A/N I have a few short, lemony, fluffy stories that will fill in some of the blanks that this story gives us (e.g. honeymoons etc.). Expect those sometime after I’ve finished ER! 🙂
Slight Kleenex warning for Eric’s POV!
We are here, we’re all alone in our own Universe,
We are free, where everything’s allowed and love comes first,
Forever and ever together, we sail into infinity,
We’re higher and higher and higher, we’re reaching for divinity.
Euphoria, forever, ’till the end of time
From now on, only you and I
We’re going up-up-up-up-up-up-up
An everlasting piece of art, a beating love within my heart
We’re going up-up-up-up-up-up-up
Forever we sail into infinity,
We’re higher, we’re reaching for divinity…
~ Euphoria, Loreen
I woke up in the strong arms of my Viking, encased in his embrace. His scent was the first thing I noticed. He smelt like the ocean – crisp, clean, with a touch of wildness. It was distinctly Eric. Sinking back into his embrace I felt his hold on me tighten ever so slightly. Our bond was still there, not silenced like it usually was in his day rest. Cracking my eyes open I glanced to the clock. It was 3:30pm. There was only an hour before sunset. Eric and I hadn’t slept that long at all, and there was no way he should be up at this time. Feeling the confusion through our bond I felt Eric’s lips on my shoulder blade, where he dropped a tender kiss, inhaling my scent. I used to find the constant sniffing from vampires strange, but now it felt like a compliment, especially coming from my Viking. “I didn’t succumb to my day death, I slept just like I used to when I was human.” Eric answered my unspoken question in a husky voice, laced with his previous slumber.
Turning in his arms I looked up into his glacier blue eyes, which seemed to flash in the darkness, and frowned slightly. One of Eric’s large hands came up and with his thumb he swept away my frown, my muscles relaxing under his touch. “It was much more satisfying than my day death. I feel far more refreshed. Perhaps it is a side effect of our third bond? There have never been any recorded cases of a vampire and faery bonding thrice. I have no idea what’s supposed to happen and what isn’t.” He posed the questions I had been thinking. If Eric could be awake in the day then we would get to spend more time together, not be confined to the rising and setting of the sun, so long as whatever home we were in was lightproof. We could be up all day if we wanted to. Would Eric get tired? I was aware that vampires didn’t get tired, they simply felt the compulsion to seek shelter for the day. “I didn’t feel ‘tired’ as such, it’s an emotion I have not felt for over 1000 years though so I could be wrong. I felt the need to sleep though, which I guess could be the same thing. I could fight it though if I wished, which is more than I can say for the pull of the sun.” He answered my mental question again and I pouted, slightly peeved he was using our little telepathic connection against me for once. I was used to using it against others. Eric’s deep rumble was wonderful and his lips found mine, smothering my pout as he laid the mother of all morning kisses on me. I didn’t even have it in me to be mortified about the possibility of morning breath.
“How do you feel?” Eric asked with no pity or sympathy in his tone. I was no wilting flower after all and he knew this. He knew I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy. I didn’t want to wallow. Instead he sounded curious and simply concerned for my wellbeing.
“I feel a little better. I know it’s gonna take some time until I feel great again.” I answered honestly with my voice a little scratchy from sleep, and probably the screaming I had partaken in while locked in Felipe’s basement. Averting my eyes from Eric’s I snuggled into his chest, his arms automatically tightening around me, cradling me, not suffocating me. “Thank you for coming for me. Thank you for being so gentle with me last night.” I offered. I was no idiot. Eric had given me the reigns last night because I needed it. At that moment in time I had needed to be in control, to be the one with most of the power. Eric had been man enough to give that to me, and had allowed me to do as I wanted with him. He trusted me enough to give me power over him. Few men would do that, let alone vampire men.
His lips met the top of my head and I basked in the coolness of them against my warm skin. “There is no need to thank me, my little Valkyrie. It’s going to be a long road to you feeling 100% yourself again, my Sookie, but I will not leave you to walk it alone. I love you too much. You’re stuck with me.” Eric’s chest rumbled in laughter and I couldn’t help but giggle along with him. I felt better knowing I wouldn’t be alone anymore, that I had someone I could rely on. Ever since Gran had passed I’d had no one I could talk to. This trip to Vegas had given me many people I could talk to now and I realised in that moment that I would never, ever be alone again. I had a new family. They wouldn’t replace my old one, after all I would always love momma, daddy, and Gran, but my new family were in no way frightened of my odd abilities, and they encouraged me to be the best I could be. That’s what family was supposed to do – support you.
“I love you too.” I turned my head upwards, capturing Eric’s lips with my own for a soft kiss. When we broke apart his nose nudged mine in something I had heard Dawn once think of as an ‘Eskimo kiss” when she’d been thinking of her conquest from the previous night. It was part of the reason I hated Merlotte’s sometimes. Seeing Dawn recalling her nights with my brother was in no way fun. Stifling my giggle, it slipped from between my lips when Eric nuzzled my cheek. His fangs dropped with an audible click and he stiffened, panic flooding our bond for a moment before I felt him restraining himself, trying to force them back into hiding. Taking his face in my hands I placed my thumbs between his lips, gently prying them open. Two sharp, white points that seemed to glow in the darkness of the room greeted me. Leaning forward I kissed each one gently, eliciting a noise from Eric that sounded like a combination of a groan, moan, and whimper. “I love you.” I reiterated, sweeping my hair from my neck before I guided him down the crook, right to the vein.
“I can’t. I hurt you last time.” Eric murmured, audibly swallowing.
