Now you’re feeling more and more frustrated and you’re getting all kind of impatient waiting
We live and we learn to take one step at a time, there’s no need to rush
It’s like learning to fly or falling in love, it’s gonna happen when it’s supposed to happen
And we find the reasons why we step at a time, you believe and you doubt
You’re confused, you got it all figured out,
Everything that you always wished for could be yours, should be yours, would be yours
If they only knew
~ One Step At A Time, Jordin Sparks
Witnessing the slaughter of the Viking’s family had been horrible, I could see now why he was adamant on ending Edgington. I’d spent some time with Edgington several centuries ago and he hadn’t been a bad man back then, he hadn’t been particularly good either. He’d regarded me as simply nothing more than a pretty human, and I had been more than okay with that, It helped that I’d been able to hide my scent.
I hadn’t expected for my cousin to ask a question that would harbour such a response. Obviously, there was more going on inside Eric’s head than I’d suspected. I knew what it was like to see your family murdered and dying around you, unable to help them. I’d witnessed my father’s assassination in 44BC, my mother’s suicide in 30BC and then, eleven days later, my brother Caesarion had been murdered by our adoptive brother, Octavianus.
Throw in Godric’s ‘death’ and I found myself easily able to sympathise with the mighty Nordic warrior. I had taken revenge for my father’s death, helping my mother to organise people to kill off Decimus Brutus and Servilius Casca, the two men who had started the attack on my father. Having donned a disguise, I had paid two men to poison Octavianus’s fresh figs. His death had been too swift for my liking. I was grateful though that my people had not been ones to document everything. It would have been terrible for others to know of the brutality that had surrounded the royal family.
I was surprised that Sookie had asked me about my experience with dream infiltration, I guess Godric had been a newborn still and that had been why it hadn’t worked. Or maybe it had and I had purposefully wanted to see our life together. I had only just learnt how to use my powers, so I could assume that I hadn’t phrased my question correctly. Perhaps he would allow me to try again now that he was older and wiser and I had more practice with my gifts? I answered her question honestly, though, if we were going to get along then we had to be honest with one another.
Abandoning the fragile conversation, I moved to a small boom box in the corner of the space. Music started to play out through the large speakers in each corner of the studio as I hit the play button. My dark mood lifted instantly and I could see that my cousin was in need of some cheering up.
“Let’s get going then!” I grinned, clapping my hands together in excitement.
Sook looked terribly nervous and I couldn’t blame her. I’d been petrified the first time I’d been asked to use my magic. Moving back to her, I took her hands and sat down on the floor, pulling her with me. Crossing my legs, I sat her opposite me and started to talk her through what was going to happen today.
“Okay Sook, faeries can generate and control large beams of light with their minds, using this ability to attack an enemy, heal another, topple large objects or help with someone’s emotions. The ability has been described as “nature itself” and works on humans, the two-natured and vampires. It also has been shown to break and reverse magic spells, and I know you can testify to that. The light varies in colour, it’s gold if you wish to attack and harm, white if you wish to topple large objects, green if you wish to heal another and red if you wish to help with another’s emotions. I think we’ll start with the emotions first since it’s the easiest of the four to set up and conduct,” I started, watching Sookie to make sure she was following me. She nodded her head for me to continue.
“Okay, you can use this type of light to increase or decrease the emotions someone is feeling. It’s useful for example if you find yourself needing information from someone who’s emotionally distraught. You can take the emotions influencing them away so they can think clearly. You can retain those emotions if you wish and give them back to the person in question after you have what you want, but I often find that the kinder thing to do is to just get rid of the negative emotions. Following this?” I asked.
For a moment Sookie was silent and I felt the cogs in her head whizzing around, finally, she nodded in agreement and I grinned. “Okay, it can also be used to intensify emotions, such as the love you feel for your Viking. Usually, this type of light is reserved for more private places such as the bedroom where apparently, it can make sex even better. Don’t quote me on that, though!” I laughed and Sookie’s laughter joined mine. Her thought at that moment drifted into my mind, I don’t think it’s possible for sex to actually get any better, and it only cemented my need to exchange notes with her later.
Once our laughter subsided I continued. “Say, for example, your vampire is happy and you want to prolong his happiness, you can push the emotion to him using your light.”
