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Another Monday

Chapter Text

It was stifling hot inside the library study room. Condensation gathered on the window and rolled down the glass like the building itself was sweating. The hellish heat was a stark contrast to the blanket of snow that had fallen over the campus during the night, giving the school grounds a very picturesque winter wonderland appearance. The roaring fire in the library’s stone fireplace kept the cold blocked out of the building and the morning sun reflected off the untouched snow and warmed the widows.

         Both the snow and dawn went unnoticed by Julia, who was sitting on her knees in the chair to make herself taller and hunched painfully over the desk scribbling frantically as she leaned forward to flip the page in one of the four books that surrounded her. The area around her was littered with discarded papers, paper cups of long cold coffee, ashes where she missed tapping her cigarette into the ashtray, and highlighters she could never find when she found something she deemed important enough to be in neon colors rather than plain white. Usually, Julia kept her study area very neat as she truly believed that an organized space equaled an organized mind. However, at some point in her hours of studying she had given up on keeping her work desk tidy and had instead been hyperfocusing on Hemomancy in relation to ethical spell casting and binding contracts.

         For the most part Julia had been able to ignore the heat as she’d been fine with discarding her sweater on the ground and simply working in her white tank top. Perhaps it was the rising sun casting rays of light across her desk that made her suddenly aware of the beads of sweat on her temple; the sudden change in atmosphere jolting her out of her near hypnotic work state. Blinking made her realize how heavy her eyelids were and she couldn’t help but yawn loudly.

         Stretching her arms up towards the ceiling Julia let out another yawn and looked around the empty library. It took her sleep deprived mind a moment to process what the sunlight and quiet library meant and she froze midway through stretching, looking from the book stacks to the foggy window.

         “Shi..” Before she could even finish swearing she was frantically pushing her papers aside to find where she’d laid her wrist watch. “Shit, shit, shit,” she chanted, more than making up for her incomplete swear earlier. It was after 7 o’clock in the morning which meant she was supposed to be in bed at least five hours ago, eight hours ago is Alice had things her way.

         Still repeating her mantra of curses Julia gathered up her things, opting to just crumple her papers up rather than waste time straightening them out and organizing her bag in any way. Why hadn’t Margo or Alice come to check on her? Why hadn’t anyone dragged her to bed? Why let her dig her own grave and make her punishment worse than it would’ve been?

         Julia hurried down the stairs and pushed open the heavy oak doors before immediately turning back around and going back upstairs to get her sweater. It cost her a few precious moments but she wasn’t going into that white hell with her arms exposed. If she wasn’t in trouble already Alice would kill her for wearing a cropped tank top in the snow. Granted, there was really no part of her outfit that was weather appropriate. She’d only gone a few feet before her faux snakeskin ankle boots were full of snow and her fluffy socks were soaked. Even worse, she slipped in the snow while hurrying down the stone path. Had the snow been light and fluffy then it would’ve been cold but overall not terrible. Unfortunately, the snow was thick and wet to the point it was basically just slush. It was never a good sign when your day started off with you freezing cold, soaking wet, and definitely in trouble.

         Despite knowing she was going to be chastised for staying up all night it was still a relief to get to the cozy cottage. It wasn’t stifling like the library; rather it usually had a comfortable homey sort of warmth. Today, however, the temperature of the cottage made her feel slightly claustrophobic and a little sick to her stomach. She pulled off her damp sweater and laid it in front of the fireplace to dry, hoping that shedding the top would make her feel a little better. It didn’t. Her tummy was still sour and twisting but now she also got to be chilly again.

         Climbing the stairs Julia held her breath and clung to the possibility that Margo and Alice were both still asleep, despite the fact that Alice awoke at 6 in the morning without an alarm clock. Maybe they’d fallen asleep early and that was why no one came to get her? Maybe they had gotten distracted getting wrapped up with each other, too preoccupied with fighting for dominance that they hadn’t even noticed Julia’s absence. If they were still in bed then maybe she could slip in between them and get some rest because that was certain to help her feel less nauseous. Sure, all the possibilities had a near zero percent likelihood, but it was nice to dream.

         “I’d like to believe you’ve suddenly started waking up on time and I could look forward to mornings that didn’t involve wrestling a whining brat from under the blankets….but I’m not holding out for a Christmas miracle,” Alice said, shattering all Julia’s hopes without even turning away from her closet.

         “It’s Christmas?” Julia asked, too tired to fully understand.

         Sighing, Alice took a burgundy blouse from her closet and pulled it on, somehow radiating disappointment in unassuming movements alone. Tucking her shirt into her skirt Alice finally turned to face Julia and that was so much worse. Dissatisfaction was etched onto her face and it was so much harsher than the discontent vibes she’d been emanating before. “We’ll talk about this more when Margo gets out of the shower but I don’t think I need to tell you that you’re in trouble right now.”

         Unable to meet Alice’s stern gaze Julia found herself very interested in the clump of snow clinging to her Sam Edelman boot. Slumping her shoulders she tapped her foot against the doorframe, knocking the snow to the floor. “And yet you’re telling me anyway,” she grumbled though she wasn’t sure why. Being bratty to Margo usually ended up with both of them having fun but being bratty to Alice? That was something she’d learned quick not to even try.

         Alice raised her eyebrow, wordlessly challenging her Sub to make another comment. “Julia,” she said, easily slipping into her Dom voice and making Julia squirm, “do you want to continue to make this worse or would you like to start behaving now?”

After a few seconds of silence Alice slipped her hairbrush off the dresser and moved forward until she was close enough that she could touch Julia if she wanted. The short distance between them was something Margo gleefully called the ‘Smacking Zone’. Julia wasn’t quite as delighted by it. There was something about the time Alice spent not touching while within the Smacking Zone that was much worse than a pop on the thigh with the wood en backing of the brush. It felt taunting, threatening, and that should’ve been enough to make Julia straighten up.

