It was around the time when Arthur and Andrew came back from wherever they had been together that I realised I was starving.
I had thrown myself into homework with a vigour that I hadn't known distressed people were capable of. Now I was exhausted: drained of all energy; and the hunger pains were near debilitating.
I wearily, painfully, trudged downstairs and poured myself a glass of milk which I drank as I grabbed some random breakfast cereal, poured it into a bowl and added more milk to it.
I ate the wonderful, glorious, food and marvelled at its ability to relieve that awful, evil pain. I felt so sorry for those poor people in poverty and almost felt cruel for torturing my body when they suffered through no fault of their own: through mere circumstance.
After I had finished the cereal and tidied up, I went upstairs to find Andrew. He turned out to be in Arthur's room and as I approached, I could hear some of their conversation.
"... write her a suggestive poem?" Andrew was asking.
"Yeah. What do you think of my ideas?"
"Great. I think these words will be really effective."
I was nearer to the door and could see that Andrew was holding a sheet of paper with Arthur's handwriting on it.
Andrew smiled and gave the paper back. This was when I knocked on the (open) door.
My brothers glanced up.
"Henry?" Arthur asked, surprised and a little cool. "What brings you here?"
Unashamedly, I confessed "I want to talk to Andrew."
"What about?" Andrew asked.
The hour was too late for me to care about Arthur being there, so I got straight to the point.
"How did you deal with the popularity?"
Andrew shrugged. "You and I are different people. I took it in my stride, soaked it up so to speak. I can't help you with your own conscience, Henry."
"Is there anyway to stop it?"
"The less mesmerised people will be put off if you're cold and cruel but I'm afraid that unless you give the others boyfriends or girlfriends or find Hypnos People to make them their proprii, there's no way you'll make everyone stop being captivated by you."
"I don't want to be Mr Popular, Andrew."
He shrugged again. "Then stop being Mr Strongest Captivator in the Household."
"I'll never do that," I murmured.
"It might help if you get a girlfriend," Arthur suggested. I thought this was unusually helpful of him and was utterly stunned until I realised he hoped I would stop interfering with his plans to make Harriet his proprius.
"Thanks Arthur," I said sarcastically, and turned to leave.
"No problem, Henry," he called.
I stormed off. That hadn't helped at all. As I reached my room, I could see Arthur's face leering in my head. Ugh, the thought of him kissing Harriet made me sick - how had he even become her boyfriend?
The conversation I had interrupted had sounded suspiciously relevant to proprii. At some point, I would confront Arthur about this - give him a chance to give up the game and create consequences if he chose to ignore me.
Another reason to not hate my situation so much - I could ensure Harriet was safe. I just had to bear the positive things in mind when faced with the negative.
I laughed as Henry moodily left my room. The most amusing thing had probably been the fact that he'd believed I would actually be kind to him for a minute but I was mainly laughing because I enjoyed annoying him.
Andrew was smirking. "Does he like Harriet?"
"Yeah," I replied. "He got Ryan to make his crush not affect him so much but as you know there's no suggestion which can take away love."
"No wonder he doesn't want Harriet to be your proprius."
"It's more than that, actually," I said.
"Oh?" Andrew looked curious.
"He thinks it's wrong and sick and twisted."
"How odd," Andrew said, bewildered. "Proprii are an aspect of the Captivator world - they're like part of our culture. Ordinary humans like wealth, Hypos People like power - that's how it's always been."
"I guess Henry's one of the moral ones. There are things like charities set up by both types of person which show a lack of want of power and money. And do remember both you and I are slightly afraid of Captivators like Michael."
Andrew frowned. "Fair point. But still... To be totally disgusted..." He shook his head. "Let's hope he doesn't publicly express that view in front of members of high society."
I nodded in agreement. "That wouldn't be very clever."
Andrew stood up. "Well, it's rather late. I'm off to bed."
"Good luck with your plans."
"Thank you, Andrew."
And with that, he left the room.
I retired. Tomorrow, I would start putting my plan into action. Harriet would be mine within a fortnight.
Before I fell asleep, I again felt guilt at the thought of her left at home alone but reasoned that I could make it up to her tomorrow afternoon and so found little difficulty in getting to sleep.
I woke up at dawn. I had had an awful night's sleep. Yawning and wincing as I forced my aching muscles to work, I walked to the bathroom and took a shower.
Afterwards, I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. Ugh, I looked an absolute mess. Arthur would have a lot to answer for when he turned up this afternoon.
Wearily, I got ready for school. I wondered what was going to happen today.