“When were you going to tell us Isabel was your Grandchilde?” Godric posed, somewhat devoid of the accusation that the statement should have carried.
“I did,” he shrugged, causing Godric’s brow to rise suspiciously. “When she arrived, I told you she was mine to with as I please. By all rights, she is Mine.”
“So is Niccoló.”
“Well, was,” Russell amended. “The boy had himself adopted by the Emperor of Italy, rewrote his lineage, and even convinces himself of that truth, but the blood that runs through him will always be mine. I has suspected it was him who took my Talbot away. When he was no longer of my blood, it was confirmed. Only Niccoló would have such ambitions to replace one Maker’s blood for another. Niccoló was born of admiration, not of love, and I never let him forget it.”
“You consider him a mistake?”
He shook his head, “No, he is probably my greatest accomplishment. Niccoló could never stand the possibility of weakness in himself. As much as he denies it, I am his chink in the chain.”
“But he is not yours.”
“No, he knew that well in taking Talbot away, that would elicit an emotional response, I’d mourn Niccoló for the loss of his mind, but nothing more,” he sighed. “I trained him too well to betray his guilt, without the Maker-Childe bond, it was difficult to ascertain.”
“Yet you knew?”
“Of course I knew,” he scoffed. “However, what use is that knowledge in the larger scheme of things? I lacked the proof I have now. Things play out when they do, we needed our ‘Eternal’ trump card to convince him, I would have lacked the conviction to do so before, and we will need him on our side if you wish to win this war.”
“He’s that good?”
Russell scoffed, “He’s my Childe! Like I’d let anything less continue to rove this earth?”
“Why not bring him in like we agreed?” he questioned, his annoyance with the proceedings as they played out still bothering the Gaul.
“Into our little lion’s den? And expose our greatest weakness along with our strength? The Viking will have to adjust to his new position as the First Lady. He made her what she is now, but he is also the thing that can undermine her power, the Eternal don’t mate for a reason. Niccoló is my Childe, he’s betrayed me once, and I may forgive him for that if he proves himself worthy again, but the price will be steep.”
“You’ve put our fate in the hands of one you can’t trust?”
“Sometimes faith is all that we have left.”
“Say your goodbyes,” Sookie instructed gravely, shaking her head in confirmation when they asked if Niall couldn’t be convinced to ingest the vampire blood that would restore him. “He’s making this choice for his people.”
Sookie’s newly found faery relatives sat without comment, digesting the news as it came, tears flowing freely with the news. Claudine was the first to stand, moving to the darkened room.
“He’s Niall,” Cecily sniffed at Sookie. “He’s not supposed to die.”
“I know,” Sookie soothed, beckoning her brother with a warning scowl. “It’s for the best though.”
She nodded meekly before Jason came to comfort her. With a pointed look, she wordlessly assembled Tara, Godric, Eric, Pam, and Russell to a secluded room at the end of the hall. Sookie exhaled a big sigh, digesting the rapid events as they occurred with their forward thrust into time, scrambling to make it all work while finding herself suddenly in charge of a contingent of displaced Fae with the promise of only more to follow.
“I’m in need of a distraction, specifically a distraction of the doctor,” Sookie said while eyeing Tara. “Ludwig isn’t leaving Niall’s side for anything but that baby coming out.”
“Oh, no!” the mother to be protested instantly. “The bug is coming out when it’s baked, not a moment before!”
“Come on,” Sookie huffed, “I can read it all over your mind, you want that baby out more than anything. You’re so done being pregnant!”
Eyeing her best friend with contempt she replied in a clipped tone, “While you’re there, you can also read how that has to happen. That was once and never again.” Involuntarily her eyes shifted towards Godric with the memory of their unfortunate coupling.
“Godric?” Sookie pleaded with a fluttering of eyelashes, hoping to convince him where Tara was still protesting. He regarded her with confusion until he finally caught on to what exactly would be necessary to encourage the child to come out, Pam offering a crude demonstration of the act with her fingers.