“Julia,” Alice repeated, somehow she managed to make her voice even more firm. “That was a question . Questions require answers.  I’ll ask you one more time: Do you want to keep being rude and bratty and get into more trouble or do you want to behave and listen to me?”

Of course Julia wanted to behave, she wanted to say ‘Yes, Ma’am. I’m sorry, Ma’am.’ But for some reason those words came out sounding a lot more like, “You’re being mean this morn—ow! Fuck! Hey! Ow! Quit! I got it the first— ow!”

Before the sentence was even finished Alice had grabbed Julia by the arm and pulled her over, landing three loud, painful smacks on her right thigh. Alice didn’t need to bring the brush down hard, she’d somehow mastered the art of flicking her wrist just right to land maximum sting with minimal effort. Even after she stopped bringing the hairbrush down Alice kept a tight grip on Julia’s arm, not only keeping her ready for another spanking but also making it harder for her to rub the stinging spots on her thigh. H&M leggings didn’t provide much protection and Julia awkwardly used her left hand to try to soothe her aching ass, feeling certain that her wet clothes made the bite of the hairbrush harsher than usual.

“The first one was for not answering. The second was for swearing during a correction. And the third was for backtalk.”

Of course. It was never considered a punishment when it was unplanned smack. It was a correction and Julia had grown to hate that word. A punishment meant you were forgiven while a correction was for bad habits or a bratty attitude and meant that you needed to straighten up before you got an adjustment , which was just a punishment without as many cuddles afterwards. Julia wasn’t sure what came after an adjustment, but she hoped to not find out. She pouted, knowing there was nothing Alice loved more than nipping playfully at a plump, pouty lower lip.

There was nothing playful in the way Alice held that brush and she didn’t seem to be in the mood for teasing bites. “I can stand here and spank you all day, but I don’t want to. I’d rather you be a good girl. Do you think you can do that for me?”

“I’m just tired,” Julia admitted before letting out a yelp as the brush came down two more times, echoing down the hall. The brush was so loud and Julia couldn’t help but cry out in pain and surprise. She was sure her cheeks were as red as her thighs and there was no way anyone awake in the cottage had missed the fact that she was getting spanked every few seconds. If they hadn’t walked by the open door then they had certainly heard the smacks and pained squeals.

“And whose fault is that?” Alice asked condescendingly. She let go of Julia’s arm, giving her just a moment to feel free before taking her by the ear. Ignoring the protest of indigent yips she led Julia across the room and stopped in front of her desk “Lean forward, please, hands flat on the desk. You’re getting six, three on each side. That’s generous considering I could keep smacking that same spot.”

It was a kind offer to spread the smacks around rather than layer them on top of each other and some part of Julia’s brain knew that she should thank Alice for that kindness. Unfortunately, there was a much louder voice in her mind that declared this whole situation incredibly unfair. “What?! I was just—ow! That fucking hurts and you’re not letting me—ow!” Julia stomped her foot against the floor as Alice smacked the same spot twice more.

         “That’s ten. Backtalk. Swearing. We’re going over basics right now—“

         Julia slapped her hand against the desk. That one spot was starting to really hurt from the buildup of hits. “What do you expect? When you hit me it hurts, when I hurt I swear, so by the logic when you hit me I’m gonna swear. Look. I’m tired and you won’t listen to anything I’m—Ow! Fucking quit!”

“Fifteen, Julia! The backtalk, the swearing… do you wanna try for twenty? That’s the next number I’m calling out and if you wanna keep pushing me then you can get a real, full punishment for your behavior and afterwards you’ll still have twenty with the hairbrush for your adjustment. Try me, Julia. I’m not asking you to move mountains. All you have to do is lean forward, it’s very simple. Just lean forward, put your hands on the desk and try to behave.” She threateningly tapped the brush twice against the top of the desk, both directing Julia and reminding her what would happen if she didn’t obey.

         For a moment she looked up at Alice, trying her famous pout one last time just in case it would somehow miraculously work and grant her a last minute reprieve. Unfortunately, Alice’s no-nonsense expression told her there was no chance of being cute enough to wiggle out of this. She swallowed hard and leaned forward, hands flat and fingers splayed, then before Alice could ask she moved her feet to be shoulder width apart, her wet shoes slipping slightly on the wood floor as she tried to move into position. Worrying her lower lip she tried to find a position where her shoes wouldn’t slide around during her adjustment and earn her more smacks for moving out of place. As cute as these shoes were, the tread on them wasn’t great and they were still full of melted show. Realizing there was no real way to find her footing in this situation Julia let out a pathetically fearful whimper. She was already leaning over the desk, she’d decided to behave, and now she was going to get into more trouble because of her shoes! If she got in trouble she wanted it to be 100% her fault and at least kind of worth it.

         “Here, stay still, I don’t want you falling and hurting yourself,” Alice said, letting the hairbrush rest innocently on the desk while she knelt down. She frowned, worry creased in her brow as she ran her hand down Julia’s damp leg and examined her shoes. “I don’t remember putting you in these shoes,” she muttered before shaking her head, “maybe I did, we’ll talk about it when we talk about you not wearing a jacket. For now, can you lift your foot for me and still balance? Good, thank you, there’s my good girl. Hold onto the desk, I don’t want you to slip. Good girl,” she praised, working Julia’s boot off. “God, Julia, these are soaked! Did you take a shortcut through the Hudson?! I wish you’d behaved sooner so we could’ve gotten these off you! Oh, baby, your feet are absolutely frozen! I’m going to have to get you some socks and lay down a mat for you so you don’t slip. Lift your other foot. Good girl, very good. See? I knew my good girl was in there somewhere, I just wish she’d some out sooner. Don’t move, let me grab your socks and mat.”

