“Confidence is best faked when you have little of it Godric,” Tulla offered in explanation and it was a statement I couldn’t help but agree with. “I had to be the strong one when you were so ill equipped to handle what this new world offered you.”
“You are the best Maker,” I said gifting her the words that had momentarily filled me with pride when they had been spoken to me. The only difference was to Tulla there had been a competition between two, she lost to me with Lucius as I became the favoured child, however, with me she would always win. She was silent but the bond spoke enough for the both of us, it wasn’t pride that swelled her heart. There was acceptance and adoration that reverberated between us. In a small way my heart surged along with hers.
“What inspired you to say this to me?” she finally asked with a shake to her voice that informed me tears had fallen from her eyes. The words had come from Eric but I knew Sookie was the inspiration that had him sharing them with me.
“The thing that is different with my child,” I offered though I had yet to find an accurate answer to what that was exactly. Tulla was never one to demand exacting answers so it would not matter to her what the true source was.
“Then you must carry the gratitude in which this gift is given,” she said encouragingly. “It has done so much for you already.”
Without all the answers Tulla knew exactly of what she spoke, Sookie was not merely a gifted individual that coaxed unknown depths from Eric. She was a gift to us all. Sookie had walked a similar path to mine coming from rags to riches but she stuck to her core. It was an exceedingly generous one that now included me. Perhaps her unending status as an outsider saw little need to alter herself to the pleasure of others. A quiet strength resided in her that was not unlike Tulla’s, born out of insecurity, it was the light that burned so brightly in them both. That attitude had made me see there was more to the vanity that surrounded our gilt existence for the first time.
My heart. It had grown bigger from her mere presence. Somewhere I had allowed for it and that truly was a gift greater than us all.
“Sookie come have breakfast with us,” Pam’s light tone rang over the line.
It was like old times, before Eric had entered back into my life, except Pam now spoke of an ‘us’ instead of a ‘me’. Eric was still sound asleep beside me, the scoundrel had snuck in beside me during my lethargic state where my treacherous body had been all too happy to be spooned by him when my mind was too feeble to protest much. It was very nice, not that I ever would admit that aloud.
“Your breakfast is surely a different one from mine,” I retorted like I always had when she proposed this. Aside from the difference in cuisine the time of day surely gave it a different interpretation to us both.
“There will be pancakes,” she sing-songed, knowing they were my personal Achilles heels in the realm of breakfast foods. For once the late night had actually brought our breakfast times closer together and my stomach grumbled happily in anticipation of the best pancakes I knew of since my Gran had passed.
“My stomach is colluding with you,” I informed her as I disgruntledly removed myself from the warmth of the bed. “I’ll be over in a few.”
“There’s already a car waiting for you outside,” Pam said gleefully, I really shouldn’t have taken surprise to. “Wear the pleated yellow strapless dress.”
I answered that I would adhere to her wishes but she had already hung up. Pam had stopped slinging the designer names at my head long ago, her descriptions were usually adequate enough to inform me what she had in mind.
Frankly I was too uninterested to remember all the fashion houses’ names and used to cut the labels out as they merely itched at my sensitive skin. When Pam discovered this she had stopped talking to me for a week. Only when she informed me it was detrimental to their collective appeal did I refrain from doing so again. The only reason I justified purchasing these extortionately priced pieces of clothing was with the knowledge they accrued value over time and in turn would coffer the pockets of my favoured charities when auctioned off.
The dress I wore last night would be the first I would keep for myself. I had avoided wearing it for a long time as the colour called for an attention I did not want to garner. Eric’s appreciation of it had changed that, from him that attention was wanted and the dress would be a memento of that. I zipped myself into the requested yellow dress after washing away the previous night’s events. I didn’t bother with makeup or styling my hair, knowing Pam would undo it instantly on sight.
I was glad Pam had reached out to me, so much had happened in such a short period of time and we had barely exchanged a few sentences in between. My mind couldn’t help but wonder back to the unusual cheery disposition Pam’s voice suggested over the telephone. When we had last spoke at length, she was still coping with the aftermath of the attack on her reign. She seemed close to breaking.
The code to her private chambers had remained unchanged just as the door to her private salon opened with the same ease as it ever did. “Pam,” I called out at a higher volume than necessary. Knowing she’d be along soon enough, I followed my nose to the dainty round dining table that was set up with the finest linens and a small gathering of her favoured pink tea roses. I fondled the petals of one remembering the time Eric and I spent in the rose garden the previous night. Like every event these days, or rather nights, it seemed a lifetime ago.
