LATE Chapter 090

The Dark Moon

 

The ocean was calm and crystal blue as Sookie slipped through the water, her fins propelling her as she dove deep and then broke the surface, smiling into the morning sun. Freyja was standing on the shore smiling at her, and Sookie realized she must be dreaming. She started to swim to shore, but Freyja said, “Fly, My Angel!” Without thinking, Sookie dove down then came up flipping into the air, turning tail over head then sprouting great dark wings as she came upward again. Freyja was laughing with delight as Sookie swooped into the sky. She flew straight up into the sun, then lightly floated down to the shore in a gentle spiral. As she touched the sand, she rose up into Her Self, standing proudly as the gentle breeze blew her hair back away from her bare skin.

“I’m the Falcon,” She said as Freyja approached Her.

“You always were. The Falcon has no limits under the sun or the moon – She moves easily between the worlds without sound or shadow. Nothing can touch Her – no arrow, no bullet, no magick from either world.”

“So in the human world, nothing can stop Me?”

“Neither Falcon nor Flock in moonlight or sun.”

“So the dark moon or cloudy days and nights… ”

“Just a bird with no shadow…”

“Indoors?”

“A shadow, but no bird.”

“AH!” Aubie stretched and yelled.

Sookie’s eyes flew open as Aubie called out to her. “Mmmmaaa!

She scooped him up before Bjorn or Alicia could react.

“I’m sorry he woke you, dear, I was hoping he’d take a bottle again,” Alicia said, “do you want me to take him?”

“No, I’m awake now, and he knows what he wants, don’t you, Cookie?”

“I thought it was “Pookie,”” Bjorn laughed.

“Alex is Pookie. Aubie will be Cookie. I know they don’t rhyme, but it’s the best I can do this early in the morning,” she laughed as she snuggled him and got him into feeding position. “Speaking of Alex, where is he?”

“Up in the gym with Amelia.”

“He loves it up there, doesn’t he?” Sookie laughed.

“It smells like Eric up there, and he’s got some kind of fascination with that big mirror. He calls it “da dim.””

Sookie cracked up. “That’s so cute!”

“It was the first thing he said once he finished his bottle earlier,” Alicia told her, “Bohrd, Bohrd, fyeen in da dim!” she imitated him.

“Why didn’t you take him, Bjorn?”

“Jerry is busy with the new recruits and I’m not leaving Aubie unprotected. Amelia was happy to take him,” Bjorn assured her.

“He loves “A-mee-ah,”” Alicia joked, “and honestly, I think she’s enjoying having a little more time alone with Alex since Bobbie’s not here. She gets to play with him one on one instead of in a group.”

“Where’s Octavia?” Sookie asked as she yawned and wiggled a bit trying to get into a more comfortable position. Bjorn stood up and adjusted her pillows as she leaned forward a bit, getting a smile and a ‘thanks’ from her as Alicia continued.

“She’s still taking it easy. I think she’s been doing something late at night in her room. Seems like I hear her moving around in there, then she sleeps very late in the mornings.”

“OK, well, if there’s anything I need to know about, she’ll fill me in, right, Cookie?” She looked Aubie in the eye and tickled him a little and he giggled against her, his eyes sparkling as he continued to nurse.

They heard frantic footsteps coming down the stairs then and Alex flew into the room with Amelia and the kitten hot on his heels.

“Mamee, Obee undwy!”

“Good morning, Sweetie!” Sookie reached up and kissed Alex as he floated above her. “Aubie’s eating, see? He’s OK.”

“Oday.” Alex lowered himself so his feet were on the pillow, then the mattress as Sookie moved Eric’s pillow onto the floor, and he held the headboard with his hands, so he was standing. Amelia leaned in the doorway to watch what he was doing.

“Hey! When did you learn to do that, Pookie?” Sookie had never seen this move before.

Alex giggled and bent his knees a few times so he felt like he was bouncing. “Woogie, Bhord!”

“Hey, Alex – are you standing?” Bjorn leaned so Alex could see him.

“Ahm dantheen!”

“Dancing? Without Mommy?” Sookie said with surprise.

“Nah, nah, dantheen wif Mamee.”

“Mommy’s right there, isn’t she, Alex?” Alicia teased.

“Eeah, Mamee ee Obee.”

All the adults cracked up at that. “I’m feeding Aubie, Alex, not eating him,” She leaned toward Alex and they touched foreheads for a second, then Alex giggled and bounced some more. The kitten decided it was safe to jump up on the bed and lay at the foot on Eric’s side.

“Peedeen Obee?”

“Yeah, feeding Aubie.”

“Oday. Mamee, dantheen! Da da, da da…” he tried to sing a tune as he reached for her cheek.

“I think he wants you to sing, Sookie,” Amelia tried to interpret.

“Want me to sing, Alex? Sing? “Well, shake it up, baby, now, shake it up, baby…””

“Eeah! Theen!” He jumped up and down, still holding onto the headboard. Aubie started giggling so hard he couldn’t suckle, and he was waving his little arm so Sookie sat him up on her tummy and kept singing as she jiggled him.

“Dantheen, Obee!” Alex giggled and bounced as Sookie sang to them and jiggled Aubie who laughed until he got the hiccups again. Everyone ooh’d and aah’d over how cute it was and Sookie held him up to her shoulder and rubbed his back as he continued to giggle between “hicks!”

“Oday, Obee?” Alex asked as he reached over to Sookie then held her neck with one hand and reached the other to the baby on her other shoulder. Aubie leaned back and looked at him, but “hicked” again and giggled, drooling a little. Sookie dabbed at it with a tissue Bjorn gave her.

“Say, “I’ve got the hiccups, Alex!” Sookie teased him.

“Ah!” The baby yelled toward Alex, and giggled some more.

“Ah!” Alex yelled back and grabbed his hand in his.

“Ah!”

“Ah!”

“Ah!”

“OK, you’ve got each other’s attention!” Sookie said as if exasperated, but she was laughing.

“Get used to it, “Mamee,” there are two of them now,” Amelia laughed.

“They’re going to egg each other on, aren’t they?” Sookie laughed, thinking how silly it was that she never thought about that before. Of course, little boys would encourage each other to be… not bad, exactly, but loud. Well, she knew that, of course, but she didn’t know it would start this early.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet, Mama,” Alicia said, laughing. “They’re not even walking. Wait until we have to chase them through the house.”

“I was just chasing Alex,” Amelia reminded them. “When Aubie learns to fly…”

“Oh, man, you’re gonna keep us all busy, huh? You gonna keep us busy, Aubie?” Sookie tickled his chin and kissed him. To everyone’s surprise, Alex leaned in and kissed him, too. “Good boy, Alex, being sweet to Buddy!”

“Ma Buggy Obee!”

“Yeah, your Buddy, Aubie!”

“Ahm undwy, Mamee.”

“You want to eat?” She motioned to her breast

“Nah, nah, Bhord undwy.”

“He wants breakfast,” Alicia said, “I didn’t expect you all up so early. I’ll be right back with it, OK, Alex?”

“Oday, Eesha.”

“Ah!” Aubie wanted Alex’s attention back.

“Ah, Obee! Woogie, Obee, Mamee.” Alex patted Sookie’s cheek, “MA-MEE!”

“Mmmmaa!”

“MA-MEE,” Alex repeated.

“Mma-mma!” Aubie said and laid his little head on Sookie’s shoulder.

“I can’t believe he’s actually teaching him! That’s so cool!” Amelia was almost jumping up and down.

“I know. You two are gonna make Mommy melt!” Sookie laughed

“MA-MA!” Aubie rose up and looked at Sookie, bouncing as he spoke.

“Yeah, I’m your Mama! I’m your Mama,” Sookie was smiling but a tear slid down her cheek. She put her other arm around Alex and snuggled them both close. Amelia and Bjorn were both aware that she was thinking about all the time she missed with Aubie, but Bjorn decided to joke her out of it.

“Don’t squeeze ’em too hard, Sookie, they already need fresh diapers,” he teased.

“Yeah, Aubie does, anyway.”

“Here, Sookie, I’ll take him,” Amelia offered.

“Actually, would you throw me that pink robe inside the bathroom door, there? I want to do it this time since we’re both awake.”