         Normally having Alice praise her made Julia light up with absolute pride and delight, but it was hard to feel too good about herself when her ass was stuck out ready to be spanked. As Alice pulled on a fresh pair of fluffy socks Julia sniffled and squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to shed any tears before the actual adjustment started. She wished she’d behaved earlier, maybe Alice and Margo wouldn’t be so harsh on her for missing her bedtime if she’d just said ‘Yes, Ma’am’ instead of saying everything but that. And it wasn’t just that she was trying to lessen her punishment, Julia liked being good. She liked Alice praising her and being gentle and taking care of her in soft ways instead of with a hairbrush. Why couldn’t she just be good?

         Now that she had fresh socks on and a mat to keep her from slipping there was nothing left but to get through her adjustment. “Thank you, ma’am,” Julia managed, “for making sure I don’t fall and for the socks.” She was going to try, goddamnit! Yeah, maybe she had dug herself into a big of a hole here, but she had to be good! Alice loved her and had made sure she had some kind of comfort, even if it was as simple as clean socks. She wanted Alice to praise her but she wanted to deserve that praise. “It feels a lot better…not having the wet ones on anymore. Thank you.”

         “I bet it does, that had to be cold and miserable,” Alice said, her voice soothing and kind like it had been when she was praising Julia for following basic commands. It was gentle, mostly. Despite how gingerly Alice spoke there was still a hint of a stringent edge to her voice acting as a warning that she could go back into authoritarian mode with ease. Calmly, Alice slipped her soft hand underneath the thin fabric of her Sub’s tank top to rubbing reassuring circles on her back. She waited until Julia’s shoulders relaxed as she let out the breath she’d been holding. Once Julia was breathing normally Alice continued. “How’s your shirt still dry? Your socks, your pants, and your hair are all soaked but your shirt seemed to have missed out. What happened?” She wasn’t being accusatory, the questions sounded genuine and there was just a hint of worry in her words.

         “I was wearing a sweater,” Julia explained, doing her best to keep the insolent tone out of her voice, “I fell in the snow and, well, I couldn’t take off my pants but when I got to the cottage I took off my sweater. It was…kinda soaked.”

         “You weren’t wearing a sweater when you came in here. You’re not lying to me, right? Because if I find out you did walk across campus in the snow without a sweater and a jacket—“

         “No, no Ma’am. I’m sorry I interrupted,” she said quickly when Alice stopped rubbing her back. The apology seemed to help because Alice's hand started moving again. “I took my sweater off downstairs to dry by the fireplace because I didn’t want to drip water all over the floor.” Well, it was more because a damp sweater wasn’t exactly a cozy article of clothing, but it sounded better if she took it off to be considerate. Shifting her weight from foot to foot Julia bit her lip and reminded herself that telling Alice things was much better than Alice finding things out. She wanted to be good, or at least try to be even if it was hard. “I—um…I wasn’t—I was just wearing the sweater…I didn’t have my coat because I kinda maybe didn’t wear one to the library last night.” She tensed, waiting for a correction, keeping her eyes focused on the desk so she wouldn’t have to see the gut punching disappointment in her Dom’s eyes.

         It was quiet for a moment and instead of smacking Julia’s bottom Alice kept up her soothing circles. “My sweet baby,” she finally said with a sigh, sounding exasperated rather than let down. “Baby, you have coats in your room. It wouldn’t mean much except you’re a knowledge student. You have a room in the library. There’s no excuse for you not to leave the library and go out into the snow without a coat on.”

         “…Oh.” Why hadn’t she thought of that? How was she so smart and, at the same time, the biggest idiot she knew? Sure, Julia could tell you a dozen different kinds of contracts that required a Hemomancy expert to witness and notarize them, but she couldn’t remember that when it was cold she could go to her bedroom and get a coat so she wouldn’t be quite so cold. Why was she like this?

         Despite there clearly being a rule broken Alice still gave a small chuckle at Julia’s response. “Yeah, ‘oh’. We’ll talk about that when we talk about you deciding to stay up all night and not bother to tell anyone. You know you need to wear a coat when it’s below thirty degrees, even if you’re wearing a sweater. That’s a rule that we made to keep you safe, and healthy, and warm. And you broke that rule. But, I’m not going to punish you for that now, understand?”

         “Yes, Ma’am.” Julia wasn’t sure if that was a blessing or not. It might be worse later but, for now, she was glad not to get more than fifteen smacks.

         “Good girl. And you’re not being punished right now. Can you tell me why you’re going to get this spanking and why it’s not a punishment?”

         God, she hated this part! Not only did it feel like a test she forgot to study for, but she hated saying it all out loud. It made her tummy flip and her ears burn to admit her mistakes for the world to hear. Sure, it was just Alice, but Alice was one of the people Julia wanted to impress most of all! Reciting her flaws wasn’t impressive and she couldn’t understand why they had to go through these charades every single time. It never got easy; if anything it just made her feel worse.

Fidgeting in place , Julia couldn’t help but let an undignified whimper tumble front her trembling lips as she struggled to make herself respond in a way that would make Alice happy. “Can you close the door, please? I—please?” she pleaded, hoping her good behavior the last few minutes would persuade Alice into letting that non-answer slide without a correction. Hell, she’d take the correction if it meant they didn’t attract an audience. God forbid Eliot should catch the show and spend the next couple of eons to make little jokes and jabs about Julia getting into trouble. The only thing worse would be if Quentin were to see and be awkwardly worried whenever he saw her, unable to meet her eye from secondhand embarrassment.

         The soothing circles ceased. “Julia,” Alice warned and though her voice wasn’t quite back to being frighteningly stern but close enough to convey it was better not to push it.

         “Don’t worry, I’ve got the door.”

         Wait! Julia would recognize that teasingly sultry voice anywhere! “Margo!” If Alice’s hand hadn’t been on her back then Julia would’ve jumped straight up and ran to Margo for protection against Alice and wooden brush. This was perfect! If Julia were to be granted a pardon from this unjust adjustment then Margo would certainly be the one to give it to her!

