How can I believe that my heart would find someone like you
You see me, the real me, no in betweens, I had nowhere to hide
You took away the walls around me, made me feel safe to share my truth, I see the heavens open
A heart that once was broken is holding nothing back, now that I found you
You hold me like a prayer, you touch me everywhere, a lifetime just ain’t enough to love you true
Now that I found you, now that I found you, I do believe we’re meant to be
Our chemistry will last forever and through the years
We’ll see some tears, we’ll conquer fears and together we will grow
Looking in your eyes they tell me I no longer have to feel alone
~ Now That I Found You, Terri Clark
I felt disappointed that I was unable to harness my powers as quickly as I wanted to, that I had been unable to topple over the wooden crate tower. Ata’s words soothed me a little, but I was still annoyed with myself. Sighing heavily, I agreed with Ata’s suggestion.
“It’s private up here, so we’ll discuss everything in this room,” she informed me, moving across to the boom box. Ata turned the volume down a little before disappearing into the room she had retrieved the crates from. She emerged holding two bottles of cold water, one of which she handed to me before she sat on the floor in the centre of the room.
Sitting down opposite her, I twisted the cap off the bottle before downing half of it. It wasn’t particularly ladylike, and Gran would no doubt be ashamed, but the alcohol from earlier had dried my throat and I was in need of relief. Ata drank deeply before placing the cap back on her bottle and putting it on the floor beside her.
“So, fire away,” she said.
Falling silent for a moment, I pursed my lips together as I contemplated the first thing I wanted to ask her. “Can you explain blood bonds and blood ties to me, please?” I asked, wanting to have answers. I’d always wondered what exactly the difference was, given the information Eric had given me the night he had turned up on my porch covered in cement.
“Okay. A blood tie is created when a vampire feeds a human their blood, it doesn’t take very much blood to create it. It allows them to control the emotional reactions of said human and can make them more pliable. The vampire can also feel the human’s emotions and track their location,” my cousin explained.
“Wait, you’re saying the vampire can manipulate feelings?” I asked in shock, feeling my ire rising. Bill had fed me a large amount of his blood the second night I’d met him and had been feeding me large quantities throughout our entire ‘relationship.’
“No no! They can only work with feelings that are already there. Say for example you’re curious and attracted to the vampire, they can amplify these feelings, making you want to know more about their kind or potentially fall in love with that vampire,” she corrected, though it did nothing for my anger.
“But that’s like manipulation!” I protested
“It’s not manipulation, it’s similar but it isn’t manipulation. They play on feelings that would have evolved naturally over time. They simply speed up the process. So, rather than it taking three months for the human to fall in love with the vampire, they can bring it down to three days.” She explained in more detail.
“Bill fed me loads of his blood throughout our ‘relationship’, on the second day I knew him I was nearly beaten to death while waiting for him to meet me after work. He fed me loads of his blood. Turns out the Queen of Louisiana wanted me as her pet, and it was his job to take me to her, so he tied me to him.” I stated miserably. “He would take my blood too, though, so how come we never formed a bond?”
“I know, Sook. You forget that I saw it in your mind the night I met you. I’m glad you’ve left him behind and have Eric now. Even though his method of getting his blood into you was less than pure, it did the intended job. It knocked Bill’s blood down a few notches and allowed you some of your freedom back. I think that’s why you went up onto the roof to save my Godric, because he meant a lot to your Eric and you couldn’t stand to see someone end his or her own life, regardless of their past. By kicking Bill’s blood down a notch or two, you were able to return to your former self, the concerned and caring woman,” Ata smiled and I could see the gratefulness in her eyes.
“While Eric wanted his blood in your system for a more selfish reason, in the sense that he wanted you to be his, he was actually doing you a favour, and it only made him care for you more. His little plan backfired on him.” Ata shook her head, chuckling quietly. “You never formed a bond because you didn’t take blood at the exact same moment. You have to take one another’s blood at the exact same time for a bond to be formed, and that never happened in your ‘relationship’ with Bill,” she went on to explain. Her explanation didn’t add up, though.
“Eric and I formed the first bond during his amnesia, but we didn’t feed on one another at the same time, so how does that work?” I frowned, not entirely understanding it.