“Sure, Honey, here you go,” Amelia went to the door and reached in to get the robe and threw it to her. Sookie eased Alex down on his bottom where Eric’s pillow would normally be and put Aubie about half-way down the bed so she could get up on her knees and put the robe on, not paying any attention to the fact that Bjorn was in the room. Amelia noticed she didn’t make any effort to cover up, but figured she was just so used to him being around she didn’t care anymore.

Sookie managed to crawl off the bed between Alex and Aubie and picked Aubie up, headed toward the nursery. Alex flew behind them, wanting to see what they were doing.

He floated by the changing table, watching Sookie open the pins on Aubie’s diaper.

“Dat, Mamee?”

“Buddy needs a new nappy.”

“Doo nap-pee?”

“Yeah, a new nappy,” she repeated as she cleaned Aubie up, “Whew – stinky!”

“Thteek-ee.”

“Yeah, smells bad, but we’ll clean him up.” She used several wipes on him and dusted his bottom with powder as Alex watched as if he’d never seen this done before. “There, now he smells better!” she beamed at Aubie as he chewed on his finger, happy to just go along with the program. Anything Sookie did was OK by Aubie. He didn’t have words as Alex did, but he knew she was the most beautiful thing in his world.

“Me thteek-ee, Mamee.”

“You’re not stinky at the moment,” Sookie told him, reaching up to check his diaper, “but you are wet. You want a new nappy?”

“Eeah, doo nap-pee.”

“Hey, Amelia?”

“Yeah, Sook?”

“Can you come take Aubie for a minute?”

“Sure,” she came in the door and picked him up, holding him so he could see because he was pointing at Alex and mumbling “um bumby.”

“OK, Pookie, lie down,” she patted the changing table and Alex settled into place so she could change him. She undid his diaper, wiped him and Aubie giggled as she powdered him.

“It’s like they’re fascinated with each other, Sookie,” Amelia observed as Aubie watched what Sookie did to Alex very attentively.

“Yeah, it is. They’ve both been diapered a hundred times, but it’s like a new experience seeing their brother get changed.”

“It’s like watching themselves from a different perspective – like a mirror.”

“Yeah, it is, I guess,” Sookie agreed as she was using the sanitizing gel. Alex took that as his cue to fly off, heading to the crib and going in, pulling out his Elmo doll.

“Woogie, Obee! Eh-mo!” Alex held him up so Aubie could see and he giggled with delight and reached for it.

Sookie put her hand under it, knowing one of them would drop it, and suggested, “let’s take Elmo back to bed, OK?”

“Oday.”

“AAay,” Auberon tried to respond, too.

“You know, Sookie, I’ll bet Aubie learns fast with Alex coaching him this way. He’s trying to imitate him.”

“Yeah, it’s cool to watch,” Sookie said as they went back into the bedroom. They just got settled when Alicia was back with Sookie’s and Alex’s breakfast.

“Come here, Alex,” Bjorn called to him as Alicia put the plate in front of him and Alex flew over and settled on his lap. Sookie sat up in bed with the tray across her lap, Aubie on Eric’s side of the bed. The kitten was still napping at the foot of the bed, not paying any attention to the whole diapering business, and not showing any interest in the food either, which Amelia thought was strange.

Sookie was sawing into her steak when Aubie rolled over on his tummy and raised his head up. “Hey, Sweetie! Are you trying to see what’s going on?”

“Ay!”

“Hey, Sookie, why don’t you see if he can eat a little of Alex’s food?” Amelia suggested.

“OK, let him try a little really soft stuff. What’s he got, Bjorn?”

“Apple sauce, some kind of cereal, and a small bit of mashed potatoes.”

Amelia took Aubie over and held him down in front of her, facing Bjorn and Alex. “Obee, ee!” Alex said and tried to move Bjorn’s hand holding the spoon toward Auberon. Aubie opened his mouth and slurped up a bite of applesauce, giggling and kicking his feet, his little hands holding on to Amelia’s hands as she held him. G

“He likes applesauce,” Bjorn laughed.

“Obee mo ee.”

“You want Aubie to eat more, Alex?”

“Eeah, ee mo.”

Bjorn gave Aubie another bite of apples, and another. He acted tickled every time he took a bite and Alex said, “Obee – ap-po!”

“Abuh!” Aubie giggled and kicked. “tcheh!” he sneezed, and everybody laughed at how sweet it was, the babies laughing just because everyone else was. After a few minutes, Aubie said, “Mma-ma” so Amelia took him back over beside Sookie, who was finishing up her steak.

Amelia sat on the bed next to Sookie and held Aubie up so he could watch her.

“Hey, Sweetie! Did you eat some apples?”

“AH!”

“OK, y’all, here’s a question – do we dare take Aubie outside?”

“You mean to the pool?” Bjorn asked.

“Yeah, we’d check to make sure he’s OK in the sun and let him play in the water just a little, ya think?”

“Take him out slowly first, like you did with Alex and if he seems OK, we’ll try it for a bit.”

“If he can’t take the sun, I’ll sit in the den with him,” Amelia offered.

“Don’t be silly, Amelia, you’ve already got your suit on under your dress,” Sookie laughed, “Alicia or Octavia will sit with him if necessary, but I don’t think it will be. He’s my baby, he’s going to love the sun.”

“We’ll see. Go ahead and get your suit on, Sookie and we’ll go down. It’s hot in here,” Bjorn joked, but he wasn’t really kidding. Nope, the Sookie hard-on was as ON as ever, dammit. He really thought playtime at Fangtasia would end it, but it didn’t. He was just happy it didn’t make it any worse, but that was only because he refused to think about it. If he dwelled on it for any amount of time, the slow burn would become a raging fire. The smell of this room was driving him nuts.

It took almost 45 minutes to get bathing suits and plastic diaper covers on and move the party down to the pool, Bjorn trying to shepherd them down the whole time. The kitten followed them downstairs, but opted to stay inside in the air conditioning instead of going out to the pool.

Bjorn took his station, and Amelia took Alex into the water while Sookie covered Aubie with a towel. She slowly walked into the sun with him completely shrouded, and he didn’t show any discomfort. She eased the towel slowly off his little foot and he didn’t do anything, so she took a big breath and uncovered him. Aubie looked around with huge eyes. What was this place? He had never really been outside unless you counted his trip from the house to the car to the club and back, but this was amazing! He blinked a lot because he wasn’t used to the bright light but he was stunned, his little mouth hanging open.

Sookie could feel the rush of feelings he felt and it was just thrilling. She hugged him tight and tried not to cry. “OK, boy-a-mine, let’s go try the pool, OK?”

“Ah!”

“Obee ina wada, Mamee!” Alex called from his seat inside the inflatable ducky as Amelia pulled him around slowly. He was making his “come here” motion with both hands, excited that his brother was coming in the pool.

“We’re coming, Sweetie!” Sookie was about to bust. ‘Oh, please, Goddess, let him like the water!’

She stepped down onto the first step, then slowly the second and third, where his little foot touched the water. He kicked an looked down – what was that?

Sookie sat on the top step and put him on her leg. Aubie was just beside himself, splashing his hands in the water, giggling like crazy. Whatever this was, it was fantastic and it was all because of Mma-mma. Aubie associated everything wonderful he was discovering with Sookie because when she came into his life, everything suddenly got bright and wonderful instead of dark and quiet.

“Ooh-hoo, Mamee.”

“Uh-oh, Aubie – Alex wants me to dunk you! You want me to dunk you?”

“Ah!” Anything Sookie said seemed like a good idea to him.

She stood and waded a little further into the pool, then said, “whoo!” and dunked Aubie up to his little chest then stood up and he shrieked with delight. Sookie hugged him and kissed him, giving him a minute to catch his breath, then “whoo!” she did it again and he giggled until he got the hiccups again, but they didn’t last long this time.

It wasn’t long before Alex and Auberon were both yawning, so Sookie and Amelia got them dried off and tucked them into the play pen in the den, deciding it was too hot to nap outside today.

Sookie was on her way back out to the pool when Alicia called her into the kitchen.

“Mrs. Northman?” Alicia tried not to wake the kids.

“Yes?” Sookie went into the kitchen.

“You got your package!”

“The silk boxers?”

“Yes, I’m sure that’s what this is.” Margaret handed Sookie a knife to cut into the box and she and Alicia beamed at her as she tore into it. The boxers were each in a plastic bag with tape, so the three of them unwrapped them and Alicia brought the gift box she’d gotten for Sookie from the pantry.

