“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.
Being an asset to the government had accrued me some favours, favours I never thought I would be calling upon, but they were what had kept us safe in the end. A year on from that fateful night where in a small moment we had decided to leave everything behind, we were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Catharina Elisabet, or Lisbet, who only seemed to have eyes for her father, loving to lie upon his tepid unmoving body soundly asleep, only seeking me out in a moment of hunger or with the burden of a soiled diaper. There was no disputing to where her loyalties lay, just like her mother.
Our surroundings were boring but peaceful and that’s all we cared for, far away from any true civilisation. Isa and her family lived in a hamlet not too far away, arranging for our supplies as we had need for them. Jason lived on our property, but the terrain was so expansive that if it wasn’t for the meals I prepared, we’d probably barely see him as he immersed himself in hunting game, chopping wood, and fishing. Despite being so many miles away from what we once considered home, Jason found little challenge in his new surroundings.
As far as the outside world was concerned, he was the one that lived here, the eccentric and wealthy American, all by himself with the occasional female visitor. Since Jason was, well Jason. He lived in the grand house facing the road that pampered to his newly acquired tastes while we occupied the smaller hunting lodge by the lake. It suited us all fine, while I had become used to all the luxuries afforded by Eric’s money, they had always remained exactly that to me, luxuries. They paled in comparison to what he meant and what Lisbet meant to us both.
We had run as far as we could, north towards the area with the longest amount of sunshine in the summer that assured us no Impurus would ever reside there permanently, the area considered too provincial for the refined tastes of the Sanguines. Nor did Isa and her family seem out of place, adapting their Swedish with ease to Norwegian. Despite my lifelong acquaintance with a forced isolation on account of my telepathy, I envied them now and then. Despite this remoteness once being a fantasy I yearned for, they could live so freely among others while we continued to hide. We knew we’d have to start making decisions for our daughter soon now that she was here. We were unsure whether she inherited the same gift, and for all intents and purposes, she seemed achingly normal. Something we both wished for her to be, but outside of our little bubble we’d never know for sure.
My ‘maternity leave’ would be over soon, too, knowing we’d need to continue banking favours with the human agencies of intelligence that hid us to protect our little sanctuary and from the ties that once bound us by blood. It had been a risk we were willing to take. It pained Eric greatly to leave Godric behind without a trace. In the end, we settled on a letter stating that we were safe and not to come looking for us. I fear the reaction of Pam if I ever come across her again, the betrayal must have been deep to her. Despite her natural reserve, for a long time we were each other’s everything and it must have caused her great pain to be devoid of that now, never knowing my little girl that she’d doted on obsessively long on before she was born. Eric later shared with me how much Pam had given up when I was in that magically-induced coma, skirting her duties to care for me, but mostly Eric.
We’d guessed that the ties to our Fae line had been severed just like Eric and Pam had been disconnected from their familial line. Jason and I didn’t know how we knew that, but we held that conviction with confidence, even between us something appeared to be missing. Eric didn’t share our confidence as easily, and he only dared release his long held breath after the first month we ran away and not a ‘pop’ was heard. I was probably wearing the same satisfied smile as I did now when Eric finally conceded we were safe.
My satisfaction now, however, was linked to a far smaller feat; the small vegetable patch stood ready for winter and I couldn’t wait to see what would grow from the ground there come spring. Lisbet babbled contentedly in the last rays of the sun from her perched seat, her face growing into a wide smile with Eric’s sudden appearance. He happily ignored me for his daughter, eliciting the giggles she failed to produce with me before I noticed him stiffen with the sudden presence in the bushes.
“Relax,” I informed, sensing the animal at quite a distance from us while continuing to clear away the gardening supplies. “Local wildlife, it’s about time we get inside anyhow.”
He nodded, but remained wary, as I pulled Lisbet from him, knowing it was time for her to be fed no matter how fussy she was being about leaving her father’s arms. That’s when I cursed myself for my afforded comfort and disarmed stance as we were greeted with profanities expelled in rapid French. Without thought I started to run towards the safety of the house, pulling Eric along when all he could do was exhibit a mortified stare in the other direction. The fear fell away from me with sudden recognition, and I didn’t hesitate to cover the naked pubescent girl with the blanket I had used to rest my knees on while gardening while she continued to scream and shout indignantly at him, the foreign terms vaguely familiar to me, arms flailing wildly as she went.
“Hush now,” I urged, sensing Lisbet was becoming more and more upset with the unfamiliar newcomer who stood in complete contrast to all the peace and quiet in which we existed. “You’re frightening my daughter.”
“It is a girl?” she suddenly squealed with that characteristic French lisp to her English.
“Louvelle, meet Lisbet,” Eric spoke softly while lowering our daughter to the teenager’s appreciation whose anger seemed to melt away with the sight.
“She is so tiny, and her smell it is so strong of both of you,” Louvelle gushed while gently caressing her fat red cheeks with the back of her finger. With a truly wolfish grin she declared, “A real Northman.”
