LATE Chapter 077

The Other

 

“Ouch!”

Sookie woke up when the baby extended his fangs because he was at an unusual angle and he hit skin that wasn’t used to being bitten.

“Hey, Pookie – what did you do, crawl over by yourself?”

The baby was too intent on feeding to answer her. Sookie looked at the clock on Eric’s nightstand. 9 AM. There was no Alicia or Bobbie today, so Sookie would be handling the feeding and changing by herself. She knew Margaret would help if she asked, but she wanted to do it. She was still going to let Margaret do the cooking though because her cooking was AWESOME! Even simple stuff she made was unusually good. Some people just have that magick touch and Margaret was definitely one of them. She also had a feeling that Margaret had given Alex a bottle or two to let her sleep late.

When Alex retracted his fangs, she moved him around to a more comfortable position, watching him and gently stroking his little head. She was dozing a little but she had him in a safe position, so she closed her eyes and focused on the sensation of holding him, feeding him, loving him SO MUCH it was just crazy. She never had any concept of what this was like until she held this wonderful little critter in her arms. And the best part of it was that Eric was as crazy about him as she was. She was so glad Eric wasn’t like the men who think of babies as a burden.

She thought about their dinner last night. Niall actually let him call him Papaw! Maybe he would be a real sort of grandfather for him, the way he couldn’t be for Sookie. Alex had had a bad reaction to him at first, but he had warmed to him through the evening, even showing off for him when they asked him questions. She knew that was mostly Alex being a ham, but she hoped some of it was affection for Papaw.

Sookie put her hand on the baby’s bottom to shift him a bit and she realized he needed a fresh diaper.

‘Ugh! OK, Sookie, you can’t let him stay that way, so get your butt out of bed and change the baby,’ she thought to herself, ‘and remember that having Alicia here keeps you from having to do this every morning.’ Sookie was realizing that she was spoiled and she liked it, but that was a little too much to think about this early in the morning.

She managed with some difficulty to get herself and the baby onto Eric’s side of the bed so she could get up. She figured nobody was in the house so she didn’t bother with a robe – she just took the baby into his room naked. Everything was all set up in there so it was quick to put his wet diaper in the pail and put a clean one on him, and they were back in bed in no time. He barely had to stop feeding, even when she slipped a little white onesie on him that had a “Mom” tattoo on the sleeve. She figured that wasn’t that much more uncomfortable than a t-shirt and it was just so darned cute!

Alex fed for a long time this time around and went to sleep as he was doing so. She put him in the co-sleeper and lay back down with every intention of going back to sleep. She closed her eyes and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And finally she realized she wasn’t going to fall asleep any time soon.

‘OK, Sookie, what did you want to do today? It’s raining outside – you saw that through the window in Alex’s room. Do you lie in bed and watch TV? NO. I’ve spent plenty of time in this bed alone.

‘Hey, what’s that little bowl? It’s empty. Did Eric leave milk for the Pixies? And they drank it? That’s so cool! Eddy and Freddy – Faerie twins. Very cool.’

‘Did Eric leave me a note? Nope, no note today. He wants me to take it easy. Sweetie! I’m so glad he loves me! I could sneak down to his hideout today… but there’s nobody to watch Alex, and he’s not ready for Daddy in full on Vamp mode yet. Keep that in mind for a day when Bobbie and Bjorn are here. I wonder what they’re doing today?

** CRACK! BOOOOOOM** There was huge lightening and thunder outside!

‘Wow – big thunder! OK, my agenda for today – check my email – Eric forgot to tell me how, but I’ll try it in my office anyway. Maybe Alicia had the browser save my password? And I watch TV, play with the baby, read – grab Ariadne’s Thread when you go down… go down… that reminds me of Eric. Yum.

‘OK, grab the book, your journal, your laptop – where is it? Oh, there it is… and take the baby and – oops! Where’s Do-ee? We must have left his dragon downstairs. I definitely want that for him. I could go through his toys, too and pick something new he hasn’t seen yet. I hope Eric doesn’t mind, but I’m going to get our quilt out of the closet and put it on the floor for me and Alex to play on. That’s OK, right? It’s private, between us, but what’s more intimate than our baby? Yep, I’m using it. ‘

**growl**

‘Oops – glad nobody heard that. I’m hungrier than I realized. Well, then let’s get moving and let Margaret feed us!’

Sookie laughed at herself using the “royal ‘we'” as she gathered up her things. She got her big tote bag and put her laptop and power cord in it, then put her journal and her book in, too. Alex was sleeping well so she snuck into the nursery for a minute and looked around at the toys. She saw a little riding pony that was cute but she’d wait until Bjorn was here to carry it downstairs for her. Alex was a little young for it, but she’d bet he’d get a kick out of it, anyway. She noticed a book on the floor by the chair – First 100 Words!

‘Was Eric reading to Alex? That’s so sweet!’ Sookie thought, ‘I wonder if he learned new words?”

Then “Oh, cool!’ She almost jumped up and down when she saw it – she picked up a colorful box, reading: K’s Kids Deluxe Patrick Shape Sorting House, ‘I didn’t know we brought this from New Orleans. He won’t be able to sort anything yet, but it’s something to mess around with. Oh, here’s the teddy bear, too!’ Sookie tore into both packages and took a sling, the bear and the little house filled with shapes back into her room and managed to get them sort of into her tote bag.

She looked through her drawers and found a pair of gray drawstring shorts, a thong and a little yellow top with spaghetti straps that would be easy to pull down and feed Alex. She couldn’t wear a dress crawling around with the baby. She used the bathroom, brushed her teeth, washed her face, skipped the make up, and dressed quickly, finally slipping the baby into the blue floral sling and grabbing the overstuffed tote bag, So far, she realized, this morning was like it would be if Eric had never become King. Man, it was really quiet, except for the thunder.

She made it downstairs with her load of stuff and went bopping through the kitchen, surprising Margaret.

“Mrs. Northman! You’re up so early!”

“Yeah, I’m really hungry – I was hoping I could get some breakfast?”

“Of course you can, dear – what would you like?”

“I know I want fried potatoes, but I don’t know what else – I don’t want eggs or bacon…”

“How about a steak or a pork chop?”

“Pork chop and gravy?” she asked apologetically.

“Of course, dear – do you want biscuits, too?”

“Yes, please?”

“Alright, dear, you just go watch TV if you want and I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

“Thanks so much – I’m sorry it’s a lot.”

“Don’t you worry about that – we want you to eat and get some meat on those bones. You’re still too thin for a nursing mommy.”

“OK, thanks.”

Sookie went into the den and dropped the tote bag, but she went back through the kitchen and into her office, baby in tow, to check her email. The computer was on, so she clicked on the email program Eric liked, Thunderbird, and opened it. The program automatically downloaded her email, so she didn’t even need her password. Her addy turned out to be HRH dot Sookie AT Northman dot org. She never even heard of a “dot org” before, and did that mean Eric had his own – what’s it called – a ‘domain’, maybe? Anyway, she had an email from Bruce in Las Vegas, 3 from Emily in New Orleans, 1 from Giselle and even an email from Mrs. Mayor Norris.

