Eric’s eyes popped open – something was terribly wrong. He could feel the sun was out, but he knew Sookie needed him. He felt around his box for the remote for the sun shelds in the loft, finding it and using it as quickly as he could. He could feel in his bones how sunny it was that day, but he needed to get to Sookie. When the shields were safely in place he climbed out of his box and picked up his cell phone.
Bjorn looked at his ringing phone. “This says it’s Eric!” he said with surprise as he answered. “You’re awake?!”
“Bjorn is Sookie with you?”
“Yeah, but she’s not well…”
“Can you bring her to me in the loft?”
“YES! Be right there!” Bjorn scooped Sookie up and headed for the stairs, relieved at being told what to do in this circumstance. No one but Eric could handle Sookie as she was right now – “Thank you, min Gudinna, for waking Eric now!” Bjorn said out loud as he carried her, sobbing, up the white spiral stair case.
“Hey, you guys, look outside!” Amelia called everyone else’s attention to the sky, which was rapidly darkening. “Was it supposed to rain today?”
“No,” Alicia said, “it was supposed to be hot and sunny all week,” she recalled as she knelt down with a roll of paper towels and began cleaning blood off the white floor.
“Damn,” Bobbie said, “it looks like there’s about to be a wicked storm. I’ve never seen one come up that quickly!” Bobbie saw what Alicia was doing and took a paper towel to put the heart into a trash bag.
“I have,” Amunet reminded them, “Sookie can conjure the weather.”
“You think she’s creating this turbulence out here?” Amelia asked, thinking she might be right.
“Yes. I think she needs Eric and can’t Eric wake a little when it’s rainy?” Amunet reminded them.
“Yes!” “Yes!” Amelia and Bobbie answered in unison.
“That makes sense,” Alicia said, “she needs him, so she’s creating the weather to bring him to her.”
“I guess he’s awake, so we should just stay here and wait until they call us?” Amelia asked.
“Sounds like it. Bjorn might know more when he comes back,” Bobbie agreed.
“Should I leave?” Amunet asked, feeling really shitty about creating this situation. It was exactly what she wanted, but she hated that Sookie was so upset. No one could have anticipated that his son would be there, could they?
“No, you should stay so you can explain what happened to me and Bjorn,” Jerry said emphatically. Jerry wasn’t sure what happened, but he’d kill Amunet if he thought she hurt Sookie, and that is not an exaggeration. He was having visions of throwing her off the fucking roof, and he was pretty sure Bjorn was, too. Both of them were fiercely protective of Sookie and didn’t intend to tolerate anyone hurting her, even if it was just out of sheer stupidity. Jerry’s money was on stupidity.
Eric turned the bed down and was standing at the top of the stairs as Bjorn brought Sookie up to him. Sookie grabbed Eric around the neck and held as tightly as she could, but she couldn’t speak because she was sobbing so hard.
“Shhh, My Angel, it’s all right, I have you.” Eric held her close and tried not to project any fear to Sookie. He wanted her to feel safe and loved, and though he was frantic to know what happened, he knew that grief this deep was not going to be set aside easily. Whatever had happened to Sookie had been profound, and Eric instinctively knew this had to go slowly and quietly. If he could not soothe her, he’d call Dr. Ludwig to sedate her, but he hoped that would not be necessary. Eric spoke very quietly “Thank you, Bjorn. Does anyone know what has happened?”
Bjorn answered very quietly. “Mrs. Bast was with her but I haven’t had time to debrief her.”
Eric took note that the mention of Amunet set Sookie to sobbing harder. He’d deal with that in good time.
“Alright, go do that, and ask Bobbie and Amelia if they have anything soothing. Once you know what has happened, call Dr. Ludwig if you think it’s necessary. Ask the girls to keep the babies occupied if they can, please.”
“No problem. I’ll check back after we’ve spoken to Mrs. Bast.” Bjorn said very softly, giving Sookie a gentle stoke over her hair because seeing her this way was killing him.