The box was a glossy navy blue with red polka dots and Alicia had a red satin bow and ribbon to go with it. The tissue paper was layers of dark blue and red and they rolled the shorts and stood them on end together (with a great deal of difficulty) so they were sort of like a big bundle of silk flowers inside the box. Even if they didn’t stay that way, they knew Eric would be blown away by all the colors and patterns. Once the lid was on the box and the bright ribbon and bow in place, Sookie took it in the elevator and left it on Eric’s side of the bed.

While she was up there, she looked at the little pocket calendar she kept in her nightstand. Today was the Dark Moon. She didn’t know how or if it would affect the boys, but she knew it was the most dangerous day of the month for Alex, at least. She actually considered not giving Eric his gift tonight in case the boys needed them, but she was really anxious to see his reaction.

She went back downstairs and floated in the pool for about an hour and a half before Auberon woke up. He didn’t cry, but Alicia noticed he was up and took him out to Sookie, who nursed him while she sat around Bjorn’s usual table talking to him, Amelia and Octavia, who had just gotten up, while the others ate turkey sandwiches.

“So, Queenie, don’t you have a lot on your plate this week?” Octavia teased her.

“I don’t know – do I? I know it’s the end of my vacation Friday.”

“I thought I heard Alicia say you need to meet with someone from a catering firm tomorrow night about the Wiccaning and you’re having company Friday night for a cook-out.”

“OK, the caterer is a new one on me, but I did invite Jason and his friends for a cook-out Friday night.”

“Aren’t we all going to Dallas Saturday night, too?” Amelia reminded her.

“Oh, yeah, some club opening I told Eric I would go to – we’re all going to that?”

“Yeah, we’re going to be a mobile unit for that,” Bjorn laughed.

“Do you all know about the… kind… of club…?” Sookie didn’t know how to explain what was up.

“Everybody knows about Sang Riche, Sookie. It’s all over the place. Most people know it’s Eric’s deal, too, though he’s covered his tracks pretty well,” Octavia told her.

“Great,” she said sarcastically. “Don’t you think it’s… immoral?”

“That’s a matter of opinion. From what I understand, it’s a far sight better than some of the seedy stuff Felipe was into.”

“Sookie, nobody is being forced or harmed and the money they’re going to be making is unreal,” Bjorn told her.

“Is that a valid reason, though? Money?”

“How’d he get you to agree to go, Sookie, if you’re against the idea?” Amelia asked

“Oh, I asked him about it because I saw some paperwork and knew he was trying to keep it off my radar and he asked me to just go and see it for myself before I made up my mind. I promised him I’d keep an open mind.”

“Your mind sounds made up to me,” Octavia said.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Sookie asked.

“It’s not really fair to make a promise to your Bonded and not mean it, is it?”

“Well, if you put it that way, I guess not.”

“You do realize that it’s only different from Fangtasia by a degree, right?”

“How’s that?”

“Anybody can come to Fangtasia and hook-up, right?”

“Yeah, but there’s no money changing hands.”

“Don’t kid yourself, Queenie. There’s plenty of trade going on there, but Eric isn’t getting a cut of most of it. On the other hand, the participants don’t have his protection in their transactions, either.”

“So Eric is getting paid for protection?”

“In a big way,” Bjorn said, “honestly, Sookie, the Supe community needs a place like this to keep people safe.”

“How does it do that?”

“It prevents the spread of Sino-Aids and some diseases that affect humans, no one is being hurt more than they want, and it’s going make the really old Vamps a lot safer. Everybody gets what they want. These are adults, Sookie, everybody goes in with eyes open.”

“I guess. He says it’s going to be a very elegant party.”

“You wouldn’t believe the crush to get in,” Bjorn told her.

“To work there or be a customer?”

“Both. If I didn’t have this job I’d be trying to get in there, too,” he laughed, “but I’m lucky – I know the boss.”

“Is Bobbie going to go?”

“I think she’ll be here when we get home Sunday night.”

“Will she be disappointed to miss it?”

“Yeah, actually, she will, but she knows she’ll get to go to other openings. The openings are staggered so Eric can attend them all.”

“Bleh – that’s a lot of traveling,” Sookie said.

“Yeah, going to 13 kick ass parties is a real strain,” Bjorn teased her and they all laughed. “He said he was originally only going to do five, but when he saw the response, he expanded the chain all over the country.”

“And none of you has any problem with this?”

“Nope,” Octavia said.

“No,” Amelia said.

“I think it’s awesome,” Bjorn laughed. “Especially since I don’t have to pay for a membership.”

“What about Bobbie?”

“She knows what’s up, Sookie, don’t worry about that,” Bjorn told her, looking her right in the eye to let her know he meant about her, too.

“OK, everybody is adults,” she repeated to herself. She noticed that Auberon’s eyes were sparkling at her and she played with his fingers, kissing his little hand and holding it to her cheek while she cooed and smiled at him.

“That little one’s got good energy,” Octavia observed.

“He has?” Sookie knew that but she wanted to hear what else she thought of him.

“Oh, yeah. He’s about as different from the other one as twins could be.”

“You don’t mean, like, one’s good and one’s evil, do you?”

Everybody laughed.

“No,” Octavia continued, “you watch too many movies. I mean like one’s a poet or something artistic and the other one is a warrior.”

“Artistic?”

“Yeah, I see him at a desk working on something, but I can’t tell if he’s writing or drawing,” she told her. “We’ll have to wait and see which one, probably. He’s not going to love a fight the way Alex will.”

“I wonder how Eric will feel about that?” Amelia asked.

“I think he’ll handle it,” Sookie said confidently. She thought she’d better not say their names so Aubie wouldn’t understand what they were talking about. “He was worried that he’d never care for another like he does, you know, but he does. They’re individuals and he loves both the same.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah, he’s relieved,” Bjorn said. “He said he couldn’t believe the rush he got when he first saw him. He was glad you went back and got him.”

“Yeah, I could feel that when he came upstairs and woke us,” Sookie smiled at Auberon and rubbed his little cheek. “Honestly, I don’t think he could have taken knowing he was there, once he saw him.”

“I told him you were handling it better than he would,” Octavia said. “You’ve been fierce since you found out about that one. Liam and Niall both made the mistake of underestimating your power as a Mother. The Goddess does not tread lightly when Her baby is threatened. I’m really proud of you, Queenie.”

“Thanks!” Sookie gave a big smile and tried not to cry. It meant the world to her that Octavia would say that to her, especially in front of everybody.

“So what’s on the agenda for tonight?” Amelia asked.

“Well, we’ll be staying home because it’s the Dark Moon and we don’t know what to expect. Pam is supposed to come by and meet Aubie. I’m giving Eric his present later tonight, and that’s it as far as plans go,” Sookie answered.

“We should all watch a movie tonight,” Bjorn suggested, “because we’ll be busy moving Amelia into the chalet tomorrow and then you’ve got that meeting with the caterer.”

“What’s that about?” Sookie asked.

“Just final approval of the menu. They’re expecting a big crowd, so they want to make sure Eric will guarantee their fee,” Bjorn said. “It’s a Were-owned firm so they’ve done things like this before, but this one will be bigger than most because you guys are royals. It’s going to be pretty wild. Security is going to be a bitch that night.”

“Why?”

“They’re expecting a lot of Fae.”

“Oh, shit – I forgot about that. Niall will be there, won’t he?”

“Count on it,” Octavia said. “Be prepared to stand up to him. You did it once, so you know you can do it. You’re going to be the guests of honor, so you’ll have to be gracious to enemies as well as friends. All those Vamps and Fae in one place are going to be an interesting combo.”

“Is that normal for these cases?”

“No, because there’s never been a Wiccaning for a Vampire baby before.”

“This will be for both of them, right?”

“Right. That will only be a minor adjustment,” Octavia assured her.

“Do I need to study anything for this?”

“No. You can do a little research and read the way some people do them, but the High Priestess will direct the action. You and Eric will just have to respond to the vows.”

“What vows?”

“To care for the children and bring them up in the ways of the Goddess.”

“Oh, that doesn’t sound too bad.”

“I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ceremony itself. They’re usually not very long. Most of the night will be feasting and dancing.”

“Eric will get to mingle – he’ll love that.”

“Yeah, he loves to work a room,” Amelia laughed.