“You were hungry then and had been hurt, you needed to heal and unfortunately I was the only food source available. You stopped though and saw to it that I would be okay. I don’t like seeing you go hungry, Eric. I love you, you big dolt. I trust you. My trust and love in you never wavered Take.” I ordered in a soft tone glancing down to my vampire, who was waging an internal war with himself. Finally he came to a decision and I felt his lips and tongue on my neck, licking and kissing. His hands came up to my breasts and with the softest of caresses he traced the swell of them, stroking the soft flesh on the underside. The sweetness of his touch, his comforting weight settled above me, his smell invading my nose and his wet kisses were my own sweet torture. With the smallest bit of pressure I felt his fangs break my skin, sinking into my neck. The groan that fled his lips as my blood hit his pallet felt like a perverse compliment. As he drank slowly his hands left my breasts, snaking between us to find shelter between my thighs. Parting my legs Eric’s settled between them with his erection pressed to my thigh. His deft fingers found the little bundle of nerves at the apex of my legs and with quick, precise strokes I could feel that wonderful tightening sensation starting deep inside of me. His gentle pulls on my neck, only taking a few drops each time, and the rough pads of his fingers on my sensitive skin was sending me into overload.
My back arched off of the bed, pushing my breasts against the firm, muscular planes of his broad chest. Flushed with heat, the coolness his body offered only increased the pebbling of my nipples. Not caring how wanton I sounded I didn’t bother to restrain my moan, nor my groans of pleasure, the chanting of Eric’s name as he started to nudge me towards the edge. My nails dug into his back, leaving red scrapes in their path that healed instantly. My nails dug in a little too much at one point, breaking Eric’s marble skin. His mouth left the puncture wounds on my neck for a moment as he hissed out in a heady combination of pleasure and pain before he sealed his lips back to my neck, fastening himself to the wounds he had created. His pulls became harder as his fingers worked faster, the coil inside me tightened further. Wrapping my legs around him I pulled him to me, rocking against him, seeking more friction. I was also, in my lusty state, hoping to alleviate Eric’s rather large ‘problem’ with a little dose of friction. Eric’s fingers stopped and just as I was about to protest two dipped inside of me, entering with ease. Simply being in his presence was enough to make me ready for him.
Having taken his fill Eric licked the wounds shut, pricking his tongue and coating his blood across my skin, removing any potential scars. His lips met mine in a greedy kiss as he crooked his fingers, finding that magic, spongy spot inside of me. His lips muffled my moan and I should have been turned off by the metallic taste of my own blood in his mouth, but instead I felt turned on by it. I had nourished him; he needed me in order to survive. He needed me just as much as I needed him. Eric’s thumb landed on my clit and with only three taps on my little pleasure nub I felt the coil inside snap. Our lips came apart as I threw my head back, crying out as my orgasm swept through me, permeating every little corner of my body. Eric’s lips fastened themselves to the underside of my chin and he continued to pump his fingers inside of me in a slow rhythm as I rode out my orgasm, my inner walls contracting around him. Finally I was spent, my muscles relaxed as I sank back into the duvet. Tipping my head forward I watched as Eric withdrew his fingers from me, not ashamed to admit that I whimpered at the loss of him. He captured me with his passionate gaze as he licked his fingers clean, sounds of appreciation filling the room. My eyes continued downwards, taking in his impressive member, which stood to attention. He needed his own release.
“Do we have time?” I asked softly once Eric had finished licking his fingers clean. His hands came up to my face, his fingers sweeping across my cheekbones.
“We don’t have time for me to show you just how much I love you.” His answer saddened me but I was aware that we had a meeting to attend. I couldn’t leave him in such a state though. Giving his shoulder a shove I pushed him over, throwing my legs over so I straddled his knees. Without so much as I second thought I sank my head down, engulfing him. Whatever Eric had been expecting it most certainly wasn’t for me to go down on him. His hands tangled in my hair, keeping it from my face but also adding to his pleasure. I’d come to realise that Eric had a strange obsession with my hair, always running his fingers through it, brushing it out of my face, or tangling his hands in it. I wasn’t complaining though.
It didn’t take long for my vampire to roar out his release and for me to greedily swallow it down, keeping my eyes locked on his. Eye contact seemed to flick his bic. Little bobs and sucks along with several twists of my hands and some fondling had him over the edge in less than five minutes. I felt somehow proud that he’d found his release so quickly but I was well aware of just how great his stamina really was. We were working under pressure after all. “You are incredible.” Eric complimented as he gathered himself, his eyes hooded with the love I felt through our bond.
“You’re only saying that ‘cause I just blowed you.” I joked, shaking my head with a smile. Eric’s hands were under my arms in seconds and he hauled me up so I was splayed over him, my chin on his chest, our eyes locked. Gran would have tanned my hide had she heard my language. Eric and his lack of inhibitions were rubbing off on me.
“I mean it, my Sookie. Regardless of whether or not you just ‘blew me’ to perfection,” I preened under his praise for a moment, “you always amaze me. You have done ever since you walked into my bar in that sinful little white dress. What were you thinking?” He chuckled, his whole chest vibrating with the melodic sound.
“It worked, and some.” Eric’s smile lit up his face and I vowed then and there to do anything and everything to keep it there. “Go get ready, your nakedness is distracting me and we need to meet the others soon.” Eric swatted my behind. Squealing in surprise I was up off the bed as quick as lightening, giggling. Eric leant over the bed, swatting me once more before I scampered off into the wardrobe, grinning the whole way.
I used to rule the world; seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone, sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice, feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing; “Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”
One minute I held the key, next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand
I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing, Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield, my missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain, once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world
~ Viva La Vida, Coldplay
I slept facing Godric, not wanting him to see the mark on my shoulder. He had held me all last night, fed me when he had returned with the meal Flo had prepared for me and comforted me when I had needed his soft words more than anything. There was no doubt left in my mind that he still loved me even though I carried the mark of another. What hurt me was that it would forever be on my body; I was forever stuck with a physical reminder of everything that had transpired in the basement of Felipe’s burnt down mansion. I didn’t feel beautiful, I didn’t feel empowered because I had brought down the man who had harmed me and his brand was a symbol of my strength. I just felt weak, and a little ugly. I wasn’t vain. I knew what I looked good in and what I didn’t, and there were days when I felt pretty and others when I felt bland, but I had never felt ugly before. It wasn’t a nice feeling.