Eric was sending all the love he could to Sookie and he turned back toward the bed. He knew she’d feel safer in bed than anywhere else, so he slowly let her down on it and helped her out of the dry bathing suit, stripped and got in under the covers next to her. As soon as they were covered she wrapped her arms around him like a vice and held on. The sobs were slowing down a bit, but she was shaking all over. “Sookie, my lover, are you cold?”
“Mm-mm” she managed to murmur still sobbing, but more quietly now.
“Sookie, you have someone else’s blood on you…”
“Jubal Garner’s,” she managed to say. “His heart is downstairs.”
“You brought it home with you?”
“I didn’t mean to- hoo – hoo- ahhhh!” She began crying again, so he just stroked her hair and let her let it out.
Eric was burning with curiosity at how this had come about, but he was very pleased to know that Jubal Garner was no longer a threat. Sookie had killed before – why would she be so upset about it this time? Why had she chosen to do it today, before they’d talked about it?
“I’ll tell you in a minute,” Sookie snuffled, calling a clean white handkerchief from Eric’s luggage into her hand.
“Just take your time, Sweetheart…”
‘Would you be mad if I went to sleep?” she asked softly. “I’m so tired all of a sudden.”
“Not at all, My Angel. If you can sleep, just drift off.” She was asleep before the last word left his mouth. Eric held her for a bit to be sure she was sleeping deeply, then he got a wet wash cloth to wash off her hand so he could think more clearly. He needed to be in top form right now because his wife needed him to be strong enough for them both.
Bjorn was talking to himself as he came back downstairs, telling himself to find out what happened before he killed Amunet. He wasn’t sure why it was her fault, but he was sure to the marrow of his bones that it was.
“OK, everybody is interested, so all of you gather around the table here and let’s talk about what just happened.” Bjorn motioned for everyone to take a seat and they all did, Amunet sitting where Sookie usually did and Bjorn taking a seat across from her.
“OK, so I guess I’m on, huh?” Amunet was nervous about the whole thing because she could tell that both of these men were thinking they could easily put a bullet in her right then and there. She hoped her husband being vampire royalty would be enough to keep that from happening, but she was hearing some distinctly dark thoughts directed at her and the auras around both men were black, red and orange like flames.
“First, whose heart was she holding when you came back,” Bjorn asked.
“Oh, my!” “Wow!” “Really?”
“Alright, Jerry, tell the guys in the office to record the news when it comes on.”
“Right, boss.” Jerry said as he headed for the door to pass on the order.
“Can you teleport, Mrs. Bast?”
“No, I never have. I didn’t know that would happen.”
“Do you have any idea why it worked this time?”
“Well, I’ve heard that some of the Avalon gems can temporarily give a person powers. I had touched Sookie’s earlier, so I guess when I touched her and said what I said…”
“What did you say?”
“I said, “imagine if we were in his house right now.”
“You didn’t know that might transport you two there?”
“No, it never occurred to me.” She was lying, but she told herself that she didn’t actually know it would work – it was just a wish.
“Mrs. Bast, this is the second time we’ve had to deal with consequences of your underestimation of the energy around Sookie. That is my fault. I’m supposed to protect Sookie from possible harm and I’ve apparently just seen her harmed a great deal.”
“She’ll be all right, though, right?” Amunet was really worried now.
“We’ll see. That is a very strong woman, so I’m curious as to what would affect her so deeply. What haven’t you told us, yet?”
“Well, when we popped in there, Garner found us almost immediately…”
“Yes?” Bjorn sat forward.
“He grabbed her arm and I yelled “do it, Sookie, now!” and she did…”
Jerry came back into the room and sat at the end of the table.
“And?” Bjorn prodded her.
“She heard someone scream “DAD!” so she jumped back, his heart still in her hand, and she turned to see his son watching us.”
“Oh, god!” Alicia cried out as Bobbie caught her breath and Amelia dropped her head to her chest, shaking it back and forth.
