I gave her an indulgent smile, in better circumstances her astute mind would have already reached the conclusions that resided in my mind, but she had a fair point. There was much weighing on her mind and resting on her shoulders, it was no longer time for lessons. “Whatever conclusions Compton brings to you, we all know it will include a demand for more self-governance on their part.”
“You wish to grant them this?” Aelia interrupted with disdain. I had become more sympathetic with recent knowledge to her position on our ‘inferior’ counterparts, but I still could not condone her abject discrimination and I knew Pamela was not as staunch in her view.
“We merely give them the tools and integrate them into the existing system. Once in power, it is too addictive to let go,” Pamela answered for me as her mind finally had caught up with mine. “I offer them an education, like the one you gave me.”
“Indeed,” I beamed proudly at my former charge.
“You must change your disposition, not your sky,” Aelia said in slight defeat of a well-formed strategy reciting the Latin motto of our family crest.
However, before any of us could contemplate any furthermore, our blood was rushed with an unknown sensation. It had happened in milliseconds and I knew it ran rampant in me, despite the fact that I had subdued the bond with Eric to a bare minimum to leave them to their relative privacy. Even with the security present on Sookie’s lands I had wanted to keep an eye on them from afar. I looked towards Aelia for guidance, the only one of us present in the room that could understand the feeling that was overtaking us all, but she looked to me with equal confusion. It was foreign even to her. That was the moment worry made room for anguish.
When fear and helplessness started surging through the bond with my precious Childe I took no precautions, flying out through the French windows, shattering the glass without a care of the damage I would sustain or cause. I was quickly followed by Aelia and Kristian who held Pam and Jason securely to his broad chest, taking no chances. Something had gone awry and though I still had no bow and arrow to convince me of my status as Sookie and Eric’s personal Cupid, I would use every weapon at my disposal to protect what I considered mine. There would be no mercy to those that attempted to wipe away at the faces of contentment that I had left behind.
I had been nervous all day, it wasn’t anxiety, merely a flutter that did back flips in the pit of my stomach that had nowhere to go but torture the lining of my midriff. It had melted away instantly when strong arms had surrounded me; I could recognise his void now with ease while the sun waved us goodbye for another day. Just like Godric, he sported a slight pink hue from the exposure of the UV rays on his skin.
It was happening. The flurries only sought to intensify with that knowledge, but somehow his encompassing hold on me settled it into anticipation.
“Missed you,” was whispered for the both of us and I couldn’t help but agree. I had enjoyed the independence without him in Godric’s company, but he was the man my thoughts had occupied all day. It was a long way to travel my mouth upwards, but we managed to meet in the middle, lips brushing against lips messily as neither one of us could contain the smiles in between. Godric and Jason’s not so subtle coughs finally released us of our hold when the sun had long set.
I had only noticed the package on the porch when Eric followed me back to the small house after we had seen an argumentative Jason and an agreeable Godric off. Eric had gotten to it before I managed to bend my knees to pick up the mysterious box living on my porch which had me crossing my fingers that he wasn’t like Pam and her presents of abundance. I was sceptic, however, as the package looked decidedly large.
“This is from Pam,” he said handing me a neatly gift-wrapped box from the top of the pile inside. Obligingly, I opened it first, revealing the signature velvet box that hinted at her expensive tastes. Instead it contained the cheapest plastic tiara one could buy at a toy store. The accompanying card had probably cost more, her neat script had my snort melt into a touched smile.
Welcome to the club, Princess. You were always royalty in my book.
-H.R.H. Pamela Swynford de Beaufort
Another neatly wrapped velvet box revealed an antique cameo broche and though the intricate ivory carving depicting lilies of the valley were unfamiliar, the craft of it was somehow reminiscent. “Something wrong?” Eric asked me as he was nervously holding onto a crumpled package that looked heavy in his hands.
“No,” I replied with a small smile fondling the carving in my hand. “It just reminds me of something but I can’t think of what.”
“Aelia said it was something that has been in the family for long,” he shrugged at me. “Maybe it was on display somewhere. Here, this is from me.”
