Chapter 28

Harriet

                Arthur seemed discontented for the whole of the time he spent around my house, even when we were alone in my room kissing. He enjoyed the kisses of course but his heart wasn't really in it. He gave the impression that he was distracted. It didn't help that I needed to be distracted.

                In an attempt to raise his spirits, I asked Arthur to tell me the next part of the story.

He looked intently into my eyes when he did and I had the feeling he was trying to send me a message through the next section of the tale.

"The relationship had been going for a while. All that the elder brother wanted was a perfect relationship but events which happened indicated there were flaws. He desperately wanted to fix the problems so he could live with the girl in peace and bliss but had no idea how to go about it. She had already surrendered her heart to his, despite the imperfections, and she felt closer to him, more in love and subtly happier than she had done at the start. So what could he do other than almost forcing the love out of her, evoking every emotion she had in her heart from her, at its strongest possible,  when he did something as mere as to caress her hair? The brother could tell the girl didn't mean to cause this pain but sometimes he felt he was being cheated out of the dream he'd expected to fall into when he fell in love with her."

"How sad," I said and Arthur looked frustrated. He stood up and picked up the paper with my house number and mobile number written on it before saying, "I have to go."

"Look, if something's bothering you, I'd rather you told me," I said.

"Yet you won't tell me about Henry," he muttered.

Ouch. It almost sounded like an accusation.

"I'm truly sorry about that," I replied. "I just wouldn't feel comfortable bringing up that memory."

Arthur kissed my hair to show me he still loved me in spite of his mood before walking out.

 I felt lost. I was sure I'd caused this but I didn't know what I had done. Surely it couldn't all be because of me not telling him about Henry kissing me? I didn't know what to do. I had to remain true to myself by not doing anything I was uncomfortable with so I failed to see how I could cheer him up. I tried to rack my brains for other things I might need to apologise for but my mind came up blank. Sighing and hoping things would be clearer in the morning, I retired.

*

Arthur

            So I'm going to have to use entrancement and suggestion? Great. The whole point of a proprius is that they've been as hypnotised as few times as possible. I was worried when I hypnotised her so the ring would have an effect on her love for me.

Henry

            Something very disturbing happened last night. I was pacing along the corridor, unable to get to sleep (I suppose death does that to you) when I heard murmurs coming from Arthur's room. I paused by the open door and was sure I heard him saying the word ‘proprius' in his sleep. That word alone made me sick but then to my revulsion and horror, he began murmuring, ‘Harriet'. He sounded desperate but also as if he wanted her to be his proprius because he loved her so. One string of words was as follows: "Harriet... proprius ... I need you ... I love you ... my princess ... my proprius." I was rooted to the spot in disgusted fascination. My brother was actually insane. He was more than that. He was pure evil. I wanted to run to Harriet's house, bang on the door and wake her up and tell her of what the ‘love of her life' was intending her to become. The worst thing was the way he thought that it would be a symbol of love for Harriet to be his proprius.

            It was a whole ten minutes that I stood there, listening to this scary, repulsive dialogue.

            I have to do something. I know now that my love for Harriet is more true and certainly less dangerous than Arthur's, not to mention strong enough that I realise to do nothing would be a betrayal of myself and her, no matter what promises I made before. The only problem is that I have no idea how to go about sorting out this problem.

            Ah-ha! I have a plan. Unfortunately, it will involve trying to befriend Andrew and appearing a little twisted myself. He has a friend called Michael who has a proprius called Anna. If I can show Harriet the reality of the danger and turn her against Arthur by provoking the same feelings of horror and disgust I felt last night, she may dump him.  I mean, she couldn't think I'd make up Arthur's want for her to be his proprius, could she? I certainly wouldn't think twice about my desire to be in a relationship with her at the moment: my main priority is to get her out of Arthur's grasp which is inevitably tightening around her.

            I never imagined things would be this bad if Harriet fell in love with Arthur...

Harriet

                At school the following day, Henry approached me looking ... quite frankly scared.

"Harriet, I need to talk to you," he said, sounding desperate. His words were hurried, he wanted to be quick.

"No," I said. "What possible reason would I have for wanting to talk with you?"

"You don't have to talk. Just listen. Please."

"Oh, what, I should just stand and wait for something to happen like it did yesterday?"

Henry frowned in confusion. "Yesterday?"

"Yes. You kissed me, remember."

I started to walk away. Stupid fool, pretending to have forgotten. I bet that's why he never gave up: he just kept shifting the fact I didn't want him around to the back of his mind.

He ran after me.

"Harriet, I swear I forgot. Look, I know how this sounds but my love for you is the last thing I want to discuss."

I stopped and turned. "Your love? I'm sorry: were you in love? You could've fooled me. I don't know what you're feeling at the moment but it's certainly not the beautiful emotion that gives people wings."

"Harriet," he pleaded. "This has nothing to do with my feelings for you!" He looked distressed and frightened.

"Oh, give me a break."

"I don't care if you never fall in love with me. As long as you listen to me. You can hate me for the rest of your life and ... and ... and spit on my grave for all I care. Just hear me out."

I was shocked into silence. He didn't mind if I hated him. This must be important.

"What is it?" I asked warily.

"You won't like it," he said quietly, averting his eyes. "But you have to believe me." He looked up and I saw desperation in his eyes and the fear flickering like a candle flame threatening to be blown out. "You have to. I wouldn't lie. Not about this. Not about anything, but especially not about this. This is serious and this is bigger than anything you have experienced in your life."

"What?" I asked, more puzzled than worried.

"Come to my house ... tomorrow night. Don't let Arthur know you're coming." Seeing my face, he quickly said, "I promise it'll be better if he doesn't know."

The way he phrased it sounded as if Arthur wasn't involved, although I knew Henry probably thought he was.

"Okay," I said exasperatedly. "But as soon as I don't want to know, I'll leave."

Henry gave me a big hug. "Thank you so much. I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you. If that happened to you. The second that happened, I'd kill myself, I really would."

"Don't be dramatic," I muttered, pushing him away.

I saw immense gratitude in his eyes but there was still fear. In fact, that fear never really went away. It always lingered in his eyes, willing to share its position with another emotion but never leaving.

*

The End

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