“We’re sorry we ran-” Sookie started.
“You did well in running,” Godric interrupted. “You even did well in staying hidden.”
“Until now,” Eric finished, voicing the unspoken end of his statement. His shoulders slumped with the realisation why Godric looked on them so severely, their much fought for independence was coming to an end and it was something his Maker mourned for him, for them. His deep disapproval lay in the fact that they had given it up for a teachable moment for the young were who was being berated outside. “I’m sorry.”
“I need no apologies,” Godric noted with a clipped tone that suggested otherwise.
“We did what we thought best,” Sookie offered.
He nodded in what one could be supposed was an agreement. “I had hoped for a boy,” he said, meeting her eyes again. “For your sakes.”
Neither one was well-versed enough to understand exactly what he had meant by that. The Supernatural were typically not that obsessed with patriarchy, but neither Eric nor Sookie were well-versed enough as to why Lisbet’s sex was of such importance to Godric.
“You will want Aelia as her godmother.”
“We were thinking more along the lines of Pam and Isa-”
“Trust me,” he interjected. “You will want Aelia.”
“Very well,” Eric acquiesced, causing Sookie to gasp involuntarily, announcing a conversation would be had over this decisive pronouncement.
“You may be her grandfather, but those decisions will be down to Eric and me!” Sookie countered with indignation.
“I am merely advising,” Godric shrugged, seemingly unimpressed by her protest. “It will be of utmost importance to consider those you trust from now on.”
“I don’t trust you, Godric,” Sookie spoke evenly, seemingly finding no reaction in Godric.
Lisbet’s hand clenched into a small fist around Godric’s pinkie and he took an extended moment to observe the gesture before raising his eyes again to meet the heated gaze of her mother, “That is probably be wise.” He placed a soft peck to Lisbet’s forehead before placing her back in Sookie’s arms.
“I will return tomorrow,” he announced while moving towards the front door, his eyes finding those of his Childe. “It is unlikely that I will be alone.”
“Goodbye, Godric,” Eric spoke softly, with a sense of finality, before closing the door on him and with another sigh, rested his weary head against the wood of the door before turning his gaze on Sookie and Lisbet, “Where do go we from here?”
The contrast couldn’t be starker while they left behind their simple lodgings with bags that had always remained packed for Pam’s very pink and very luxurious jet. “We’re heading to the big leagues now,” the proud owner explained at length, noticeably the only chipper passenger aboard. “My old kingdom isn’t even considered a province, a practice ground if you will. Nothing like Rome and the old territories.”
Sookie nodded with a modicum of enthusiasm, Lisbet struggling in her arms in favour of her father. Eric tried not to look too smug when she finally relented and handed the baby over to his care.
“Rome is where it all happens,” Pam prattled on. “All the families hold their seats in the Grand Assembly. Aelia has been parading Oren around with little apology, and the other houses have not failed to notice. There is talk more are coming; the entire town seems to talk of nothing but the Fae.” Sookie smiled weakly, not that it mattered to Pam who was already mentally preparing her wardrobe for their next destination, “You’re going to love it in Rome, Sookie. The drinks, the men, the shops! Have you ever been, Eric?”
“It was part of his training, just as it was yours,” Godric answered on his behalf, quieting Pam instantly, and ending all further conversation through the warning tone in his voice. His stoic face had stood in a continued stance of disappointment from the moment he encountered the small family unit exactly where they left him. The missing bond was not necessary to communicate that he would rather have seen them flee again, that despite his best efforts they would not heed his covert advice.
Abruptly Pam stood up, wiping away imaginary crumbs from her lap before announcing, “Your hair looks awful! It’s getting cut!”
“Pam, no!” Sookie protested, a high altitude haircut delivered by someone who mostly practiced on her Barbies seeming anything but a good idea, however, Pam had already successfully dragged her from her seat and she meekly followed her into the back bedroom.
“Relax,” she grinned as soon as the door closed on them. “I wanted to get away from buzzkill. Like I’d cut your hair on a plane! I’m not a complete savage!” Sookie let out a small sigh of relief, settling herself on the pink canopy bed before being alarmed again by Pam’s next sentence, “I’ll wait until we hit the tarmac.”
Pam seated herself at the elaborate vanity, setting out her tools of ‘torture,’ and then touched up the colour of her lips that needed no colouring, the monotony of the task amusing her.
“Why does Godric insist on Aelia being Lisbet’s godmother?” Sookie asked while observing Pam’s practiced movement in the reflection of the mirror.
“She’s female, born of a female,” Pam shrugged.
“That doesn’t exactly answer my question,” Sookie replied. “Is it just because Aelia’s the oldest of you ancient lot?”
