Ethereal Redemption Chapter 39
A/N I’m so glad all of you loved the last chapter! I had fun writing it even though it was a huge amount of dialogue!
Into the night, desperate and broken, the sound of a fight, father has spoken.
We were the kings and queens of promise; we were the victims of ourselves
Maybe the children of a lesser god, between heaven and hell.
Into your eyes, hopeless and taken, we stole our new lives, through blood and pain
In defence of our dreams, in defence of our dreams We were the kings and queens of promise; we were the victims of ourselves
Maybe the children of a lesser god, between heaven and hell.
The age of man is over, darkness comes at dawn, these lessons that we’ve learned here, have only just begun
We were the kings and queens of promise; we were the victims of ourselves
Maybe the children of a lesser god, between heaven and hell.
~ Kings and Queens, 30 Seconds To Mars
The moment Sookie had told me what that wished to talk to me I had assumed the worst, but it had been foolish of me. My Sookie had surprised me with her openness, with her curiosity. I had known all along that she would have questions for me, things she wanted to know the answer to, and I had no problem in answering anything she fired at me. My confessions about wanting to live with her, wanting to marry her, they had been thoughts I’d locked away for so long, but finally voicing them and witnessing how much Sookie had grown had been enchanting. Knowing that when all of this was over, and we weren’t running from anyone anymore, we would be moving in together was a blessing. Knowing too that I would finally get to put a ring on Sookie’s finger almost had me giddy with excitement. Never had I wanted to tie myself to someone as much. Everything I had told my little fae before slipping into my day rest had been the truth. I had allowed the sun to pull me under at sunrise, wearing a smile on my features and holding my beautiful bonded to my side.
I had never gotten use to the feeling of rising for the night, even after 1000 years as a vampire. It was automatic, my whole body was suddenly awake and my eyelids snapped back, taking in the darkness of the room. Warmth pulsated from my side and I tipped my head to look at the source. My Sookie was still curled up next to me, encased in my arms, breathing lightly. Her warm breath was ghosting over my bare chest and I couldn’t contain my smile, hearing her strong heartbeat as it resonated from her chest.
Slowly I turned to lay on my side, cocooning Sookie in my arms before I dropped slow and soft kisses to the top of her head, to her forehead, down her nose and finally to her lips. Still half in slumber, Sookie returned my tender kisses, finally pulling back to groan at the fact she was now awake. “What time is it?” she asked quietly, her voice hoarse from her sleep.
“Sunset of course, min älskling.” I murmured, dropping kisses to her shoulders as she scooted closer to me, placing a hand over her mouth to hide her yawn in a ladylike gesture.
“What did you do today, my dove?” I asked, sweeping her hair away from her face as she started to rub the sleep from the corners of her eyes. The fact she had napped beside me warmed my cold heart.
“I slept. OH GOD.” She scrambled up, racing out of bed as she quickly pulled on a clean bra and new panties. “I slept away the whole day! That was so rude of me!” Sookie squealed, dashing to the wardrobe to pull on a pair of jeans and a red wrap around top. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the impact her manners had on her; it was adorable. Slowly clambering out of bed myself as Sookie returned from the wardrobe, I stretched upwards, flexing my muscles. Almost instantly I was hit with Sookie’s lust, and the faint scent of her arousal. Shooting her a smirk I made my way over to her, her eyes hungrily taking in my bare form. Grasping her around the waist I pulled her flush to me, capturing her lips with my own, “I spent most of the night making love to you and now you want me again? Insatiable woman.” I scolded playfully.
A light blush crossed my loves cheeks and she batted me away. “Shush. Do you have your phone by any chance?” she asked, pivoting on the spot to watch me as I made my way to the wardrobe, pulling on a fresh pair of silk boxers.
“Yeah, why’d you ask?” I answered, pulling on a pair of my trademark black jeans and a grey tshirt.
“Well, after we were talking last night I realised that I haven’t contacted Jason or Tara or Sam, or anyone back in Bon Temps for that matter. They’re probably worried about me and as I don’t have a phone they don’t know how to get in contact with me.” Sookie explained.
With a grin I moved to the bedside drawer, removing my phone and handing it her. “Ring your brother, tell him you’re okay and that you’re with me. Don’t mention where we are though, or when we’ll be back. Oh and don’t mention that Godric is with us, or that it turns out you have another cousin. The less your brother knows the better off he is.” I informed her, not wanting anyone to know our exact location. My phone was untraceable so there was no way anyone could find us via that.
“I understand not telling him where we are, but why not mention Godric and Ata?” Sookie frowned, hitting the home button on my iPhone so that the screen would light up. The moment her eyes hit the image set as my wallpaper she gasped, “ERIC! NO!” She looked up at me with wide eyes, her embarrassment flooding the bond.
Chuckling lightly at her human morals, I shrugged my shoulders, looking over to the screen of my phone where a photo of a very naked Sookie laying across her bed took pride of place. She was on her front, the sheets down around her behind, exposing the vast expanse of creamy skin on her back. There was even a tasteful amount of side-boob on show, much to my delight. Her golden hair was fanned out across the pillow behind her and her features were all soft and relaxed.
“My phone never leaves my sight, lover. No one else has seen it so don’t worry.” I replied with a boyish grin, grabbing a pair of socks from one of the bedside drawers, pulling them on.
“How many other photos are there?” She demanded as she slid her finger across the screen, unlocking it before finding the ‘Phone’ application, starting to type in her brothers’ number.
“A few, but you won’t find them. I’ve hidden them, another measure to make sure no one will ever find them.” I gave her a playful wink, her mortified expression making me chuckle.