“Oh, no,” he stammered, borrowing Tara’s exact phrasing, coming to understand exactly what those two words spelled out while sensing her horror and disgust with the prospect. “No, definitely not again.”
“Jason?” Sookie posed to Tara with a pained grimace.
“God, this is so embarrassing,” Tara whispered, hiding behind her eyes.
“I cou-” Eric started, quick to be interrupted by an ‘oh-no’ from Sookie herself. “Pam?”
“Oh, no!” Tara screamed out in anguish while the vampiress’ eyes grew all too greedy with the prospect.
“Everyone leave the room,” Godric announced, receiving a reluctant nod from Tara in confirmation of what they were about to do. Again.
“The things we do to save the world as we know it,” Tara grumbled. “Let’s get it on then.”
“I’m sorry, Tara,” Godric whispered. “I know you don’t like me, or this. With me.”
She shook her head, the bond telling him she was genuine and not simply sparing his feelings, which surprisingly was the case. “It was kinda nice last time,” she assured. “Just-”
“Weird?” he supplied.
“Yeah,” she replied, staring at her belly. “I have this monstrosity protruding from me and it seemed all you cared about was my stomach.”
“It is fascinating!” Godric said a little too eagerly, making her all the more conscious of it. Again.
“Whatever,” she snapped. “Let’s just get it over with, maybe I should have gone with Pam after all.”
“Tara,” he sighed, ignoring the hint of jealousy that Pam would be a preferable partner than him in this scenario. “I find you fascinating, this bump, this life that grows inside you is fascinating because it is of you. I love how you surprise me, make me question myself and long worn notions. I would not be this intrigued by it if it were not your stomach holding this life that’s inexplicably connected to me by blood.”
“Damn you and these hormones!” she sniffed, “You’re making me cry, and who would want to fuck a crying watermelon?”
“I do,” he said confidently, wiping away the tears before amending, “we will not be fucking though.”
“If you say ‘make love’ I will kill you,” she warned with darkened eyes, making him believe the seriousness of the threat.
“We won’t be doing that either,” he agreed, leaning down with little warning and kissing her gently, the natural resistance between them was still there, emphasising the awkwardness that surrounded the endeavour once more. Regardless, he continued to kiss her until their defences wavered slightly, forgetting the weird nature of their relationship and letting what was good between them take over, sing through their bond while clothes were shed around them. He spooned himself beside her on the bed and surprisingly, she turned her face to him, seeking a kiss and losing herself in it momentarily.
He found her wet, unlike the time before where she had cramped up and the already embarrassing endeavour had become mortifying with the necessity of a lubricant. This time he slipped easily inside and thrust gently while their hands locked over her belly. It didn’t take long for her to cry out actual tears flowing with the release, panting heavily as she did, the overwhelming sensation carrying him along. His finger traced the wet trail on her face, though usually he didn’t like to see her upset, but he knew this was different, the bond told him so. For the first time Tara was genuinely happy and it was infectious, even to him, as he mirrored her goofy smile.
“God, I needed that,” she grinned with a contented sigh. “Thank you.”
Somewhere a lost poet emerged in the ancient vampire, “You’ve never been more beautiful than you are now.”
Normally she would battle him over such flowery language, defining their relationship not to be anything but platonic. She’d blame that stupid blood bond or hormones for actually making her feel something about those words, but in this moment she didn’t care, lazily she shrugged, “You’re not so bad yourself.”
He looked away shyly before the palm of her hand forced his gaze upon her, assuring him, “I mean it, Godric.”
“I know,” he nodded with a whisper, unsure what to exactly feel with those words coming from her, never having felt this warmth come from anyone that wasn’t obligated to feel it for him. “Do you think this enough? That this will do it.”
Her eyes shifted slightly, biting her bottom lip before eyeing him mischievously, “Maybe just once more, you know, just to be sure.”
