Hinterland Shades

hinterlandshadesN
 

It wasn’t a sudden occurrence when night and day became a state of permanence as the moon and sun took its consigned place from the view of man. The earth didn’t stop spinning from one day to the next, in all it took close to a decade till it found its permanent halt. The scientific community had taken notice long before that. The cause, its probability, its solution and its resolve were argued at great length with few results.

 

The opportune invested heavily in the technology necessary for future survival while the pious prepared for the wrath of God and shamed those around them for incurring this impending apocalypse, for their lack of morality. However, the four horsemen were noticeably absent through it all.

 

Instead the world’s population adapted, migrating towards the land masses nearest to the equator as oceanic waters started slowly but steadily swallowing up the northern and southern perimeters of continents with the earth’s altered speed of rotation. Days and nights grew longer alternatingly in tune with changed conditions. Climates and seasons were never the same. Where the supernatural had always feared exposure by the human population they had always hid amongst, it was nature’s own course that forced them to reveal themselves.

 

The pious hunted down what they considered creatures of Satan in an attempt to reverse the natural progression the earth was making while the opportune started catering to their future needs of continued existence by developing moon chambers and synthetic bloods. A quick truce was made shortly before the earth slowed to its final standstill when it became apparent that the predicted pattern of six months of darkness followed by an equal amount of time in the sun was a false one. One half of the globe existed solely in the night while the other knew the day. The area that resided in the dark now belonged to the creatures of the nocturnal while the human population was granted the eternal shine of the sun.

 

The two natured found sanctuary in the diminished environs in between or lived an artificial existence in the highly populated metropolitans that congregated around the more opportune geographic climates.

 

The small town of Bon Temps resided close to the border at the edge of the shaded hinterland that mimicked a continued twilight. Dallas was the nearest city fully emerged in the dark and one wouldn’t see the light again till they reached what was once China. While some vampires had attempted to take their pets or highly paid donors along into the eternal night, they either returned in the poorest of health or had simply wasted away and died. The appetite for human blood was one they soon could no longer afford and it was how these smaller towns subsisted with the presence of True Blood factories and an illegal trade in donor blood.

 

There were rumours of truly ancient vampires who could resist the pull of the sun that moved about the hinterlands in specially created UV repellent suits that had been engineered for the parts of the earth that now stood harshest in the scrutiny of the sun.

 

Sookie Stackhouse had never put much stock in those rumours until one walked into her shaded garden where she was tending to the night blooming flowers her grandmother had once planted for the altered times. So used to the solitude and safety this abandoned part of the world provided and despite her naturally built in defences, she didn’t become aware of the creature until it spoke muffled through the masked helmet that covered his face in the same dark shade as the rest of his leather clad body.

 

“Princess,” he greeted with a reverence that was more suitable to a proposal of marriage as he sank down accordingly to one knee, his head hung submissively gazing to the ground between them.

 

Sookie’s face turned when she heard the odd tone of address, eyes peered out curiously from underneath her red hood, the same colour of the sky that promised rain, which protected her from the more harmful rays of the sun.

 

“I am no princess,” she returned anxiously while coming to her full height to gaze down at the tall man who had yet to avert his eyes upwards without permission. “I fear you have sought the wrong address.”

 

“This is not the home of Lady Brigant?” came the stifled reply, the annoyance with another than her clearly audible in his tone.  With little haste he came to stand fully erect again standing quite a bit taller than she as he awaited the reply that came from the only feature on her face that could be seen peeking out from underneath the hooded cape.

 

“I am Sookie Stackhouse,” she offered apologetically from her soft and full lips that were nervously bit by her blunt teeth in retraction. “I know of no Brigants around here.”

 

A velvet pouch was pulled from one of the pockets on his leather jacket as he proceeded to take a few tentative steps towards her, becoming more confident in his stride when she did not shy away but defiantly stood her ground. He carried a large grin she was unable to see through the obscured visor as her face came into full view with proximity.

 

“Have you forgotten about me so soon Princess?” he asked with feigned hurt as the pouch was placed into her hands. She eyed him warily, frustration clearly expressed in her brows that this intruder had caused with his continued anonymity and lack of readable thoughts. Her eyes sought the approximate area where his would be as her dexterous fingers began to seek what was hidden inside the pouch. The smooth carving of the stone was one she would never fail to recognise even when she had yet to see it again with her own eyes. It didn’t fail her notice that great age had worn down the edges since the last time it had rested in her hands.

 

“Bluey?” she gasped in sudden recognition.

 

“Eric, actually,” he corrected. “We never did get to know each other’s names after all.”

 

“Come inside,” Sookie said excitedly as she pulled his heavily gloved hand behind her towards the house. “Won’t you please come in Eric…”

 

“Northman.”

 

With the invite granted Sookie wasted no time closing the substantial reinforced door behind them and ridding herself of her heavy cape. “The house is protected from all impact of the sun,” she informed gesturing towards the technologically advanced windows in her desperation to regard his face once more. “But I can put down the shutters if you like.”

 

“I trust you,” he replied with a hidden smirk before taking of the protective helmet. His head shook out the shortened blonde locks of his hair as he revelled of being free of the confinement and taking in the unique perfume that had haunted him for centuries.