Pushing the call button, Sookie raised my phone to her ear, seating herself on the edge of the bed to make her call. Grabbing a comb I moved into the bathroom, leaving the door open to hear both sides of their conversation. Jason picked up on the third ring.
“Sook! Sook, where the hell are you? You just bailed on us here again! Andy ain’t even opening another case file for ya, says you can deal with it yourself! You’ve had us mad worried!”
I rolled my eyes at the mention of the Bon Temps police; it wasn’t like they had that much power anyway, especially not in comparison to myself. Running a comb through my hair, I started to work it into its usual style.
“I can’t say where I am Jase, the more you know the more at danger you are, but I’m safe. I don’t give a rats ass about Andy and his cases, so you can tell him I’m fine and in no need of his ‘assistance’ or whatever.” Sookie practically growled, causing me to remember the night she had returned from Faery. Although Bill had ordered me to leave I’d stayed and watched from the distance as the slightly round police officer ranted at Sookie on her own porch.
“Alright Sook, I’m trusting you here, but why would it put me in danger? Who’s after you? Who’s with you? You better not be alone! Who’s number ya ringing from?” Her brothers’ questions were insistent and although they bugged me, in the sense that he was asking Sookie so many questions that she was starting to become flustered, it also soothed me to know that her brother worried and cared for her. The year she had been gone he had come to me a few times, bringing me bagged donor blood, sharing stories with me, helping me pick out bits and pieces for her home. She was right when she said he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box, that was an understatement, but he was a good man and he cared for his little sister, and in my eyes that was an admirable trait. I’d told him not to tell Sookie, should he see her upon her return before me, that I had bought her house. Judging by her surprise when I had appeared in her bedroom and witnessed her naked for the first time it was obvious he’d kept his promise.
“Let’s just say that, as usual, some crazy vampire is after me and wants me for himself. I can’t tell you who and I’m sorry, Jase, but it’s for your own good. I’m with Eric, this is his phone, and he’s taking care of me.”
I could hear Jason snort down the phone at the mention of me keeping her safe. “Yeah, I bet he is.” I heard him mutter and I had to stop myself from laughing at how quickly her brother had turned an innocent statement into a sexual comment. He was almost as good as me.
“Jason Stackhouse!” Sookie scolded. I could feel her embarrassment, mixed with a tinge of amusement, through our bond. During Sookie’s year in Faery, Jason and I had come to an understanding and in some sense I received the feeling that he respected me now, that he’d removed all of his previous judgments about me. I had to say that the feeling was mutual. Jason had proved himself as a decent brother to Sookie and a decent man overall.
“Sorry Sook. If tall, blonde and dead is listening in, then I guess I’ll say now that I’ll stake his ass if you get hurt.” Her brother threatened me. I didn’t take his threat to heart though, I’d had a little sister in my human years and I’d been fiercely protective of her. Unfortunately her life was taken from her before she ever had the chance to find a partner. I would have loved nothing more than to grill and threaten her boyfriends, to make sure they would treat her right.
Leaving the bathroom, I vamped beside Sookie, taking the phone from her. “I never knew you were so kinky, Stackhouse.” I purred, teasing the blonde human.
“Hey man, there’s a lot you don’t know.” He fired back instantly and I couldn’t help but smile. “I’m being serious though, you take care of her for me, bring her back in one piece when she’s safe, please? She’s all I’ve got left.” Jason asked me and I found myself nodding, although of course he wouldn’t see it.
“I will do, I promise it. I’ll return her back to you safely. I don’t know when we’ll be back but we’ll keep you updated. Tell Tara and Sam that Sookie is safe will you? They need to know just that she’s okay, so that they don’t worry and do something stupid. If anyone comes knocking during the night, speak to them through the door first. The last thing we need is for some vampire to get hold of you to draw us out.” I warned, wanting him to understand the seriousness of the situation.
He seemed to grasp it instantly. “Whoever it is, they’re older than you, aren’t they? It’ll be harder for you to take them down?”
Sighing quietly, I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Yes, to both of those questions.” I felt Sookie rubbing my thigh, pushing love through our bond, which I returned happily.
“I trust you to keep her safe, I trust you to stay safe too. I know I’ve done some stupid shit in my time regarding your kind, heck I even joined the Fellowship, but Sook cares for ya and she’d be a mess if something were to happen to ya.” Her brother told me in a low voice. Had I just earned her brothers approval? That would make any future questions regarding Sookie’s hand in marriage easier.
“I won’t let you down. Sookie wants to speak with you.” I didn’t wait for his response, handing the phone back to my beloved. The last thing I needed was to get soppy with my beloved’s brother. He’d witnessed my devotion to her first-hand during her year of absence; he didn’t need to hear it.
I passed the phone back to Sookie, who eagerly pressed it to her ear. “I have to go Jase, but I love you and I promise to stay safe. Please keep yourself out of trouble.” She begged.
“I promise Sook, you go do what ya gotta do. I love you too.” And with that they hung up. Sookie slipped my phone into my back pocket, rising to her feet before leaving the room. I was hot on her heels, sensing Godric and Pam’s presence in the living area. Upon entering I was bombarded with a multitude of smells, all of which were rather pleasant.
Godric and Pam were sat up on the barstools at the kitchen counter, a round yet jolly woman was cooking up a storm and Ata was nowhere to be seen. “Flo, I thought you only worked in the day?” Sookie exclaimed, grinning at the plump woman who turned to look at my lover, a large smile on her features as she pulled Sookie into her embrace.
“Miss Sookie, you are awake! Miss Ata asked me to stay and cook some dinner for the pair of you, she told me you had a long night and would be in need of some strength food!” The plump woman, who I now knew as Flo, gestured to the stove where numerous pans were boiling with different foods.
