“What’s been happening while I was gone?”
“You were never gone,” he answered sternly before setting me down on the lid of the toilet while he set the temperature on the shower. It was strange seeing all his things in what I had considered my bathroom for so long, he had moved in with a clear intent to stay, and I had yet to decide how I felt about that. Everything was all still so new between us, and then there was a baby I had planned without him and I had never found the courage to tell him about.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before,” I whispered while picking at the looms on the plush towel he had placed in my lap. “I wanted to, it just never felt right. I lost one before; I didn’t want to say anything till I knew…”
Eric’s hand came to rest against my stomach, nursing the life inside with more comfort than I ever could.
“You had to be certain,” he acknowledged. “It’s not what made me mad, Sookie, you had your reasons. I don’t like it, but I accept it, but knowing how precarious that life inside you is…” He crouched before me, eyes level, that intense anger coming to the forefront, the one that had connected us and with sheer intensity brought me back. Where from I still wasn’t sure. “Don’t ever do that again,” he seethed. I should have flinched with the intensity at which he spoke, but all I could see was the anguish that motivated it.
“You say you love me, and if you do, know you have to care for yourself first, Sookie, then for our child. I can’t go through that again, I can’t lose you.”
Tears welled, but it didn’t matter, hidden as they were with the damp fog of the hot shower that had started to surround us. His lips brushed against mine carefully, with far too much restraint, the tensile strength of what I had come to understand were weeks of pain that had separated us, pushing that otherwise soft mouth in a hard line.
“I have to tell you something,” I whispered, dreading having to tell him more, however, knowing it would be wrong to withhold this from him. “Someone else knows I’m carrying your child.”
“Yes, Pam told me,” he answered between soft kisses to my neck while hands caressed from top to bottom.
“No, not Pam,” I corrected with a far too violent shake of my head, dizziness setting in momentarily. “It’s Bill, he knows, and he’s alive.”
The ‘inoffensive’ asshole. How the FUCK did he continue to keep rearing his ugly head?
“It’s why I kept digging into Staci’s mind,” she explained with a wary look in her eyes. “No one knew this time, Eric. I only suspected, hoped, and dreaded at the same time.”
“You went to a clinic, the doctor, the staff it must be one of them.”
“You think I’m that careless?” she countered with a tap to her head. “I’d know if anyone was intent on trading that kind of information on me and Pam had the entire staff glamoured there the first time I went, down to the night janitor.”
“There’s other ways to retrieve information, you’re not the only one who can pull something from someone’s mind.”
She sighed, “I thought becoming a mother would mean things settling down.”
I held her carefully; still aware of how fragile she was despite the sudden, speedy recovery courtesy of my blood. “I know,” I whispered in her ear, wishing nothing more than that for her even if it meant I no longer had a place in that idyllic picture, but I knew better. Aelia and Niall were far too excited at the prospect of our child. An otherwise heavily negotiated alliance that had been abandoned for a millennia was rekindled with just the prospect of what grew from the two of us.
A high pitched voice interrupted us demanding, “Where is she?”
“I’m in here, Pam,” Sookie called out moments before she sped in before us, shoving me out of the way with little ceremony.
She was a beautiful sight, despite the eyes full of tears as she was engulfed by an otherwise unaffected Pam blinking away a few red dots herself and her brother. I worried for her precarious state and unconsciously emitted a soft growl.
“Can it, Northman! Let me have this!” Pam growled in return with equal vigour.
“You okay, sis?” Jason probed at which she could only nod with tiny sobs.
“Getting there,” she finally answered with a wet smile. “Where were you?”
A guilty and rather audible gulp travelled down his Adam’s apple before he sheepishly murmured a nonsensical excuse that Sookie immediately accepted. “Couldn’t stand seeing you like that,” he finally admitted before she hugged him tightly in understanding.
“Step aside!” the tiny doctor huffed, repeating it once more with added volume to the assembled bunch that paid her no attention. The healer from Faerum, Ysolt, who never spoke much, but somehow held the most authority of all of them, sidled in behind her. I joined my sister who stood by the doorway with an amused look, shaking her head all-knowingly.
“She’s fine,” Isa assured me.
“But you are not,” my Maker suddenly chimed in from behind us, only making me aware of his presence then. I looked at him curiously taking in the severe look of anguish on his face, but only there, and then I suddenly understood; I was on my own. In a panic, I probed the ties that defined me; to my Maker, to my Sanguine bloodline, to Sookie. All were gone.
“What happened?” Godric asked, switching to my native Swedish while he pulled me aside for privacy. Without thought Isa had followed, checking me over herself for anything physical that might be wrong with me.
I explained the events as they had occurred while we simultaneously sought out the missing bond between us. “Sookie?” Aelia questioned while beckoning Dr. Ludwig to our small congregation. I reluctantly shook my head.
