Mr. and Mrs. Eric Northman
He really wanted to get out of here. Not only did he want to consummate his new marriage, he needed some time to think about what’s really going down here. Is it possible that the Mayor is tied into the vampire or Supe movement against de Castro? Or does he just not like the asshole? You certainly couldn’t blame anyone for that.
Niall is sitting next to Dr. Ludwig and the Ancient Pythoness and her entourage is at the opposite end of the same row of tables. It almost looks like two heads of state, so to speak, each sitting at a head of the table. How poetic that he and Sookie were placed right between them.
He needs to ask the Pythoness what is going on. Her answer will be cryptic at best and a damned riddle at worst. Niall might be lying his ass off and feeling completely justified in doing so. Dr. Ludwig is normally neutral in these matters, but she’s awfully chummy with Niall and she thought it necessary to get Bill Compton here or she’d never have taken a chance on an inoculation working.
Whatever happened to Felipe was big and traumatic. A vampire that old and powerful doesn’t freak out over an hallucination. He WAS being attacked by something, and Sookie thought the baby was responsible or at least involved. Ludwig said he’d be a born Witch. Is it possible he’s that powerful in the womb? Or as Niall said, is someone working through him? Eric knew this had something to do with blood. Felipe made the mistake of touching Sookie where she was bleeding and was thrown across the room and attacked by something that has completely debilitated him. That almost certainly implied blood magick, and that normally involves women, except when Freyja taught women’s blood magick to Odin.
He looked around the room. There’s one Witch here, so he’d start with her. Sookie was answering questions about her gown and the dress she had on at the party for some of the businessmen’s wives, so Eric headed over to where Amelia was sitting.
“Amelia – what do you know about blood magick?”
“Are there different kinds?”
“Well, there’s red magick that is natural to all women – menstruation, sex, birth, healing, death, yoga, belly dancing, anything physical. Then there’s a kind of sympathetic magick that uses blood as either a connective catalyst or a source of energy.”
“Sookie thinks the baby is responsible for whatever happened to Felipe, and she was bleeding where he touched her.”
“Someone or something used her blood to shock the hell out of him and send something after him. That’s big magick – the baby might be a conduit for or a contributor to that, but there has to be a major power channeling through him or her. It could be Sookie’s blood that has the power, the baby, or the fact that that particular baby is in her particular womb. The combination might be… combustible, so to speak.”
“Could something be working through Sookie without her knowing it?”
“Well, it’s possible she hasn’t recognized it yet. Sometimes people are given signs but they don’t connect the dots. Has she mentioned any dreams or visions lately?”
“No, but there has been a lot going on and I’m never with her when she awakes.”
“Start with that – find out if she’s having dreams or strange feelings or intuition. Sookie doesn’t think symbolically – it would be easy for her to miss a sign or a kenning or even a premonition just because she’d dismiss it and move on without examining it. That could tell us a lot.”
“I’ll ask her. You are leaving early tomorrow?”
“Yes, we’re supposed to head out at 10 am. Bobbie and Bill will be the only ones here with you and Sookie after that. Sookie has my cell number. If you come up with anything you can’t identify, call me tomorrow evening.”
“Sookie, Bill, Bobbie and I will be moving to a penthouse suite at the Bellagio tomorrow night and stay there until we leave on Friday.”
“Wow – when did you decide this?”
“We were just invited by the mayor as his guests and I accepted to get us out of this house. He offered because of Felipe’s infirmity, and that’s a good excuse to accept without offending him. I’d prefer Bobbie and Sookie not be wandering around here all day by themselves. I know something is going to happen.”
“Good idea. When you guys get moved, call me and tell me the room number and telephone number there. You know, you have pretty strong intuition yourself. You watch for signs, too. Sookie knows about Goddesses and gods, but you’ve actually known a few up close and personal from what I infer.”
“Yes, I’ve had some… experiences in that realm.”