Moving around to the barstools, I placed a kiss on the top of Pam’s head in way of greeting, earning a smile from her. Resting a hand on Godric’s back, I offered him a warm smile, as he looked my way. With a nod of his head and his own smile we greeted one another, both instinctively checking our bond to see how the other was feeling. My Maker was currently happy and curious. His curiosity had me curious.
“Where’s Ata this evening?” Sookie asked, a light frown on her features as she looked around the room in search of her Egyptian cousin.
“Miss Ata is up in her practice room, training with her boys. She had me keep Mr. Godric and Miss Pam here until both you and Mr. Eric were up. She wants to speak with you all.” Flo explained with a grin, shooing Sookie from the kitchen area and around to the bookcase that led up to the second floor of the penthouse. With a come hither motion in our direction, my Maker, my progeny and myself were up on our feet, following Sookie up the stairs.
The sound of fast-paced music greeted my eardrums as Sookie pushed the door open to reveal the large training room, illuminated by the long strip lights, the lighting bouncing off of the wall of mirrors to increase the brightness of the room. I had to squint a little to allow my eyes a moment to adjust. Finally I was able to take in the scene before me. Ari, Khai, Egor and Agmund had their fangs down and were attacking Ata from each side, using their vampire speed to their advantage as they swiped at her, occasionally trying to bite her, trying to throw in a few punches and kicks. If I hadn’t of known they were training it would have looked like a real fight.
Ata was fending off her boys easily, using her fae powers to deflect any oncoming attack. I was rather impressed and I could tell, through all the ties I had with the other people I had entered the room with, that they too were impressed with Ata’s power and speed. Of course vampire vision enabled Pam, Godric and I to see exactly what was going on, while to Sookie the whole scene would have looked like one big blur.
Ari was at Ata’s side instantly, fangs down, throwing his fist at her jaw. With super speed Ata had hold of his hand, twisting it until the bone cracked before she sent him flying backwards. Rather than hitting the wall he threw down his good hand, slowing him so he skidded neatly along the floor, jumping back onto his feet a moment later. In the meantime Khai had approached Ata from behind at vampire speed, his own fangs glistening in the artificial light as he grabbed her head, tipping it sideways. Seconds before he sank his fangs in, Ata’s heel came up in his crotch causing him to double over. Grabbing him she flung him effortlessly over her shoulder, sending him skidding into Ari. Both male vampires collapsed on the floor together in a heap.
A flash of metal caught my attention as Egor brought a broadsword down towards Ata. One moment she was there and the next she was gone. I could feel the shock from all of those I shared a bond with as we looked around for the Egyptian fairy. Suddenly she appeared behind Egor, throwing her hand against his back. “BOOM. Vampire goo.” She stated, declaring Egor out before she twisted her body seconds later as Agmund had crept up on her, trying to catch her off guard with his own broadsword. The blade clipped her arm however and opened up a gash along the length of her forearm.
Howling out in pain, I could see Ata falter for a second before she popped away from Agmund to the other side of the room. As the blade had clipped Ata, Riei and Oeri were at our sides, both with arms out in front of Godric to stop him from rushing to Ata’s aid. I could feel his anger through our bond, but I could also feel that he was taking some of the pain from Ata, so that she would be able to carry on. I felt like I should be holding him back too, but unfortunately he had 1000 years on me and could simply command me to move out of the way, so he could easily taken me down.
The scent of Ata’s blood filled the air and before any of us had time to stop ourselves our fangs were down, heads tipped back as we inhaled the sweet scent. It took a firm hand on Pam’s wrist to keep her from dashing to Ata to lap up her blood, which was running down her arm. Little Oscar was perched on a bench at the side of the room, and although he looked strained he was managing to stay firmly in place, having far more control than my progeny, who had over 100 years on him. Ari and Khai were back on their feet as Ata backed away, the three remaining vampires stalked towards her in a taunting manner. Raising her good arm, she aimed at Ari and before he had time to react she had fired a mixture of gold and white light at him, sending him flying into the back wall, knocking him unconscious. Within milliseconds Khai had received the same treatment, meeting his brother up against the wall.
Agmund sped towards Ata, broadsword raised in the typical posture for attacking from our human years. Before he reached her however, Ata started to shimmer and seconds later there were several versions of her scattered throughout the room, causing Agmund to skid to a stop. “That’s not fair Ata!” he growled out, casting his eyes around each illusion, all of which gave him a smug smile.
“You should know by now that I never play fair.” Ata’s singsong voice rang out around the room, though it was impossible to pinpoint the exact point of its origin. I couldn’t help but be fascinated with the fact that she could not only teleport around the room but also cast illusions. My memory reminded me of the night when Sookie had asked about Ata’s powers and she had listed the long array of skills the fae had. The thought that Sookie would be able to teleport herself out of sticky situations, and maybe even throw out her own illusions, comforted me.
Ata’s blood flow had slowed in her arm by now, and with a blast of light from one illusion, which soon gave away that it was in fact the real Ata, Agmund’s sword was sent flying against the far wall, embedding itself in the wall by its blade. “Hand-to-hand? You’re brave.” Agmund taunted as all the illusions disappeared, leaving only the real Ata behind.
“Come on then.” She ordered, gesturing with the hand on her good arm for Agmund to come after her. My fellow Viking wasted no time in racing towards her, throwing the first punch which Ata easily deflected, capturing his fist in her small hand where she crushed it, the sounds of his bones cracking was rather unpleasant and his howl of pain was no better. Where she had managed to get such power from was completely unknown to me, yet I assumed it was due to her advanced age and the vast amounts of ancient vampire blood swirling around her system. Using his other hand, Agmund took a precision shot at Ata, his fist connecting with her side, causing her to hiss in pain before she slipped from his grasp, out of his line of vision. The pair battled on for a solid ten minutes and it took both Riei and Oeri to restrain Godric from rushing to Ata’s side, I even found myself wanting to dash to her side every now and then, but Sookie was keeping me in place. I could feel her horror and a tinge of awe underneath it through our bond as she watched Agmund and Ata punching and blocking, kicking and scratching, throwing one another around the room like rag dolls. Eventually Ata managed to slam her hand to Agmund’s chest. “BOOM. Vampire goo.” She stated proudly, rising said hand to her face to wipe away the blood trickling down from her broken nose.