“My guess,” the vampiress mused aloud, setting the lipstick down and turning to look at Sookie, “Like all ancient lines, women hold more power than men. Before the time of DNA testing they could claim royal lineage no matter what, blood is what matters after all and when you’re as promiscuous as most Supernaturals, the blood is always there in the female line, men can’t claim the same. Your great-grandfather is a Prince in charge of an entire realm, not as King, and I sincerely doubt he’s waiting for his father to kick the bucket at his age. Niall only ever had sons.”
“It’s a matriarchy?”
“Duh,” Pam replied with an eye roll. “And they haven’t exactly been breeding well for the last couple of centuries. You and Lisbet are a godsend that keeps him in power while he’s alive. You’re the evidence of legacy, something his rivals clearly lack.”
“Momma was human though,” she said with a frown. “Your theory doesn’t quite add up.”
“Repeat that first sentence to yourself,” Pam retorted with an arched brow, and a huff was expelled when she failed to comprehend her point, “She was human and you obviously inherited a spark from your Royal Faery father who also had a human mother. That whole Faery hybrid thing is a strategist-cum-breeder’s dream! Your lineage is very clear even without all the administration Royalty usually demands. The humans are simply vessels for the male line, incubators, if you will.”
“What about Fintan’s mom?” Sookie asked, the thought worrying her more than she liked.
“Human,” Pam answered monotonously. “You’d almost think the Faery Prince had planned it all.”
“Maybe he has,” Sookie whispered. “It almost appears engineered to overthrow a matriarchal power structure, or at the very least, circumvent one.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” she shrugged. “Either way, it doesn’t appear they care that much about tradition anymore. They’re taking anything they can get by the sound of it.”
A soft knock interrupted their conversation, Louvelle inching herself in through the door, muttering, “It’s scary quiet in there.” Pam scrunched her nose slightly, receiving a warning glare from Sookie in the process not to reiterate her tirade about taking the two smelly Weres along with them and ‘stinking’ up her precious plane. Sookie felt it only right that Louvelle and her father be returned home safely in the same plane after they were dropped off in Rome.
Sookie patted for Louvelle to sit beside her, daring Pam to comment. “You and your dad okay again, hon?” Louvelle nodded as if her father’s emotional outburst hours ago was a complete non-issue, which to her teenage mind it was, and seated herself crossed-legged on the designated spot, digging up a bag of snacks out of the deep pockets of her jacket.
“Sookie! She can’t eat… there!” Pam hissed with wide eyes, causing Louvelle to hover the salty snack inches from her mouth in confusion.
The telepath rolled her eyes, addressing the young girl and vicariously, Pam, “Don’t listen to her. Eat wherever you like.”
She nodded and carried on undisturbed, the freaked-out vampiress only just managing to swallow the shriek of horror when Louvelle started talking, food half-chewed and spewing semi-regurgitated crumbs over the sumptuous silk covers, “Think you can convince Papa to take us along on your Roman Holiday?”
“It’s not much of a holiday,” Sookie replied with a sigh, patting the girl’s knee, “besides, I don’t think your dad wants to be anywhere but home.”
She huffed in annoyance, crumbs flying everywhere in the process, killing what was left of Pam’s limited patience. “OUT!” she shrieked, “You! You filthy animal!”
“Pam!” Sookie intervened, taking the girl in protection instantly.
“Why does Eric like that little mutt?” she seethed. “It’s unnatural!”
“I am no mutt! My mother had more class and pedigree than you could ever hope to achieve!” Louvelle growled. “Putain!”
“Stop it! Both of you!” Sookie cried out as fangs and fur threatened to escalate the situation into a full-out brawl. “Louvelle, calm down! Pam, stop taking it out on her!”
“Take what out on her?” she posed innocently, convincing no one in the room that she was especially tense and irritable, masking it with her continued prattle. Eric had wasted no time, bursting through the lightweight door, quickly followed by Godric and Louvelle’s father.
“Sorry, Pam’s not herself right now,” Sookie whispered, urging a clearly upset Louvelle out of the room and into Eric’s arms while Godric took careful possession of Lisbet. “Pam!” she admonished when the door was closed again.
“What? The girl is vile!”
“Pam,” Sookie repeated in an eerily calm tone, scaring herself with how much she sounded like her Gran in that moment. “You’ll apologise to her, she’s just a girl.”
“Fine!” she pouted. “Only because it’s you.”
“What is this really about? Kristian?”
She nodded reluctantly, her face scrunching up in annoyance at the sound of her Maker’s name, “We called. He’ll be waiting for us at the air strip,” she informed succinctly, her tone soon falling sardonic again, “I’m so looking forward to it.”
“What did you guys say?” Sookie asked softly, only receiving a shrug in response. “Pam?”
“He was being his cold, distant self.”
“And you?” she asked with an arched brow. “Were you being your cold distant self?”
“Maybe,” she pouted, causing Sookie to laugh at the ancient emotional mess before her. “It’s not funny!”