The indulgent smile on Ata’s face told me she would enjoy explaining this to me. “Eric is over a thousand years old, so his blood is incredibly strong. There were a few seconds from the moment he finished feeding on you and the moment when you started to feed on him. Due to the extreme potency of his blood, combined with the slight potency of yours, there was no need for you to be taking from one another at the exact same moment,” Ata informed me, causing me to grin. At least I hadn’t formed a bond with Bill, now I was grateful he was so young in terms of vampire years.
“Is there only the bond between a vampire and a human?” I inquired, finding myself curious about bonds even more.
“No.” Ata shook her head. “There are three different kinds of vampire bonds. There’s the Maker-Childe bond, like the connection Godric and Eric have, the one Eric and Pam have, and the one I have with my boys,” she started to explain, but I held my hand up for her to stop.
“How can you be the Maker of those six vampires if you’re fae?” I asked, both in surprise and shock. Surely that wasn’t possible?
“It’s an ancient practice that very few know of; Oeri learned about it during his human years. When vampire Makers are changed, nearly all the blood of the previous Maker is drained out before that of the new Maker’s is fed to the vampire undergoing the change. In the case of my boys, because of the difference in species, they had to have ¾ of their blood removed and replaced with mine. They still have the vampire blood in them, which keeps them in their undead state, but the fae blood overrules it and essentially makes me their Maker, especially considering the fact I staked their real Makers,” Ata stated nonchalantly.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with that information, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to know the rest of it so I allowed that topic to be dropped. I was curious as to whether Eric knew, or even Godric. Such an action probably wasn’t common knowledge; I could only imagine the chaos it would cause should humans learn they could become Makers. “What are the other two bonds?” I asked, moving the conversation along.
“The second type of bond is a marital one, it’s only really brought into play when vampire monarchs want a larger area and more power. It’s a contract of sorts. It lasts for one hundred years. Usually, the bond involves limited physical contact and limited exposure to one another. Vampires are notoriously known to grow tired of one another if they are in each other’s company all the time unless of course, they are from the same bloodline. Usually, the monarchs only see one another yearly, and this is to discuss the goings on in their states. A contract is drawn up between the monarchs stating what is acceptable and what isn’t: It can be petty things such as touching or more concrete things such as money. There was a case once where one monarch told the other he had to have sex with her at least six times per visit for the visit to be successful,” Ata snorted, shaking her head. “The bond is created without physical contact. The blood of one of the monarchs is taken and placed in a sacred goblet, the blood of the other monarch involved, is placed in the goblet too. The blood is mixed together, some ancient words are spoken, and then the monarchs involved take a sip from the goblet. They ingest some of the other vampire’s blood but it’s not enough to form a strong bond, the weak bond they do create ends in one hundred years, thus ending the marriage,” she concluded.
For a moment, I was silent as I absorbed her words until finally, I felt like I understood them. Giving a nod of encouragement, Ata continued for me, “The final bond is the one both of us share with our vampires, these bonds are incredibly rare due to their traits. Vampires hate others knowing their secrets or how they’re feeling, they are naturally selfish and possessive, which makes the kind of bond we have with them special. The first bond allows the vampire a wider scope of emotions when feeling the human and allows the vampire to track them, just like the tie. The human also starts to feel the vampire’s stronger emotions. However, the first bond also increases the attraction between the pair, encouraging them to complete the second bond.
“The second bond allows both human and vampire to experience the same level of emotional understanding as far as feelings go, it evens them out. The human can also start to track the vampire; which is why this sort of bond is so rare as vampires hate having tabs kept on them. The third bond cements the commitment to one another; it binds their souls together for eternity. It’s effectively marriage between the human and the vampire in the vampire world. If one dies, so does the other, that’s why it’s so rare. For example, if Godric and I were to bond thrice and then I end up being shot and I die, he would walk out into the sun the following morning to join me. It makes it impossible for one to live without another in this realm; the pain is so great that it makes the other suicidal. For ancient vampires like Eric and Godric, such a bond isn’t undertaken lightly,” her explanation rang in my ears. I’d, of course, heard the rest of the conversation but my mind had focused in on one word. Marriage.