Slowly she sank to the floor opposite Agmund, laughing quietly. “It’s been some time since we’ve done that.” She stated, as Ari, Khai and Egor moved to join them on the floor. All four vampires, and the Egyptian fairy, were well and truly battered.
“You haven’t lost your edge, Amisi.” Agmund commented, pushing the bones in his fingers back into place as Ari twirled his wrist, slipping the bones back together as they healed.
The moment Riei and Oeri removed their restraining hands from Godric he was off like a whippet, racing to Ata and scooping her up in his arms before he vamped with her to a corner of the room. He sat them down, Ata resting on his lap as he gently grabbed her arm. He started to lick her broadsword wound in order to heal it. “Stop it will you, I’m fine.” Ata protested, trying to wiggle her way out of Godric’s grasp. His hold on her tightened however and a low warning growl reverberated from his throat. “This is how I train, I’m fine.” She reiterated, as my Maker finished healing her cut. Instantly he was licking the blood from her face and the moment she was clean he bit into his wrist, his fangs still exposed from the scent of her blood earlier, and he was forcefully pushing his wrist to her mouth. “I’m fine, it’s just a few bruises and dislocations!” Ata argued but my Maker was having none of it.
“You are hurt. Take my blood, now.” He ordered in a no nonsense tone. Ata’s heavy sigh informed all of us in the room that she wanted to argue but knew it would be futile, so grudgingly she pulled his wrist to her mouth, latching on. Taking lazy pulls, Godric’s eyes wandered over her body, ascertaining any other damage to her. After only a few mouthfuls she pulled away, his wound sealing itself. The faint bruises that had been appearing on her skin were gone and her nose looked perfectly fine now, not to mention the gash on her arm was missing.
“See, all good. Let me go back to the group, I need to tend to my boys.” Ata ordered in response, folding her arms across her chest. My Maker’s face was stony but he lifted her up, carrying her back over to the group where he sat down, bringing Ata with him so she rested on his lap. During their little exchange I too had taken a seat on the floor, Sookie resting in my lap and Pam at my side. Oscar, Riei and Oeri had joined us on the floor and both Oeri and Riei had opened up their wrists, offering them to Ari, Khai, Egor and Agmund in order to aid their healing.
Seeing her boys feeding from one another, Ata held her right wrist out to Ari, who removed his fangs from Riei before sinking them gently into Ata’s wrist. A deep growl from Godric had Ari looking up at his Maker’s mate warily. “Ignore him, you need to feed my Childe.” Ata cooed, brushing Ari’s hair back from his face as she dropped a motherly kiss to his forehead. I found it a strange sight, watching as a little fairy/human hybrid nourished her vampire progeny, but then again the family I had recently gained was an eclectic bunch anyway.
We sat in silence as the vampires who had been training with Ata healed themselves, and finally they were all licking their lips, sealing the wounds on the wrists of those they had fed from. “Isn’t that painful?” Sookie blurted out, finally breaking the silence.
Offering her cousin a small smile, Ata gave a shrug of her shoulders. “It was at first, but I’ve been through worse, we all have. The only way to train properly is to be hurt, because the enemy isn’t going to play nice and be gentle with you. They want to kill you, so you have to be prepared for it.” She explained. I could see the logic in her words. If she trained against vampires who weren’t afraid to do damage to her then she would have a realistic grasp on how fighting in the real world against a true enemy would be. On the other hand though she could sustain serious injuries when training, such as the broken nose and broadsword gash she received earlier. Vampire blood would heal her though, and Ata had plenty of that on tap for her.
“I do not like you being hurt.” Godric stated, his voice laced with aggression and determination, as if his words would stop his mate from training.
“And I don’t like the fact you’re getting all possessive and angry, but I’m not complaining about it. I train and maintain my strength and skill, or I die. I prefer life, thanks.” Ata’s snipped in response, rolling her blue eyes before she took in the group sat on the floor. I could hear Godric’s low growls but Ata gave his chest a hefty shove and he fell silent. “We have guests coming here this evening, Niall and Claude are coming over. I received a letter from them this morning stating that they have important news for us.” Ata’s attention shifted to Sookie, Pam, Godric and myself. Her comment piqued my curiosity, and going from all the bonds I shared I could sense that my immediate family were curious too.
“I’m sorry for sleeping the day away, Ata.” Sookie apologised with a sheepish smile. I could feel her guilt through our bond.
Raising a perfectly shaped eyebrow, Ata wafted a hand through the air, brushing her apology aside. “It doesn’t bother me, you needed your rest. Besides, I happen to live with several men who sleep all day anyway.” She teased, giving her boys an affectionate glance, she even spared a warm glance to the new baby vampire who returned it with a huge grin.
“Did Niall and Claude give any clues as to the nature of the news they would be giving us?” I inquired, deciding to speak for the group as a whole.
With a shake of her head, Ata sighed. “No, they mentioned nothing, though they said it was important and usually if Niall claims something to be important it usual is. He doesn’t take that word lightly. I’m curious as to why Claude is with him though; ever since the disruptions in Faery he hasn’t left there. He owns a strip club in Monroe, Hooligans.” Ata pursed her lips together as if accessing a particular memory.
