Chapter 16

Harriet

                The following evening, I was up in my room when the doorbell rang. I heard my mother give someone directions to my room, sounding worried since I was still quite unhappy, and then footsteps echoed on the stairs. I sat up, intrigued, and waited for the visitor to come in.

                It was Arthur. The deep part of me feeling my true emotions was elated and hopeful. Nevertheless, I found myself saying, "I don't love you."

"Can I sit down?"

"No."

He sat anyway and gazed in my eyes. My mind went blank. When my thoughts returned, Arthur was frowning.

"Lie down on your stomach for me."

I obligingly lay down, the hypnotised part of me finding no reason I could give as to why I shouldn't.

To my surprise, Arthur began to massage my shoulders.

"Relax for me," he said in a sing-song voice. He gradually slowed the pace of his hand movements and I found myself envisaging them as they made circles. I yawned.

"Good girl."

I felt Arthur lying down beside me.

"Look straight ahead for me," he said, sounding very much like an optician.

I looked at my bedroom wall.

"Relax," he murmured in my ear. "Relax."

I felt very relaxed. I was comfortable lying there, calm after the massage Arthur had given me and inside, very content because I still loved Arthur and he was trying to help me.

Arthur kissed my back, my neck, my cheek, always repeatedly murmuring, "Relax."

"And you're in ... a boat... on... the sea, and the... calm waves ... are rock-ing you ... from side... to side," he murmured. The pauses made his words rhythmic, like the sea I was floating upon in my little dreamboat.

Then he began to sing a haunting and compelling melody which simultaneously soothed me and aroused a feeling deep within me of fear mixed with love mixed with the desire to obey Arthur. Throughout the song, I saw all the images he described; throughout it all, I was filled with greater and greater calm; throughout it all, reality was a dream.

"Sleep, my princess, sleep,

In the oceans, calm and deep

Have no fear of drowning, dear:

May my voice allay your fear.

Sleep, my princess, sleep.

Descend through mist and fog,

That soporific fog.

 As you travel down and down,

Rocking waves remove your frown.

Descend through mist and fog."

The last verb was sung quietly and this change in volume, along with the increased intensity of his persuasive words, enhanced the feelings deep within me.

"Slip, my dear, away,

To the dream world from the day,

Night approaches, stars and moon

Dancing to this calming tune,

Slip, my dear, away."

He repeated the words, "Slip away," getting quieter and increasing the pauses between the repetitions and towards the end only saying, "Slip," until in a quiet whisper he said, "Sleep."

I stopped thinking is the best way to describe what happened afterwards. What felt like a second later, I blinked and found myself freely feeling love for Arthur, no longer bound to Henry's will. I rolled onto my side and looked at Arthur soulfully before kissing him.

"I love you," I told him, between kisses, "and I'm sorry about what Henry hypnotised me to say. He's definitely the bad guy."

I stopped and rolled onto my back. "He was such a hypocrite. He said you'd force my will and destroy me but those are the things he did. My life is ruined and I'm sorry your girlfriend's tainted but what Henry did can never be forgiven or forgotten."

I looked at Arthur. "Can you still take me?"

"Of course I can," he replied. "I love you."

"Thank you."

"No problem," he murmured, reaching out and stroking my hair.

"The story came true again," I remarked.

"The story is true. That's why I call you princess. You're the princess of this fairytale."

I smiled. "And you're the handsome prince, come to rescue me from the evil dragon."

Arthur nodded. "I would risk my life to save yours."

I sighed. "Yesterday was a very long day and today was even longer. Do you mind if we keep it brief this evening?"

"Not at all."

I lay there in quiet contentment while I looked into the wonderful eyes which were gazing back at me and into my soul.

"I have something for you," he murmured.

"I thought you were the greatest gift in the world," I replied, utterly serious.

"No, that's you."

"How could Henry say you only pretend to love me?"

"I don't know. He thinks I'm able to make bliss appear out of nowhere, as well: fake bliss. I don't think he's very clued up about the world."

"What did his other girlfriends see in him?"

"I have a feeling your answer will be funnier than mine."

I smiled. "They only saw his forest-coloured eyes and they fell under the wrong type of spell."

Arthur grinned. "That's exactly what I thought when I saw the way they looked at him."

"Poor girls."

"Yeah, I thought that too."

"Ah well, I suppose they're all much better off now."

"Definitely."

There was silence: sweet, love-filled silence.

"We've totally detracted from what we were originally talking about," I murmured.

"I love being distracted by you." Arthur's gaze became distracting.

I struggled to keep my thoughts from being swept away. His stare became more intense.

"Don't resist me, princess."

I gave in, hopelessly lovestruck and fascinated by the skies in his eyes which became streaked with rainbows, as Arthur leant in to kiss me.

Before his lips touched mine, he murmured, "You've got stars in your eyes, darling. Are you hypnotising me?"

I wrapped my arms around him and briefly broke away to reply, "No. You're hypnotising me."

As we kissed, my soul was filled with love which softened the ache from being tainted by Henry's actions the previous afternoon.

Arthur stopped for a moment. I opened my eyes to see his looking deep into them.

"Would you blame me if I wanted to?"

I shook my head. "I'd want to ensure you were truly mine, too."

"I love you so much that my heart breaks when you're sad. Tell me you feel the same way."

"I do, of course I do. I've never felt such strong love and it overrides every single other emotion I feel. I surrender totally to its will because it's the most powerful feeling in the universe and because I adore its effects on me. I adore your effect on me."

"Could you belong to me?"

"Don't I already?"

"I don't know: I can't think straight."

"Part of me would like to say that I can't either, because it's mostly true, but I'm absolutely certain of my feelings for you."

"I can't imagine a more perfect, well thought-out answer."

He kissed me again.

I stopped and stifled a yawn.

Arthur laid me down (to be honest, I hadn't noticed him pulling me up into a sitting position: I'd been lost in his eyes) and stroked my hair.

He then pulled out a familiar-looking ring.

"Can I put this on you?" he asked.

"Of course."

He took my right hand, kissed it and slid the circle of thick, heavy but smooth and prettily decorated metal over my middle finger.

I looked at it, admiring it. It was the ring from the dream, the ring reading ‘Arthur Mesmerising's precious lover.'

"Thank you," I said.

"Kiss it to give you good luck: it's a part of me and has the same intentions."

"I will. Thanks again." I yawned, unable to suppress it this time. "I'm sorry I'm so tired.

"That's okay. Pleasant dreams..."

"No, wait!" I chuckled. "I can't go to sleep yet."

"Why not?"

"I'm not changed or anything. Let me get dressed and then you can make me fall asleep."

"Make sounds so forceful," Arthur said as I stood up and picked up my pyjamas.

I went into my closet, which was en-suite, and closed the door so I could change.

"I prefer ‘render you so lovestruck you become fatigued'," he told me.

I walked out, having put my other clothes away and trudged over to lie on my bed.

"Isn't render a synonym of make?"

"Yeah, but it's more describing an effect, or at least in my opinion anyway. A natural effect."

I gazed into his loving eyes. "Your voice has a natural effect of stupor."

"Hm, it does that when I'm slightly tired myself."

"No, it does that normally when I listen out for that musicality which captivates and relaxes me. You're really hypnotic."

"And you're really exhausted. Can I send you off to sleep now?"

"Go ahead."

"Pleasant dreams, princess. Sleep deeply: an untroubled sleep..." His voice became part of my dream as he finished, "A sleep of wonder and bliss."

***

The End

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