 

“It’s really you,” she observed with a giddy excitement that matched his when he had recognised her by the mere sight of her lips moments ago. “Your hair is shorter. It suits you.”

 

Eric was almost a little shy and self-conscious when he ran his hands through his tangled and matted hair with her apparent scrutiny of him and the cocky confidence that had grown in the years of her absence waned slightly.

 

“How long has it been?” Sookie asked of him, knowing Eric’s obsession with chronology would give her the exact number where she had always been forced to estimate for what in her experience had been four years.

 

“Seven hundred eighty three years and forty two weeks. Five days, six hours and seventeen minutes.”

 

“No seconds?” she quipped, her eyes shining with mischief that age would never polish away.

 

“Fifty one,” Eric smirked back as his freed hands now had the pleasure of running fingertips over her soft cheek where her heartbeat pulsed in time with his words. “Fifty two.”

 

“How did you find me?” Sookie whispered as she desperately tried to hold his gaze when all her eyelids seemed to be capable of doing was closing on themselves to revel in the heightened sensation of his cool fingers on her heated skin.

 

“I was looking for a princess of the fae I didn’t think I would find my Princess,” he answered reminding her of what he had named her and had continued to do so in the privacy of his mind and fantasies. Forever his Princess. She had disappeared as suddenly as she came and he had waited endlessly for her to return. Finally he had succumbed to what she had whispered to him in her goodbye and carried on without her. Ever since he had chased every blonde lock of hair that resembled the same shade of his and her thick mane.

 

Her hand found his as she carefully extracted it from her face as rational thought stopped eluding her and pragmatism forced her to act sensibly again. Eric may be over a thousand years old by her own quick calculation but he couldn’t stay in this place indefinitely without detrimental consequences. He had only just reminded her that he had come here for the Princess of the Fae and not his Princess.

 

By her hand he followed diligently to the comfortable sofas of the living room where they sat beside each other. Neither one spoke for quite some time as they merely stared at the other not quite sure whether to believe that they were both here in the same place in a secondary moment of chance. Rationally he had given up the hope that their paths would ever cross again but his hardened heart had refused to relent.

 

“Your home is very,” Eric started before memory granted him the word she had once used to describe his sparse cave. “Cosy.” She had spoken out of politeness then but in this case he found it an aptly suiting word for the small farmhouse.

 

“I like to keep things uncluttered,” she recited in perfect recollection of his response to explain the Spartan appearance of his former living accommodations that had housed but a few animal pelts, the sword that he had carried most of his human life and a few items he had managed to salvage from the village he resided in before his animated death had set in.

 

With the evocative memories initiated by the words spoken in a time past, neither one could help but allow their minds to fall back into that time. Seven hundred eighty three years and forty two weeks. Five days, six hours, twenty two minutes and five seconds ago.

 

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An unknown scent had been lingering heady in the woods that Eric resided in and so far had left him unable to track. Night upon night was spent roaming endlessly but a trace of it would suddenly vanish and start up again in another spot. He knew it wasn’t a human, one hadn’t come to cross any of these territories for over a century since he woke to the night where his ancestral village lay in ashes. Until that evening the villagers had happily sustained his strange appetites by gifting him the blood of wandering enemies and animals after it was soon discovered the walking corpse that once was their chieftain scorned all other offers.

 

When times were harsh he would often repay their dedication by ploughing the fields at night when the men were away at sea and the women struggled to yield the same amount of crops without their help. Other nights he would hunt game, replenish himself on the blood and leave the corpse behind. The villagers were thankful for his continued presence and protection but despite being able to converse with him and maintaining his old appearance, the pale colour of his skin and sharpened teeth that would unexpectedly run out, a respectable distance was kept with the memory of the night creature that caused his death

 

Eric had been found mid attack and his dedicated guard had managed to slay the dark figure with elongated fangs. Unfortunately their beloved leader’s life had already been lost as the blood of his attacker bathed his deceased body. As befitting his station Eric was buried on ancestral grounds beside his father and mother after cleansing his body of all the blood that stained his corpse

 

Three nights later the sword that stood in marking of his passing nearly felt the newly risen Eric as he scrambled his way out of the upturned ground. He fled from his comfortable surroundings with only his blade for company, angered that the gods had forsaken him as no Valkyrie had come to take him to Odin’s hall. Any creature, human or not, with a pulse was unsafe that night as they met the edge of Eric’s sword and the intoxicating scent of the blood fed his unbridled appetite, never feeling satiated till instincts taught him to flee the sun. Only the blood of a slain enemy truly left him satisfied after that but he had continued on drinking down any blood he could find. 

 

The promise of the latest interloper in his woods had, however, driven his desire for the unknown blood to greater heights. Especially since it had been so long since he had fed from anything that didn’t have fur. Instinctively Eric knew this would be the greatest meal he would ever dine from and frustration grew higher with every night as he drew a thin line on the cave wall with charcoal marking another passing of time. 

 

He loathed to admit that he was quite disappointed when upon rising he smelled the intoxicating scent at the foot of his cave as the prospect of the hunt was stolen from him that night. It had been too long that something truly stood as a challenge to him and now it had simply presented itself with far too much ease. His annoyance soon took over for wonder as he regarded the small being snoozing contentedly on a sun warmed rock in a white dress covered by a red cape that was made of the finest material he had ever seen as it obstructed her face from view. Even in his many raids to countless foreign lands, never had he witnessed such delicate cloth and therefore he fingered it appreciatively. 