“Powerful magic,” the doctor finally announced after examining me thoroughly. Silently Ysolt agreed with her assessment with a barely discernible nod.
“Eric, what’s wrong?” Sookie questioned standing feebly by the door, her fingers digging into the wood of the doorpost out of necessity to hold her upright. Without thought I guided her back to the newly-made bed assuring her nothing was wrong, but she took little truth from it, the absent bond being as unnoticeable to her as it had been to me. “Just tell me,” she whispered with a plea I couldn’t ignore.
“It appears your return had a cost,” I explained while seeking to hold her hands in my own. “The bonds that tied me to you, to my family, to Godric, they’re gone.”
“Because of me,” she added with a tremble to her lips. I assured it wasn’t her fault, but no bond was necessary for me to take in the self-inflicted guilt she carried over it.
“No,” I assured with a borrowed certainty. “Because of us.”
Her wet eyes met mine and I knew our thoughts were the same. Protectively her hands fell to her stomach and mine covered hers with the same fear. It wasn’t necessarily about us, rather what came from us. Silently an understanding was reached between us, whatever it would take this was our priority and our priority to keep safe.
In a sudden fit of rage, Jason demanded, “Why the FUCK did no one tell me she was pregnant!” His face was a suitable shade of red, but instead of acknowledging his temper, eyes flitted over to Pam who continued her mindless preoccupation of arranging an assortment of cosmetics just so, and only with the boring of our eyes upon her did she suddenly register the observation of her person.
“What?” she asked though the high arch in her eyebrow spoke more than the word she uttered annoyed.
“Jason?” Aelia demanded with urgency while pointing at the adult throwing a full-out temper tantrum that everyone but Sookie continued to ignore. “The bond, is it intact?”
Nervously she shook her head.
I didn’t fail to hear the tiny sobs coming from her bedroom, and my inadequacy to deal with them had put us in this precarious situation. I had simply assumed she was still mad at me, in truth, I was mad at me too. However, these were the decisions a Maker made for his Childe, and despite my deep affection for her beyond that of a Maker to his progeny that would always be the essential bond to dictate my actions towards Pam, even if it came at a cost. The hierarchy of things was everything to us Sanguines. As long as that cost was me, not her, I could ‘live’ with that. I would rather be hated by my Childe and see her succeed than anything else. Legacy and her survival trumped all my personal wants, a century on this still seemed impossible for her to grasp, and I had hoped against all hopes that age would bring wisdom to her on this tedious pendulum between us, but in this, unlike in any other field, she seemed unwilling to comprehend.
So used to blocking her, unlike Godric, the separation to my Childe went unnoticed by me. A shame that will carry with me forever; now had me seriously questioning my actions finding little answers in the amber liquid that sat in the heavy tumbler staring back at me. Even that spoke of us, her pleas to visit Paris while newly turned were ignored by me then at a time when I had far more command of her, and instead we visited the idyll of Ireland much to her irritation. That was until her beady eyes were taken with the exquisite crystal from the town of Waterford. I could still remember the excitement that surged through us both when she found these tumblers, her newfound strength shattering the first she held with embarrassment but a full set was eventually found to her utter delight. I had to admit I missed that Pam sometimes, the one who was yet to be worn down by her potential and duty.
“She’ll forgive you,” Tulla spoke kindly.
I agreed with a minute nod, adding, “Eventually.”
It was the time in between that would be testing me. We were in unchartered territory, and I wondered if she felt as lost as me. “You and Godric?”
“Still attached,” she offered apologetically. “This never happened before?”
My head shook in the negative; I would know if it had. I studied the subject for centuries, our connection to each other defined our strength with its origins to the forging magic of the Fae, and this was the first instance I knew of that something external had disrupted it, orphaning Pam and Eric from our lines as if they were as easily released as an Impurus.
A knock on the door interrupted my quiet contemplation, “Staci has been confined, and we are searching for any trace of Compton. My Commander will arrive in the morning,” Shahbaz informed before taking dismissal with my nod. I sighed unnecessarily against the palm of my hand, hoping the unique rituals that bound the Guard of Anûšiya would help us repair ours. It was a possibility; however, they took centuries, and I doubted we had the abundance of time on our side with the resurgence of a fallen enemy in our midst. Beyond that, the capture of Compton would at least give us a direction to look towards.
“Perhaps the bonds are not gone, simply subdued,” Tulla offered with commiseration.
“Perhaps,” I agreed, but inside I knew better. It was as if my Humlebi was lost to this earth, and what pained me more than that thought was the realisation that the event went unnoticed by me till she stood in front of me with guilty nerves which lasted milliseconds. Anger erupted soon after with my incomprehension followed by her subsequent retreat, leaving me in confusion before the others had come to explain the events as they had occurred.