Bruce had just CC’d her on the shipping info for the furniture and artwork, but she sent him a thank you, anyway. Emily’s were all about redecorating Sookie’s offices, so she answered them all in one message, since all she needed to say was yes, yes, and pink. Giselle’s email had three choices for lamps for the bedroom and Sookie chose the second option, which was crystal and she loved it. Irma Norris was just checking in to ask how Sookie and the baby were doing, and since her husband was important to Eric’s business interests, she took a few minutes to catch her up on the stuff she thought would interest her and told her she looked forward to seeing her the next time they were in Vegas. OK, that was painless and it’s only quarter to eleven.

She headed back through the kitchen and Margaret was just about to call her.

“Oh, good timing, Missus – your breakfast is all ready for you.”

“Mmm – it smells delicious!” Sookie sat down and was trying to get situated with the baby when Margaret came back in with the Bloom Bouncer for the baby. “Oh, the Bouncer I got from Pottery Barn Kids! I forgot about it!”

“I think it’s just adorable. I thought you’d like to put the little one in it while you eat.”

“Yeah, good idea. He’ll be comfy in that.”

Margaret took the sleeping baby from her. “I just love the way it’s made to cradle them,” she said as she put the baby into the little seat on the floor and buckled him in. “I never saw one of these made of wood before, and the look of it is so modern – it has that Swedish design look to it.”

“I never thought of that, but you’re right. Eric will like that,” Sookie laughed. “Oh, he looks so sweet in that!” she said as she cut into her pork chop. “I just fell in love with it when I saw it on the website. He can rock and bounce in it and it’s supposed to soothe them, though he doesn’t usually need a lot of soothing.”

“That’s because you’re always focused on him. You’ve got time to spend with him, and you keep him with you even when he’s asleep. Plus, he’s so smart, he knows you’re right there.”

“Yeah, the one time he woke up crying was because he was in a bed where he couldn’t see me. Most mornings I hear “Mamee” and I scoop him right up,” she laughed. “Those co-sleepers rock.”

“Mr. Northman’s also comfortable having him in the bedroom – that helps a lot, I know.”

“Yeah, Eric likes him to be there. The idea of separate rooms is too modern for him, I think. He’s from a culture where mothers keep their babies close all the time, and that’s fine with me. I’m so lucky I don’t have to work or even clean house, so I’ve got lots of time for him. Most mothers don’t have a choice – they have to work. I’m really blessed to have lots of help and to be able to arrange my schedule around things. I can take him with me for pretty much everything I have to do. I know how lucky I am.”

Margaret smiled at her and patted her shoulder affectionately as she set a big glass of organic milk next to her plate, so proud that she was grateful for all the advantages she had. Sookie never took things for granted. She was always kind and polite to the servants and she was even apologetic about spending Eric’s money. Margaret just thought she was the sweetest thing in the world and she was thrilled that Eric found such a lovely girl for himself.

There was a huge clap of thunder that shook the house. “Wow – it’s loud out there!” Sookie said.

“Yes, and it’s really coming down out there, too. Be glad you don’t need to go out today, Missus.”

Sookie scarfed down the breakfast in no time and then carried the sleeping baby, Bouncer and all, into the den. She found some mildly interesting daytime TV (The Doctors, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy) listed on one channel so she left it there and got the quilt out of the closet. Once the quilt was on the floor and the baby was snuggled by her feet, Sookie broke out her journal to look at the notes Eric had been putting in it. She was really pleased to see that he had made notes on the “swirling” and light effects that happened when they had sex in addition to notes about the baby.

She made a note about the dream she had had about Freya and the swords and dwelled on the words “It was never really here, and it’s not your fault. Take off your blinders, make the most of what you’ve got.” She thought about the disappearing sword – what was it? What was never really here? Where did it go? The Goddess didn’t say it didn’t exist – she said it wasn’t here. Sookie knew enough about magick to know that there’s an important difference – that words had to be precise, and should be taken exactly as they’re stated. So where was it? If it wasn’t her fault, whose fault was it?

Blinders – did that refer to the blindfold in the dream? What wasn’t she seeing? What was she supposed to make the most of? Sookie ran her finger over the words she had written as if it might tell her what she couldn’t understand. She lay down on the big brown couch, Alex next to her on the floor, and she closed her eyes, picturing Freyja in the dream.

Sookie tried to focus her energy on Freya as she had appeared in the dream – the triangle pose with the swords, the slight breeze that was in her hair, the… sunrise? … in the background, the big ocean waves. Sookie looked down and saw the water swirl around the Goddess’ bare feet, wetting the bottom of her long red dress. The golden swords at her side shimmered with energy and Sookie focused on the triangle shape – why was it so fascinating? She heard the word “Yoni” but she had no idea what it meant. Was it a Norse word? She opened her eyes and wrote it in her journal to look up later.

She closed her eyes again and saw herself with the 2 swords. Two – the number Alex refused to say. There were two of them, then there was only one. She remembered Octavia telling her that 2 was the number of the moon. She pictured the swords as clearly as she could – there were no differences she could see. They were identical, a set… like twins. She thought of Eddy and Freddy who had drunk the milk Eric left for them. Were they the swords? She decided they couldn’t be, because one was never really there. Twins. The word stuck in Sookie’s head. Pixie twins. Faerie twins. Fae twins. The Faerie Twin. What the hell was that? Was it a story she heard once? It sounded like a Faerie tale – The Faerie Twin.

OK, time to break out the computer. First, she looked up Yoni, which turned out to be a Sanskrit word, whatever that meant, and it didn’t come right out and say it, but when she looked at she got the message very clearly that a yoni was what she would call a “hootchie.” She went to the Wikipedia definition and it was kind of buried but it did actually say “in classical texts such as Kama Sutra, yoni refers to the vulva.” She looked at the images that came up with the search and got an eyeful – the word clearly referred to the female sex organs and there were several triangles used in various symbolic depictions so she figured triangles represented Yonis – she made a note to ask her Witches about this.

Next she looked up “Faerie twin” – ugh – tons of links for twin bed linens with a Faerie motif. She tried a related search for “Faerie baby” and that brought up places that sell things with Faerie themes. OK, she thought, let’s go to Wikipedia and see what they say. She clicked several links and found herself reading about Feri tradition, which sounded like Wicce, but not exactly, and she noticed the name Starhawk, which was a writer Bobbie had mentioned to her. She followed link after link, reading about all kinds of things – Morgan Le Fey, French Folklore, Shakespeare, Huon of Bordeaux, chanson de geste, articles on Fairies and other legends. She found two items of interest:

First, there used to be a legend that when a child was born in this world, a Faerie twin was born in the world of the Fae, the Norse name for which is Alfheimr.

Second, there’s a 13th century story about Morgan Le Faye and Julius Caesar having a set of twins, one named George who would rule the human world and one named Auberon who would rule the land of the Fae. Auberon, or Oberon, the King of the Fairies, still appears in all kinds of literature. Sookie thought it was strange that the names were so different – George was so ordinary and Auberon so lovely.