“Remember, that’s your baby, too. Your magick, his magick, Sookie’s magick, Niall’s magick… there’s a lot of volatile energy there just begging for direction. Felipe made the mistake of giving it a place to strike. If you can figure out who or what the source is, and what She, he or it wants to accomplish, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how to use it to your advantage, or at least keep it from backing up on you. Ask her what she did the instant Felipe touched her. That should tell you the trigger.”
“Alright, thank you. We’re going to sneak out in a few minutes.”
“Good idea. I’ll keep everybody partying down here as late as I can to give you kids a little privacy. Go have fun!”
Eric still hadn’t come up with a way to approach the Ancient Pythoness, but he knew he had to do it before he left. He didn’t want her to be offended if she expected his tribute. He also hoped she’d give something away about what was really going on. He tried to center himself and approached her end of the table.
“Priestess, may I approach?” He bowed his head and lowered his eyes, waiting for her permission.
He stepped forward and she motioned to a seat. “Sit, Norseman, we will speak.”
Eric was shocked that she asked him to sit down. “As you wish, Priestess.”
“Enjoy your stay in the West. It is where you belong.”
“Do not be sorry –merely pay attention. The delicate equilibrium between kingdoms has been disrupted. New alliances and borders must be carved and a new order established to repair the voids.”
“Voids? As in the void left by Sophie Ann?”
“Yes, and the one encroaching on this kingdom as well.”
“Is Felipe going to die?”
“That depends – are you going to kill him?”
“Would there be… repercussions if I did?”
“Every action has consequences – some of them are more pleasant than others, but you alone place the value on the events as they unfold.”
“I have never aspired to be king, Priestess.”
“And yet you will be. Those who rule by fear and deceit die by violence. Your cause will be just.”
“And the other kingdoms?”
“Will align when a leader emerges. You, Norseman, shall be that leader sent to fill the voids.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No. It is ordained and you have struck a bargain with Niall. Now you are family – you cannot break that bond.”
“The other regents who are here now…”
“Are prepared to follow where you lead. The Council awaits you. Kill the monster with two heads, Norseman. That is your destiny. You must consummate your marriage before dawn – you may leave.”
“Thank you, Priestess.”
Fuck. Kill the monster with two heads. Eric curses the fact that she can’t just tell him what to do, he has to solve a damned riddle. Fortunately, he knows exactly what the monster with 2 heads is – Felipe is ruling two kingdoms, and his kingdoms have 2 leaders – Felipe and Victor. He has to kill them both to restore the equilibrium. If he understood what she told him, the boundaries of the kingdoms will be redrawn by The Council at the end of this… process, and he would rule a Western territory.
That’s assuming he understood what she told him. He can’t believe The Council is expecting him to clean up Felipe’s mess. When did they become concerned with American territorial disputes? There has to be another layer to this, something he’s missing. Felipe didn’t just piss off the other rulers and make them worry he’d do the same to them that he did to Sophie Ann. He’s run afoul of The Council, and possibly the entire Living Pantheon.
That’s why Niall is involved in this. That’s why Ludwig is not neutral as would be expected in a simple territorial dispute. He’d bet one of his shopping centers that when he gets back to Shreveport he gets a visit from the Weres and some of the Pagan alliances, which were the closest things Witches had to a power structure. Witches naturally balk at attempts to organize them so networks and alliances are formed to share information and let individuals and groups decide their own interest in any Supe politics they can’t avoid. He figured they’d send an Elder or two his way, and he’d have to deal with several packs of Weres because they’re clannish and their packs are small.
The greatest danger facing him right now is from other vampires. Vampires weren’t loyal, they were pragmatic. They’d have to believe Eric had a chance of succeeding before they’d back a revolution of this sort. They’d have to see results before they opposed a king to whom they’ve sworn fealty, even if he took that right rather than earning it. He was standing in front of the blood fountain having a drink of the real meal provided for their guests when Russell Eddington and Carolina, the Queen of the Gotham district approached him.
“Hello, Northman.” Russell started.
