Once the bathroom door was shut behind me, I couldn’t get my pants down fast enough – Eric seemed much more adept at that skill – and I was still giggling out loud at the name of Eric’s brother of sorts.
It made me wonder if they’d ever gone around using the aliases Romeo and Casanova. I’d have to ask.
My bladder was halfway to forgiving me when I heard Eric push some kind of Swedish gibberish into my head and it only made me laugh again, assuming it was some sort of rebuke for being so silly since I couldn’t feel any amusement coming from him anymore. He could just bite me – literally – so I ignored him and finished up with my business, but after washing up, I opened the door and didn’t know what to think.
Nor did I even have the time to.
Eric was on his knees and some little ‘Children of the Corn’ castoff kid was coming straight at me. I wasn’t expecting it and I certainly wasn’t prepared for it. My shock overrode my senses and my hands barely had the chance to tingle when I felt someone wrap their arms around me from behind and I was gone with the wind.
Or Poof with the Fairy, as it seemed.
I knew what had happened to me the moment it occurred. Thanks to Niall, that sensation was permanently etched into my memories and, thanks to Niall, I automatically associated it with a bad thing.
A very bad thing.
I took no time at all in trying to get my bearings to see where I’d ended up. All I knew for certain was that I’d been taken away from Eric and the situation I’d left him to face alone hadn’t given me the warm fuzzies. Eric kneeled for no one – except maybe the Oracle woman and I didn’t see here there – so I knew everything wasn’t kosher. I was already reaching out to him through our bond as soon as my feet were on solid ground and I whipped my body around and shoved whoever it was behind me, giving them a healthy dose of my now charged up fairy whammy for their trouble.
The, “Oomph,” had barely left her lips as she flew backwards when a gasp left mine seeing who my latest kidnapper was. While I felt the overwhelming urge to go to her and make sure she was okay, I didn’t know for sure I could trust her. Niall had said we shouldn’t trust any fairies, but he’d allowed her to come to me when I’d been stuck in Never Never Land.
But then again, he’d allowed Preston to come to me too.
“Claudine?” I asked with my bubble shield automatically snapping up around me.
A day late and a dollar short there.
“Grandfather didn’t tell me you were already so powerful,” she smiled proudly, while slowing pulling herself up to her feet.
“Yeah, well he never said you’d be popping by to pop me away either.”
Eric had been right. I did need to learn how to control it because if she could take me, then any fairy could, but my emotions took a hit when I finally realized where we were. The graveyard looked the same as when I’d last been there on the night Eric had come for me, but rather than fall apart all over again, I tried not to think about it and asked, “What’s going on? Why are we here? Why did you take me?”
Not knowing yet if she was a threat, my shield had yet to come down and she kept her distance, much like when she learned I didn’t care for her company back in Never Never Land. I felt a little guilty now over the way I’d acted then and seeing Gran’s grave had me thinking she’d likely tan my hide if she knew how awful I’d been towards my own kin, but my guilt turned to anger when she calmly explained, “You were in danger and as your fairy godmother it is my duty to keep you safe. Your bonded was incapacitated and his brother was about to attack you. This place is still shielded by some of the magic of our people and since you share the same blood as the vampire, he could use it to track you. You are safer here now that you are farther away.”
Eric was incapacitated?
It was the only thing she’d said that kept my attention – I ignored the part where she’d implied I was Cinderella – and could only assume his brother Phil was the creepy kid who’d been coming at me. I’d be sure to light him up like the Fourth of July for his betrayal of Eric, but in order to do that I needed to actually be there, so I looked at her and did my best Eric impersonation ordering, “Take me back there right now.”
She gave me a look that clearly said I was a few sandwiches shy of a picnic basket as she said, “But there are vampires there!”
“Just what do you think my bonded is?” I asked incredulously, but feeling Eric’s panic over our now impossibly stretched bond had his blood in me reaching back for him. It made no difference to me if his brother could track me with his blood since I had every intention of ending him if it was the last thing I ever did. I didn’t have the time to argue with her, but I also didn’t know how or if I could even manage to get back to him on my own in time to help him. Fairy poofing wasn’t a skill I had, but hearing her say she’d wanted to keep me safe and feeling the sincerity behind her words had me dropping my shield, swallowing my pride, and begging, “Please Claudine. I’m so sorry for the way I treated you before and I promise I’ll do my best to make it up to you if you’ll let me, but please…take me back to Eric. He’s calling for me.”
Seeing the tears form in my eyes had her lower lip pouting out with her looking distressed as she stared back at me, when she finally said, “I can’t help you fight them if we return. I can’t mask my scent as grandfather can and my presence would only inflame the situation. I took a great risk in coming to you when I did.” Looking deep into my eyes her own softened as she added, “If you go back now, you’ll be on your own.”