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you gulped down gallons of ancient vampire blood,” Dr. Ludwig noted while checking over the Faery Prince’s vitals for the third time, remaining perplexed as everything in her long practice dictated she was witnessing a miracle.
“I’ll never tell,” he grinned. “Sookie will vouch for me. She stayed with me the entire time.”
The small doctor let out a small harrumph, “Yes, I noticed that. Any reason why you insisted Cecily and Claudine assist me with a human birth?”
“She’s my best friend!” Sookie replied with a hint of outrage. “I wanted the best care possible!”
“I’m sure you did,” she said with a hint of suspicion while silencing her pager. “You understand the medicinal scheme? That damn Gaul needs me to see to a benign diaper rash. Again.”
“Yes,” Sookie giggled. It had been rather amusing seeing Tara and Godric care for a baby of mere hours old. She was still suitably exhausted from giving birth and Godric didn’t have any more blood to spare after the substantial donation that was covertly given to Niall. Tara’s refusal to take his blood after was, of course, the more expected reaction that no one had thought to question. Despite offerings of help from those around them, even Jason proved more adept at holding the baby than either of the new parents, they insisted on doing everything themselves. As a result, every mole, mark, or spot was deemed cancerous by Godric, and these little panics over the baby’s health only seemed to amplify through their shared bond, driving each other and Ludwig to near insanity with their demands, deeply regretting her negotiated fee.
“What do we do now, Great-Granddaddy?” Sookie asked when the doctor had left the room.
“We gather our resources and we await their next moves,” Niall replied, sitting up in the bed with a long lost agility. “You were all wise in recommending we gather our defences here rather than seek the offensive. The longer we wait, the further the rumours will spread of your existence, an Eternal and an heir isn’t something one can argue against, so we have time on our side again. I have set Claudine to work with the witch to create more of these safe havens, so the rest of our kin can come through. Confirming their safety in these new surroundings will bring even the most sceptic here. Once the business with the Water Fae is settled, we will reveal ourselves to the human population like the vampires did to present ourselves as allies. Who knows? Maybe I’ll open up my own bar.”
“That makes sense,” Sookie chuckled, having a hard time imagining Niall in his very own version of Fangtasia. “Are you sure they’re all willing to come, leave behind their homes?”
“They’ll come, our beloved Faerum is not sustainable, there are no children to be had, no future to seek. Now that our people know of you, they surely will come. There hasn’t been an eternal Brigant in at least two millennia.”
“Why am I so important? I just don’t understand.”
“Eternals are rare, they’ve become even rarer over the last few centuries, and we honestly thought they were extinct.”
“I thought Eternals didn’t die? Did I misunderstand?”
“They cannot be killed, they can certainly die; a matter of choice is involved. Living forever isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be,” Niall explained. “You, however, can be killed, and that is not something we wish to advertise.”
“Through Eric,” she said with a whisper. “He dies, I die.”
“Yes,” he nodded. “The human component is a gamble, too. Though fear not, you chose well with the Viking. He is a formidable fighter and knows how to survive. You should not worry.”
“He won’t be pleased when I tell him he can’t physically fight this fight,” Sookie grinned. “Jason’s been driving him up the wall, and Stan’s no help either. Eric’s desperate to punch something.”
Niall chuckled, “I suppose that will go against every instinct he possesses. He is, however, also a very rational man. He might surprise you.”
“I still don’t understand what makes me so special?” she sighed, “It was confusing throughout the transition, but now, I just feel like myself again.”
“You are,” he beamed proudly, “You are also more now, you’ve grown immensely. The Viking was once your crutch, now just your support, and always remember you saved him and his kind first. You’ve come far, my child, and were capable of much before.”
She rolled her eyes, unwilling to really accept the compliment for what it was. “I’m glad you’re still here to guide the way. Don’t think I could handle all those faery politics on my own, I barely keep up with the vampires, let alone your unique power structure.”
