Chapter 24

"You know," Arthur murmured, when we were lying on my bed in the comfort of my own home, "I do actually want you to be bound to me. Not in the way Henry meant it, with me enslaving you against your will, of course, but... in a romantic way, as something like my fiancée or my wife."

"I'd love to be either which probably means I'm going to end up both. If we had a really serious relationship which was practically flawless but imperfect enough that it would be realised we could live together, all we'd have to do is wait two years, get our parents' permission and then we could marry."

"Yeah, but you don't want to be a Hypnos Person for three years."

"Why would I be?"

"It just happens. The second a Captivator slides a wedding ring over your ring finger, you become one too. That's why Andrew and Elizabeth are only engaged: they're waiting for Liza's 20th birthday."

"Wow... Don't slide the ring you got me over the wrong finger, just in case."

"Oh, you were going to wear that for me, weren't you?"

"Yup." I opened the top drawer of my bedside cabinet and brought out my jewellery box, opening it with the key that had come along with it and slid out one of the tiny drawers used for rings, which was carpeted in velvet, and pulled out the ring. I carefully closed the box and locked it, tucking both it and the key back into the drawer before facing Arthur again who looked flattered.

"Wow, you really took care of it."

"Of course I did. It's part of you: that's what you told me."

"Wow, I love you."

I smiled.

I put the ring on and asked, "How does it look?"

"Amazing," Arthur replied. "It feels amazing too. I feel like you're really mine."

"Of course I'm really yours."

Arthur gazed lovingly into my eyes. "Say that again, princess."

"I'm really yours," I repeated.

Something ... changed. The alteration was so subtle I barely noticed it, but I suddenly felt like I was looking at Arthur with stronger love in my eyes and my heart was melting faster in his gaze. I was caught and held by his mesmerising eyes and I felt ... more held, as if he'd captured me and put me in some kind of soft, invisible cage which I didn't notice. I wanted Arthur to be ... possessive ..., not to control me as such but to ... claim ownership of me.  I wanted him to almost... be more expectant of my love, ... define higher standards to which I had to conform and never see me as capable of feeling and conveying anything less than the most love I could hold in my heart.

"You want me to ... love you more?" I asked, confused. "To ... feel as though I ... belong to you?"

"What makes you say that, princess?" he asked, but I got a chilling feeling he knew exactly what and was hiding that knowledge along with a darker side of his personality.

"The ring... That's how I felt when I put it on."

"It's just a ring," he told me, and I knew that he was telling the truth about that; there was just some lie hidden in this mystery.

"Why do I want you to own me?" I whispered.

"Because you love me." He said it with such conviction in his eyes that I nearly believed that he'd naturally evoked these feelings from me.

He kissed me and stroked my face. "You look so pale. You're not scared of me, are you?"

"No... I'm scared of myself," I replied.

"When you have a heart of gold? Oh, princess, you'd never hurt a fly."

"Wouldn't I?" I asked, uncertain.

Arthur gazed into my eyes, transfixing me. "Of course not."

He began to kiss me again and this time, I couldn't resist him, couldn't push him away even though I wanted so much to know what was going on. I was frightened by the greater power he had over me. My thoughts were swept away, but they willingly went, when he gazed further into my eyes.

I was soon enjoying myself again. I was relaxed, content and most importantly, lovestruck. Nothing was artificial; nothing contradicted a deeper feeling within me like when I was hypnotised: everything was natural. I'd been born to love Arthur.

He stared into my eyes and seconds later, we were kissing in a glade of luminescent plants where unicorns blessed our relationship with their horns and made everything feel softer; a click of Arthur's fingers and we were on a beach kissing on warm sand which made me feel fuzzy inside while the sun was setting and casting rainbows across the sky like the rainbow's in Arthur's eyes; another click and we were in the park kissing under a starlit sky; click: a cliff top where I looked upon vast, dark oceans before resuming kissing Arthur again; click: an island where the sand was white, palm trees grew and the sea was turquoise; and a final click brought us back to my room where I was crying as I kissed Arthur because the scenes had all been beautiful, had all been magical and had all contained him.

We finally broke away and I stared at him, only seeing him, and totally forgot any apprehension and fear that had plagued me before this. I found I was okay with the effect the ring had on me: I did belong to Arthur. Why was such a simple fact worrying in any way?

Arthur glanced at his watch.

"It's the afternoon," he told me and waited for my response to his unspoken question.

"Of course I'd surrender to you again. This morning was wonderful."

"How about you surrender ... permanently, so your heart's not constantly opening and closing?"

"Okay, I surrender permanently. You can evoke love from me however you want, whenever you want, wherever you want."

Arthur beamed. "You're a star. A beacon of love and wonderfully beautiful and you do the greatest things. I couldn't ask for a more perfect girlfriend than you."



            Arthur came home beaming yesterday. I'm very worried. I have a feeling he's put that ring on her finger.

The End

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