I walked disconsolately back to where Matt and Zara were waiting in the car. They didn't notice as I slipped in: they were too absorbed in kissing each other.
"I might just have a nap while you two continue," I said.
It was amusing how they instantly jumped apart.
"Dammit, stop doing that, Arthur," Matt yelled, slamming the steering wheel.
"Night," I said sweetly and closed my eyes, grinning.
Back at home, I sought out Andrew. I had meant what I had said to Harriet about re-bonding with him. He was like me in some ways: he adored his girlfriend, was a powerful Captivator and was regarded as cruel by other people (though admittedly only Henry really hated me).
I found him in his room, holding what I recognised as the engagement ring he had presented to Elizabeth on her eighteenth birthday between his thumb and forefinger and gazing at it with something like despair. I felt a sudden rush of sympathy for him. I couldn't imagine the pain he must be going through.
"Hey," I murmured from the doorway.
Andrew glanced up. He pocketed the ring and replied "Hey."
There was nothing menacing or warning about his expression so I asked "May I come in?"
"If you want," he said indifferently.
I walked in and sat beside him on his bed.
"Liza's silly," were the first words that came out of my mouth.
"No she's not," Andrew said quietly, but I could tell there was a lack of desire in him to defend her. She had hurt him really badly.
"'Course she is. Doesn't she see what she's missing out on?"
Andrew gave me an odd look. "Okay... That sounded slightly homosexual."
I laughed. "I've always admired you, Andrew, but never in that way. One, you're my brother. Two, I have a girlfriend."
Andrew grinned. "And three, it's just weird to feel that for someone who bullies you all the time."
I shrugged. "Not all the time."
"Maybe not but there have been some pretty awful moments. Don't you remember that time I wanted you all to be my slaves?"
"Thank goodness for Matt," I said, as the memory played itself in my mind.
Andrew's brow furrowed. "Henry thinks he can handle it."
I sighed. "He'll either mess up big time or be really, really good."
Andrew nodded. "But what do we do if he makes too many mistakes?"
"I don't know," I admitted. "Endure it till he realises and changes, I guess."
"It's very hard to convince such a strong Captivator to change," Andrew pointed out.
"Well then, we'll have to tackle the problem ourselves, won't we?" I glanced up at Andrew sideways.
He laughed. "Yes; yes we will."
"If we all split up, I'm siding with you," I told him.
He laughed again. And then he looked quite sincere as he said "Thank you."
I shrugged. "You're welcome."
"Didn't you mind I wanted to torture your girlfriend?" he asked quietly.
"Well, of course I minded but..." I racked my brains for the justification of this conversation. I sort of knew already but it was hard to describe.
"I can't hate you," I decided to say. "I think you're the brother I like the most and that I'd be really alone without you."
"Even with Harriet?"
"Even with Harriet," I confirmed. "Though I love her to bits."
Andrew looked curious as he asked "What's this about you wanting her to be your proprius?"
"Oh, you heard about that, did you? Well, ... I really love her. And I'm ... a little possessive. I want her attention to be solely focused on me. I don't want her to care about anyone else in the world. I want our love to deepen, intensify: basically be the sole output of our hearts and souls. Also, I really don't want to lose her."
I looked down, worried that Andrew's reaction would be the same as Henry's.
To my relief and utter surprise, he said "Well, I think you should go for it, mate."
I looked up and saw pain in his eyes, but his jaw was clenched and he was trying to smile.
"And always remember that if things don't work out, you can erase her memory." He sounded like he wished he could do the same with Liza, though I knew his situation wasn't quite as simple as mine.
"Thank you," I said sincerely, grateful for the advice he'd imparted but pained by the toll this was taking on him. I stood up, sensing he needed some time alone with his thoughts and feelings.
"I'm sure Liza will come round," I told him.
I heard a muffled ‘Thanks' as I left the room, closing the door behind me.
I really hoped that things would work out for Andrew. More so, a little, than that they'd work out for me.
Up in my room, I lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I wondered how long it would be until I saw Arthur again. Hopefully only - I glanced at my clock and did a quick calculation using estimate values - twenty one hours, but ouch did that sound long when we'd barely spent any time apart over the last nine days.
I felt a sudden need to know what Arthur was doing. Was he thinking about me and when we'd see each other next too? Or was I just the over-enamoured girlfriend who was too anxious and too needy?
I pulled out my phone and texted him, saying ‘What are you doing?' (Yeah, I know - I text in good English.)
He took about five minutes to reply. ‘Thinking of you. x'
I felt relieved. But then I realised he could just be saying that to make me feel good.
‘Are you really thinking of me?' was my next question.
‘Of course I am. Smthg up?'
Yes, something was up. I felt nervous and worried. And very lonely.
‘Really missing you. :('
‘Me too. x,' he replied.
‘Hey, it's ok. We'll see each other tomorrow.'
‘Yeah. Night, Harriet.'
‘Love you. x'
‘Love you too. xxx.'
Gosh did I feel clingy but gosh had that felt good. I wondered what had happened to me.
As I snuggled down into my duvet, it struck me that the answer might be scary and horrible, but I was too tired to pursue the thought and fell asleep quickly.
The bond is certainly strengthening. I must ensure I see her every day of this week, lest she should grow used to the sadness or try to ignore the effect I have on her.
But though I am excited, I still feel the pain of being without Harriet. Someone like Henry would forget I completely returned her feelings for me.