"I need help," I told Ryan.
I looked at my feet. "I'm too in love with Harriet. I nearly hypnotised her."
Ryan sighed, exasperated.
"Sophia, would you excuse us a minute, darling?"
I looked up and saw Sophia stand up.
"Do I have to go?" she asked. The longing in her eyes matched the longing in my heart.
"I'm afraid so, dearest. Wait for me downstairs. Want a daydream?"
"It might make me miss you more," she confessed sheepishly.
"Well, I love you. Feel free to watch the TV and make yourself something to eat."
Sophia kissed Ryan before she left. The tenderness of the moment and Ryan's apologetic look afterwards made me want to be with Harriet more than ever.
"So, what d'you want? A change in feeling? To forget her completely?" Ryan asked harshly. "Shall I make her do something torturous to you?"
"No, none of those things. I just want to be able to resist her."
"You want the most painful option? You are crazy, Henry. Come over here."
I sat opposite him on the bed where Sophia had been sitting.
"Give me your trust then."
Asking for a Hypnos Person's trust was a polite way of preparing them to be hypnotised. It made them feel more relaxed, more comfortable with handing over the power they often had over other people. I appreciated Ryan's gesture.
I found myself surprised by his patience: he was annoyed at me for intruding upon the moment he'd been sharing with his girlfriend after all.
I closed my eyes and visualised a sphere of golden light appearing in my hands. The letters of the word trust were scattered around it. I opened my eyes and holding onto the picture in my mind, shook one of Ryan's hands, thus passing him my trust.
"Right, seeing as I'm in a helpful mood, how would you like to be entranced?"
I shrugged. "You like using your eyes, don't you?"
"True. I reckon I'll use my voice if you're giving me the choice though - using my eyes on you and our other brothers makes me feel a little uncomfortable. If you'd just relax for me, then."
I lay down on my front, actually desiring to go into a trance. Nothing can hurt you in that state - it's what happens when you wake up that you have to worry about.
"Would you like me to find you a girlfriend?" Ryan asked, feeling my pulse to check I was totally calm.
"No thanks," I murmured. "I couldn't love anyone other than Harriet."
"What is it about the Mesmerising's and the way they fall deeply in love with the first girl they fancy? It was so unlucky you fell for Arthur's girl."
"It hurts that she could have been mine before he'd met her," I said.
"Yeah but that's what sets you apart from other guys like us, Henry. You're the second best hypnotist in this household and you only used your powers to get to know her better."
I sighed. "It wasn't easy."
"'Course not." Ryan hesitated. "Are you sure you want this?"
"Yeah," I lied. Sure was not the word I would use, myself.
"Brace yourself for pain then. I want you to concentrate fully on my voice." The change in tone was seamless. One second he was talking to me normally, the next his voice was compelling and hypnotic.
"Your will is no longer yours: it is mine to control. Every command I give you you will follow, every emotion I ask for will be evoked from you. There will be no objections and no hesitations. Understand?"
"Yes, Ryan," I heard myself replying. For some reason, a hypnotised Captivator didn't call the hypnotist controlling them ‘master' or ‘sir'. I guess it was so they could retain their ability to be a normal person's master.
"Every time you see Harriet, you will resist the temptation to treat her in any other way than as a friend."
"No," I whispered, my love for her evidently ingrained deep within me.
"I said no objections," Ryan said coldly. His voice became much more authoritative as he said, "You will be able to resist her."
"No," I said again. I desperately wanted to follow Ryan's instructions (not just because I was under his power, mind you) but they were going against something so deeply rooted within me that self-preservation was becoming an issue - if you resist something like that, the pain can be immense.
"Oh, Henry," he said, sighing sympathetically. All this time, I'd been staring at his wall. Now, Ryan said, "Look into my eyes."
I gazed into compelling grass green eyes. My mind was blank so it was easily filled by that hypnotically intense stare.
He pushed me into a deeper trance in which my will was more bound to his.
"Resist Harriet," he said.
This time, I didn't reply. I felt a twinge of pain though, which meant waking up was going to be agonising.
Ryan looked uncomfortable. He tapped my shoulder. I collapsed forwards, pain filling my thoughts: debilitating, physical pain which rendered me breathless. Ryan had caught me and was wincing, saying, "Relax Henry". His voice was ineffective, though: he was just too stressed about the pain he'd inflicted.
"Ow," I gasped. I barely felt Ryan's hands gripping me tightly as the pain caused violent tremors in my muscles. Ryan seemed to realise that he couldn't do anything. He leapt off his bed and ran out of the room, leaving me to fall forwards on his bed and endure the stabbing pain in my head. He came back with someone else but I didn't care, focused on the incapacitating pain as I was.
"This is so the wrong thing to do," Ryan muttered as I felt someone begin to massage my shoulders.
Ryan had run into Arthur's room and yanked me up, apologising. He pulled me along the corridor towards his room.
