for them, and they’ll just get in the way once you’re all dressed. But if you really want them…”
Flair went to the chest of drawers, opened the top one, and without even looking pulled out a pair of white panties. Jillian tried not to grab them too rudely. All right, they were thin satiny stuff that left her hips bare, and they weren’t going to do all that much to guard modesty or chastity, but they covered the area that currently felt entirely too exposed to absolutely everything including stray breezes.
“Feel better?” Flair asked tolerantly.
“Yes. Thank you.”
“If you change your mind later and decide they’re in the way, you can take them off and leave them in here or in the bathroom. Move your arms out from your sides for a sec, please.” Flair wrapped the white thing around Jillian’s torso and fastened eight or nine small simple metal clasps up the front. She slipped her hand under Jillian’s breast to settle it properly in one cup, then repeated it on the other side, though Jillian yelped at the overly-familiar touch. Regardless of Jillian’s protest, Flair stepped quickly around behind her and started to pull things that made it tighten. “You probably don’t have a lot of experience wearing a corset, so I won’t make it tight, I promise, but it’ll look great anyway.”
Jillian squirmed in place. “I don’t have any experience! Why on earth would I?”
“Why not? I’m fairly sure that some free human women that you’d consider normal and respectable just like how they feel, and not only because they can make you look and feel sexy. I’m not free, normal, or respectable, but I do. I wear one when I can.” She giggled. “I have a built-in one right now. Nice and snug, all the time. I’ll miss it when Mistress has me changed again, but I miss things about other looks too. Anyway, your uniform won’t look right without it, so you have to wear it.”
Jillian struggled to assess this as dispassionately as she could. A thousand movies aside, she wasn’t having any trouble breathing, though she thought she might if she had to exert herself too much. The pressure around her abdomen wasn’t uncomfortable, just strange. Probably it would restrict her range of motion somewhat, but she didn’t think it would be too bad to work around. It unquestionably offered excellent support for her breasts, better than any bra she’d ever been able to find.
More difficult was the mental association of a corset with either old-fashioned sexist double standards or kinky fetish sex work.
“It would be better if there was time to get used to it slowly,” Flair reflected, as the tightening stopped. “Start with a couple of hours and gradually work up to longer. But that isn’t an option, and I imagine Mistress will make sure you aren’t in pain six hours from now or anything. That’s not very tight at all, but it makes a big difference. See?”
Jillian allowed Flair to turn her to face the mirrored wall, and her eyes widened. Not a fetish-y sharp wasp waist, but it definitely flattened her tummy and created a sleek curve from the enticing orbs of her breasts down to her confined waist and flaring out to her broad hips. It was almost hypnotic: she was looking at the shape she’d wished for a long time she had.
Now that it was rapidly drying, it was clear that her hair fell to just past her shoulders in dense gleaming waves. It was no longer what she considered a rather drab brown, though; instead, it was a dark rich cherry-red that couldn’t possibly occur in nature.
“Here, let’s get your uniform and your shoes on, so you can see how the whole thing works. Then we’ll take care of hair and makeup and you’re all ready. Lucky it doesn’t take me very long to get dressed.”
The uniform was black with white lace, but also what seemed to be a lot of white ruffly stuff.
Flair helped her step into it and pulled it up for her. It didn’t really come as much of a surprise that it was a French maid uniform. This wasn’t a cheap sex-shop knock-off or Hallowe’en costume made of flimsy polyester: it was heavy soft black satin that shimmered in the light, and the lace wasn’t scratchy nylon stuff, it was smooth and lustrous. The neckline was low enough for a teasing glimpse of her now-impressive cleavage, the sleeves were short and puffy, and once Flair had fastened a lot of little hooks up her back, the body of it fit perfectly against her corseted curves. The alarmingly short skirt had layers of thinner white satin ruffles under it, keeping the black outer layer extended outwards. From what she could see in the mirror, it was definitely short enough for the lace at the top of her stockings to show. Which meant that bending over would give anyone behind her a clear view of her white panties nestled among the white folds. At least the fact that it was all the same colour would make it less obvious.
“Sit so I can do your shoes?”
They were actually ankle-height boots that laced up the front. The heels were much higher and narrower than anything she was used to, but when Flair finished and Jillian stood up to take a few cautious steps, she found that it wasn’t as bad as she’d feared, and the snugly-laced boots offered considerable support for her ankles.
“Perfect,” Flair said in satisfaction. “Mistress wants me dressed tonight too. Usually she doesn’t say that, but maybe she wants us to match. I’ll do that. You go sit at the vanity. And don’t be afraid. It isn’t dangerous or anything. Echo startled me when I first came here, though.”
