“Mo ap-poh, Dadee,” Alex asked as he waddled back over to Eric’s place at the banquet table.
“Here you are, my son,” Eric teased him, very proud of him and his brother. “Should I cut it in half, or can you eat the whole thing?”
“Mo an mo ap-poh!” Alex laughed as he took a big bite of the second half of his apple.
“I think he’s saying he can eat all you’ll give him, Sweetie!” Sookie laughed as she continued to breast feed Aubie and play with his little fingers. “Now that I think about it – why are golden apples edible?”
Nivian laughed with delight at that. “Sookie, Indunn provides all the gods and Goddesses one golden apple per day to keep us all young and beautiful! Don’t you like the taste?”
“It’s the best apple I ever had,” Sookie laughed, “I just didn’t understand it.”
“You don’t remember them from your stay with Freyja?”
“No, I guess I don’t. They’re really good though. Will we ever get them when we’re in our regular home?”
“At some point they’ll begin to appear for all four of …” Nivian was interrupted by a bunch of small fairies, dogs, cats, wolf pups and three small dragons chased each other playfully through the room.
As they reached the head table, Erin jumped up on the table where Alex stood and Puff stopped in front of it, standing on his back legs so he could put his claw on the table and see what was going on.
“AH, PUP!” Alex waved to the dragon as the kitten butted his legs with its head and made him sit down so she could rub her face against his cheek. Alex was cracking up which made Aubie try to turn around so Sookie covered up and helped Aubie climb back up on the table.
“Ah, Pa!” Aubie smiled and made the “come here” motion with his hands. Puff held his head down so Aubie could pet him, then he tickled Aubie’s ear with his long tongue. “Hey, I was wondering where you guys were,” Sookie laughed, happy vibes ringing through their family bond in big round waves. “You brought them with you?!” Sookie beamed at Eric, as he kissed her cheek and then petted each animal.
“The invitation was extended to the entire family,” he explained. “They both originated here, didn’t they, Lady Nivian?”
“Yes, they did. The kitten has been around a very long time, as you know. The dragon is just a whelp, but he’s very bright…“
“Yeah, he is,” Sookie agreed, scratching Puff behind the ears as Aubie gave him a kiss on the nose.
Bowls of food were put down in the middle of the tables so the animals could have treats, too, so Puff and Erin would go eat a little, come back for pets or cuddles, then go back and eat again.
“Me dare, Dadee!” Alex pointed to the floor where all the pets were eating. He wasn’t asking, he was telling, so before even Eric could move, Alex was down amongst the pets, running after them. Aubie wanted to play, too so he shifted into yellow kitten form and jumped off the table.
“Oh, no!” Sookie panicked a little. “Eric, there are wild animals in that group! I don’t want the babies to get hurt!”
“It’s all right, Precious! They’re just having fun,” Nivian comforted her. “No one in this room would tolerate any real danger to either Prince. This is the safest place they’ll ever play with others, and you know they won’t get to do that very often. They’re more able to be normal kids here where their talents are appreciated. Look, here come the servers with our Ambrosia!”
Golden goblets were set down at a few places around the room, then they were filled from big green bottles like the one Sookie had at home. Nivian, Sookie and Eric were served first, which surprised the Northmans.
“Is this for me?” Eric asked, thinking that there was some mistake.
“Yes, Eric, that’s for you,” Nivian reassured him, “You’ll be enjoying doses whenever you visit us here – it will take less energy for you to remain here so you don’t wear yourself out.”
“Can he ever drink it at home?” Sookie wanted to share it because it tasted so good.
“It wouldn’t hurt him, but he only really needs it when he’s crossing over. It’ll make it easier for him to get here, or to Freyja’s home in Folkvangr, but he already has the powers it would give him there.”
“What about the boys?”
“They’re getting doses from your breast milk, Precious.”
“Well, Aubie is, but Alex is taking less and less milk.”
“If we find him lagging at all, we might have you give him a thimble full with his last bottle of the night. He’s already got such strong magick that it would only be a precaution. Eric, you normally give the boys a bottle just before dawn?”
“Yes, I do.” Eric was surprised Nivian knew that.
“If you think he needs it, give him just a bit before you tuck him in with Sookie. You’ll know if he needs it.”
“Alright, I will.” Eric didn’t know how he would know, but if Nivian said he would, he didn’t doubt her. He didn’t dare. No one had even hinted at being unkind to him, but he knew this was dangerous territory for a vampire no matter who his mother, or wife, might be.
“Sookie, what would you like to eat? You can have literally anything you wish,” Nivian coached her so she’d understand how the banquet worked.
“Well, I know you probably don’t have it here, but I’d really like some fried chicken, and french fries…” Before she finished her thought one of the pages in the blue tunics put a plate of fried chicken and waffles in front of her. “Chicken and waffles! Awesome!” She wasted no time tearing into a big juicy breast with a perfect crust, and dipping it in syrup. When she let out a big “MM-mm!”