‘Auberon,’ she thought, ‘that’s so pretty. What would you call a child named Auberon? Aubie, I guess? That’s cute. Aubie.’

She also noted that Morgan Le Fey was supposed to have a Scandinavian Lover that She whisked away to her mysterious palace. She loved Morgan/Morgaine from that Marion Zimmer Bradley book, The Mists of Avalon, and she had a quick little fantasy about being the Goddess and whisking Her Scandinavian Lover – played by Eric, of course – to a secret palace where they could have sex for weeks at a time, but outside of time, without ever needing to sleep. She laughed at herself being so horny, but then she remembered  reading that Freyja was lusty, too, so she figured it wasn’t her fault.

She also stumbled across the fact that Freya had a twin brother, Freyr, with whom She had had sex. EEW! That was one aspect of Freyja Sookie planned to leave unexplored! Hooking up with Pam again was as close to that as she ever intended to get to that particular aspect of that particular Goddess. She needed to ask Bobbie about that myth, though – it seemed so perverse! Why would it still endure?

She was reading about Julius Caesar and thinking about the Faerie Twins – born of a powerful Witch/Goddess and a great warrior and statesman. The best of both worlds, both types of power. What a cool concept. She almost wished Alex had been a twin, but then she might not be able to be as close to him as she was if there was a second baby to split her time and attention. She was rolling the idea of juggling two babies around in her head when Alex woke up crying.

“Alex – hey, Sweetie! You’re OK!” She rushed to undo the little harness he was in and pulled him to her, kissing and hugging him, telling him, “It’s OK, Sweet Boy, Mommy’s got you!” She cuddled and rocked him and he began to calm down, “Yeah, Mommy’s got you!”

“Mamee?” He snuffled.

“Yeah, Sweetie, Mommy’s got you! You’re OK!” She closed up the computer and sat cross legged on the couch, hugging Alex to her, reaching to the side table for a tissue then wiping his nose and dabbing at his eyes, the thought flashing through her mind that just about everything that came out of this baby was pink instead of red like a grown Vampire. She wondered if that’s because he drank milk, too, or if it was because he was a baby? “There, now, you feeling better? Do you feel better, Darlin’?”

Alex didn’t respond – he just sucked his thumb and laid his little head on Sookie’s shoulder, and she rubbed his back and talked softly to him for a long time. Eventually, he took a deep breath and seemed to be grounded again, and was looking around to see where he was.

“Do-ee, Mamee.” He pointed to his dragon on top of Sookie’s tote bag.

“Yeah, let’s get your Toy up here – he’ll cheer you up.” She reached for the soft dragon and the baby hugged it to him, leaning back into Sookie who was still cuddling him and kissing his head. He wiggled around and Sookie tried to help him get comfortable, and he finally settled into a position where Sookie was cradling him in her lap, his dragon on his chest, his big blue eyes staring up at her as she smiled at him, still speaking softly. He was completely content by the time Margaret came in with a huge box.

“Excuse me, Missus – I thought you might have forgotten about some of the toys in the basement. The little one is so fond of that dragon, I thought he might get a kick out of this dinosaur with balls in it.”

“Oh, cool! I totally forgot about it! Look at that, Pookie!” She read the box to him, “K’s Kids I AM THE BOSS Soft Dinosaur Storage Play Ball kit. That’s the same company that made the other thing I brought down. I guess they make cool toys, huh, Pookie!”

Margaret tore into it and removed the big blue polka-dotted dinosaur from the box. Sookie held Alex up to watch her and he was mesmerized by the big critter as Margaret set him up in the middle of the quilt and unzipped his back, then filled it with plastic balls.

“Dwadon!” Alex pointed at it, obviously excited.

“Yeah, it’s a dragon! A big one!” Sookie told him.

“Ba, Mamee!” His eyes were huge as Margaret poured the balls in.

“Yeah, lots of balls to play with. You wanna get in there and play, Pookie?”

“OM -BA!” He was bouncing up and down waving his arms like crazy.

Sookie and Margaret cracked up as Sookie slid off the couch onto her knees and walked on them over to the big toy, sitting Alex right in the middle of it.

“HAAAAAaaaaaaa!” Alex made his happy sound, his eyes huge, not knowing what to grab first. He flapped his arms up and down a few times, sending balls flying, much to his delight. He threw one and said “uh-oh!” then threw another and another. Sookie retrieved them and threw them back to him, letting him try to catch them. “Here, Pookie, catch the ball!” and he actually did sort of catch them and put them back in the “belly” (the back, really, but you get the idea) of the dinosaur, then picked up a different one and threw it to Sookie as best he could.

“Do-ee?” Alex pointed to his head and looked at Sookie.

“No, Sweetie his name is Boss. Can you say ‘Boss’?”

“Bohth?”

“Yeah, Boss – that’s good!”

Alex leaned toward the head and crawled through the balls, then planted a kiss on the dino’s head and then turned back to the balls and sort of dived into the middle of them, laughing his little head off. Sookie sat with her back against the couch, watching Alex roll around in the balls, just loving the whole set up. That was one happy little baby right then. He would lie face down and kick his feet, making balls fly, then he would roll on his back and wave his arms around, balls falling over the side of the dino’s pouch. At one point, he lay face down, then rose up and hovered just over the dino, and let himself down suddenly and howled with laughter when he fell into the balls.

“Alex! No – you only do that with Daddy, OK?”

“Oday,” the baby replied, but he was cackling, flailing his arms and legs, sending balls flying everywhere. Sookie was crawling around, throwing the balls back into the pouch. At one point, she got tired and sat back against the couch and the baby threw a ball to the far side of the room. Before Sookie could move toward it Alex threw his arm toward it and said “BA!” and it was instantly in his hand as a puff of air went through the room.

“Oh, no – Alex, what did you just do?”

“Ba, Mamee!” He was exceedingly pleased with himself. He was also quite aware that Sookie wasn’t too thrilled with his new skill and he thought that was funny, too.

“Yes, I see that.” Sookie was at a loss now – how do you teach a little baby not to do certain things around certain people. She wished really hard that Eric was up right now – she didn’t realize it but she actually sent out a call into the bond. She was rounding up more balls when Eric walked into the room.

“Sookie? What is happening?”

‘Eric! You’re up!”

“Yes – is it dark out? I feel so strange.”

“It’s like – 12:30 in the day time, Sweetie! Are you alright?”

“Is the sun out?”

“No, it’s dark and rainy and storming – listen.”

“You’re right – I hear the rain on the roof and there’s thunder in the distance…”

“Niall said you’d be OK in indirect light and you’d be able to stay up on rainy dark days, remember?”

“Yes, now that you mention it, I do. You called me – what is wrong?” Eric was still disoriented, so he sat on the floor next to Sookie and laid his head on her shoulder.

“I was wishing you were up to talk to me about Alex’s abilities – he’s using them to play in this little ball pit. Did you know he can call things to him the way I can?”

“No, I didn’t. You saw him do this?”

“Yes, just now. Oh, watch this…” she pointed at the baby, who was hovering over the balls, then he dropped into them and squealed with delight.