         The door softly closed and within just a few seconds manicured nails lazily scratched up Julia’s arm and into her dampened curls. There was just enough pressure for the acrylics to feel smooth and nice against her skin. It felt wonderful, but the underlying message didn’t exactly give her good feelings or high hopes for how lenient her punishment would be. In fact, it made her heart catch in her throat and her stomach twist like it was trying to tie itself into a balloon animal. Margo rarely got her nails done, but when she did she would wear a full set of acrylics for up to three weeks. It was a subtle reminder that so long as those nails were on there wasn’t a chance in this or any world that she was going to play extra nice and fun games with Julia. They could be in the common room or out to dinner and Margo would unassumingly run her nails across Julia’s skin. The touch was inconspicuous enough that no one even gave it a second glance. No one would know how much just seeing those nails made Julia squirm as she was reminded that there was no way she would be allowed to orgasm until every beautiful acrylic was in the trash.

         “We haven’t decided yet but I’d say at least a week, I like this color a lot,” Margo told her in a saccharine voice, seeming to read her mind. It was an obvious question and one Margo would never give a straight answer to. With a little more pressure she scratched down Julia’s spine, leaving light red lines in her wake that would fade within a few minutes. “Why’s my baby all wet—oh! You’re jumpy today!” It wasn’t that Margo laughed out loud, she didn’t have to, the laughter was clear in her voice.

         As Margo’s hand had continued down she’d scratched over the spots where Alice had smacked her earlier, causing Julia to yelp in surprise and try to jump away from Margo’s hands. In response, Margo grabbed Julia’s hip, pressing and holding it tight against her body with one hand while her other hand continued lightly scratching the area, absolutely delighting in the light whimpering noise her Sub was making. It was almost easier when it just hurt because the light, calculated touches were the exact right kind of painful to feel nice. With her forehead pressed against the desk Julia pushed back into Margo’s hands, struggling to stay still when she wanted to writhe and reach for more pleasure.

         “Oh, someone likes when Mamacita tends to her wounds. Poor thing,” she purred, adding a little more pressure and humming in delight as Julia gasped and whined. “You have no idea how much I’d love to stand here all day and listen to you make those absolutely sinful noises…oh well.” Immediately she unceremoniously withdrew her hand from Julia’s body, taking the pleasure away all at once. “Somebody decided to be a naughty little kitty today, haven’t they? I just can’t believe Alice tried to punish you without me,” she teased, knowing damn well this wasn’t any kind of a punishment.

         Lifting her head from the desk she looked back to her Dom. It was rare that Margo wasn’t in a playful mood so Julia thought that maybe her pout would have more of an effect and she could delay the adjustment just a little longer. She chanced a glance at Alice, who in turn gave her a warning glare.

         Completely unbothered by Julia’s desperate quivering lip Margo simply kissed her forehead before sashaying over to the bed. “Oh, baby doll, I’m not going to step in and protect you from a punishment. I don’t wanna be on Alice’s bad side.”

         “This isn’t a punishment,” Alice explained, putting her hand back on Julia’s back.

         “It’s not? So what is it?” Margo asked, feigning ignorance.

         “We were just getting to that.” Great, now they were playing off each other. “No more putting it off, sweet baby, no more distractions. You’re being so good and I don’t want to add anything else to this.” She started rubbing her Sub’s back again, trying to keep her calm. “Be my good girl and tell me why you’re getting this spanking and why it’s not a punishment.”

         It was embarrassing enough to answer when Alice was the only one who’d hear her but now Julia could feel Margo’s eyes on her and dropped her head back to the desk and put her face in her arms, trying to hide the shameful blush on her cheeks.

         Alice didn’t immediately chastise her, instead she kept rubbing Julia’s back, her going up to massage between her shoulder blades. “Julia, I’m being more than patient but this is my limit. Lift up your head, talk to me like a big girl, and don’t make this worse than it is. I don’t want to add another punishment but I absolutely will if you keep this up. Last and final warning.”

         Julia mumbled into the table, knowing her words were incoherent and bracing herself for a correction that never came. Alice didn’t even stop caressing her. Julia waited, daring to open her eyes and almost willing to raise her head just to try and read Alice’s expression.

         “I know you can do better than that. Alright, that’s ten.”

         Now that got Julia’s attention. Alice not only didn’t correct her but…had she just made a mistake? Brow furrowed Julia finally brought her head off the desk and turned to look at her Dom in absolute confusion. “But…don’t you mean twenty?” She suddenly felt very stupid. If she hadn’t said anything then she could’ve gotten away with a lesser punishment!

         Despite her obvious annoyance the faintest hint of a smile tugged at the corners of Alice’s lips. “Do I? By all means if you want it to be twenty then it can be twenty. I’m pretty sure I’d decided on five and changed it to ten when you wouldn’t behave.”

         “No, Ma’am,” Julia said, shaking her head. “It was six and then—and then I argued so you moved it to ten but then…” she looked over at Margo and instantly wished she was still hiding. The little smirk on Margo’s face made Julia feel like she’d just done something so, so stupid and color rose up her neck and ears.

         “But then…” Alice urged. “Focus on me, Julia. I moved it to ten? Ten what?”

         By now Julia was sure her face was Louboutin sole red. “It was six so you could keep it even—“

         “Stop. Stand up,” Alice directed, waiting patiently for Julia to do as ordered and uncurl herself from the awkward bent over position. “Good girl. I think that position might be difficult for you, do you think so?”

         Julia blinked in confusion. It definitely felt like she should be getting a correction, if not a full blown punishment, right now. So, why wasn’t it happening? Why was Alice being so…gentle with her? “I don’t know…maybe?” When she took a moment to think about it, it was a very informal position and one she'd never found herself in before. There was nothing about being bent over that was necessarily bad, it was just different and something new to get used to. So, why did she hate it so much?

         Alice reached out, tucking a stray lock of Julia’s hair behind her ear. “Yeah, I think it might be the problem here.”

