Romulus shrugged. "I was just strolling around the gardens. Is that such a great crime?"

"No but you didn't have to come over and interrupt what Tilly and I were doing. In fact, I thought I made it clear from the age of about seven that I wanted you to leave me alone."

"Oh, Peter. Can't we be friends?" Romulus smiled sweetly.


"Okay then." Romulus turned to me. "Did you know Peter can read your mind?" he asked conversationally.

"Er, no," I repliied.

Romulus's expression became one of horror. "He didn't? But surely that was something you'd have liked to know before you belonged to him?"

"Perhaps we were going to discuss this sort of thing after we'd read the scroll," I replied defensively. "And I don't care if he can read my thoughts: he understands me! He'd know what was right and wrong to do around me."

"And you still want to tie your soul to his?"

"As a matter of fact, I do."

Romulus changed the subject. "Would you like to see the Crystals of Nuki with me?"

"No. I hardly know you and if there's anything beautiful to see, I want to see it with Peter."

"Oh but surely you want to make sure you couldn't care for any other guy before you did this?"




"Well, I don't think you know what's best for you. Come with me."

I suddenly found myself standing up. "What?! How did this happen? I want to stay with Peter!"

Peter looked angry and jumped to his feet. "Don't you dare use mind control on Tilly."

"Mind control?" I whispered.

"Come on," Romulus said, ignoring Peter.

He started walking away. To my alarm, I found myself following.

Peter ran after us. He stood in front of me and held my waist. "Tilly, I know this isn't your fault, but try to resist him."

I tried to tell myself to stop but my feet kept moving, undeterred by Peter.

Peter moved his hands to either side of my head and stared into my eyes. "Tilly, you can stop! Believe you can stop."

Romulus returned and my feet stopped.

"Now, now, Peter, I hope you aren't using mind control. You know the consequences of such an action are terrible."

"Why can't he?" I asked.

"Because he brought you here. You're his guest so it would be rude of him to control you. Asteria likes to welcome its visitors not make them afraid. Peter has made it his job to protect you and treat you as he would a queen I, however, have no such obligation and can therefore do what I want to you - except murder you, of course."

Peter brought his hands down from my head. He looked distressed. "I wasn't controlling her."

"I should hope not. But, as a law-abiding citizen, I shall have to check."

Peter looked shocked. He turned to Romulus. "No way!"

"What?" I asked, confused. "What does he mean 'he has to check'?"

Peter turned back to me, looking aghast. "He's talking about probing your mind." Peter swivelled on the spot to glare at Romulus. "I won't let you!"

"You'd prevent an attempt at the upkeep of the law?" Romulus was grinning wickedly, obviously enjoying himself.

Peter stepped back, looking lost. "No," he mumbled, looking at his feet. He looked up. "But if you do anything Tilly would consider unpleasant, I swear you will regret it for the rest of your life!"

"Fair enough."

Romulus stepped forwards so that he was directly in front of me. He placed a cool finger on my temples. "Close your eyes and relax," he murmured.

Very nervous now, I closed my eyes and tried to regulate my breathing.

Suddenly, I was watching my memories from when Peter had kissed me and I'd been transported here to the present moment. Distantly, I realised I hadn't asked how I'd gotten here or why exactly he'd brought me here, though I suppose an answer wasn't necessary for the latter question: this had been a romantic experience. As the memories faded, my eyes remained shut.

In answer to your questions, Peter brought you here by reciting the chant for teleportation in his mind and he did so because he wanted to show you these wonderful gardens. I shivered at the presence of Romulus's mental voice in my mind.

All of a sudden, a new picture appeared in my thoughts. It was the inside of some cave but from the ceiling hung crystal stalactites in every colour of the rainbow. Light reflected off these and danced around the walls, multicoloured and magical.

These are the Crystals of Nuki. Would you like to see them?

I found I could reply with my thoughts. Oh yes! They must be so awe-inspiring. I paused. But I want to see them with Peter.

Won't you come with me? It would be pleasant whoever you went with.

No, I relpied firmly.

Oh come on! Do you really want me to control your mind again?

No, just respect my decision. You're so stubborn - like a child.

Well, that's nice.

I don't want to be nice! And with that, I forced my eyes open, hoping to end his ability to communicate with me telepathically. I was going to glare at him but instead I found myself falling into navy irises which seemed to make time slow down. I wasn't glaring, I was just staring. As far as I could tell, my expression was blank.

"You sure you don't want to come?" Romulus asked aloud.

I needed time to assess the situation, somewhere away from Peter who would just make me feel guilty or sad for experiencing something strange around this ... enemy of his. I couldn't wander around another dimension alone so resignedly, I replied "Oh all right then."

Peter looked bewildered. "Are you okay, Tilly?"

I shook my head. "Maybe the air in those caves will do me some good. Could you stay here and wait for me?"

"Okay," he replied dubiously. "But are you sure you'll be all right with Romulus?"

"Yeah, I'll keep an eye out for anything he might decide to do."

"Well, don't be too long."

He trusted me so much when I didn't even trust myself...

Peter gave me a kiss on the cheek before Romulus took my hand and dark air swirled around us. The experience was cold and frightening and I found myself clinging tightly to Romulus as we teleported. It was like being in the middle of a tornado - like the damage was being done around us, not to us, but this was nevertheless still scary.

I felt myself fall forwards but I didn't seem to make contact with the ground.

The End

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