“Isn’t this basically manipulation? I don’t like the thought of that,” Sookie broke into my speech and I was quick to respond, my thoughts on the topic flowing freely.
“Yes and no, yes because it might not be something they want and no because you’re in fact helping them. You’re easing their suffering. There have been cases that I’ve heard of where faeries use this gift in a dark manner, feeding people negative emotions until the person becomes overwhelmed and kills him or herself. Used responsibly, however, this is honestly a great gift. I’ve used it a few times on Ari and he’s always been grateful for it,” I stated, offering my hand to my cousin.
“Take my hand and we’ll start. The first thing you have to do is feel the other person’s emotions, due to your ability to venture into people’s minds, that will be easy and your bond with your vampire will make working with him easy too,” I informed her as she placed her hand in mine. “I’m going to think of something that makes me happy and I want you to focus on MY feeling of happiness, don’t let your own emotions get in the way, I then want you to think of a radio dial and turn it up slowly,” I instructed.
“Okay,” Sookie nodded and shut her eyes to concentrate. I watched as a small red light was emitted from her hands; I shut my eyes too, simply so she wouldn’t feel awkward about me staring at her. I allowed her into my mind. Flitting between hundreds of different moments over the millenniums that have made me happy I finally settled for one where my happiness wasn’t bubbling over, allowing Sookie to control it and allowing me to sense how she was getting along. I’d chosen the memory of the glass blower in Italy when he’d started to teach me Italian. He’d taken me under his wing and treated me like his own daughter and that had indeed made me rather happy.
We sat in silence for a few minutes and I felt nothing but the tingling sensation in my hands from her magic tickling mine, I was about to open my eyes and mouth to offer encouragement when I began to feel my level of happiness start to rise slowly. Keeping quiet so as not to startle my kinswoman and her concentration, I smiled to myself as I felt her take my happiness up another notch. She continued this for another couple of minutes before I finally broke off, knowing that if she continued too much I would be overcome with my emotions. I slowly started to lift my shields, scooting her out of my mind a little at a time until finally, my shields were fully up.
Snapping my eyes open, I caught Sookie opening her eyes at the same time, a gleeful grin on her features. “I did it! I actually did it!” she squealed happily and I couldn’t help but smile fondly at her. “Why did you push me out of your mind, though?” She suddenly asked, a light frown on her features.
“There is only so much emotion, good or bad, that a person can take. Later on in your training, we’ll discuss how you can tell how much emotion someone is feeling and what the limit is for each person. The last thing you need is someone having a meltdown. As for easing your mind out slowly, that’s the most important part and I’ll teach you that later on as well. If you withdraw suddenly it leaves a great big emotional hole in the other person and could do more harm than good. I suggest you don’t experiment with this with anyone other than me, including your Viking. He’s been taught how to block out his emotions over the years and a sudden influx of them could seriously knock him off his game,” I warned, knowing that something happening to Eric was Sookie’s worst fear. Call me cruel for playing on her emotions, but I needed her to understand the severity of this gift if misused.
Nodding her head in understand, she still wore her grin as she spoke once more. “What now?”
“Now I want you to take away my negative emotions. This is a lot harder as you have to carefully extract the current emotion from me. I want you to picture a hand in your mind plucking the emotion out of my mind. If you were going to relieve someone of the emotion for good then you would imagine the hand dropping the emotion into a garbage can, however, I wish to keep the emotion attached afterwards, so you will drop the emotion back into my mind. I’m going to pick a memory that you might find emotionally taxing, please don’t panic or worry, you need to keep your emotions in check okay?” I asked again, knowing this side of the red light was a lot harder and potentially more dangerous.
Sookie wavered for a moment, nibbling her bottom lip in contemplation. Finally, she held her hands out as before and I placed mine on top of them, dropping my shields to allow her access as I shut my eyes. The memory came barrelling back to me.
“You’re lying.” I insisted, staring at Khai as he stood before me, too terrified of what could happen after the news he’d just delivered. It was dark out, and Khai had been missing for most of the afternoon. Oeri had sent a messenger requesting his presence at a house in the city.
“You know I cannot lie to you, Princess,” Khai was adamant.
“It’s not true, no.” I shook my head; tears already flowing freely down my cheeks. Khai never joked, but the news he was telling me…it had to be a joke.