 

Instead of devouring the ripe body to pieces as he had intended to, the sheer lust for her blood was channelled into a tender appreciation of the small woman as he found the fine features of her face. His fingertips traced softly over the rounds of her curves till he found purchase with her smooth and bare skin as he hovered over her in careful inspection of her beauty. With a startle her eyes flew open as impossibly blue ones stood staring her down. The inebriating quality of her scent lifted instantly, confounding him in the sudden absence of it. 

 

“What are you?” Eric growled as he was overtaken by a mixture of fear and curiosity by the unknown entity.

 

Nostrils flared as her dainty hands angrily shoved to his chest tossing his large form off her, crashing him hard on the soil among the pine trees a good few feet away. “You know it’s really rude to ask that,” Sookie retorted hotly, forgetting the danger she was placing herself in with a vampire in such close proximity. When she took a good look to see where he had landed a smug grin graced her face at how far she had managed to launch him with just the sheer force of her muscles, unaided by her light.

 

“Very well,” he returned with annoyance as he brushed off the dirt from his clothing. “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves instead. Maybe then you will be so kind as to share what you are.”  

 

“Not likely buster,” she informed from her elevated position on the rocks with her arms crossed defiantly over her chest. “I know exactly what you are.”

 

Eric wanted to fire back with equal force but her ethereal beauty had him enthralled and it had been so long since he had spoken with another being. It was far longer since he had lain with a woman and even with her hidden scent and vitriol manners he knew one thing for certain. He wanted her. 

 

You have an unfair advantage,” he pointed out patiently, pulling on his human notions of honour. “A draugr is easier to spot than whatever you may be.”

 

Draugr?” Sookie asked as the native term refused to translate to her through the fairy magic that allowed her to converse in any language.

 

“Hel-blár,” Eric offered as an alternative to the folklore of his people that had him believe he was a reanimated body from the grave forced to wonder in close proximity to his burial mound as he somehow had become lost on his way to the afterlife.

 

“Blue as death?” she questioned unbelievingly as Sookie literally translated the latest presented terminology. “You believe to be a corporal ghost? Is that why you’re here all by your lonesome?”

 

“My people have perished long ago,” he acknowledged. “They all had the good fortune to find their way to Valhalla or Odin’s Hall.”  

 

The glare in her eyes instantly softened with that confession. She knew what it was like to be lonely except her state of solitude was prevalent despite the many beings that constantly surrounded her. “Didn’t your maker teach you anything Bluey?” Sookie asked sympathetically as she teleported herself beside him on the upturned tree trunk he had sat himself down on.

 

“Maker? Why should my gods have anything to teach me?” he managed to stammer out after taking in her sudden appearance beside him. Eric was, however, greatly pleased to come to understand how her perfume had scented the woods in such a random pattern. It was the missing piece of the equation that had the calculations and diagrams on his cave wall finally solved.

 

“Not your gods,” she expounded diligently. “The one who made you this way. Drained you of your blood, then fed you his?”

 

A small tear escaped from the corner of her eye as Eric explained how he came to be in an existence he had lived for over two centuries, as chronicled by the marks of charcoal. The aroma of the dewy drop that trailed down her cheek was watched with extreme scrutiny, she ceased his attempt to clear her face of it and instead picked up the singular tear on the tip of her finger and offered it out in front of his lips. Confusion marred his beautifully innocent eyes as he awaited her explanation, “This is a special treat for a vampire like yourself. It’s not many who receive them willingly. Please?”

 

“Vampire?”

 

“It’s what you are Bluey,” she spoke softly. “Can’t be out in the sun, fangs come out when you’re excited or hungry and you can only drink blood.”

 

He nodded in understanding of the symptoms he had been unable to understand. “And I eat tears?”

 

“Some tears,” Sookie admitted as she brought her finger closer to his lips. The proximity of the concentrated scent had his fangs running out involuntarily and he only just managed to avoid ripping open the soft flesh of his own lips. “Promise not to bite?”

 

“I will not bite you. I have never bitten anyone before,” he confessed as the ache in his fangs continued to throb with what was being offered in front of them. “Is this what vampires do?”

 

“Yes,” she whispered before carefully placing her finger between his soft lips and his tongue immediately sought out the unparalleled taste of her. Sookie let out a small moan as he continued to caress her with his tongue probing carefully for any residual that he managed to miss while suckling lightly.

 

“Delicious,” he breathed out when she finally pulled away with a heated flush of her skin. “Nothing has ever tasted as good as that.” 

 

Concern overtook Sookie as his response had her questioning what he was eating considering the closest human settlement was days away on foot even at supernatural speeds. It was the reason why she had chosen this specific area to practice her teleportation skills in peace. Here she was free of the invasive thoughts of humans which she had great difficulty shielding out of her own mind. Sookie had recognised the clear signature of his void when she first arrived but since she was only there in the daytime she had given his presence little thought. With the explanation that he was subsiding on animal blood her earlier triumph of her own strength faded as he clearly lacked the power otherwise inherent in the supernatural species. 

 

“Will you tell me what you are now?”

