Chapter 13

Harriet

It was pleasant to wake up and find Arthur lying next to me. He was so cute when asleep: his features softened so he looked like a child; and I found myself imagining how wonderful every day would be if he lived here.

I eased myself up, careful not to disturb him, and started to get ready.

It must have been around eight o'clock because when I went into the bathroom, I passed my little brother who always went downstairs to watch TV at about this time. It might have been because the bathroom door was closed but I didn't hear him going down the stairs.

But when I returned to the bedroom, I discovered the real reason why.

Robert had wandered into my room and seen Arthur. He was now prodding my sleeping boyfriend, saying "Wake up. Get off Harry's bed."

I stifled a chuckle as Arthur, with his eyes still closed, pushed Robert's hand away muttering "Go away, Henry."

"I'm not Henry," Robert said. "I'm Robert. And you're on Harry's bed."

Arthur finally woke up and gazed blearily at Robert.

"Harriet has a little brother?" he asked.

"Yes. Me. And now you need to get off my sister's bed before she rings the p'lice and tells them to 'rest you."

Arthur, waking up a bit, looked amused. "And what would they arrest me for?"

"For sleeping on her bed," Robert answered simply.

Arthur grinned. "But what if Harriet didn't mind me sleeping on her bed?"

"She would mind, 'cause you're a stranger. And I'm warnin' you, mister: if Harry finds you here, she's gonna give you a big lecture."

"A big lecture?" Arthur pretended to look worried. "Oh dear, I don't want that." He got off my bed. "Thanks for telling me, Robert."

He looked up and noticed me. He pretended to look scared. "Oh no, Harriet! Don't give me a big lecture!"

Robert turned and saw me. He winced. "You're really gonna get it bad now, mister," he told Arthur, before scampering to the bedroom door. He lingered there, however, obviously wanting to see me reprimand Arthur.

I gazed straight into Arthur's eyes. I placed my hands on my hips. Trying to keep a straight face, I said "What's this about you sleeping on my bed?"

"It was comfy, that's all. I didn't mean no harm - honest."

I took a step forwards. "Don't you know it's rude manners to sleep on other's people's beds, young man?"

"I wasn't brought up properly - I didn't know."

"Well, I guess that's not your fault. But I still need to punish you so this doesn't happen again."

"P-p-punish me?"

I nodded gravely. I walked over to him, leant up and kissed him.

"Yuck," Robert said. "I would hate being kissed by a girl."

I heard hurried footsteps along the landing and downstairs.

Arthur broke away and teasingly said "Ew - can we stop now?"

I shook my head, grinning, and restarted the kiss.

***

And now we lay on Arthur's bed side by side, facing each other, gazing soulfully into one another's eyes.

"Will you stay over at mine more often?" I asked Arthur.

"Depends on whether you keep punishing me or not," Arthur said, sticking his tongue out and totally ruining the profoundness of the moment.

I shoved him playfully so he rolled onto his back.

He turned his head so he could continue looking at me. "Is that how you'll treat me if I do?"

"Mm-hmm," I replied, nodding. "And you'll end up my slave."

"Should I be practising then?" he asked, grinning.

I smiled amusedly. "Yes, you should."

Arthur took on a posh English accent. "Would Miss Harriet prefer if her social status did not feel threatened by the fact that her slave was occupying the same level?"

"Oh yes," I answered.

Arthur bowed his head and stood up so he could sit on the floor instead. I rolled onto my front, propping myself up on my elbows and continued to watch Arthur, smiling.

"Would Miss Harriet like a cup of tea?"

"Oh no, slave. I would much prefer a mug of hot chocolate."

"As you wish," Arthur said, standing up.

He walked out of the room backwards so that he was always facing me. He bowed at the doorframe before turning.

Henry wandered past the room, but then stopped and retraced his steps so that he was back at the door.

"Harriet?" he asked, smiling.

"Hey," I said, getting up off the bed and grinning. He radiated a glorious warmth into the room and his contentment inspired me to feel happier.

"You okay?" he asked.

I nodded. "You?"