“You’re lying, it’s all one big joke. He’s not gone. H-He can’t be gone,” I stuttered, my chest constricting painfully. My friend. My companion. My love. “He’s not gone, I don’t believe you.” My body wracked with sobs, my heart was breaking in a way I never thought it could.
“Oeri was called to his Master’s house this afternoon. He’s gone, Princess. I’m so sorry,” Khai apologised, taking several steps closer.
“NO!” I screamed, not willing to believe Khai’s words. Through the open windows, the wind picked up, gusting into the room, toppling the furniture, shattering it. A flowerpot filled with lilies tumbled over and broke, earth, pottery, and plant scattering across the floor. Khai’s eyes widened, fear crossing his features as he backed up against the wall.
“Why? Why him? Anyone but him!” I cried, falling to my knees, not caring for the jarring pain as they connected with the marble floor of my mother’s palace. The wind continued to howl through the room, papyrus was flying through the air, and broken bits of furniture were caught up in the sudden windstorm. It felt like my whole world was crumbling down around me. I felt empty and hollow. I would do anything to have him back just for 5 minutes, just to hold him in my arms again and to tell him how much I missed him. I would have sacrificed everyone I knew, all my family and friends, just to have that; I would have sacrificed the entire world’s population, the planet, and the universe, just to have one last moment with him.
My chest still felt tight as more sobs wracked through my body, sending me to a heap on the floor. My love was gone, and I hadn’t even had the opportunity to tell him my good news. “Cridio…” the wind muffled my cry, carrying my voice out the open window.
Almost as soon as the sadness started to consume me it was gone. Vanished. Instead, I felt proud of Sookie, though I made sure to keep my memory there so that she would be able to easily replace the feelings. Slowly I felt the sadness start to creep up on me again and I screwed my eyes shut until finally, my sadness returned completely. Calling forth my 2000 years of perfect mental control, I slowly started to ease Sookie out of my mind, the waves of sadness pushing against my shields, demanding to be let out. It took me a little longer than it should have to get Sookie out, but she was patient with me and finally I opened my eyes to look at her.
Her hands were still in mine and she gave them a gentle squeeze of reassurance, the tidal waves of sadness started to roll backwards, and finally, I shut out the emotion. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Ata. Your love for him is beautiful,” she commented quietly, sincerity lacing her words. “I hope the love I share with Eric will stand the test of time too.”
“It will, cousin. You are meant to be with one another, you’re his mate and he’s yours. I fear that everything that has transpired between you two will be nothing compared to what’s coming our way, but I know the Viking adores you. I can hear it. Embrace it; there is nothing more appealing than knowing an ancient, powerful and beautiful creature wants you,” I assured her, understanding her need for security with the matter. Compton had shattered her trust and Eric was trying his hardest to rebuild it. It was simply wonderful to behold.
“You did well, though, Sook. I felt relief the moment you plucked the emotions from me and they came back to me as you popped them back. You’re good at this, but I still don’t want you trying it out on others okay?” I reiterated, not wanting any harm to come to anyone. I had an abundance of memories with varying degrees of emotional attachment that she could play with.
“I promise,” She vowed. “Which one is next?” she asked excitedly, and I could tell even without being in her mind that she was bouncing around with anticipation. No one had trained her to use any of her gifts yet and I found that rather saddening. She had picked up the emotional part of her gift so well. Sparing a glance to the clock I noticed it was 3:45 pm.
“Well we have three-quarters of an hour until our vampires join us so I suggest we grab some food and then continue this afterwards, we’re going to need the Viking for the next part. How do you feel energy wise?” I asked, not wanting to run her down too much this evening.
“I feel a little tired and a little hungry if I’m honest but other than that I feel dandy,” she responded with a shrug of her shoulders.
Taking her hand once again I gauged her tiredness and found to my relief that she wasn’t completely worn out. A little bit of food and she would feel better. Rising from my feet I turned off the stereo and offered a hand down to her. She graciously took it and pulled herself up. “What do I say to Eric when he wakes up about the whole dream thing?” She asked me as we descended the staircase back into the main area of the penthouse.
