I woke up.
"What was that for?" I asked, confused.
"You'll see tonight," he said mysteriously. "And now: are you still not hungry?"
"No: my tummy's starting to feel a bit empty."
"Okay, then. I'll take you home."
He stood up and helped me stand too.
"D'you want something as well?" I asked.
"If your parents don't mind," Arthur answered.
"'Course they won't," I said. "They think you're a pleasant young man who'll always treat me right."
"Well, I shall do my best to meet that expectation of me."
"Exceed it and you'll be mine forever," I said, half jokingly.
Arthur stopped. His expression was unreadable.
"Arthur?" I asked.
Arthur didn't respond. His eyes lost their focus, as if he were thinking deeply or imagining something.
He looked at me. "I was seeing you become Mrs Mesmer-..."
I went into a trance again. He had obviously accidentally said his surname.
When I woke up, Arthur was gazing at me incredibly soulfully. His hands crept to my waist and I felt like I was melting. I fell forwards and Arthur let my weight push him to the floor where he sat, gazing dumbly at me. I was now on my knees.
"I'm going to marry you," he said, with total certainty. "And no one will be more loved than Harriet Mes-...""
"Hush," I interrupted him, putting a finger to his lips. "You don't want to entrance me again."
Arthur continued to gaze at me like his mind was blank.
I removed my finger from his mouth and gazed back.
"You're mine," he said finally.
"I'm yours," I repeated, as if guided by some unknown spirit of love.
"Your heart is mine."
"My heart is yours."
"Your soul is mine."
"My soul is yours."
"Your will - ... no, I can't do that," he said, looking away.
I didn't say anything.
Arthur stood up. "Let's go."
I rose to my feet and followed as he started walking. Strangely, I didn't mind the fact that Arthur had nearly taken my will. It had seemed natural that I should say "My will is yours," after verbally giving him myself, my heart and my soul. I wondered, without a negative thought in my mind, what would've happened if I had said those words.
"You wouldn't have become my proprius," Arthur said, as if reading my thoughts. "You'd have just come a little closer."
"Oh, okay," I said, more absorbing myself in his voice than absorbing his words.
We stepped off the staircase as Henry left the kitchen.
"Hey, Harriet," he called. His voice was distant, like a ship at sea.
"Hi," I replied, but my voice was distant too.
"You okay?" he asked, sounding faintly concerned (or was that faint and concerned?).
"Yeah," came my muffled reply.
Henry turned to Arthur. "She looks a little glassy-eyed."
Arthur sounded distracted as he replied "We had an intense moment."
"Hypnotically intense?" Henry asked, disapproval evident in his tone.
Henry hesitated and asked "Is she yours now?"
Arthur turned and looked at me. "Are you?" His voice had a unique clarity in this state of muffling tranquillity.
"Yes," I told him.
Henry kicked the floor. It seemed a pretty pointless thing to do, really. What was a layer of marble going to do?
"Why?!" he asked angrily.
Arthur looked confused. "'Cause she's my girlfriend."
"Just 'cause she's your girlfriend, doesn't mean you have to make her your proprius!" Henry yelled.
"What? You just said she was!"
"No: you asked me if she was mine and she told me she was. We didn't say anything about proprii."
Henry made a sound of frustration and went upstairs. What was wrong with him?
Arthur shrugged to himself and then continued to walk to the door. He waited for me so he could shut it behind me and then led me across the meadow and through the park to my house.
Once outside, he absent-mindedly clicked his fingers.
I came back to my senses.
"Whoa, what just happened?" I asked.
"You drowned," Arthur said simply, making no sense at all.
"In my voice," he explained. "And probably in my eyes too."
"But ... but," I spluttered, not really knowing what my ‘But's would lead to.
"Relax," Arthur said, smiling. "I meant that romantically."
"Ohhh." I suddenly felt extremely stupid. I was sure that I was still flushing as we arrived at my house. I let us in and led Arthur to the kitchen where we found enough food left over from the meal to satisfy our appetites. We then went upstairs where we did what we usually did, which was to stare into each other's eyes.
We must have been very tired because unexpectedly, we both dropped off.
When I woke up, I found Arthur watching me, smiling.
I chortled. I rolled over to read my alarm clock. "It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon, you daftie."
I rolled over to see Arthur had raised an eyebrow.
"I'm a daftie, am I?"
I nodded, grinning.
Without warning, Arthur started tickling me. I laughed loudly but at the same time, saying "Stop it!" Tears began to roll down my cheek and Arthur finally stopped, grinning from ear to ear.
"That was fun," he said.
"Odd person," I said, shaking my head amusedly.
"Ah, that would explain why I fell in love with you."
I gazed up at Arthur's perfect face and sighed. "Yeah, it would."
Arthur looked amused now. "I had very good reason to choose you," he said, slipping his arm beneath my neck and around my shoulders. "And it's great that I did because we're perfect for each other. Just like you said earlier."
"I never listen to myself," I admitted. "As far as I'm concerned, you're out of my league."
"As far as I'm concerned, you're out of mine."
He smiled at me and rubbed my shoulders. I nestled into him.
"Then I'll ignore myself again and forget about what I just said."
"Good," Arthur said.
I sighed happily. It was so good to have a boyfriend - one like Arthur who tried to understand you and didn't want you to feel down about yourself.
"So what d'you want to do?" I asked.
"Do we have to do anything?" Arthur replied, using the hand that wasn't on my right shoulder to tuck a stray lock of my hair behind my ear.
"Well, this is our last day before school starts again," I reminded him, as sadness washed over me at the thought.
Arthur sighed. "I wish you could be home-tutored like me."
