Sookie and Eric waited patiently outside as the line of greeters trickled out the opposing set of doors. At the sound of the heavy panels of wood closing on the last set of visitors, the vampire and part fairy were introduced to the ancient king. Per protocol they stood directly in front of him and greeted him with a deep and respectful bow.
With an excited clap of his hands the harem and attending staff disappeared from the room leaving the three on their own. Russell looked over the couple appreciatively, their matching Northern European features were predictably boring to him but the sight together was alluring nonetheless. They were a comical dichotomy; pale and tan, tall and short, hard and soft, dead and alive. Most striking was what could not be seen and would be rare for a vampire of any age to recognise instantly.
“You bring before me a Royal Fairy,” Russell said as amusement sparkled through his beady eyes. Nervous energy and shock shot from Sookie into Eric as she clamped down her hand onto his fearing that they were caught in their deception, finding themselves at the mercy of one the most powerful vampires on the continent, mocking her supposed pretence.
Eric willed her to calm down even though she successfully deflected it. They had yet to find the time to talk about her heritage and her curiosity proved to Eric she had been too out of it in the aftermath of their formed bond to comprehend what was said at the time. An apologetic glance was thrown sideways before he spoke.
“Allow me to introduce her Imperial Highness Sookie Brigant, Princess of the House of Sky.”
The standing of that title was not lost on the one who was to carry it now in front of a ‘fellow’ royal. Sookie inhaled sharply through her nose as she seamlessly slipped into the role expected of her. Godric’s words of warning echoed in the back of her mind. Eric could not defend her on his own, he simply wasn’t old enough, the apologetic glance cast her way had spoken volumes to her. Not even their singular bond would protect them if Russell simply demanded she be handed over to him.
She squeezed his hand gently acknowledging his supposed intent. She was somewhat saddened as after this event the ruse would be up, he was knowingly sacrificing his reputation for her safety. In her mind she knew it wouldn’t take long for the gossiping tongues of the Supernatural to expose the fraud, that she was anything more than an inferior fairy without a drop of noble blood. One simply didn’t imitate you were of the most powerful ruling Fae without repercussions.
In Sookie’s perception Eric was protecting her twice over, after all a true Princess of the Fae would be an instant target in their species’ ongoing internal conflicts. It’s why they had always aimed for Sookie to portray to be nothing but a distant relative from a lesser noble Fae house. Pretending she was an actual princess now, kept her safe from the ancient and powerful vampire in front of them but it would fail to protect Eric from the inevitable scrutiny. She was certain that was why Eric had simply gone along with Russell’s assumption that she was a Royal Fae.
“Brigant you say,” the king returned with a dose of admiration he had not expressed in centuries. The Northman was already held in high regard to Russell, but this creature by his side made him a truly formidable opponent. A more interesting acquisition than his own Queen. The pieces on the chess board had instantly changed their respective positions with the entrance of the Viking and his companion by his side. Rook no more indeed.
“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, your majesty,” Sookie offered with a curtsy practiced by the houses of Fae. She silently thanked Pam for forcing her to practice each and every separate one, when she had only seen the necessity of the singe one, as her initial identity had been exchanged for another.
“As I am to meet you,” Russell acknowledged as he gestured them to sit on the soft bench before them. “You must be quite pleased with your latest procurement, Sheriff.” He watched with delight as the temper of the fairy danced across her incensed eyes, though like a true royal she held firm in her composure. He decided she was indeed a true Fae, their spark for life intrinsically tied to their emotions and when one as informed as Russell observed them there was little to hide.
“I am more hers than she is mine,” Eric said in deference of his lower station as Sheriff. The bristled nerves of Sookie’s calmed down some at that, unaware of her true lineage as a Fae she took it to mean her fraudulent title was the key to their collective safety, now placing her firmly in charge with a protective titular. He was trusting her completely, placing his thousand years in her hands like she had requested of him when she was unable to reveal her telepathy to him. Again she softly squeezed the hand that rested between them in assurance.