“When are they arriving?” Godric broke into the conversation, obviously over his little sulk now that it was obvious that Ata was feeling well and back to full health again.
“In about fifteen minutes, so I suggest Sookie and I go and eat. I have no idea how long they are going to be here for and once they’re gone we need to see about unlocking Sookie’s ability to hear vampire thoughts,” at this point she gave a pointed look to Oeri, who nodded, “and I need to go and try on the dress for tomorrow night that Riei bought for me.” She smiled at Riei who suddenly shuffled.
“You don’t have a dress for tomorrow…” he murmured, nibbling on his lower lip.
Silence. Silence lingered in the room and, even though I was over 1000 years old and found little uncomfortable these days, I really didn’t want to be in that room at that present moment. “What do you mean I don’t have a dress for tomorrow?” Ata demanded in a quiet yet authoritative tone. She was quite clearly struggling to maintain her annoyance and I found myself glad to not be Riei right at that moment.
“You told me you had it covered, so I didn’t pick up anything for you.” Riei stated. I could hear the honesty in his voice, but I could also hear the underlying stress. If Ata had nothing to wear for the party at Felipe’s tomorrow then all hell would break loose. The Egyptian fairy seemed the kind of girl who always got what she wanted, when she wanted it.
“When I say I have it covered Riei, it means I don’t have it covered and you need to go and cover it for me!” She exclaimed. I was surprised, along with others in the room, to find no trace of anger in her voice this time, but instead her words were laced with panic.
“It’s alright, we have this evening to go and find you something. You can always shop tomorrow in the day if you need too.” Ari attempted to diffuse the situation, failing miserably.
“I can’t shop tomorrow in the day! Toni is coming over at midday to start helping me get ready, do you have any idea how long it takes for the ink he’s using to dry! Add to that the visit from the tech guys who’re going to wire me up to keep all of you in the loop and I won’t have a minute to spare! Then this evening we have Niall and Claude’s visit, coupled with the ritual to open up Sookie’s telepathy. We have no time!” She looked on the verge of tears.
“My darling, we’ll have time. I promise you. If not though I will go shopping with Pam and pick something for you while you’re helping with Sookie’s ritual.” Godric offered, taking his mates hands in his own and lacing their fingers together, pushing a large wave of calm through their bond, which even I could feel.
Although Ata’s body relaxed, the panic was still set in her eyes and her words. “Do you promise me?” she begged, unlacing one of their hands to offer him a pinky. If it weren’t for Pam and her extensive knowledge of ‘takeout’ I wouldn’t know that Ata was asking Godric to form a pinky promise – something most young girls made with others and treated as sacred.
Without missing a heartbeat my Maker wrapped his pinky with Ata’s, giving a firm nod. “I promise.” He vowed quietly, pulling Ata towards him to seal the promise with a kiss to her forehead. Rising to her feet, Ata offered a hand down to Sookie, pulling her cousin up with her before the two girls disappeared down the staircase to the main living area. I assumed they were going to eat.
The moment they were out of earshot Godric rounded on Ata’s boys, his fangs had snapped back down and he was growling lowly at them. “I do not care if she is your Maker, you hurt her earlier.” He snarled, bearing fang as if it were a threat to the vampires present, obviously forgetting that four of them were just as old as him, and two were as old as me.
“I’m going to reiterate Ata here – that’s our usual training session. The reason she sustained such injuries is because she was out of practice. We haven’t had a session like that in around two years, she’s been far too sick for us to risk it. We work with her fairy magic, practice with weapons and then follow it up with hand-to-hand combat. Riei and Oeri are always on hand on the sidelines to tend to any and all injuries and as she is our Maker we are able to feel her pain. We are well aware as to when we should stop so we do not appreciate you trying to change our ways. We have trained in such a manner for over 2000 years, it won’t stop overnight.” Khai responded nonchalantly, keeping his fangs retracted. His brothers followed suite, even little Oscar was able to keep them retracted even though every instinct in his body was probably screaming out for him to flash them given the tension in the room.
“Did it escape your notice that she was bleeding out everywhere?” Godric spat, gesturing to a few small droplets of Ata’s blood that had managed to fall to the wooden flooring.
“It’s hard to miss it when she smells so good.” Egor quipped, causing his brothers to rumble with laughter, but Godric’s next growl silenced them.
“You said she was sick?” Pam spoke up for the first time this evening, and if I didn’t know any better I would say that my usually cold-hearted Childe had concern in her voice. Pam didn’t do concern.
A pained expression crossed the features of all of Ata’s boys and they sighed collectively. “Around two years ago she became incredibly sick. She was running a fever, unable to rest, unable to eat. It all started about three hours before sunset and lasted for around an hour. She passed out and was out of it for three days. The penthouse was on lockdown and we all slept in the panic room in order to keep her safe. The moment she woke she was complaining about this tugging sensation in her chest, it’s been plaguing her ever since.” Oeri explained, obviously more comfortable with Ata’s health given that it was his field of expertise.
“Is she still in pain?” I broke in, disliking the thought of my Maker’s mate in any form of pain. She had accepted my Maker back into her life and had also accepted Pam and I at the same time, even if she and Pam still had a lot to work through together.
Egor shrugged his shoulders, running a hand through his blonde hair at my question. “We don’t know, we haven’t asked her for a while. It was particularly bad the first night you guys arrived. I was amazed she even managed to get out of bed and move downstairs to meet you.” He pursed his lips together, taking in Godric and I before finally looking to Pam.
The click of Godric retracting his fangs drew our attention to him and he dropped his head a little. “I felt a tugging sensation in my own chest the moment I entered this building.” He murmured, and thanks to the vampire hearing of the rooms’ occupants we were all able to hear him perfectly.
