“I came as soon as I heard,” he offered with apology.
It was a sincere gratitude uttered by me when my eyes locked on his and a shot of pain travelled through me as it was the exact same sympathetic stance Sookie’s would take. I knew it was a great risk for him to travel here to our home, we were being observed despite countermeasures and his visit would undoubtedly cause something, but the order as it had always stood had already begun to fall apart.
He sat by her bed and ran his fingers through her hair and released a small sob, barely stifling the cry. His two forefingers lit up and traced her form till he paused midway. “Why did you not tell me, sweet child?” he whispered.
I regarded him in question and he appeared as perceptive as Aelia in all things unspoken. “You are aware, are you not?”
“She is carrying a light,” he smiled softly.
It gave me hope, taking the flowery words as a token of life inside her. I, however, failed to produce the twin gasps that came from Aelia and Pam.
“How?” Pam whispered. “They said it didn’t take.”
Niall scoffed while I desperately tried to catch what I seemed to be missing in translation.
“I have been looking into your advances in science since we last visited, it does not surprise me they missed it. We Fae are different, even you with all your keen senses did not observe this.”
“It’s been long now,” Pam noted, “she must have known.” She leaned in close to her head, tucking a few stray strands to the side. “Why didn’t you tell me, Sookie?”
“Tell you what?” I demanded, becoming only more aggravated with being left out of the conversation. Pam’s eyes looked up at me with guilt, for the first time displaying a sign of vulnerability there. “She’s pregnant, Eric.”
I nearly fell to the floor in pain, our interactions finally coming to make sense. Her continued hesitance to commit completely to me came to stand in a different light. She clammed up every time the subject of children was raised because she feared this pain that was encompassing me now, causing me to gasp for breaths unneeded. It felt like betrayal when it was not and it hurt far worse. There was a light inside her beyond her own. It wasn’t mine.
My eyes narrowed on the messenger, channelling my pain into rage, and thrusting the Queen up against the wall with unparalleled strength. Surely this would be my end and I would be sent to a guillotine for this final assault. I didn’t care anymore, what I had taken for life inside her was another man’s child. Not mine, I had nothing left. She was gone, I was wholly convinced of that now.
Pam seemed genuinely frightened when I pushed harshly on her throat, demanding her confession when I seethed, “Whose is it?”
I wasn’t sure if he heard me, it sounded more like a croak than anything else. My throat was sore, limbs wouldn’t move, eyes wouldn’t open, but I could sense him. His rage activated through every nerve ending of my body calling me to consciousness.
“Shh,” Niall soothed beside me, but it was only momentary as he immediately vacated his spot on the bed for Eric. I smiled at him through heavy lashes, the ache in my fatigued muscles, however, only gave me limited movement.
“Sookie?” he whispered and I could only answer with a delayed blink of my eyes.
“It’s yours,” I tried again with effort, but the words still wouldn’t come out properly.
“Don’t speak,” he encouraged, understanding the amount of strain it caused my body to keep on trying. I shook my head again, needing these words to come from me.
“She’s trying to tell you something,” Pam spoke hoarsely while rubbing at her own damaged larynx. “Go on Sookie.”
My hand felt heavy, I persevered regardless, placing it against his heart while the other found my stomach, restless eyes searched for the steady blue in his while they adjusted to the harsh light. It was an effort to enunciate, but I managed in the end, “Yours.”
He had heard me now and looked upon me stunned. Baffled at what to say, shocked by the reveal, but I needed him angry, it gave me the energy to stay awake, to be here with him. I also needed him to be angry at me for not telling him that I didn’t have the guts to tell him the moment I knew for certain. However, he wasn’t angry, instead he was happy, elated, and kissing me generously, but my consciousness was fading, blipping in and out. I picked up a few words, mine, Sookie, ours. Then it was dark again.
She was gone again, gifting me with so much only to disappear once more. The doctor was looking her over, but could offer no explanation for her sudden recovery and her equally quick revert.
“I should take her to Faerum,” Niall announced with an authority that genuinely made me believe that this would be the cure, but still I resisted.
“No,” Aelia’s voice echoed mine, hers, however, carried far more power.
“She is ours,” she clarified.
“She is Fae, the treatment she needs will be found in Faerum,” Niall protested to Aelia while I clutched Sookie to me tightly. “He can come if that’s necessary.”