 

“You still don’t know my name,” she taunted. “I thought we were getting to know each other.”

 

“Since you named me, I think it’s only fair I get to name you, he retorted with equal levity.

 

“Let me guess Red?” Sookie huffed out as she motioned to the colour of her cape. If there was one thing she knew of the human species, it was that their thought processes were extremely predictable even when they had been turned.

 

“No,” he lied, though the disappointment was poorly masked in his tone. Eric had clearly been caught out. Sheepishly he offered, “Ruby?”

 

Pfff! What’s next Scarlett?” she countered with apparent ire. “Do I look like a Ruby to you?”

 

“No,” Eric returned quietly regarding her features carefully. “You look like a princess.”

 

“You’re not far off,” Sookie muttered to herself in her native fae tongue but her tone had revealed there was an accuracy in his assessment.

 

“I was a prince before, meant to be a king like my father,” he offered with the same resignation that the responsibility of the station had once burdened him with. “I had yet to marry so I died a prince but had I met you I would surely have been king.”

 

Sookie nearly forgot to breathe as she existed under his intense gaze and admiration while they regarded each other only by the light of the moon. Calloused fingertips trailed down the locks of her hair as the tip of his nose travelled over her soft skin and in response she intermittently released some of her scent as the fine hairs of her body stood to attention with his explorations.

 

“Will you tell me what you are Princess?” Eric’s cool breath requested as his lips brushed softly over her elongated throat. Sookie knew she was playing with fire but somehow she rationalised that in his weakened state the vampire was harmless. He didn’t know what he was doing so she welcomed the attentions till his eyes sought out hers again when she continued to withhold an answer.

 

“We’re mortal enemies,” she confessed with pain in her eyes, fearing to find the rejection in his. She found none, only denial.

 

Killing you is the last thing I would want to do.

 

“It’s your nature,” Sookie explained as she carefully distanced herself from him.

 

“I don’t understand my nature,” he replied honestly. 

 

Sookie pulled her knees up under her chin and regarded him carefully from beneath her thick lashes as she refrained from telling him the exact same thing. It was a humbling experience for the fairy princess to realise that she had more in common with a supposed predator than with any of her own kind. 

 

“You would if you were at full strength.

 

“What makes you think I’m not?” he asked with an annoyance that could only be perceived as comical and she barely contained the snort and giggle that escaped with her exhalation. The angered expression on his face only seemed to set further when Sookie pointed out how she had easily tossed him on his ass not so long ago. Eric despised to admit it, but he too had noticed how his strength had been declining over the years. “I shall train every night with my sword till I am at full strength again, to prove it to my Princess and future Queen.”

 

“It doesn’t work like that Bluey,” Sookie sighed as she mentally resigned to what she would do. In her heart she would want nothing more than to keep this tame vampire a secret, locked away in a cave to be her sole friend. Maybe even more than that, but it would never be fair to him. She moved her hands to lay atop his, “I’ll teach you how to be a proper vampire.”

 

“And then?” he asked with expectant eyes.

 

“Then we’ll see.”

 

For three consecutive nights he would find her awake and waiting by the foot of the cave carrying a bright smile that made him nostalgic for the lost sun as he was lured out by her dampened scent. Attentively she taught him everything the Fae knew of the nocturnal and for the first time in his altered existence things finally started to fit into place. Studiously he took it all in and together they probed for extra skills that he might have. Eric had marvelled with the innocence of a young boy when they had discovered he could levitate.

 

“If you were at full strength perhaps it is possible for you to fly,” Sookie encouraged when she was infected by the pure joy of their find. There had been no anticipation to how far Eric’s smile suddenly reached before the shine in his eyes glazed over with frustration again. They both knew he would need to feed soon and when that moment came their little arrangement would end. For everything she had taught him he had found evidence, begrudgingly it was accepted by Eric that they were natural enemies despite the fact neither one of them had the desire or inclination to kill the other.  

 

To add to his frustration it was on that final night that she started telling him everything she knew of how a vampire fed. “In order to remain undetected you must use what vampires call ‘glamour’ whenever you feed. It is a thrall of sorts, you can make a human do or forget whatever you want, but one has to be cautious with it.”

 

“I don’t want to know any of this,” Eric said dismissively while turning his back on her and stalking towards his cave. The effort was thwarted as she instantly popped in front of him, obstructing his way. 

 

“You can’t stay as you are Bluey,” she spoke sympathetically as her fingers tangled into the ends of his long locks of hair. Barely audible she confessed to his chest, “As much as we both would want nothing more. I can’t allow you to wither away and die.

 

Her body shivered, in part from the feel of his hands moving over the bare expanse of her arms and in part of the cold damp of the night that was settling in around them.

 

“Let’s go inside,” Eric proposed in a secondary plea to end the night’s lessons as they had every other night. He would build her a fire while telling her stories of his human life before joining her among the soft furs where inevitably the exciting tales and the hour of the night would lull her to sleep as he held her till the sun returned. In dusk he would be surrounded by her scent but wake to an empty embrace. A foreshadowing that pained his heart more with each rising

 

Sookie wanted to protest, insistent on finishing this final lesson but the clouds spoke for her as torrential rain started to fall down on them from the heavy sky. The fire was blazing inside the cave quicker than ever before as she shrouded herself in a woollen blanket. As soon as Eric was satisfied the source of heat would sustain itself he came to lay beside her rubbing his hands over her in friction to warm her shaking body. 