I lifted one of the ornate silver cloches that held our breakfasts warm relishing in the smell that had me nostalgic for my Gran’s cooking. I was momentarily lost in my sensorial memories, so much so that I didn’t notice the vampire taking the seat beside me.
“You must be Sookie,” he said with a deep timbre to his tone.
I let the cloche fall down over the delicate fine bone china with a loud bang with his sudden appearance. Thankfully it all remained unscathed aside from my nerves.
“Yes,” I acknowledged as soon as my breath caught a regular rhythm again. “You must be Pam’s proud papa.”
Like with Aelia, amusement wasn’t eradicated from his expressions. He let out a wry smile before he offered his hand in greeting, “Kristian Holstein-Sonderburg, Duke of Ærø.”
“Sookie Stackhouse,” I returned. “Of plain ol’ Bon Temps.”
“Tut, tut, Ms Stackhouse,” he admonished. “There is so much more to you than that.” Kristian and all his fancy names were right of course but that news had yet to settle in proper. I had not even given Jason a call beyond informing him of my relative safety and receiving word of his assured one. I was now Sookie Stackhouse of the Sky Fae, what that entailed, however, remained a mystery to me.
“Perhaps,” I answered non-committedly as I was yet to understand what being a descendant of an unknown species would mean. “But I’ll always be Sookie Stackhouse of Bon Temps no matter how many titles are attached beyond that.”
“True,” Kristian acknowledged. He regarded me with a calculated scrutiny as if weighing the worth of my words more than once. “You have an able attitude for your position.”
“Thank you,” I returned contented with the compliment. Ever since Eric re-entered my life for some reason it had become easier to recognise them as spoken truths rather than the niceties I had always taken them for. “Will Pam be joining us?”
He let out a small sigh while he scratched the scruff of his beard. “I dearly hope so,” he started. “Alas she is still deciding on what to wear.”
“Then I suggest we start without her,” I proposed. If it had not been for Kristian’s presence I would have done so as well. Pam usually sauntered in at some point and simply downed a bottle of specialty blood. “The food will be cold and she doesn’t care for it much regardless.”
“You are probably right,” he smiled to me with kindness hidden in his deep blue eyes. It was the one detail Pam had ever shared of him with me. The unending depth of them that had mesmerized her, causing her to drown in him from the moment she met him. She wanted to become a vampire but she had confided in me if that had not been the case, those eyes would have determined to override her on that stance.
“Pam doesn’t allow staff in here,” I informed while pulling away the two covers that sat in front of our plates after observing his searching gaze around the room. I realised now that with her royalty status that was perhaps not as expected as I had once taken it for. “Or maybe not when I’m around.”
“Pamela has never enjoyed playing by the rules,” Kristian offered in understanding while I doused my perfect stack of pancakes in a flowing rivulet of amber syrup.
“Yet we all must adhere by hers,” I jested which earned me a chortle from her Maker. “Who else would make me happily sit in a two thousand dollar dress for breakfast with friends? She made me go home and change once when I had worn something twice before.”
“The archive of her mind is a menace to us all,” he agreed with good humour in our co-created conspiracy. “I have yet to understand how she instantly knows what everyone else should wear but it takes her hours to decide that for herself.”
“At least you have the power to make her stop,” I returned in equal spirit but the expected levity of a retort was lost when his face grew with concern rather than amusement. The minute facial expression was slight but it was clearly legible to me. Unintended I had hit a nerve, a weak spot in their relations.
“She is the only force that has the power to contain herself,” he returned quite seriously. That told me all there was to know of their relationship. Kristian loved her greatly and that had prevented him from being the Maker he needed to be for her. It explained why Godric had become a second father to her, he stepped in where Kristian was unable. He was only ever able to indulge her.
“She is not meant to be kept or tamed,” I recited, they were the words stolen from Eric’s human mind. He had thought them of me but I now saw they described Pam equally as well. It had been those thoughts that anchored me to him then, it was beyond thinking nice thoughts of me. He understood exactly who I was at my core when our conversations couldn’t be considered anything but brief. Eric saw beyond the façade and the shields I held firmly in place. He got me and that was why no one had been able to take his place in that reserved corner of my heart.
“Indeed,” Kristian responded curtly to my assessment. The gentle kindness that had flowed into our conversation earlier had dissipated into the expected façade of a well-practiced Sanguine, reserved and pristine. Flawless but cold. I had inadvertently hit too close to the truth, even without the ability to read one’s mind it was a habit that was hard to shed.