“Everybody will be congratulating you two and kissing ass. He’ll love it,” Bjorn agreed.

“Think you can dance with a baby in your arms, Sookie,” Octavia asked her.

“Yeah, will I need to?”

“I can’t imagine there won’t be a circle around a bonfire or a Spiral Dance. You’ll want to include the boys in that and the safest thing will be for you and Eric to carry them, or Eric and Bjorn.”

“I wonder if Aubie will like that? Alex likes rituals of all kinds.”

“I’d guess he’ll take to it,” Octavia assured her, “they aren’t that different.”

The baby was done eating, so she covered up and shifted him up to sit on the table as she held him. She looked him right in the eye and talked to him. “What do you think, Buddy? Are you gonna like to dance? We’ll be dancing in a grove in the moonlight! It’s going to be a big party to celebrate you and Alex!”

“Mmama!” He giggled and kicked a little. He didn’t know what she was talking about, he just knew she was talking to him and that was the best thing in his world.

Sookie put him up to her shoulder and hugged him tight, kissing his ear and rubbing his back as he hugged her back as best he could. “Mommy’s sweet boy! Yeah, you’re Mommy’s sweet boy!”

Everybody smiled and watched Sookie chatter with Aubie. They were so sweet together, you couldn’t help but smile.

Alicia came out of the house carrying Alex, kitten at their heels.

“Lookie, Aubie, Alex is awake!”

“Ahhh!” Aubie said in a high, playful voice as Alex came to join them.

“Ah! Ee, Mamee.”

“OK, eat,” she smiled as she put Alex to her breast and Amelia took Aubie from her.

“You’re doing pretty well juggling them so far, Queenie.”

“Yeah, it’s not too bad. Even when they feed at the same time, it’s not too bad because Alex can hold himself up. Eric was able to read to them at the same time, and Alex has even been teaching Aubie words.”

“What words?” Octavia was particularly interested in this.

“Daddy and Mommy, so far.”

“And Aubie responds to him?”

“Yeah, he tries to answer back every time Alex shows him a word.”

“That’s interesting. I want you writing these things down, Sookie. These two are unique in so many ways, we need to keep track of everything about them.”

“Eric is writing a lot of it down, but I’ll add stuff, too, and make sure we’re covered.”

“You should have seen them playing together this morning, Octavia,” Amelia bragged on them.

“Yeah, they egg each other on,” Sookie laughed. “I just hope I can keep up with them. I’m outnumbered, you know!”

“Yeah, and Alex is getting more mobile. He was flying from room to room this morning,” Bjorn laughed. “And he stood up holding onto the headboard and was bouncing up and down.”

“That was so cute! He said he was dancing,” Sookie bragged. “And Aubie giggled until he got the hiccups again.”

“He’s having the best time he ever had,” Octavia smiled. “Did he like the water?”

“He loved it, and the sun didn’t bother him at all, though it took a bit for his eyes to adjust.”

“Is he mobile at all yet?” Octavia wondered.

“Yeah, he can roll over, but that’s it. I can tell he’s going to be able to sit up by himself soon, though. He can hold his head up now but he’s getting stronger in his back, I can tell.”

“I can’t wait until he can get around a little bit so he can play in the dinosaur with Alex and the cat. That’s going to be so much fun!” Amelia loved to watch them play.

Alex giggled against Sookie because he knew they were talking about him.

“Do you think that’s funny, Pookie?” Sookie teased Alex as he suckled.

Amelia was holding Aubie on her lap facing the table and he was reaching for her iced tea, but she was keeping it away from him.

“Obee undwy,” Alex leaned back and said, then went back to feeding.

“Aubie’s hungry? I just fed him for a long time,” Sookie couldn’t believe it, but she concentrated and realized Alex was right. “Are there any bottles of RM ready?”

“I’ll go get him one,” Amelia started into the house with Aubie but he shrieked and scared them all to death.

“MMA-MAA!”

Amelia spun on her heels and headed back to the table with him.

“I’m sorry, Amelia…” Sookie said as she hurried to adjust Alex in her lap so she could hold Aubie, too.

“It’s OK, Hon, he’s just not ready to be away from you.”

“Makes sense he would be afraid to leave you, Sookie,” Octavia said as Sookie settled him onto her lap next to Alex. “He’s afraid of losing you again.”

“I guess that’ll be a problem for a while?”

“Not too long, I don’t think. He just needs to wake up here and find Mommy right there for a while,” Octavia assured her.

“Eric took him into the nursery with no problem, though.”

“That’s what I find most interesting,” Octavia said, “he’s not afraid of Eric at all, is he?”

“No, he seems to love Eric. The minute he laid eyes on him it was like he knew he was his daddy.”

“So we know it can’t be a learned reaction. There has to be a deeper connection.”

“Well, that’s any child and a parent, right?”

“To an extent, but that parent and these kids – there’s more, I just wonder what it is.”

“What could it be?”

“Instinct. Scent. A psychic link. A race memory. Memories of a past life. Magick. All kinds of things. We may never know, but it’s interesting.”

“Yeah, I guess it is,” Sookie looked down at the boys as she held them. Alex was still feeding but Aubie was just looking up at her and sucking his thumb. “Are you better now, Cookie?”

Aubie’s eyes sparkled at her. All was obviously right in his world again.

“Are either of the boys warm?” Octavia asked her

“Well, it’s weird. Aubie isn’t exactly warm, but he’s warmer than Alex, if that makes any sense.”

“When is Eric’s Childe going to meet him?”

“She’s supposed to come by tonight before she goes into Fangtasia.”

“I’m interested to see what kind of reaction she has to him.”

“Me, too. She licked Alex’s head when she met him. He’s extra-sweet, but still Vampire flavored. I just hope Aubie isn’t irresistibly Faerie flavored,” she laughed a little but she wasn’t kidding.

“Have you two decided how you’re going to explain him?”

“We’re going to say he was with a nurse because he was small.”

“Well, that’s sort of true. No need to go into detail. It’s nobody’s business.”

“What are you going to do with them when you go to the club opening?” Amelia asked

“I have no idea. Bjorn, do you know?”

“They’ll be close by, but they won’t be exposed to any of the partying.”

“Hey, you guys!” Bobbie came out of the sliding glass door.

“BOBBIE!” Sookie was surprised to see her and Bjorn was shocked as he jumped up and went to hug her.

“I can’t believe you’re here!” He swung her around, “what happened?”

“I managed to wrap things up and I decided to just come home and not even stop to call.” She gave him a big hug and a kiss, and he hesitated to let her go when they stopped. “Hey – wait a minute – is that Auberon?” Bobbie bent and hugged Octavia.

“Yep, he’s home!” Sookie said proudly. “I’m dying to give you a hug but I’ve got my hands full. I’m so glad you’re back.” Sookie could hear Bobbie thinking she didn’t want to go into details about her mom just now.

“Can I hold him?” Bobbie skipped over to the chair Bjorn had been sitting in and perched beside Sookie so she could get a good look at Auberon. “Wow – they couldn’t look more alike, could they?”

“No, they couldn’t. They’ve got different energies or personalities or whatever though,” Sookie explained.

Bobbie shook Aubie’s little hand and talked to him playfully, “hey, Buddy! I’m Aunt Bobbie. We’re going to be good friends. Yeah, we’re going to be good buddies! Want to come to me for a minute?” She held her hands open to him and he leaned toward her.

“Oh, good. I think he likes you!” Sookie let her take him, but she scooted close so he was still close to Sookie as she held him.

“Ah, Babee!” Alex stopped feeding long enough to greet her, and she leaned over and kissed him, “Hey, Pookie!” then he went back to feeding.

She turned back to Aubie, “yeah, I hear you want to stay close to Mama,” Bobbie teased him. “We’ll just stay right here with her and we’ll get to know each other, alright?”

“AH!” Aubie answered her and giggled, looking her over and liking what he saw. She had a big smile like Mommy and was almost as warm. Aubie loved feeling warm.

Bjorn was beside himself, and couldn’t decide what to do. He wanted to take Bobbie upstairs for a few hours… or a few days… but he couldn’t right now. He was too excited to sit down, so he asked, “Bobbie, do I need to take your bags up for you?”

“No, Sweetie, thanks, Leroy already did it. Come sit down. You guys have no idea how glad I am to be back.”

“We’re glad you’re here. It’s been pretty busy around here,” Sookie told her.