 

“Don’t distract me with your giant man paws,” she pouted betraying that the attention was quite welcome. The sight of her jutted bottom lip only brought him closer as he rested his forehead against hers breathing in her scent as her warm exhalations caressed his skin. Neither one dared to make one move further. She feared what it would mean, making their imminent separation all the more difficult while he was afraid to scare her away when all he wanted was to keep her here. One pop and she could be gone from him forever.

 

“You need the victim to come willingly,” she started again, reinstating the lesson that was previously disrupted. Her eyes remained closed as she further snuggled into his side. “Use that charm you hide from me. Only practice your glamour to erase the essential, they can’t help but want to keep coming back for more with you winning personality.”

 

“Is that why you keep coming back, Princess?” he whispered to the shell of her ear, causing an eruption of goose bumps down the entirety of her back. “For me?”

 

“Yes,” she returned softly in declaration of guilt

 

“Is this the glamour?”

 

“If only, she sighed. Her eyes found his, the flames of the fire reflected in her dark orbs, wet with unshed tears. “Try. Make me stay.”

 

The unmistakeable pressure was exerted into the confines of her skull as he forced his will on her. Pain shot through her as she felt his wordless and desperate plea to keep her beside him, always and forever, as her shields prevented it from taking hold. She wanted nothing more than to surrender. In that moment she believed it could work and it was her mind that generated that thought, not his. 

 

Is this it? She nodded with resignation unable to find words anymore. “Are you saying goodbye now?”

 

Not yet,” Sookie expressed with the sorrow that refused to leave her eyes. “There’s one lesson left.”

 

Her fingers traced the contours of his face from the masculine symmetrical build of his jawline to the slightly feminine curve of his mouth, committing it all to memory. When her wrist stopped to rest in front of his lips he finally understood her intentions and forced her arm down. “No.”

 

“You have to learn how to feed in order to survive,” she insisted placing her other wrist in the former’s place with more insistence. He attempted to stop her again but she released a concentrated dose of her scent that instantly had his fangs running out and striking into her flesh. There was nothing gentle about the bite as he drank down viciously tearing at the skin in his inexperience, the life giving blood was instantly restorative to his system. Kept tears finally shed from her eyes, the ones she had been holding in for the inevitable emotional scars this would bring accompanied by the pure physical pain of the bite

 

Despite the overwhelming intoxication of her scent and tears he stopped as soon as he found his fill. On instinct he licked the wounds closed till all bleeding ceased before he furiously started wiping away the tears in a futile attempt to deny the nature of their existence. Kisses traced their former tracks as he desperately clung on to her. 

 

Her lips found his, chastely connecting for seconds before she gave him her departing words, “Bye Bluey.” With an audible pop she disappeared. 

 

Rage overtook him and a deafening roar rumbled along the cave walls testing their strength. With unprecedented speeds he flew out of the cave chasing her scent through the forest as she teleported herself in phases, weakened by the loss of blood, to find the portal that would send her back to the fairy realm. The rain was slowing down her ability to coordinate and his chartered knowledge of her previously practiced movements had him colliding into her with great speed. Her back met forcefully with the stem of a mature birch tree but his surrounding arms cushioned her from the harsh impact of it.

 

She feared him for the first time since they had met, her body losing the ability to stand on her own two feet as he carried her weight. Sookie wasn’t scared for what he now was or what he could do to her but for what it meant to be without him. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation from him as he found her lips again, bruising her into a deep kiss as the rain continued to soak every part of them. His tongue swiped at her crease begging for entrance and without pause her mouth opened to his, the cool muscle exploring the warm cavern. 

 

“You don’t get to decide,” he spoke with anger masking the hurt of being left behind by her without consideration of his wants

 

“I’m sorry,” she whimpered before reigniting the abandoned kiss. She was trembling from the cold and the pelting rain but mostly from the effect he had on her. Eric held her tightly, unwilling to let go as hands ran rampant all over her body, anything to bind her to him. In a brief reprieve she lifted her head in order to breathe as his soft lips continued to journey down the length of her throat before nuzzling in the grace of her arch as he inhaled her unique scent. Blunt teeth scraped at forgiving skin as she moaned in delight with his attentions. She gave him her all, releasing every limit of her perfume around him. If this meant her death, then so be it. The prospect of being without him was far more daunting. 

 

Thunder rumbled in the sky surrounding them with its audible presence, lighting striking within seconds. Electricity surged through them both but where she absorbed the force he fell to the ground, paralysed in agony. Sookie flew towards him but before she managed to reach his static body she was held in the arms of the man who had caused it.

 

“Great granddaddy?” she asked in confusion still speaking in Eric’s native tongue.

 

“I felt your fear,” he returned soothingly in attempt to calm her down but she only continued to struggle in his grasp, desperate to get to Eric. “Let me take care of the vampire and I shall take you home.”

 

“No!” Sookie screamed startling Niall through their familial blood line with the sheer intensity of it all. She was more frightened now than when her great grandfather was initially alerted and had him instantly coming to her rescue. “He wasn’t hurting me. I love him! He’s mine!”