Despite the fact that she was still clearly annoyed and her patience was running out she was still being sympathetic and kind. It made Julia feel awful and undeserving of her Dom. Here Alice was, reasonably aggravated but still managing to be soft and caring while Julia acted bratty about a basic adjustment! She had to do better, absolutely had to!

“You’re usually such a good girl that I hardly ever have to bend you over and---Actually, can you kneel for me? Facing me. Back to Margo. “

         The suggestion alone made Julia’s pupils dilate and she nodded eagerly. Among her long resume of talents, Julia had perfected the art of gracefully lowering herself to her knees in a way that made other Doms want her and Subs envy her. Maybe she had a bit of trouble with accidentally being a brat sometimes and maybe she got embarrassed easily but when Alice asked her to kneel it felt like a switch was flipped. All the frustration and shame she’d felt leaning over the desk just rolled off her shoulders as her knees hit the wood, her back straightened, and she locked her hands behind her head.

         Relief washed over Alice’s face and she gently pet Julia’s hair, beaming down at her. “Good girl. Beautiful. I didn’t even have to tell you not to use the mat. Smart girl.” Taking a breath she stepped back from Julia and her expression hardened, as though she realized she didn’t have to be as gentle with Julia in this position. “Hands behind your back please. Thank you.” She didn’t miss Julia’s disappointment at not getting immediate praise for following basic instructions. “Keep your eyes on me, not the floor. Focus on me. Now then, think, why was that position so hard for you?” She clasped her hands behind her back and stared expectably down at Julia in an austere manner.

         Julia kept her gaze on her Dom, trying to remember what had been said about the position. “Because…because I’m usually a good girl? And good girls don’t get bent over desks?”

         “Are you asking me or telling?”

         “Telling,” she answered quickly, scrambling to change her tone. “I’m telling—“

         “You’re parroting,” Alice corrected. She regarded Julia for a moment before picking the hairbrush back up, watching Julia’s eyes widen and lock onto it. “I want you to tell me why you think it was difficult for you. Take a moment; think about how you usually get spankings or adjustments or nightly maintenance spankings. How is that different from being bent over the desk and why did the desk upset you?”

         For a few seconds all Julia could think about was how staying in the library all night had caused her to miss her nightly maintenance and that was probably why she was in such a bratty mood. She wondered if they would have to make up for that. Would her maintenance be doubled? Would she have to be bent over a desk again or— “I’m usually over your lap!” Julia realized and the answer must’ve been right because Alice smiled at her. “Most of the time I’m over your lap and I can feel you and it’s—it’s easier to answer when I can touch you.”

         There was pride on Alice’s face, erasing all the earlier frustration for a moment. “Very good! Very smart girl! But you can answer me when you’re on your knees. Why’s that?”

         “I can see you,” she answered immediately, not even having to think about it now. “When I’m—when I’m being punished I like to be connected to you. You had your hand on my back but…but for a punishment I need to touch you or see you so I know…so I know you’re there,” she admitted, lacing her fingers together to keep herself from fiddling too much. It was hard to explain. Alice rubbing her back was nice but somehow not the same as Julia being able to reach out and touch her Dom, grounding herself by holding onto Alice’s ankle or shirttail.

         “That’s a very well thought out answer and certainly something I’ll take into consideration during your next punishments. But this wasn’t a punishment, was it? No, that’s right. What was it?”

         “Adjustment.” Julia answered without the shame from before. “I was…I was being a brat and you corrected me but I kept being a brat and swore during my corrections.” She liked the look that Alice gave her when she answered without prompting so she continued. “You started with six so that—“

         “Six what, Julia?”

         Julia shifted uncomfortably and glanced down, the awkward and ashamed feelings had returned to twist her stomach up again. “Six…spankings,” she said as though the word alone was enough to hurt her. “I was still a brat so you went to ten and I talked—“

         Alice put her hand up as a silent order for Julia to stop talking. “Ten what, Julia? I know it’s embarrassing but it’s embarrassing to me and to Margo to have a Sub who talks back and can’t take a little correction without swearing. So, I don’t feel bad that you’re embarrassed for something you earned. Start over. Your first adjustment number….”

         It took a moment for Julia to blink back tears. This was why she hated discussing why she was getting adjustments or why she was being punished. It wasn’t just that Alice didn’t want to deal with a brat, it made Alice look like a Dom who couldn’t handle their Sub and knowing that she’d let her Doms down or make them look back hurt more than any paddle or strap.

         She took a deep breath, straightened her back, and held her head up just as she’d been taught. She wasn’t going to let Alice down again. “My first adjustment number was six—six spankings.” Staring up she scanned her Dom’s face for pride but Alice only nodded for her to continue. “Which was generous but I swore during corrections and talked back so then it--it was ten span—ten spankings. And—I’m sorry.”

         “I appreciate that. Please continue.”

         When she opened her mouth to continue she felt her lip wobble and the first hot tear roll down her cheek. She was used to her maintenance, used to her bedtime, used to getting five to eight hours of sleep. She’d missed all of those and it made her chest hurt. Everything was so off schedule that she didn’t even feel like herself. Nothing was going right anymore and she didn’t even know how to be good or make Alice happy. It was hell.

         Alice paused, pursing her lips and letting her expression soften just a little. “This isn’t a punishment, Julia. This is ongoing behavior that we’re correcting. Quick corrections weren’t working this morning so you need an adjustment that should’ve been done twenty minutes ago. We’ve never had this much trouble with a basic adjustment before. I know you’re upset, I know you’re tired, but these are your mistakes. Please, please finish so you can get your adjustment and we can be done with this.”

         There was a longing in Alice’s voice, like she wanted this to be over so she could just be comforting as much as Julia wanted to be comforted. It was no secret that Alice hated seeing her Sub cry when they weren’t playing. So, Julia had to pull it together and get through this not for herself but so Alice wouldn’t hurt. She took a deep breath and focused only on her Dom. “I yelled at you, and swore at you not because of you. I know better and I kept doing it this morning so you settled on fifteen. Fifteen spankings…then later you said ten but…but I don’t think you meant ten spankings.”

