I woke up how I'd fallen asleep: with wet cheeks. In my dream, Arthur had kissed me under the stars by a babbling brook in the meadow I'd frequented during the summer. Owls had added haunting melodies to the scene and influenced the atmosphere, making it beautiful and mysterious just like Arthur. The seriousness in his eyes made his gaze very intense and I'd felt both like the most special girl on the planet and terrified like a rabbit being chased by a fox. Fear was okay, though: it gave love an important role and made me feel kind, as if I was seeing past Arthur's flaws (even though he wasn't scary in real life). It made me feel closer to him and more secure in his arms.
"The next part of the story," Arthur murmured in my ear, "goes like this. The girl was under the elder brother's spell and she loved belonging to him. He wanted more than that, though. More than the feeling of belonging from a mere relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. The girl was intrigued but the elder brother would tell her no more than that. This made the elder brother totally irresistible, since the girl adored mysteries."
I felt sure that the story was going to come true and looked forward to Arthur telling me he wanted us to be more than boyfriend and girlfriend.
I went to school in a glorious mood. Sara and Beth noticed the pendant around my neck and when asked who'd given it to me. I only said, "I met a mysterious stranger."
My lab partner was ill in chemistry, so I had to pair up with Henry. I put the pendant in my pocket so that it wouldn't become damaged and reluctantly helped Henry set the apparatus up, carry out the experiment and write out the results. Mercifully, he didn't talk to me, didn't even to seem to notice who was standing right beside him. The only time he seemed at all interested in anything was when I put my pendant on at the end of the lesson.
"Who's AM?" he asked in a flat tone.
"Um, Arthur Mesmer-something."
"You don't know his surname?"
"Well, he tried to tell me, but I fell asleep."
Henry frowned slightly. "Really?"
I nodded. "He looked like you, you know. Though older and with different coloured eyes."
"And why'd he give you a pendant?"
"Oh, we fell in love."
"You fell in love?" Henry asked, sounding startled.
I nodded again.
"But..." Henry spluttered.
"It's none of your business," I said coolly, walking out with the rest of my classmates.
I have a sinking feeling that AM is my older brother, Arthur...
Mesmer-something Harriet said his surname was. I had to shorten my name to ‘Mez' when I applied for this school because everyone falls asleep when we say our surname. I suppose it's only fitting that a hypnotic family should have a hypnotic surname.
I always found that strange when I was younger...
"Henry Mesmerising," I'd introduce myself as but by the time I'd got to the third syllable of my surname, the person I'd been talking to was asleep.
Interestingly, I was the only one in my family who had this effect at a young age. Everyone else only started to induce trances by saying our surname at the age of thirteen. My youngest brother seems to be following this trend. What makes me different, I wonder ...
Back to Arthur. Oh dear, I hope it's not him... Seriously. I don't care if Harriet is happy with him because she's in danger. How do I tell her that when she'll barely talk to me, though?
Maybe I'll have to hypnotise her...
I really hope not. If she hates me, then no one can protect her. I really, really, really hope that I do not have to do that.
At lunchtime, Henry came up to me and asked, "Can I talk to you a minute?"
"No!" I replied. "I don't like you. Go away."
"This is important, Harry."
"Who said you could call me Harry?"
"I'm sorry, I'm trying to talk as briefly as possible. This will maybe take two seconds."
"I don't have any time for you, Henry. Go away."
"Especially not if you're going to call me Harry!"
I strode off angrily. How dare he give me a nickname!
It didn't work. I didn't hypnotise her and she didn't listen. I'm so scared. But what do I do? I don't dare try hypnosis: I wouldn't want to even if I hadn't been hypnotised not to be tempted to. Suggestion while she's awake? That's an idea. I might try it. And then I could pass it off as just talking persistently if Harriet got suspicious.
I'm treading thin lines here. One wrong move and ... Harriet ends up Arthur's...
What a chilling thought...
I went home in a foul mood. If the story Arthur was telling was true, Henry was definitely the bad guy. I arrived home to find a slip of paper on the floor. I picked it up and read it.
‘Meet me at the park between six and seven. Wear the pendant: I want to see how it looks on you. If you're really diligent, and I guess you are, you can bring your homework too. I love you, princess. AM'
I almost cried. I dressed into something comfy, ate dinner, and made a start on my homework. I finished one piece before I left to go out to the park. My mum said working outside sounded like a good idea and I wasn't the type to get myself in trouble so she was fairly happy for me to go. The condition was that I returned before eight o'clock.
I ambled to the park feeling happy, having totally forgotten about Henry. When I arrived there, I strolled to the lock where I sat down and waited for sleep to overcome me the way it usually did. Nothing happened. I checked my watch. It was about five minutes to six. Suddenly, two twins appeared on the bridge. They looked about a year younger than me. They had familiar black hair, were the same height and build and were talking casually.
One said, "Why is Arthur going out so much? I thought he loved his room, like adored it."
The other laughed. "I think he's found a girl."
"Well, good luck to her."
"So, he's coming here tonight?"
"And we're going to spy on him?"
They stepped off the bridge and approached me, though they didn't appear to notice me.
"Where shall we hide?" one asked, scanning the bushes.
"Behind a tree."
They suddenly noticed me. They stopped, startled.
"Hi," they said, glancing at each other worriedly. One drew a small spiral in the air and then pointed at me.
"Er, no, thanks, I don't want to be hypnotised," I said.
The boys looked shocked. Then they laughed nervously. "Are you one too?"
"If you mean a hypnotist, no."
"How'd you find out about us?" one asked, sitting down, in front of me. The other rolled his eyes and looked impatient.
"Well, a guy called Henry at my school was one."
"Henry? Hey, that sounds like our brother! I'm Simon. That's Shaun over there."
"Harriet? Are you serious?"
"Whoa, this is the girl Henry fancies, Shaun!"
"How are you sure?" Shaun asked.
"Well, who else is it? I don't think Harriet is that common a name and she looks the right age."
"Yeah, I'm the girl he's in love with," I said, rolling my eyes.
Simon laughed. I was glad I didn't feel tired when he did so. "Every single other girl he's been out with says he's wonderful. And here you are, nice and sane, disagreeing with them."
Simon stuck out a hand. "Pleasure to meet you."
I shook it.
I randomly noticed that Simon had light green eyes while Shaun's were a pale blue slightly similar to Arthur's.
"Are we going to hide or just let Arthur find us?" Shaun asked impatiently.
Simon stood up. "Sorry, we're spying on one of our other brothers."
"Is he coming?"
"In a minute."
The boys crept behind the wide trunk of a tree and waited there, stifling giggles until they fell quiet.