“What’s with all the gifts, Eric?” I asked while accepting the awkwardly wrapped and bulky package from his hands. Godric had stood waiting for me with a bouquet of fresh lilies of the valleys that morning which had me joking if we were going to attend a wedding, but he failed to grasp the joke as I displayed the traditional bouquet in front of me. On the way to Bon Temps, he had explained to me how the flower had come to symbolise their House and how he now saw Eric and I as the symbol of the flower and the nightingale in that story, a story that had always filled him with distaste as it was often offered up in an excuse to cull the Impurus from their line. My hand had reached out to his comfort and I had proudly produced another smile on his face. I had thanked him then for keeping Eric around, to me Godric had become the Cupid that kept an ‘us’ alive and with rosy as his cheeks were from the exposure of the sun, the resemblance to renaissance depictions of the god of love, desire, and affection was not a difficult comparison to make in my eyes.
“Aelia asked me to give this to you, and then Pam couldn’t be left behind. But she knows your stance on opulent gifts,” he answered, pointing at the chintzy tiara with a smirk.
“And you?” I asked fondling the heavy package in my lap.
“Open it and see,” Eric smiled warmly. As soon as I ripped at the crumbled wrapping paper, the heavy hammer inside slid off my lap and onto the couch pillow beside me. I gave him an enquiring look, but he remained silent so I continued to further unwrap the package that held a box of nails. “Did I exaggerate the state of disrepair on this house?” I asked in confusion with the tools in my hands; it wasn’t immaculately finished like his former home but that was the charm that I enjoyed about it.
“No,” he said triumphantly before pulling out the largest package from the box. It was tall and square and, in contrast to the hammer and nails, seemed professionally wrapped with precision. “They go with these.”
“I hate you,” I cried out with tears streaming down my face at what was revealed to my eyes one by one. Frame by frame, the sketches of my Gran’s house had been delicately inked in over a layer of subtle watercolours picking up the nuances of my childhood. Mounted and covered by flawless glass with simple white frames, they were more beautiful and lifelike than the rough sketches he had left behind quietly on the pillow beside me. Yet they had retained the same spirit that defined the comfort that my former home once brought me. “They’re beautiful, thank you.”
“You like?” he asked with a self-content smugness that under normal circumstances I would slap from his face. Instead I shook my head fervently from side to side before answering, “Not like. Love, Eric.”
I nudged him towards me locking my lips to his, the most effective way I had found so far to wipe any smugness and arrogance off his face. “Love. This.” I intoned between breath taking kisses. “Love. You.” This time when I moved in for the next kiss, my cheeks were halted in their movement with his encircling hands as his eyes wondered over every expanse of bare skin on my face. His scrutiny did not spare any movement or fine line till he locked his eyes firmly on mine gaging the truth of my words.
“You love me?” he whispered almost in fear of my retraction of carelessly uttered words.
“Yeah.” The admission was timid but heartfelt. “Maybe it’s too soon or maybe it’s ten years too late. I don’t know, but you make sense to me, in whatever shape or form. You’re the first man I ever wanted to be an ‘us’ with.”
“I’ll have to make sure to be the last too, then,” Eric answered cockily, his usual confidence returning to the forefront of his charming personality. The kiss I then received was more impressive than all the gifts that surrounded me with their discarded wrappings. It was soul destroying as the slight roughness of his lips brushed against me, teasingly till his tongue precisely traced the rims until it broadly sought urgent entrance into my mouth exploring it like an undiscovered cavern. My tongue found his with ease dancing together in a ritual from time immemorial.
“I love you, too,” he whispered thankfully into my ear as I gasped for air from both depravation and sensation. His splayed-out hand cradled the base of my skull while his other hand ran down the back of my spine, sensitising, pulling me in closer. “Remember what you feel for me, remember it all,” Eric continued to declare softly while I threatened to drown in the feel of him. “You are going to feel my love for you, remember what is yours so you will know what is mine.”
“Ok,” I returned, although I barely had the cognizance to realise what I was answering to. I vaguely heard a crunching noise not unlike an animal ripping into flesh before my lips were strained crimson and I was coaxed to swallow. Our gazes refused to part from each other only to be intermittently disturbed by an involuntary blink. Instinct took over as I swallowed down every drop that was offered to me. I recognised the love he felt for me instantly, like an old friend settling in a familiar place. A decade had passed since I first sensed it inside his mind, it was familiar but it had grown to new proportions, shaved of the superficiality. It was overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time to feel his lifeblood coursing through me, jolting me to unexpected highs.
