Today had been an utter bore. An hour's worth each of five of my GCSE subjects and none of them my favourite. At times when I wasn't in the mood, I preferred the writing side, and today's lessons had mainly comprised explanations and seeing examples. I had not enjoyed being talked at.
After finishing the maths homework I had been set, I went downstairs. I made myself a ham sandwich and some hot chocolate, and ingested them quickly before going to Harriet's house. I took my phone because I'd need driving home. Hey, perhaps Andrew would come.
I smiled at the thought of the friendship we'd re-established, and enjoyed the knowledge that a member of my family wholly supported me.
Harriet came to the door herself. She was ecstatic to see me and threw her arms around me in a heart-warming embrace.
"How much homework did you get?" was the first question I asked, as I stepped inside and closed the door behind me.
"Barely any," she replied, grinning.
"Great," I murmured, and leant in to kiss her, using my comment to describe her as well.
Seeing Arthur, as ever, made my heart feel buoyant. And when he leant in to kiss me with that intense look in his eyes, my feelings of joy and warmth sharpened, as if the purpose of his intense expression was to intensify. And knowing the strength of our bond, it probably was.
After that wonderful moment, we went to my room.
"How was your day?" Arthur asked, once we were sitting on my bed, leaning against my propped up pillows.
I shifted awkwardly. "Okay," I replied evasively.
Arthur smiled wryly. "Problems with Henry?"
"A few," I admitted, looking down and flushing.
Arthur lifted my chin and looked straight into my eyes.
"Harriet, I don't care if you made him one of your best friends and hung around with him all day. I know that you still love me and that the last of your intentions is for Henry to come between us. So don't worry. Seeing you anxious worries me."
I sighed. "You're so good to me, Arthur." I leant in and planted a sweet kiss upon his lips. He kissed me back, turning sideways and pulling my body towards him to make it easier.
When we drew apart, he murmured "I'm half as good to you as you are to me."
I rolled my eyes. "You always say this sort of thing."
Arthur shrugged. "It's true. But I never grow tired of it."
"I might," I teased.
Arthur tickled me. We ended up kissing again.
"How was your day?" I asked after this one.
"Boring. Exhausting. I felt drained of all energy until I saw your face."
I smiled at the compliment. "Why don't you attend school?"
"Too much temptation to randomly Captivate. If I had gone before I'd met you, the amount of jealous girls and angry boyfriends might have torn the concept of friendship at the school to shreds. Every teacher would have hated me. Oh, and also I like the freedom of home-tutoring. Between lessons, I can do whatever I like. I can eat whatever I want for lunch - even order pizza if I want. No one tells me what to do when I'm not studying, and I love that."
"It sounds fun," I remarked.
"But don't... don't you ever get lonely?"
"Sometimes, I guess." Arthur grinned. "But nowadays I spend a lot of time with you, so the loneliness is kept at bay."
I didn't smile. "What did you do without me?"
"I had Eric - remember him?"
I shuddered. "How can you still be friends with him?"
"He's not all bad. He just has a different perspective."
"I hope that's not what you think about Michael."
Arthur frowned. "No, of course not. Michael is extreme, and definitely bad."
"Why weren't you horrified by what he said last night?" I asked quietly.
Arthur looked confused. "Where's this come from?"
"Henry and I were appalled," I answered. "You looked ... indifferent."
"Well, ... I wasn't surprised. I know how Michael is. And you've just got to not let him get to you. Otherwise you'll have lost your sanity by the time he's visited a few times."
I hesitated. "Then you were just ... protecting yours?"
Arthur nodded. His brow furrowed. "And you should try too."
"I won't let him drive me mad, don't worry," I said nervously. I didn't like the idea of appearing nonchalant before someone as evil and deserving of hatred as Michael.
"He picks up on it, you know," Arthur said, looking concerned. "The effect he has on people. He toys with them if they're scared. In fact..."
He trailed off, stiffening. He suddenly looked incredibly serious, and slightly frightened. He was staring out into the space ahead of him as if he had been told some grave or numbing news.
"What?" I whispered. His fear was contagious.
Arthur slowly looked at me, and swallowed nervously.
"In fact," he restarted in a murmur, "the fear makes the person more easily hypnotised and he will exploit that for sheer amusement."
I swallowed hard as a chill ran down my spine. "So that's why I was entranced."
Arthur pulled me into an embrace. I didn't seem to be able to move to put my own arms around him.
"Darling, I am so sorry."
"It - it's not your fault."
Neither of us spoke after that. We just sat there, Arthur caressing my palm and walking his fingers across it as if he was doing ‘Round and round the garden like a teddy bear'. Soon, my mum called me down for dinner and told Arthur he might need to go so I wasn't prevented from doing the homework I had received. She was keen I got an early night too.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Arthur said, kissing my hair.
"See you," I murmured. And then he was gone.
How awfully scary... I see why Harriet was upset by my apparent indifference yesterday now.
But surely she realises I would never condone Michael's behaviour?
No matter. She'll be completely safe when she's my proprius. I can guarantee that.
Today, I made progress. It was wonderful because it was so subtle, hence not at all alarming. When I was stroking Harriet's palm, I was discreetly encouraging her subconscious to trust me. The quiet reassurance of the gesture will aid her to come to me whenever she's upset, even if it's just for small things. I'm slowly increasing her dependence on me to create the bond that exists between proprius and master.
I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity that this relationship offers to help Harriet become truly mine.
I feel strange. Hollow.
As I climbed into bed tonight, I felt a sudden pang of loneliness. Getting to sleep was difficult.