Jillian tore her attention away from watching herself walk. The corset changed her posture, forcing her back straighter and that led to her shoulders being farther back and her chest shamelessly forward, and the uniform highlighted and exaggerated her shape. The heels added a more pronounced sway to her hips with every careful step, and those steps had to be shorter than usual.
That wasn’t her. It couldn’t be her. From the longer cherry hair down to the precarious stiletto heels, it just didn’t look like her. She didn’t have that perfect skin or those sensual curves, and she absolutely did not dress like this, and she didn’t get fiercely aroused by her own reflection! What was this party really going to be like, anyway, if they had to look like this in order to serve drinks?
But Min had promised. She was safe, and sex was off-limits.
Although she wasn’t entirely sure that she wouldn’t be chafing at that restriction by the end of the night, if she kept feeling like this.
She made her way to the vanity. The top of it was entirely bare; interestingly, most of it had a mirror set into the polished wood. Rather gingerly, fearful both of what had startled Flair and of leaving wet spots on the bench, she seated herself.
Her reflection blinked—but not in time with Jillian.
To her utter astonishment, her reflection looked her over measuringly. One of her reflection’s hands moved, though Jillian’s remained laced tightly together in white-knuckled apprehension in her satin-covered lap; she could feel the touch on her chin, gently tilting her face first one way, then the other.
“It’s all right,” Flair said reassuringly from in front of the wardrobe. “It isn’t going to hurt you. It’s just fae magic. Her name’s Echo. She’s a young fae without much power or much family status, so for now she serves Mistress in a couple of ways in exchange for her patronage and protection. She’s actually very friendly. Just let her do what she does. If you close your eyes you might be able to pretend that it’s someone right here in the room who just doesn’t talk.”
“I… all right. I think she’s got a challenge ahead of her with me.”
Her reflection cocked her head to one side, lips curving in a smile, then shook her head firmly in the negative before rummaging in the drawers of the vanity.
The cleanser had already left her skin with no blemishes to cover, but her reflection briskly applied a thin layer of something that dried quickly, and then with swift efficiency did something with darker and lighter tones. Jillian could feel the contact and the sensation of the makeup on her skin. It was creepy, watching her reflection’s hands moving with such speed and precision while she herself sat frozen, but it was impossible to keep herself from watching. Her reflection added something colourless to her eyelids and did artistic things over it with eyeshadow of rich deep green shades and black liquid eyeliner and mascara, and finished it all by turning her lips to a metallic cherry-red a bit lighter than her hair but the same hue. Somehow, whatever she was doing left Jillian with her face subtly reshaped, her eyes looked large and exotic and striking with the green echoing her collar, and her lips looked full and inviting. And it all took much less time than Jillian was sure it would have for a human.
Her reflection held up a hand, asking her to wait, then cleared away the make-up and pulled out a hairbrush and several other things. With that same deftness, she got Jillian’s hair brushed and the front braided back from her face to either side with black and white ribbons. She slipped dangly earrings, multiple strands of small iridescent pearls, into her ears, and Jillian felt the sudden weight of them.
The last thing that appeared was a set of long cherry-red nails that were glued on over her own functional short neat ones once her pale lilac polish had been briskly removed.
Her reflection gave her a last detailed looking-over, nudging her chin to either side again, then smiled in delight, nodded, and made shooing motions with both hands.
“Thank you,” Jillian said, feeling more than a bit dazed but falling back on basic courtesy. Could her reflection, or the fae currently inhabiting it, hear through the glass, or read lips in reverse?
Apparently so, because her reflection winked and mouthed what was clearly, You’re welcome, before it stopped moving independently and began to act the way a reflection should.
“Come let me see?” Flair said. She was in front of the mirror wall, fastening the many hooks of her own matching uniform with remarkable flexibility and dexterity. She had the same lace-trimmed black stockings and the same heeled boots, but Jillian assumed she didn’t have a corset underneath—or panties, for that matter. “Just so you know, nothing you do can mess up your make-up. You could rub your eyes or wash your face and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference. The green cleanser would do it, or you can go back to the vanity and let Echo do it. I assume the nails are the same, they’re probably really hard to break and won’t fall off for anything. It’s as good as part of you for the moment.”
Jillian took a deep breath, closing her eyes briefly and nerving herself.
I look the way Mistress wants me to look. It’s Mistress’ decision, not mine. So there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Yes, that felt right, although it didn’t really stop her from feeling intensely self-conscious anyway.