Eric cracked up. “That’s very good, Alex! Are you having fun, my boy?”

“OMBA! Dadee nah seepeen?”

“No, I’m not sleeping right now. So you’ve been flying today?”

“Fyeen, Omba! Dadee,” Alex made his ‘come here’ gesture and Eric watched him. The baby picked up a blue plastic ball, said “uh-oh!” and let it fly toward the kitchen. Then, without missing a beat, he said “BA!” and the ball appeared in his hand with a little breeze. Alex giggled wildly and Eric was delighted, “Wonderful, Alex!”

“That’s why I called you – what are we going to do about this? How do we teach a baby not to do things like that, at least not at the wrong times?”

“Did you try telling him ‘no?'”

“I said something on the order of “oh, no, Alex, what did you do,” and I felt him laughing at me in the bond. He thinks it’s funny.”

Eric tried not to laugh. He lay down next to Alex and his dinosaur languorously, tickling Alex, then noticed where he was. “Sookie – is this our quilt?”

“Yeah, you don’t mind, do you? It reminds me of you and I thought it would be a nice place for me and Alex to play.” She crawled over and sat next to his back.

“Of course, Sookie, it’s fine – but only for you and Alex, alright? It’s just between family.”

“Yeah, of course, Sweetie.”

He rolled on his back and looked up at her, reaching up to take her face in his hand. “You look beautiful today, my Angel.”

“Yeah, right – no make-up, old clothes, dirty pony tail…”

“I love you, Sookie, especially when you are natural this way. Anyone can look good in makeup and fine clothes. You are a Goddess in every way, my Angel, no matter what you do or do not wear.”

“You trying to make me melt all over our quilt?” she smiled at him. She felt so good just being with him, feeling his hand on her face.

“What have you done today, Sookie – you are up early, are you not?”

“Yeah, I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and brought the baby down. I answered some email, and ate breakfast and I did some writing in my journal and looked some stuff up on the Internet…”

“Let me ask the Missus when she wants lunch… Mrs… OH, MY! Mr. Northman! I didn’t know you were home!”

“Yes, Margaret, it’s so dark and dreary I can be up and about. What were you going to ask Sookie?”

“I was going to ask her when she wanted to eat lunch. Bobbie and Bjorn are in here so I wanted to see if you’d all like to eat together or if I should serve them and tend to your lunch later, Missus.”

“I’ll eat with them – we all will, right, Sweetie?”

“Of course, we will. Let’s go into the kitchen and see what Margaret can make for you!”

Eric got up and picked up the baby, then pulled Sookie to her feet and they all followed Margaret into the kitchen where Bobbie and Bjorn were sitting at the table.

“Hey, sleepyheads! Did you sleep this late?” Sookie was glad to see them.

“Sort of…” Bobbie said, wiggling her eyebrows and Sookie laughed, knowing what she meant. “Wow – Eric! You’re up!”

“Yes, it’s so dark out today I’m able to be awake.”

“Do you feel alright?” Bjorn asked him.

“I was a bit disoriented at first and I’m a little tired, but other than that, I feel fine.” Eric put Alex in his highchair as Sookie opened a little box of Cheerios from the counter and sprinkled some on his tray.

“How does a grilled chicken and spinach salad sound?” Margaret asked.

“Yum,” Sookie said.

“I’d really like that as long as I can skip the dressing,” Bjorn agreed.

“Works for me!” Bobbie said.

“Alright, I’m going to go back to the freezer for a minute and then I’ll get right on it.” Margaret was heating a blood for Eric and Alex.

“Sookie, I’m sorry if we’re intruding on your day…’ Bobbie started.

“You aren’t at all,” Sookie assured them, “I was wishing you were here because I had questions about stuff I read on the Internet.”

“What did you read?”

“All kinds of stuff – Freyja and Yonis and Faerie twins…”

Eric was shocked when she said that. Was Freyja speaking through her? Or to her? His mind was racing as Margaret sat a warm RM in front of him. He thanked her and drank, listening to Sookie very intently. Margaret went to the extra freezer in the back of the pantry for the chicken.

“First, I need clarification, and this is a little embarrassing in front of everybody, but I need to know if a Yoni is what I think it is…”

“It’s the female genitalia as an object of worship,” Bobbie said casually. Bjorn and Eric were amused at the concept, but couldn’t disagree with it.

“OK, that’s what I thought… and triangles are a Yoni symbol?”

“Yes, they are. How did this come up?”

“I was sort of leaning back, looking at Freyja in that last dream I had and I noticed the way she was holding the two swords looked like a triangle and while I was picturing it, I heard the word ‘yoni’ so I looked it up.”

“You heard it? In your mind or in your ear?”

“In my mind, I guess. Does it still count?”

“Yeah, of course it does – I was just curious which faculty you got it from. So swords and Yonis – that’s very sexual.”

“OK, is there a male equivalent of the Yoni…?”

“It’s called a ‘lingam’ in a spiritual context.”

“OK… OK.” She was trying to process the information. “Hey, did you know Freyja had a twin brother and she slept with him?”

“That’s common in Pagan mythology.”

“It is? Why?”

“You have to remember that when you go all the way back, these are stories of the origin of creation. Isis and Osiris were siblings as well as Lovers and had a child called Horus; Morgan was Arthur’s half-sister yet they bore a child called Mordred; Freyja and Freyr are just another pairing of the Lord and the Lady. In the beginning, the first couple was a woman and her child via parthenogenesis – asexual reproduction, also known as Virgin Birth. At the earliest point of sexual reproduction, someone had to mate with a relative for life to continue. These myths were carried down through time and there were civilizations where in order to rule, the king had to marry his sister, who represented the land and only her consort could have sovereignty. Sometimes they were symbolic marriages, sometimes they were literal. These were sacred pairings among gods and royals who were seen as gods, not incestuous relationships among humans. Real incest of the type where a child is victimized by a relative was virtually unknown until about 4,000 BCE.”

“OK, so it’s a religious idea and not a lifestyle choice…”

Bobbie laughed, “exactly. Don’t let it flip you out. It happens all the time in Nature.”

“OK, now I keep coming back to the two swords, and then there’s only one.”

“Any ideas what it is?” Bobbie asked.

“No. I kind of got off on a tangent about Faerie twins.”

Eric was paying close attention again. This was torture.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know – ever since Niall told me about the two Pixies watching out for Alex I’ve had the idea of Faerie twins stuck in my head. Did you know there used to be a myth that for every human baby born, there was a Faerie twin born in the land of the Fae?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Did you know that there’s an old story that Morgan Le Fey and Julius Caesar had twin sons named George and Auberon, and George was supposed to rule in the human world and Auberon became the King of the Fairies?”

“No, I never heard that. That’s pretty cool. I mean, I’ve heard of Oberon, King of the Fairies, of course, in Shakespeare and other works, …”

Eric was wondering if Vampires could faint. He was hoping to Goddess he could keep Sookie from reading his thoughts.

“Can you imagine – a Goddess and a Warrior having twins, one in each world? I was even picturing what it might have been like if Alex were a twin, but then he woke up crying and I realized we might not be as close if there were two of him and I had to divide my attention.”