         “I didn’t.”

         Julia had hoped Alice would be proud of her for getting through it, but she supposed she didn’t deserve that after all the time it took her to explain something so simple.

         “Fifteen spankings. I didn’t want an odd number but I think your left thigh could use one more than the right. Stand up please—here, take my hands, easy. Good, good girl. You okay to stand?”

         She nodded, gripping tight to Alice’s warm hands to pull herself up. Her head was swimmy with sleep and upset. Crying always made her a little dizzy and she was grateful that she had Alice to hold onto. Not only did Alice keep her standing but also grounded her, making the world feel more real again.

         “I’m gonna hold onto you for now just in case while I explain to you what’s going to happen so pay attention. We’re going to finally get through this adjustment. You’ll get fifteen spankings and then ten minutes in the corner. I know, I know you’d rather die than go in a corner, but that’s the point. You can go in the corner and think about these habits and ways to work on them to avoid corrections and adjustments. While you’re in the corner I’m going to get you something nice and soft and dry to wear so we can finally get you out of those wet clothes and into some nice pajamas. Then to bed. We’ll discuss your punishment later. Understood?”

         It felt like a lot but soon enough she’d be in bed and maybe if she was lucky Margo and Alice would stay to cuddle a bit. It wasn’t like they needed naps, but she hoped they’d stay anyway. Just wanting to get it over with Julia headed towards the bed.

         “Where are you going?” Alice asked, catching Julia by the arm. “You’re not going to bed yet.”

         “I know, but the first part—the spanking part—“

         Alice shook her head. “You’re not going over my lap, sweetheart, not this time. I know it’s hard but I’m right here. I promise. Over the desk—just like that, good girl.” Once again she put her hand on Julia’s back. “Right here. My hand isn’t moving.”

         With a whimper, Julia gave a feeble nod. As much as she longed to be over Alice’s lap, holding onto here for strength, there wasn’t any fight left in her. She’d cried it all out when she was kneeling so all she could do now was weakly agree and let Alice bend her over the desk.

         “Julia, I promise, I’m here and I’d never do something if I thought it was going to really hurt you, you understand that, right? Don’t just nod, let me know you heard me.”

         Swallowing hard Julia repeated, “You’ll never hurt me. I know. I know I’m just…I’m tired and cold and damp and I’m sorry. Do I have to count?” Her voice was stained as she struggled to keep her balance.

         “Not this time. I think you’ve got enough without having to count. Alright, let’s get on with this.”

         The thing about Alice was that she was methodical about everything she did. At times, this was incredibly useful, like the time Julia was out of class sick and needed to borrow Alice’s notes and was able to get most of the lecture from them. At other times, it was a pain in this ass, for Julia this was often quite literal as Alice peppered her thighs and sit spots with perfectly placed stinging swats. Even at the awkward angle she was in to keep her hand on Julia’s back Alice made sure the brush came down accurately. Each smack echoed sharply through the room and the first seven hits went smoothly, with Julia making her usual yelps and whimpers. The eighth spank, however, landed over where Alice had given Julia her earlier corrections.

         “Ow, fuck!” Julia yelled before making a squeaking noise and clapping her hand over her mouth. She glanced over her shoulder, hoping that Alice had either suddenly lost her hearing for half a second and hadn’t heard Julia yell or that Alice would let that one slide since there were still so many more smacks to go.

         Alice sighed and shattered both Julia’s ridiculous hopes by landing two quick, sharp smacks to her left thigh. “I’m starting to think that the spankings aren’t getting the message across to you that it’s disrespectful and rude to swear at someone who is helping to correct a behavior you’ve agreed is undesirable.”

         “Sorry, I’m trying and I’ll do better—“

         “You keep saying that so I think we’re going to change your correction. No more spankings for swearing during a correction or punishment. But, I suggest you make it through this adjustment without swearing again. Margo, just in case would you grab--”

         “Swearing corrector? Honestly, Alice, I’m kinda surprised you weren’t doing this sooner. I mean, you’re the traditional one, this should’ve been your first choice. Anyway, I think I’ve got something here that’ll work just fine,” Margo replied, sliding off the bed and heading to her closet. “I’m getting this for you, but you have to hurry up. I don’t like seeing her in pain I didn’t cause.”

         Well, that was a relief. Julia had no idea what Alice was planning but at least her poor bottom wouldn’t suffer anymore abuse from her impulsive need to yell ‘Fuck’ as though that word was a spell that could take away the pain. God, she wished there was a spell to ease the pain. The tenth smack brought tears of both hurt and frustration. Fifteen didn’t sound like a lot. Hell, fifteen was sometimes how many she got for maintenance! But there was something about Alice’s hairbrush, something about it always made Julia break before double digits and she suspected there was some sort of magic on it.

         Eleven and twelve came quickly, spilling more tears as they landed, but it was lucky number thirteen that ruined her and a quiet “Oh, goddamnit,” escaped her lips.

         Alice stopped before number fourteen. “I will say that was better than usual. I could tell you tried. On the plus side you’ve only got two smacks left so this won’t last long. On the downside…you’re going to hate it. Margo?”

         “At least it’s not more hitting,” Julia said, trying to take the brief reprieve to rub her sore ass only to have Alice swat her hands away.

         Pouting on Julia’s behalf Margo reached down and gently brushed through her hair. “Oh, poor kitty, you poor, poor kitty. Your hair is all wet and tangled, god only knows when you’ll be allowed to have an orgasm,” she traced her hand down Julia’s cheek and ran her thumb along her plump lower lip, “and you haven’t even gotten to your punishment yet.”