“See this as a chance,” Tulla suddenly spoke with an authority I was unaware she possessed. “You can be with her without the complications that have plagued you both for so long. You can simply be together without complications, without knowledge of the other,” she smirked mischievously for a rare moment. “You can be young again.”
For the first time that night a smile crept up my jaw line and a chuckle escaped with it. I couldn’t help but see her point, with Pam I never had the luxury of the unknown always in possession of superior knowledge with my blood inside her even before she was turned, and tried as I might to erase those advantages that permanent presence between us always spoke more of us than either one would utter in a single word. With a greeting, I left Tulla, and with haste made my way to her bedroom happy to find the door still open to me, stripped while she continued to glower at me in the brief moments she didn’t pretend to ignore my presence altogether and slipped in beside her. She protested momentarily when I wrapped my body around hers, pulling her close before she settled in my arms, and spoke the words she never wanted to hear and always with the advantage of our bond had the opportunity to silence, as if somehow that made it impossible to be true. I knew it now to be stronger than any blood.
“I love you.”
She shifted in my embrace, cool blue eyes staring me down, hard and accusing. “Why would you say such a thing?”
The indignance radiated of her body like a blistering heat, yet all I could offer was honesty. “It’s the truth.”
Only because I allowed it did my hold on her break apart, she turned her back to me once more and to the other side of the room she spoke coolly, “You’ve ruined everything. Now there’s nothing left.”
“Shall we try again?”
He shook his head in defeat, “I don’t dare drink any more from you. You should drink from me again.”
“I’m fine,” I insisted, though in truth I was feeling rather dizzy from the repeated exchanges that failed to produce the magic it had once called upon to bind us together. “If we don’t succeed-”
“Try, try again?” he finished with an exhausted tone before falling with his entire body onto the bed and pulling me down with him.
“No, I worry-”
“Don’t,” he implored with a growl. I knew we were thinking the same thing. Eric had become more aware of Sanguine politics in my absence and it was a thought neither one of us could let go of. Bonds were essential to everything, and despite the bundle that lived inside me, we both knew better than to assume that would be enough. If we were not bound to each other by blood, we would be forced to bond to another to secure the alliance. Our perfect little romance would be a thing of the past.
“We have to consider-”
“I’m glad Isa’s here,” I whispered to his chest when I came to rest my head against it.
“Me too,” he murmured into my hair before kissing it softly. “We might need to consider relocating.”
“Where to? Pam’s?”
“No, somewhere safer, Ysolt says you need the sun. Niall is looking into it; all the Sanguine safe holds are underground.”
“Isa should bring her family over; we don’t know if they’re safe. Eric, they have to be safe!”
“I’ll take care of it,” he offered with a slightly guilty look that he hadn’t seen to it earlier. “It will be difficult. They have their own lives, her children are nearly grown.”
“This life can’t come at the cost of others,” I pleaded while bringing his hand over my stomach. It was so strange to suddenly feel a flutter there now where before it had just been the careful hope of an existence.
“I know,” he whispered while I snuggled further into his body. “We’ll do what’s necessary.”
“Tell me something exciting, something good.”
Surprisingly he had a lot to tell; Louvelle had found love with boyfriend number five, he had plans for a nursery insisting it was a boy, but had conceded to Pam’s indoctrination of pink with claims that it was distinctly the colour for boys in her time. How she managed that feat would remain a mystery to me, but I couldn’t help but cheer up a little, to find a moment of happiness in these pressing times. I’d wait a little while to crush their interior decorating schemes with the sunny, yellow paint that was already waiting in the attic along with some furniture for the baby from my old family home and a few smaller pieces Isa had sent me when I first started trying to conceive, with the assumption Eric was dead, it was her permission I had sought then.
“What are you thinking?” he asked when I failed to engage with him for an extended breath.
“Contemplating that for a while now, weren’t you?” I smiled up at him, and the sight of his grin was infectious to my own widening mouth.
“So what were you thinking?”
My fingers tangled with his, squeezing softly before answering honestly, “I think we should run away.”
He didn’t even blink or argue the thought of this selfish action that was borne for our child, “When?”
With no more words spoken we packed, alerted Isa, and nudged a sleeping Jason awake. Without detection, we left the house that somewhere along the way had become my home but never become our child’s.
-END OF PART I-
A/N: I’m well aware this chapter ends a little abruptly, I kind of liked the suddenness of it but perhaps the reasoning for the choice E/S make in abandoning this warm nest isn’t clear to some. So far this story focused heavily on the bonds that wound everyone (a little too tight together) ; Pam and her Maker’s difficult relationship, their familial line and duty to each other and other species, etc. The opportunity of suddenly being without them while intended to debilitate their bloodline by unknown enemies (and no, it wasn’t some novice witch cutting through a piece of red string, give me some credit here) for Eric and Sookie became an opportunity they couldn’t ignore. The fallout will be explored in the next part of this tale. Thoughts and conspiracy theories welcome as ever 😉