Eric’s head was spinning. He was going to have to tell her. Freyja was leading her straight into the eye of the storm, and if he didn’t tell her before Freyja did, she’d never forgive him. He’d give anything to spare her this pain, but …”

“ERIC!”

“I’m sorry – what?”

“Wow, Sweetie, you were a million miles away. Maybe you should go back to rest?”

“No, I think I want to stay up with you, if I’m not in your way.”

“Eric, you could never be in my way! You seem a little out of it, though. Is that normal in these cases?”

“What cases, my Angel?”

“Where a Vamp is able to get up in the daytime.”

“I’ve never heard of a case like this, Sookie.”

“You mean you might be the first Vamp ever…?”

“It’s possible.”

“Maybe you should talk to Dr. Ludwig and find out if she knows anything about it?”

“Talk to Dr. Ludwig, then write this in your journal,” Bobbie suggested. “But I’ll bet this part of it has happened before in some context.”

“Go ahead and call her, Eric, and see if there’s anything we need to know,” Sookie urged him. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Alright,” he pulled out his cell phone and pushed the button to call Ludwig.

“Sookie?”

“No, Doctor, it’s Eric Northman.”

“Vampire? What are you doing up?”

“It’s dark and stormy today. Niall told Sookie that I would be able to be awake on such days and it is apparently true.”

“I see. Have you done this before?”

“No. I have arisen at dusk a few times, but this is the first time I’ve been up during the day. We were wondering if there’s anything I need to know, or to do…”

“Well, this is a very rare occurrence but there is some record of it, though it’s generally considered folklore rather than history. There is some magick that can be worked to allow a Vampire to walk in the sun, but in your case, I think Fae Addiction is likely the source of your new ability.”

“Fae Addiction? What is that?”

“It’s an effect of habitual, compulsive use of Fae blood by a Vampire. It’s a very rare complication, if only because most Vampires don’t have such constant access to Fae blood. I never expected it to happen in your case, but that’s the best explanation I can think of for this.”

“Is it a problem?”

“No, but it’s something to be aware of. You say Niall told Sookie about this? When?”

“Sookie, when did Niall tell you about this?”

“The day of the cookout in Las Vegas, remember? He came to me in a dream.”

“Did you hear that, Doctor?”

“Yes, I did. Now the question is – was that really Niall, and if not, who was it?”

“Who else could it have been?”

“Good question. Let me call Niall and get back to you. Did this person tell Sookie anything else?”

“Yes, she was told to tell me to watch out for the silverware, and then she had a dream that someone in a restaurant tried to stab me with silver, but nothing like that ever happened.”

“Interesting. Alright, have a blood and relax and I’ll call you back.”

“What did she say, Eric?” Sookie was a little concerned now.

“She said to have a blood and relax. She’s going to talk to Niall and call me back. She is not convinced that it was he who visited you in your dream.”

“Wouldn’t I know Niall if I saw him?”

“I don’t know, Sookie – again, I am a warrior, not a magician. Bobbie, do you know?”

“Sookie was pretty wide open then, and she was tired. I can see it being possible for something or someone else to trick her. I can see it being a part of her, too, just taking his form so she’d pay attention.”

“Interesting. This could be Sookie speaking to herself…”

“Yeah, why not – she does it all the time. Those visions of Freyja are her talking to herself, too.”

“So they’re not real?” Sookie was confused.

“Oh, they’re real alright, Sookie. In a way, they’re more real than reality is. That’s when you see yourself as you truly are, rather than the way you’ve agreed to be in that body.”

“OK, so I chose to be in this body why?”

“So you could be you and be Eric’s wife and Alex’s mother, at least – there might be more we don’t know yet.”

“And Freyja couldn’t do that?”

“Freyja IS doing that. This is how She was able to work it out so She could be with him and give him everything he ever wanted.”

“So because She has limitations, She has to find a way to do what She wants to do?”

“Right. She had specific intentions and she took whatever steps were necessary to make them happen. It took so long to set it up that Eric thought She had forgotten about him, right?”

“Right,” Eric affirmed.

“But She didn’t hurt anybody, right – She can’t do anything harmful?”

“Sure She can.”

“She can?”

“Sookie, gods and Goddesses are literal forces of Nature. They look at the big picture and They don’t necessarily worry about how Their desires affect humans or other beings. They have their own agendas, and They’ll do what They need to do to work Their will. They’ve been known to wipe out entire civilizations if it suited Them.”

“I thought there was that rule – that ‘reed’ thing.”

“The Wiccan Rede? That only applies to Witches, Hon. It’s a code of ethics Witches agree to live by because they know that what goes around, comes around. Gods and Goddesses may or may not be included in that level of Karma.”

“You don’t know?”

“No, I don’t. Ask Freyja – maybe She’ll tell you if it works that way for Them. You know Fae don’t follow a code of ethics, other than Supe rules and they stretch those to suit them.”

“That’s true… So gods and Goddesses don’t have rules?”

“I don’t know – I don’t know if anyone could answer that. Eric, do you know?”

“Only a member of the Living Pantheon could likely answer that question. You can ask Doctor Ludwig when she calls back – she’s one of few non-deities who might know for sure. She or a member of the Council – those would be the only non-deities I would expect to know something like that.”

** POP **

Dr. Ludwig was standing in the kitchen with them and everyone but Eric jumped.

“Hello, Doctor!” Sookie remembered her manners, at least.

“Hello, little girl. How are you feeling today?”

“I’m fine – I was worried about Eric.”

“Well, since I’m here I’m going to take a look at the three of you. Northman, come in the den with me and let me take a look at you.”

“Alright, Dr.” Eric went into the den and Ludwig made a motion that Sookie should stay in the kitchen, which surprised her. The doctor followed him in and had him lie down on the big brown couch, then she looked in his eyes, had him stick out his tongue, placed both hands on his chest for a minute, then over his abdomen.

“Have you told her yet?”

Eric was shocked that she asked him that. “Not yet, but I think I must…”

“Well, I was afraid of that. I tried to tell Niall you couldn’t keep it from her. When do you plan to do it?”

“Today or tonight – as soon as we are alone.”

“You don’t think it would be better to spare her?”

“I would prefer to, but I’m afraid…” he hesitated, wondering if he dared tell the doctor Sookie could hear his thoughts.

“You’re afraid either you or Freyja is going to give it away and she’ll be furious with you?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“You’d best not break your trust with her. That would hurt her more than anything at this point. She needs to know she can depend on you to be honest with her.”

“I agree. Niall…”

“… is afraid of Freyja, and perhaps he should be.”

“I thought you agreed with him?”

“I am ambivalent about it. On one hand, she will suffer with the knowledge, on the other, she will be furious if she finds out on her own and she knows you didn’t tell her. Since you apparently know she can get the information whether you give it to her or not, best to do it up front, gently, and lessen the shock to her and the damage to your relationship. Your relationship is vital to your son’s interests.”

“Yes, I agree.”