“Hello, Russell, I’m so pleased you could be here.”
“Northman, have you met Carolina? She’s visiting from Manhattan.” And he indicated the petite, very chic and well-dressed woman who looked like a younger attractive lady-who-lunches, with a short black bob and very pale skin.
“I know of her reputation, of course, but we have never been introduced. Madame you are most welcome,” he said as he bowed to her.
“Charming. You and your new bride are most charming. I just spoke to her. She had no idea who I was, but she was so gracious and friendly that no one would believe it. A most desirable consort for a man in your position.”
“Thank you. I am very proud of her.” Consort. Not wife – consort. She just sent Eric a clear message that she expects him to be king. Russell agreed.
“Yes, she’s quite unique, and helped me a great deal when I was in need. I would be most happy to offer help should you ever need it, Northman. You’re on your way up in the hierarchy, and I want you to know that I’m behind you if you ever need me or mine.”
“I am honored, Russell, and I’m sure I will need your help at some point in the future.”
“Yes, I know you will.”
“And I want you to know that you can call on me if you need… assistance… in the Eastern states.”
“That is very generous of you.”
“I’m not a generous woman, I’m a practical one. I know the past when I’m standing in it, and I know the future when it stands before me.”
“Well, we don’t want to keep you from your lovely bride. Keep in touch. You have my number?”
“Yes, Russell, I still do.”
“And here is my calling card.” Carolina handed him a pink parchment card, “That’s a secure number. Only other regents have it.”
Eric bowed his head again, “Madame.”
“You might need this while you’re here.” Russell added and handed Eric a small black device – a signal jammer. Russell knew the suites were bugged and was giving him a way to work around it. Eric slipped it into his pocket and bowed.
The two regents nodded to Eric and went back to their respective parties. He was right – this was being viewed as a coronation of sorts, with other regents ready to betray Felipe under his own roof. Whatever Felipe did, it was big. Was he dabbling in sorcery? Plotting against a member of The Council? Had he offended a god or Goddess?
Sookie was nodding toward an exit, and Eric looked around – he had spoken to everyone here, and as promised Amelia was trying to keep their party busy taking pictures of the table. Eric sneaked out a door that led to the same hallway as the exit Sookie just slipped through . He came out one door, she the other, and he scooped her up and flew up the stairs with her. Everyone was pretty intent on him consummating his marriage so let’s get on with it. He could plan the revolution tomorrow. Tonight, for the first time in a millennium, he was a married man and that was all he wanted to think about.
Eric locked the door to their bedroom, and held a finger up to Sookie’s lips indicating she should be quiet. He took the signal jammer out of his pocket but didn’t turn it on, placing it on the nightstand beside the bed. He kissed her softly and for a long time, then gradually kissed her harder, and he smiled as he felt her breathing get heavier as he held her. He pulled down the zipper of her dress and lifted her out of it, leaving it in a pile on the floor.
She was wearing the white corset and stockings he had bought for her to wear, and he wanted her to keep it on for a while. He laid her back on the bed and just looked at her – she was so beautiful. He destroyed the little g-string that came with it, going down on her as she writhed in that sexy white corset, her breasts spilling over the tops of the cups even as she lay on her back, and he stroked her legs to enjoy the feel of them in those light, sheer stockings. She stroked his gleaming blonde hair as he licked her, and he used his fingers and tongue to bring her to her first orgasm. She tried to be quiet as he wanted but she couldn’t stifle a few little gasps that were like music to him, they were so soft and sweet.
He felt like every part of her was warmer and sweeter than it had ever been before. He ran his hands down her whole body, then began to take off his jacket and shirt as he watched her reach down and stroke herself. He didn’t have to tell her to do it, she just did it so he could enjoy watching her while he undressed. Her face was flushed and her eyes were partially closed and he could have cried she was so lovely lying beneath him.