“Have you visited Pam here before,” my inner hostess asked, hoping to relieve the tension I had unintentionally caused. The change of subject seemed to do the trick as he relaxed into his seat in time for Godric to join us.
“Not here. Not since she ascended the throne,” he said quite proudly with a glint in his shining eyes. As Godric greeted us he looked confused towards the empty chair beside me. Perhaps I should have woken Eric after all instead of sneaking out of the house leaving him a cryptic message behind.
“Ah good everyone is here,” Pam announced wearing what Jason would describe as a dressing gown but I had been educated by her royal highness herself to call a kaftan. The light silk flowed delicately between her highly heeled legs with her strong strides. It wasn’t something she would usually wear, the distinct pattern and loose drape was a break with the tradition of her usually structured and highly tailored appearance. For Pam it was about as casual as she was ever going to get in what probably constituted the average monthly salary of a resident of Bon Temps. The discerning look on her face had yet to disappear when she demanded of me, “Where’s Eric?”
“At home,” I responded like a disobedient child caught in her mischief biting at my bottom lip to feign my innocence. Truthfully I left him behind because he looked like he could use the sleep and I had yet to forgive him his sneaky entrance into my bed. Now I thought otherwise.
“How did you come here?” Godric asked with deep concern. The two other sets of eyes carried the same emotion as his.
“By car,” I stammered with the continued scrutiny of my person. It was rather unnerving, they just needed to add Aelia into the mix and I would be well on my way to overcooked with the intensity of their heated gazes. “I was told there would be pancakes,” I offered in a lame defence at their continued silence.
“I told you to stay by Eric’s side,” Pam fumed with what I hoped was concern. Suddenly I feared for Eric’s safety. The two Guards of Anûšiya that had been assigned to us had followed me here, as did Alcide’s team. There would always be a skeleton crew present at the house but Eric was essentially home alone in an unsecured bedroom.
“I have to get to Eric,” I spoke with sudden alarm at what my actions had caused. Before I managed to get out of my chair Godric halted my progress, urging me back to my seat.
“It’s not him we are concerned for Sookie,” he said gently. I managed to mumble a ‘but’ and was soon cut off again. Godric’s pleading face made me hold my tongue and in exchange I listened. “Until we figure out who and what is behind these attacks your safety is our primary concern. Someone of our bloodline must be in your proximity at all times.”
“Because I’m the only fairy telepath you’ve got,” I ascertained. It was the duplicitous nature of my supposed ‘gift’. I was a useful asset to have but I was a weapon at the same time, in the grand scheme of things I was no longer a person, merely a skill to be used or abused and to covet.
“Sookie you know it is more than that,” Pam soothed with a sympathy I had yet to witness from her. It struck me that they were words her Maker had spoken to me but a few moments ago with a distinctively different intent. To add to my confusion her royal highness knelt on the floor beside me cupping my face between her hands. Granted the carpet was luxuriously soft but I didn’t think Pam ever knelt for anyone. Had the mood not been so serious I would have feared an assault of her lips as my cheeks were firmly lodged in her grasp with that intense gaze of her. “There is only one Sookie Stackhouse I know and I don’t want her going anywhere. Telepathic fairy extraordinaire or not.”
“Thanks Pam,” I mumbled in return as her thumb wiped away the lonely tear that had trickled from the corner of my eye. “What about Eric?” I asked of Godric as my worries for his safety came to my attention again. Before he could answer me, the devil I spoke of had flown his arms around and held me tightly in his embrace as I took in the slightly burnished red complexion of his skin bearing the effects of the brief exposure to the sun.
“Don’t ever do that to me again,” he murmured into the crown of my hair. I realised now that my good humoured ‘ransom’ note had not met its audience as intended. I guess he didn’t read on to the part where I demanded silver dollar pancakes in exchange for my freedom. I muttered an ‘I’m sorry’ into his chest but he made no indication of hearing it as his hands seemed to be tracing every inch of my body inspecting it for damage.
“I’m fine,” I said a little louder pulling him from his scrutiny of my unharmed form. “Are you?”
“Of course,” he scoffed with near indignation. “Whoever took you is lucky someone else found you before I did.”