“Always remember the seat of power is one that you serve and you will be fine,” he shrugged. “The more powerful you are, the less of importance you become. You work for your people, not the other way round, and you already have the right mind-set for that. If they place you on a pedestal, let it be for the right reasons, though fear and exerting one’s power can be useful every now and then, especially in times of conflict. Don’t forget you are a very powerful being.”
She smiled, her fingers crackling briefly with electricity, “Apart from the few party tricks I’ve yet to get, what’s so special about being an Eternal?”
“The Eternal are the power base of our race’s existence. They channel the magic that sustains us, they are the beginning and the end, you encompass it all. Where you lay your loyalties determines the success or failure of any Fae monarch. Think of an Eternal connected to the ruler by blood as the jewel in the crown. Once the supporters of the Water Fae hear of you, some will foolishly stay and fight the ‘good’ fight, but the pragmatic will support us.”
“Do you even wish for their support?” Sookie posed with confusion.
“Of course,” he scoffed. “The pragmatic shift like a pendulum, following what is in their best interest, ideals have very little to do with it. They follow the best argument, and with you on our side, we are the best argument. If only there were more of you. It would be a joy to hear the cries of faery infants again, it’s been so long.”
She laughed briefly before falling serious again, “Am I really the only one now? Are there no other Eternals?”
“The last died some time ago. The low birth rate has not been helpful. Who knows? There may be a potential out there, perhaps like with you, we weren’t looking as closely as we should, a mistake we will not repeat again.”
“That’s good,” she smiled. “I would have fought you tooth and nail if you didn’t.”
“I’d expect nothing less,” he grinned, stifling a yawn. She took it as her cue to leave him to rest, intending to check in on Tara and the baby again.
“Hey,” Eric grinned, pulling her closer for a kiss when she found him in the hallway. “Good visit?”
“Yeah, he’ll live,” she smiled contentedly, “and I don’t have to be a queen quite yet.”
“Well, you get to be my Queen in the meantime,” he murmured against her lips while she made an agreeable noise. “So all we have to do is slaughter a bunch of aquatic faeries and we can have this house all to ourselves again?”
“Toss in a bunch of little me’s and you’ll make Niall’s year,” she grinned, happy to indulge his fast forwarded fantasy. They’d only been back a little while, but the close quarters were testing at best, and cabin fever was quickly setting in. How they had all managed to operate like this for so long in their absence was astounding to Sookie. The compound was excessively large, but even before the influx of Fae it had been cramped.
“Sorry to say, but my dead swimmers are of no use here,” he replied in answer to Niall’s request. “He is aware you’re Mine, yes? We’re not renting out your womb to some fuckwit faery, aquatic or not, for some Eternal breeding programme.”
“Course not!” she scoffed, horrified by the thought, “I’m made of pure magic according to Niall, I figure if I want a baby with a dead guy I can have one, otherwise there’s always IVF or adoption.”
Eric shifted nervously at the sudden possibilities. “Don’t worry,” she grinned. “I won’t be bringing up kids anytime soon.”
He wheezed out in relief, “Thank fuck for that.”
“The prodigal son returns,” Talbot smirked with the sighting of his long lost brother.
“I see you have recovered what was taken from you,” Niccoló noted, a hint of lost subservience in his step.
“Yes,” he snipped. “Faery magic can undo faery magic, who knew? I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive you for my ‘Pink Period’ with Pam though.” Talbot shivered at the mere thought of his amnesiac self, eyes narrowing further in anger at the one who had caused it all.
“Now, now,” Russell tutted, “Let’s see what our boy has to say for himself.”
“I come bearing a gift.”
Russell unwrapped the cloth around the sedated form, not surprised in the least to find what was inside. He pouted slightly, “Salome? Well, you never were one for surprises. Talbot, dear, you’ll be wanting this.”
“Must I?” he groaned. “Aren’t there people to take care of that? I just washed.”
“What does your beloved Mrs. Post say about re-gifting?”
Talbot pouted, monotonously sounding out like a petulant child, “It’s considered rude.”