“A lot of people are depending on that child being everything he needs to be – you and Sookie are integral parts of making that happen. Don’t get distracted. Focus on the child you’ve got.”

“Yes – we will try. I must confess I almost wish I didn’t know.”

“Well, we discussed that, but ultimately, the truth was going to come out. Even if Freyja didn’t tell you, little Alex would have as soon as he was old enough to communicate it to you. He’s already reacting to the situation.”

“Yes, I suppose he is.”

“Alright, you seem fine, if a little shaky. Ask her to go to bed if you want, and wait until after dark when you’re sharper before you talk to her. Send her back in here with the baby.”

Margaret was grilling chicken when he went back in, as Sookie sat chatting with Bobbie and Bjorn and teasing Alex with a piece of cereal, making him laugh when she’d start to put it in his mouth, then pull it away and say “oops!”

“Sookie, the doctor would like to see you and the baby in the den,” he told her as he pulled the baby up out of the highchair and handed him to her. Sookie went back into the den with Alex on her hip and Eric sat at the table, asking Bobbie and Bjorn if they’d had plans for the day.

“OK, little girl, lie down. I won’t do an internal today, I just want to see if things feel as if they’re where they ought to be.”

“Oh, OK.” She laid Alex in the Bouncer while the doctor checked her out and he discovered that it rocked if he swung his leg as he liked to, which tickled him to no end.

The doctor pressed around Sookie’s abdomen, looked in her eyes, listened to her heart and held her hand over her chest for a bit. “Alright, you seem fine. Let’s see that little one.” She said as she walked over to the bouncer. She ran a thumb up the bottom of the baby’s foot and was pleased with the response. She looked in his eyes, smiling as he stared at her with big blue eyes, and she tickled his chin to get him to open his mouth so she could see his tongue. She tickled his gums and laughed when he popped his little fangs. “Well, now, he’s a chip off the old block, isn’t he? Just like his big Vamp of a Daddy.”

“So he seems OK?”

“He seems better than OK, little girl, he seems robust and happy.”

“Oh, good. How was Eric? He seems a little off today…”

“He’s not used to being awake at this time of day, so his body and mind are a little confused. I’d suggest the two, I mean, the three, of you spending a quiet afternoon in bed. He’ll perk up after dark. With the weather and all, I’d say it’s a good time to cuddle and talk. Get him to tell you some stories of his life – I’ll bet he hardly tells you anything about his past, does he?”

“Not a lot, no.”

“Sharing is important. It strengthens the bond between you. You need to protect that bond, just as you’d protect the bond between you and your baby. It’s rare and it’s precious and it makes all three of you stronger, and that’s what’s important – the three of you. Don’t worry about the things you can’t change.”

“OK…” Sookie wasn’t sure why she was apprehensive about what the doctor was saying, but it made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She had that feeling that something just wasn’t right again.

“Well, I’ll be going…”

“Wait! Was it Niall in my dream or not?”

“Let’s put it this way – the information you got was accurate. That’s all you need to know.” And with that, she was gone.

“Mamee!” Alex was bouncing in his bouncer, laughing and chewing on his finger, looking at Sookie the way he did with those big, trusting eyes. She scooped him up and tickled him, covering him with kisses then hugging him to her. No matter what else was going on in the world, she had her Alex and her Eric and that’s what really mattered.

Sookie took Alex back into the kitchen and joined the others, who were chatting as Bobbie and Bjorn chowed down on salad. Sookie dived into hers, which was fabulous, and Eric even ate a bite of chicken. Alex wanted a bite when he saw Eric eat chicken, so Margaret ground a bit in a tiny red food processor she kept on the counter and Sookie gave him a little of the mash, which he loved. Margaret brought out a baby food jar of applesauce and Eric fed it to Alex, who was bouncing his leg up and down as he did when he was happy.

“Do you like that, Sweetie?’ Sookie teased him.

“Mmmmm!” Alex hummed at her, making everyone laugh.

“That’s apples – can you say ‘apples?'” Sookie asked him

“Ap-po?”

“Yeah, apples! Do you like apples?”

“OMBA!”

Eric picked up the jar and sniffed them, raising his eyebrows – they didn’t smell bad at all.

“Ee ap-po, Dadee!”

Everyone laughed.

“He wants you to eat apples, Sweetie,” Sookie told him.

“Hmm – they smell sweet and sour at the same time.”

“Yeah, they are kind of sweet and tart – a lot of fruits are. Give them a try if they smell OK.”

Eric took a spoonful from the jar and ate it, which really tickled Alex. He was giggling like crazy. “Do you think that is funny, my son?’

“Ee-ahh , Dadee!” He giggled. “Dood!”

“Good! Yes, they are good.” Eric smiled at the baby, who opened his mouth wanting another bite, which Eric gave him, laughing at how cute he was.

“So what’s everybody doing this afternoon?” Sookie said.

Bobbie and Bjorn looked at each other and Eric explained, “they were planning to go back to bed since it’s raining and they wanted to give you some space, Sweetheart.”

“I was going to suggest that we do that, too. It’s a good day to cuddle and talk, don’t you think?”

“Yes, now that you mention it, it might be nice to have some family time in bed,” Eric said, “I’m surprised you thought that, though, Sookie – I thought you had plans for today.”

“No, what I had for today is the opposite of plans,” she laughed, “but Dr. Ludwig suggested we should spend the afternoon in bed and it sounds kind of nice.”

“It was Ludwig’s idea?” That surprised Eric.

“Yeah, and she’s right…”

“I thought you wanted to read today, Sookie. Would you rather I take the baby for a while and let you do that?”

“I’ll read this week – I decided I was being silly. There’s no reason I can’t get a chair in the sun and read like I used to – y’all will give me space if that’s what I want, right?”

“Of course, Sookie,” Bobbie assured her. “I’m done – Bjorn are you ready?”

“Yes – let’s go up! Sookie, do whatever you want and enjoy yourself and we’ll probably see you at dinner time.”

“Oh, OK, have fun you guys!”

“We will,” Bobbie wiggled her eyebrows and everyone laughed.

Margaret was gathering up dishes and preparing a lunch tray for Octavia, who slept in again, as Sookie and Eric took the baby back into the den. Eric stood astraddle the dinosaur and swung Alex back and forth over the ball pit, saying, “I’m going to drop you, Alex. Are you ready? Ready to dive in?” and other things, letting him feel as if he was flying and occasionally swinging him low enough to touch the balls. Alex was cracking up, yelling “Omba, Dadee! Fyeen! Fyeen!”

Sookie was sitting on the couch behind them, laughing at how adorable they were playing together. Margaret came back in quietly and handed Sookie a point-and-shoot digital camera so she could snap some pictures. At one point Eric let Alex drop into the balls and he giggled wildly, flailing his arms and legs, balls flying everywhere, and then he floated back up to where Eric had been swinging him, yelling “Dadee! Dadee!” wanting Eric to swing him around some more. Sookie couldn’t tell who was having more fun – Alex was beside himself with giggling but Eric was laughing and having more fun than she’d ever seen him have.