“No,” Aelia repeated. “They stay.”
“Do not beat around the bush, Aelia,” he warned. “Do not leverage her for an alliance. If you wish to reinstate it, it’s done. Sealed in a womb.”
“I appreciate that,” she spoke calmly betraying the utter joy she was feeling that was travelling through our collective family blood. “Like it or not, she is from here, her family is here, and her mate is here. Do not take her from here.”
“Who are we speaking of, Aelia?” Niall spoke gently with a quirk of his brow. “I may have taken his throne, but I am not Rogan.”
“How can I be so sure of that?” she posed, staring him down. “You’ve reinstated all his policies.”
“Necessities,” he scoffed.
“Isn’t that what she is to you now?” Aelia asked pointedly, gesturing at the frail female in my arms. “Are you going to deny to me what she carries now is not a necessity to your cause?”
She had silenced him and though I lacked the knowledge of the historical facts, it was apparent to all she had struck painfully close to a truth, and it sent my overprotective instincts into overdrive.
“Sookie is MINE!” was hurled into the room with a startling loudness. I swore I sensed a tremor running through her body with the proclamation. “THE CHILD IS MINE!”
“Of course they are,” Pam assured while consolingly rubbing my back, no matter how clumsy it felt from her it had a soothing factor that calmed me, and, more impressively, made the standoff between two of the most powerful supernatural beings dissipate and take it to another room.
My scrutiny fell to Pam, I had taken Sookie’s words for truth the instant she spoke them, the child was mine, but she knew more, and I still lacked the sense to piece together how dead seed had made for a live baby.
It was enough of a cue for Pam who got up and moved to the adjoining walk-in closet full of Sookie’s things. An unimportant drawer was opened and pulled out completely before she brought it over to me. “I bought these for her a year ago,” she explained showing the contents of luxury designer baby items all a vulgar shade of pink. “When Sookie told me she wanted children but didn’t think she’d ever find someone to raise them with. She was lonely in this large home and felt it unfair not to share such riches with others. Adoption was her first choice, but your ex-bitch of a wife had given so much way for her reputation to be dredged through the mud that all the agencies rejected her.”
“You didn’t glamour them?” I asked with surprise, thinking the solution would be easy.
“You think she’d let me? She wouldn’t even throw money at the problem,” Pam snorted. “Always picks the hard road, that one. Anyhow, that bitch of an ex is the one you should be thanking for that miracle.”
I had a hard time imagining how Freyda had gotten Sookie knocked up, especially when Pam dropped the next question, “Remember Yvetta?”
A scowl covered my face, the needy Estonian dancer was quite the gold digger with a penchant for playing dress up that caused more trouble than she was worth. “Unfortunately.”
“She liked to ‘play’ nurse often, didn’t she?” A non-committal noise escaped my lips, confirming as much. “Yvetta actually was a registered nurse in her home country.” The ever-amused Queen couldn’t hold the laugh at my expense with my mortified reaction, petting me patronisingly on the head in the process.
“Freyda the Frightful hired her to take a donation,” she spoke with little effort to hide her enjoyment over that. Her hand came to fondle Sookie’s hair again, arranging it neatly around her face. “This little telepath caught the thought in her mind during their first emergency hearing. Freyda had scheduled the appointment right after to get inseminated and to demand entitlement to the entire estate with the little sprog in her belly. An injunction and some angry lawyer talk later, and Sookie here became the legal owner of several vials of your DNA.”
“Fucking Freyda,” I groaned, never being more thankful for that disaster of a scheming woman being my ex.
“Like fucking a cold fish?” Pam questioned, and I couldn’t help but smirk with the rather accurate description.
“Thank you, Pam,” I spoke sincerely, kissing the dainty fingers of her hand pulling our arms to hover protectively over our charges. “For being there for her and being here for us now.”
She smiled widely, a rare sight on her otherwise stoic face. “There aren’t many I would do that for,” she acknowledged. “Or suffer that for,” Pam motioned to the dent in the wall I had caused when shoving her into it.
“Understandable,” she shrugged, and I could tell she meant it. Sookie was as special to her as she was to me, she would gladly die a thousand deaths on her behalf. “Promise me though, Eric, whatever happens, put the child first. The first few times she tried it didn’t take, it took her a long time to have the courage to start up again with all the hormones. If you have to choose between her and the child, she’ll want you to choose the child.”
