"I had a feeling you'd guessed," he murmured.
I was startled by his honesty. And then, I was frightened. "Have you been ... controlling my mind?"
"Not in the way you're thinking."
"Are you psychic too?"
"No, I just know that when people think of mind control, they think of suggestions commanding the subject to do things. I haven't asked you to do anything, except when I told you not to worry that time I kissed you and today, when I told you to walk away from me. I've mainly been using my powers to ask you about yourself."
"You could've just asked!"
"You would've been mystified by the amount of questions I was asking you. I just wanted to get to know you, that's all."
"That's not right! You can't just ask someone about their private lives!"
"I didn't. I know not to be intrusive. I feel uncomfortable if I am."
"Says the person who uses hypnosis to get the answer," I said sceptically.
"I'm always careful."
"How could you even think that I can trust you?"
"I'd never hurt you, Harriet."
"I don't know that. The only way I'd know that is if you put me in a trance and suggested I knew that. How d'you do it, incidentally: entrance me?"
"Stare in your eyes," he murmured, looking down.
"Could I come out of a trance if I wanted to?"
Henry shook his head. "I have to switch it off."
"So, if you chose, I could be entranced for ages."
Henry nodded. "But it wouldn't be fair to disorientate you like that."
"Oh, as if you care."
"I do care, though," Henry said quietly.
I ignored him. "I want you to tell me everything you've ever asked me, every answer I've given you and then I want you to tell me the exact way you feel about me and your reasons for being my friend."
Henry sighed. "You want all that before the end of lunch?"
Alarmed by the thought it could take up more than half an hour, I replied, "How many times have you hypnotised me?!"
"5. Not including the verbal suggestion to not worry."
I was dazed by this revelation. "Before you begin, have you ever been tempted to control me?"
Henry looked pained. "Yes," he replied. "I wanted to make you love me."
I stood up. "You know what? I don't care about hearing what information about me you've obtained. I don't know what's made me stay so long - maybe it was you." Henry looked depressed at that. "I never want to see you again, okay?"
Henry stood up and looked at me imploringly. "Don't do this, Harriet. I never acted on it."
"I don't care."
"I was appalled that the thought even crossed my mind," Henry said, following me as I started walking.
"I said I don't care."
"Harriet, I love you."
"Do I have to say it again? Oh, and undo whatever you did to Beth. I want you to leave me and my friends alone. And I think it's best if Anita is scared of you, don't you?"
"Naturally," Henry said quietly, slowing down. "It was nice knowing you, Harriet."
"It was terrible knowing you. Thank your lucky stars no one would believe me if I told them about you."
"I will do," he called; "after I've thanked them for allowing me to know you briefly."
I turned back for a moment. "You didn't know me at all."
Henry looked pained once more and that was the image that stayed in my head for the rest of the afternoon. Luckily, I had Spanish followed by French where I could choose not to sit next to him. I wondered how I'd bear physics, English and maths.
Why didn't I just make her feel comfortable around me? Why didn't I make her forget? I love her! I can't bear for her to hate me. But part of me knew that things would be worse if I'd made suggestions of that nature. I didn't enjoy the darkening of her eyes when I told her to walk away from me at the beginning of lunch and I didn't feel it fair to control her like that...
What am I going to do?
I might as well start by undoing what I did to her friends. Strangely, I don't have a problem with controlling them. It feels like it usually does, like it's nothing. Maybe if I can go a long time without hypnotising anyone, I might placate Harriet. It's not like I can stop being hypnotic.
Why do I feel like I've lost something? Doubtless it's something that Henry's asked of me. But part of me seems to think he won't hypnotise me again, not while I'm annoyed at him. It troubles me that I think he would if we ever became friends again.
I'm proud of myself. I didn't stand for what he did to me, didn't let it pass noticed yet un-dealt with. I'm slightly sad, though. I hate Henry ... but wonder if he really had bad intentions. I don't care to ask him, particularly.
The first weekend of the term passed slowly and uneventfully. I found it harder to relax: I was always on edge; and at night, I lay awake for hours before drifting off. It was almost a relief to go back to school the following Monday, as I knew I'd be occupied for the whole day.
Monday mornings turned out to have the following structure: Form Time, followed by double chemistry, followed by break, followed by double French and biology. Once again, I chose not to sit next to Henry when I had the misfortune of him being in my classes.
During these lessons, I found myself always glancing up at him from time to time, as if I subconsciously wanted to be with him. It was like the pull of the force which had inspired me to follow him everywhere last week and I wondered, as I had a few days ago, if I was a little attracted to him or if he'd hypnotised me to be drawn in by him. He claimed to love me, after all.
During break, Henry came up to me and whispered, "Beth's not letting me hypnotise her."
I'd quite forgotten what I'd asked him to do and so I was shocked. "What?!"
Henry looked confused. "I thought you wanted me to undo the suggestion."
I calmed down. "Oh, of course. Um, do you mind if I'm there while you do it?"
Henry shook his head. He followed me to where Sara and Beth were standing, watching us nervously. They both looked pointedly at the floor when we drew close.
"Um, Beth, Henry hypnotised you last week," I said. "Would you mind if he undid it?"
Beth frowned. "I'd be under his control, wouldn't I?"
"Yeah, but Sara and I will be here."
"Um, okay, then. What do I do?"
"Just look into his eyes."
Beth slowly looked up. She looked suddenly caught by his eyes. She looked fascinated and then serious and then her face turned blank and expressionless.
"Remember what happened last Friday," Henry said, in a compelling voice. I found myself falling sideways on top of him, asleep.