I woke to Godric’s pale blue eyes, concern and love evident in them. Leaning forward I dropped a small kiss to his lips as his grip on me tightened, though he was careful to avoid my shoulder blade. “Was your day rest okay?” I asked, aware that his day rest was okay but feeling the need to ask anyway. It was the polite thing to do.
“Actually, I slept like you did. I didn’t feel the pull of the sun but instead felt the pull of what I assume is tiredness. I’m unsure. It’s been 2000 years since I felt such a thing.” Godric mused aloud for a moment and the realisation that he had been up for a while in the day, that he had succumbed to the sun, filled me with glee. I should have been worried for his health, demanded to call Dr. Ludwig, but Godric looked fine. There was no telltale blood from the bleeds and he felt perfectly content through our bond.
“You think we’d get to spend the days together now?” I asked, careful to conceal my hopefulness.
“I believe so. I do not know if I can withstand the sun, but I know I can move around freely should I be in a light-tight space. We will have more time together now, my darling.” My husband squeezed me a little tighter and I nuzzled into his chest, dropping a kiss to the blue mark there.
“Thank you.” I offered after we had laid in comfortable silence for a few minutes. I didn’t elaborate on my thank you; my husband was smart enough to know what I was thanking him for. His love through our bond washed over me, his acceptance of my thanks.
“We have somewhere to go tomorrow night. I thought I would warn you now so that you don’t create any plans.” Godric’s lips were close to my ears and his cool breath sent a shiver down my spine. I was a little excited about where we could be going but I was nervous all the same. I would wear a jumper. I couldn’t stand to hear people thinking about why I was marked.
Godric turned us, his frame resting over mine. His pale blue eyes were locked on mine and I couldn’t help but smile up at him. “It’s a surprise, hayaati. Wear whatever you are comfortable in.” He dropped a kiss to my lips, softly plying them apart. It didn’t take much coaxing and I willingly opened my lips, granting him access. I was content to simply kiss my husband for now and he seemed to know this. “You’re still beautiful to me, you know.” He whispered against my lips as he pulled away, scattering tender kisses all over my face. Eyelids fluttering shut I breathed in his scent as it enveloped me, feeling his love and feeling cherished by his words.
“I know but I just don’t feel beautiful.” I murmured, my eyelids fluttering open so I could take in my vampires form.
“I’ll always think you’re beautiful. You’ll feel beautiful again very soon though.” My husband’s response with quick but before I could ask what he meant he was up and in the closet, pulling out clothes for us to wear for the evening. Sitting up in bed I pulled the silk sheets with me, cocooning myself in them. What on earth did he mean? Scowling I tried to pry his mind open, try to get anything from him. The moment I tried however I was shut out. Gasping at how quickly he’d been able to keep me out I saw him turn on the spot, wagging his finger at me in mock scolding before he continued to dress, hiding his beautiful body from me. I pouted at the loss.
Godric returned to the bed with a pair of lacy white panties in hand along with the matching bra. He was also holding onto a blue blouse and light blue jeans. I would be covering my brand from others but would be dressed in the colours my people wore when they were mourning the loss of two of their loved ones. Touched by Godric’s gesture I felt the tears well up in my eyes but I willed them away the moment he offered me his hand. Letting the silk sheets slip away I left the safety of our bed, standing before him completely bare. With a soft touch he dressed me, letting me use his shoulders for balance as I lifted each leg so he could put my panties on. He dropped kisses wherever he could as he dressed me, paying extra attention to the tops of my thighs, my flat stomach and the swell of my breasts. I wished more than anything that I could throw him down on the bed and have my way with him, or let him have his way with me, but my head wouldn’t be in it and I would not give my husband sub-standard sex.
Dressed, we left our bedroom hand in hand where we bumped into Eric and Sookie. Hugging it out with my cousin I kissed the top of her head, a gesture that she returned. I could feel that she was still upset, still hurting from the torment we had recently endured, but she was pushing it aside for now, focusing on other things. I wasn’t stupid enough to know that this would all go away, that she would wake up one day and suddenly feel better. She would need time to heal, and I was comforted by the fact that Eric would be with her every step of the way.
Pulling Eric down to a more suitable height I dropped a motherly kiss to his forehead, which he too returned. The living room was bustling with activity. Flo was cooking, Pam and Ari were dressed and the usually cold vampiress was tending to my eldest son with plenty of love and affection. It was evident how much they loved one another. Riei and Oeri were going over some paperwork for the meeting that was about to start while Khai was tending to Isabel, piercing bags of blood before he offered them to her. Egor was sat with Bubba, keeping him company. Of course the moment we entered Sookie was bowled over by Jason and Hunter, both of whom tackled her to the floor, suffocating her with hugs. None of us had it in us to pull them off of her. They needed the reassurance she was okay. Giving them their moment I crossed to Egor and Bubba. My hand came to rest on Egor’s black-clothed shoulder and I dropped it to the middle of his back, rubbing soothingly. My son melted to my touch and though his immense sadness flooded our bond, igniting my own sadness once more, I still pushed my strength to him. My boy was in pain and I needed to be there for him. Bubba turned to me and silently took me into an embrace. I could feel him shaking and when we pulled apart I could clearly see the red of his tears in his eyes. “We nearly lost ya, Miss Ata.” His voice was soft, quivering with his emotions.
“You’re right, but no one gets rid of a Caesar that easily.” I offered what I felt was a strong response, rubbing Egor’s back a little more in a hope that he understood my words also. He was my son, and though he didn’t carry the Caesar name he was one of us. My blood flowed through his veins and he was my Childe. We Caesar’s were made of strong stuff. Agmund had passed fighting, he had died an honourable death and though he too didn’t carry the Caesar surname, he was a Caesar by blood.