“I guess so,” she laughed as she reached for the bottle of RM Amelia brought out. Aubie took the bottle happily, and Alex leaned back to say “Obee wyg bud.”

“Wow, he’s getting really good at talking!”

“Oh, yeah, and so far he’s kind of protective of Aubie. He makes sure he gets fed, too,” Sookie laughed.

“Obee mah buggy, Babee.”

She looked at Sookie for a translation. “Aubie is his buddy.”

“Wow – no jealousy?”

“Not so far, knock wood.”

“So how did you manage to bring him home?”

Sookie went into great detail telling Bobbie about the dream, the attempted assassination and her part in stopping it and warning off Niall. By the time she was done, the outside lights had come on and Eric was coming out the door as Octavia went in to use the bathroom, squeezing his arm as she passed him.

“Bobbie – welcome home!” Eric was genuinely glad to see her because he was worried about Sookie needing her help. He bent to kiss Sookie as she answered him.

“Yep – it’s been a pretty eventful couple of days, I hear.”

“To say the least. Sookie, Margaret wants to know if she should serve dinner out here?”

“No, we’ll come in. We just got to talking and lost track of time.” Eric helped her stand and Alex seemed to be done for the moment, so Eric took him so she could cover up. Bobbie took Aubie and they all went into the house where the others were already gathering in the kitchen.

“Ah, Dadee,” Alex giggled as Eric carried him.

“Hi, Alex,” Eric tickled him and hugged him close.

“Fyeen, Dadee.” Alex patted Eric’s cheek and looked him in the eye.

Eric laughed, “first we eat, then we fly, alright, my son?”

“Oday.”

Eric was the first to notice that there were now two high chairs by the table. “I see you went shopping today, Alicia?”

“Actually, I called the store and sent Leroy after it. He just finished putting it together,” Alicia told him as she helped Margaret and Carrie put dinner together.

“Oh, cool, they’re just alike,” Sookie laughed, removing the tray so Bobbie could put Aubie in it and they used the little harness to hold him upright.

“Does he eat food yet?” Bobbie asked

“Well, we gave him a little this morning and he did fine with it so, yeah, we’ll be giving him a little to go along with his blood and milk,” Sookie explained.

Eric put Alex in the other high chair and Alicia brought their plates, but neither boy ate much and while the others were eating, Alexander and Auberon both went to sleep and wouldn’t wake up. In fact, they were completely limp and Sookie started to get scared.

“Eric, they’re not moving at all.”

“Yes, I know. I’ve never seen Alex like this before.”

Everyone around the table was waiting to see if the babies would stir, but no matter what Eric and Sookie did, they didn’t move.

“Call Dr. Ludwig,” Octavia suggested.

“Do you have any idea what might be wrong, Octavia?”

“Yes, but you need to confirm it with Dr. Ludwig. I think they’re down because of the Dark Moon. If I’m right, they should wake up at sunrise. I don’t think it will last 24 hours, but it’s possible.”

“What is it, though?”

“Vampires,” Eric said, “They’re sleeping like Vampires.”

“They never have before…” Sookie started.

“Call the doctor and make sure,” Octavia repeated, “but I think instead of resting every day from sunrise to sunset, they’ll rest on the dark moon.”

“But they sleep every day and night…” Sookie started, but Eric had his phone out and called the Dr.

“Northman?”

“Yes, doctor…”

“What are they doing?”

“They’re limp. There’s no response from them at all.”

“I was afraid of that. I’d prefer not to come there tonight, but I’d recommend you tuck them into your bed and keep someone with them at all times. I’d guess they’ll rise at sun-up, but it’s possible they won’t rise until sunset tomorrow.”

“How do we know they’re not dead!” Sookie could hear what the doctor was saying, but she was getting anxious.

“Tell Sookie to talk to Freyja if she needs reassurance, but she’s not to go anywhere. Scrying only tonight, you understand?”

“Why?” Sookie didn’t understand this.

“The Dark Moon. The same reason I don’t want to travel. If it’s at all possible not to do magick on the Dark Moon, you don’t do it.”

“Is there anything else we need to know, Dr.?”

“If this is going to be a monthly thing, they might need little coffins to use once a month, or you might need to put them to rest with you for the day, King Eric. We’ll have to see what happens at sunrise. If they don’t wake up, don’t expose them to light. I’ll check in with you later,” the doctor said and hung up.

Sookie started to say something but the doorbell rang.

“That’s Pam,” Eric said as he took Auberon and went quickly into the living room with him.

“Bobbie, watch Alex, please?” Sookie said and followed them.

Pam was stepping into the living room as Eric came in with the baby.

“Hello, Master.”

“Good evening, Pam. I’m afraid he’s asleep.” Eric said as he handed the baby to Pam.

A look of fear crossed Pam’s face, “take him back!” She handed Eric the baby and backed away from them.

Eric’s heart sank. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s Fae.” Pam looked terrified. Eric wondered if she was afraid of his reaction.

“No…”

“Yes. It’s about half way between Sookie’s scent and a full Faerie, but he’s Fae. I’m so sorry, Master… I didn’t want to hurt him.”

Sookie was standing in the doorway to the kitchen and she turned white as a sheet. “But Eric doesn’t smell it!” This was NOT good news.

“I am his father, Sookie, I’m connected to him.” Eric hugged the baby and kissed his head. “I don’t know if I could tell him from Alex if I was blindfolded.”

“Maybe he’ll grow out of it? Or it will fade now that he’s here….?” Sookie was grasping for anything.

“We knew this was a possibility, Sweetheart.” Eric pulled her to him with his free arm and kissed her head.

“But we can’t take him to Fangtasia?”

“Or any other Vampire-centric events,” Eric confirmed.

“Master, I should go…”

“Yes, Pam, thank you. I’ll talk to you later.”

Pam left quickly as she could, trying to ignore the Fae smell on her hands and clothes.

Octavia came into the room with Bobbie, who was carrying Alex. “Bad news, folks?”

“Yes, very bad,” Eric said.

“Don’t panic. There are shields and wards we can use while he’s small and when he’s older he can shield himself.”

“You think?” Sookie asked

“Yes, I’m pretty sure there’s a work-around. You might even be able to put a shield on him, Goddess.”

“I never thought of that.”

“Think about it. We’ve got to hone your instincts so your first reaction is “what can I do with my own powers.” There’s no telling what you might be able to do if you just think to try.”

“Alright. Can we take the boys to bed, Eric. I’ll feel safer upstairs with them tucked in,” Sookie didn’t want to think about this right now.”

“Yes, we can. Bobbie, I know you want to spend time with Bjorn. You and he can take the evening off. Where is Amelia tonight?” Bobbie helped Eric take Alex in his free arm so he was holding both babies.

“She and Jerry are moving her stuff into the chalet tonight,” Bobbie told him.

“Do they need help?”

“They’ve had help. They’re just setting up her bed and things like that and I think Jerry is moving his stuff tomorrow,” Octavia explained.

“Do you want to move into a chalet, Octavia?” Eric offered.

“If I had my druthers I’d rather stay where I am.”

“Oh, good,” Sookie said, “I like knowing you’re close by.”

“I like it, too,” Octavia patted her back. “You two go on to bed. We’ll all be around if you need us, but try not to worry. They still have a great advantage only needing to rest once a month.”

“But they sleep every day,” Sookie still didn’t get this.

“But that’s while they’re growing. We don’t know if they’ll always need sleep. It might turn out they only rest this once a month. That’s a mighty big advantage if it turns out to be true.”

“And a mighty big vulnerability if it lasts for 24 hours,” Sookie realized.

“Think positive, Queenie. Take it one step at a time. You’ve got years to figure it all out.”

“Yeah, I guess we do.”

“We’ll see you later,” Eric said politely and headed for the steps, Sookie following closely behind.

“Eric, aren’t you worried about this at all?” she asked as they reached the second floor

“About him being Fae? Very. About them needing to rest, no. That’s a small disadvantage in the scheme of things. I just hope we can keep it quiet. That’s not something we’d want generally known.”

“Yeah, I guess not,” she agreed as they continued up to the third floor. “If you have work to do, you can. I’ll stay with them.”

“I want to spend time with you, too, Sweetheart,” he looked at her and smiled as he stepped to the side and let her go into the room first.