         For the first time Julia caught sight of Margo’s manicure and she hated to admit that those cat eye mauve nails were flattering so she didn’t. Instead she tilted her head, taking Margo’s finger into her mouth, her tongue swirling around Margo’s soft skin and smooth acrylic in desperate expertise. Margo could be distracted in ways Alice couldn’t and maybe if Julia could, or just a minute, take care of her Dom then she’d get some of the comfort she desperately craved.

         Humming in delight Margo let Julia enjoy herself for a few seconds before she withdrew her hand. “Now, now, now, you’re not supposed to be enjoying yourself right now,” Margo chastised, wagging her finger. “That being said, I want you to close your eyes and open your mouth. Can you do that for me, baby doll?”

         At this point, Julia was sore, upset, exhausted, and Margo was being nice so Julia would do anything she asked. With a whispered “Yes, Ma’am,” Julia let her eyes flutter closed, drew in a breath, and parted her lips, her heart pounding. It wasn’t until just now that she realized that if Alice wasn’t smacking her then there had to be some other kind of correction. It was a struggle now to keep her eyes closed as she worried, hoping beyond all else that it wasn’t a gag. She already felt awful, the last thing she needed was a gag in her mouth keeping her quiet while her jaw complained with aches and drool dribbled down her chin.

         “Good girl!” Margo praised, petting Julia’s hair. She put something hard and smooth in Julia’s mouth. “My good, good girl. Close.”

         Thankful it wasn’t a gag. Julia willingly closed her mouth around the object and after it had a moment to settle she spit it out with surprise and her eyes shot open. The little, white bar of soap sat very assuming on the desk, half damp from where it had been in Julia’s mouth. The bitter taste tongue to her clung, the ghost of floral notes still on her pouting lips. Shocked, Julia looked up to see Margo’s slightly amused grin and Alice’s exasperated expression, she searched for any hint of sympathy and a tear slid down her cheek when she found none.

         Keeping her hand on Julia’s back Alice reached over and picked up the soap. “Margo, that was mean. You can’t just surprise her with things like this. Julia, smacking you for swearing isn’t working and this isn’t an uncommon way to correct that,” she explained, rubbing Julia’s back and speaking softly. “Just hold it in your mouth for the last two hits, okay? Then you can spit it out and stand in the corner for ten minutes. After that we’ll go wash your mouth out, alright?”

         “But I don’t like it,” Julia whined, wrinkling her nose just looking at the soap.  She felt very childish both in saying that and in regards to the punishment overall. This was something that happened to children when they were caught swearing, not to adults who swore in pain.

         “I know,” she said sympathetically. “But this is something that might help and I know you’d much rather be good than keep having to be corrected. It won’t last very long, I’ll make the last two quick and you’ll be done with it and I can be proud of you for doing it.”

         Why did she have to add that last part? Even with Julia’s mind clouded from the day’s stress she still knew that she wanted Alice to be proud of her. She reminded herself that she had to get through this so Alice wouldn’t hurt. Whimpering, she met Alice’s eyes and slowly opened her mouth, warmth rising in her chest with Alice gave her a faint smile.

         Alice put the soap back into Julia’s mouth and smiled when her lips closed around it. “Good girl, thank you. See? It’s not so bad” She went back out of sight and spent a moment rubbing Julia’s back to calm her down. “Deep breath, almost done,” she finally said, her hand stilling.

         It was a bit harder to take a deep breath when her mouth was full of soap. Her teeth held lightly onto the soap and, despite not wearing a gag, she found herself drooling as the alternative was swallowing the sudsy mess. She tried to keep her tongue back but that somehow seemed to make the soap foam worse and the clean, fragrant taste still made its way onto her tongue.

         The first hit came and Julia groaned, instinctively biting down on the soap and she had to fight her natural urge to spit it out. All morning she’d been disappointing Alice so she felt determined now to impress her, even if that meant keeping disgusting soap in her mouth. Then the final smack came and the tears fell but Julia kept the soap in her mouth. She held herself still until she felt Alice rubbing her back and sliding the soap from her mouth.

         “There you go, all done. That’s all done now and you were so good for me,” Alice cooed, pulling Julia into her arms and holding her close.

         Julia let herself take a moment to just rest and feel safe in Alice’s arms, taking in the sweet smell of her tropical scented shampoo and the faint scent of Margo’s perfume that lingered on her clothes. When Alice held her she could feel the love Alice has for her, love that Alice had hid behind walls for so long until hiding it was worse than the fear of getting hurt. When she felt Margo’s hands on her shoulders, no longer teasing but rather supportive and comforting, Julia let herself cry. This wasn’t when she was crying before, instead of tears just slipping down her cheeks her back now shook with sobs and unintelligible apologies spilled from her lips.

         With both of them comforting her she felt…she felt okay, in a sense. She didn’t have to be perfect, she didn’t have to pretend that everything came naturally and easy to her. It was okay. It was okay to struggle, okay to stumble, and okay if she fucked things up sometimes. Even if she was having a rough day and she couldn’t be the perfect Sub she pretended she was when they went out. Imperfection didn’t make her Doms reject her or withhold love from her. She was safe, loved, and it was overwhelming to realize that.

         “It’s okay, it’s alright.” Alice repeated a mantra of reassurances as she helped Julia to move across the room. “There we go, you’re doing great, just sit down here, good girl.”

         The bed was soft and made it easier for Julia to cling to both her Doms and cry until she felt stupid for doing so. That hadn’t even been a punishment! It was just an adjustment that should’ve taken less than five minutes and yet she managed to drag it out by being an idiot! If she’d just kept her mouth shut and let Alice smack her a couple of times then they wouldn’t have had to go through all those steps and the whole situation would’ve been a lost less dramatic. But, no, of course her dumbass had to go and make everything so much harder! Why was she so stupid?

         “Hey! No one says that about my girlfriend,” Margo snapped much to Julia’s confusion. “No one calls my girlfriend ‘stupid’ and I’m the only one who can call her a dumbass.”