“Don’t go doing it again Miss Ata. Please.” Bubba begged. Nodding at my wonderfully addled friend I offered him a smile.
“Wouldn’t dream of it. You still owe me my wedding song as I walk up the aisle after all.” I touched my free hand to his cheek as Bubba’s whole face lit up into a smile. Though he hated to be reminded of his human years he still loved singing and dancing and did so whenever he felt he could. I was pulled from my moment with Bubba by an insistent tugging on my pants. Turning, I found myself looking down to Hunter who was holding his arms up to me. Scooping him up I held him as he cuddled me. Jason surprised me next, embracing both Hunter and I.
“You done give us a scare, Ata. I’m sorry those bastards used us to get you and Sook to do as they wanted.” Jason apologised still holding onto Hunter and I. Pulling back from Jason I accepted his apology, not feeling any anger. How were we to know Felipe and co would pull such a stunt as to glamour our cook and take the day-walking members of our family hostage in order to get our compliance?
“Mother, we have the meeting to attend.” Ari’s voice was insistent, firm, but still held that little tenderness to it that he used whenever he was talking to me. Placing Hunter down on the floor he was across to Eric in no time, scooped up in his arms. With his face pressed to Eric’s neck I could see his lips moving but his words were so quiet that I missed them. Eric didn’t though, and the smile that graced his features as he kissed Hunter’s forehead and ruffled his bangs was simply beautiful. Nodding to Ari I moved towards the elevator, offering a hand out to Egor. He took it instantaneously and moved to stand beside me. Though at a loss without his brother, his stance was still strong and tall, and the way he stood ever so slightly before me was a reminder to all that though he was my son, he was my protector also. Godric took the space beside me, placing one of his hands on my lower back so he could better guide me.
Our family assembled in the elevator, the mood somewhat solemn. The ride down to the entrance hall of the hotel was quiet. The whole hotel was quiet. There was not a single guest after everything that had happened and I had to stop myself from crying out about the unfairness of the situation. My home was a mess, my businesses reputation was in tatters, and now there would be plenty of political jostling for the new king or queen.
The Colosseum was silent as we entered, though filled with nearly every vampire Nevada had to offer. None of them were bothering to socialise Some were mourning their fallen loved ones while others simply had nothing substantial to offer. The room was still decked out as it had been for the VRA passing and I lead my family up onto the stage overlooking the crowd. There was no microphone but even if I had whispered my words the vampires present would have heard me as if I were standing right beside them. My family hung back as I took a step forward, slowly taking in the crowd gathered before me. Everyone’s eyes were on me but not a single pair showed any form of loathing. They had all fought for me, they had rallied together when my family had called upon them and some of them had been hurt in the process. They had helped us overthrow kings, in this life and ones from previous lives. I could pick out my fellow Sheriff’s easily. Corentin dipped his head in a mixture of submission and relief while Aurel offered me a warm, reassuring smile. Bryn nodded once, a man of very few words or emotions, and Colton grinned, sweeping his hands before him as he gave an over-exuberant bow. I couldn’t help but crack a smile. Standing on the stage, looking over the vampires of Nevada, I felt like my old self. I felt like the young woman standing before her subjects in Egypt, commanding armies and trading with other countries. I felt like the queen I used to be, but now I had my king by my side. He was my protector, my companion, my husband.
“Friends and family, I address you here today not as the Sheriff of Vegas, nor as someone whom you have to obey because some man whose head is too big for a crown says you must.” That earned me a small round of laughter from the younger vampires present. “I address you today as a friend, someone who will spend eternity thankful for all of the help you have provided in these past few days. We need to live every day of our lives as a continuous process of giving thanks for the things that we have, even in moments when we feel vulnerable, broken and alone. We need to frequently look around us and be thankful for what we do have, not things we wish we had. I am thankful for all of you. Every single one of you – old, young, female, male. If it were not for all of you I would not be standing up here today. My cousin would not be standing with me.” I offered my hand back to Sookie and she took it, taking her rightful place beside me as a leader. “My husband would not be with me.” My free hand went back behind me and Godric took it, stepping to my right hand side. “My son would not be with me.” With a lack of hands left Eric simply took a step forward, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I took a look at the crowd of vampires gathered before me. “2000 years ago I stood in my mothers throne room.” That earned me a few gasps from the younger vampires who were unaware of my true age. “She asked me what I wanted the most from my life. I told her ‘Mother, I want a family. I want a huge family. I want friends and allies, comrades and companions. I want to know that I can depend on those under my protection and that they can depend on me.’ My mother simply laughed and told me I couldn’t have it all. She told me I would have to choose – a huge family, or a strong army. I have both. There was no need for me to choose. Though I am not one of you, though I do not sport a pair of fangs and roam in the shadows that the darkness cloaks the world in, you are still my family, my comrades, my allies, my companions. ” I dipped my head in gratitude to all vampires present. Lifting my head once more I felt Eric give my shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Lest we forget those who gave their lives for me and mine, and for the freedom of our state, be them our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters or sons.” I felt Egor shake through our bond and sent him as much strength as I could muster. Pam was holding his hand with her free one, the other holding strong to Ari’s only hand. Riei had brought his brother a chair earlier; none of us were expecting him to stand in his condition. “All those who have fallen will be given a send off into the after life in the ways of their people, be them Native American, British, Romanian, Russian or Scandinavian.” I reeled off the nationalities of the few I knew had already passed over. “And I vow to you, with Isis as my witness, that I will build this state back to prosperity, that I will not allow whatever turmoil that will occur from the selection of a new monarch to meet any of you. De Castro is gone and his family has fallen.” I couldn’t hide my smile. Felipe had made life in Nevada hell with his high taxes, his diva-like demands and his iron fist. “We are free.”