“Oh – woops!” Sookie said with surprise as she saw the gift on Eric’s side of the bed. “I forgot all about that!”

“What is it?” Eric had no idea what it could be.

“It’s a present for you. I can’t believe I forgot about it.”

“You bought me a present?” Eric’s mood was instantly brighter. The idea she would do something like that delighted him. “What is it?” He couldn’t remember a girl every buying him a present, except for a few little things girls at the club would use to curry favor.

“Let’s tuck the boys in and you can open it,” she was smiling but she was tense underneath the positive mood she tried to project. “Tell you what – here…” she stood back from him and said “playpen” and was instantly holding the one from the den. She set it up in front of the closet as Eric waited with the babies.

“Good idea. They seem to like being next to each other,” he said happily. He couldn’t believe how happy he was about the present. He didn’t really care what it was. He was just excited that Sookie wanted to give him something.

“Yeah, they do. I’ll grab a blanket from their room,” she said as she took one of the boys and laid him on his back in the play yard, then ran into the nursery as Eric put the other baby next to the first. Sookie came back with a blue teddy and Elmo, putting one on the outer side of each boy, then she covered them all with a little blue blanket. “There. They’re all snug. I hope…” she stood up and stood back and he wrapped his arms around her from behind.

He spoke softly in her ear. “Do not worry, Sookie, they will be awake in a few hours, or a day at the most.”

“It’s just so weird to see them lying there not moving or anything. How do we know they’re not dead?”

“You know they are not, Sookie, or you’d be wild with grief.”

“Yeah, I guess I would.”

“There’s no guessing, my Angel, you’d be calling down Freyja’s help. Now,” he let her go and turned her around, giving her a peck on the lips as he gently held her arms, “what did you get me.,” he laughed and shook her a little to tease her out of her worrying. The kitten came running into the room and Eric scooped it up and put it in the playpen with the boys.

“Alright, alright, sit down.” She laughed and tried to lighten up as she picked up the box and let him sit on the side of the bed. “It’s nothing big…” she was going to give him a big explanation but he was as anxious as a kid at Christmas and it was really kind of hot.

“Can I open it now?”

“Yes!” She handed him the box and stood there anxiously, hoping he would like it and wouldn’t think it was lame.

Eric looked at the box very closely. He bounced it a little to check its weight. He ran his fingers through the ribbon curls slowly and began to untie the bow very slowly. It suddenly occurred to Sookie that no one had ever given Eric a wrapped present like this and the realization of it stunned her. She was practically holding her breath, hoping he wouldn’t be disappointed with her choice for him.

“Do not worry, Sweetheart, I will like it no matter what it is,” he smiled at her just before he lifted the lid off of the box. His eyes lit up as he saw rolls of silk. The flower effect wasn’t really there anymore, but he could see all the different patterns and colors. “What is this?”

Sookie pulled a pair of red striped boxers out of the box and held them, “they’re silk boxers, see. There’s 22 of them, in all different patterns and colors.”

Eric was randomly pulling out different pairs and admiring them. “I like this blue and gold one very much. This green is lovely. Which is your favorite, Sookie?”

“I don’t know – these a kind of neat!” She held up a purple and gold plaid pair and Eric laughed.

“Those are very unusual. Should I wear them after our bath tonight?”

“We get to take a bath?” She was being playful and girlish now, much to Eric’s delight.

“Yes, of course. The boys won’t be up so it’s a good night to have some time for just us, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, definitely. Ooh, these are pretty,” she held up a lavender pair with navy pin stripes and Eric laughed. “I’ll go run the bath, OK?” She kissed him and hugged him tight.

“OK” he smiled and she bounced into the bathroom. He sat and looked at the boxers for a few minutes, running his fingers through them to enjoy the feel of the silk. He liked these very much. They were luxurious and sensual and he knew Sookie would enjoy seeing him wear them. He felt as if he would burst. He couldn’t believe she had bought him a present. He never expected that. He was so used to being the one who gave presents to others, and was always thinking of what he could do for Sookie, what he could give to her. If he thought about this very long, he would cry. He rubbed his eyes to keep drops of blood from leaking.

He looked at his sons lying next to each other in the playpen. Everyone said they looked like him but when he looked at them, all he saw was Sookie. He’d never admit that, of course. Alex had always felt like him, though, but now Auberon was here and he was so like Sookie, it scared him – especially knowing that he was Fae.

“Eric, are you coming in?” Sookie called from the other room, already in the water.

“Yes, I am,” he said, shaking off all the thoughts of war and politics that had rushed into his head when he thought of having a Fae son. There would be time to think it through later. He pulled off his shirt, locked the bedroom door and headed for the tub.

“Hey – this is new, isn’t it?” She held up a bottle of strawberry bubble bath.

“Yes, I think it is. It smells very good!” He laughed as he kicked his jeans off.

“Yeah, I like it. It reminds me of that shampoo I like.”

“It’s making a lot of bubbles, too. I wonder where Alicia got it?”

“You didn’t buy it?” she asked as he settled in behind her.

“No, I asked her to look for some new things for us to try.” He kissed her forehead as she moved sideways between his legs and snuggled against his chest. They were quiet for a few minutes, just enjoying the warm water and their warm bodies resting against one another.

“Mmm – this is nice,” she said as she leaned against him with her eyes closed.

“Yes, it is.”

“It’s nice to be quiet for a little bit.”

“Yes.” He wrapped his arms around her, entwining his fingers at her hip, waiting for her to say what she was thinking.

“I heard that,” she laughed softly.

“What?”

“You’re waiting for me to say it.”

“And?”

“Alright, I’m saying it. I’m really, really scared.”

“About Auberon?”

“And about the Dark Moon thing, too. What are we going to do?”

“We are going to make sure we always know when the Dark Moon falls so we don’t plan to take the boys out those nights…”

“And?”

“And you are going to talk to Freyja about how we deal with a Fae baby in a Vampire kingdom.”

“Yeah, that would be the source to go to, right?”

“Yes, and Dr. Ludwig, of course, but I think we start with Freyja from now on.”

“I agree. We’re getting stronger and it’s easier and easier for me to call Her up, especially after last night.”

“No word from Niall today?”

“Nope.”

“You will hear from him before the first of the month, I am sure.”

“Why?”

“He’ll make sure it’s safe for him to attend the Wiccaning.”

“Speaking of which, what’s this about a catering company?”

“We need to make final approval of the menu and Bjorn needs to coordinate with them regarding security.”

“And where are we doing this?”

“Their representative is coming here tomorrow evening. It shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

“We both have to be there?”

He picked up the soap and began to wash her arms. “Don’t you want to know what they will be serving your guests?”

“Yeah, I guess I do. Why isn’t the… Coven?”

“Coven.”

“Why isn’t the Coven taking care of this?”

“They recommended the catering firm as someone they’ve used before, but we are paying for everything and they want to be sure we’re happy with the arrangements.”

“Are there going to be lots of Vampires there?” She didn’t say anything but as they were talking he soaped under her arms and picked up her razor. This was new.

“Oh, yes, and Council members, some Weres and Shifters and many Fae.”

“Yeah, you told me they take these things seriously.”

“Yes, and now that Auberon is with us…”

“Are we going to tell people he’s Fae?” He finished shaving her underarms and motioned for her to lean back toward the front of the tub. She rested her back against the far edge and he raised her leg so her knee was slightly bent, her foot on his thigh, and he began to shave her lower leg. He’d never done this before, but for some reason, it felt perfectly natural to let him do it for her. It had been a while since she’d had taken the time, so she figured what the hell.

“We aren’t going to tell people anything, but the Vampires and Fae will know his scent. We’ll have extra guards around him to be sure the Vampires don’t touch him.”

“You’re going to have to rely on Were guards against potential Vampire attacks?”

“We do it every day, Sweetheart, but there will be Vampires in our employ and there will also be Daemon security that night. You’ll be meeting some of them tomorrow.”

“Those are the strange faces I saw today?”

“Yes, some started today. There will be more, on three shifts, 24 hours a day.”

“The Weres work 2 shifts, don’t they?”

“Yes, with three days off every week.”

“There are going to be a lot of people coming and going.” She pulled the first leg back and let him take her other leg to shave.

“Vincent, Bjorn and Jerry will Supervise it all. They can handle it, Sookie, don’t be afraid.”

“Are Daemons trustworthy?”