“That certainly is clear,” Russell drawled out with further amusement. “Tell me Your Highness what brought you two together?”
“Good company,” she smiled politely. “It’s a rare thing to find.”
“Indeed,” Russell retorted as his eyes narrowed down to slits to appreciate her graceful features, searching for signs of deceit. “So rare, you willingly enter into a manor full of hungry vampires.”
“I heard this court was an especially civilised one. I trust you will all keep your fangs to yourselves,” Sookie quipped in return. “It’s not a particular hobby of mine to dole out punishment for blood offenses.”
“I concur,” Russell returned dryly. “You are a true delight Lady Brigant. Now tell me Northman where did you find this delectable creature?”
“Would you believe me if I told you she was waitressing in a greasy bar and grill in a backwater Louisiana town mere months ago?” Eric returned with a sly grin.
“How very drôle of you Northman,” he chuckled with a large smirk. “You have always been exceptionally proficient in hiding your sources.”
“Without my protection I am not worth much,” Eric replied acknowledging their precarious situation twofold as both Russell and Sookie took different meaning to the statement.
“Antoine, my second, is looking a little worse for wear these days,” Russell mused off handed. “If such a position were to open up your stations would be far more evenly matched.”
“I already informed you I am not vying for a promotion. Especially during ongoing marriage negotiations between your Majesty and my Queen.”
“Indeed. But you were without a Brigant by your side then,” Russell intoned as he flicked away an imaginary piece of dust from the armrest on his elaborate throne. “Her family will demand more of a suitor than your current position as Sheriff.”
“My choices are my own,” Sookie answered before Eric could.
“Obviously,” Russell cackled in acknowledgement of the odd coupling. “Surely your family thinks otherwise.”
“Eric is royalty through his human line,” Sookie offered after searching quickly for an appropriate response. “There is more appreciation for that among my people than the fashioned royalty of other Supernaturals.”
“It’s all in the blood,” Russell agreed as he traced the vein in his own forearm. Any other vampire king and Sookie would have caused grave insult with her comment. She knew, however, that just like Eric, Russell’s blood ran blue before he was turned. “Something rarely recognized these days. Shame.”
“Indeed,” Sookie concurred as expected of her, though she felt there was little merit for an argument that relied on chance to whom you were born to.
“Perhaps Talbot, my consort, would like to take you on a tour of the estate,” Russell offered. “Then Mr Northman and I could… discuss.”
Sookie searched their shared bond and with his assurance that they would both be safe she answered, “That would be agreeable.” While Eric was not particularly looking forward to sitting through another of Russell’s pitches he merely nodded affirmatively.
Sookie had met a diverse range of vampires over the years in Adele’s bed and breakfast but none had been like Talbot. He was a few centuries younger than Eric from what was then the Byzantine Empire. Now he regarded himself of Greece. He put in every effort to imitate the civilising airs of human nobility in his role as consort, Talbot put Jackie O. to shame as the embodiment of a first lady with his dedication to the role. Or first man in this instance.
Everything was modelled on the old courts of European royals, one he too was born into. The décor was reminiscent of the aristocratic golden age. Portraits of the King and his consort graced the finest silk wall coverings. Sookie was surprised to find the donor lounge was more like a dispensary of expertly sourced rare blood types than the seedy place Pam had described it to be in most royal courts. There was no live feeding on the premises Talbot considered it barbaric thus the room was clinical, blood was offered through an IV from the mute donors whose flavour palate was intricately described in a tastefully designed menu.
Sookie suspected it was another imitation of his admired human counterparts. The civility of sitting down at a lavishly decorated table, conversation with intellectual counterparts. Talbot did everything in his might to still appear human, to separate himself of what he had become. Through his incessant running commentary it wasn’t hard for Sookie to pick up Talbot’s desire to be Russell’s solely committed partner. Another human desire as monogamy was after all a rare trait to be desired between two vampires.