“No one took me Eric,” I whispered while searching out his erratically shifting eyes. Fear and panic was still meandering out along with the relief that I was safe and sound. “You didn’t finish reading the note…”
The extended breath he exhaled finally settled the panic raging through his body. I expected him to be mad or upset at the disregard of my safety like the others had been but all I could detect was gratitude that I was unharmed. It settled the decision that had been weighing heavily on me. Or in part, the first step to a larger scheme.
Finding the raging storm swirl to calm waters in the deep pools of his eyes I presented my balm to the inflicted wound, “I accept the offer of your blood.” It wasn’t a pledge to a bond, rather an invitation to what could become one. It would tie us and alleviate concerns of my safety. Not for my own, rather for his ease of mind as well as the congregated group of his family members that regarded us in this distant corner of the room.
“You are certain?” he asked of me with a degree of awe as one hand held me firmly by the waist as if I were to suddenly dissipate with my words. The other trailed the outer edges of my face with the slightly calloused tips of his fingers in a touch so gentle it made the fine hairs stand at attention at the seemingly individual acknowledgement of each and every one. With a contented smile and earnest eyes I nodded in acknowledgement of what I had spoken. The sight of his gleamingly white teeth had me worried I was to take him up on his offer then and there but instead the soft lips that surrounded them found themselves firmly pressed to mine.
Considerate of the audience we had garnered or perhaps in recognition of my modesty it was nothing more than that. The extremities of our faces bounced contentedly against each other, the gesture sealed with mirrored smiles. A chaste kiss was placed firmly on my forehead as he whispered a private word of gratitude.
Our moment of quietude was interrupted by a gagging noise I recognised as uniquely Pam’s. “Get over here you two, before I lose my appetite,” she drawled out in her tone of disapproval that shielded her wry humour.
“It’s not like you ever had one,” I quipped back as I pulled Eric behind me towards the dining table. I knew I had found a partner in crime when Kristian heartily laughed out loud at my comeback. Her aggravated look only added to his amusement as he pulled her into his lap where she wiggled uncomfortably at the display of affection in front of others. He whispered something into her ears in what I assumed to be Danish before letting her go with a kiss to shell of her ear. She instantly regained her regal stature as she seated herself down next to him ignoring any further of his attentions.
Eric scooted his chair closer to mine than the table setting dictated which got us a disapproving demonstration of Pam’s perfectly plucked brow. I rested my arm in defiance over his telling him to stay put and in a token of solidarity he interlaced his fingers with mine. “You already ate?” Pam discerned sternly.
“We were under the impression you would be a while,” Kristian said with a wink directed my way. As handsome as he might be, there was little competition between him and Eric as far as I was concerned. However, the blonde vampire beside me deemed otherwise as he planted a soft kiss towards the corner of my eye and whispered, “Mine.” It seemed said more for his own benefit than Kristian’s or mine so my hand merely squeezed his in acknowledgement.
“Will Aelia not be joining us?” I asked distracting Pam from the impending temper tantrum waiting to be unleashed with her Maker’s teasing.
“She has gone to investigate the grounds of your former home,” Godric answered carefully of the subject I had failed to broach with anyone, even Eric. I knew the house was gone and I could rebuild it to the exact specifications of what it was but it wouldn’t ever be the same. The pictures Eric had drawn for me gave me more of a physical memory of what I lost than anything else ever would. Understanding my pain without the possession of his blood inside of me, Eric’s thumb gently caressed over the back of my hand in soothing. I mouthed a soft ‘thank you’ before resting my head on his shoulder.
“What is she seeking?” Kristian asked digging into the second helping of pancakes as Pam had exchanged her plate for his empty one. It was a ritual she had always exercised with me, it always marked the halfway point of our breakfast meetings. At my longing look to the generous stack of pancakes Eric did the same with our plates. After inhaling the faint smell of vanilla and sweetened cake I set to work cleaning the second helping with my single free hand, the subject of the conversation somewhat lost to me.
“A portal to Faerum.”
With that sudden piece of information the piece of pancake I was contentedly chewing at flew out of my mouth to squarely land in the bare expanse of skin on Pam’s chest. I didn’t even have the time to take in Pam’s undoubtedly pissed off face as she had sped off in an instant with Kristian trailing not far behind. In my embarrassment I chewed away at my bottom lip as Godric bowled over in laughter.
“See älskling, no one makes him laugh like that,” Eric murmured into the shell of my ear while directing my gaze towards his hysterical Maker. “It’s all you.”
A/N: See I promised Sookie wouldn’t hold her grudge against Eric that long… So a little bit of levity before the craziness ensues again as Compton has an appointment with our favourite Queen next time….