 

Her great grandfather scoffed with the preposterous notion. “I knew it was a mistake letting you out of the realm. You have been skirting your obligations, there is nothing for us here.”

 

Sookie’s knees fell into the wet mud her face wracked heavy with sobs as she continued to plead by Niall’s feet. The Prince of the Realm regarded the immobilised vampire carefully and with a heavy sigh he gave his great granddaughter an obliging nod as he remembered the optimism of his own youth. “We will depart at once and you will not return here. This ends now.”

 

“Let me say goodbye? Please, Niall?” she cried out between floods of tears.

 

He gave a brief gesture of approval. “I will wait for you by the portal. Do not take too long, I will not spare the vampire’s life a second time.”

 

Sookie barely registered Niall’s departure as her trembling hands came to caress Eric’s face. “Bluey can you hear me?” A pained grunt confirmed as much before she firmly planted her lips on his again.

 

“I love you too, Princess,” he whispered through the strain of his debilitation, only causing her to shed more tears

 

“Remember what I taught you,” she smiled. “You are a vampire now and you better become the best at it. Roam the world and join your kind, find your purpose.”

 

“I just want to be with you,” Eric expressed softly as he tenderly moved the wet strands of hair that were tacked to her face. “Stay.”

 

“Any chance of that was just lost,” Sookie returned with resignation as her fingertips trailed the wet paths over his skin. “You must build a life for yourself, do more than simply exist. Be a champion for your kind. Make me proud. 

 

His hands clamped over her questing ones stalling them into place by his mouth where he tenderly kissed each tip. “Stay.”

 

“There was no other way for this to end Bluey,” his princess offered consolingly.

 

“What are you?” he asked again.

 

“A fairy,” she finally answered. “I have to return to my own realm now but I will return as soon as I am able.”

 

Promise me?”

 

“I promise,” Sookie conceded as she placed the fairy token of her family between his hands. “If you ever find yourself in trouble with my kind show them this.”

 

We have time on our side, he said confidently with the knowledge of his newfound existence and she didn’t have the heart to lie to him so instead she moved in for a parting kiss. It was messy and primal as tongues fought, one to stay the other to make it count. Neither one agreeing on the intent of the other. His body betrayed him when she ground her heated core on his groin forcing fangs to snick out in response. She slashed the soft muscle in her mouth on his sharpened ends and fed him one last time. He shuddered with the dual onslaught of her blood and body and despite his firm grasp on her with a last whispered goodbye he was met with an empty embrace that he would continue to wake up to for centuries. 

 

He chased her once more but failed to catch her and the white haired man that had interrupted them as they moved through a blindingly white portal. He caught her outreached hand as it reached for him but soon it disappeared into nothingness leaving them both hollow and alone again.  

 

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“How long has it been for you Princess?” he finally asked breaking the contemplative silence between them.

 

“I managed to convince my great grandfather to allow me back in this realm two human months ago. In Faery it was a little over four years,” she admitted her head bowed down slightly with the shame that she had to endure so little in comparison of the many lifetimes he had stood alone. Two fingers travelled up the length of her throat forcing her chin up in order to meet his eyes. “I think he only allowed it as vampires are of no threat anymore.”

 

“Four years, six months, seventeen days, three hours and forty five minutes,” he informed confidently with a smirk that had her delightedly tracing the lines it formed in his face.

 

“You found yourself a purpose,” she noted happily. With an affirming nod he pulled a well-worn leather volume from his interior pocket alongside a compact laptop which he proceeded to set up on the low coffee table. She joined him on the wooden boards of the floor as her fingers traced the intricate script expressed in formulaic equations, charts and diagrams.

 

Eric proceeded to explain how he had chartered the movements of time in his desperate attempt to relocate her and gain entry into the land of the Fae. “It has taken me decades to convince the powers that be of my findings. Humans have focused on the science of it all but have ignored the possibility of magic on this earth even though we are the clear walking evidence of it. No one understands why the earth suddenly stands still.”

 

“The retreat of the Fae,” Sookie said with understanding as she took in the computer models he was presenting to her. “You believe the closing of the Fae portals caused this shift in the earth’s rotation. Forcing it to stop.”

 

“I knew you would understand Princess,” Eric replied appreciatively. Neither one had realised what little distance stood between them until she swooped in finding familiar lips again. The feel of him was urgent but she instantly recognised his strength had diminished once more. He stood weaker now than when she first met him. With ease she pushed his back to the floor and Sookie was convinced she would have been able to do so even if he had resisted.

 

“Can you drop fang?” she whispered to his ears, which were leaking with the onset of the bleeds. Regretfully he shook his head with some embarrassment, only then did it come to her attention that despite her excited grinding on his body not an inch of him had responded.

 

“True Blood merely sustains us, nothing more,” he offered in explanation. “Bagged blood only marginally improves it. The conditions are worse here outside of the darkness.”

 

Without hesitation she moved into her kitchen and retrieved a sharpened blade before sitting beside him again. He had followed her movements with a hungry gaze but before she could score her unmarred skin Eric’s hand stopped her intent.

 

“I didn’t come here for us.”

 

“Of course,” she said dismissively dropping the knife with a harsh clang to the table as she tried to will back the tears that were threatening to fall. “It’s been so long for you. Of course you moved on.”