It doesn’t matter whether I like it or not. It doesn’t matter whether it feels good. It only matters that I do what I’m told.
Unexpectedly, that felt wrong.
“Do you get… sort of a voice in your head, but not really a voice?”
“Telling you if you’re doing what Mistress wants? Sort of. It isn’t the same as the one that goes with a bargain, but I do know what you mean.”
“Um… why did it just tell me that it’s wrong that it doesn’t matter how I feel? I mean, it doesn’t, right? What I want or don’t want won’t change anything.”
“Those are two different things.”
“It’s true that whether you want to do something won’t have any effect on whether you have to do it. But it’s not true that how you feel doesn’t matter. I told you, I think. Mistress likes to see her pets enjoy ourselves.”
“I’m not sure that makes sense.”
Flair sighed, and her tone turned patient. “To the fae, humans have short lives and very little power and a very limited comprehension of reality. But they can care about us, collectively or individually, sometimes a lot. Mistress grieved for a long time when the pet she already had when I came died of extreme old age a few years ago. They can like our company and find us useful or interesting. That doesn’t stop them from making decisions for us without any hesitation, and honestly, they’re usually right. Mistress could compel us to be happy and not think of anything else. It’s actually kind of fun, for a limited time—I think it’s probably a bit like what some humans hope to get from drinking a lot. But she wouldn’t do it for long, or as anything but a game. She gets much more pleasure out of making sure her pets have what we need to be genuinely happy and healthy. If you’re going to be someone’s property, it’s nice to be protected and loved property. No one is going to make you have fun. But if you can relax and find a perspective that will let you enjoy whatever you can out of tonight, Mistress will like that, and that means that how you feel does matter, even if what you want to do or not do won’t change what you do. You see?”
“I… maybe. That’s a lot to wrap my head around.”
“Try. And try to find a way to see things that will let you stop fighting everything. If you pay attention to that little hot-and-cold voice in your head, you aren’t likely to do anything wrong. It’s sort of like having a manual that tells you what you need to do in order to pay your debt. Now please stand up and come over here so I can see how you look.”
Right. She was supposed to obey Flair, and she’d gotten distracted.
One hand on the vanity to steady herself, what with the corset and the high heels affecting her centre of gravity and her stability, she got carefully to her feet and moved around the bench.
Her own reflection as she walked towards the mirror wall made her made-up eyes widen in astonishment.
“That can’t be me.” It wasn’t. It couldn’t be. Dressing like that, all made up like that, it was all something for someone else. Not for her, with her determinedly conventional life. She had never, ever seen anything in the mirror that even approached this.
She wondered whether Gary would die of horror that his girlfriend looked like some sort of fetish fantasy model or want to toss her immediately into bed. She figured it was about even odds.
Flair giggled. “Well, it isn’t as big a change as visiting the body artists, but it’s pretty dramatic anyway, and I can understand it being a bit of a shock. But you look absolutely fantastic. Mistress is going to be very pleased.” She fastened a black satin choker around her own throat, slipped pearl earrings the same as Jillian’s into her ears, and backed up a few steps—perfectly confident in those heels, Jillian noticed—so they were side by side. Flair studied the image, and laughed. “Yes, Mistress will like this. Let’s go show her. Then we can get started on getting refreshments ready.”
“I… there’s a part of me that thinks that does look amazing. Way more than I ever thought I possibly could. Although I guess there is magic involved. But there’s a larger part of me that’s terrified of anyone actually seeing me looking like this.”
“Well, see, there’s a perfect illustration. Liking how it looks and feels is something that pleases Mistress. But whether you like it or not, and whether you want to or not, Mistress and a dozen other fae are going to see you wearing that. Are you expecting them to think bad things about you?”
“Maybe. Probably. Most humans would, even if they were getting off on looking.”
“Fae won’t. They’ll enjoy looking, and they’ll respect what Mistress said about sex, and that’ll be it. They won’t think anything bad about you. It would take ages to try to explain why, but what it comes down to is, they have better and more interesting things to think about. Honestly, I don’t understand why free humans don’t have better things to think about than judging other people’s sexuality and clothes and whatnot. It isn’t like there’s anything that’s universal, if you look across enough human cultures.” She shrugged. “Free humans confuse me a lot. Anyway. We need to stop talking and go get Mistress’ approval on how we look, then there’s work to do.”
Jillian figured she’d already been awake for close to twelve hours, and she had, what, eleven to go? This was going to be a long day. And why get dressed up for a party before doing the kitchen work or whatever? Was that to give her a chance to get used to this? But she sighed and nodded.