Eric was the first to fly in the door pulling the distraught Eva into his arms while she continued to cry and whisper apologies into his chest.
“All is well, min kära flicka,” he soothed while rubbing her quivering back with his large hand in concentric movements.
“I killed Santa,” she snivelled as her impossibly blue eyes found his.
An unintended chortle came from his throat when Eric glanced over at the body on the floor. “That’s not Santa, kära,” he assured with a kiss to her forehead. “And he’s still alive and kicking, sort of.”
“You’re not mad?” she whispered when the attic room started to become crowded with curious glances from those who had flocked to the room with the noises of consternation.
“I am,” came the disgruntled voice from the floor while he set his hat to right. “My beard is gone.”
“Behave,” Eric growled lowly. “Don’t make me call your sister on you!”
The little man held his hands up in the air as a sign of defeat. “Don’t go crazy now,” he pleaded with a wobble to his gruff voice.
“Who’s your sister?” Pinnie asked with genuine curiosity as he tried to set his felt hat straight.
“You may know her as Dr Ludwig,” he answered with a strangled cough while pulling nervously at his collar.
“Oh,” Pinnie exhaled with wide eyes before agreeing, “She’s scawy.”
“Eric, who is this?” Sookie questioned with an unnerved Viggo and Bran on either side of her.
“It’s Nils,” Pam responded instead, walking with a surreptitious stride towards the gnome-like creature that stood no taller than three feet where they continued to stare at each other as if they stood toe to toe.
“How ya doing, toots?” he greeted.
“I’ve been better,” she noted dryly. At his inquiring glance she continued, “Life’s a lot easier when the rugrats get a proper night’s sleep.”
“I see,” he noted while glancing at the tired faces. “Mr. Sticky Fingers over there yours then?” Nils questioned with a glance to Little Spike who was stealthily peering into the jute bag he had carried inside and soon threatened to be swallowed by.
“Unfortunately,” she replied while pulling out the squirming little boy who complained loudly to that action. “Or not,” she amended, changing tactics with a kiss to his head while he desperately tried to move away from her lips’ further intents.
“Mummy, you’re embarassin’ me in fron’ of Santa,” he protested trying to release himself from her hold, only causing her to grin with glee that her changed strategy had achieved the intended effect.
“Santa!” Nils fumed, colouring him the same red as his clothing. “Don’t you dare compare me to that HACK!”
Little Spike instantly stopped fighting his mother’s hold and instead snuggled into the security it brought. “Not Santa,” he whispered apologetically into the cool satin of his mother’s pyjamas.
“Are you the Tomte from the barn?” Bran asked shyly, padding forward with his hand firmly attached to Sookie who followed with a trailing Viggo.
“Very astute, little one,” the Tomte confirmed before pulling a small, wrapped, hand-carved wooden horse from his bag. “You like the animals of the barn, I believe.” Bran nodded eagerly before looking up to his mother for permission to open it.
“You can put it under the tree with the rest of them,” she informed, mostly to Nils but Bran diligently followed her instructions and followed his father’s offered hand down the stairs.
“I’m sorry about your beard, Mr. Nils,” Eva spoke softly from the comfort of Eric’s arms.
With a curious glance he hopped onto the bed to gaze at the little one tucked in her father’s embrace recognising the fine features from a long time ago. “Niðsi,” he whispered reverently in Old Norse to Eric, distinguishing her as kin with the word for tiny relative. “She looks just like your mother. A true beauty.”
Eric nodded proudly at the compliment finding no words to counter the statement while beckoning Sookie and their son to his side. “And I see you found another for yourself,” he grinned with an outreached hand towards Sookie.
“This is my Sookie,” Eric offered proudly, placing a gentle kiss to the swell of her fertile stomach before pulling Viggo on the bed beside him. “And this is Viggo, Eva’s brother.”
“They certainly are yours,” he grinned with approval. “This one looks just like you at that age.”
“You’re vewy old,” Pinnie stated rather than asked, not an unusual occurrence as her intuition was known to reveal things she wasn’t necessarily capable of understanding or knowing, a gift she shared with her grandmother Emer.
“As old as this place, as long as there were people here,” he acknowledged. “I take care of me and mine on this land and will continue to do so as long as the blood of my line continues on. I knew your father here when he was just a wee sprout like you all and he still went by Eiríkr.”
“What was daddy like?” Eva asked losing the shyness her embarrassment had caused, the sleeves of her pyjama wiping away the tears that had fallen.
“Always hanging on his mother’s skirts like that one,” he said pointing to Viggo who looked very proud to be just like his much admired dad. “Used to drive his father mad always seeking the females for companionship…”
Eric coughed pointedly with pleading eyes not to elaborate further. Nils, however, completely ignored him as he continued his narration, “Always scared of the dark that one, made his mother sit with him till he fell asleep.”
“Pussy,” Pinnie giggled.
“You catch on quick,” the little Tomte smiled before putting a finger to the tip of Pinnie’s nose causing her to giggle even more. “Or you know him very well.”
“Both,” she smiled proudly before taking his now free hand. “Lemme show you our Christmas twee.”
“Very well, little one,” he said following her with the large bag in hand as the rest of the remaining family followed the odd couple down. “Mind your step.”
“You talk like Uncle Ewic,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“You sound like your mother,” he noted, as she indeed carried the same monotonous drawl in her ordinary speech.
“Pinnie likes Mummy,” she answered slightly confused with the literal insinuation.
“Don’t we all,” Nils grinned as he encouraged the kids to help him empty the contents of his overflowing bag to place among the rest underneath the pine tree.