Pursing my lips together in contemplation, I ran numerous scenarios through my head before finally settling on one. “Don’t say anything at first, if he mentions it within the first hour then be honest with him, if he doesn’t mention it then I suggest you bring it up. As it was a rather personal dream I’m sure he would want you to tell him that you witnessed it. You cannot tell him I saw it, though. I would never dream of taking him on because of his attachment to both you and Godric but, he might despise the fact that I was privy to something so personal when he hardly knows me, and it could cause unwanted friction between the four of us,” I replied, erring on the edge of caution.
Felicia was nowhere to be seen in the kitchen, so I made my way to the fridge and brought out a plate of salmon and some Crème Fraîche before moving to the cupboard and grabbing some crackers. I took two plates from the cupboard and carefully smeared the Crème Fraîche onto the crackers before delicately placing a piece of fish on the top. Sookie slid onto one of the barstools opposite me. “You may find that the more time you spend around vampires, the less you eat. It’s important that you eat to keep up your energy levels so that you’ll be able to use your powers at a moment’s notice,” I pointed out, finishing up Sookie’s plate of food and sliding it across the granite surface to her along with a napkin. She accepted it happily and started to tuck in, making little moans of approval as the taste flooded her mouth. I poured us both a glass of iced tea and placed them down on the surface.
“Good?” I asked with a grin as I finished crafting my own food. Nodding her head eagerly, Sookie wolfed another cracker. I would have to tell the Viking that she was a fan of the dish so that he could make sure she had some more when they went back home. Sliding onto the stool next to her we ate in silence for a couple of minutes.
“Did you tell Godric last night that you could hear him?” Sookie broke the silence, popping another piece of cracker into her mouth.
I nodded as I finished my mouthful, “Yeah, it didn’t happen how I had hoped it would. He was thinking about how I could ‘redeem’ his ‘corrupt’ soul and I kinda let the cat out of the bag when I told him that if he thinks his soul is corrupt then I’d happily redeem him. It was too obvious to pin it on a coincidence so I came clean,” I confessed, even making air quotes to properly convey Godric’s words. Remembering the night before only made me wish for my vampire to rise sooner. I missed him terribly. 2000 years of separation had caused me to become a little clingy. Never had I been so insecure in my life. I was a Pharaoh for goodness sake, the daughter of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar
“I don’t want to push, but have you been able to figure out why I can’t hear them properly?” Sookie quizzed, wiping her hands on her napkin as she pushed her empty plate away. Taking her glass of iced tea, she took a long gulp and returned it to the surface a moment later.
“I looked over a few ancient textbooks I have this morning and I get the feeling that Niall protected your mind from their thoughts on purpose. I was born and raised surrounded by them even though I didn’t know it, which is why Niall never bothered to hide my ability from me. What’s interesting though is the fact that you can break the block placed on you by Niall yourself, however, it requires a ritual. If that’s something you want I can have Oeri perform it for you as he’s my doctor and shaman, and was well known for his talents during my childhood. It also requires your will. You have to want to hear their thoughts and have a valid reason for it. I believe you only need to want to hear one vampire and all the others just open up to you. I’m guessing you’d want to hear the Viking?” I relayed the information I had uncovered this morning, sensing now was a good time to tell her anyway. She would need to discuss this with Eric.
“I’m curious as to why Niall blocked their thoughts from me,” she scowled.
Laughing gently at her expression, I finished off my plate before pushing it aside too. “I think he did it to protect you, cousin. If you could hear vampire’s thoughts, they would covet you more or be more intimated by you. Before you had the Viking, you were vulnerable to a vampire attack and they wouldn’t think twice if they knew you could hear them. I know you can handle yourself but you forget that they’re far more powerful than you and you’re fragile,” I pointed out, not wanting her to start with her speech about independence.
For a moment I thought she was going to argue with me but I was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t. Instead, she sighed and nodded her head in resignation. “You’re right. Can I ask you something, though? Why do you always refer to Eric as ‘the Viking’ and never by his name?” she inquired, tipping her head sideways like I had done numerous times the night before.
Smiling at her observational skills, I answered her question truthfully. “It’s my show of respect if you will, referring to him as Mr. Northman in your presence would be strange given the formality of it and simply calling him Eric would denote some form of friendship, and I get the feeling he’s not one to forge friendships easily: I think I’m going to have to earn his respect. That’s okay with me, though. By referring to him as ‘the Viking’ I’m being polite and acknowledging the fact that he’s old and that with his age comes power,” I explained with a shrug of my shoulders.