“Exactly,” Russell pointed out, desperately trying to hide his amusement, “Now go get your raincoat and grab a stake.”
“Fine,” he sighed, sulking off and tossing over his shoulder, “Only because I really don’t like her.”
“This doesn’t make us even,” Russell started when Talbot was out of hearing range, his tone falling harsh. “Not even close. You’ve caused quite the ruckus. The coordinates you provided helped us kill off the worst of them, though I can hardly say it’s enough to redeem you.”
“I also brought you this,” he offered, holding out a small velvet pouch between them. Russell took it in his hands, remaining unimpressed. He sniffed carefully at the contents, the smell of faery remains not unfamiliar to him now and recognising this one in particular as Breandan, the leader of the rebellious Water Fae.
The forced silence only seemed to unnerve Niccoló further. Finally Russell noted, “Well, it’s something.”
“I can be of use to you again,” his lost Childe pleaded, “but if you must-” Niccoló’s hands shifted within his coat again, an extended breath needed before Niccoló could look his Maker in the eyes again while he handed him over the exacted stake. Russell eyed the smooth piece of wood that sat suddenly in his hands while Niccoló started to unbutton his shirt, baring the lethal spot in offering, the cool hand of his Maker coming to rest over his moving ones, stopping him in the process. The stake fell to the ground, the hollow sound of the wood echoing momentarily till it sat stationary from its roll, while Russell buttoned his top again. A gentle smile came over him while softly patting his chest.
“Not like this,” he said with glistening eyes. Russell held up the pouch with Breandan’s remains. “You did good in the end, but now is the time to go. Goodbye, my lost, little boy.”
A sigh of relief washed over Niccoló’s face, thinking himself forgiven, hardly noticing that the cool hand of his Maker had clutched onto the cloth of his shirt, aiding the launch of his entire body as it was thrust into the air and with great speed, the other hand reached for the fallen stake, propelling it like a javelin right on course to the heart, all too fast for Niccoló to realise, splattering in mid-air, droplets of blood misting the air above, but never quite reaching the ground, the cool breeze sweeping it away. As if he had never been there.
Talbot joined him minutes later, wielding a found stake reluctantly in his rubber, pink, and frilly, thanks to Pam, household gloves. “You let Niccoló go?” he asked with a frown. “I surely thought you’d kill him.”
He shrugged, regarding his long lost mate carefully, the blood bond between them being the only thing unrestored in the brief period in which he regained him. Knowing the lie would make him sleep with more ease, his savage side always being one Talbot found hard to digest, he replied, “It seemed like the right thing to do.”
“Why? It isn’t like you.”
“I guess I’ve grown soft in my old age.”
“Godric?” Tara asked, receiving a hum in reply while he rocked the Bug, who had yet to receive a proper name, in his arms. “Do you still hear those voices?”
“What voices?” he asked, utterly distracted by the small boy who stared up at him in wonder, or perhaps it was the baby’s own hand, not that it mattered to Godric. It was all sheer magic in his mind.
“The ones that set you on your destructive path,” she whispered while gently nudging the child from him.
“You worry-” he started, horrified by the suggestion that he might harm the child stolen from his arms.
“No!” she assured, her tone falling soft again, “I mean, I do, but not for me, or for the Bug for that matter. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, are you gonna be okay? Because-”
“Shh,” he urged while covering her hand with his and coming to stand beside her, smiling gently down at the most innocent face he’d ever come across in his long existence before finishing his worried mother’s thought, “You need me to be okay. I am okay, and will be okay. It’s not because you allow me to play this part in his life, or that this distracts from what I felt where I wandered in the dark before. It’s simply because I’ve come to understand what it’s like to be human again, what it means to connect and move with time.”
“If you’re sure,” she nodded, “but I warn you, if you do anything that could cause him harm, demanding he sacrifice himself for the greater cause, I ain’t gonna be as forgiving as Sookie; one strike and you’re out.”
He chuckled, kissing the back of her hand for an extended moment, “I’d expect nothing less from you.”