“Come on,” Sookie giggled. “It’s kind of funny.”
“Fuck!” she growled. “Why does he have to be such an ass?”
“Because he loves you,” Sookie smiled, relieved to see something akin to it was tugging at the corners of Pam’s mouth, “and you love him.”
“I do not!”
Sookie rolled her eyes, getting up from the bed and pulling the defensive vampire into a reluctant hug, only just managing to swat away a wandering hand as it neared her breast in time. “There’s nothing wrong with it if you do,” she whispered. “You know that, right?”
“What if it all goes terribly wrong?” Pam whimpered in the smallest voice Sookie had ever heard come out of the all-powerful being’s mouth.
“Then you know,” another voice interrupted, holding a bottle of Pam’s favoured blood up in offering. “Vivre sans aimer n’est pas proprement vivre, ‘to live without loving is to not really live’. You are too young to be this cynical,” she warned with a stern face.
“This is why Eric likes her,” Sookie grinned.
“I’m not exactly young,” Pam snorted.
“Then you are just stupid!” Louvelle cried out, forgetting the possible wrath of the vampiress only moments ago. “You will live forever, but never dare to live a day to the full! You waste what others only wish to have! You don’t deserve to be loved by him!”
“Yes, I do!” Pam growled, “I love him, the least he can do is love me!”
Louvelle triumphantly bounced on her feet, smugly adding, “I see I made my point.”
“Checkmate, Little Bitch,” Pam smirked. “I’m beginning to understand your appeal.”
“So you will glamour my father?” she pleaded hopefully.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Seatbelts were barely unfastened, the door to the outside door open in seconds, all passengers aboard had some inkling as to what was to come, making the few seconds of terse silence and held breathes last all the longer. Aelia was first to step in, followed by Kristian and Shahbaz. The loyal guard grinned at the sighting of the missing couple before escorting out the staff and two Weres, assuring them the privacy the Head of the House demanded.
Aelia’s nose scrunched up when Louvelle passed, her cool hand grasping onto the dainty shoulder, “You, stay here,” she ordered, causing the otherwise feisty little wolf to slink back at the radiated power. Her father gave a look of concern as it was clear he would not be staying, not daring to address the powerful Grandest Sire, and Eric offered an apologetic look before moving his daughter into a protective stance by his side before he was moved off the plane, his mind not completely at ease.
“I’d say we missed you, but that would be an understatement,” Aelia spat out. “At least Pam had the decency to leave behind a trail of disarray and a clusterfuck in Brazil.” The blonde vampiress smiled a little too proudly at that, receiving another angered glare from Aelia alongside an amused one from her Maker. Aelia took a deep breath, “We shall just have to let the past be the past. The stakes are high right now. It goes without saying your lack of bonds, and an inability to form any, are not something to reveal. Those who know of it are ones we can trust, those who even hint at knowing it are under suspicion, and I want to know immediately.”
“Am I supposed to be here for this?” Jason yawned, shifting slightly in his plush seat. Aelia cocked her head slightly, boring into him with a penetrative gaze. “Fine,” he mumbled. “I guess I stay?”
“As far as everyone is concerned; you two eloped,” she continued, fingering the obvious pair. “The big pledging Pam over here planned wasn’t up to your tastes. Wear these,” she said while tossing a pair of rings and a marriage license into their lap. “Pam had a fit over your decision and lived her wild year.”
“Rowr!” Jason sounded out with the help of mimed claws, landing him another annoyed glance from Aelia.
“You took your time on your honeymoon, you’ll find the itinerary right there, study it, and know it as if it happened.”
“What about Lisbet?” Eric asked carefully.
“The horndog’s bastard,” she shrugged. “Mother died while giving birth, you’ve been kind enough to adopt. Godric, from the kindness of his overly-generous heart, will feed her his blood to claim her as part of our family. You’ve come here to request my permission.”
“Alcide?” Jason asked in confusion. “Why would Sookie adopt Alcide’s child?”
“Jason, honey,” Sookie whispered gently. “She means you.”
“Oh, right yeah, I’m the horndog!” he grinned, winking at Aelia. “Maybe me and you, later?”
“The Were girl,” Aelia continued pointedly, ignoring Jason, while Eric clutched Louvelle closer to his side, “She will be the child’s nanny to mask any further smells. She is rather…. pungent. You are not to leave Lisbet’s side. Ever.”
“YES!” Louvelle cried out, throwing her fist in the air.
“Eric?” Sookie whispered, unsure what they were getting themselves into, what this would mean for the content infant snoring softly between them, conversing as if they still had a choice in the matter.
“We’ve come this far, there is no going back anymore,” he replied, conscious of the eyes that were upon them. “It would be an honour for her to carry my Maker’s blood. It is the best thing we can do for her.”