When there was no more to give I crashed onto the soft reclusion of the sofa while the world surrounding me dimmed to minute proportions. I vaguely heard Eric call out for me, but the feel of his love for me was overshadowing every other sensation as my heartbeat rumbled with thunder. I recoiled in pain when I felt his fingers tentatively touch me as the air rushing down my lungs almost felt like a toxin to my innards. It was the best and worst feeling all at the same time. Life and death encompassed as one.
“Stop,” I pleaded as I felt his fingers try to reach out for me again. The pain in his face was the last I saw as images started overtaking the reality of what I saw. Light and darkness clashing and fighting each other continually till everything ripped together in two.
The light was blinding as I managed to open my eyes. They quickly closed themselves on instinct with the harsh exposure, and when I dared tentatively pry them open again, the first thing I took in was Eric caging my body, careful not to touch a single inch of me as he growled menacingly at the dark shadows that surrounded us.
“No,” I whispered to Eric, my throat hoarse with the sound. “They’ve come to stand witness. They mean us no harm.” I didn’t know where the knowledge came from, but it was simply there. Eric finally calmed as my hands reached for his and our fingers interlaced, completing the seeking connection between us.
As I took in my surroundings again, I understood why Eric had been on such high alert, it was only through the instinct in my gut that I recognised them as my kin. They were a menacing sight in their elaborate black armour covering every part of their impressive physiques. Their faces were covered with a half mask just below the eyes while a hood covered their hair. Little glimpses past the black revealed it was the exact same shade of blonde that Jason and I had carried from birth. An identical emblem sat amidst all their chests of a dark nightingale. I recognised it instantly and it awakened my earlier thought from where I recognised the intricate carving of the cameo broche.
The jewellery box that once belonged to my grandmother that now sat idly upstairs housed a pendant of the same make, but instead of the lily of the valley, it featured the same nightingale that sat on the chests of these darkly-clad Fae.
The leader of the group, who I only recognised as such because his nightingale was embellished with golden wings, kneeled before us in a deep bow. Scared he was moving so low to kiss my feet, I gently pulled them behind and out of his reach as Eric tensely held onto me by the waist, seating me firmly in his lap.
“Princess,” the Fae spoke reverently with an accent I had yet to hear before.
When he didn’t move back onto his feet on his own, I decided to simply imitate Pam as I had briefly seen her do at court. “Please rise,” my somewhat shaky voice came out. It would clearly take me some practice to command a room quite like the Queen I emulated.
The mask had slipped down to his chest revealing the face of what could easily be a human’s, albeit an extremely beautiful one. He allowed the encompassing hood to drop to his shoulders showing off the golden head of hair that annoyingly shone brighter than my own.
“How did you come in without an invitation?” I questioned wondering if the wards that had been placed on the property were faulty.
“We are kin, Princess,” he replied as he stood wide-legged with his hands pulling at the opposite forearm. “We can go wherever the blood allows.”
Before I could contemplate that any further Eric suddenly started writhing in pain beside me. “Do not harm him!” I screamed at the sight.
“It is not us,” the unidentified Fae shrugged.
“Godric,” Eric whispered to me in agony directing his gaze outwards, and through the bay window I saw an infuriated Godric held back by a physical barrier that was invisible to the eye.
“Let them through,” I demanded, and thankfully the barrier instantly lifted to the entire Aurelie delegation and my brother as they filled the few empty spaces of the small living room with haste. Jason seemed to be caught in the same daze as I was, but the high speeds at which he had been transported at probably did little to improve his usual state of blissful ignorance.
“Oren,” Aelia greeted excitedly to the only unmasked Fae. His careful pose dishevelled promptly with her sighting before he took her in his arms and spun her round in the limited space of the room as if they were children playing in a field.
“You have not changed a thing, fair Aelia,” Oren spoke enthusiastically.
“Well, it would not bode well for me if that was the case,” she returned teasingly. “You have grown to be quite the man.”
“We are not all blessed with eternal youth,” he grinned.