Every vampire in the room erupted into cheers. For creatures that kept their emotions locked away they knew when it was right to let themselves go. No one had been particularly fond of Felipe, but he hadn’t really done anything bad enough for us all to band together and overthrow him. That was, until he took my family. The vampire families below us embraced one another. Makers and their Children held one another; grinning at the fact they no longer had to obey a man who had made their lives hell. The strength flowing through the bonds inside of me from all of my family was unrelenting, and I poured it all back to them. Soon we would have a new ruler and the game may end up changing, but for now we would accept the brief freedom. I felt Ari’s resolve and turned to watch him rise from his seat. Egor let go of Pam, allowing her to assist Ari as he crossed over to me. Clearing his throat the room fell silent once more, all eyes on the stage.
“I received a call from the handmaidens of the Ancient One. She will be here tomorrow to discuss with us the plans for Nevada. I ask that all of you be here around 2am. I have no idea what She wishes to discuss with us but She has stressed that it is important for all of you to be present, even those who did not fight in the battle.” Ari’s voice was strong even though he was missing half of his body. I was proud of my eldest boy. Ari’s words concluded the brief meeting and each and every vampire disappeared off to celebrate the fact Felipe was finally dead. Some stopped for a brief moment to speak with me, offering their relief that my family and I was safe and offering their condolences for our losses.
We finally had a moment to ourselves as we entered the elevator back up to the penthouse. The hotel was eerily quiet and for the first time since 1966 I let my shields down completely without the safety of the penthouse’s soundproofing. The thoughts of my family drifted into my mind but they were easy to sort through and filter. Unless I lived on an island alone I would never have mental peace and quiet. This was as close as I would ever get, and I loved every second of it. Sookie’s eyes met mine in the mirrors on the back of the elevator doors in much the same way as they had the first night we had met one another. I felt her shields drop too and watched as she closed her eyes, inhaling deeply before puffing the air out. The quietness was miraculous.
The penthouse was silent also apart from Amelia, who was currently sat on the sofa with a pad and pen in her hands, furiously scribbling on the piece of paper before her. Hearing us enter she put her things down, rising to her feet. She was a loud broadcaster but her thoughts were filled with remorse and shame. At least we didn’t have to struggle to keep her out of our heads, and at least she wasn’t thinking of vile things. “I figured that after helping a little last night with some of the riddles that I should start on the riddle the Ancient Pythoness gave you guys.” She explained as she twisted her hands together nervously before her.
“Thank you Amelia, that’s very kind of you.” Sookie spoke for us, crossing to place a reassuring hand on Amelia’s forearm before she moved to the sofas, seating herself neatly. Within a minute our entire nest was sat around the coffee table in the living room, all of us focused on the riddles. Pam, Eric, Sookie and Godric filled me in on the riddles they had answered the night before and I couldn’t help but tear up at the reminder that Niall was now gone. He had sacrificed himself for my happiness, to give me back my bonded. Godric, sensing my sorrow, slipped a hand under my blouse and rubbed my lower back in a soft, soothing gesture. Niall had died so that I could have my love, and I wasn’t about to throw that away. There had to be a reason he gave his spark away. Full fae were notoriously greedy and self-serving creatures.
We spoke for what felt like hours and by the end of the discussion we had a neat piece of paper down on the table before us. On it were the lines of the riddle and written beside each line was our conclusion from it, the answers we had collective worked on. When we had first worked on the riddle a few days ago we had been short of several clues and pieces. We had them all now though.
Three houses bound together = Ptolemaic, Brigant, Northman
All four of immortal blood = Eric, Godric, Sookie, Ata
Two sets of two that share a tie = Eric/Sookie. Godric/Ata
Combining all around together = Ari, Khai, Oeri, Riei, Egor, Agmund, Oscar, Bubba, Isabel, Pam
One is ancient, majestic, full of joyful cheer = Ata
Two has much to learn = Sookie
Three is wise beyond his years = Eric
And Four once tried to burn = Godric
Now four people, all of power = Felipe, William, Russell, Marc
Try to part the four = Eric/Sookie. Godric/Ata
With thousands of years between them all = 5000+
This riddle they will solve.
One of them has used you = Felipe
One of them has abused you = William + Marc
One of them wants to watch you fall = Russell
Deception and lies go hand in hand,
But brutal truths can really hurt = Russell’s murder of Ata’s parents. William’s true colours.
Do not lash out at those you love,
But seek revenge for those you lost = Mothers, fathers, siblings, children.
When the moon waxes all of this will end, new powers will be used and promised gifts will make amend = Powers: Ata’s second gift, Sookie’s telepathy, ability to pull one another into each others minds, blood bonds. Promised gifts: ??
A sacrifice must be made, a selfless one at that = Niall
Time will heal the physical marks left behind, but only love will heal thy heart.
In the house of royalty four will fight together = Godric, Ata, Eric, Sookie.
Yet only two will leave = Third bonds. Joining of the souls. Two SOULS left. FOUR separate ones entered. Godric/Ata. Eric/Sookie.
Sighing I slumped down into my seat. I was feeling a little worse for wear now and my head was throbbing ever so slightly. Though answering the riddle had been easy once we’d started and gotten into the flow of things we’d often found ourselves going off on little tangents, coming up with new ideas and putting further pieces of the puzzle together. We even managed to figure out how exactly Godric had been able to ‘appear’ to Eric whenever he had been in need of him during his two year absence in Europe.
It had been the day for Godric and he had been lost in his day rest, yet Eric’s emotions had been running so strong, much stronger than usual, especially when he had been laying out in the sun preparing to meet his final death, that Godric had been able to venture into his mind. It was a brief wisp of his fae heritage – the ability to infiltrate ones mind. No one else had witnessed him as he had spoken with Eric, trying to get him to see sense. Simply put he had been inside Eric’s head, an illusion of sorts, just like the men who spent days in the desert and then believed that a tropical oasis was right before them. We’d also discussed Nora and her inability to keep me safe during Felipe’s party. My husband was as angry as a wet cat, to steal one of Sookie’s cute Southern colloquialisms, and he believed it only right he be allowed to exact some form of punishment. The Ancient One had pulled Nora back though, forced her to stay. Pallas would have known what was about to happen to me and, after struggling to soothe my husbands Neanderthal needs to see to revenge, I managed to convince him that Pallas had orchestrated it so that our bonds could all be started. Isis knows we had all relied on them heavily over the past few weeks. They were comforts in the dark and reminders that most of us were still around. Godric still insisted on having a sharp word with Nora though. I silently prayed the poor girl would stay far away. My husband’s bite was just as bad as his bark when he so wished.