“That’s okay!” I exclaimed as I rushed towards her making her squeak in surprise and hold her hands up defensively. Realizing it was me she was frightened of had me apologizing again, but I still grabbed her hands and said, “I’ll take my chances. I just need you to take me back.”
“You’re sure, cousin?” she asked one last time and when I nodded her expression changed into resignation as I felt the pull in my gut of her magic starting to take hold, but before we left, I hugged her in my arms and said, “I truly am sorry for the way I acted before and I thank you for coming to my rescue. I would like the chance to get to know you better if you’ll have me…cousin.”
I’d been replaying my time in captivity while Eric and I had been in the dojo earlier and considering all of my other freaky powers that had come to light I could no longer deny I was one of them. Whether it came from Gran’s indiscretions or somewhere else in my family tree didn’t matter to me anymore. The fact remained they were my kin and I’d been running out of them long before Niall had come along.
Claudine looked down at me with a smile and hugged me back as she said, “I look forward to it cousin,” and the next thing I knew we were right outside of Eric’s chambers. “This is as close as I dare get,” she explained and then smiled softly saying, “Now remember, you are a Brigant, Princess of the Sky Fae. Trust in yourself and show them what happens when they fuck with what is ours. Good luck cousin,” she added before poofing away again.
I didn’t take the time to think about anything, nor did I bother to grab the sword I’d used earlier from his dojo. Eric had already told me his brother had fought alongside him in battles before. I assumed he was nearly as old as him and knew I’d be no match for him, so I just took off running towards where I’d last left them.
Let’s see how he fairs against a pissed off bonded fairy.
My feet were impossibly loud as I skittered through the palace hallways back towards the bathroom, but they slid to a halt as my eyes took in the scene when I finally got there. I peeked around the corner taking in the regular palace guards who flanked the walls as spectators, wondering why they weren’t doing anything to help him when I saw Eric was still on his knees, but his vampire brother was being held by another vampire I’d never seen before. He was handsome, with dark hair and eyes and a slender frame, but I could tell he was much stronger than he looked. However what had me panicking was seeing yet another unfamiliar vampire who oozed pure evil, shorter in stature than the new vamp and Eric, but I knew he was a force to be reckoned with. The stake he held was pressed against her chest where blood was already pooling on her shirt, with his other hand curled around Pam’s throat while she hung limply in his grasp, as though she knew there was no point in trying to fight him off. Hopefully she was just waiting for her chance to put a beat down on him. After all she was pragmatic, just like her Maker.
And for the simple fact he dared to harm my bonded’s child and my best friend, his life would be forfeit.
Even as I felt his relief at seeing me, more Swedish filled my head from Eric – I now assumed he was too alarmed to think in English, but I ignored him. I felt my invisible shield automatically surround him as soon as I saw him and it seemed to make him mobile again because he automatically rose up from his knees, only for the vampire holding Pam to look at him in shock, asking, “How?”
I wondered if he had some sort of strange magic of his own to have kept Eric pinned down and considering what he was doing to Pam, I didn’t feel the need to be gracious and didn’t wait for anyone to acknowledge me as I stepped into open view, saying to him, “Let her go.”
My hands felt like I’d been holding a jackhammer for hours, vibrating like nobody’s business on the inside, but to the outside observer they were calm and steady. I felt like I had when Niall had threatened Eric and knew I could knock him clear into next week if I tried, but I didn’t want to chance it while he still had Pam in his hands. Seeing me, his eyes widened even more as he sniffed the air, only voicing a mixture of question and fact by saying, “Fairy.”
Now wasn’t the time for me to yammer on about being a Stackhouse because being a proud southern woman wasn’t going to get us out of this mess. Like Claudine had said, I knew it was my fairy side that I needed to embrace and even though Eric had wanted to keep it a secret from everyone, embrace it I did. I lifted my chin towards him and smugly declared, “Fairy princess.”
That was me – Sookierella.
Eric still felt panicked on the inside as he ordered, “Sookie, go back to my chambers. Now.”
His eyes hardened back at me when I pushed the, “As if!” into his head, but he’d drawn the other vampire’s eyes back to him as he asked Eric, “You have a fairy?”
My ingrained southern manners were wanting to faint dead away at what I was about to do, but I sloughed them off entirely. Fuck him. I was a goddamned fairy princess – or so everyone kept telling me – so I moved to stand in between them, saying, “He has a bonded fairy princess and unless you want a war with my people, you will let his child go.”
Of course I had no idea if my people would go to war with vampires just on my say so alone, but he didn’t know that.
“His child?” he seethed. His fangs were dripping as his grip tightened on Pam’s neck while he bellowed, “He is MY CHILD!”
Uh oh…HE was Eric’s Maker? I guess that explained the power he had over him.