My heart ripped in two with the thought. “No,” I whispered to Sookie’s forehead. “You came back once, you’ll come back again.”
“Cousin, I’m serious.”
“So am I,” I spoke evenly. “She’s coming back and when she does, she’ll agree to name our daughter Pam.”
“Please don’t,” she groaned. “I detest the name, you imagine being stuck with it for eons.”
“We’ll consult you then,” I offered. “Is that agreeable, Your Majesty?”
“Like that was even an option,” she scoffed, and I couldn’t help but laugh with her despite the circumstances that had me downtrodden for weeks for now I was happy. Happy with the news that there was a little life in her belly and there was life to Sookie still. All I had to do was find her again and we’d be happy together. I knew it to the very depth of my soul that it was in my grasp.
“What have you been able to pull from the girl?” Niall asked after we came to a carefully constructed agreement regarding Sookie once we had both conceded this child would be more important than either of us. “Staci?”
“Her mind doesn’t remember, her body is a different thing,” I sighed, remembering the horror and panic that set into her veins while showing her a photograph of the filthy Impurus Compton. She had yet to react to another face with anything other than indifference, and her fatal attraction to Godric had disappeared the moment Sookie fell from our lives. “Shahbaz is taking her through all the photographs we have but no hits so far.”
“The ranks are still secure then,” he observed to which I nodded. I never wanted to accuse Tulla, and found it hard to do so with the gentlest soul among us, but she was careless, sympathetic to a cause without knowing it, and I feared I had missed something. It was, however, the interaction with Staci that made me aware of a gift we had never taken notice of with Tulla, one she didn’t even realise herself that she possessed. It was that same persuasive glamour that had held Staci in a permanent thrall. I had wasted little time and forced her to practice with Godric by her side perfecting it and undoing it, but we lacked Sookie’s insight into the mind to really check.
“When you send over the healer, spare me Oren,” I petitioned. “He was always good with his mind.”
“I think I should station him with you permanently,” he said with a small chuckle. “He’s more loyal to you than me.”
“Always get them when they’re young,” I winked back.
“You should come to Faerum, visit your mother,” he offered.
I heaved a sigh, stilling the yearning for my beginnings. Being homesick for Faerum never quite escaped my ancient bones. “She would no longer recognise me as I am.”
“She no longer recognises anyone,” Niall spoke with a soft squeeze to my hand. “She still speaks of her dark-haired princess though, the one made for the shadows.”
“Now is not the time to leave unattended, we are preparing for war, conflict in the least.”
“She won’t have forever,” he tried, but my sense of duty superseded my own wants.
“Perhaps I’ll see her when things settle down,” I offered though we both knew it to be a lie, she’d pass before this was settled. Oren had told me as much, time was not congruent there and hers was up soon.
Eric passed us on the way to feed and on his return he unceremoniously plonked a tray of drinks on the coffee table by where we were perched. “Help yourself,” he spoke gruffly before I stilled him on his path out.
“Sit,” I ordered, and he reluctantly adhered. “A healer from Faerum will come here, he will work in conjunction with Ludwig. We all want her back Eric, but it will be your call.”
“I want my sister,” he said instantly. “She may be just human, but a part of Sookie is too. She’s been delivering babies into this world for a long time, she’ll be the one in charge.”
I exchanged a glance with Niall and neither one dared reveal the excitement we felt at the opportunity. “A human,” the Prince of the Fae scoffed with distaste while I shot him a co-ordinated glance that had him retracting his words and acquiescing Eric’s request. With little more words from us, Eric got up and moved away again while we exchanged glances of pure glee at our good fortune.
“The sky is in our favour again,” Niall mused.
The taut smile was yet to leave my face as we regarded the blue vastness that stood without a cloud outside of us. “Indeed it is.”
Short and sweet sales pitches:
In case you haven’t seen it yet the Fangbangers Anonymous: The TB/SVM Directory is up and running and it’s been keeping me busy these past few months so check it out!
Thanks as ever to msbuffy for her continued encouragement and work on this, and that’s the only demand I’ll make of any of you for nominations. She deserves the nomination for Best Beta more than anyone else as far as I’m concerned, so be sure to do that and vote for her!
A/N: So did we like the reveal? Was it worth the pain of that awful, awful cliffie last time? And what are Aelia and Niall so happy about with the arrival of Eric’s sister…