I assumed Eric didn’t wish for me to call him by his first name, he hadn’t asked me to yet. Sookie was family so we were automatically allowed to call one another whatever we wished, even if her good Southern manners had told her to call me Miss Caesar originally. As for Godric, we’d had a few pet names for one another in our old life that I’d hardly ever used his real name. To me, he was Cridio, the Gaulish word for heart, and he often called me Carissimus, Latin for ‘dear’.Sliding from her stool, Sookie took our plates to the sink and placed them in before flinching and groaning in slight pain. “What’s up?” I quizzed with a scowl, remembering where the painkillers were in case she needed them.
Sliding from her stool, Sookie took our plates to the sink and placed them in before flinching and groaning in slight pain. “What’s up?” I quizzed with a scowl, remembering where the painkillers were in case she needed them.
Sookie made her way back to the island and slipped back on her stool before giving me a sheepish smile. “Muscles are still sore from last night,” she explained with a light blush.
I couldn’t help but laugh, her constant blushing was so entertaining! “He lives up to his reputation I assume?” I smirked, quirking an eyebrow at my cousin.
Suddenly her face turned into shock and surprise, then one of caution. “How do you know about his reputation?”
“I own a casino full of vampires who like to tell me everything, your presence last night didn’t go unnoticed. Ari and Khai managed to glean as much information about him, and what Godric has done for the last 2000 years, from them as possible, and left it for me in a little folder on the counter this morning. I looked over it before I heard you coming this way,” I responded nonchalantly.
She paused for thought for a moment, absorbing the news that I had effectively spied on them. “In that case, yes, he does,” she replied with a shy smile, her blush darkening. I couldn’t help but laugh at her innocence. The longer she spent around vampires the quicker that would vanish. They had a far more lax approach to sex and nudity and I prayed that Sookie would accept that soon.
“What about you, are your muscles still complaining?” She asked, trying to be casual with her question though I could see through her façade. That was the beauty of the fae, we could see right through one another. It made identifying liars easy.
“Terribly so, but I’m trying not to numb it with painkillers. I won’t allow anything to dull the ache of finally clearing away over 2000 years of abstaining. I’m telling you, those first few centuries were terrible. My urges were all over the place, but I knew I would feel guilty if I ever took another to my bed. I could never betray him like that, even though I thought he was dead.”
“I was unpacking our stuff last night and Eric was teasing me about my underwear and all of a sudden he had me pinned to the wall and was all over me. His eyes were dilated and everything, and I was practically drowning in the lust in our bond. I haven’t a clue where it came from,” She mused aloud and I promptly felt guilty.
Grimacing slightly, I licked my lips to wet them, “That’s my fault, sorry. We were a little rough with one another, seems neither of us could get enough of the other. I guess he had his bond with Eric open and the poor guy felt his lust and took it out on you.”
“It’s fine, I think I got to experience at least eight-hundred years of his thousand years of experience,” she laughed, “and if that was anything to go by I don’t think I want to know what it was like to be on the receiving end of 2000 years of experience!” She grinned as she raised an eyebrow.
A mischievous idea caused me to grin. “I tell you, he did this wonderful thing with his tongue where h-“
“Woah! Too much information! Stop! Stop!” Sookie demanded a shocked expression on her face and her hands held up in a position of surrender as her blush deepened to bright red.
I couldn’t contain my laughter it was just too much! “Your face was priceless! You are far too easy to embarrass!”“Personally, I don’t think you should stop there. Tell me more,” the soft-spoken voice drifted through the kitchen. My laughter stopped, replaced instead by a huge grin as I turned my head to the door. My vampire was leaning against the doorframe, a curious expression with a tinge of a smirk on his features as he waited for me to carry on. Eric was behind him looking suitably entertained.
“Personally, I don’t think you should stop there. Tell me more,” the soft-spoken voice drifted through the kitchen. My laughter stopped, replaced instead by a huge grin as I turned my head to the door. My vampire was leaning against the doorframe, a curious expression with a tinge of a smirk on his features as he waited for me to carry on. Eric was behind him looking suitably entertained.