It also explained why no one was doing anything to try and help Pam. As Eric’s Maker, they wouldn’t dare interfere unless Eric ordered them to and I wasn’t even sure if he could. Eric had never spoken of him before, but after seeing the way he and Pam got along, I had assumed his relationship with his own Maker would be the same. Clearly I was wrong because I knew Eric would never hurt Pam’s child.
My eyes never left Pam’s assailant as I pushed into Eric’s head, “I want to kill him for what he’s doing to Pam, but I won’t if you tell me not to.”
I didn’t know how he’d feel about me killing his vampire father, but a part of me was prepared to beg for his forgiveness if he said no. There was no way I could stand idly by and watch Pam be ended no matter who the man was to him. Eric’s emotional state felt like a teeming anthill, but thankfully he didn’t hesitate in pushing back, “Do it if you can. I seem to be free of his command while inside of your shield, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to reach through it to do it myself. None of the guards are any match for him and he could kill Pam before I can get to her.” His earlier panic turned into a deluge of pure rage as he thought, “He’ll try to take you now that he knows what you are. What you are to me.”
I chanced a glance to see Eric’s brother was still snarling at me, struggling to break free from the arms of the vampire who was still holding him, but he only tightened his grasp and shushed him with undisguised amusement, saying, “Quiet now. This is better than the Muhammad Ali/Joe Frazier bout in ’75.”
I still didn’t know who he was, but he seemed to be on our side so I ignored him and did the only thing I could think of to try and get Eric’s Maker to let go of Pam. I knew Eric assumed I’d be trying to take him out from a distance, like I’d done to Niall, but there was no way I’d risk it if Pam could be hurt. Stepping towards him, I cast my eyes downward and dropped to my knees submissively in front of him, saying softly, “I offer myself in exchange for his child.”
I knew Eric couldn’t leave the bubble that was protecting him so he couldn’t stop me and I was far enough away that his Maker couldn’t reach for me without taking at least one step. He’d have to drop at least one of his hands from Pam in order to make a grab for me, so I dropped my own shield just in case he wanted to get his hands on me first before letting her go.
Half of my ploy worked and when I finally felt his cold hand painfully grip my arm as he jerked me to my feet, Eric’s roar of “NO!” drowned out the sound of the stake I saw fall to the floor. However he hadn’t let go of Pam’s throat, but now she was finally trying to fight him off the both of us, so I grabbed one of her hands in my own, willing our contact to protect her, as I placed my other hand over his heart.
His fangs were already poised to strike, but shock quickly took over his face as I forced my light into his chest. Fissures broke through his skin as that same light worked its way through his body and his now frightened glowing eyes met my own as I snarled, “You were wrong. Eric is no longer your child. He is my bonded.”
Pam and I fell to the floor together as his body erupted like Mount Saint Helens with ash exploding everywhere, swirling in the air above before slowly falling down around us like snow. I looked over at her through the flakes, asking, “Are you alright?” She appeared unharmed by my Maker Baker, but seeing her laugh with relief and lie down on the floor, sliding her outstretched arms and legs through the pile of residue now surrounding us, had me adding, “What are you doing?”
“Making ash angels,” she laughed. “This outfit was ruined anyway and it never snows enough in Louisiana.”
I started to laugh too, feeling a little relieved myself, when I heard Eric yell out a harsh, “Sookie!” My head spun back around to see he was still trapped in my shield, so I dropped it and was suddenly surrounded in another whirlwind of ash, hoisted up off the floor and completely engulfed by an angry vampire king. I wasn’t sure if it was leftover rage or if he’d had second thoughts seeing me explode his Maker, but my fears were put to rest when his fingers ran over my upper arm as he snarled, “He bruised you.”
Considering Pam still had a hole healing on her chest, I didn’t think a bruise rated very high on the list of battle wounds. Of course I couldn’t argue over that fact because the next thing I knew Eric’s bloody wrist was at my lips as he ordered, “Drink!”
Feeling his concern is the only reason I took two pulls from his wrist to appease him as I stroked him, both with my hands and through our bond, to let him know I really was unharmed. I couldn’t deny I felt just as concerned about him, so when I finally pulled away, I asked, “Are you okay?”
He practically had a strangle hold of our bond while he probed every part of me with his blood running through my veins and when he was finally satisfied he sighed, “Yes, lover. I am…” He paused as he looked down at Pam’s perfectly formed ash angel and smiled, ending with, “Free.”
The sound of yet another snarl drew both of our attention and seeing his traitor brother had me snarling in return. I was still feeling Eric’s bloodlust along with a bit of my own and my eyes flicked up at Eric when I asked, “Do you want to kill Phil or shall I?”