Come take my hand, I won’t let you go, I’ll be your friend, I will love you so deeply
I will be the one to kiss you at night, I will love you until the end of time
I’ll be your baby, now promise not to let you go
Love you like crazy, now say you’ll never let me go
Say you’ll never let me go; say you’ll never let me go
Say you’ll never let me go; say you’ll never let me go
Take you away from here
There’s nothing between us but space and time
I’ll be your own little star, let me shine in your world
In your own little universe
Make me your girl
~ The End of Time, Beyonce
Ari’s weariness was coming through our bond. No matter how hard he tried to hide it from me I could feel it. That was the way with bonded pairs. Though the events in the Colosseum had to be discussed, especially the information regarding The Ancient One’s visit tomorrow, my Ari needed to rest. I disappeared off to the kitchen, grabbing several bags of blood. Returning to Ari I pierced them one at a time, feeding him silently as Ata and Sookie removed some food from the fridge, heating it up in the microwave. We’d finally managed to decipher all of the clues and the riddles we’d been given over the past few weeks, and it finally felt like things would soon return to normal – well, as normal as they could get with Sookie ‘trouble magnet’ Stackhouse in our lives. Ari drained the bags of blood quickly, wincing as he rearranged himself on the sofa. I could see his limbs starting to grow back, but it would be a slow and painful process. It would take him at least a month for them to grow back, and then the painful process of the nerve endings returning, and the muscles growing back, would begin.
“You need to rest.” I ordered, silently pleading with him to lie down in bed. Resting would help him heal quicker. Sookie and Ata had since taken their food out of the microwave and were now sat on the barstools eating, my Maker and Grand-Sire right at their sides. Glancing to his family who all offered him encouraging nods, Ari conceded. I helped him up from the sofa, not even caring that my McQueen’s were being scuffed a little from dragging them along the carpet. I could feel how much Ari hated being tended to, how weak he thought himself because he would be in need of someone for the next month or so to simply help him move around. To me he wasn’t weak though, he was allowing me to take care of him and it took considerable inner strength for a vampire to let others look after them when they were defenceless.
Using my foot I closed the bedroom door behind us, supporting most of Ari’s weight until he was sat on the bed. It was only a few weeks ago that I would have simply sneered at Ari’s state and called it ‘survival of the fittest’ before I would have left him to die. Now the thought of doing such a thing damn near tore me in two. He was important to me, almost on par with Eric’s importance in my life. I had no doubt that Ari and I would butt heads several times but we were bonded now, and it felt so strange to feel his emotions as clearly as I felt Eric’s. It wasn’t unwelcome though.
Taking the fresh bandages from the tub on the nightstand I removed Ari’s old ones, throwing them into the bin to be burned later on. Leaving vampire blood around was not a good idea. Any addict rummaging through bins could come across vampire blood on clothing and consume it. They were usually sick humans, the sorts you DIDN’T want to share blood with. Ari’s age meant his blood was a lot stronger. We had no idea what affect it would have on an addict. I could feel Ari wince as I cleaned his wounds with the saline solution that one of the women on the reception desks had brought up for us. There were very few staff still working, only those needed to keep the place running. Even so they kept well out of the way.
Ari’s hiss alerted me to his pain, as did the click of his fangs, and the feeling bouncing through our connection. “You wouldn’t be in pain if you weren’t so stupid, you idiotic old man.” I growled out at him. I wasn’t angry at him, but at the situation. His brother had been staked and naturally he had gone on a rampage, but his rampage had lead to him loosing a few limbs. Thankfully there were enough vampires on our side to cover him.
A heavy sigh slipped between my Egyptian vampires lips and he nodded in resignation. “I know. It is my own fault. I had just lost my brother and the pain was fresh and raw. I was not thinking and in the process I was hurt, and now you have to tend to me.” One of his large hands came to rest upon the side of my head as I started to bandage up the stump where his leg should have been. Soon the bandages would need to come off, as he travelled further down the healing path, but for now they would stay on to capture any errant blood drops. Ari had dropped his contractions during his speech and over the past few weeks in his company I’d come to know that, when overcome with emotion, his contractions were the first things to go. I had a feeling it was to do with his human life. He’d always had to be formal around a somewhat human Ata and her mortal family.
Knotting the bandage around the stump of his leg, I shifted to straddle him. Being reminded of how close I had come to losing him wasn’t helping my cold-bitch persona. His dark, chocolate eyes captured me. I’d never cared for the eyes of others, usually they were closed in either fear or pleasure when they were in my presence, but Ari’s called out to me. It was like I’d been adrift for my hundred or so years and now, finally, I had dropped anchor.
Ari’s remaining hand came up to caress my cheek and I leant into his touch, enjoying the feel of his rough thumb sweeping over my cheekbone. He had working mans hands, and I loved it. “I am sorry I have caused you so much grief.” His voice was full of such remorse. I couldn’t blame him for his actions. If Eric had met his final death I would have killed everyone in the room, regardless of their alliance.
“It doesn’t matter. I love you. I want to take care of you.” I answered reverently, cradling his face in my hands before I planted a kiss to his cool lips. His smooth lips moved over mine, tasting as he slid his tongue between the gap I had left for him. His small wince however forced me to pull back and my features clouded over with concern.