"I'm good, thanks. How're you and Arthur?"

"Brilliant. We had a lovely evening last night."

"I'm sure you did. Well, I was just about to go out for a walk. I'll see you later or, if not, tomorrow."

My face fell. "You're going out?"

Henry's brow furrowed. "Is there a problem with that?"

"Don't you want to stay?" I had no idea what was making me say these ridiculous things. I guessed it must be the new way I regarded Henry.

"Um, I don't really have much to do at home." His brow furrowed even more. "Unless you'd like to join me?"

I brightened up. "Oh yes please."

Henry looked extremely confused. "Okay then. Where's Arthur?"

"Making me hot chocolate."

"Fair enough. Let's go see him first."

"Okay," I said happily, walking out to join Henry in the hallway. He shook his head slightly before walking on. I walked beside him as he went downstairs and to his kitchen.

Arthur was humming to himself as he poured cocoa powder into a pan of milk. The chef I had seen two days ago didn't appear to be anywhere in sight. Maybe he didn't work Sundays or something.

 Arthur placed the tin of powder down beside the shiny hob and turned to gaze at me bemusedly.

"Something wrong, Harriet?" he asked.

"Henry wants to go for a walk so I'm going too."

Arthur looked as if he were trying to work out what I meant - as if my sentence didn't make sense - but failed and still looked confused.

"But why d'you have to go with him?" he asked.

"Aren't I allowed?"

"'Course you're allowed, darling, I just don't see why you want to go."

I shrugged. "To keep him company."

"Henry doesn't need company, princess. Stay here with me."

I frowned. "But I want to go."

"Come here a minute, darling," Arthur said.

I approached nervously. Was he going to punish me?

No, it appeared not. When I was in front of him, he just looked into my eyes, as if searching for something.

He looked up at Henry with an expression of faint annoyance.

"Her pupils are a little dilated, Henry," he said, sounding accusatory. "Why?"

Henry bit his lip. "Oops. I forgot. Sorry, Arthur. It's 'cause I'm a stronger Captivator, now. I didn't hypnotise her - I promise."

"You had better be telling the truth," Arthur said, looking disapproving. "Go for your walk now - I'll keep her here."

"But," I protested.

Arthur put a finger on my mouth. "Sh, darling."

He turned the hob off behind him before leaning down to kiss me. I instantly came back to my senses and pulled away to say "I'm sorry. I don't quite know what came over me."

Arthur shrugged. "You couldn't help it."

He kissed me again, wrapping an arm around my waist while he absent-mindedly picked up a wooden spoon and began to stir the hot chocolate.

When we broke away, he let go of both the spoon and my waist and walked over to a cupboard to fetch a mug. He chose a deep red one that had Arthur painted on it in italic, curly lettering around the outside of the rim and the base. He brought it over to where I was standing by the hob and placed it on the worktop to pour the delicious-smelling drink into it.

"None for you?" I asked as the saucepan was completely emptied into the mug.

Arthur shook his head, smiling. "I'm not as important as you, Miss Harriet."

I rolled my eyes. "'Course you are. Everyone's important."

Arthur shrugged. "Not as much as you."

He carried the pan and the wooden spoon over to the sink.

"I'll wash up," I said quickly, hurrying over to join Arthur.

He grinned. "No, you won't. You're the guest."

"Please let me," I murmured. "I hate you acting like my slave, really."

"I want to be your slave," Arthur replied, kissing me. "Go and help yourself to some whipped cream."

I gave him a look.

"If it were me putting my foot down, I'd do everything." From a cupboard to his right, he pulled out a bag of small white, roughly cube-shaped marshmallows and handed it to me.

"The whipped cream's in the fridge," he told me, pointing to a silver refrigerator.

I sighed and went to grab the can before returning to my drink. I squirted a thin layer of cream over the surface of the hot chocolate and arranged some marshmallows in the shape of the letter ‘A' before returning both the can of cream and the bag to their rightful positions. Arthur had just finished washing up and kissed my hair as I leant up to reach the cupboard in which the marshmallows belonged.

