"What did you do to her?" I heard an angry voice asking as I woke up.
I opened my eyes to see Michael calmly sipping at a glass of white wine.
"I must have flicked the switch in my voice," he said indifferently. "Sorry."
"I want to go home now," a shaky voice said. I realised it belonged to me.
"Of course, darling," Arthur said soothingly. "Matt will be home now."
But Arthur wasn't the one who was furious. That was Henry.
"How dare you hypnotise her!" he cried.
"Henry!" Arthur's mum said, looking shocked. "Don't talk to a guest like that. Where are your manners? You will go to your room at once."
"Gladly," he said, rising to his feet.
He held out a hand to me and I took it numbly, still in a state of shock. I used it to pull myself to my feet. Both Arthur and Henry escorted me out of the basement. The light in the kitchen was almost blinding.
"I'm going to my room," Henry said crossly.
Before leaving, he kissed my forehead murmuring "Stay safe."
Arthur looked annoyed but didn't say anything.
"Where will Matt be?" I murmured, in the process of gradually returning to my confused senses.
"Either the living room or his bedroom," Arthur murmured. He avoided eye contact when he spoke. Some part of me leapt at the thought that he might feel guilty for his reactions to Michael and be a good person, but then I remembered Henry had just kissed me and I probably should have pushed him away.
I followed Arthur silently as he walked out of the kitchen. The television was on in the living room and when we entered, we saw that Matt was lying on the sofa. I instantly ran out, extremely embarrassed, because lying underneath him, kissing him passionately, had been Zara.
I heard Arthur clear his throat loudly.
"Arthur, what the hell!" Matt shouted, sounding angry and a little mortified.
"Harriet needs taking home. Michael's in the basement having dinner with our parents."
Matt swore. "Sorry, Zara," he said, and I guessed he was getting up.
Arthur came out. He didn't say anything as we waited for his brother.
When Zara came out too, I was a little surprised until I remembered the danger that Michael supposedly posed to unaccompanied human girls.
"D'you live nearby, Harriet? Matt asked.
"Yeah." I gave him my address and he nodded.
"Yeah, I know where that is. So, are we ready to go?"
Arthur nodded, and we all walked out of the front door into a pitch black night barely illuminated by lanterns attached to the house at regular intervals.
We walked the short distance to a track to the right of the house indicated by a solitary wooden gate which seemed very out of place in a large field. We climbed into the dark blue Ford that was parked there: Zara in the passenger seat, Arthur and I in the back. The drive was short and uneventful. Arthur and I remained silent while Matt and Zara conversed about plans for the coming weekend.
We arrived outside my house at ten to seven. Arthur exited the car with me and walked me to the door. I reached for the door handle but he took my hand and kissed it.
"I'm sorry," he murmured, surprising me.
"I forgive you," I said quietly.
He gently caressed the side of my face. "I'm going to miss you while you're at school."
"Me too," I said sadly. I suddenly felt awful for being disgusted and afraid of him during dinner, and regretful for having wasted the time with him afterwards, which we could have spent in a glorious way.
"I love you," I choked, shocked at how I'd forgotten that.
Arthur looked startled. He pulled me into a tight embrace.
"I love you too."
"I don't want you to let go," I confessed in a whisper.
"I don't either," he murmured.
"Let's just stand here forever," I said, snuggling into his warmth.
Arthur kissed the top of my head. "Let's," he agreed.
And so we stood there in total silence for what seemed like an age. I felt content. And Arthur seemed pretty relaxed too.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by a loud buzzing. The inside of my jeans pocket was vibrating. I sighed as Arthur and I let go of each other. I pulled out my phone and answered it.
"Harriet, it's Mum. Where are you?"
I grinned. Arthur smiled, though slightly wistfully.
"I'm right outside the door," I told her.
"Well, come in then. Don't catch a cold."
"I will, Mum. Bye."
She hung up. I pocketed my phone before leaning up to kiss Arthur on the lips. I opened the front door.
"I'm home," I called.
But I wasn't. Home was Arthur's arms.