Alex came over from the throng of pets to see what Mamee was eating. He knew that sound she makes when she was eating something good and he wanted some, too. He felt “undwy-er” here than he ever did before so he was going to eat a lot of all those good foods he smelled. He and Aubie flew up onto the table and the pages had them both instantly set wearing blue bibs, giving each boy a bowl of chicken nuggets, little waffle squares and syrup. To top it all off, a girl in a blue tunic brought a huge platter of french fries for them all to share.
“Woogie, Dadee, ah ava stheewup!” Alex was beside himself. “Ware di Bhord do?”
“Bjorn is at home, Sweetie,” Sookie told him. “You’ll have to let Daddy feed you waffles.”
“Ah gan do id!” Alex said as he pushed his whole fist into the little dish of syrup. “Wach me!”
Eric laughed loudly, “I’m not sure if you said to “watch you” or “wash you” but it looks as if both will be necessary, my son!”
“Mm-mmph! Alex nodded enthusiastically as he shoved too many waffle pieces into his mouth. “Alex, slow down, Sweetie!” Sookie was afraid he’d choke, because she hadn’t quite figured out yet that Aubie could choke, but Alex couldn’t. Naturally, Alex replied with his mouth full.
“Ahm othay, Mamee!” he laughed as he swallowed.”ah justh wyg id stho mush!” He held his hands open out the the sides, to emphasize how much he liked it, and Sookie tried not to laugh, but failed.
“I know you do, Sweetie, but you can’t eat it all at once,” She said, trying to be serious, but Alex wasn’t.
For some reason Alex thought that was hysterically funny and he spit a little bit of waffles out as he laughed. Sookie wanted to be strict with him, but Eric was laughing so hard she knew it wouldn’t do any good. Eric wiped Alex’s chin with his bib, and kept him talking so he’d eat more slowly. Aubie reached for Sookie, saying, “wapful, Mama!” He had never fed himself before so he wasn’t sure what to do. He knew Alex was doing it wrong, but he didn’t know why. Bumby always seemed to know how to do things, but Mama wasn’t smiling like he liked her to.
“Whatcha want, Aubie?” Sookie stopped eating long enough to stroke his cheek. “You want me to feed you? Or do you want to try it yourself?”
“Ah, Mama,” Aubie reached for Sookie, but Sir Robert intervened.
“Prince Auberon, would you let me help with your breakfast?”
“Ah!” Aubie liked that idea, so he crawled past Alex and Dada over to Sir Robert, and Sookie passed Aubie’s bowl down to them. Aubie dipped his finger in the syrup to confirm what it was, then was quite content to sit there and let Sir Robert put little bits of waffle and chicken in his mouth. Sookie thought it was sweet that every time Robert gave Aubie a bite of something, he clapped his little hands as he chewed.
“Dadee, Obee wyg stheewup, doo!”
“Yes, I see that Auberon likes syrup.”
“Dat nah Bhord.”
“Not, that’s not Bjorn feeding Aubie, it’s Sir Robert.”
“Sthuh Waba, Aubie wyg dat!”
“Yes, he seems to like it almost as much as you do,” Robert laughed.
“Dadee, Sthuh Waba itha eff, wyg Obee an Mamee.”
“Yes, he is.” Eric was hoping this was going to stay cute, and that Alex wouldn’t insult anyone unintentionally. “Wostha Witches ‘ere! an Goddessthes. Ah wyg dese Witches – wando do magick!”
“What kind of magick would you like to do, Prince Alex?” Sir Robert didn’t think Eric would mind him contributing to the conversation.
Alex held his hands in front of him and said, “wowwypopths!” and there were two little cherry safety suckers with the loop handle just as he’d seen Mamee do before.
“Excellent, Alex!” Eric was proudly. “But there are only two – you need enough for your little friends down there,” he pointed to the throng of animals and kids on the floor.
“Yes, enough candy for all of them.” Alex looked at the group playing in front of them then clenched his fists and closed his eyes saying, “GANDEE!” and everyone in the group had a little sucker just like the two Alex first called up. Then a beam of light from the windows above hit Alex in the eye and made him sneeze the cutest little sneeze, and suddenly everyone else in the room had one, too. The room applauded Prince Alex, who waved at people then tried to take the clear plastic off his candy.
“May I help you, my son?”
“Eeah, daygid off, pweezth.”
“Good, Alex. You could also say, “Unwrap this, please.”
“Unwap dis, pweezth?”
“Yes, that’s right,” Eric put the cherry red lollypop in Alex’s mouth as a page came up to take the wrapper, then she continued around the rest of the room collecting discarded cellophane.
“Eric, did he just…” Sookie had been occupied with her plate of delicious food and was just becoming aware of what Alex had done.