         Julia hadn’t even realized she was talking out loud. Bringing her head out of Alice’s chest she wiped her eyes on her arm and wished she still had her sweater on. “I am stupid though. I couldn’t just shut up and get through that and I—and then just kept fucking up. All of this after I was dumb enough to not realize I’d spent the entire night in the library and forget to grab a jacket. I’m a fucking idiot,” she insisted through hiccups.

         For a moment Alice just stared at her then she reached over to grab the wastebasket and her water bottle. “Here, swish and spit.” She held the bottle to Julia’s lips and lifted the wastebasket for her, leaving Margo to the physical comfort for a moment.

         It was nice not to have the soapy taste in her mouth and she rinsed a couple of times before deciding she was always going to have the fainted taste of it in her mouth. “I thought I wasn’t supposed to do that until after the corner….”

         There was a moment of silence while Alice put the waste basket back down and got up from the bed. Julia worried for a minute that Alice was going to go to the closet and get another spanking implement or an evil stick or something else to punish her with. But she stopped short of the closet and opened her dresser drawer. “Julia, what’s my job as your Dom?” she said as she took out a set of black and pink striped flannel pajamas.

         “To correct my mistakes, to lead and guide me through life, to—to, um, help me understand and fulfill my needs?” she guessed, well aware that she was missing a huge chunk of the textbook answer.

         Alice sat back down.” Stand up, please. Thank you. Now, you brought up a couple of things and you’re not wrong. However, that’s a very incomplete answer,” she explained while helping Julia out of her tank top and bra.

         “I—I know that and I know the answer if you just give me a minute I can—“

         “Shhh, you’re trying to overcorrect again, let me speak.” Alice seemed to know that would be enough to silence because she let the room go quiet while she took off Julia’s wet leggings and underwear. “Yes, I’m here to correct you and guide you and help you learn. Those things are important but you’re missing the most important part. Lift your foot, please, so I can get your underwear on. My job is to protect you, to keep you safe. Other foot up now, please. And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I made you stand in the corner right now. For one thing I think it would make you think it was a punishment. Let’s get your pants on, foot up. For another thing it wouldn’t be right or fair to you. You’re exhausted, you’re still wet and cold, it would do more damage to put you in the corner.” She stood up, pulling the soft pajama pants up with her, and kissed Julia’s forehead. “I love you and I’d never do anything that I thought would hurt you.”

         “Oh,” Julia said. She mulled this over while Alice helped her into her pajamas. Usually she loved when Margo or Alice dressed her like she was their little doll. She wished she had the time to enjoy it and didn’t spend the time thinking. “Am I still in trouble?” she finally asked, which was not what she wanted to ask but she didn’t know how to articulate that question.

         Alice snickered and finished buttoning Julia’s top before pulling her back into the bed. “Oh you absolutely are, yes. That was an adjustment. I know it lasted longer than usual but it still wasn’t a punishment. But, like I said, I don’t want to cause too much damage right now,” she explained. Reaching over Alice grabbed her hairbrush off the side table and handed it over to Margo.

         Julia’s breath caught in her throat, eyes wide. She couldn’t handle another spanking right now! But she wasn’t pulled over Margo’s lap or turned over the bed. Being careful of her tangles Margo ran the brush through her messy hair, expertly smoothing out her curls without pulling at her hair.

         “What Alice is trying to say is that before anything happens you need to sleep,” Margo told her. “Not just because she loves you but if we tried to do fuck all to you right now you’d either be a sleepy brat the whole time and we’d be punishing you all day or you’d break completely. And this isn’t how I like to break you down and unravel you. As much as I like to see you cry you’re so much prettier crying from desperation instead of guilt.” Leave it to Margo to be as blunt as possible and still manage to get Julia turned on despite the circumstance. “Now say ‘Thank you, Alice’.”

         “Thank you, Alice.”

         “Good girl. You’re always so good when you’re bruised and sorry. Alice, would you hand me that hairband? Now, Alice has class in an hour and a class at one and I have a class at four so you’ll have someone here all day, no one’s leaving you alone.” She expertly braided Julia’s hair while she spoke. “If you think that we’re babysitting because you’re upset—okay, that’s at least part of it. No one wants you to be sad, scared, and alone.” Taking a break in her braiding and leaned over to kiss Julia’s cheek, silently promising she loved her and would take care of her. “But, also Alice and I were talking while you were being a naughty little kitty and staying out all night. We decided that you’re just not allowed out of the bed today. If you wanna get up then you can ask one of us. But I don’t think you’ll wanna get up for a few hours.”

         Opening her mouth to argue Julia let out a yawn, ruining her counterpoints and proving Margo right. And what good would come from lying anyway? She was exhausted. More than anything she wanted to curl up and close her eyes, feeling certain that she would be asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

         “You can’t sleep all day,” Alice interjected, ruining Julia’s plans to sleep forever. “A nap is fine but you need to be awake before I leave for class. If you sleep all day then you won’t be tired tonight and we need to try to keep you on schedule. Understand?”

         Yawning again Julia nodded then yelped when Alice pinched her leg to let her know a verbal response was needed. “Yes, Ma’am, I need to stay on schedule.”

         Margo finished with her braid, dropped her robe, wrapped her arms around Julia and pulled her down onto the bed. “We get it, Alice. Baby doll can’t stay up too late. She’s cranky when she’s sleepy and just no fun to play with.” She curled her naked body around Julia, arms and legs locking around her Sub, trapping her in place. “Kiss, kiss, love you.”

         Rolling her eyes Alice chose lying down instead of arguing with Margo, thankfully not dragging the conversation out. She snuggled up, holding onto as much of Julia as she could. “Love you, no matter how bad you fuck up. Now get some sleep, we’ll talk later.”

         She should’ve been more anxious, after all a punishment was coming and she had no clue what to expect from that. Two pretty major rules had been broken and she hadn’t even made it all the way through her adjustment. But with both her Doms holding her and telling her they loved her it was easy for Julia to close her eyes and get some rest.