Chapter 9

                I was strolling along the bank of the meandering river when I came across this startlingly handsome teenager who was standing, looking out across the waters at a swan. He had straight black hair and tanned skin and reminded me very much of Henry. He was a fair bit taller than me and he looked perhaps a year older than me.

He turned as I approached.

"Hi," he said.


"What's your name?" he asked conversationally.

"Harriet. Yours?"

"Arthur. Arthur Mesmer-..." I didn't hear the end of his surname as I suddenly slumped forwards, asleep.


I woke up in a daze. Arthur had appeared to catch me.

"I'm so sorry," I said, yawning.

"Did you have a late night?" he asked, grinning.

"No, it was more of a late morning. What did you say your name was?"

"Arthur Mesmer-..."

Again, I fell asleep, this time, in Arthur's arms.

I woke up, totally disorientated. "This is so weird."

"Oh, I was going to ask if this usually happened."

"No, not at all."

I looked up into rainbow-coloured eyes, then blinked and saw the sky.

"I'm really sorry," I said, stepping back and stumbling slightly as I couldn't look at anything other than Arthur's eyes.

"It's absolutely fine," he said reassuringly. Strangely, I felt like falling asleep on someone was perfectly natural when he said this.

"Sleep is involuntary," he added and I found myself falling asleep again.


                I woke up with a headache.

"Thanks for catching me," I murmured, wincing at the pain.

Arthur steadied me. "You're welcome. Are you okay?"

"My head hurts a bit."

"Okay, look at me a minute."

I looked into those wonderful blue eyes and was distracted for a moment before the pain magically disappeared.

"Thanks," I said, though not overly sure what he had done.

"That's okay. You just tell me if you get any sort of pain anywhere."

"I will do."

I noticed I was unsteady on my feet. "Shall we sit down?" I asked.

Arthur nodded. We sat down and I gazed, fascinated into his eyes which occasionally turned into seven stripes, some broken by the pupils, which were the same colours as a rainbow.

"Wow, your eyes," I murmured, captivated.

"You like them, huh? Some people find it disconcerting."

"Really?" I asked, amazed. "But they're so ... pretty."

"You sound like a young child," Arthur said, laughing. I felt drowsy. His laugh was like a wave lapping against a shore. My eyelids fluttered and Arthur seemed to notice. He stopped and held my arm to steady me.

"You really like going to sleep, don't you?" he said, grinning.

"I must do. Strange how I never noticed before."

Arthur looked pensive a moment. Then he gazed into my eyes and I felt my thoughts fade and recede into the corners of my mind. Seconds later, they returned and Arthur watched, looking expectant. A few seconds later, I fainted, falling backwards onto grass.


                When I woke up, Arthur was looking at me with interest.

"Come with me," he said, standing up.

I stood up and followed him. I seemed to disregard the fact that he was a total stranger.

"You look like someone I know," I said as we walked under a tunnel of trees, seemingly headed towards the lock.

"Really? What's his name?"

"Henry. Though he has green eyes instead of magical ones like yours."

Arthur smiled to himself. "Henry? I have a brother called Henry."

"Oh, how coincidental. D'you reckon they could be the same person?"

"Well, I'm not sure."

He stopped and looked into my eyes. "Describe him for me."

"He has black hair, green eyes, he's quite tall, though shorter than you and he has a medium-low voice which is slightly musical..."

"Stop there," Arthur interrupted. "Now tell me if he's a friend, more than a friend or not a friend and why."

"He's not a friend," I replied obediently, "because he hypnotised me."

Arthur burst into loud laughter but stopped abruptly and watched to see if I was going to fall asleep.

"What's funny?" I asked curiously.

"Oh, nothing," Arthur replied, grinning.

"Isn't hypnotising someone bad enough for a friendship to end?"

"Can't say I've ever been hypnotised."

"Well, you're lucky then."

"And you're not," Arthur said, looking at me sympathetically, though still smiling. "What's it like?" he asked, looking genuinely curious.

"Well, I'm not entirely sure, to be honest. I think Henry was hypnotising me when he stared into my eyes. If it was, then your mind sort of goes blank for a while."

"No memory at all of the suggestion?"

I shook my head. "Though he could suggest something without entrancing me first. He told me ... not to worry once."

"Not to worry about what?"

"Well, those were the days I liked him and didn't realise he'd been hypnotising me, and I'd just told him that I'd had a bad afternoon because he hadn't been there. You see, I was really ... fascinated by him in the beginning and followed him everywhere."

Arthur chuckled, though it was a brief laugh again.

"I told him I was worried about the fact I'd missed him after only one and a half hours," I finished. I frowned. I hadn't really thought much about the first day of term. Part of me missed Henry. "You know, I wouldn't have found out that he was a hypnotist if he hadn't fallen in love with me," I murmured.

"Really?" Arthur asked. "He fell in love with you?"

I nodded sadly.

"Cheer up," he said, and I felt my mood lightening. "Would you like to hear a story?"

"Oh, okay, then," I replied, smiling.

"Once upon a time, there were two brothers who wanted the same girl. One was the definite bad guy and one was the definite good guy but the girl didn't know which was which. Both guys tried to win the girl's heart..., and oh my, is that the time?" he asked, looking at his watch in bewilderment.

"Could you finish the story?" I asked. "It was starting to get interesting."

Arthur smiled. "I can't, I'm afraid. Maybe next time."

"I might not see you again."

"Oh, I'll make sure it happens," he said, winking. He scattered my thoughts with an intense stare and a moment later, I found myself waking up where Arthur and I had been standing at the very start of our encounter.

"What happened?" I wondered aloud. Had that all been a dream? I hoped not: Arthur seemed a great guy to talk to.

I wandered home, thinking of rainbow-striped irises and soporific laughter.

The End

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