“Are you telling me that Jubal Garner’s son saw Sookie standing there with his father’s heart in her hand?” Bjorn felt like he might have a stroke. This was very, very bad.
“Yes, that’s what happened. As soon as she saw him, she grabbed me and said ‘HOME’ and we were here and then you saw her collapse.”
“Garner has two sons – one in his 20s and one in his teens…” Bjorn informed her.
“This was definitely the younger one. He shrieked and called for help, and when he started towards us, Sookie brought us back here.”
Bjorn wanted to kill something and right now, Amunet was looking like a perfect choice. “Let me be very clear” [Bjorn thought to himself that he sounded just like Eric] Sookie knows that Garner’s teenaged son saw her murder him?”
“Oh, Goddess – Bjorn, she knows they won’t believe him!’’ Bobbie nearly cried.
“Right,” Amunet said, “when she touched me I could read her thoughts and she’s afraid he’ll end up in an asylum or something because they won’t believe what he tells them. She thinks his life is ruined and she did it…”
Bjorn looked at her expectantly.
“… And she knows Alex will have to kill him at some point in the future.”
“She feels like she started the war,” Amelia said grimly.
“Alright, do any of you Witches have anything that will soothe Sookie’s nerves or should I call Dr. Ludwig?” Bjorn asked as he took out his phone.
“Call Dr. Ludwig,” everyone said at once.
“You need to make sure it’s safe for the baby,” Bobbie reminded him.
Bjorn nodded and stood up. “Is there anything else I should know?”
“No, that’s about it,” Amunet said quietly. “It all happened very quickly.”
“Yeah, that’s plenty,” Jerry said as he got up.
“Mrs. Bast, I’m sorry to be rude, but would you excuse us now?” Bjorn asked. If he wanted to kill her, Eric was likely to eviscerate her and that wouldn’t help Sookie right now. He was also sick of looking at her for the moment, because he knew she was happy about what had happened, even if Sookie was somehow injured.
“Yes, of course,” she said very carefully as she stood. “I’ll wait until I hear from you before I call on Sookie again. I don’t want to press, you know?” she directed her remarks to Bobbie, who looked like the least dangerous among them.
“Yes, I know. She’ll call you when she’s up to it.” Bobbie said very politely, quickly guiding Amunet to the door. “Don’t worry – we’ll take care of her. If you have any questions call me on this line,” Bobbie said quietly as she handed her a calling card. “It’ll be all right.” Bobbie lied through her teeth because she knew that’s what Sookie would want her to say.
When Bobbie came back to the group, Bjorn was on the phone with Ludwig. He said “Alright, Doctor. Yes, that’s fine. We’ll be here.” He turned back to the group. “Ludwig will be here in a minute to give Sookie a sedative that will be safe for the baby. Bobbie, I want you to sit up there with Sookie while we explain this mess to Eric.” Bobbie nodded and headed upstairs. He turned to Jerry, “I’m glad Amunet left – it’ll be better if Eric doesn’t know where she is until he’s calm again.
Jerry asked, “You don’t think she did this on purpose, do you?” He half hoped Bjorn would say ‘yes’ so they could kill her.
“I think Amunet had an objective and she achieved it. Damage to Sookie was unintended, but yes, it’s most definitely her fault. I don’t know if we should allow her around Sookie any more, but we’ll have to see what Eric says. If she ever comes around again, I won’t let her close enough to touch Sookie and all activities will be cleared by me. I can’t fucking believe this happened on my watch.” Bjorn hissed, mostly to himself. Ultimately, Bjorn saw this as his fault because Sookie was his to protect. How the hell do you protect a developing Goddess from those who might be overzealous around her? Bjorn wanted Sookie to get her full powers soon, just as Eric did. These problems would cease to be problems at a certain point, but all indications were that it would still be quite a while. He was thinking about asking Dr. Ludwig if there was a way to protect her, but it seemed that if there were, she’d have suggested it by now.
