Romulus pulled me into his arms as if that would somehow help us avoid detection.
‘How angry would your parents be if they found us?' he asked me in my mind.
‘Very,' I replied. ‘I would probably be grounded, lectured about being alone with boys, you get the picture. They'd wonder how you got in if they found us, probably accuse you of trespassing and they'd shout at you a lot for being alone with their daughter. If there's a way for us to get out without them noticing, I'd advise you did it swiftly.'
I felt him turn us both on the spot so that he was facing the door. Then, he walked backwards, being careful to tread softly. I couldn't see anything: my face was against his chest and I was held in that position by his strong arms around my waist. He kissed the top of my hair, reassuring me. Then, to my surprise, he crouched down, pulling me with him. I was briefly able to see we were in a shadowy corner of the room before I buried my face in his shoulder.
‘What good will this do?' I asked with my thoughts.
‘I know this sounds crazy, but the shadows will envelop us and make us practically invisible.'
‘Magic doesn't exist on Earth!'
Before he could reply, my mum walked into the room. My heart stopped. I clung onto Romulus tightly, knowing we had been caught. But to my surprise, no shouting came. I slowly lifted my face and turned it to see that she hadn't noticed us. I breathed out slowly.
‘How is this possible?' I wondered.
‘I told you: the shadows have enveloped us. It's not an Earth thing: they're reacting to my aura, accepting it as one of their own.'
‘What about mine?!' I thought, panicked.
‘Well, my aura enveloped you when I pulled you close to me - it always does when I hold you - so it didn't matter that you don't have one. You're sort of ... part of me.'
‘How ... wonderful. That's truly inspiring. But what if my mum checks up on me?'
At this moment, Mum was changing into her nightdress, thankfully with her back turned to us.
‘She does that?' Romulus thought, startled.
‘No: she just leaves us to do whatever we want.'
‘Oh... Well, mine usually checks I'm asleep. Doesn't matter if I'm not: she just likes to see I'm all right.'
‘What?' I thought, amused and intrigued by Romulus' response.
‘I had all these great ideas about you staying with me in Asteria overnight.'
I laughed in my mind. ‘Oh, I'm sure we can arrange that somehow.'
‘Is Peter's Tilly dead?' Romulus thought wonderingly.
Internally, I sighed. ‘No. She's just taken a long holiday. I don't think she likes you very much.'
‘How odd. It's like you have a dual personality.'
‘Thank goodness it's nothing like Jekyll and Hyde.'
‘Thank goodness indeed. I don't particularly fancy making out with a great oaf.'
My shoulders shook as I barely stifled a laugh. Seeing a good opportunity for a kiss, I asked ‘Who do you fancy making out with then?'
‘You know the answer to that,' he thought quietly, before rearranging his grip on me so I could lift my face up to his and he could kiss me.
When we broke away, I sighed. I turned away and was alarmed to find my mum had gone.
‘Oh no! Where is she?'
‘Don't worry,' Romulus thought, lightly caressing my back. ‘She's in the bathroom.'
‘D'you think we have time to sneak back into my room?'
‘I'm sure we do.'
We rose to our feet and quietly snuck out of my parents' bedroom. We stole into my own, closing the door behind us, and found Peter sitting on the bed, arms folded as if he'd expected something like this would happen.
"I hope you didn't get Tilly into trouble," Peter whispered to Romulus, as if he'd been the one who'd suggested going into the other room rather than me.
Romulus and I sat on my bed.
"Will you stop it?" I hissed.
Peter sighed. He looked sad.
"Who did you choose?"
I guessed from his expression that he didn't need to ask.
"Romulus. I'm sorry. It's just ..."
"It's just that you find him irresistible: I know. Come round and visit me in my room some time, though. And talk to me when I teleport you to Asteria."
"I will," I told him.
Reluctantly, Peter took my hand and transported us to the caves. He kissed my hand and then departed for his room. Seconds later, Romulus appeared.
"So, what d'you want to do?" he asked, grinning.