Well, I don't know what hurt worse: seeing and hearing Eric tell AJ something he'd never told me or hearing him say he wanted to die.
"You can't mean that," I whispered after he'd told the Shadows he had lost everything. I now felt incredibly guilty for telling him that I hated him. I hadn't meant it really: I'd just felt terrible after already dealing with something difficult (our break-up). I'd been lost and consfused, and his confession to AJ had just done it for me.
Eric heard my thoughts and his expression turned hopeful. "Really?"
I nodded. "I don't want you to die. I still love you. I didn't break up with you because I'd fallen out of love with you: you know that."
"But you said you hated me."
"I blew everything massively out of proportion."
"You'd be perfectly justified in hating me," Eric whispered. "After all, I'm dead and I lied to you."
"Yeah, I know but I ... couldn't hate you. I don't know whether it's because you changed me or simply due to the magic of love, but I could never despise you. Not after what we shared. I was really upset earlier on, and frankly overdramatic."
"I caused that hurt: me."
"No, we both decided to break up."
"And the break-up was because of me. Because of what I am. Maybe it's better if I just die."
"No!" I shouted, horrified.
"Mystry, I should be dead anyway."
"No, you shouldn't! Everyone has a right to live!"
"But I killed myself as a baby. My life... didn't really happen."
"It was a mistake!" Tears began to stream down my face. "Please Eric, don't say these things. You are a wonderful person with a brilliant aura and a great personality, no matter what you think."
"But you can't bring yourself to love me."
"I can! I do love you! I just needed to sort myself out! Because I'm stupid and I care about what everyone else thinks. It's not your fault I forced my conscience to rule my life for seventeen years..."
"But that was a good thing," Eric interrupted. "If you hadn't, you wouldn't be this fantastic girl with a beautiful soul. And I'm glad you're like that. That's why I can't bear for you to change into someone like me."
"I don't think I care anymore! Look how much you need me! And I just... deserted you! What kind of a girlfriend am I? Moreover, what kind of a person am I? I claim to be this thoughtful, kind person but I didn't take you for who you were: I was too focused on my own character development."
I sank to my knees. "Please don't ask the Shadows to let you die, Eric. I'm begging you. I can't live without you. You're my raison d'être."
"And you mine," Eric murmured. "But I can't do this to you."
"Yes you can. Because I want you to. Do this for me, if not for yourself."
Eric slid forwards, closing the gap between us. His eyes were intent. "Are you sure you want this?"
"Yes I do. I'm sorry for being so self-centred. I love you."
"You've done no wrong," Eric told me before kissing me.
I felt his aura envelop me and I embraced the darkness that I guessed came with a Shadow Walker.
'I'd do anything for you,' I thought, holding him tightly and close to my body.
The shadows wrapped around me and I embraced them too.
I'm sorry for being a jerk.
Eric's kiss told me not to be silly.
I don't care about myself anymore: I just need you in my life.
Eric's kiss and the way he was stroking me told me he needed me too.
'I'm sorry' I tried again but Eric didn't think I needed to apologise and a minor shift in the depths of the mind rendered me incapable of coherent thought so that I wouldn't say sorry again.
It felt so good to be in his arms again. Why had I ever said I didn't want to be with him? His pull, like the force of a magnet, was irresistible and that underlying sense of rightness was just too convincing to be the feelings of the misguided. I loved Eric and always would, always should. And he needed me. I would never abandon him again.
The golden aura was his childlike innocence, preserved when he had become a Shadow Walker. It was not his fault that he had had a hard life. Deep down was a shining beacon of love. The golden aura was what I wanted and it was my duty, as the girl with the aura to complement his, to bring out his inner child and restore the perfectness of his life which remained in his soul. That change could only come about with the love I was totally willing to give.