He backed off the end of the bed to take off his pants, and as he crawled back up, he kissed her ankles, legs, thighs and finally kissed her baby bump for a long minute, then rested his head on it. The little Viking was practically cheering and he and Sookie looked at each other and laughed softly. He kissed it again then he moved up and kissed the tops of her breasts, pushing the cups of the corset down to take her nipples in his mouth. He spent a long time there, enjoying that he kept getting the lace in the cups in his mouth because in some way it made her seem more exposed. He stroked, squeezed, rubbed and kissed her breasts over and over, then slowly unhooked the front of the corset half way down as he ran his tongue down to where it was still hooked. The way it was half open made her breasts spill out in soft, creamy globes that he teased with his teeth and his tongue.
Eventually, he unhooked the stockings and rolled them down each leg, following them down with gentle kisses. He came back up and unhooked the rest of the hooks on the corset, feeling as if he was unwrapping the most amazing present in the world. He felt as if he was seeing her with completely new eyes. It wouldn’t take much for him to think he was acting like a romantic sap, but somehow, knowing that this time, it was permanent and official in a way it never had been, and it was the first in a way it never would be again, made it almost a religious experience for him. Sookie could tell that he was moved and taking his time, so she didn’t push, she just let him take it as slowly as he wanted and tried to memorize how every touch and every kiss felt the way he did sometimes. She wanted to remember every moment of this, too.
He stretched out over her, concentrating on the warmth of her flesh against his as he lay on top of her. He kissed her cheek and then her neck as his hand met hers and their fingers entwined. “My angel,” he whispered in her ear, as he rose up end reached down to guide himself into her. He kissed her deeply, keeping his tongue in her mouth as he slid into her. It flashed in her mind that the was as “into” her as he could get himself – his tongue in her mouth, his fingers in between hers, his “gracious plenty” wrapped in her warmth as he gently moved in and out. It felt like it went on for hours before he began to speed up, and she pulled her knees up and to the side, wrapping her legs around him so her heels were resting against the back of his legs, her arms around him, lightly running her nails up and down his back.
He nuzzled her neck beginning to take stronger, deeper strokes as she responded by rising to meet him in perfect rhythm. The were both instinctively being quiet, wanting this to be just between them, something they would always have that couldn’t be touched by vampire politics or anyone or anything in the outside world. It was just them, now, the two of them, the three of them, a perfect union, a complete unit, whole unto themselves, and they were floating in white light, swirling around each other, unable to tell where one’s release ended and the other’s began, blooming into a bright hot spasm of blood red and then stillness in each other’s arms, Sookie’s panting the only sound they made.
They clung to each other and Sookie saw Eric wipe a bloody tear away from each eye as he was kissing her shoulders and neck. He bit his wrist and fed her, as he took blood from her wrist at the same time. Her blood was intoxicating and he rode the wave of it as he took her again silently, wrapping his arms around her tightly and swinging her up on top of him as he rolled on his back. They entwined the fingers of both hands and she rose up and down on her knees, bracing against his hands to stay upright. At that point, Sookie became a little wild and was really pounding downward on him in a way she’d never done before, shaking her head and laughing. Eric was so surprised that he laughed too, and as Sookie squealed and fell over beside him, he pulled her close and kissed her while he brought his right hand down on her bottom with a loud crack. She was stunned at first, then she continued to laugh and they were wrestling around playfully, tickling each other and he swatted her a couple more times. He made note of the fact that she seemed to like it and planned to give her a real spanking at some point in the future after the baby was born.
They were lying together whispering when she yawned and it reminded Eric what he was going to ask her. He reached over and turned on the signal jammer. Sookie gave him and inquiring look.
“A signal jammer. It should keep them from hearing us as long as we whisper. Is your dagger under your pillow?”
“Good. Sookie, have you had any unusual dreams lately?”
“Yeah, actually, I keep dreaming about the same woman.”
“She’s tall and blonde and she has blue eyes that sparkle the way yours do sometimes. I see her as a bright light on a ship that’s carved into a dragon.”
“A dragon ship? The kind we used as Vikings?”