“You won’t split us up?” Sookie asked, wanting that assurance above anything else. “Now or ever?”
“That is not in our interest, nor for the House of Sky Fae,” Aelia acknowledged. “We have come to the agreement that your child stands in place of the bond.”
“What if Lisbet-” Sookie started, unable to even finish the sentence, let alone contemplate the thought of Lisbet no longer being alive or in their care.
“Let us hope this mess with the bonds is settled by then,” Aelia replied, a hint of sympathy almost detectable in her tone.
Sookie nodded with a heavy heart, “OK.”
“We’ve covered all for now,” Aelia spoke as if time were a sudden sparse good. “Any further questions?”
“How is Staci?” Sookie asked, a thing she had often contemplated after their sudden departure.
“Dead,” she shrugged. “Anything else?”
“Excuse me?” Sookie spluttered, struck with shock over the news.
“She killed herself,” Godric supplied with a hint of sadness, displaying more emotion now than he had in the previous forty-eight hours. “It could not be helped, Tulla and I did our best, but her mind was too feeble to be saved or restored.”
“You cared for her?” Sookie whispered, receiving a curt nod in reply. “Thank you,” she said, squeezing his hand before turning her gaze back to Aelia. “Bill, he’s alive. Staci’s mind was altered to make us believe that. We should have left that information behind, it’s just-”
“We understand,” Aelia replied before whispering a low command to Shahbaz. “Thank you for informing us, this, however, doesn’t mean we forget as easily.”
“Aelia’s really pissed at us, isn’t she?” Sookie asked while Tulla cooed over the sight of Lisbet, who seemed enchanted by the soft-spoken vampiress.
“She really doesn’t appreciate disloyalty,” Tulla replied, searching for the rays of the sun to fall upon them in between the mature trees of Aelia’s courtyard. “This little one is probably the only reason why she hasn’t berated you like she would any other. Who could hate this face?”
“She’s shown little interest in Lisbet,” Sookie replied. “Called her nothing but ordinary before shooing us in a car.”
“Ordinary babies do not receive our blood,” Tulla pointed out. “She is just scared to get attached, only for you to take her away again. You should have heard her outbursts when you were nowhere to be found. Poor Shahbaz was at his wits end, no one’s ever escaped his grasp like you two. You’ve certainly earned his admiration and definitely Aelia’s.”
“She has a funny way of showing it,” Sookie snorted.
“Aelia sees being soft as a weakness, Pam is the same,” she sighed, coming to sit beside Sookie on the wooden bench, “when it can be such a source of power.”
“You seem very content,” Sookie noted with a side glance at which Tulla hummed in agreement. “There is plenty to be happy about, no matter how harsh the times,” she smiled, delighting herself as Lisbet babbled nonsensically in her lap.
“Godric doesn’t seem to share your optimism.”
“The girl,” she said. “Staci, he connected to her, to her sadness. I didn’t like it; he likes to torture himself with the misery of others. It follows him around, perhaps you can cheer him up, Lisbet!”
Sookie smiled, posing knowingly, “There’s more to your cheerfulness than Lisbet.”
“Promise not to tell?” she grinned.
“I’m a telepath,” Sookie winked. “I guard more secrets than I care for. Whatever it is, it’s safe with me.”
“I’ve met a wonderful man! He takes me dancing and we sing songs together! He plays the piano wonderfully, don’t tell anyone, please? Not even Godric.”
“He’s not like us,” she replied in a whisper. “They wouldn’t approve.”
“Human?” Sookie posed, receiving a shake of the head in return. “A Faery?”
“No, not Fae,” she tittered.
“An Impurus?” Sookie concluded at which Tulla finally nodded shyly. “He makes you happy, right?” she asked, sharing her infectious excitement.
“So much!” Tulla replied. “Look, this is him,” she beamed, pulling a carefully folded photograph from a hidden pocket.
“I’m so happy for you two,” Sookie gushed while taking the photograph. It was grainy, taken in the limited light of night, folds obstructing part of his face. It didn’t matter, her heart sank with the sight, and despite the poor lighting she’d recognise that self-satisfied smug anywhere, no matter how different the clothes and hairstyle. Eagerly Tulla awaited her response, “He’s very handsome, Tulla, but I’m sorry, I’ll have to tell Aelia. I don’t know what he told you his name was, but this, this is Bill.”
A/N: Awe poor Tulla… Yes the plot thickens a little further and that means dealing with Bill… again… There’s a few more chapters left on this story and fully finished up on my end. I’m still trying to figure out how to schedule it all but hopefully I’ll be able to update it a bit more frequently in the weeks ahead. Thoughts welcome as always!
Thanks to msbuffy and her work on this and for surviving the dirty little habits of a teenage werewolf (even though she did manage to get Pam’s head out of her ass)!