“I-It’s practically marriage?” I stuttered. Why hadn’t Eric told me that? I thought we were being honest with each other!
“Yes, in the vampire world. Of course, you then have the pledging ceremony, which tells everyone that both you and your vampire are off the market to everyone, even monarchs can’t touch you then without risk of the true death,” Ata explained with a shrug of her shoulders.
“But, it’s marriage! I can’t marry Eric!” I protested feeling rather flustered.
“Why not, Sook? He loves you, he takes care of you, he adores you, and he takes bullets for you. Sure, sometimes he’s not been forthcoming with information but he’s always done things that have ensured your safety. Sook, he’d give you the world. Why wouldn’t you marry him?” I could see my cousin’s shock and confusion.
“Marriage, Ata! It’s so soon! I hardly know anything about him, I don’t even know what his favourite colour is or, or what his favourite novel is. What happens if he gets bored of me, too? It’s not like we could get a divorce!” I exclaim, starting to feel panicky. He wanted us to marry and he hadn’t even run the idea past me.
“Ironically, it’s red, and also, Gone With The Wind. Ask him questions Sook; he isn’t going to deny you answers. Also, he literally cannot get bored of you, so don’t worry about that,” Ata held her hands up to try and calm me.
I was stunned into silence for a moment. It was no surprise that Eric’s favourite colour was red, but his favourite novel being Gone With The Wind? That was creepy. It was my favourite novel too. Trying to compose myself I took several slow deep breaths, counting to ten before carrying on with my questions. “What do you mean he literally can’t get bored of me?” I asked, focusing on the latter part of Ata’s sentence.
“Vampire’s aren’t the only ones who have bonds, Sook. The fae does as well. Remember when we had our discussion about soul mates?” I nodded in response to her question, remembering the day I had told her that I believed Eric to be my soul mate.
“When a fae finds their mate, it’s instantaneous. The moment fae lock eyes with their mate their souls start the binding process and they’re pulled together. If it’s two fae, or a fae and a human who are in love, then when they consummate their marriage the binding is complete. With a vampire and a fae, it’s when the third bond is complete, or so I believe seeing as how we have rare relationships. Once the souls are bound together then there’s no going back. You share a life force, meaning that you can’t break apart. The fact you’re bound together stops you from getting bored with one another, and let’s be honest, Eric has a thousand years of history. It’s going to take some doing to get bored of all of that. Sometimes gifts are shared too. For example, a vampire once bonded thrice with a human and the human gained sharper senses and quicker speed. It was nothing compared to her vampire’s abilities, but it’s still something,” Ata explained.
The prospect of acquiring some of Eric’s vampiric traits, such as his speed and grace, sounded really appealing to me. Coupled with the new powers I was developing, I may just have a fighting chance when defending myself. “If Eric hasn’t mentioned the third bond then don’t worry about it Sook, I’m positive he would never go ahead without your consent and a huge diamond ring. He loves you Sook, your souls are already binding themselves together. I didn’t tell you during our chat the other day, but I can feel that you’re soul mates, the way you act with one another, and the way he’s so tender with you: I can feel your fae magic blending with his vampire magic and it’s rather wonderful,” my cousin’s words soothed me slightly. Eric would never go behind my back. Sure, he’d never been particularly forthcoming with information before, and the way he got his blood into my system originally was rather sneaky, but he’d never do something like that for something as serious as vampire marriage. The thought of a large diamond ring caused me to groan, however.
“You spoke of a spark, what is it and what does it do?” I questioned, knowing that I would get answers to my fae questions from my cousin. I didn’t want to contact Niall just yet, he still gave me the creeps and I wasn’t too fond of him considering the fact it was partially his fault my parents were killed.
“The essential spark is what allows a faery to access their powers. Only the strongest of hybrids are born with it. Other hybrids may get a few small gifts, such as the ability to easily attract lovers. The spark is where your fae-ness resides. You can call upon this spark whenever you want; the depths of its power are truly unknown. Our great-grandfather, Niall, is the most powerful faery out there, and he claims to have not harnessed all of his spark’s magic yet. The spark is connected to our emotions and our exposure to sunlight, that’s why we can never be turned. Fae are natural creatures, from us come elves and brownies and angels and demons. Water sprites, green men, the entire natural spirits, they’re all some form of faery. The stronger our emotions are, the stronger our powers, that’s why when I was so angry and upset last night I was able to topple Pam and even channel some pain into the equation. For example, should Russell find you and Eric and start to hurt Eric, you’ll be able to channel the anger you feel about the situation and the pain being caused to your mate and you can use it to hurt, and potentially even kill, Russell,” Ata answered.