“Yeah, I guess – anyway, she comes to see me on the shore. One time she kissed me on the lips. She wears this pretty gold necklace with these yellow-orange-brown stones and rubies. Once she was wearing a cape of feathers and turned into a bird of prey, though I have no idea why I knew it was a bird of prey and not just a bird. Once she had a rose that was bleeding…”
“Yeah, and she said, “He used blood magick. You can, too.”
“Sookie, do you know who She is?”
“No, why? Is she somebody real? I just thought she was a dream.”
“My lover, you are describing Freyja. The necklace of amber and rubies is called Brisingamen. It’s one of the reasons you have rubies in your engagement ring. The cape of falcon feathers allows Her to turn into a bird and fly between the worlds.”
“Falcon? Isn’t that what Felipe thought had attacked him?”
“Yes, and he touched your blood, my lover – Freyja’s realm is women, birth and blood magick – the legends say She taught Odin about women’s blood magick.”
“She said the baby used blood magick and I could, too.”
“Are you sure She meant the baby?”
“Yes, I told you – he was protecting me.”
“He apparently had help – very serious help.”
“Help from Freyja?” She tried to copy his pronunciation of Her name
“My guess would be that you or the baby or both are channeling Her energies. She may be invested in what is going on around us. When Felipe attacked you, he brought down the wrath of the Goddess.”
“That’s big, right?”
“Very big. Felipe has apparently offended some very powerful forces – so powerful that they’re fomenting revolution against him.”
“What’s more powerful than a King?”
“Kings are regional lords that rule a particular region with pretty much absolute power but they rule at the pleasure of The Global Council, who includes and serves the Living Pantheon.”
“So this Global Council is the real power of the vampires?”
“Of all Supes – it’s ecumenical. Any and every kind of Supe is represented by and answers to The Council, and they try to maintain a sort of equilibrium between the worlds. They don’t normally get involved in territorial disputes like the one between Felipe and Sophie Ann, but Felipe has apparently done something far worse because they’re all moving against him. Two regents just offered me help from their territories and the Ancient Pythoness just told me The Council is waiting for me to make my move.”
“She said that?”
“Yes. I’m supposed to “kill the monster with two heads.”
“What does that mean?”
“I believe it means killing Felipe and Victor Madden. Two territories with two ersatz leaders ruling as one is the monster with two heads.
“Felipe and Victor? What about Sandy?”
“Sandy will follow any regent who steps forward. Felipe is marked for death, and The Council knows Victor would move in his place and doesn’t want him either.”
“So they’ve decided they want you?”
“Or, more likely, us. You, me and the baby.”
“That I don’t know yet. It may be part of a bargain Niall has struck with someone in The Council, or it may be the will of the Living Pantheon.”
“Ok, what is the Living Pantheon?”
“The gods and Goddesses still living and ruling the worlds.”
“So they’re real? All of them?”
“Some of them have died, some remain. The ones who remain still pull strings and influence larger events of karma and destiny.”
“And that has something to do with us?”
“So it would seem.”
“Do we have a choice in this?”
“I was told I do not. Now that we are married, that would include you. They were all very intent on us consummating our marriage before dawn.”
“All? Who is ‘all?’”
“The Pythoness, Niall, the regents and I think Dr. Ludwig.”
“Are we still moving to the Bellagio tomorrow night?”
“Is the mayor in on this?”
“I don’t know yet. He may be, or he may just not trust or want to work with Felipe.”
“I couldn’t blame him for that. Maybe he’s just smart.”
“We will know Wednesday night when we have dinner with them.”
“So everyone will be gone when I get up tomorrow, right?”
“Pam, Amelia and Jason will be gone. Bobbie and Bill will be here, and Bobbie will watch over you until you awake.”
“Are Bobbie and Bill going to the Bellagio with us?”
“Good. I don’t want to do without my sessions, and I don’t want to be alone.”
“You and Bobbie will be able to go shopping and play in the pool while Bill and I rest, then Bill and I can plan at night.”