"Oh, yeah, Henry mentioned he'd been home-schooled before he came to my school."
"Well, all of us, except Jack and the twins are, and we all were home-schooled for primary education."
"That must have been very lonely," I murmured.
"It was until five years ago, yeah. But now we have people come visit and it's not so bad."
I hesitated before my next comment. "Why can your parents be bothered to have you educated when they don't look after you?"
Arthur laughed dryly. "They don't want to break the law. And, they only pay for the home tutors - Andrew had to organise Jack, the twins and Henry attending school."
"I wish we could adopt some of you."
"Who would you adopt?"
I stopped to think for a moment then replied "Henry and Jack."
"Why not me?" Arthur asked, surprised.
"Well, I didn't think you could marry your adopted brother."
Arthur grinned. "I was worried you were about to say I'd be high maintenance."
"Well, yes, there's that too."
"Charming(!)," he said, pretending to look hurt.
I rolled my eyes. "If you don't know that I'm joking, you must be an idiot."
"Nah, I know."
He stroked my cheek, the touch light and delightful.
"Hey, d'you want to come round for dinner tonight?"
"What about the fact I'll be captivated by your brothers?"
"Well, Andrew and Matt have gone out with friends, while Ryan's taking Sophia out to dinner, so you should be okay."
"Oh, that's good. What time?"
"Well, we don't really have a set time unless there's a formal dinner, in which case it's at 6. Luckily though, I don't think my parents are coming home tonight.
"What do they do?" I asked curiously.
"They're psychologists - they travel the world helping celebrities and conveniently keeping the press at bay. A young Captivator helps them from time to time but they can still induce a trance when they want to."
I shook my head, wincing. "Why do bad people have advantages sometimes?"
"Do they get a lot of money?"
Arthur nodded. His expression and voice turned bitter. "But they only leave us a hundred pounds a week to look after ourselves. It's not much at all."
"They sound like awful people. Any worse and they'd be violent and abusive. I don't think I could stand it if they were."
"I shouldn't worry. Like I said, you'll never meet them. They won't even be invited to our wedding."
"Good," I said, with such fierce emotion that hot tears prickled at my eyes.
"Oh, Harriet," Arthur murmured, noticing, pulling me into a hug.
"Your parents are stupid. No one deserves parents like them, especially not you because you're such a good person."
Arthur snorted but apologised quickly, squeezing me slightly.
"Cheer up," he murmured. "Everything's okay as long as Fate smiles on you."
"Don't be ridiculous," I muttered.
"I'm not. My world revolves around you. It wouldn't do much good if my anchor were weak or unhappy."
"I think you forget you're my anchor."
"Well, as much as I'd like to think I protect you and support you in times of trouble, I know I'm nothing without you. In fact, my desire to look after you arises from the knowledge that if anything happened to you, I would be distraught."
I let go of Arthur and pushed myself up into a sitting position. I looked down at him.
"You're meant to be the tough, invulnerable guy," I told him mock-reprovingly.
Arthur grinned. "I'm sorry for failing in my role."
"Yeah, you should be," I replied, but became distracted as my schoolbag caught my eye. "Damn," I muttered.
"What's wrong?" Arthur asked, sitting up.
"I haven't finished ‘An Inspector Calls' and my bag's still unpacked."
"D'you want me to read it aloud while you get your stuff ready?" Arthur offered.
"Will you take it seriously?"
I leapt off my bed, grabbed the play transcript off my desk and threw it to Arthur who, catching it, opened it at the bookmark somewhere in Act 3 and began to read.
As his voice filled the room and had a calming effect on me, I started gathering textbooks and folders from various piles around the room and placing them in my bag. I also pulled my sports kit from my drawers and chucked them in my sports bag, even though I wouldn't have P.E. tomorrow. (I figured that time not spent doing homework would be filled with glorious moments with Arthur).
I then returned to my bed where I snuggled up to Arthur as he read. He put one arm around me and finished the play.
"You are a star," I told him emphatically, kissing his cheek.
"No; you are," he replied, kissing him on the lips.
He must have placed the book on my bedside table because next thing, I felt his arms come around me, creating the familiar sense of security I so adored.
Arthur broke away, frowning. "Oh, no, I just thought of something."
"Me?" I asked, giggling.
Arthur smiled. "I'm always thinking of you. And you're someone not something." His expression became serious. "But I was just thinking it gets dark about four o'clock. So if you came to dinner, how would you get home?"
"Hmm... Good point. Maybe I could stay the night?"
"Would that affect you waking up for school the next day? Oh, actually, I'm not comfortable with the idea of you staying in a house full of guys."
I nodded. "No offence to your family, but me neither. Especially since they're Captivators. Er, can Andrew or Matt drive?"
"Matt can. Oh, that's great!" Arthur' face brightened up. "Matt will be back for half six."
"Cool. What time shall we go?"
"About now, actually, since it's going to get dark soon."
"Okay." I got up off the bed and bounded out of the room and downstairs. "Mum," I called. "I'm going round to Arthur's house for dinner. I'll be back about 7."
"Okay, honey," she replied from the kitchen. "Remember your table manners."
"Will do," I said, rolling my eyes.
Arthur followed me as I left the house.
Half an hour later, we were outside Mesmerising Mansion. Arthur let me in and led me to the kitchen.
"So what d'you want to eat?" he asked.
"I get to choose?"
"Yeah, sure. In fact, you and I could have a romantic meal - just the two of us. Henry and that lot can eat la-..."
He was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening and a female voice calling "Kids! We're home."
Arthur froze. "You are kidding me."