The thought of Russell hurting Eric had my blood boiling, I felt warm all over and already itching to kill the psychotic vampire. I could only imagine all the different ways I could stake the bastard. I would make him pay for killing Eric’s family, for fang raping me and for forcing Eric to walk out into the sunshine. I heard Ata’s chuckle suddenly break through my thoughts and I scowled in her direction, someone hurting Eric wasn’t a laughing matter!
“Look at your hands,” she ordered me.
Looking down, I gasped in surprise, jumping at the sight of my hands. They were surrounded by a bright golden glow that had appeared out of nowhere. “Cheese and rice!” I squealed, looking to Ata for an answer.
“That’s the golden light I told you about the other day, the one to attack and harm. Your anger associated with harm befalling your vampire brought it out. It’s a good sign; it means you’re able to harness your emotions correctly. Attacking someone requires your strongest emotions, however, and those are easy to succumb to during a stressful situation. For other lights, such as your healing one, you would need to have a clearer mind and during stressful situations, this can be difficult to accomplish. This evening we’ll work on both your gold light and your green light, but it will involve both of our vampires and perhaps even some of my boys,” Ata continued. I had to admit that I was feeling a little proud of the fact that I had managed to harness my strongest emotions correctly and so quickly.
“When I was in the fae realm, they were originally all so beautiful, but after I sent a blast at Mab they all changed. Why don’t we look like that?” I enquired, shuddering as I remembered the way the beautiful faeries had changed before my eyes into such hideous creatures.
“It only occurs to full-blooded fae, so there isn’t an issue with that happening to us. Full-blooded fae are naturally ugly creatures with beady, bright eyes, grey skin, dishevelled hair, pointed teeth and pointed ears. Remember I told you about the ability to cast illusions? Their beautiful appearances are just that, illusions. It enables them to travel around in the human world without drawing attention to themselves. Those with huge amounts of fae blood in their systems find their appearances compromised. Hybrids have fae blood, but not enough to give them the horrible appearance; instead, they have an ethereal appearance and radiate beauty: Their human beauty is enhanced.” Ata explained to me, and I gave out a sigh of relief.
“Faeries can be killed with either lemons, limes or iron. However, as hybrids, none of these things greatly affect us. I don’t suffer from reactions to lemons and limes however I am susceptible to iron. It’s similar to an allergic reaction; I get itchy and need special ointments to reduce the rash. It’s rather unpleasant. We can test you, later on, to see what you’re susceptible to?” My cousin offered. With a nod, I accepted, knowing already that I was okay with lemons. I’d been drinking ice tea with lemon for years. Limes and iron, I wasn’t sure about those.
“When a faery dies, there is no body left behind, just a sparkling powder, faery dust if you will. The body just fades away and the spirit of the faery goes to the next oldest family member to tell them of their death. The fae calls their afterlife “The Summerlands”, yet a lot of hybrid fae follow different religions and therefore may have a different name for their afterlife.”
“For example, as I am Egyptian my afterlife is known as the Fields of Aaru and…” Ata explained, and I interrupted there, remembering the conversation I’d had with Godric up on the rooftop of the Hotel Carmilla.
“You can only go there if your heart is lighter than a feather,” I finished her sentence for her. A huge smile lit up her face and she nodded her head eagerly.
“You know of my people’s beliefs?” She inquired with a curious tip of her head. Regrettably, I shook my own head, I was only aware of a few things such as mummification and the building of the pyramids. School had been difficult for me.
“I’ll teach you some time, my people were quite interesting.” A wistful expression crossed her face, and I allowed her to fall back into her memories for a moment as I fell back into my own, allowing myself to remember how normal my life had been before the night Bill had walked into Merlotte’s. I wouldn’t trade it for the world now, though. I was aware of my heritage, Eric was mine, and I was learning how to defend myself against the cruelty in the world.