Eric was still swinging Alex over the ball pit when, without warning, he levitated and swung Alex in a complete, broad circle, making him literally scream with laughter. He waited a second hanging over the ball pit, then he swung them around again and again, then he turned and landed on the floor cross-legged, hugging Alex to him, both of them laughing until tears came out of their eyes. He kissed Alex and rubbed his back.

“I love you, Alex,” Eric laughed and kissed him, petted and hugged him, “I love you, love you, love you!”

“Uh-voo, Dadee!”

“AW!” Sookie was melting all over the couch, “You know, Eric, I think that’s the first time he’s said that! What a sweet boy!”

Eric responded by grabbing Sookie’s ankle and pulling her off the couch, to Eric Alexander’s sheer delight. She was shrieking and laughing, the baby was shrieking and laughing and Eric was cracking up. Eric pulled her over and set the baby on her chest and told him “say ‘I love you, Mommy'” and the baby giggled and said “Uh-voo, Mamee!” and before Sookie could say anything Eric tickled her. Amidst the laughing, Alex managed to say “ee, Mamee,” so Eric helped Sookie get up on the couch and get situated with the baby, then sat next to her, wrapping his arm around her.

Sookie was about to catch her breath, and told Eric, “you know he’s going to fall asleep after this. Why don’t we go to bed until dinner time?”

“My thoughts exactly, my Lover.”

He stood and pulled her up, then steered her back toward the elevator, which surprised her but she didn’t say anything. When they got to the third floor, he zipped ahead of her and turned the bed down. He was pulling his shirt off as she reached the door and closed it behind her.

“In a hurry, Daddy?” She teased him.

“Believe it or not, yes, I am. When he goes to sleep, I plan to enjoy a nap with my beautiful wife.”

“A nap?” He was already pulling her shorts down.

“Among other things, yes. We’ve never been able to sleep beside one another. Today, we can.” He pulled the thin straps of her top down over her arms and slipped it down over her hips and off.

“Don’t even think about not having sex with me…” she said as she walked on her knees to her side of the bed.

He was pulling his pants off. “We’ll get to that eventually, my Angel, but first, we cuddle and nap.” He sort of flopped onto his side of the bed as she settled cross-legged on her side, still cuddling and feeding Alex.

“Are you actually tired?”

“Yes, I am, and a bit anxious, and since there is nothing we have to do, I’d like to spend family time. I would find it…. soothing, I think.”

“Wow – I don’t think you’ve ever needed to be soothed before.”

“I have never been awake in the daytime before. It is… unsettling. It could be a great advantage if there was something that needed to be done, but without a purpose to distract me, I’m very aware of everything in a strange way.”

“Hey – remember when I said I should give you a massage sometime and you said you wouldn’t get as much out of it as you would touching me?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“Well, if I massaged you right now, would you get more out of it than normal?”

“I don’t know but I find the idea very calming.”

“Cool, when he gets done, I’m going to give you a back rub – not that I necessarily know how to give a good back rub, but I’ll try.”

“Feeling your soft hands on me, spreading oil and kneading my muscles, sounds like heaven right now. I don’t see how you could get that wrong, Sookie, just being next to you this way is making me feel calmer.”

“OK, Alex is dozing off now.” She settled the baby into the co-sleeper, “now, do you want music?”

“Actually, would you open the window a little bit? I’d like to hear the rain and thunder.”

“Ooh, good idea! It’s not blowing or anything right now.” She crawled over him to get out of the bed, then went to the window, unlocked it and slipped it up a few inches. There was just a little cool breeze and she put a towel from the bathroom on the ledge in case the rain blew in a little, but it wasn’t at the moment.

Sookie got the bottle of vanilla massage oil she’d gotten from Bobbie and took it back to the bed, where Eric had already turned on his stomach in the middle of it. She straddled his waist, and he told her “put some oil in your hands, Sweetheart, and rub them together to make it warm.”

She did that, amazed at how warm they got, then she pressed gently into his back over each shoulder blade and he moaned softly as if he were relieved. She worked very slowly, concentrating on kneading his flesh and muscles slowly and deeply the way he always did hers. She took long strokes up and down his strong back, and she rubbed deeply starting at his waist and working up to the top of his shoulders, where she dug in a little to get to the tension in his neck.

Eric was concentrating on the feel of her hands on him, trying not to cry because he was afraid she’d hear him. He couldn’t tell her how much stress he was under knowing what he knew, and he dreaded telling her what was going on, but at least that part of it would be over tonight. It would be a relief not to have this secret between them. He wanted so much to be honest with her, and he just prayed that knowing wouldn’t keep her from enjoying Alex and raising him as they needed to do.

Sookie didn’t say anything because she could feel that he was stressed out and he needed some space to figure out what to say to her. She’d heard enough of his thoughts to know that he needed to talk to her about something and he was dreading it, but she clearly heard him think that he wanted to be honest with her. Whatever it was, she was sure that she could handle it as long as he told her the truth. Whatever this was, it had to be something new, because this stress she was feeling from him was new. He had been careful to think of it as “it” so she wouldn’t be able to tell what “it” was. She was amazed at how disciplined his thoughts were.

“Sookie, are you reading my mind? I just heard you think that my thoughts were very disciplined.”

“Yeah, I guess I am.”

“What have you heard?”

“That you have something to tell me and that you don’t want to, but you’ll be relieved when there’s no secret between us. Turn over, OK?”

He rolled on his back as she raised up to give him room to move, then she settled back on his stomach and warmed more oil, rubbing it into his chest. “I wasn’t going to say anything because I knew you’d talk about it when you were ready. Whatever it is, you haven’t known about it very long, have you? This is something new.”

“Yes, I only found out myself very recently. I was encouraged not to tell you, and honestly, Sookie, I wish I didn’t know myself,” he closed his eyes and a bloody tear ran from his left eye.

“Look, Eric, whatever it is, it’s better if we both know and we can be there for each other. I don’t want you burdened with something I don’t even know about and I don’t want a secret to get between us. I’m stronger than people think I am. Here,” she slipped off of him on her side of the bed and snuggled up next to him. He put his arms around her and kissed her forehead, then reached down and pulled the covers up over them. “Alright, now just tell me.”

“Is there any chance you’d let me wait until after dark?”

“Why?”

“I’ll feel more in control of myself then.”

“You promise that as soon as it gets dark and you feel better, you’re going to tell me the whole thing, right?”

“Absolutely.”

“Alright, then. Let’s sleep a while and then we’ll talk.”

“Thank you, my Angel.”

Sookie knew she could have pressed the point, but she could tell through the bond that Eric just wasn’t himself and she knew this was going to be bad, though she couldn’t imagine what it could be. To be honest, she’d rather Eric be together when he told her, too, because she was counting on being able to lean on him and right now, he was the one doing the leaning. The two of them lay quietly, listening to the rain, dozing off within minutes of each other.

