I watched as Benjeman laid Middy on his bed. I felt a twinge of guilt but I wasn't sure how much Middy should know yet. I didn't want her panicking and rushing into this game. A dangerous game that could have a dire outcome if Middy wasn't focused.
Benjeman came and sat opposite me. I saw my guilt reflected in his eyes.
"I'll make it up to her," I murmured, "And you, for making her sleep for me." He just nodded and made a gesture for me to get on with it. I glanced down and took a deep breath, steeling myself.
"I'm getting older here, Brook," Benjeman taunted. I glared at him.
"I'm trying to think of a good way to ask you because you're not gonna like my questioning one bit," I snapped, "And I could've sworn I've told you not to call me that." He laughed.
"Can you get serious, please? You have no idea how bad things are," I said in a cold voice.
"Sure, sure," He was being patronizing. I'd soon get him to realise exactly how bad things were.
"What do you know about the Shadow?" I asked directly and he froze: his cocky look turning to horror. Well he wanted me to cut to the chase.
Suddenly he was holding me up off the floor and his face inches from mine. He slammed me into the wall.
"Hey!" I protested and struggled to get free.
"How do you know of Shadow?" Benjeman snarled. I shifted my gaze away.
"I don't want to talk about it," I whispered. Benjeman softened at the faint pain in my voice and let me go.
"Sorry," he muttered, "It was just... Shadow. It's been a while since anyone has even uttered his name." He returned to his seat and I returned to mine. I could understand his reaction because anything about Shadow made people react wildly in their fear. Benjeman's eyes locked on mine.
"I know very little of Shadow. Other than the obvious, of course," Benjeman told me.
"What? That he's pure effin evil?" I inserted dryly. Benjeman's smile mirrored my tone.
"Yes, that. In addition to that knowledge I know that Fire Foxes have something to do with him, although they guard whatever it is very well. He once had a body but it was stripped from him and it is said he was mere Essence. As a Pixie, I'm sure you know what happens to an Essence if it doesn't have a body or solid form?" I nodded. Essences die - or more accurately they Fade - without bodies. I know because it was a key thing in Pixie histories. "Legend has it that he shares the body of unsuspecting creatures as he waits to gain his own body again. It was believed that it would take great power to defeat him permanently," Benjeman shook his head, "It doesn't matter. Shadow was banished by whom no one knows. He has not been heard of for a long time."
I snorted, "He was banished, Benjeman, that doesn't mean he can't ever return. The magic that banished him was never strong enough to last forever, especially if he had outside help to escape, I should know because-" I stopped abruptly and snapped my mouth shut. I closed my eyes, counted to ten then opened them again. Benjeman looked at me strangely.
"Because it was your magic?" He guessed softly.
"I had help," I whispered, "That help is in the form of a Fire Fox Demon who Shadow has stayed with. You could say that he out-stayed his welcome."
"Ah hell," Benjeman said aghast, "The legends are true, then?" I just nodded miserably. "Um, there is another story. That Shadow sometimes makes his host do whatever Shadow wants them to." I gritted my teeth. Benjeman was resurrecting memories from my dark period, when Maz and I were seperated by an ancient binding. Maz lost control of himself completely. The things he did were... terrible but I had to remember that, technically, it hadn't been him. Benjeman took my silence for confirmation.
"That's why he asked me to keep Middy away," Benjeman muttered absently. I looked at him sharply.
"What?" I asked.
"He knows he's losing," Benjeman said, "He's fighting but wavering so he asked - no ordered - me to keep Middy away from him."
"I don't know what to tell her," I admitted miserably. He knew who I meant and we both glanced at Middy. Right now the only thing binding Benjeman and I were our love for Middy.
Benjeman shuddered then looked back at me. "You don't want her dragged into this but you need all the help you can get?" This kid was perceptive. Well he was High Pureblood.
"Middy's powerful," I spoke carefully, "As powerful as both of us." Benjeman nodded cautiously. "But her feelings for Mazany might get in the way and blind her as she attempts to save him."
"And there is no doubt that if she knew all about Shadow then she would try to save him," Benjeman completed my thoughts. I nodded and we stared at each other sadly. I didn't know if Middy would be so willing to help if she knew everything but there was no way I was saying anything about that. I protected Mazany's past because I knew he wasn't himself. It wasn't until I forced myself to remember everything that I realised exactly who Middy was. Mazany blocked his past even more than I blocked mine and often he did things that he couldn't remember doing, that had to be why he didn't remember Middy. I'd only glimpsed her myself...
"There's a lot you're not telling me," Benjeman said and I jumped. It was like he'd known what I was thinking but of course he hadn't. "We need to start trusting each other so either we'll say the truth or nothing, agreed?" I nodded. "But one day you will have to tell me what Shadow did to you - and Mazany," Benjeman said. I opened my mouth to protest but he gave me a look and I shut it. "Promise me, Zuri," Benjeman ordered. I was startled by him using my name and caught myself nodding.
Benjeman smiled in satisfaction.
"So what do we do, Mr. High Pureblood?" I asked cheerfully. Despite myself I was beginning to like this Benjeman.