The greed in his beady eyes betrayed his bartering position instantly and even he had been smart enough to realise that, he accepted without any further demands while gloating at the moderate assembly of important vampires. Indeed it was a rare sight for a royal to offer a public apology. Except he hadn’t gotten one. Pam had been calculating with her words when she had given him an apology from her person, not from the crown and offered him a position that never existed before. He was given a title in the credit score but that was all his ‘employment’ would ever entail.
By the appearances of his inner musings he was already ordering the business cards on heavy stock paper with gilded lettering but no matter how expensive and impressive they may appear it would buy him no entrance with the Sanguine. Judging by the ones present here tonight, all credit went to the clever words of the Queen as they regarded Compton’s immodest preening with a knowing glance.
Sookie had been proven right again. Anyone of importance was intelligent enough to recognise that Pam was merely placating for appearances. The Sanguines approved, any Impurus who had the intelligence to see through her ploy would be critical of her regardless. The masses had been catered to.
Once more I was ecstatic with the way the night’s events had unfolded until I heard a faint scream that I never wanted to hear. I was back to panic again. With it came the scent of blood that had an entire room drop their fangs but I was already flying out the door before I heard the familiar ‘snicks’ shift into place. I recognised that smell instantly as I was the only being that had ever sampled that blood even if it had been an accident.
It was fucking mine.
Protocol demanded I held my face in place when it was ready to explode. I was beyond pissed, downright livid. Sookie had been harmed in the protection of my home. I couldn’t care if it was a scraped knee or a paper cut. She hurts, I hurt. After her solo expedition this afternoon I couldn’t have been clearer to my security staff. The little telepath was to venture nowhere alone.
Lacking supersonic flying speeds I was the last to arrive to the scene of the crime. I wasn’t met with a sight that I had feared of a bleeding out and pale pallor that would jar with the colour of her bright dress. No behind the squadron of Guards of Anûšiya I was met with the bright smile of my friend whose every expanse of skin was being scanned by Eric’s discerning eyes. He’d probably be ripping of that dress in panic if her heart didn’t beat at such a steady rhythm.
“I’m okay,” Sookie informed me with a tone, then proceeded to tell me she was becoming really sick of repeating that sentence to the gallery of scrutinising faces over and over again. She held up her wrapped wrist that was swaddled in a white bandage. I scented that the wound had already closed and the loss of blood was minimal judging by the two drops on her dress. The magnificent creation by an Italian fashion master was ruined of course, but for once I cared more for the person who wore that garment than the extraordinary item of craftsmanship itseld. At my discriminating look Sookie supplied, “No worries Pam, I’ll get the stains out. A little bit of salt and cold water just like my Gran taught me and it’ll be good as new.”
I couldn’t help but shake my head in admonishment at her attempt to cheer me up when she was the one that had sustained the damage tonight. I couldn’t hide the fact that it had worked so effectively either as a smile crept over the stiff features of my face.
“The wound is self-inflicted,” Kristian whispered beside me in his native tongue that among those present only I and Godric would understand. My Maker was an expert in weaponry and thus the wounds they inflicted so he knew of what he spoke. However the uttered sentence was simple enough for Eric to understand with his modern Swedish hearing.
“Perhaps you should take Sookie to my quarters,” I interjected before Eric could demand of Sookie why she would have done such a thing in front of the gathered crowd. An accompanying stern look from Godric had him nodding submissively as he gathered her small form to his body despite her protests that she was perfectly fine to walk. Before they departed Sookie insisted that she and Staci meet up for lunch the next day. I didn’t know what that was about but I was sure to hear it from the telepath’s mouth soon enough.
“You will go with them?” I requested softly of my Maker who immediately nodded his accordance in return before I looked towards Godric and Shahbaz for guidance on the clean-up. With Sookie as the main attraction gone the larger crowd soon departed. The gleeful look Compton sported earlier was gone as he quickly took possession of Staci again. I didn’t quite know how to regard his surly face but I knew it had nothing to do with concerns for the wide eyed girl.
“Andre,” the high pitched tone of Sophie Anne shrieked through the hall that made me regret inviting her all over again despite the efficacy of the aforementioned child. “Let him go this instant.”