"It's Henry," he said. "You have to soothe him somehow. But don't you dare talk to him or let him know it's you."
"What's wrong with him?" I asked.
"You," Ryan replied.
I walked quickly into the room and saw Henry sprawled out on the bed. I sat next to his shaking body and started rubbing his shoulders, not really sure of how to go about this.
It was Harriet. I knew it instinctively. The pain grew worse as the surge of emotion she evoked from me was suppressed by a heavy blanket of dull empty thought.
"Damn, why her?" I whispered to Ryan who I knew was still in the room.
"You don't know who it is," Ryan said, sounding confused.
"I think I'd know her anywhere," I said through gritted teeth. "Would you tell her to shove off?"
"Hey!" Harriet sounded hurt which made the pain even stronger.
"He's really hurting," Ryan told her.
"Tell her ... to go away," I said. My attempt to decrease the pain by talking about Harriet unkindly and not addressing her directly only made matters worse.
"I'm not leaving," Harriet said determinedly.
"You're so stubborn!" I muttered as a fresh wave of pain threw me into unconsciousness briefly.
It was terrifying when he went limp under my hands...
I didn't understand why he was being so cold. Had he fallen out of love with me? I didn't think that was right somehow. Even though he sounded like he hated me, he still cared. I had an awful feeling that his pain was related to me in some way.
Ryan suddenly said, "Would you mind going into a semi-trance, Henry?"
"That's a ... good plan," Henry replied, sounding grim.
"Okay. Harriet, put your fingers on Henry's temples."
"NO!" came the strangled cry. "D'you want to kill me?!"
"Henry, mate, I've got no strength."
I carefully put my index and middle fingers on the sides of Henry's forehead. He went limp again and this time stayed like that.
"Will it work if he's unconscious?" I asked.
"Um, no. We'll have to bring him round."
"Are you crazy?!" I yelled. "Did you see how much pain he was in?!"
"I promise this will be better for him. You've just got to trust me, okay?"
I looked at Ryan. "I can't trust you," I whispered. "I can't let myself relax around you."
Comprehension dawned on his face. "Oh gosh no, you can't, can you?"
I shook my head. I tried not to think about what had happened the last time I'd trusted Ryan - I'd trusted him too much, liked him in the wrong way.
"Even if you're not hypnotising me, I'll be similarly vulnerable," I explained.
"You're right. Well... Just try not to think I'm too crazy."
"Okay you semi-crazy Captivator."
Ryan smiled wryly before he rushed out of the room.
"Oh, what are we going to do with you?" I asked the unconscious Henry, still massaging him.
He looked so fragile, so vulnerable, so alone... He needed me. I recoiled from the shock of my want to be there for him. I didn't love him! I couldn't! It would hurt him so much if I did since it was undeniable that he'd have to stay like this until I returned his love for me.
Ryan came back carrying a wet flannel that dripped water onto the carpet. He mopped Henry's brow.
Henry awoke groaning. I quickly put my fingers back on his temples.
"Right now: relax him," Ryan instructed.
"NO!" Henry yelled. "I'm in love with her, Ryan!
"Maybe we shouldn't," I said.
"Do it, Harriet," Ryan said imploringly.
Sighing, I murmured, "Relax, Henry."
"She's not even hypnotic!" he was shouting.
"Sit opposite him and try to catch his gaze," Ryan said.
I got up and moved to sit in front of Henry whose eyes were wild and barely recognisable.
I placed my fingers back on his temples and stared into his eyes. To my relief, he focused on them.
"Melting brown," he sighed, looking depressed and full of longing.
"Relax for me, Henry."
"Of course, darling," he replied quietly.
"He's going slightly insane," Ryan whispered, answering the questioning look I shot him.
I felt a trembling hand turn my face back to Henry's.
"I love you," he whispered.
He looked, if I'm quite honest, as if he were at Death's door.
"Just relax," I said, my voice a little choked with emotion.
"I'm totally relaxed," Henry replied. He grinned faintly. "Fully compliant too."
One of my hands was pulled away from Henry's head and a cold metal object was placed in it.
"Ten swings should be about enough," Ryan whispered. I realised I was holding a pendulum.
Gulping nervously, I dropped the disc before Henry's eyes.
"You don't need to hypnotise me," he said, looking at me adoringly and pushing the disc away with one of his still shaking hands. "What d'you want me to do?" he whispered.
"Just watch the pendulum," I replied, trying to keep my voice calm.
"You don't need it," Henry said, transfixing me with a stare you might give a drop-dead gorgeous, super-famous movie star.
I found the pendulum falling out of my hand.
Helplessly mesmerised, I sat there not knowing what to do as Henry continued to smile at me. I felt weak inside as I reckoned he was losing his sanity all the while. There was nothing I could do, though. I'd have to rely on Ryan to save him.