 

“No,” he denied planting a soft kiss to her forehead. “There have been others but none held my heart and it was always you in my mind. I came here seeking Lady Brigant, hoping to find you in the process.”

 

“You seek an audience with the Mistress of the Portal?” Sookie questioned as relief flooded her features with his confession.

 

“Yes,” he answered while handing over the official papers requesting entry into the fairy realm as drawn up for him by the Vampire Authority.

 

“I am bound to this post,” she informed sadly, reminding them both of the duty that had allowed her to return to the human world in hope of this reunification but now would keep her here while he moved into the realm she left behind. Though finding the earth in its altered state had severely demoralised her hopes of ever finding him again. In a reversal of roles she refused to let this opportunity go, repeating the plea he had spoken to her and had her forever regretting to deny it. Selfishly she begged, “Stay.”

 

“No.” He shook his head and spoke with the same determination she had once expressed to him when she placed his welfare over her own desires. For so long he had blamed her for ignoring what he wanted most, to simply be with her and that she should have considered them both in her decision. Age had given him understanding, however, that sacrifice of self was intrinsic of the love she had proclaimed to hold for him then. Eric had told her he loved her equally but in truth it wasn’t till this moment that he could claim to do so in action. “Someone told me to be a champion for my kind and I intend to follow through on that promise. If only to prove to her that there is a different way for us to end.”

 

“How’s that?” she whispered against his lips as she carefully straddled his lap. Fingers finally able to run free through the shortened hairs on his head.

 

“To simply be together, no moon or sun to keep us apart.”

 

“No fairies and vampires?”

 

“Once I have you, nothing will ever keep me from you again,” he declared sincerely. “I had everything you implored me to find but without you the offering was paltry. No one deserves this half-life, least of all you. I must convince the Prince of the Realm to reopen the portals and then we will convince him of us.”

 

“Access granted,” she smiled before piercing the tip of her finger with the retrieved knife to reveal a royal fairy seal onto his documentation with the procured blood.

 

“And here I thought I was going to have to seduce this Mistress to let me in,” he grinned before taking in the bleeding digit she offered him. With that small amount his fangs managed to weakly run out for the first time in years. Unaccustomed with the now foreign sensation, flesh was caught and blood trickled from his own lips. Sookie didn’t hesitate, removing her finger and capturing the spilt lifeblood. In a reprise of moves her tongue opened up to his, her blood flowing with his, intermingling the life forces that constituted a bond in a deepened kiss.

 

“This will be our ending,” she promised as the mutual connection assaulted their bodies. “It should have been our beginning. I didn’t know of the possibility then.”

 

“Twice more when I return,” he nodded in agreement. Sookie felt the little bit of strength that had returned to him with her blood diminishing already through their newly formed bond. Automatically she offered her neck to him and without hesitation he delicately slipped his fangs into the artery and sucked gently till he could take no more as he felt her insistence on that particular stance through their newly found connection when he threatened to disengage prematurely. “Bossy,” he grumbled good-humouredly as he sealed the wounds.

 

“Get used to it buster,” Sookie smirked back. With resignation she started helping him into his protective gear, knowing their time would be brief in order for him to be at his best in the fairy realm. “How long will you be gone?”

 

“Will your great grandfather leave me waiting long?”

 

“No,” she giggled at the thought. “On the rare occasion that a vampire gains entry into Faery they are ushered out as soon as possible.”

 

“Good,” he murmured against her forehead before seeking another caress of her lips. “Eight months at most then with the current pendulum of time. If I don’t return…”

 

“Don’t,” she said sternly placing her hand over his once beating heart. “You’re going to come back.”

 

“What makes you so certain?” Eric whispered to the crown of her head as she swayed softly in his embrace. “Your great grandfather might not take my reappearance as well as you hope. He did promise to kill me the second time round.”

 

“Tough,” Sookie replied with her patented glare of defiance. “We share blood now, you are just as much of him as I am. Welcome to the family.”

 

“You little fairy trickster,” he spoke with mock indignation that betrayed his amusement with it all. “Taking advantage of weak vampire like that. Stealing my blood.”

 

Her smile was poorly hidden as it moved against his chest before her tone fell more serious, “I never thought of you as weak you know.” Sookie’s fingers lingered over his many zippers reassuring herself they were all securely closed after she placed the fairy token and its velvet pouch back in the pocket he had pulled it from.

 

“I know,” Eric returned appreciatively as his gloved hands travelled through her hair. “You taught me more than you know.” A final parting kiss was granted that assured them both this would be one of many. “You’re only ever as strong as your mind allows. Without parallel yours is the most resilient I have met.”

 

“Only to be surpassed by yours,” she complimented with a soft smile before handing him the helmet that hid him from view once more before she shrouded herself in the red cloak. The Mistress of the Portal teleported them to the entrance of the fairy realm not far from where he had first found her. They held each other for an extended period of time, saddened by the fact no kiss could be stolen in between. Steeling her resolve Sookie ignited the magic that opened the portal for his safe passage. For him to leave behind the still reddened sky for the white and bright light of the other more mystical realm.

 

His interlocked hand pulled hers over his heart to remind them of the shared resolve that had them both choosing time apart in sacrifice of others once more. Though selfishly in the end it was all for them.