The red headed temptress was used to getting her way as she was always a big fish in a small pond but in my vast ocean her demands hardly reverberated through these impressive halls. To prove that the guards restraining the now feral vampire ignored her every huff and puff she blew their way.
“Take him to the silver cells,” I instructed with Godric’s approving nod.
“He has done nothing wrong!” Sophie Anne screamed out in protest. She was most likely speaking the truth but there was no way I would allow him to walk until I understood from Sookie exactly what had occurred. “What of the human,” she continued to hiss. “Will you imprison her without cause too?”
It was in that moment that Aelia sashayed in with a leisurely stroll and with a mere raise of her brows had Sophie Anne effectively mute. “What is your title?” she asked with a discerning eye, before Sophie Anne managed to answer Aelia’s hand was already raised silencing her again. “Unless it is Queen, you best leave the decrees to another.”
“This innocent girl hardly looks capable of harming a fly,” I said while gesturing to Staci. With my comment it surfaced again, that annoying gleeful look on Compton’s face. He was smug and content as if his plan had just come to fruition. Sophie Anne tried to contain her ire but it was poorly held, it was obvious she hardly spent her times among the Sanguine anymore. I would seriously have to reconsider her post in New Orleans in calmer times. “No harm will come to your child,” I assured at which Sophie Anne seemed to calm slightly, her fear that I would treat him the same as what I had called him in to dole out now alleviated.
“Thank you, your Majesty,” she said with ceremony before curtsying and trailing behind the snarling form of her child as he was taken away.
“What caused you to restrain him?” I asked Shahbaz when we entered the privacy of my office.
“The smell of the Sookie’s blood had him ready to attack her in an instant,” Shahbaz explained. “We were already wary of him as she seemed nervous at his sudden sighting in the hallway. His presence was accidental he seemed as surprised to see her as she. He acted like a newborn scenting his first prey.”
“Very well,” I nodded. “How was my friend harmed?”
“None of the guards witnessed it. Neither the Impurus or Compton’s human inflicted the wound,” he explained with a slight perplexity at the chain of events. “It was as if…”
“She drew the blood herself,” Aelia supplied as she disengaged her feet from the confines of her shoes. The imperial guard gave a curt nod in acknowledgement of his voiced suspicions. “Ms Stackhouse knows what she’s doing. You did well in protecting her.”
“You humble me with your compliments Empress,” Shahbaz returned with a deep bow. With it came a delighted snort from Aelia at the exaggerated rite. Before Shahbaz had come into my personal service he had been her personal bodyguard for decades and this was obviously still a remnant of their times together judging by the sly smile that emerged with the rest of his body when he stood erect again.
“I’ll see to the prisoner then,” he spoke conversationally to which Aelia merely gave an amused smile. I was about to interject as I just gave my assurance to Sophie Anne that Andre would remain unharmed would come to him.
“He’ll give him some demon laced blood,” Aelia assured me. It hardly seemed a punishment merely a revolting meal. “An old remedy to counteract the enchantment of fae blood.”
“Why do you two seem so amused by it then?” I couldn’t help but posit.
“If you think that demon blood is foul under normal circumstances than you have yet to try it after having wafted the scent of Fae in your nostrils,” she gleamed with bright eyes. “True Blood is like ambrosia in comparison. Now shall we see to your friend?”
“How do you see everything so easily Aelia?” I requested as we ascended the stairs to my private quarters. Without witnessing the aftermath of Sookie’s ‘attack’ she appeared to know exactly what had taken place where I had remained clueless after seeing it all. On top of that her little interaction with Shahbaz, whether intentionally staged or not, had revealed at least one leak in my court. Despite his young age Shahbaz knew of the fae and their scent, which meant he knew what Sookie had been all along.
“When you are as old as I there is little that has not been seen before,” she informed me with a knowing smile as her pumps dangled daintily in her hands. It was a common sight with the most ancient of us, they tolerated footwear when necessary but as soon as appearances would allow their feet were bare and to the ground.
“Why do we even bother hiding anything from you?” I said with a roll of my eyes as I slipped into my off duty personality. It was one Aelia often brought out in me and I secretly suspected she enjoyed greatly and encouraged to surface.