“You know it,” she smiled weakly. “We’re gonna be okay, right?”
“You know what,” he smiled with a confidence that she was unfamiliar in seeing him, but believed despite it. “I think we are. Things are not as dire as they once were. It is also no longer up to just us. Before you know it, we’ll be in New Orleans and you can paint the little Bug’s room any colour you want, except pink.”
“Thank fuck for that,” she grinned, kissing the top of her son’s head with an anticipating smile.
“Tara, we talked about this,” he frowned, “Your language.”
“And I repeat, fuck you,” she snarled. “My kid, my rules. I don’t give a shit if he curses.”
“Now he’s just yours? I thought he was ours!” Godric cried out, displaying somewhat akin to outrage.
“Noticed that, did you?” she smirked, a little too pleased to be getting a rise out of him, “Just checking to make sure.”
“You hear that, Son?” he doted on the small child. “Your mother is a terrible creature, the pain she inflicts!”
“You know you love it,” she grinned, bumping into his side with her hips.
“Yeah, I do,” Godric smiled. “You know the voices, they weren’t wrong.”
“Oh, Good Lord!” Tara spat out with a roll of her eyes. “You can’t be serious!”
He eyed her defensively. Things would never be easy with Tara and somehow he was fine with that, in fact, he quite enjoyed it, for at least it made him feel something other than numb. “I think,” he replied with a clearing of his throat, “My interpretation was off, a new light was promised after sacrifice. It could have meant anything, then again, I hadn’t fed in months. It’s more likely I was loopy from malnutrition.”
“Glad you’re finally owning up to that,” she smirked.
“Not quite,” Godric mused, staring at the classic repose of mother and child before him, an iconic image of the ages that gained more meaning to him every day. “I certainly found my new light.”
“So I’m your dirty little secret?”
“Only for now,” Sookie murmured against his skin, “When the last of the rebellion has been eradicated, you can shout it from any rooftop all you like. Sorry.”
His hand trailed through her hair leisurely, inhaling the lingering scent, “No, I like it,” he mused. “Always wanted to be someone’s dirty little secret.”
“Nuh uh,” she protested through a whimper, “You just wanted to be someone’s.”
“Hardly,” he scoffed, moving his lips close to her, punctuating his words with a kiss, “I did, however, want to be yours.”
“Mmm,” she agreed. “Well, I see things have worked out nicely for you then.”
“Indeed, they have,” he grinned, letting out a small squeak that he masked with a growl when she pinched his rear. “Still want to punch Jason and kill one of those aquatic faeries. Stan certainly needs to have a new asshole ripped,” he grumbled, further pouting and whining, “Pam’s having all the fun without me.”
“You’ll get your turn to violently rip things apart,” she replied with an indulgent tone he’d since learnt were meant for bugs, or rather babies. His Maker and his, whatever Tara was, really needed to name that child already. “Just not now, and, well, Jason is gonna have to get punched sometime. It’s inevitable. Aren’t I fun though?”
“Yeah,” he beamed, “but I don’t want to kill you.”
“You better not!” she laughed, “You might be able to!”
“You’ll need to undergo a sex change and change your name to Jason for that to happen,” he teased before letting out a contented sigh as her head came to rest on his bare chest.
“Eric?” she whispered while tracing the lines of his chest, sitting up to look at him with a modicum of seriousness, “What are we gonna do next? I mean, we’ve hardly had a moment to ourselves till now. What will we do with our time?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, seemingly less bothered about the prospect than she. “Fuck?”
A/N: Yep that’s the end. Thanks everyone for coming along on the ride, I hope you liked this conclusion! It was quite the journey for this cast to get to here, and I figured it started with fucking, it may as well end with it too…
Many thanks to msbuffy and all her editing work not only on this chapter but all the others too.
What’s next? I’ll be concentrating on finishing the other WIP I have going which are all close to finished now or already finished on my end and after that we’ll see what inspires. Thoughts, you know… encouraged 😉