“Pamela, did you and-,” Niall whispered lowly gesturing towards the small creature.
“Yes,” Pam answered plainly while casting a lascivious wink to the Tomte who tossed her a kiss through the air with a heated look. “And so much more than that.”
Niall spluttered momentarily, flummoxed at what to do with a former paramour in such close proximity. “Surely not?” the Prince of the Fae begged hoping he had taken a misinterpretation of her words.
“What?” she shrugged. “It’s not like there’s much entertainment here in the windy shithole. Eric didn’t even get a TV here till 1992. We have fun.”
“Anytime,” Nils grinned, their whispered conversation not going unnoticed by him. “You know where to find me, toots.”
“I’ll keep it in mind,” she purred in return.
“What?” she smirked with great triumph dancing in her eyes. “What is it you always say…”
“You know you love me,” he grumbled.
“Indeed I do,” she beamed back before planting a solid kiss to his mouth causing a chorus of ‘EEEW!’ to ensue.
“So this is it,” Nils spoke seriously, holding the wooden box in his hands that Eric had handed to him after the kids were all tucked into bed again with the promise they could play with the Tomte in the morning. “Back where it belongs.”
Eric simply nodded, preparing himself to see the item that meant so much to them both but he had not dared to gaze upon since having it in his possession again.
“You do not wish to keep it with you?” the Tomte asked when Sookie came to sit beside Eric after handing Nils a warm drink laced with his preferred liquor, or rather his preferred liquor laced with a warm drink. “It was meant for you.”
“What is it?” Sookie questioned as both men remained decidedly silent to which Nils opened the lid to reveal the crown that once ruled the territory they now owned a small piece of through a land deed. Her hand twined with his as she felt the pang of pain travel through their shared bond.
“You worked so hard for this,” Nils offered trying to hand the box back. “I failed us all that night, I should have kept those wolves away from the goats.”
“It took me taking back this crown to understand how powerless we all stood,” Eric informed before turning his gaze on Sookie. “It took her to make it happen, even when I didn’t handle it the best way.”
“The men of our clan have never quite come to understand the nuances of women,” the Tomte chuckled. “I am not surprised by that in the least.”
“It was just a trick of my blood,” Sookie said in an effort to downplay her importance.
“No,” Eric denied sternly gazing intently into her eyes. “A trick with faery blood took down Russell momentarily but it never amended the damage caused by him. I think it’s why I couldn’t let him die the true death when all sense told me it should. The moment I knew you were truly mine, that we were to be parents. That was the moment where I felt what was stolen was returned to me.”
“Fjölskylda,” Nils agreed wholeheartedly after experiencing the same sense of achievement upon seeing the blood of his line thrive once more.
“Family,” Eric translated for her to which she could only smile proudly to her integral part as a mother to his children. “A tethered branch that seemed only tainted by death and frozen in time grew with new life, metal is ancient but blood is eternal,” he explained while his hand lingered over the swell of her stomach that announced more of that to come.
“Eric,” she whimpered with tears escaping the corners of her eyes. He kissed them away softly before they both felt the dip on the sofa beside them.
“My Queen,” Nils said humbly before placing the matching band of metal to Ulfrick’s crown upon her head. “You have returned life to Eric and these barren lands. Welcome to the family.”
Another small box fell into her hand, not wooden but one of soft velvet, placed there by the hand of her vampire. “Merry Christmas,” he whispered into the shell of her ear before another cool band of ancient metal slipped over her finger.
A/N: Think of that ring what you will I’m not commenting on what it really is either way 😉
I borrowed from Scandinavian lore with the Tomte. My mother used to read me Astrid Lindgren’s (of Pippi Longstocking fame) ‘The Tomte’ around Christmas time when I was a lil’ bit myself and we always had a craft like puppet of him in the house around the holidays. With the more intricate description I found on Wikipedia it reminded me a little of Dr Ludwig thus this story was born that became a true homecoming for Eric with his new family and gave meaning to why Eric was so fond of the ‘windy shithole’.
Literally copied and pasted from wikipedia:
A tomte, nisse or tomtenisse (Sweden) (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈtɔ̀mːtɛ]), nisse (Norway and Denmark) (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈnìsːɛ] or Danish pronunciation: [ˈnesə]) or tonttu (Finland) is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. It is generally no taller than three feet, has a long white beard and wears red or other colorful clothes. It is known as a gift bearer and is considered one of the Swedish and Norwegian versions of Santa Claus, although not the same thing.
The Swedish name tomte is indeed derived from the term for a place of residence and area of influence: the house lot or tomt. Nisse is a common name in Norwegian, Danish and the Scanian dialect in southernmost Sweden; as a nickname for Nils, and its usage in folklore comes from expressions such as Nisse god dräng (“Nisse good lad”, cf. Robin Goodfellow). Other names are tuftekall, tomtegubbe or haugebonde (“mound farmer”), all names connecting the being to the origins of the farm (the building ground), or a burial mound. The term nisse might also be influenced by Norse niðsi, believe to mean “tiny relative”, and the Germanic water-sprite nixie.
I hope you all enjoyed your Christmases and/or other celebrations and this little story! Many thanks for jumping on with the giant family again… so depending on how drunk I am there will be something on New Year’s Eve otherwise see you all in the New Year and have a wonderful celebration! Thoughts welcome as always 🙂
Special thanks to MsBuffy and her editing skills on this.
A new outtake (complete) is available that picks up after the events of Meet Me Under the Stars:
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