“How do you know Bill will go along with this whole thing.”
“Because Niall pretty much told him he helps me or dies.”
“Can he do that?”
“The way Niall sees it, Bill and Sophie Ann owed him a debt for taking your maidenhead under false pretenses.”
“Why would they owe him?”
“He was the patriarch of your family.”
“I didn’t even know him then.”
“It doesn’t matter. Either he or I could consider that a Blood Offense if we chose to.”
“A Blood Offense – as in you could kill him?”
“Niall could… and you could, too? Why?”
“Because I married you. It should have been mine by rights.”
“This is all sounding medieval again.”
“That’s because it is. Supes are very old and very traditional. Our customs don’t change as quickly as human cultures do. In the minds of the Elders involved here, our marriage was a kind of coronation.”
“I don’t understand all of this.”
“I know you don’t. All you need to know is that we are married, we love each other and we love our son. The rest of it is my problem.”
“If it’s your problem it’s mine, too. We’re partners in everything now, revolutions included.”
He smiled and kissed her, then held her until she fell asleep. He took the signal jammer and went out to the living room to find the rest of their group sitting around the table.
“Congratulations. I guess it’s official now?” Pam started.
“Yes, it is official now. Pam, you, Jason, and Amelia are leaving today at 10 am, yes?”
He switched the signal jammer on and put it on the table. Pam and Bill nodded that they knew what it was.
“Yes – we’re all packed. I just have to lock myself in.”
“Good. Give Bill your sword before you go. Bill, keep it in the box with you.”
“Are we expecting trouble?” Bill asked.
“Yes, I believe we are. Now that Sookie and I are officially wed, I am expendable in the eyes of some people.”
“Bobbie, you’ll stay with Sookie from the time they leave until she awakes, yes?”
“Yes, of course.”
“At 10 pm tonight, Bobbie, Bill, Sookie and I are moving to the Bellagio.”
“Wow,” Bobbie said, “We are?!”
“Yes, we’re to be guests of the mayor in a penthouse suite. It should be better and safer for all concerned.”
“If you are moving, why do you need us there?” Bill asked.
“Because we’ll still be in Felipe’s territory and Sookie still needs her treatments. That bleeding last night has me worried.”
“Yes, we need to keep an eye on that.” Bobbie agreed
“And also, Bill, you and I have some planning to do.”
“How did you feel about Sophie Ann, Bill?”
“I loved her and was loyal to her.”
“And how do you feel about Felipe?”
“I think I see where you are going with this. Yes, I think you and I certainly do have things to discuss and it’s about damned time. Suddenly, a lot of things are beginning to make sense.”
“Good. Bobbie – it would be best if you and Sookie stayed in these rooms today, near Bill and me. We want to stick close until we’re out of here. You girls can plan some sight seeing for the afternoons this week, and some shopping excursions. You’ll be right in the center of everything now.”
“That sounds great to me.” Bobbie was definitely up for this change in plans.
“OK, Bobbie, get some sleep. Amelia will wake you before they leave. Bill, I assume you’ll go with her.”
“OK, Pam and Jason, get packed and sleep… or whatever. I need to speak to Amelia before I go to rest.”
Everybody when their separate ways as Eric sat at the table near Amelia.
“She’s having dreams or visions of Freyja. She has seen a dragon ship, white light, Brisingamen, the cape of falcon feathers and a bleeding rose.”
“Wow – she must have been having these for a while.”
“She also said Freya kissed her on the lips and told her that the baby used blood magick and she could, too.”
“Sounds as if your new wife is becoming a Witch in addition to giving birth to one.”
“How can that be?”
“Freyja has chosen her. I don’t know why, but She’s showing Sookie all the tools in Her arsenal and telling her to learn blood magick. Are you that close to Freyja?”
“At one point I was. Very, very close – but I lost touch with Her.”
“Well, She’s back and working through your wife and son. I’d get reacquainted with Her if I were you.”