 

“Now don’t be shy ‘bout coming back you hear,” Sookie jested in the local tongue as she blinked back the tears that she wouldn’t allow to fall till they spoke of the joy of his homecoming.

 

“Yes,” he stated with the strength of character Eric had lacked when he was about to beseech her to move on if he wouldn’t return in a timely manner. “For this time there will be someone waiting for me when I return.”

 

A bright smile graced her face as it peered out underneath the heavy woollen hood of her cape. Like their previous goodbye their hands were the last to part, this time black leather disappeared in the blinding lustre but neither one felt the pain and emptiness that had haunted them for so long after that. This time was different.

 

Aided by the thought that nothing would keep them apart as they simply would not allow it this time round, not by Niall. Not the moon, the sun or even the earth. They were older and wiser now and that would afford them so much more. Resilience had marked their parted paths and there was no doubt in their mind, that soon, it would find them crossing again.

 

 

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37 thoughts on “Hinterland Shades

  1. Well what can I say! I knew this one was yours !Loved how you have mixed science and magic together;Loved how Sookie taught Eric to feed properly; how the world stopped turning and there was on one side light on the other dark! Hopefully you will continue it! Pretty please with acherry on top!? Looking for more take care

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all the love for this little story, there will be a continuation but I just don’t know when… the plate is rather full at the moment although I am rather fond of cherries…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for loving my Bluey and his Princess, It will continue, I’m just not sure when I’ll get to it. Make sure to follow here or on ff.net and you will be notified when it happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this story SO much and I’m very happy that you’ll be continuing it. (I voted for it, BTW, though I did like California Kat ‘ s entry, too.) I just really love the sci-fi elements of this one! 🙂

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    1. Well thank you for the vote, I liked California Kat’s too, the only disappointment was that I was hoping it was perhaps a new author to discover but I should have known better 😉 ,

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  3. Loved this story. The epic love story. Their individual responsibility to their own kind. The earth weakening. Hopefully you will do at least two chapters of his time negotiating with Niall. Looking forward to reading more of your delightful story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure whether to turns this into a novella or a multi chapter yet but a couple of chapters at least I’m sure. I could just shorten it up and make Eric bring Niall some spaghetti, that earth will be spinning again in no time 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One of my favorite stories in the challenge and one I voted to have more chapters and since I have read in your replies you are going to this Yeah 🙂 I am patient and will it when ever you post .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I said while the story was anonymous…. Loved this apocalyptic and very original AU. Esp. the part of fairy Sookie teaching babyvamp Eric what he was… A very cute beginning and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything similar… The Bluey nickname was so cute…

    And if you didn’t have so many great stories going and, I guess, a few in the back burner, I’d say this has the legs to be a longer story… Well done again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. I’m so glad you liked the Bluey nickname too, I always have the hardest time for Eric and Sookie to give each other pet names but it felt so appropriate for this one as they’re still sort of ‘young’ and innocent in spirit when they first meet.

      I agree that it merits exploring into something bigger but I want to take the time for that so I’m taking it. My own ridiculous self imposed thanksgiving deadline on the fixin’s will keep me busy for a bit, if I don’t crash and burn somewhere in between but after that I will definitely dedicate some time to this, hopefully a few other stories will be wrapped up by then too (at least on my end, there’s a large discrepancy between what I post and what’s done). Fingers crossed you will all still remember these two by then 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well – don’t worry if time passes… In a way it might be better we do not remember the one shot as well as it does pack up a lot of info and perhaps you want to split some of it over several chapters in that potential longer story? I love deadlines (and spreadsheets, tasks lists etc) but sometimes it is ok to ignore them and let life run freeeeee….

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        1. Very true, I live by deadlines too but I do have to remind myself that this a hobby and nothing more. I’ll take your advice on splitting this one shot into two or three chapters or reworking it as such so it’s not such a daunting first chapter read.

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    1. Thank you for loving it 🙂 it will be a bit of a wait but it will be continued. Subscribe to the blog here if you haven’t yet or over on ff.net and you’ll get a notification when it’s up.

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    1. Thank you, I’m well aware there is demand for this to continue and it will at some point, but I need to offload some other stories first and I will also be participating in msbuffy’s dream team challenge so at the moment it will have to wait… however I like my Bluey and his Princess too much to leave their fate at the hands of Niall…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oooo I love it 🙂 such fresh ideas. Nail better be nice and help Eric be the champion he wants to be for his princess x thank u for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the love Claire! This will be continued at some point, I’m focusing on finishing up the other multi-chapters first as this was a competition entry, but I’m sure the Niall and Eric meeting will be an interesting one…

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  7. I just found your site last week, and I don’t recall seeing the second part of this story before now. This is so unusual, blending the basic canon pieces with your own inspired touch. I do hope you come back to this some day. and give us the rest of the story

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ehm there isn’t a second part… I meant to continue this at some point but I haven’t really been feeling it yet… who knows the odd comments on these long after it has been posted always makes me contemplate it…

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      1. I guess my brain forgot about the second part of this..would love to find out what might have happened when he went to the fae realm, and f he was successful. Perhaps some day your muse will return to this little jewel.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Let me see if i can re-state that, I realize there wasn’t a second part now..I only remembered the beginning where she taught him how to be a vampire and then was forced to leave him…

    Liked by 1 person

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