Doctor Ludwig popped into the loft as Bobbie was explaining what had happened to Eric.
“How is your Queen?” Ludwig asked softly as she felt for Sookie’s pulse. She placed her hand over Sookie’s heart, then gave her a shot and rested her hand on Sookie’s forehead. “I’m leaving two heavy sedative pills for her to take in the night. One 4 hours from now, another four hours after that. Be sure that she doesn’t miss any doses of Ambrosia, day or night.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” Eric said softly.
“Don’t be surprised if she sleeps a good long while. That shot I gave her will make her trip a little bit, so if she mentions dreams, write them down. She’s going to be summoned to Avalon for some healing, so she can get things in perspective. We’ll do what we can to help her deal with her grief.”
“Doctor, was this expected?” Eric asked.
The Doctor nodded. “We knew that Amunet would push her too hard, and we knew that the boy would be affected somehow. He and his older brother will carry this war into the future, and your son, Alex, will have to finish it with his twin’s help. Sookie mustn’t blame herself. This was not her doing, but it was her destiny.”
“When will she be summoned to Avalon?”
“While she sleeps tonight, so know she’ll stay out of it until tomorrow afternoon. Don’t worry about the twins. They’ll sleep until she needs them. They’re the best medicine for her, but she’s got to get her guilt in check before they see her again.”
Eric turned to Bobbie as the doctor left. “Please stay with her while I talk to Bjorn and Jerry.”
“How about I rub her back a little. That soothes her nerves a lot.”
Eric gave her a sad smile. “Yes, it does. Thank you.”
Bjorn and Jerry were standing over the play pen, watching the boys nap snuggled up to each other with the kitten against their feet. The dragon was at his post by the sliding doors, snoozing while things were quiet. Both Bjorn and Jerry were seething.
Eric came down the stairs barefoot in black jeans and a black tank carrying the listening end of a baby monitor in his left hand, more so he could call up to Bobbie than so he could hear Sookie. He’d have no problem hearing her speak or even think at this distance.
“Gentlemen – we have a problem.” Eric stated the obvious.
“Yes, we do.” Bjorn agreed. “Eric, I don’t blame you if you want to fire me…”
“Nonsense, Bjorn, you are family. We’d no sooner let you go than we would any one of us. No one else would love Sookie the way you two do. This was a failure on several parts, but we’re going to learn from this and get stronger. We’re at the highest levels of energy and Karma now. It’s possible that this was unavoidable. If it was a big mistake, we’d best learn from it. She’s suffering and if we might have prevented it, we should have. It can’t happen again.”
The three of them nodded in agreement.
“What did the doctor say?” Bjorn asked.
“She left medicine for tonight and she’ll be here tomorrow around this time to check on her. She doesn’t think she’s in physical danger but she’s worried about Sookie falling into a depression. She’s been through so much, and now she feels as if she’s sealed Alex’s fate and ruined that other boy’s life.”
“That’s not true, though…” Jerry started
“No, we have to be realistic,” Eric said. “That may be exactly what happened. That might have been part of the plan all along. Has Sookie ever done magick here?”
“Here, no,” Bjorn thought. “Maybe in a different club?”
“If Sookie were going to invoke Freyja, where or how do you think she would do it?
“Her vanity table – that’s why she wanted it,” Bjorn remembered.
“She did? For magick?” That surprised Eric.
“Yes, when she wants to see Freyja, she sits in front of the mirror and speaks to her. Remember when she saved Aubie? She was watching it all through the mirror when I found her in your room.”
“I wonder if it would work for me?” Eric asked, open to their opinions.
“It might,” Jerry thought.
“No harm in trying. You two are so closely connected, I’d be surprised if it didn’t work,” Bjorn agreed.
“Alright. The doctor said that healing will take place during her sleep, so this might not take as long as it seems right now. The sedatives will keep her asleep through tomorrow afternoon. Let’s get everyone some dinner and after we’ve had a chat about her friend, Amunet, I’ll try summoning Freyja in her mirror.”