“If they’re paid well enough and none of the new hires has any love for Niall or Cullach.”

“Cullach’s not a problem anymore, though.”

“His supporters might be. My spies tell me he didn’t have any sons, but he does have a nephew that could step forward in a few years.”

“What about daughters or nieces?”

“Fae women are concerned with magick and commerce. They wouldn’t lower themselves to deal with politics or war.”

“Did I lower myself?” She sat up as he finished her legs and turned so he could wash her back.

“No, You are a Goddess of War. It is Your realm.”

“I have so much to learn…”

“Then learn it, and quickly. You’re too far into it now not to take it seriously, Sookie. You need to learn everything you can about Freyja as soon as you can, especially in the next 11 days.”

“Because of the Wiccaning?” He took the hand-held and began to wet her hair.

“Yes. Tradition should prevent anyone from waging war at such an event, but not everyone respects tradition these days. You need to be in control of your powers that night. We need every possible advantage.”

“Alright. Have there been invitations to this thing, or anything like that?”

“There have been general announcements and a few key printed invitations were sent out by Niall’s people and ours.”

 “We have people?”

“We have Pam and Bill, and Sandy, plus the two offices of staff.”

“Should I invite Jason?”

“Already done and he RSVP’d. Pam talked to him last week.” He poured shampoo into his palm and spread it through her hair, beginning to massage her scalp.

“I should be more on top of this stuff, shouldn’t I?”

“Ideally, yes, but you are on vacation so I’ve delegated as many of your duties as I could to our staff.”

“Am I being a bad Queen?”

“No, Sookie, you are adapting to many changes. I don’t know how you handle it as well as you do.”

“Do they have these Wiccanings all the time?”

“Yes, but this is much larger and more serious than an average one.”

“Because it’s a Vampire thing?”

“And a Fae thing. Our circumstance is unique in many ways. This will be the Supe event of the Millennium, at least.”

“And we aren’t going to explain Aubie.”

“If anyone asks, they are twins, he was very small when he was born and was in care of a nurse until he was stronger. If anyone asks, it is important that you say Alex is the older twin.”

“Why is that important?”

“To insure that he inherits Niall’s seat on the Council.”

“Is Alex older?”

“My understanding is that they were born at the same instant.”

“But…”

“Sookie – do this for me. Please?”

“Is it fair?”

“”Fair” is a judgment call. I am asking you, as his father and his King, to say that Alex is older.”

“How much older?”

“9 minutes.”

“Are we going to tell Bobbie and Bjorn and the rest of them?”

“No. We only offer the information if it is requested from the Council. No one else needs to know the particulars.”

“Can we get in trouble for lying to the Council?”

“I don’t know. I don’t care. This doesn’t mean I love Auberon any less, Sookie, but there are practical considerations…”

“It’s because Alex is Vampire and Aubie is Fae, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and because Alex is a warrior.”

“We don’t know what Aubie is yet…”

“We will love him just as much, no matter what he is, but in this case… you must understand, Sookie, Alex is advanced for a specific reason. Remember – he should be three years old now.

“Right – I was late,” she said as a pang of guilt shot through her.

“Exactly, and anyone who compares them now will assume Alex is older – he’s talking and standing up…”

“He was jumping up and down today,” Sookie laughed because she couldn’t help herself when she remembered it.

“He was?” Eric loved hearing about all of the new developments with the babies.

“Yeah, you should have seen him. He was standing where your pillow normally is, holding onto the headboard, jumping, but he said he was “dantheen” and he and Aubie were yelling at each other.”

“Yelling?”

“Yeah, just going “ah!” “ah!” back and forth, egging each other on. It was really cute. They like to get loud, I think.”

“Boys will do that,” Eric laughed, proud of his sons.

“Yeah, at least they’re getting along.”

“That is a great relief. I thought Alex might be very resentful…”

“So far, he looks out for him, and makes sure he gets fed. He kissed him today, too.””

“He did?” That made Eric smile.

“Yeah, he was standing there and I was holding Aubie up because he had the hiccups and I kissed him and Alex leaned over and kissed him, too. It was so sweet. Oh, and then…!”

“Umhm?” He was rinsing her hair really well as he listened to her.

“… he was teaching him to say “Mommy!” Then I was changing Aubie’s diaper and Alex was hovering there watching every move just fascinated with it, then Aubie wanted to watch while Alex got his diaper changed. It’s like they’re fascinated with each other. Like they’ve both had dozens of new diapers but seeing the process with the other one was so interesting to them.”

“Let’s hope they stay that way. Most brothers resent each other.”

“I’d love it if they would, with Alex being protective of him.”

“Enjoy it as long as you can. Things may change as they get older.”

“We’ll know more when Aubie is mobile, I think. Want me to do your hair now?”

“Please.” He moved forward so she could get behind him and she used the hand-held to wet his long hair. On impulse, she wrapped her arm around his neck and kissed his shoulder, then laid her cheek on his shoulder as she ran her hand over his bicep. “Are you alright, Sookie?” he asked even though he could feel what she was feeling.

“Yeah, I’m OK, I just feel more grounded when I touch you.”

“So do I,” he squeezed her hand as it rested on his chest. They were quiet for a minute, then Sookie went back to washing his hair. When she was done, she scrubbed his back, then they took their time washing each other very thoroughly, taking time to stop and kiss leisurely as they proceeded.

They were done washing, but not done kissing. Sookie started to ask if they should get out of the tub, but Eric was guiding her to straddle him so she knew the answer would be ‘no.’ She lowered herself onto him, throwing her head back as he held her head with his hand and bit her exposed neck as he slipped into her. They had barely moved but they were both coming almost instantly. Eric held her tightly with his free arm, still cradling her head and drinking longer than usual. She could hear him thinking she tasted sweeter than ever and his excitement was flooding the bond. Suddenly she was on her knees holding the edge of the tub but he flipped her so quickly she didn’t know it was happening until she was there. Eric was holding her hips tightly, taking her enthusiastically as the Faerie blood hit his system. Neither of them paid any attention to the water splashing on the floor. Eric was moving more slowly and deliberately now, getting close to his second release. Sookie wasn’t there yet so he tore his wrist open and put it to her mouth, and the two of them quickly came again, laughing as he hugged her back to him.

“Wow – that doesn’t take any time at all when we feed, does it?” Sookie laughed breathlessly.

“Mmmm,” Eric agreed as he nipped at her shoulder several times. “Shall we move into the bedroom?”

“Yes. We need to comb our hair out before it dries funky.”

Eric laughed as he threw towels on the floor to soak up the water, which wasn’t too bad this time. “We’re going to have to have water damage repaired if we keep this up.”

“Is that a complaint?” She teased him

“No, just a fact,” he laughed as he let the water out of the tub and used the hand-held to do a quick wash and rinse on them both as it drained. He rubbed some light massage oil on her skin and rinsed her again, then he got out of the tub and helped her step out.

Sookie yawned as Eric combed her hair out. “We’re both clean, maybe we shouldn’t have anymore sex tonight.”

“If you are too tired…”

“I’m joking, Eric. We both know that’s not going to happen,” she laughed. “That’s what showers are for.”

He knelt down and let her comb out his hair, wrapping his arms around her waist when she was done and kissing her breasts. He went into Vampire speed and stood up, scooping her up in his arms and carrying her out to the bed. He held her downward so she could pull back the covers, then deposited her on the soft cotton sheets. He lay down beside her and they rolled into each other’s arms instantly, kissed for a few minutes, then Sookie said “check on the boys real quick then come lie on your back.”

He liked the sound of that so he stepped over to the playpen while she went into the bottom drawer of her nightstand for the tube of lubricant. “The boys are just the same, Sookie, very snug. The kitten is sleeping at their feet and their toys are still next to them.”

“Good, now come here.” She patted the bed as she waited on her knees with a wicked smile. Eric knew what was coming and he was more than happy to comply. He got onto the center of the bed, she between his legs squeezing lubricant onto her fingers. In no time at all she slipped her fingers into him and took him in her mouth. He was completely unconcerned with the rest of the house hearing him, and they did.

“What the hell is that?” Bjorn sat bolt upright in bed.

Bobbie, enjoying the afterglow, laughed softly and told him, “Sookie must have decided she wanted to be in charge tonight.”

“What the hell is she doing to him?”

“P-spotting.”