I brought the mug over to the wooden table in the centre of the room and sat down on a wooden chair. Arthur saw the marshmallow arrangement as he pulled up a chair beside me and said "H is a way cooler letter than A."

I was sipping the beverage so I took a while to respond.

When I did, it was to say "Nah, I prefer A." Struck by sudden inspiration, I continued "A is the first letter of the word ardent. And amore." Remembering my French, I added "Oh, and âme."

"D'you mean amoureux?" Arthur asked.

I shook my head. "Âme means soul."

"Oh, that's cool. But H starts Harriet and that's the most beautiful name in the universe."

I rolled my eyes, drinking some more hot chocolate. "You overdo your compliments."

"Ah, that's a shame. Probably means I mess up my kisses too."

He sighed dramatically and looked down at the table.

I downed the rest of the drink, placed the mug on the table and slid onto his lap.

"Nah - those are okay."

He looked up at me and grinned. "Just okay?"

I shrugged. "Maybe a tiny bit more than that."

He leant in and kissed me. "Sure they're not amazing?" he whispered, not needing to do a lot to captivate me in my dazed state.

"Okay, you win," I said breathlessly. I leant in for another kiss but he held me slightly away from him."

"Say it for me, gorgeous. ‘Arthur kisses amazingly'."

"Arthur kisses amazingly," I repeated, barely inches away from falling into open sky.

"That's better," he said approvingly and then let go of my shoulder so I could close the small distance between us and kiss him.

                A few seconds into it, we were interrupted by two voices. The first said ‘Do you have to kiss in the kitchen?" while the other complained "We were about to eat."

I broke away and looked over to the door to see the twins Shaun and Simon standing there looking mortified. They were sighing at each other, shaking their heads. By some miracle, I remembered that Shaun was the one with pale blue eyes and Simon was the one with light green eyes.

"What we gonna do with them, Simon?" Shaun asked.

"I have no idea," Simon replied.

"We still didn't get Harriet back for what she did in September."

"I know. We're losing our touch."

"What did I do in September?" I asked, amused.

Shaun looked at me in exasperation. "You told Arthur we were spying on him."

"To be fair, you were about to spy on me too."

"We didn't know that," Simon objected.

"You should've told us that you wanted some privacy," Shaun added.

"Yeah," Simon agreed.

I laughed. "No one likes being spied on."

"Yeah, but Arthur's our brother," Simon said. "We don't care what he thinks."

Arthur, who had been following the conversation in amused silence, now said "Well, maybe Harriet didn't care about your wish to remain undetected."

"Sorry, guys," I said, shrugging and standing up to take the mug over to the sink. "I'm on Arthur's side. Always will be."

I began to wash the cup up.

"Brown-noser," Shaun muttered.

"I'd rather you didn't talk about my girlfriend behind my back," Arthur said mildly.

"Fine, we'll insult you," Simon said. "You're an annoying -..."

"It's not polite to swear in female company," murmured a new voice.

"Henry!" I turned and beamed at him.

"Hey, Harry," he said warmly, entering the kitchen and heading for the fridge.

"Did you enjoy your walk?" I asked, walking up and bewildering both myself and him by giving him a quick hug.

Henry stepped back, holding a loaf of bread and a packet of ham. "Yeah, I did, thanks. How was your hot chocolate?"

"Delicious," I answered, brimming with pleasure.

"That's good," he said.

I followed him to the table. Arthur was staring at me, looking astounded.

Henry noticed and said "D'you want me to go somewhere else?"

"Oh no," I said cheerfully at the same time as Arthur, standing up, said "No, we were just going back to my room."

"Were we?" I asked, confused.

I heard the twins snigger.

"Well, you don't want to sit here and stare at Henry while he's eating his lunch, do you?"

Henry

I had a terrible feeling she was about to reply "Yes and humiliate herself in front of Shaun and Simon but to my relief, she glanced up at Arthur and seemed to shake herself out of her captivation.

Harriet

"No," I replied, a little annoyed at myself for embarrassing myself in front of the twins, and together, Arthur and I walked out of the kitchen and went back upstairs to his bedroom.

The End

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