Talbot was less interested in explaining the vast collection of ‘trinkets’ that Russell collected over his many years on this earth. However, they were what drew in Sookie more than the décor or the fresh flowers that were Talbot’s personal pride. She let him talk on about an ancient scroll when she saw the crown. It was undeniably the match to the ring of Eric’s mother that she now carried on her own hand.
Sookie was decidedly less animated after seeing that item. Talbot assumed it was the late hour and like any good host he steered her towards her sleeping quarters without being overt about it. He bid her a pleasant night and day as he deposited her at the doors to her suite and gave instructions if she were in need of anything to call on the house staff.
Eric had not yet returned from Russell’s audience causing Sookie to pace back and forth restlessly once more, unsure what to tell him of her discovery. She had only known of the existence of a crown since that evening when Eric had slipped the ring on her finger and mere hours later she was confronted with the sighting of it. She knew it was no trinket, just like the ring on her finger and the value was immeasurable to Eric.
Eric had spoken of his human claims to a kingdom of his own. He had never wanted to rule then and he still did not feel the need for it now. It had puzzled Sookie greatly why he would prefer his station of Sheriff when his age clearly allowed for more. He had mentioned then that the only crown he ever wanted to possess was his father’s that was stolen from him. Only now did she understand that it was a literal statement rather than the metaphorical one she had taken it for.
She considered consulting Pam but she feared she would have little to offer and didn’t wish to involve her unnecessarily when their collective safety wasn’t a guarantee. Godric was her next thought. Though the thought was quickly dismissed, she needn’t call him to know what he would say. He was always more concerned with her safety than his own child’s. The situation they found themselves in demanded she act as much in her own safety as his. Instead she decided she would keep quiet of her discovery, making her list of confessions after the party endlessly long.
She determined her best strategy would be to go to sleep. He would have sensed her uncertainty and conflicting emotions all evening as the sudden discovery had left her unable to hide it from him. If she stayed up he would ask her about it and she would be unable to lie to him. Perhaps he would trust her enough if she claimed it was for their protection but she could only uphold that reasoning for so long before losing the trust he had granted her.
There was too much at stake the next night and there was no doubt in her mind that he would probe her if she remained awake now. However, her adjusted schedule among vampires and her nerves made sleep elusive. She called down to one of the household staff asking for sleeping pills and after hearing the man recite every single prescription available she was almost sure she didn’t need, Sookie simply asked for the strongest one they had. Another Adonis was soon at her door carrying a gilt tray on which sat a cloth napkin holding a singular pill and a glass of water.
As soon as she swallowed it she became drowsy. By the time her head hit the pillow she was far from coherent and fell into the deepest sleep she had ever encountered. Her dream was of someone she didn’t know but felt familiar. She flitted around Russell’s mansion with tears staining her bright green eyes as she tried to convince Sookie to follow her beckoning her around the twisted hallways. The plush carpet tickled at her feet as she walked barefoot in her nightgown after the small Fae child. How Sookie knew she was such was a mystery to her but instinctively she knew.
Without words the rich chocolate locks of the child’s hair guided her through the meandering hallways as they became narrower the further they went along in her hazy peripheral vision. The fine features of her face didn’t let up their strained stance as she stopped at a seemingly unassuming blank wall. The child demonstrated how the blonde should look at the wall and in that instant Sookie saw it, a hidden door. She fervently sought some method to open it but no matter how hard she tried Sookie could not enter it.
With her inability the girl’s cries grew in volume as she impatiently pounded her little fists on the door, begging and whimpering. The wails of the young girl were becoming deafening in volume with Sookie’s unsuccessful efforts. She was growing weary and dizzy with the exertion and her head felt ever so light while her feet appeared to be the weight of lead.