“That’s very strange indeed…” Oeri mused quietly, tipping his head sideways as he observed Godric, who had lifted his head up by now.
The talk of tugging sensations reminded me of the moment Sookie had entered my bar for the first time. Thirty minutes prior to her arrival I had started to feel the tug, however I had placed the blame on my lack of blood consumption. There hadn’t been a decent fangbanger to feed from in a few nights and the hunger had been gnawing away at me. As Sookie had entered my bar the tugging had become almost unbearable and the moment I had clapped eyes on her properly, having scanned her twice, the tugging sensation stopped. During her year absence the tug had returned though I had once again thought of it as down to my lack of blood consumption. While I had survived on bagged blood I hadn’t fed from the neck, or wrist, of a willing meal in a long time. I had felt strangely detached from my vampiric nature while in Sookie’s home.
Deciding that it might not be coincidence, I spoke up. “I’ve experienced a tugging sensation also, when Sookie first entered my bar. It ended when I caught her eyes, yet it returned to me the year she was taken to Faery.” I explained, feeling the shock from Pam as she turned to look at me wide eyed.
“That’s why you wouldn’t feed!” she hissed, narrowing her eyes in my direction. My Childe had always been a drama queen and the moment she had learnt that I had stopped feeding ‘from the source’ she had thrown quite a tantrum, demanding to know what was wrong with me. I hadn’t told her of the sensations in my chest for fear she would laugh, or see me as weak, or tell me I was imagining things. I loved my Pamela and her lack of positive emotions, but sometimes it would be nice if she were to remember them.
With a shrug of my shoulders I brushed her comment off, turning my attention to my Maker who was regarding me with a thoughtful expression. “Both of us experienced tugging sensations when in close proximity to our mates, and Ata experienced a similar feeling. Has Sookie mentioned it to you?”
“She hasn’t mentioned anything to me, but I wager that if she has then she’ll have spoken to Ata about it.” I responded thoughtfully, wondering exactly what it was our two women thought about, and talked about, during the day when we weren’t around to listen. Perhaps I’d be able to convince them to buy a camcorder and record their days, so that Godric and I could see everything they were getting up too.
“We should ask them about it, see if they have spoken about it and if Miss Stackhouse is experiencing the tugging sensation.” Ari declared, rising to his feet in one fluid movement. His brothers and Oscar followed suite, closely followed by Pam, Godric and myself. With Ari leading the way, our whole group moved out of the training room and down the stairs into the living area, where we were greeted with the sight of Sookie and Ata sat upon barstools. They were consuming pastries of some sort while Flo clucked over them, bringing them drinks and napkins and everything else she could think of. Taking the barstool next to my Sookie, I tore a bit of pastry from the plate, offering it out to her. Slowly she lowered her mouth to the food and I popped it in, giving her a moment to chew it. Ari and Khai had moved to the living area and were rearranging furniture for our guests. Egor and Agmund were back by the elevator doors while Riei and Oeri were stood to one side speaking quickly in what I could only assume was Arabic. Godric had taken the spare seat next to Ata and was currently rubbing small circles on her lower back as she ate. Pam and Oscar were stood on the other side of the counter, watching the four of us intently.
Once Sookie had finished her mouthful I slowly moved her plate away, “Min älskling, have you ever felt a tugging sensation in your chest since we met?” I asked, knowing it was better to get an answer and then tell her why I had asked, though knowing my little fae she would ask before I had the chance.
Lost in thought for a moment, Sookie finally nodded. “Yeah, it was the first time I came to Fangtasia. The moment I saw you I felt this tugging in my chest,” she raised a hand over her heart, scowling slightly, “and it was really annoying. I couldn’t understand why it was there but I felt compelled to approach you. It’s why I asked Bill about you.” She explained, dropping her hand back to her lap.
“I felt the tugging too, and it stopped the moment I saw you. Hearing you discussing me is why I summoned you, I felt a compulsion to speak to you also and saw it as the perfect opportunity, curious as to why the sight of you had stopped the tugging sensation inside of me.” I explained in return, allowing my eyes to drift from Sookie’s for a moment to watch as Flo removed the empty plates and the used napkins from the table, seemingly unfazed by the fact she was currently standing in a room with ten vampires.
Pam chose that exact moment to interrupt. “Not to mention the fact you wanted to sink your fangs into her and fuck her on your desk.”
Four sets of eyes rounded onto Pam, and little Oscar was trying his best to hide a snigger behind his hand. “How was that helpful, Pam?” I asked in an exasperated tone.
“It was a vital piece of information.” She shrugged, returning to checking over her nails for any cracks in the paint or whatever the hell else women did.
Ata snorted gently, shaking her head before she lent against my Maker. “I told Sookie about the whole mates thing, I also taught her about the different blood bonds.” She pointed out. Finally I was able to discover the source of Sookie’s new found knowledge. It seemed Ata was giving her mini lessons during the day, and not just to help her with her fae powers. I was both grateful and annoyed with the Egyptian female, she was providing Sookie with information I was suppose to be telling her, but at the same time she was probably helping her understand it better given that she had most likely experienced everything both the fae and the vampire worlds had to offer.
Oscar suddenly stiffened beside Pam, grabbing her wrist. With a low growl, Pam popped out her fangs, exposing them to the young vampire. “Get off me, squirt!” she ordered firmly, but Oscar maintained his grasp on her.
“We have guests.” He declared in a quiet voice before seconds later a loud pop echoed around the penthouse, two fairies appearing in the middle of the room.