“I love you too.” Ari’s voice was soft, and it wasn’t until he uttered those four words that I realised I’d told him I was in love with him for the first time. Eyes wide, I tried not to make a big deal out of it. There was no denying my love, Ari could always feel it. “You’re more than welcome to nurse me back to health.” Ari’s contractions were back as he smiled at me, sweeping my bangs from my face as he wiggled his eyebrows in a move that would make even Eric proud. My fangs dropped as I let out my first laugh in days.
Yeah, I know it’s not easy, I know that it’s hard
Follow the lights to the city, get up and go
Take a chance and be strong or you could spend your whole life holding on
Don’t look back; just go, take a breath, move along or you could spend your whole life holding on
You could spend your whole life holding on
Believe the tunnel can end, believe your body can mend
Yeah, I know you can make it through
‘Cause I believe in you
So let’s go put up a fight, let’s go make everything all right
Go on take a shot, go give it all you got
~ Go, Boys Like Girls
Pam took Ari away to tend to his wounds and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling at my progeny’s retreating form. Sookie was chowing down on whatever Flo had cooked for her earlier in the evening. Ata was eating also, but her eyes were locked on Egor, who kept glancing to the clock on the mantle and then outside. There was only 15 minutes until sunrise. His constant glancing between the clock and the pending sunrise was unnerving. All of the other vampires in our nest had long since retired to their bedrooms, where they would be safe from the sun. Jason and Hunter had called it a night also, and I’d been tasked with reading my son a bedtime story. I’d told him the tale of The Twelve Wild Ducks. He’d loved it. Godric and I were staying up to test the theory of day walking considering our third bonds.
Just as Ata put her fork down, Egor was off. Vamping from the room he took the emergency staircase, heading upwards. With so much vampire blood in her system Ata was off like a rocket, dashing up the stairs behind him. Godric was gone only seconds later. Sookie, frowning somewhat, sighed heavily. “He’s so upset without Agmund, so lost.” She commented quietly, sliding from the barstool and abandoning her almost finished meal. I didn’t think my Viking brother would contemplate meeting the sun!
Scooping Sookie up to speed us along I vamped us up to the rooftop. The situation was eerily similar to when Godric had been up on the roof in Dallas, though this time it wasn’t my father wanting to perish, but my brother. “Egor, please.” Ata’s voice was full of anguish, our bond crying out for help. Egor could surely feel her and what his actions were doing to her. I couldn’t understand why he would want to do this. Ata would be devastated without him, and he had so much left to continue on for. Placing Sookie down I tuned in to the conversation occurring before me.
“I don’t have my baby brother anymore. I failed him.” Egor was stood facing Ata, who was openly weeping. Godric’s arms were locked around her from behind, stopping her from doing anything stupid. The red rims around Egor’s eyes would have clued me in to his feelings even if the bond didn’t. He was in pain and he was terribly anguished. We were all in mourning for the loss of Agmund, and even little Oscar.
“You still have all of us.” Godric tried to reason with him, his desperation coming clearly through our connection.
Dropping his head to gaze at the concrete roof, Egor slowly shook his head. “I failed my baby brother. What’s to say I don’t fail one of you? He was my little brother, in this life and in my previous one.” Egor lifted his head, his eyes capturing our mothers. “It’s like this pain, deep down inside. I can’t put it into words mother but it hurts. I feel it everywhere. Agmund’s gone. He was my flesh and blood and I promised my human mother I would protect him, I promised you I would protect him, and I promised him I would protect him. I let all of you down.” Egor shook his head slowly, sadly. “I don’t feel like feeding, I don’t feel like resting. You’ve taken care of me for so long, helped me and crafted me into someone that I’m proud to be. I’m always going to be thankful for that, mother.” Egor spoke sincerely as he thanked Ata. My bond with my mother was all over the place, she was angry, sad, miserable, worried and frightened all at the same time. Hadn’t we all been through enough? Hadn’t we all lost enough people for one lifetime? “I feel alone though. There’s this, this hole where he should be. Our bond is gone, I miss him. I miss him.” Egor turned to look over to the horizon and unleashed a roar that tore at my heart. My brother was in pain. I’d heard the sound before, 1000 years ago, when his human father had passed away. It was gut wrenching. When silence fell once more, Egor’s shoulders heaved. “You don’t need me anymore, mother. There are more than enough vampires in our nest now to take care of you.” He refused to turn around, instead staring out at Vegas as it came to life, preparing for the sun.
Ata broke free, the salty tears down her face. “As your Maker, I command you to face me.” Her voice only cracked once before Egor was forced to obey, forced to turn to her and let us see the red tracks down his cheeks, staining his t-shirt. The deep crimson a sharp contrast against the bright white. I knew, deep down, that Ata would never use her Maker’s command to keep Egor alive, but she was using it as a show of her power. She was reminding him that he was still hers, even if he did decide to meet the sun and perish. Living was his choice. He had to choose it. He had chosen to be turned over 1000 years ago, it was only right he got to decide when he wanted to leave the world. It wouldn’t stop any of us from trying to keep him here.
“You think I have no further need for you?” The pain in Ata’s voice caused me to take a step forward. Sookie’s hand slipped into mine, her silent strength flooding our connection. “You’re my son, my mighty, Viking warrior. I didn’t turn you over 1000 years ago so you could just protect me and then check out when you figured I was safe. I turned you because I love you. I’ve lost so many loved ones over the years, to many different things. I hate it. I can’t lose you too. I won’t force you to stay here if you don’t want, but I need you. I’m always going to need you. I need your witty banter when I feel like shit, I need your brute strength when I can’t get the damn lid off of the fucking jam jar, I need your boyish grin when I’m frightened and I need your love all the time.” Ata’s hand lifted to caress Egor’s face, her thumb wiping at the blood trail on his cheek. My vision allowed me to see the slight wobble in his lower lip. I’d seen plenty of vampires throw tantrums over the years, I’d seen plenty of vampires cry also. None of them affected me like my brother did.
I had to do something.