“Otherwise there would be nothing left to entertain her,” Godric quipped from behind us which had the woman in question titter with delight.
“So do you already know who is behind these attacks?” I asked wondering if we were just wasting our time and resources in favour of her perceptive mind.
Another snort escaped the end of her nose before she answered, “No for the first time in centuries that is something I have yet to see.”
“So we are to assume you are already aware that Sookie has agreed to take young Eric’s blood,” Godric asked as we reached the large barrier of guards that stood in front of the doors to my private rooms. They parted instantly with our presence.
“No,” she smiled. “But thank you for confirming what I assumed would be Ms Stackhouse’s gracious acceptance of the initial offer.” At the sight of my upheld brow in question she supplied, “I would have been sorely disappointed in the young woman had she meekly agreed to bond.”
“Aelia you must learn to play nice,” Godric said with mock disdain.
“I fear I am too old for that now,” she volleyed back with a wink to my ancient uncle. “Playtime is for young ones like yourself.”
“You don’t look a day over 25,” he teased back. “And before you say it, I have seen you without your face on.”
“Touché, infant,” Aelia offered in rhetoric defeat. “Now let’s see to the patient, shall we?” she proposed before her hand unlatched the door and we put our ‘official’ faces back on.
“Please tell him I’m fine,” Sookie insisted to the intolerant doctor by her side. I had hired Dr Ludwig for her bedside manner alone. Her qualifications were impeccable of course, but her snarky and appalling demeanour was one that scared the feigning sick of my retinue back into work without question.
Her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits as she regarded my inexperienced cousin. “She’s FINE!” the hobbit of a doctor huffed out. If she wasn’t so little I would fear with the next puff she blew out Eric would be catapulted out of the building with the magnitude of it. “Next time you deem a SCRATCH a life threatening emergency you will be relegated to my black list. Sanguine or not!”
“Thank you Ludwig, we’ll keep it in mind,” Kristian said already booting her tiny body out of the doors while Sookie guiltily traced the trail of the ‘wound’ that was now covered with two ‘Hello Kitty!’ Band-Aids. I recognised them as I had picked them out myself. I am mostly into pussies after all.
“I pay her good money to be so unkind,” I offered to Eric’s slightly shaken appearance. I knew it had little to do with the doctor and more with the events that had taken place. With his close proximity, the panic that had arisen within him had travelled quite easily through the blood bonds of our distant relation. “Keeps everyone in line,” I explained with a shrug, Eric merely nodded in understanding but the fright had yet to subside fully even though I no longer felt it as strong in our shared familial blood line.
“Eric I’m fine!” Sookie said again in exasperation.
I quickly interrupted the ‘But’ that marked the beginning of his objections, “Perhaps you care to explain to him why you would intentionally release the scent of your blood in front of an unstable Impurus, missy.” My brows were held in accusation longer than any human could hope to achieve as I knew it was a fool-proof way of getting an answer from Sookie Stackhouse without further discussion. I was sure that it was only through Godric’s intervention that Eric remained so calm in awaiting her delayed response.
“I read it from Staci’s mind as soon as we sighted Andre,” Sookie explained carefully. “She was commanded to accidentally draw blood on my body so he would attack. I knew if she were to proceed the guards would arrest her instantly and we’d lose our mole. So I did the only thing I knew would stop the command from taking hold, by being one step ahead of her. Now you can all try to figure out why the Impurus wanted to take out André specifically, because I doubt he would live through the night had he latched on to one of my veins.” She held up the dangling diamond tennis bracelet of her other arm up in demonstration that housed a few drops of dried blood on the sharp corners of the metal settings in triumph.
“How do you manage to scare and impress me all at the same time,” Eric whispered into her ear as relief finely took hold of his pensive features. It was a rather accurate description of her actions but then Sookie never had reason to take others into account for most of her life.
“I try,” she replied with a small shrug.
“Don’t,” Eric pleaded as he softly kissed the shell of her ear.
“I’ll try,” Sookie returned with a poorly kept promise. She’ll try as hard as I try to fly every day. Which is nil. Proving I knew her better than herself, my eyes had already drifted to Aelia before she asked of her, “can the Fae gifts enhance the Impurus too?”
