22 Chapter 22 - In which the drama ends
"Stella," Joseph said, watching as she twitched in response.
"Yes, Master?" she asked timidly.
Joseph sighed. He was done. It's been fourteen days since he walked in on her naked and she still acted like he was going to **** her at any moment.
"Will apologizing work? I can't say I will forget about it." He looked her in the eyes to make sure she could see he was sincere.
"Ummm, Master?" she asked going pale. She obviously knew what he was talking about.
"Stella, my goal is magic. Not just to be a mage, but to be a household name. To be THE MAGE. I want parents to name their children Joseph, in the hopes it will make them better at magic. I want to be the strongest mage since dragons disappeared, possibly stronger. I am not above the possibility of ceasing to be human in order to accomplish my goal."
She stared at him in confusion, the panic abating a bit.
"Okay?" she finally managed, when it became obvious, he was waiting for a response.
"Look, I saw everything. You don't have hair down there yet, you have a cute mole almost in the middle of your left butt cheek, and there's scars on your back I haven't asked about because I figured you would tell me about them if you wanted me to know, or wanted them gone."
She was starting to turn a bright red, was she holding her breath? It didn't matter. He was going to get it all out because he was tired of all this drama shavist.
"You have a birthmark that looks vaguely like a rabbit between your right nipple and your collar bone. My memory is perfect. I repeat, perfect. I can tell you everything I have eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner since before I turned three. I am eternally grateful my memories start after breast feeding, but that's besides the point."
Her mouth had turned into a cute little o.
"I may live to be 50, 500 or 5000 years old, and I will never forget the sight of what you looked like at eight."
He looked at her, as she fought for words. They were there, struggling to come out.
"Why would you say all of that?!" she finally exclaimed, so red that he was almost afraid she would pass out.
"Because I don't want to lie to you. You are too smart for that. Besides, I would like to think of you as my friend. My only friend. I grew up alone and was never allowed to play with other kids. They might have hurt me, or tainted me somehow.
"Stella, you may be the only friend I ever have. There is even a good chance that as I become more powerful, people will have issues talking to me and even fear me. I'm prepared for that. You are sure to notice my memory soon enough, if you haven't already. You'd come to suspect that I would remember that event.
"I don't know how to talk to anyone, Stella, much less girls. So, talking to you kept getting put off. I was hoping you would get over everything, but it's obvious to me now, that you aren't. You're still just as twitchy now, as you were the day it happened. Did you see the look I got from the teacher when you had that panic attack in etiquette class yesterday? We are going to be starting dancing lessons tomorrow."
He paused to see her squirm in her seat, uncomfortable.
"What do I need to do? I'm only seven. I've never had to deal with girls before, and don't you dare say anything about my mom, she doesn't count."
His attempt at humor did nothing.
"Stella, there is a magic," he hesitated as fear gripped him. Swallowing, he managed to continue.
"There is magic that would let me take away that memory. I don't know it yet, and it absolutely terrifies me. What if I mess up and it burns every memory I have? It would be ripping a piece of me out." His voice trailed off for a moment, as he tried to get himself under control.
"What can I do to make you act like you used to? You haven't laughed, giggled or joked about me spacing out since that happened. I can promise I will never touch you, or force you to do anything you don't want to. It doesn't even have to be sexual in nature!
"You are the girl who was so brave and determined, that you walked for two days, from the city to my father's estate, and then demanded Stu give you a job. Even the slaves assigned to him, couldn't handle him, yet you were able to stay for two whole months. Knowing that what I did has terrified you so much is killing me."
The slate she had in her hands throughout this whole speech was shaking. He wanted to comfort her, but he wasn't sure how.
"Master, my earliest memory was of my mother inviting a man into her room for the night. She was so drunk of the drink, that she could barely walk. It scared me so much, that I crawled under my bed to hide from him." She stared at her hands, where they were clutched in her lap so tightly, they were white.
"When he was done with her, he came searching for me. Thankfully, I was small enough, he couldn't find me in the dark. I told my mother about it after he left the next morning, when I finally came out of hiding, and she refused to believe me. She said that I was far to small to start pleasuring men, and to keep quiet."
Joseph stared at her in horror. This was way worse than he had thought.
"Whenever the rent was due, mother would go out and return, drunk with a new man. I never knew if he would come looking for me, because I would run and hide as soon as I saw him. Of course, if I saw them, then they always saw me as well.
"The house we lived in was very small, and shared one wall with a neighbor. I discovered a crack in one of the boards under my bed, while hiding one night. I don't know if I had leaned against it enough that it gave up or not, but it was loose enough for me to push it aside and scramble through. I found myself under the bed of the old man who lived next door. He was a very deep sleeper, and if he ever knew I was there, never said a word.
"I took to hiding there whenever mother brought home a man. Until I couldn't fit through the hole anymore. It had been getting tight, and I had started wondering if I could break it a little more, but it didn't matter. I was only half the way through the hole, when the man finished with my mother and came looking for me.
"He was very drunk. Mother was not. She tried to stop him, when he grabbed my leg and pulled me out from under the bed." She sat there, lost in thought. Joseph wanted to know if she had gotten hurt, but it was her turn to talk.
"The next morning mother took me to the local market, looking to sell me into slavery. I was too young to sell as a girl of the street, and she could get in trouble with the law, if they found out. I escaped when she started talking to the slave dealer. I had seen what he did with slaves. I ended up at the master's estate two days later."
She looked at him, and he didn't hide the tears in his eyes.
"I don't want to leave you, as you've been the best thing to happen to me. But I will not be hurt again."
"I understand." He reached down into his desk and pulled out a magical contract. He wanted her to know that he was serious.
"Master Joseph! That's not necessary!" she panicked. What was he doing?
"I am more than willing, right now to make a binding agreement with you, to ensure that I am never the reason for harm to you."
She looked away. It was very tempting, he could see it on her face as emotions warred with themselves. A decision was finally made, and she turned back.
"If you will promise to never sell me, I will accept your word. There is no reason to make a contract of that kind."
He looked at her for a moment more, then nodded, putting the contract back. Maybe this nonsense would go away now.