Sookie felt as if she were suspended in a mist. She wasn’t flying, exactly, but she wasn’t touching anything but atmosphere. There were lights changing around her that she finally recognized as a sunrise in progress. She was comfortable here, and that was a relief. She remembered the events of the day, but she felt disassociated from it all right now. Wherever she was, she put her left hand up to the aquamarine and it sent a gentle warmth through her.
“This is how Aubie feels when you hold him, Sookie.” Freyja? Nivian? She knew that voice, but whose was it?
There was harp music somewhere around her and she felt herself moving toward it. She could hear water moving, and gradually felt something solid beneath her. She ran her right hand over her resting place, which was covered with a soft quilt. Sookie felt that she was being rocked gently, becoming aware that she was in a boat traveling almost silently through smooth waters.
She slowly opened her eyes to see a blue mist all around, a deep blue sky with brilliant streaks of pink and yellow. It was like a painting, or a dream, but she could feel the crystal with her fingers, and she knew that was absolutely real.
She closed her eyes again, and must have been dreaming because when she awoke, she was being carried by strong arms through huge halls of blue stone. She was gently let down on a fluffy feather bed, and she gave a lazy smile to her carrier, delighted to see it was Sir Robert of Swansea pulling soft sheets over her.
“Sleep well, Milady. You are perfectly safe here,” he said softly, giving her an affectionate, reassuring smile, bowing to her and drifting off into the deep blue shadows.
Somehow, Sookie knew she was sleeping. And sleeping. And sleeping. She hoped she wasn’t a way from home long, and that she could sleep some more.
“Sookie? Sookie? Can you wake for a minute, Precious?”
Sookie opened her eyes to Nivian sitting on the bed beside her. Tears poured from her eyes though she wasn’t really crying.
“I’m so glad to see you, Nivian!” She said in a whisper.
“We’re glad to see you, too, Precious. Can you lift your head a little?” She asked as she lifted the gold chain around Sookie’e neck and slipped it gently over her head.
“Where’s it going?” Sookie asked sadly.
“We’re just going to clean it for you, Precious. If We don’t, Lady Amunet will be able to teleport you anywhere she wants whenever she touches you.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t want that. The most horrible thing happened!”
“Yes, Precious, We know. That’s why you’ve come home for a bit. None of it is your fault.”
“But I ruined everything!”
“No, Sookie, you merely moved forward. You didn’t create this situation, but you have the opportunity to heal the situation. Wouldn’t you like that?”
“Well… yes…” she dozed off again and Nivian kissed her forehead.
Everyone was sitting around the dining table enjoying their steak dinners when Cody Lane came into the penthouse.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty?” he addressed Eric at the head of the table.
“There’s a man here asking to see you. He says his name is Sir Robert of Swansea.”
That surprised all of them, but Eric most of all.
“Can you tell him that the Queen is indisposed, please?”
“He knows that, Sire, he says he specifically needs to speak to you.”
“Alright,” Eric was shocked – what could Sir Robert of Swansea have to say to him? “Show him in, please. Bjorn, I’d like you to join us.” Eric finished his “meal” and wiped his lips, standing up and straightening his shirt. He wished he were wearing shoes and a regular shirt, but it didn’t really matter. He hardly needed to impress Sookie’s Fae gopher.
Robert came in looking fairly business-like: khaki slacks, blue shirt, navy blazer, black briefcase. He met Eric in the middle of the living area and bowed to him. “Your majesty.”
“Sir Robert, welcome. You know Sookie’s personal guard, Bjorn Anderson, yes? What can I do for you?”
“I come to deliver a message from Nivian of Avalon and Our Lady Freyja.”
“Would you like to sit down?” Eric indicated one of the white chairs and sat in one to the side of it.
