"The girl chose to remain with the older brother. He was elated. And what of the younger brother? He was dead. He hadn't been able to save the girl from the danger he still thought she was in and his life meant nothing to her since he had betrayed his own heart in hurting her."
Arthur was continuing the story. We were lying on our backs on his bed, facing each other, smiling while conveying the love we felt for each other with our eyes.
"It seemed like the happy ending of this fairytale was drawing near," Arthur said. "But there was a lot more in store for this couple."
"Oh, good," I said. "The mystery's back."
"It certainly is. Are you wearing that ring I gave you?"
"Um, no, sorry. We're not allowed to wear rings at school, or bracelets. We're allowed one necklace and that's all."
"Ah well, when we next go to yours then."
"What will we do?"
"Ah, that would be telling."
"I shouldn't be surprised. I look forward to it, whatever it is."
Arthur kissed me. "I do too."
We lay there, stationary, for a few more minutes before Arthur suddenly said, "Remember you said you belong to me?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you still?"
Ignoring my question, Arthur gazed intently into my eyes and asked, "Do you truly mean that?"
"Even though we fell out?"
"Could you prove it? It's just I'm worried our love has diminished somehow."
"Okay. What would you like me to do?"
"I don't know... Something expressive yet compliant."
"How can you combine expressive and compliant?"
"I'll propose something expressive and you'll do it willingly. It'll have to be difficult though."
"First, I'd like you to feel more comfortable about being hypnotised by me. You really don't need to be scared and I can be so much more romantic if you let me."
"You're romantic already."
"Please, Harriet. I'll always be accidentally using suggestion while you're awake and you just need to remain unfazed by it."
"Arthur, I don't want to be controlled."
"Don't you want to be like Zara? Matt doesn't control her and I'm not asking to either. Zara's totally comfortable with every aspect of Matt's personality and would do anything for him. And you told me you belonged to me."
"Won't you do this for me? You can trust me. Do you believe I could hurt you?"
"No," I replied, "but..."
"Would I bind you to me out of anything other than love?"
"No, but I don't want to be bound like that."
"Wouldn't you happily marry me and be bound to me forever?"
"Marry you?" I asked weakly.
"I would," I replied, giving in. "So I guess I'll try and be comfortable with you hypnotising me."
"So, what's this expressive yet compliant action going to be?"
"Surrender to me. It only has to be until lunch time and who knows, you might enjoy it. But I'd like you to allow me to hypnotise you, render you starry eyed and evoke the strongest possible feelings of pleasure and love from you. Just tell me you're mine to confirm the binding."
I sighed. I gazed into those eyes, in which I could only see love, and murmured, "I'm yours."
Arthur stroked my hair and kissed my cheek.
"I'll make it the most luxurious morning of your life," he promised.
He gazed into my eyes and made my mind go blank for a long time.
When I awoke, I asked, "What happens when my mind goes blank? I can feel time passing but it's like it's been frozen."
"Well, it's sort of like someone's pressed the pause button on your conscious thoughts. Your subconscious thoughts, however, are still active. If I ask you a question, you'll answer it as truthfully and as fully as you can, if I give you a command, you'll say ‘yes, master' (which is quite disconcerting) and follow it when you wake up and if I state something like a fact or something I want you to believe, you'll begin to believe that and be influenced by it, also when you wake up, (for example, if I say, the sky is cloudy, you might take an umbrella with you when you go outside)."
"But what if the sky's not cloudy?"
"It'll look it. I'll prove it."
I stood up and followed Arthur to a mirror.
"Look at me."
I gazed into the cerulean irises before me. They intensified until my thoughts faded. When my thoughts came back, I looked in the mirror and to my surprise, found my hair, which was usually dark brown, had turned blonde!
"How...?!" I asked.
"To me, it still looks dark brown," Arthur said before gazing intently into my eyes again and clearing my thoughts momentarily before I looked in the mirror and found my hair had got back its normal colour.
"That's so weird! Is there anything you can't do with hypnosis?"
Arthur's face darkened. "You can't instruct someone to die or commit suicide."
"Well, that's a good thing!"
"Oh, I was frowning because I was thinking of death."
"Well, yes, it is scary ... and sad."
"I'd be devastated if you died."
"Don't think about that sort of thing. I'm fourteen. I'm not going to drop dead right this second."
"Of course not," Arthur said, smiling. "And I have to enjoy the time I do have with you."
I kissed him. "You do."
"D'you feel sorry for Henry?" Arthur asked.
I sighed. "Yes and no. While I hate him for what he did to me, I can't help thinking about how much he must be suffering. I certainly don't want him to be actually dead."
"That scared me," Arthur confessed. "I saw his diary and there were loads of entries saying how he was dead, or should be dead. It was like he was suicidal."
"Oh my, I hope not." I suddenly had a chilling thought. Henry on a cliff...
"I have to see him one minute," I said to Arthur before running to Henry's room. I found it empty and paced outside for about ten minutes.
When he arrived, looking startled to see me, I threw my arms around him and said, "Promise me you won't do anything rash."
I then began to cry into his shoulder.
"Harriet, what's wrong?" he asked, stroking my back and pulling me over to his bed and sitting me down upon it but thankfully acknowledging that getting me to let go would be dangerous.
"I just couldn't bear it if you ... died," I sobbed.
"Oh, Harriet, you thought I was suicidal? No, you daft girl. I may have nothing to live for but feeling like I'm already dead means I won't try to end my life."
"I'm sorry about all the things I said, and all of those horrid things I did and the absolute torture I put you through," I told him, realising my apology as sincere as I said it. "And I don't think you're nothing, not really. Everyone is special and we have to believe that everyone's important or the world will come to a terrible end."
"Of course," he said soothingly. "But don't worry about me. I feel unimportant because my life has no meaning and I've accepted that. I'll never be quite the same person I was before again and I'll always be depressed, but you have to live your life."
"You're so brave," I murmured. "So strong."
"I lived for you," he said quietly, stroking my hair. "And I thought my actions that day would bring you to safety and out of harm's way. They didn't and I was so devastated, but I ... I think I can live (or continue to die inside) knowing I tried."
"Oh, by the way," he said suddenly, "I apologise for telling you I'd washed my hands of you."
I let go of Henry and stood up, stepping backwards. "Whoa, don't go there. I may not want you to die but I still don't like you. I'm terrified of you and I'm still tainted. It was good that you promised not to protect me anymore because your protection was pain."
"Oh, of course. It was wrong of me to assume..." Henry trailed off, looking down.
"That you liked me."
I walked out, closing the door behind me.
That was tactless.
I felt so sure that when she was crying, she was crying for me. I so wanted to believe she might actually care about me. My life would have, at least, some purpose if she did. Even if she became bound to Arthur...
I've promised not to try and stop him, now. I can't break a promise I've made to the one I love... Do I just stand by and let this happen, then?
I've gone and given Henry the wrong impression. Fantastic. I might as well have lied to his face and told him that I liked him. Now he's going to try even harder to lead me away from ‘evil' - I feel sure of it.