“February 10th 921AD.” I started, taking several steps forward until I was stood beside Ata. Egor’s eyes snapped to me, glazing over for a second as he lost himself in the memories of that day. “Our villages were under attack from the residents of Uppsala. Our men told us of their approach and you and I readied the villages. We locked away all of the women and children to protect them, we stored food and sharpened our weapons. They attacked your village first and we fought together. Remember when one of them tried to take my head off with his sword and you threw yourself in the way, fending him off with your shield and eventually killing him with a spear to the heart? You saved my life that day. I’m returning the favour now, 1000 years later.” Egor’s eyes cleared and he offered me a small smile.
“You don’t need to return the favour, my brother.” His voice was soft, almost resigned. I could see the sun starting to creep over the horizon. It would be minutes before Egor would start to burn. He would go slowly though, with Ata’s blood in his veins, so it gave us a little more time to try and convince him down. I didn’t want anymore time though. He needed off the roof. Now.
Mother noted the sunrise too, and a whimper of both pain and anger seeped through her lips. “You can do this any day you want. Not today though. Stay. It will get better and if it doesn’t, then you are free to meet the sun and we won’t stop you.” Ata turned to me so fast, with such venom on her features, that for a moment I felt like my eight year old self once more, ready to be punished for letting the chickens out into the yard or for stealing the last of the fruit. A ripple of something crossed my connection with Egor and, looking at it in detail, I surmised it to be his contemplation. He was thinking about it. Good.
“He wouldn’t want this.” Now Sookie was joining in, standing on the other side of Ata, holding her back. The venom from her features was long gone. Now she simply looked resigned. “Agmund wouldn’t want you to meet the sun. He’d want you to carry on and continue to live with our family. He’d want you to spend the rest of your nights working away on human/vampire relations, or helping Ata rebuild your home and business. He wouldn’t want you to take the cowards way out.” Sookie’s words were almost a mirror image of the words she’d spoken on the rooftop in Dallas, and they were just as passionate as then. I felt Godric’s recognition of the words for a fleeting second before I noted the small upward quirk of his lips. It was a cheap shot on Sookie’s behalf, describing suicide as the coward’s way out, and I was sure there were plenty of people on each side of the argument. Her words however had the intended effect. If there was anything a vampire hated to be called, especially a Viking vampire, it was a coward. We were not cowards. We didn’t run from fights. We stood our ground and battled on.
Egor’s features hardened. “I am not a coward.” His tone was low, a hiss almost. His hiss could have been from the first of the day’s rays. They hit his back causing him to smoke. Too consumed in Egor’s safety I didn’t give a fuck for my own.
Ata shrieked at the sight of smoke rising from Egor’s back and, grabbing at his hands with frantic tears streaming down her cheeks, she begged. “Then prove it. Come back inside. Please.”
One moment they were stood before us, and the next they were gone. All that was left was the whoosh of air, the sign of vampire speed. Giving up on our theory to test whether we could now day walk, Godric and I sped downstairs, Sookie cradled in my arms. We found Ata and Egor in the living room, locked together in an embrace. Our tiny mother was stood on the coffee table, putting her at just the right height to rest her chin on Egor’s broad shoulders. Eyes screwed shut I could see how white her knuckles were from her chokehold. “Don’t ever do that to me again. Never. Promise me.” Her voice was soft, filled with concern. I let out a sigh of relief that he was okay apart from a few slight burns across his back and arms. They were slowly healing though.
“I promise. I’m so sorry, móðir. So sorry.” Egor mumbled against Ata’s hair, taking a deep breath, scenting her.
I could feel Ata’s triumph through our connection and though I grinned I had to suppress my chuckle. She’d just tricked Egor into promising to never meet the sun again. If there was one thing we had been taught as humans it was honor. It was instilled in us to never break a promise. Ata had played her cards well and won. She was coming back to us ever so slightly.
Pulling back, Ata offered up her wrist. Dropping fang Egor took her offering, taking several pulls from her wrist, which left him with a smooth and burn-free back. Licking her wounds shut my brother held our mother for a moment longer. “I’m gong to try and rest.” He announced, slowly pulling back from their embrace. Ata’s hands came up to rest on either side of his face and, in a gesture usually found in the animal world, Ata licked his cheeks clean. It was an intimate, motherly gesture that made me feel all fuzzy instead. Sookie’s elbow to my ribcage made me look down to her and the expression on her features was adorable. She’d felt my warm fuzzies or whatever the hell they were. She wouldn’t let me get away with this. I just knew it.
“Good night.” Egor finally let her go, dipping his head to us in thanks as he left the room, heading towards his bedroom for his day rest. His steps were slow and his feet dragged a little. I could feel him fighting the pull of the sun. Ata’s eyes never left him as he disappeared from sight.
Taking a few steps forward I stood behind my mother. Placing my hands on her shoulders I started to massage the tense muscles there. She sagged against me almost immediately, groaning as I worked the kinks out. “You need to rest, móðir.” I told her softly. With a small nod Godric scooped her up, carrying her to their bedroom with a push of love through our bonds as our goodnight wish.
Sookie’s warm hand slipped into my cold one as we stood staring at the silent, windowless corridor that Ata and Godric had just disappeared down. “She’s gonna be okay. I can tell she feels much stronger now. Losing Egor would have more than likely killed her, literally.” The silence fell over us once more, but Sookie’s yawn broke through loud and clear. Raising a hand she covered her mouth. “Excuse me!” She shook her head, smiling. Her human quirks were rather adorable, once you overlooked the whole need to use the toilet still thing. I hadn’t needed to use the toilet in over 1000 years. It was a strange contraption. We used to have holes in the ground.
“Fae princesses need their sleep.” I declared, scooping my bonded up in my arms as I carried her to our bedroom. Her delighted squeal was a reminder of why I had fought so hard against Russell, Marc, Felipe, and William. Her happiness was the most important thing in the world to me as of now. I could only hope that when the Ancient One showed herself tonight she would bring us some good news.
Móðir (Old Norse) = mother