Ata snapped back to reality and she returned to the previous conversation. “The fae are secretive about their race, customs, interactions, and their world. There are portals and doorways between their world and the human world, as I’m sure you’re aware. Also, time works differently there, as you have experienced. There is no exact measure for how long the time difference is, but it’s safe to assume that the time scale varies for each person. For example, if I were to bond thrice to Godric and then return to the fae realm, the time difference would slow down considerably as I would have a blood tie to a being in the human realm, not only that, but it would take into consideration bonding sickness,” she explained, causing me to frown at her words. Bonding sickness?
“What’s bonding sickness?”
Ata looked at me like I had two heads before schooling her features. “Bonding sickness occurs when a vampire and a human share a strong bond, sometimes it occurs after the second bond but most of the time it occurs after the third one. Because their souls are bound together so tightly, they can’t physically be separated from one another for long periods of time. If they are separated for a long time, both will start to experience excruciatingly sharp pains in their chest, they’ll start to feel weak, stop eating and crave one another’s company constantly, eventually the separation will drive them mad and whichever one goes mad first will most likely end up killing themselves, thus taking the other with them,” My cousin sighed.
The sound of bonding sickness frightened me; there was no doubt about it. If Eric and I were to bond thrice then I would have to literally be by his side forever. That was a huge commitment. Not that I wasn’t committed, if there is one thing I most certainly am, it’s committed, but it was such a huge thing and we’d been taking it so lightly. Perhaps I’d have to speak to him about it, get his views on the situation. I would most definitely be raising the subject of the whole vampire marriage situation!
“How long can the vampire and human be parted before the bonding sickness starts?” I questioned, wanting to know what the effects would be on Eric should I ever have to go back to the fae realm.
“It varies between couples, some can only go four hours without one another before it kicks in while others can go up to four months. It really does vary, and unfortunately, the only way to test the limit is to separate from one another for some time. The moment the symptoms start, though, the pair have to reunite. The longer the bonding sickness is allowed to go on, the longer it will take to go away when they see one another again.” The way Ata explained it made me understand that bonding sickness really wasn’t something I would ever want to experience, but would probably have no choice to if we were to discover what our time limit was.
“How far away do they have to be before the sickness starts?” I queried, wanting to know what my safe limit would be before I would cause both Eric and myself any pain.
“That varies between couples also, once again it depends on the depth of their tie to one another. For some it can only be a couple of miles while with others it could be hundreds of miles. The couple would have to experiment and test out the distance limit as well as the time limit,” Ata shrugged, pursing her lips together as she grabbed the bottle of water at her side, unscrewing the lid to take a gulp. We’d been talking for some time now and a lot of my questions had been answered. There were still a few that had gone unanswered, but they could wait for later, or I could get Eric to answer them considering they involved his kind.
Grabbing my own bottle of water, I mimicked my cousin’s actions, taking a swig from my bottle. As Ata finished screwing the lid onto her bottle she inhaled sharply, bending forwards before placing her hand over her chest. “The fuck was that?” she wheezed, looking up from under her bangs at me. With a frown and a shrug of my shoulders I set my water bottle down, leaning towards my cousin to inspect her physically. Nothing seemed out of place. Suddenly her eyes widened and she started to laugh. “What?” I demanded, worried that something serious was happening to her.
“I felt it! I felt him waking for the night!” She beamed, getting to her feet before offering me her hands, her large grin still fixed on her lips. She’d felt Godric wake? Was that a trait of a vampire/fairy bond?
Taking her hands, I pulled myself up onto my feet. Letting go of Ata, I swiped both of our water bottles off the floor. As we walked towards the door I felt a sharp pang in my chest and doubled over, placing my own hand over my chest exactly where the pang had occurred. “Cheese and rice!” I exclaimed, slowly unfurling myself to stand at my full height, my eyes widening in comprehension. “I just felt Eric rise too,” I whispered, mesmerised by the fact that I could feel the moment Eric opened his eyes.
“Come on. our men await us!” Ata beamed, taking her water bottle from me and leading us out the door and down the stairs to the living room.