“Thank you. I come to issue an invitation. Your Queen, in her sleeping state, is a guest in Avalon. The Ladies feared that the events of today might cause her serious harm and they greatly desire to minimize any negative effect. As I’m sure you know, it was not her fault – she had no control in the situation – and We are aware that she is tender-hearted and might suffer more than necessary if the situation is not addressed immediately. I come to say that you and your sons are welcome, and, indeed, encouraged, to join her there and help her put the situation into perspective. We think your participation would greatly enhance her healing.”
“How long would we be gone?” Eric asked hopefully. He’d go anywhere to help Sookie, but he did have responsibilities here.
“Only until tomorrow night. You’d be in your sleeping state as well, and you’d perceive yourselves as staying for about a week. If there were an emergency here, you’d be instantly reachable and your staff could easily reach you with any questions they might have in the mean time.”
“Interesting. What would be required for us to go there?”
“I have crystals similar to hers which you would each wear and you’d simply go to bed as usual. I’ll be waiting for you on the other side and lead you to her. You could think of it as a family vacation – I think you and your boys would enjoy your time there and I know your Queen would benefit.”
“Bjorn, what do you think?”
“If it can help her, and you’re still available, it seems like a win-win.”
“I agree. I accept your invitation.”
“Wonderful,” he said, opening the brief case and pulling out two boxes and what turned out to be two bright yellow cell phones. “Please put this on,” Robert opened a box and handed Eric a gold chain with a small aquamarine stone on it. He took a slightly larger box over to the play pen where the boys were waking up.
“Hello, Prince Auberon, Prince Alex!” Robert smiled down at them.
“Ah, Waba!” Auberon recognized him instantly as Mama’s nice friend and waved to him..
“Ah, Sthur Wabad!” Alex said with a big smile. Alex associated him with the horse drawn carriage that he really liked from their visit in Alfheimr.
Eric and Bjorn each picked up a boy and held them so Robert could slip similar stones on gold chains around their little necks. He handed Eric and Bjorn each a yellow phone.
“These phones will enable you to reach each other instantly. If the need to return here immediately arises, you have only to remove the stone from around your neck, but I don’t recommend it unless it’s an emergency. It can be very unsettling and should only be done in dire circumstances.”
“Alright, now what?”
“You and your boys go to bed, being sure that each of you is touching her if possible.”
“That’s no problem. Bjorn, are you prepared to take over?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. I’ll take the first watch, then Jerry will spell me. We won’t leave you alone at any time.”
“I’ll go to bed and see you at 1 AM” Jerry said as he headed for bed.
“Very good.” Eric nodded to them both.
“Um, should we talk about Amunet first?” Bjorn asked.
“If I may,” Sir Robert said, “I’d recommend doing that after your visit. You don’t want to make any rash decisions. Oh, one more thing…”
“Yes?” Eric asked.
“I need the heart.”
Eric was shocked at that, and before he responded Bobbie said, ”It’s in here,” and retrieved the trash bag from the kitchen area. Robert tucked it gently into the briefcase, bag and all.
“Alright, then, How about it, boys? Shall we go see Mommy?”
“AH!” Aubie thought that sounded great.
“Ware di Mamee do?” Alex asked.
“Mommy is in Avalon.” Eric explained, “It’s a very special place and we’re going to go there and see her now, alright?”
“Sir Robert, we will see you shortly.” Eric nodded to him as he bowed and turned to go, and he and Bjorn took the babies up stairs. The kitten and dragon followed close behind them.
“Dares Mamee!” Alex said when they got there.
“Yes, but part of Mommy is in Avalon and she’s waiting for us, so we’re going to bed now, alright?”
“Eeah,” Alex nodded.
Bjorn helped him get the boys settled in the co-sleeper, then took his post in the corner as Eric climbed into bed with Sookie. She was on her side facing the boys, so Eric laid her arm over the boys, spooned up behind her and laid his own on top. The kitten curled up behind Alex, the dragon gently climbed up on the foot of the bed, and the boys slept almost instantly. Eric was very still, focused on Sookie’s breathing, closed his eyes and was “gone.”