“Larsson now,” Eric noted proudly, despite hating the name that was assigned to us, something about never meeting a Larsson he liked. We even had to forego naming our daughter after any recognisable name that could trace her back to us. It had taken some adjusting to the fact that nowhere in her name would we be able to recognise her as Adele’s great-granddaughter or any of Eric’s relatives. He had come up with Catharina in an acknowledgement of his Sanguine state as it was derived from the Greek word for ‘pure’ and Elisabet spelled as the locals of our new home would after the ship that had carried us across the ocean, a mode of transport Isa had insisted upon, considering the troubles I had already experienced with my health. The leisurely travel had done us well despite my discomfort of being on such a large body of water for so long, every nautical mile that passed allowed us to relax more and more and my pregnancy had continued without a single complication.
“Let’s go inside,” I urged, sensing the cold would soon set in with the disappearance of the sun to warm the land. I had long since checked her thoughts to know she was harmless. Like most Weres, she projected hers visually with a whirl of emotions, and from them, despite the language barrier, I knew that she had come here on her own; having told her father she was on a school trip while a friend of hers had covered for her assuming a boy was involved. However, I wasn’t able to ascertain how she, with the scarcest resources in the world, had been the one to find us.
After feeding the baby and putting her down in her crib, I found them in hushed tones discussing things while pouring over the many images Eric had captured of Lisbet and I with his pencil, while Louvelle eyed them critically, telling him how to improve, and correcting his hold on the instrument with an annoyed huff that told me this wasn’t the first time she had given this particular piece of advice.
“Perhaps you should recover Louvelle’s clothes from wherever she left them,” I pointed out while serving out the autumn stew that had been simmering in the warm oven all day while the girl shifted nervously in my oversized clothes. With a nod and an approximate location Eric disappeared into the night. I had dreaded the onset of darkness for a while now, it meant more time spent indoors as I had promised not to leave the house with Lisbet during those hours with the possibility of a lost Impurus that had occasionally wandered into the area in the past. It was overkill, we both knew it, but Lisbet had forced us to a caution we were unaware we possessed; love had become redefined with a child in our lives. We thought we knew fear before but when it came to our daughter, we finally understood the gravity and responsibility of guarding her against the world. Ultimately, it had forced us to live in the obscure, a place of strange comfort and unease.
Louvelle didn’t let her poor grasp of English deter her from questioning me in Eric’s absence about all manner of things, some of which I answered, others I refused, but for the most part, I couldn’t. She huffed and puffed about it now and then, but quickly changed tack as she voraciously asked more questions while downing the stew with gusto while I wondered what was taking Eric so long, not one to take his time when it was this time of night.
We were interrupted by the cries of Lisbet and curiously Louvelle followed me to the nursery upstairs that was next to our small bedroom. In comparison to where Jason resided, the house was modest and could use some work, but it had us perfectly content despite the fact we were running out of places to put things for Lisbet.
“How did you find us, Louvelle?” I asked when she was deemed sufficiently pliant by Lisbet’s gurgles while she carefully held her and cooed.
“It wasn’t very hard,” she shrugged. “I know his scent, like my own family. I could always scent it in the wind the moment you stepped on European shores. All I had to do was find the opportunity and follow my nose.”
“As a wolf?”
“Of course,” she shrugged while rocking the baby in her arms with gentle ease.
“Can others?” I asked with a sudden panic. Alcide had, in my employ, revealed much about the Were community, but I had never heard of their skills being this highly evolved.
“Of course not,” Louvelle scoffed. “My mother was the last of an ancient line of thoroughbreds, tied to the Aurelies by blood. He may be disconnected to them by bond, but it will always be their blood that courses through his veins and yours,” she nodded at Lisbet with reverence, “and hers.”
My heart fell in my stomach with this information, wondering how quickly we’d have to leave this time, to an even more remote place where we had no chance of even comprehending the language. Surely this time we’d have to leave on our own, Isa and her family no longer necessary to see a risky pregnancy through. Perhaps Jason would come along, but it would probably be safer if he didn’t.
“Don’t worry,” she quipped before gently placing a lulled Lisbet into her crib. “I am the only one that can track you and no one knows I can. My father suspects, of course, for my mother was the last one that could, but I kept still.”
“Quiet,” I whispered in correction while I guided her out of the bedroom, leaving our daughter with a night light for company.
“Yes, Lisbet is very quiet.”
“No-” I attempted to explain the difference between still and quiet, but a knock on the door with the sense of a familiar void interrupted us. It wouldn’t be the first time he forgot his keys in haste. Despite the remote area and it being one of the safest in the world, we had been diligent from day one, locking every window and door carefully. Without caution, however, I flung open the door, letting the cool air come in along with the cold-blooded creature I hadn’t been expecting to see push against the barrier of my threshold uninvited.
That familiar Southern drawl expelled with ease, as did the malicious grin tipped with pearly white fangs, greeting me as if we were long lost neighbours, “Evenin’, Ms. Stackhouse. Why don’t you invite me in?”
A/N: So ehm… yeah… remember who was dead and isn’t dead… I’ll be hiding in msbuffy’s basement but maybe your lovely thoughts will bring me out… just maybe. Look a baby! A wolf! Wait that doesn’t sound very safe…
Many thanks to msbuffy and her editing work on this. She’s a real lifesaver 😀