His time had come to depart.
She reached to unbuckle her collar, the one he had placed on her just that day. He stopped her, saying he would remove it himself. He unbuckled it, watching her face as she held back her tears. He answered with tears of his own. He gave her the collar to hold, to keep in trust for them both.
For him to collar his submissive had changed them; that was expected. But the collar itself had changed, to become the dream, and bind them both. The collar was real.
They had accepted that she could not wear it continuously. But it was hers, to keep near her. She could touch it, know herself owned, draw upon her Master's strength. She could wear it when she wanted to, or needed to... and whenever her Master arrived, he would take it from her hands, and place it upon her himself. Before he departed, he would remove it, feel his heart torn by her tears, and once again return it to her hands.
The collar now marked their relationship. He knew she would keep it safe.
They shared the news with their friends. She was his submissive, they clarified, and not his slave. She told her friends of the "horrible" things he had done to her. He smiled, pleased with her bragging. She in turn laughed as he told his side, that six hours was just too short for a decent session. She had become what he needed, and he had become her need.
He was sure she had been marked. Marked with a borrowed cane, yes, and also by belt, brush, ruler and strap. But most of all, he knew, she had been marked by her collar.
She had said something more, but he had misunderstood at the time. She had spoken of the future, while he dwelled in the past. She had dared him to dream... to dream of forever. Earlier he had, in his own quiet way, explained to her about rituals, and heritage, and secrets, and permanence. If he but knew it, she had now met his need with her own.
He worked it out later, and his mind returned to a tiny key he had once found her. He had jokingly claimed it was the key to the lock for a collar. He decided to think of it as his own, held by her in trust, for her day yet to come. The key to his treasure, he had called it... he had spoken well.
Their dreams had brought pain, and now they brought joy. They held on to their dream, to believe in forever. She had been marked by her collar... and so too had he.