Eric woke first, just before dusk, as he normally would, but he felt no bloodlust tonight because he was worried. He was spooned up against her back, feeling strong and grounded as ever and he made up his mind that before anything else happened, he would tell Sookie about the other child. As much as he hated to do it, it would be a relief for him to share the knowledge with her. If she knew, maybe they could console each other, and that would bring them even closer, as opposed to the distance keeping a secret would naturally create between them. He steeled himself to it, because it was too late to turn back. She knew there was a secret, and even if he came up with something else… no, he wasn’t going to add a lie into the mix. That would only compound the distance this created between them.

“Eric?”

“Yes, my Angel?”

“Tell me before the baby wakes up and it’s time for dinner.”

“Alright, Sookie. I want you to understand that the only reason I hesitated to tell you is because I knew this would haunt you. I’ve only known for a day and it is already haunting me…”

Sookie rolled over to face him, and he stroked her face as he continued, “I wish I didn’t know, either. The magick that Niall performed to enable you to be pregnant…”

“Yes?”

“There were supposed to be two children, Sookie, but something went wrong and one of them is trapped in the world of Faerie.”

“What?” He couldn’t be saying what she thought he was saying.

“The other baby, the Faerie twin, cannot leave the world of the Fae.”

Sookie felt cold all over. “Alex has a twin?”

“Yes, but there are differences.”

“I did only give birth to one baby, right?”

“Right, the other was somehow born of an egg.”

“But he was born…?”

“Yes.”

“Who is raising him?”

“Niall has placed him with a family – I believe the plan is that he will never know who he is, except for having Niall’s last name.”

“What’s his whole name?”

“Eric Auberon Brigant.”

“Auberon!” Sookie was shocked and sick because she knew it was true – a part of her had always known and she was angry at herself for not putting it together.

“Yes – Freyja named him, apparently, but she allowed Niall to give him his last name because it entitles him to certain property and position in that world that he could not inherit otherwise.”

“Freyja didn’t tell me about this…”

“She tried, Sookie, She was beginning to…”

“The vanishing sword.”

“Yes – I believe She intended for you to know.”

“Niall knew about this?”

“Yes, he did.”

“He told you last night?”

“Yes.”

“How long has he known?”

“I do not know.”

“Son of a bitch!” Sookie sat up, angry but trying not to wake the baby.

“Sookie!”

“He knew that I was separated from one of my children and he didn’t tell me?”

“Sookie, they feel it’s best if we…”

“They – so Ludwig knows about this, too?”

“Yes…”

“They’ve known all this time that my baby….” She got out of bed and started in the bathroom, stopped, started to the door, stopped, thought some more… “You said there are differences?”

“Yes, they are genetically identical, of course, but the other child has not had the advantage of growing in your womb and drinking your milk while you are drinking my blood. His development is normal for a Fae child, and he is sensitive to iron, silver and sunlight. They think he will look like Alex, but he may be much smaller.”

“So this poor little baby, with all these weaknesses, and no parents, is just going to be pawned off on some unsuspecting Fae family, and we’re supposed to pretend he doesn’t exist?”

Eric sat up on the side of the bed. “What choice do we have, Sookie? He might never be able to leave the Fae realm.”

“Why can’t we go there? We’re part Faerie, both of us!”

“I don’t know – I didn’t think to ask about us going there, but wouldn’t they tell us if that were possible?”

“How the fuck to I know?”

“Sookie!”

“Don’t “Sookie” me, Eric. I’m pissed. I’m not angry at you – at least you finally did the right thing, but I’m mad as hell, and cursing is the least of what I’m going to do.”

“Sookie, don’t do anything rash. We are dealing with Niall, Dr. Ludwig and Freyja – these are powerful entities, no matter what your connection to them may be.”

“Not powerful enough, apparently, if their magick left one of my children in a different world where I can’t raise him!”

“That might have been an error on Niall’s part…”

“Freyja is a Goddess – why couldn’t She fix this?”

“I don’t know, Sweetheart, I…”

“Yeah, you’re a warrior not a Witch. We don’t know enough about this. Fuck this whole situation. There has to be something that can be done to help that poor baby. I’m not going to just abandon him and pretend he doesn’t exist, Eric, I can’t.”

“We have no choice, Sookie.”

“FUCK. THAT. People want me to study magick – you better believe I’m going to study magick and I’m going to find a way to fix this. This is not over, not by a long shot. In the mean time, I want to know who has him, and how he’s being treated. I’m going to figure out a way to talk to Freyja and we’re going to figure this out.”

“Sookie…”

“There’s a way to fix this, Eric, there has to be. That’s why Freyja has been trying to tell me about it. She had me bouncing all around it today when I was on the web. Think about it – a Witch and a warrior with a pair of twins, one in each world! That’s us!”

“Sookie, the solution in that story was to put one in Faerie and one in the human world. That’s the situation as it stands now.”

“That can’t be the last word on it. There has to be some way for us to get to that baby, Eric. He’s our son, too.”

“Yes, Sookie, I understand that – believe me, I grieve for him, too. Maybe there is a solution, I don’t know, but if you are going to look for it, be smart about it. Yelling and cursing will only anger the Goddess – or Niall or Ludwig for that matter – and if there is a solution, they are probably your key to finding it. Angering them or alienating them won’t bring our child to us.”

“Alright, I need to do some research anyway.” She was putting her clothes back on with a sense of determination. “That will give me time to calm down, then I’ll talk to Dr. Ludwig and Freyja about it. I’m not giving up on this child.”

“What about Niall?” Eric picked up his jeans and began to dress.

“Niall created this mess, and then once he did, he didn’t even have the decency to tell me about it. You were right about him all along. He’s playing this situation to his own advantage and to hell with what’s right or wrong, or who gets hurt. I won’t alienate him since I might need his help to get to Eric Auberon, but I’m never going to trust him again. I’d rather deal with Ludwig at this point – she’s fairly non-partisan in these matters, right?”

“Yes, and to be fair, Sookie, she did think I should tell you about it once she realized Freyja was hinting around it.”

“Is that why she wanted to see you alone today?”

“Yes. I got the impression that she wanted me to tell you all along though she said she was ambivalent about it.”

“Well, that’s something, at least. OK, you want me to be smart about things, so help me make a plan – who can I talk to about this? I assume it’s better if not everyone knows right?”

“Right. I’m pretty sure that Niall, Ludwig and Freyja are the only ones beside us who know and they probably expect it to stay that way. You never know how someone might try to use this against any of us.”

“Can I talk to Octavia about it?”

“Yes, but let’s keep it just to her – not Amelia or Bobbie at this point, OK?”

“What about Bjorn?”

“Let’s wait until you’ve done some research and talked to Octavia and Ludwig and see where we are. We’ll probably have to tell him at some point but let’s go slowly.”

“Alright. First thing’s first – I need to get every book Bobbie has on magick and see if there’s something I can use to talk to Freyja. Octavia will help me with that, too, I’m sure. I may have to buy a bunch of books from the Internet, too, if that’s OK?”

“Sookie, cost is of no importance – never hesitate to do what you must to care for our child.”

“Our children. OK, let’s go down to dinner. I’ve got work to do if I’m going to be communing with Goddesses any time soon. I’ve got no choice but to learn Witchcraft if I want to see our baby. I need to know enough about magick to know when Niall and the others are lying to me.”

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