Of course Niall was instantly recognisable, but I had never met the fairy beside him. Ata was off her stool in seconds, gliding over to the pair. Embracing Niall first, they exchanged chaste cheek kisses before Ata embraced the other fae male, kissing his cheeks too. “Great-granddaddy Niall, cousin Claude.” She greeted warmly. Tipping my head back subtly, I inhaled at the same time as Godric and Pam, wanting to at least smell the pure fairies. They had masked their scents a little, but they still smelt incredible. If their scents were to stick on Sookie later I would have no problem returning to my Viking roots and pillaging her until sunrise.
Sookie slipped from her own barstool, crossing over to stand beside Ata where she graciously greeted both fae males. Her greeting was not as comfortable as Ata’s had been, there was little in the way of physical contact, however the warmth was still there. “Shall we sit? Can I get either of you anything?” Ata inquired, switching into what Sookie referred to as ‘hostess mode.’ With a nod the four fairies arranged themselves onto the sofas, Ata and Sookie sitting opposite Niall and this Claude chap.
“A glass of water would be much appreciated for both of us, thank you.” Niall spoke, his voice soft yet authoritative. As Ata was about to move to the kitchen in order to fulfil their wish, Flo was bustling out of the kitchen area, holding two glasses of clear liquid. With a smile she handed them to both fairy males and my vampire hearing allowed me to pick up on her increased heartbeat while my sensitive nostrils picked up on the faint hint of her arousal. Clearly she was attracted to one of the two men. Taking a moment to truly look over both men I could see instantly that it would be Claude she was interested in. Niall was far too old and grey. I was grateful that I had been turned in the prime of life.
Claude stood easily at 6’0; he was of slender build with black hair, perfectly coifed upon his well-proportioned face. His eyes were a deep hazel colour and even I had to admit, as a man who was a fan of females more so than males, that his eyes were the sort you could lose yourself in. His ears weren’t pointed like they were usually for full-blooded fae, which led me to believe that he spent some time in the human realm in the past, and that he’d had his ears surgically altered in order to blend in with the human population. He looked to be in his 20′s but with fairy ageing being so slow there was no real way to tell.
Ata was over 2000 years old and yet she still looked like a fresh-faced 25 year old.
“Nervii, Northman, Swynford de Beaufort. Come and join us.” Niall ordered, gesturing around him to the few vacant seats remaining. Without wasting a second we all took our seats. Godric placed himself beside Ata and I took the spot on the opposite end of the sofa, trapping the fae women in the middle. Pam eyed the seat beside Claude and went to make a move for it, but the fairy quirked an eyebrow at her, causing Pam to stop in her tracks and mimic his action. I had never in my life witnessed Pam stop what she was doing for anyone, and it amused me no end. I’d even walked in on her once when she’d been going down on one of our dancers, she hadn’t even bothered to look up and greet me, she’d merely waved her hand at me and continued with her task.
With a sigh my lazy Childe grabbed a barstool, placing it close to me before hopping up onto it neatly. “I want all other vampires out of the room.” Niall stated loudly, not bothering to remove his gaze from Ata and Sookie. If that wasn’t a dismissal then I had no idea what was.
“Khai and I will start training Oscar.” Ari informed Ata, ushering the young vampire up the stairs back to the training room, Khai close on his heels.
“Riei and I will run over the ceremony for later once more.” Oeri added, disappearing with Riei up the stairs to the private library, closing the bookcase over the entrance in order to give us more privacy.
“Egor and I will check on the repairs downstairs, I guess.” Agmund scratched his head, calling for the elevator.
Our group remained in an uncomfortable silence as Egor and Agmund waited for the lift, but the moment they were inside with the doors closed Niall spoke up. “I usually dislike leaving Faery, especially during such a difficult time, however I feel there is much we need to discuss so I’m going to jump right in and get to it.”
I was a little shocked by Niall’s abrupt and rather rude opening statement, however it was obvious that seeing as how there was much to do this evening we were pushed for time. “First a little history lesson for you. There is much disruption within Faery as we speak, which is why I cannot be here for long. It is also another reason why Claude is with me. He is my strongest fighter and therefore I cannot risk him being harmed until we are ready to send him in.” Niall spared an affectionate glance to the fae male and it surprised me that the man actually had a heart. I’d heard numerous stories over the years of his cruel ways, of how cold he was to others and how secretive and private he was, however I had also learnt over the years that most fae were that way inclined. It was why Sookie, and Ata, were a welcome change. Both women were filled with goodness.
“We were the first beings on the planet as we are nature itself. The water fae took over Europe due to the abundance of coastline, the earth fae took over India and China due to the vast array of forests and earthy habitats, the fire fae took over Australia due to the heat there and the sky fae took over America and Africa due to the vast open spaces available there with little to get in the way. Knowing where each subspecies comes from is important in understanding where I am going with this.” Niall started.
His eyes were locked on Ata and Sookie as he spoke; clearly pained at remembering whatever it was he was about to speak of. “There hasn’t always been a war in Faery, heck there hasn’t always been a Fae Realm! Around 2200 years ago there was great battle, between our kind and theirs.” He spared a glance to Godric, Pam and I. Ah he was telling them the story of the vampire/fae war. Godric had told me of the war when I had been turned, but of course he hasn’t been present for it. He had heard about it from other vampires however. I assumed that Ata was already aware of the war between her species and mine, given her family and the company she kept.
Niall’s eyes drifted back to the two fae women sat between Godric and I. Ata was listening but it was apparent she had heard it all before. Sookie on the other hand was completely engrossed in Niall’s tale already and, looking to my side, I could see that Pam had lent forward a little, clearly curious to hear Niall out. I had never told Pam of the vampire/fae war as it had happened way before her turning, way before her human birth too, and therefore I had deemed it unimportant. With the growing number of fae in our lives however, it seemed she would need to know.