Sookie’s body shook with the turmoil as she was trapped in this restless sleep unable to find peace within her own mind. She tried to comfort the young girl but it continued to spiral into an increasingly painful experience leaving her body writhing in pain.
Soon Sookie was screaming in attempt to make it all stop but no sound came from her mouth when she tried. Tears overtook her face as her body succumbed to numbness from the pain. Desperately she tried to reach out; for something, someone or anything but she was hopelessly stuck in an endless cycle with the inconsolable young girl.
Her fingers drew blood as she tried to scrape away the plaster on the wall causing the flesh to tear. Every piece she managed to extract soon returned and was even harder to remove than before. Despite the setback she didn’t relent in uncovering what was hidden beyond the wall. She called upon the destructive light that resided in her but with its release it simply reflected back into her with a harsh reverberation.
The encompassing darkness that encroached them was intermittently distracted by flashes of light seemingly coming from an otherworldly place. Each time the shafts of light were absorbed by the darkness as were the distant sounds. She was simply unable to hear what was said over the cries of the child that continued to plead.
In her desperation of being unable to act she simply held the child in her embrace as they both shook in pain. Their tears were each other’s and the light they shared inside themselves erupted from within, suddenly all of the darkness dissipated.
“She’s back,” the goblet sized doctor announced to the pacing vampire who was beside her in an instant. “Let me see your eyes child.”
Sookie wearily blinked till she had adjusted to the bright light that was shining down her sensitive eyes. The woman she now recognised as Dr Ludwig continued to check her vitals. When Sookie managed to look down from her propped up position she saw the blood on her fingers. The flesh scraped raw, the bright white of bone shining through on several fingers. Only then did the pain register despite the rain of comfort Eric sent down their bond.
“You may apply your blood now Viking,” the doctor instructed as she took in the vampire’s impatience. “She will need another course of the light vials. Make sure to feed her your blood nightly in conjunction.”
Before Eric could manage to demand more of an explanation Dr Ludwig had already popped out. He growled a little in annoyance before her pain overtook him as his own. He held her to him for his own comfort for mere seconds happy to have her again. “Thank you for coming back to me,” Eric whispered in her ears as he exhaled in relief.
He took her bloodied fingers in his mouth one by one till the wounds stopped bleeding. Her pain soon ebbed to a manageable one as he painted each finger with the blood of his own. The pinkish flesh was soon covered with a thin lining of skin again. She marvelled at the sight of the regeneration as she whispered her words of thanks.
“You will take my blood,” he announced refusing to entertain any protestations. It was only then that she looked at him properly and saw he was in the full throw of the bleeds. She meekly nodded in adherence to the doctor’s orders. As she drank down the healing blood it felt so different to the other times. It wasn’t an offering or a gift this time, it was necessity.
“Eric you must take your rest,” Sookie pleaded when he cleaned the last of the blood from the closed wounds. Her fingers still tender with pain caressed the skin beside the dried blood that had escaped his eyes and ears.
“It is just an hour from sunset they will stop soon enough,” Eric replied as he pulled her tight to his chest again as if unwilling to let her go again. “Try to sleep,” he instructed sensing her general fatigue.
“I’m scared to dream again,” she admitted in such a small voice it could be mistaken for a child’s.
“I’m here,” he offered. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
“But you’re not in here,” she returned while pointing at her head. “Tell me what happened here,” Sookie asked as she took in the upturned state of the room and the door that had clearly fallen to pieces.
“Do you really wish to know?” he asked with some worry for her judgement of his reaction.
“Yes,” she answered looking back up at him. “Please tell me.”
“Russell had to hold me off from eviscerating every single member of his royal household,” he started to explain. “I thought they had killed you, I could no longer feel you through the bond. It was only when I found you asleep that your ingestion of the sleeping drug came to light. I left behind a bit of a path of destruction in the process.”
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I didn’t know.”