The new vampire who still held his brother widened his eyes as he moved the smaller vampire in front of his body like a shield and asked, “What did I do to incur your wrath milady?” His lips cocked up into a smile when his eyes flirtatiously traveled over the length of my body and added, “Please forgive me for not offering you my hand. As you can see they are quite full at the moment, but I would ask one favor of you. If you plan on sending me to my final death in the same fashion, I would like for you to be the one to make an angel in my ashes. I have a feeling my brother won’t be up for sharing and it is likely the only way I’ll get your body on mine.”
He ended with a waggle of his eyebrows and pursed his lips to make a kissing sound. I felt nothing but confusion, but Eric only felt amusement – and a twinge of possessiveness – when he smiled down at me asking, “Well lover, will you be ending him and granting his final wish? If he keeps talking he’s likely to die from putting his foot in his mouth anyway.”
I stared back at the handsome vampire, ignoring the smaller one still trying to get to me, and asked, “You’re Phil?” When he nodded, I turned to Eric and said out loud what I was sure he could feel. “I’m confused. Claudine said it was your brother who was coming at me, so I assumed…”
His eyes hardened hearing her name – I’d told him about her from my time in Never Never Land, but he only explained, “Alexei was made vampire by my Maker, Appius. That is to whom she was referring.”
Eric’s Maker was named Appius? More like Ashius now…
Phil unnecessarily cleared his throat, bringing our eyes back to him to see a twinkle in his own when he said, “Speaking of which. What would you like to be done with him, my king?”
He was so small. He couldn’t have been but thirteen or fourteen years old when he’d been turned, but I had no idea if that was why he seemed so uncontrollable. I could only imagine he was the end result of what happened when you were turned at a time when your hormones were in full bloom, but the closest thing I could liken him to was a rabid animal.
And I knew there was only one way to deal with those.
Still, his physical appearance looked to be that of a child and now that I was calming down from the melee, my own rage was gone. His brother in arms hadn’t betrayed him. It was his brother in blood who had come after me, so I turned my face into Eric’s chest to hide my eyes when I heard his order of, “End him.”
We didn’t dilly dally after that with Eric ordering his guards to see to the cleanup while the four of us headed to Eric’s office. Even Pam was foregoing a shower and change of clothes because she was just as eager to hear what had happened to me when I’d been poofed away, as I was to hear what had happened to them while I’d been poofed.
The life of a small town barmaid had taken a strange turn indeed.
Considering it was three against one, I had no choice but to tell my story first. Eric interrupted me at the start to reprimand me for not staying in the bathroom. That went over like a fart in church, so I told him the next time he should think in English and then maybe I’d listen. He was both hostile and intrigued when I told him where Claudine had popped me away to and how she’d said that land was safer for me to be on, but he remained quiet as I told them the rest, ending with her popping me back to the palace. Every time I looked at Phil he would just wink and pat his lap, offering me a place to sit, but his ill-timed and outrageous flirting only put me more at ease around him. I knew he had to be very close to Eric for him to get away with it and Pam’s face held undisguised glee as her head whipped back and forth between Eric’s occasional glare and his aptly named brother, like she was watching a Wimbledon match.
Eric ignored them both to just concentrate on me and I listened with rapt attention as he started by saying, “I was surprised by my Maker’s arrival. He has been blocking our bond for years, so I only knew he still lived.” He went on to explain why he’d come, hoping for Eric to do something about his feral child, and then how he was sure I would be dead when he saw Alexei leap towards me. His look said it all when he said I needed to practice my shielding. He’d never willingly let me go to Bon Temps to see Jason alone, even in the relative safety of Merlotte’s, if I couldn’t protect myself and the fact Claudine had been able to grab me was enough to convince me he was right. Never mind what could’ve happened had Alexei gotten his hands on me.
Pam picked up the story next, saying, “I felt Eric’s…distress while talking to Flirt,” with her eyes moving to Phil, “so we tracked him down, but Grandpappy snatched me as soon as Philander snatched his beloved little Russian ruffian. It was a Mexican standoff until you showed up, my favorite fatal fairy.”
Before tonight I would’ve complained over her ‘fairy’ label, or at the very least had a snarky reply in return, but it was too soon. I’d been so worried about her that I couldn’t even joke about what might have happened, so instead I peeled myself off of Eric’s lap and walked over to throw my arms around Pam. Sniffling the tears back I only said, “I’m glad I could help, sister.”
That was exactly what she felt like to me – a sister. She was my family and I could’ve done no less to try and keep her safe. Of course Pam froze hearing the emotion in my voice, but still she hugged me back as she said, “Damn. If you view me as a sister then you’ll never agree to fuck me.”
I pulled away to laugh – it was just what I needed to hear for the tears to dry up – and when I glanced at Phil he was quick to raise his hands up and say, “I would prefer it if you did not think of me as your brother if it means I would have the opportunity to fu…” but Eric interrupted him with a not so playful growl before he had the chance to finish that sentence.
I guess it might be too soon for him too.