“The fae use to live in the human realm, as the pair of you do now. We blended into society, as we do now,” he lifted Claude’s hair out of the way to reveal his rounded ear, causing Sookie to gasp a little and look to Niall’s ear, taking in his slight point, “and we loved the freedom this world gave us. We could pursue whatever we wished; we could travel, meet new people and spend time in the sunshine. However, the vampire population started to boom. The vampires of old were creating progenies and their progenies were creating their offspring early on. You see, the vampires of old had no choice but to keep themselves hidden and with such a low human population, sparsely spread across the land, it was difficult to find people to feed from. But as the human population started to grow, so did the vampire one. Our kind had been living and breeding on this planet for centuries, and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to hide. Our species went to war, trying to wipe the other out in a desperate attempt to create one supernatural superpower that would have the majority control of this planet. The fighting took place all over the world; there were few places where either of our kinds were safe. Those who didn’t want to get involved went into hiding. Numbers on both sides were seriously depleted by the time a truce was called 100 years later. The fight had been long and bloody and both sides were suffering. Instead a deal was made, the fae would be able to come and go on this planet as they pleased, but they would move themselves to another realm, Faery. Using the magic they were gifted with at birth, the remaining fae pulled together to create the realm we now call our home. It was there where we started to rebuild our population, only to encounter fertility problem. The women were finding it increasingly difficult to have children, so I suggested that we send them to the human realm to see if they could conceive there. At the time I was married to Mab, we had just taken the throne of Faery, bringing the sky and water fae together and we were seen, in some sense, as Gods. Mab was all for it to begin with, thinking it would be a great way to raise our numbers. What she was late in realising was that it was diluting the blood, and to her the blood was the most sacred of all things.” Niall sighed, rubbing his temple. Mab was the woman who had kidnapped Sookie, taken her away from me for a year. She was married to Niall, did that make her related to Sookie? Why on earth would someone kidnap his or her own kin?
“Realising what the breeding had done, Mab decided that she wanted to ‘harvest’ the offspring that were produced from the couplings and bring them back to Faery in order to assess their powers – their sparks. She wanted to breed the stronger hybrid females with the strong fae males in a desperate attempt to increase the potency and purity of the blood, to create an elite race. She was so driven. She wanted it so badly that it became far too much for me. I couldn’t see the sense in forcing women who had grown up believing themselves to be human, who had family and friends in the human world, to be forced to live in an entirely different realm, to have the children of men they didn’t know and care for. Mab and I separated, taking over the thrones of our own crowns and ceasing to rule together, and we both eventually took new lovers. Mab is a descendent of the water fae and of course I am sky fae, it is why our two kinds have been feuding for so long and is the cause of the current civil unrest.” Niall explained.
“So the current war in Faery is because you kicked your wife out of your bed and then fucked someone else?” Pam snorted, raising a perfectly shaped eyebrow. “How dramatic.” She sighed, rolling her eyes, as if she hasn’t done anything far more dramatic in her century on this earth. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at her in response. Her habits were wearing off on me far too much for my liking.
Grimacing slightly, Niall gave a small nod. “I suppose you could look at it that way. Ironically enough, Mab’s sons from her new husband coupled with human females.” Niall snorted, shaking his head with a smile. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of amusement at the situation either. “What is most interesting though is the offspring of said coupling. Mab’s two sons were pure water fae, and both of their lovers were a human, so the children created were half water fae, and heirs to the water fae throne should Mab and her sons die. While Mab is still around these days, her sons perished a few centuries back due to a strong case of iron poisoning caused by a group of vampires who had a bone to pick with them. The remaining children are the heir to the throne and could end this entire war should they so wish. We would get to live in peace again, though they would have to prove themselves strong enough to rule. Only one would be able to rule though and they would have to have a partner to help them. Faery is such a large place for one person to govern and with two species depending on them it would be a rather large task.” Niall stated. “The other child, the one who doesn’t get to rule Faery, it is said that he will rule on this realm and they too will have a partner to aid them. It’s said that the four will be bound incredibly closely and that they could even stop the war between all supernatural beings.” I could see the glint in his eyes as he spoke. Clearly he was searching for these children. I couldn’t blame him. If I were him I would do everything in my power to convince the children to take my side in the matter, to stop the civil unrest and rule Faery peacefully. While the Viking part of me was all ready for war and fighting, I had always had to suppress my softer side. War wasn’t always the right thing to do in order to get what you wanted, and the deaths of many would always rest heavily on the leaders shoulders. I had tried to avoid as many conflicts as possible in my time, but it hadn’t always been easy.
We all sat in silence for a moment, processing everything that Niall had just told us. The fae had tried to increase their numbers through reproduction with humans yet it had gone horribly wrong, they had tried to call back the hybrids in order to assess them to pick the best to create the next generation from, much like humans do with their pet dogs. Niall had disagreed with his wife and the pair had split, only for Mab to have two sons who had both coupled with humans to create heirs. Heirs who could bring an end to the fae civil war and all the associated disruption, who could also ensure that evil fairies would never be able to take my Sookie from me again. I was starting to formulate ideas in my mind about how to go about finding these hybrid children, how I would be able to convince them to take the throne. I could give them money, my support; help build bridges between our kinds. I could see Godric agreeing to help, he had after all been preaching coexistence with humans in the Fellowship church, and surely coexistence with fairies would be the same thing?
“Have you found these hybrid children yet then?” I broke through the silence, my gaze locked firmly on Niall’s features.
Slowly the corners of his lips lifted up into a smug smile, and I already knew that he had found them.
“I most certainly have.” His eyes drifted from me to Godric, and then back again. “And they happen to be sat in this very room, and both have sky fae lovers who are descendants of mine.
min älskling (Swedish) = my darling