We stood up and walked to the bed. Ross flopped down but I sat carefully. I gazed at him as he lay there on his side gazing up at me.
After a few minutes, a thought managed to escape the soft cage Ross had put half of my mind into and I said "I hope you didn't really effect a psychological change in me."
"I might have done," he said casually before grinning wickedly.
I shoved him playfully.
His eyes flashed. "You might be more open to my suggestion."
"You wish," I said.
He suddenly looked quite intently into my eyes.
"Rosa Foxtail, you are under my power."
My mind suddenly went blank. But a second later, my thoughts returned and I felt Ross's hand on mine. I realised he must have pushed every thought out of my head.
"Oh stop it, you joker."
Ross chuckled. "I'm no joker - you just went into a trance. You will now do everything I tell you to."
I suddenly grew frightened.
"Really?" I asked nervously.
Ross's features softened. "Oh, Rosa, as if I'd do that to you. Really, darling. Come here."
I lay beside him and he kissed my cheek. I sighed as the tension left me.
"I love you," I murmured.
"You too, baby."
"I feel young," I stated, a little randomly.
Ross shuffled onto his back and put an arm around me.
"Tell me about it," he murmured. I felt his eyes on my face but I gazed up at the ceiling. I always found that gazing into the distance helped me to concentrate on what I wanted to say.
I was startled when I said "You and Jack were always there. Constants in my life like my parents."
"No, no," Ross said quickly, shocked as well. He evidently realised I was about to launch into my life story. "Just tell me why you feel young."
"Sorry about that," I muttered blushing. "Don't know what came over me."
"It's okay," Ross said softly and comfortingly.
"Thanks," I murmured. At my normal volume, I said "I feel young for several reasons.
"Firstly, I've come to trust you like a child, have that limitless open belief in you.
"Secondly, I feel so safe, so protected around you. You're like that kindly spirit who keeps the monster under the bed at bay. Without you, I'm terrifyingly vulnerable so I cling onto you desperately, again like a child.
"Thirdly, there are times when you perform powerful gestures which reveal to me a stronger, deeper love than which I see myself feeling for you. It makes me feel small and smallness is related to early youth.
"Fourthly, you make me feel light-hearted and carefree - two characteristics associated with children. This is not when you're particularly intense or passionate, though. Those times, you make me feel mature. Capable. Strong."
"Lastly, I guess I just relax totally around you and this youthful side of me is allowed to make itself evident."
Ross was silent. I glanced at him. He smiled.
‘Just give me some time to replay your words in my mind,' he thought to me.
I smiled and snuggled closer to him, kissing his lips.
When we pulled back from each other, he murmured "I want to write that down."
"Will you remember it all?" I asked dubiously.
"No but..." He hesitated. "Your subconscious will. Do you mind if I..."
He trailed off, his cheeks slightly red.
‘He looks cute like that,' I randomly thought to myself.
"What?" I pressed gently.
"Hypnotise you," he mumbled, averting his eyes.
Before I could reply, he looked up again, his gaze imploring.
"It's just that that was so beautiful! I want to stick it up on my wall and be reminded of it every day of my life. You come out with such inspirational words sometimes and I'm just so amazed and flattered - I'm honoured to be your kingfisher, Rosa. Darling, I'm in awe of you."
He stopped and I was about to respond when he hastily added "And don't think I want to control you because I don't. I wish hypnosis weren't the only way."
His expression now was sad but there was still implore in his eyes.
"Finished?" I asked, amused.
Ross nodded, not seeming to notice how funny I found him.
I gave him a few more seconds and then, smiling gently at him, I gave my answer.
"Ross, I would've said yes the second you told me I inspired you."
Ross smiled back and kissed me.
"Thank you, Rosa," he said, with heart-warming sincerity.
Climbing over me, Ross got off his bed and walked to his chest of drawers. He pulled out the pendulum I recognised as the one that had been used at various points in the last year to affect the relationship I had with him. As he came back over, I moved so I was lying on my front with my feet at the end of the bed where the headboard was.
"Ah, I'd forgotten you were an old hand at this," he said, smiling wryly.
"I can't believe I've used it. And it's incredible that I've let myself be hypnotised. I don't know whether I'm frightened or fascinated."
"I'm a bit scared," Ross confessed.
I sat up. "You don't need to be. I don't think a kingfisher can comfortably control his rose-dove."
Ross sat down opposite me. "Thanks," he said gratefully. "Hey, d'you mind if we do it like this?"
"Not at all," I said, smiling.
Ross held the top of the pendulum's chair and I looked down at the disc.
"So just relax for me," he said.
I was struck by a sudden thought. I looked up.
"I've just realised - you've never done this to me before."
"Well, the day I felt 13, I did," Ross pointed out.
"Yeah but that was different. You're yourself now."
Ross shrugged. "I guess."
"I wonder if it will change anything since we're in love" I murmured, looking back at the disc."
"I doubt it. Oh! Can you hold it a minute? I forgot the pen and paper."
I took the top of the chain, grinning.
Ross rushed off and reappeared seconds later. He put the stationery next to him as he took the pendulum back.
I shivered slightly. "I'm going to be under your power, Ross," I whispered.
"Yeah," he said softly. "But don't associate it with anything ... desirable, Rosa. I can enchant your senses any time you want."
"Okay," I said, feeling slightly ashamed of myself.
His free hand moved to my right shoulder.
"I understand," he whispered, both physically and mentally.
I smiled and the pendulum began swinging.