At school, I was slightly happier than I had been the previous two days. My teachers kindly gave me longer to do my homework so I could sort myself out and my friends no longer looked so concerned, although no one really knew what was happening in my life and just reacted to how I behaved. Henry, who had worn a ghost of a smile yesterday now looked shocked. It seemed to be a reaction to my smile and he confronted me at break with a look of despair in his eyes.
"Why are you happy?!" he asked.
"Am I not allowed to be?" I asked, annoyed and indignant.
"No, because if you're happy, something's gone terribly wrong."
"Well, thanks for your concern about my welfare!"
"Harriet, what happened?"
"I don't think I have to tell you."
"I think you do. I did what I did on Tueday to protect you!"
"Well, some protection it was. It opened my mind to the evil of the world and tainted my perspective. I reckon I'm far less optimistic than I was before."
"It was for your own good!"
"But I felt terrible."
"You were so much better off. Tell me what happened."
"Will you leave me alone?"
I was surprised by how much he wanted to know.
"Right, I had to tell your brother I didn't love him, as you know. Then, the following evening, he came to my house and undid what you did. Now, I'll admit I don't love him as much as I did that night but he's still the one I'm considering spending my life with."
"Oh no! But wait! How did you feel about him hypnotising you?"
"As I said, I don't love him as much."
"But you hated me."
"You really exploited your powers over me. Arthur used his powers to make me have beautiful dreams."
Henry looked appalled. "But that's accessing your deeper thoughts! He could change your personality during a dream suggestion! That's so much worse than anything I did, except the last thing which I hate myself for."
"It felt nice," I said. "And now I've told you what happened, will you leave me alone?"
"Yes, but it's your own fault if you end up Arthur's slave. You want me to stop protecting you? Fine, I will. I wash my hands of you, Harriet: you just won't listen to reason."
"Fine," I said. "See if I care. I'll be so much happier without you! And I don't care for your protection when you think it's better if I'm destroyed."
I walked away leaving Henry looking angry.
I never realised he'd influenced her dreams! He's meant to have more sense than me, being older, but he's an idiot. I hate him, I really do!
What did I say to Harriet? I was so angry ... Did I tell her I wouldn't protect her anymore? Oh no... She's going to expect me to keep that promise... What have I done?
It didn't pay off... I induced the most binding, most traumatic in terms of life experiences trance in the book and it was all for nothing. The torture, Harriet's pain, the end of my life... all suffered but without any impact whatsoever. I didn't realise Arthur would manage to undo it... He must have really bound her tightly to his will when he hypnotised her. He was right... My life has no meaning.
But I knew that, already. I knew my life meant nothing at all from the point at which Harriet kissed me. I've been dead all that time. I feel like a ghost; in fact, I am a ghost. The ghost of Henry Mesmerising which treads the earth, a tortured soul and a haunted spirit. It's like the horror stories Jack is so into. But it's real.
How could I forget, for even a second, the blackness of Henry's heart? He's dead. His life ended when he said, "Your will is mine."
The following day, Henry was depressed again.
On Saturday morning, I strolled out to the park. Arthur met me there and wordlessly led me over the bridge at the lock and through the meadow, through a forest, past streams, until, half an hour later, we arrived at a beautiful mansion in the middle of a field. The house was tall, white and magnificent with about six windows on each of its three floors.
I stopped, stunned by how open and inviting it looked. I followed Arthur up to the door, expecting him to knock since a house this grand would surely be more his parents' than his own but he pushed open the giant oak door and stepped inside. I was trailing behind him nervously but he rubbed my shoulder and said, "Welcome to Mes. Mansion."
"Give it its proper name," said a young man who was hurrying down the stairs. He had the usual shock of black hair and dancing indigo eyes. He stopped before us and looked at Arthur expectantly.
"Come on, Elizabeth's waiting," he said impatiently.
"I don't want her to fall asleep," Arthur murmured.
"I'm sorry, but I could have just sworn you disobeyed me."
"We're not under your thumb, Andrew."
He looked straight into Arthur's eyes. Arthur lowered his head.
"No, don't give in to him!" I shouted.
Andrew gazed at me, looking disapproving.
"He'll do what I say."
"Why? Because you can't stand it when someone defies you? You're so bos"-
Arthur looked shocked and clamped a hand over my mouth.
"She doesn't mean it, Andrew," he said hurriedly. "Er, Harriet, this is Mesmer..."
I didn't hear the rest of it as I fell asleep.
I awoke to find Andrew smiling. "That's better. I don't like abbrieviations when we're in such a noble house."
He strode off, shouting, "Liza, dear!"
"Who does he think he is?!" I asked annoyed.
Arthur sighed. "He's the most powerful hypnotist in this house and he knows it. He's also totally cold and unforgiving except towards his fiancée who he absolutely adores. His love for her is the strangest thing."
"He's going to get married?!" I asked, shocked.
Arthur nodded. "He proposed to Elizabeth on her birthday."
"Who could love him?"
"I told you that she dislikes him. She hates the way he controls us, just the way you do, but when Andrew looks at you with utter love in his eyes, you totally forget everything else."
Just then, a tall, striking girl with a slender figure and long, gorgeous blonde hair which flowed around her strode across the hallway before us.
"I wish you wouldn't control people like that!" she yelled turning as Andrew walked towards her.
"Liza, darling, other people don't matter," he said gently.
"I don't want your care for me to be exclusive! I've never wanted that. You annoy me so much."
Andrew calmly approached her, gazing into her eyes and looking like a totally different person from the one we'd seen only a few seconds ago.
"Should I take the ring off your finger then?" he asked sadly, looking at Elizabeth as if he were his everything and doing such a thing would break his heart.
Elizabeth sighed. "No, of course not."
Andrew took her hands in his and murmured, "The important thing in my life, the only important thing, is that you love me. Do you?"
"Yes, of course," she replied.
Andrew kissed her. They looked amazing together: Miss Beautiful-and-Stunning and Master Handsome-and-Dashing.
Andrew broke away and let go of one of her hands to caress her soft hair.
"I'm sorry," he said, "for being the flawed lover, the ruination of our love."
"No, that's not true."
I saw what he was doing. He was making her feel guilty for hating him. His words were sweet poison which she hung onto until she was responding in the exact way he wanted her to. Feeling slightly ill, I asked, "Can we go and see Matt?"
Arthur looked startled by my voice. He looked sympathetic at my face and led me up the main staircase to the first floor where the corridor was lined with soft blue carpet and the wallpaper was dark blue with black curving lines which formed the outlines of roses. He led me to the right and we'd just passed an open door on our left when I heard Henry shouting, "Harriet?"
He ran out of the room looking shocked. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I'd forgotten that you lived here too," I said coldly. "I'm hanging out with Arthur. Do you have a problem with that? Oh wait, no you don't because you washed your hands of me."
"I said that?" Henry asked weakly.
I nodded. "And I was glad you did actually. I was starting to tire of you."
Henry looked disconsolate and wandered back to his room.
We continued down the passageway and stopped outside a closed door, from behind which was coming muffled laughter. Arthur knocked once.