“Commander of the troops, I see,” Aelia noted as her fingers trailed over the emblem on his chest. “I’m impressed.”
“Didn’t I always tell you that when I grew up I’d become a mighty and powerful man…”
“And I would marry you,” Aelia finished up with a cackle. “Underneath a waterfall with pixies for company. I remember, you could barely walk.”
“I did not need to walk to recognise beauty and my future wife,” he grinned back with bravado that I gathered few would dare display in Aelia’s presence.
“Still a child I see,” she returned back with amusement while rubbing his cheek affectionately. “I figured you for one of many to be vying for a future crown.”
“Not of royal stock like you, sweet Aelia,” he continued their leisurely conversation with the same disregard for the questioning looks that travelled across the room.
“You could have married one,” Aelia noted thoughtfully. “I do hope you haven’t been waiting millennia on dear old me.”
“There are hardly any left to marry,” Oren answered with a small sigh. “You have shown great restraint by not bonding with one of the last of our lines. We can now safely take her and the brother to our realm. My grandfather thanks you kindly for alerting us to their presence.”
Eric’s arms tightened around me instantly and before he could even growl out the ‘mine’ that I was sure was accompanying the angry fangs that flicked out, I bit into Eric’s arm steadying it with one, while my other hand plunged his fangs painfully into the crook of my neck. A mere glance at Pam and she knew exactly what to do. It hurt like a mother but I didn’t care, it would harm me far more to be ruthlessly taken away from my surroundings and the first man I ever dared to love. By the way Jason was squirming in Pam’s grasp; I knew he was feeling a similar pain with the sudden assault while being forced to down her blood.
“We’re not going anywhere,” I said defiantly as the blood dripped from my lips onto the worst chosen outfit known to man for a blood bonding ceremony. It was so offensive to Pam’s eyes to see the red drippings splatter among the eyelets of the white cotton dress, as if it were a study for a Pollock, that her eyes widened and she forgot to swallow the blood spewing from my brother’s neck, and, in the process staining them both.
“If your granddaddy wants to see me, he better get his ass down here because I sure as hell am not going to go see him!” Eric contentedly growled behind me to reassert my threat as I grabbed the cheapest tiara ever sold and placed it firmly atop my head, my own rage at that prospect being further fuelled by his. “I’m the Queen of the FUCKING bayou! He better come down and pay his respects before he decides to kidnap me away from the people I love!”
The sudden brashness had even startled me in the moment, however, it had taken me less than a second to decide my course of actions, if even that, when I captured the fleeting thoughts in Oren’s mind. He had pitied me; I would be nothing more than a carrier of future heirs not allowed to settle on a mate till a pregnancy was fully carried through.
“Princess, what have you done?” Oren said, aghast at the sight before him as I personified his derailed mission with spilt blood. “You are the last female of your line; we cannot afford to lose you.”
“You never had me,” I returned with annoyance that I hope spoke of warning. “So you never lost me.”
“We will return,” Oren replied stoically with a bow before the group of shadows seemed to dissolve into thin air.
“Pamela,” Kristian admonished as the mutual exchange between her and Jason seemed to last longer than necessary, and pain seemed to be transforming into a form of unadulterated pleasure. A moan was emitted before she caught on to her Maker’s disapproval, and she quickly released him and set to healing the roughly struck wound.
“Jesus, Pam,” my brother sighed out with a hint of annoyance as he desperately tried to hide the wet stain that had erupted in his pants. Having to live with him in close quarters through his over-productive teenage years thankfully left me unfazed at the sight of it. “At least wine and dine a man before you decide to fuck him from behind with your fangs.”
A/N: See it wasn’t all bad and Sookie acted quickly as did Pam but there might be some consequences... we’ll get to those next time, the alliance between the Houses of Sanguine and the Houses of the Fae as perhaps you could already tell in the interaction between Aelia and Oren are rather unique 🙂 I’ve been a bit busy behind the scenes with the new SVM/TB Directory venture so I’m a little behind on the character banners so here’s Oren for now without pretty colours around him…
MsBuffy, editor extraordinaire, was responsible for clearing this of blemishes again, much thanks again!
So thoughts? Was I really unnecessarily cruel?