“Neither did I,” Eric replied. “You looked to sleep peacefully but seemed so far away. When you started shivering and crying out in pain I summoned Dr Ludwig shortly before dawn. It continued for hours but nothing would wake you.”
“I tried,” Sookie sighed as she leaned her head against the comfort of his chest. “I was stuck. I was trying to get beyond this wall but I only managed to harm myself.”
He scrutinised the new skin on her soft hands assuring himself once again she was really no longer harmed. He kissed the pads softly as she swelled with unknown warmth at the gesture. “Pam is going to kill me for ruining my manicure.”
“You are far more important than your nails,” he spoke admonishingly. “Besides, Pam has gotten over worse things.”
“You’re not bleeding anymore,” she said with a satisfied smile.
“I told you they would stop soon enough.” He kissed her softly on the forehead to punctuate his statement.
“Does every bed we inhabit have to end in a bloody mess?” Sookie asked as she took in the state of the stained sheets. Eric used one to wipe the last of the bleeds from his face without an ounce of embarrassment as she hissed his name disapprovingly. He merely shrugged like a mischievous child and she soon grew quiet as it was eerily reminiscent of the young girl that was stuck with her in the nightmare.
Eric proposed to clean themselves off as it was apparent neither one of them was going to rest again till they found themselves in the familiar comfort of his bed after the ball that night. They held each other in comfort as the warm water washed away the stains on their body, silent tears fell from her eyes with her face turned into his chest. Eric didn’t dare soothe her as he instinctively knew she needed him there for comfort but neither one was to acknowledge it in that moment.
As she finished drying her hair, Eric stripped the bed of the sheets containing the enticing scent of her blood in the fireplace. It was disturbing enough that Russell had so easily recognised Sookie for what she was and he was determined not to advertise it further.
Queen Sophie Anne would undoubtedly know of Sookie’s royal lineage by the time she woke only further complicating their position. A summons already lay at the foot of the door. He was technically following her orders of finding an appropriate escort but Russell was not wrong in pointing out their inequality in titles. In the world of the Supernatural Eric was clearly reaching above his station.
As self-absorbed as Sophie Anne was, she would only see it as an unfounded threat to her crown despite Eric’s claim to hold no interest in it. However, as it stood, the only way Sophie Anne could usurp his unintended coup was by showing up at the summit at the arms of the reigning Prince of the Fae. That was as likely to happen as the petulant queen having a bowel movement again.
At sundown he kissed her so carefully she felt like a fragile piece of porcelain with his restraint. He promised to return as soon as Sophie Anne would dismiss him. She intended to stay put and wait on Pam to appear, but instead she walked the plush carpet of her dream following the path to the wall that had caused her such pain.
She recognised every corner, every changing décor exactly as it was in her dream. When she came across the large white expansive wall and she adjusted her view to reveal the hidden doorway once again.
The current of her light ignited as she dragged her fingers over the closed entry as if it were warding her off. She threw out her telepathic net but just as her light it was halted from exploring further beyond the invisible barrier. Sookie tried speaking through the wall but no sound was returned. She lingered a moment longer splaying her hand wide against the barrier causing her to take notice of the ring she wore, only then remembering the matching crown that resided on another floor.
Unsure what to do next Sookie decided to return to her room but as soon as she rounded the first corner with little concentration she crashed into Talbot holding a tray of foods. She stammered an apology but her eyes widened as she took in the strange items that now littered the floor. She had only ever seen them in illustrations before, sketched depictions in the ancient tomes in Eric’s library. Undeniably they were the fruits from the lands of the Fae.
A/N: From the comments last week I know many of you were anticipating a fairy Sookie smackdown over the secret Eric withheld from her but considering that subterfuge and deception are a recurring theme and mode of operation in this story Sookie will be happily living the lie for a while as the secrets continue to stack up until she realises the gig isn’t quite up yet. Truth become lies and lies become truth… more next time 😉
Today’s Thanksgiving Fixin’s can be found here.