“You mean…”

“Yeah, massaging his prostate.”

“And it makes him yell out like that?”

“Yeah, most guys think it’s awesome. Don’t you like it?”

“No one ever did it to me.”

“Want to try it?”

“You know how to do it?”

“I taught Sookie.”

“I was wondering where a little country girl would learn a thing like that. I just assumed Eric taught her.”

“She wanted to surprise him one time and did she ever. He said he should have given me a raise for teaching her that trick.”

“It’s that good, huh?”

Bobbie laughed and grabbed a towel to put under him, plus a tube of lube and a bottle of hand gel for cleaning up after. She spread the towel out in the middle of the bed and had him lie on it, then lubed up her fingers and pushed her way in as she took him in her mouth. Bjorn was a little freaked out by the sensation of being penetrated, but that quickly gave away to moans and spasms he couldn’t believe, and he was almost as loud as Eric.

Eric cracked up as Sookie made him writhe, which made Sookie laugh, too.

“Having that much fun, are we?” she teased him, stopping to take a breath after he came the first time.

“We’re not the only ones. Can’t you hear that?”

“Is that Bjorn?”

“Yes, apparently Bobbie is giving him a demonstration of why I am being so loud – AAHH!” he cried out as she stroked him inside again. She immediately went back to working on him, making him cry out even louder and she was merciless because she was feeling a bit competitive knowing Bobbie was doing the same thing to Bjorn. He came again. And again. And again.

When she finally let him rest, he laughed hoarsely and said, “I think I know what you mean by feeling as if you have no bones. I’m jelly.”

“Good. That was fun. I love making you squirm,” she wiggled her eyebrows at him the way he always did and he cracked up, pulling her up next to him.

“My little vixen!” he brushed her hair away from her face. “I love you so much, Sookie – I never dreamed I could love anyone as much as I love you.”

“Me, either. I never dreamed I’d be able to make anybody lose control that way, either,” she giggled. “I still need to drink from you tonight.”

“Yes, you do. Turn your back to me.” She rolled over and he spooned up against her, then tore his wrist open and she drank a lot before it healed. They both had another orgasm and she drifted off to sleep as he held her in his arms. When she was sleeping soundly he picked up the playpen with the boys in it and went to his office for his evening calls.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Bill. How are things in New Orleans?”

“I’m getting a lot of requests from European Vampires who want to attend your sons’ Wiccaning. What should I do?”

“I assume this is Mama and the other two?”

“Actually, it’s an entourage of almost 30, though Giselle and the Kings of Germany and France are included in the party. There’s one from Bulgaria and one from Egypt in the party, as well, and I assume the bulk of the party is their retinue.”

“Include them, certainly and make sure you notify the Coven. You have a contact there, yes?”

“Yes, I’ve been speaking with Robin Prentiss, the one who met with us in your office before your ascension. Sandy will be bringing a party as well, I understand?”

“Yes, some of the Hollywood Vampires contacted her, so there will be several people from out west traveling for this. I hope we have the infrastructure in this area to support them all.”

“Well, this particular Coven has a large camping ground with some very large Kivas that some of the Vampires will use if they cannot find lodging.”

“What is a Kiva?”

“It’s a Native American word for an underground space used for teaching and vision quests. They’re completely light free when they’re closed. There’s a large clearing where we can land helicopters, too, so we can shuttle people to and from the airport as needed. Anubis will be taking care of transport that evening.”

“This is getting very big.”

“Yes, it is, but I think the offices have it well coordinated. Vincent thinks that we have adequate security with the new Daemon soldiers and all the trainees from the camp.”

“Let’s hope. I’m praying that humans don’t get wind of the event.”

“The property will be completely sealed off. No human will get near the place unless they are accompanied by a Supe of some sort. We’re working very hard to keep the press out of this.”

“I hope we succeed.”

“So both boys will be there?”

“Yes, they will.”

“How do we explain this?”

“We say that Eric Auberon was small when he was born and was with a nurse until he grew stronger. We kept the matter private so as not to endanger him, but now he is stronger and ready to face the world.”

“They look alike?”

“Nearly identical except that Alex is bigger, and more advanced. Auberon is just learning to say his first words, and is not quite ready to crawl.”

“How is he adapting?”

“Very well, I think. He’s afraid to be away from Sookie, but that is the only ill effect I’m aware of, other than…”

“Other than?”

“He is Fae.”

“What?”

“He is Fae. Pam came by to see him tonight and she was afraid to hold him. She says his scent is about half way between Sookie’s and a full Faerie, but he is distinctly Fae.”

“People are not going to be happy about this, Eric, you must realize that?”

“Yes, but what can we do? My Vampire offices would pass to Alex if anything happened to me.”

“Does Sookie know this?”

“Yes. Auberon will probably inherit other offices that will become Sookie’s in time.”

“What offices would those be?”

“I cannot go into that over the phone, I’m afraid. We’ll touch base on that when you get to Shreveport. Are you still coming in the day before?”

“Yes. Are the chalets available?”

“We’ll have one ready for you by the time you get here.”

“Good, thank you. I appreciate that.

“You are welcome any time. Will Pam be joining you here?”

“Yes, I believe that’s the plan. Sandy’s group will be staying at the casino in Bossier City. We’re coordinating with Pam.”

“Do I need to call Sandy tonight?”

“No, I just spoke to her. We’ve got things under control.”

“Good. I have a lot of paperwork to do. Good night, Bill”

“Good night, Eric.”

Eric dug into the paperwork he had waiting for him, most of which had to do with improvements to a shopping center he owned in Ruston and the administration of the Western half of his kingdom. He hoped he could put off the business he needed to conduct in Las Vegas until the first of September, but it was looking doubtful.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Bjorn?”

“I just wanted to make sure everything is OK. It got very quiet down here all of a sudden,” he laughed.

“Sookie went to sleep, so I’ve been working. Can you stay here with the boys for a minute while I run down to Sookie’s office?”

“Sure.”

“Thank you,” Eric zipped down the stairs at Vampire speed and retrieved Sookie’s calendar from her office.

“Alright, thank you, Bjorn.”

“No problem. It’s weird to see them so still like that.”

“Yes, it is, but I’m sure they’re just resting. It’s probably a good sign. I think once they are grown they won’t need sleep.”

“That’s a huge advantage.”

“Yes, especially if this only lasts until dawn. Be aware that if they do not wake up when the sun rises you’ll all need to keep Sookie occupied so she doesn’t have time to think anything is wrong. If you think it’s necessary, bring them down and leave them with me.”

“Alright. I hope we don’t have to do that, though.”

“Yes, it would be a very long day for her if she had to wait until dark to know that they’re alright.”

“Right. You need me for anything else tonight?”

“No, you can go to bed. I’ll stay with Sookie and the boys until Jerry comes in. Thank you for your help, Bjorn.”

“OK, have a good night,” Bjorn smiled and headed back up the stairs.

Eric looked at the boys for a while, lost in thought, then reminded himself what he was doing. He needed to add all the new activities to Sookie’s calendar and then he would leave a message for Alicia that they should review it. They were going to be very busy and he was pretty sure Sookie would need to go shopping before the Wiccaning so she had plenty of wardrobe choices for the club openings and other activities they had planned. It took him 35 minutes to add all the new dates and he made a sticky note to put on the front to highlight the new stuff – the regional tour of 4 days, 13 club openings, The Vampire’s Ball in Chicago, then Sookie’s various engagements in New Orleans. He noted they would be spending a week in Chicago and that would be a good time for shopping, too.

Morning was drawing near, so he took the boys back into the bedroom and set the playpen near the bed so Sookie could get to it quickly if she needed to. He was taking her Ambrosia out of the little fridge when Jerry came up the stairs.

“Good morning, Jerry,” Eric smiled as he moved the co-sleeper away from Sookie’s side of the bed so he could get to her.

“Good morning, your majesty.”

“I’ll be out of your way in just a minute. Sookie, Sweetheart, you must wake up and drink.”

“Hmm? Oh, goodie – I love this stuff,” she said sleepily as she drank down the cupful of the wonderful blue liquid. Sookie never noticed what an unusual color it was before. It was an even brighter blue than a raspberry Popsicle. She was instantly back to sleep when she lay back down and Eric said ‘good day’ and went to his rest. He fell asleep praying the boys would wake up at sunrise so Sookie wouldn’t have a stressful day.

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