“It is rare, but not unheard of,” Aelia gave in answer as she scrutinised Sookie. It was a completely different examination to the one she had just received from Ludwig or Eric. It was a cool and calculated dissection of the being in front of her. Whatever Sookie was enquiring after consisted of information that simply wasn’t shared and if I had not observed it from Aelia’s face the securing movements of my Maker should have informed me as much.
“Nothing travels beyond these walls,” Sookie informed Kristian as she followed my observing gaze. We had the exact same security setup and while I had simply left Shahbaz to the coordination of the most strictest of security measures where she had argued the necessity and cost of every single itemised thing on the list with me. Right down to the necessity of the length of certain screws. The word ‘cheapskate’ wrapped in a poorly veiled cough may have tumbled out of my mouth once or twice during that process.
“She’s right,” I supplied since that aspect of the construction had been thoroughly tested during and after construction. Most recently after the damage inflicted by the bomb on the other wing of my palace.
“Nothing?” Aelia questioned directly to Sookie.
“Nothing,” I answered on her behalf knowing Aelia was no longer informing after the state of the art set up of my humble abode but rather asking how tight the lips of the telepath were held, and because she still acted like a human child around me most days she zipped her mouth, locked it tight with a flick of the wrist and threw away the imaginary key.
“Well if anything you’re amusing,” Aelia pondered aloud with a parental shake of her head as she settled herself by my young friend. “Tell me why do you ask Sookie?”
“When Bill escorted Staci out he was commanding her by simply whispering in her ears,” Sookie regaled. “There was no thrall, no hold in her mind. He reinforced the earlier command that pertained to André without words. I didn’t understand what it was till it was too late and her compulsion to act was stronger than any glamour I have ever encountered.”
“It may simply be through the blood,” Godric explained. “I have heard it is difficult to command directly but suggestion can be strong. Especially with one who is willingly commandeered.”
“No,” Sookie said shaking her head. “Her brain is a minefield but I can discern the different signatures. I think Bill has a heightened form of persuasive gifts.”
“Of what house does his line originate,” Kristian asked me or rather the vault of information that put dedicated annals to shame.
“His Maker was a third generation Impurus coming from the house of Audovacar,” I recalled from his file. The ancient German house had a similar stand to the Impurus as ours except they did not enforce the culling of them, they merely refused to acknowledge them as theirs.
“He does not strike me as one that could come from the vigilant and wealthy,” my Maker discerned. The Audovacars were known for their impressive amount of coin and careful maintenance of it. They acted mostly as the supernatural world’s gold reserve and bankers until the Great Reveal, though most Sanguine houses had remained loyal to their original creditors. The Audovacars held no records of their so called ‘bastards’ so it was easy enough for any Impurus to claim their origin to be of their line. With a simple petition for residency such records would and could not be checked as attentively as the Audovacars guarded their wealth.
“I can demand a blood draw for his new position. He can’t draw suspicion to himself by refusing,” I offered. Modern science didn’t elude our own progress through time. Our DNA was different to that of our original human form but familiarity in the blood could be detected. It lacked the accuracy of a human paternity test but it would point us in the right direction. When there were no objections I practiced the shrug and sentence I would use when instructing Compton himself, “New security demands ever since the attacks.”
“And when it comes to light Compton is not of the line he claims…” my uncle spoke with a rhetoric that reminded me of the lessons he coaxed me through when I was first learning the manipulations of political craft.
“Then he and I will have a nice heart to heart, where I reveal to the poor sod that his Maker has been deceiving him of his true lineage all this time and what a giant bitch she must have been,” I finished like the star pupil I was back then. Godric gave me an encouraging smile and thankfully refrained from the loving pat on my head that always had come along with it. Aside from that little had changed between then and now as I couldn’t help but throw in a sentence of insubordination to diminish the flawless delivery of the previous one. “And maybe after we can like, totally, braid each other’s hair and talk about boys.”
A/N: I’ll admit I enjoy being in Pam’s head a little too much now and then but she makes for a kick ass Queen right? Some of you discredited Bill as he seemed too far away from the scene of the crime but I guess never trust a Bill when he’s in the tri-state area…