“Yes, he did – for the whole party, apparently,”
“I had no idea he could manifest something like that!” Sookie was feeling overwhelmed again – not an unfamiliar feeling, she thought, so what’s the big deal at this point?
Eric assured her that “Neither of us did, but as you can see, he can.”
“It’s possible that the children have more powers here,” Sir Robert told them. “Their innate gifts may be multiplied in the Fae realm.”
“Is it possible that their powers of speech are being amplified?” Eric asked what Sookie was thinking.
“So when we go home,” Sookie asked, “they won’t necessarily have these abilities?”
“It’s unlikely either of them could manifest something from thin air so easily, but there’s a strong chance that they’ll retain their new language abilities.”
“Wadiz wangwage abiwiddes?”
Eric and Sookie looked at each other, then back at Alex. “Those are big words, Sweetie,” Sookie started, not really sure what to say.
“Ahm dokeen vewy good.” He emphasized the “g” on ‘‘good” to show he could say it now
“Yes, you are! Do you feel any different?” Sookie asked
“How do I explain feeling to him?” Sookie wondered.
“I have no idea, Sweetheart,” Eric said with almost as much amazement as Sookie.
“Dadee, wadiz wangwage abiwiddes?” Alex wanted an answer!
“Language abilities are how well you can speak,” Eric said, but Alex didn’t know that “well” word yet, or “speak.”
“Good, Alex – language abilities are how good you can talk,” Sookie tried again
Eric looked at her suppressing a laugh,
“Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not good grammar, but he knows those words.”
“He may know many more words before the week is up,” Eric teased her, beginning to see the humor in the situation.
“Great, I really need a 6 month old who can quote Shakespeare,” Sookie said, not kidding even a little bit.
“Mamee, wadiz Buggy?” Alex asked as Aubie crawled back down the table to Sookie.
“Buggy? You mean Buddy? Aubie is your Buddy?”
“Bud-dee,” Alex repeated, really emphasizing the “d” sounds. “Obee isth my bud-dee!”
“Bumby takeen!” Aubie piped up.
“Yes, Sweetie, Buddy is talking, isn’t he?”
“What?” Sookie was shocked – now Aubie was doing it!
Aubie pointed to his lollipop then tapped Sookie’s face, wanting Mama to get on with the unwrapping. “Canny, peas, Mama!” Sookie just looked at him.
“Sookie, are you alright?” Eric was a little concerned that she seemed spacey all of a sudden. “Here, Auberon, let Daddy unwrap it for you.” Eric helped Aubie get his lollipop out of the wrapper and he slurped it up happily as he balanced on the edge of the table in front of Sookie, swinging his pudgy little legs.
“DAYT!” Alex said, holding his hands out before him so that a chocolate cake appeared in front of him. He grabbed two big handsful and shoved it in his mouth, getting cake all over himself and anyone else in the area. Aubie giggled like crazy and clapped, lollipop still in his mouth, as Sookie tried to keep him from swallowing it.
The rest of the room was watching Alex breathlessly, as he stood up on the table. “Dadee, wadiz dat?”
“That is Cake, Alex – K-K-KayK,” Eric sounded out the word for him, curious now to see how much the boys could learn this trip.
“Kay-ke” Alex repeated carefully “Yes…” before Eric finished his response, Alex turned to the room, holding his hands out as he conjured “KAYK!” and all the tables were filled with many kinds of cake – chocolate, yellow, red velvet, strawberry, even blueberry, a lot of it moving from the buffet rather than being manifest from nothing. Alex laughed and smacked his hands together, then took a running jump and flew around the huge room, cracking up. “Alex! Come back here!” Sookie freaked and almost dropped Aubie, who was sitting on the table in front of her, as she stood up. Alex looped around the far end of the room, and flew back, zooming down toward Sookie’s head, but not close enough for Sookie to reach him. “Ah, Mamee! Ahm fyeen!” He giggled as the room laughed and applauded. He did head over foot flips in the air and then held himself upside down like he was hanging from something by his foot. Sookie suddenly thought of Tarot cards when he did that, but quickly got refocused on getting him back to their group.
“Eric Alexander Northman, you come right back! You know you only fly with Daddy!” and at that, Alex flew up to the high ceiling and landed on it, giggling wildly and crawling around it like a spider as the crowd said “OH!” “My Goddess!” “I’ve never seen anything like that!” all together.
“Nah fyeen, Mamee!” Alex called back, knowing it would set Sookie off. Mamee was pundy when she yelled “nah-nah!” like that.
“Now you’re creeping people out! You get back here!” Sookie stomped her feet, which made Eric laugh, so he stood up and said, in his most demanding voice, “Alexander – come to Daddy!” after which Alex flew directly to Eric and landed in his arms. The applause continued, as Eric held him up above his head and shook him playfully, fighting his urge to laugh because Sookie was genuinely upset and not without cause. They hadn’t intended to let people know that the boys could fly. “All right, Alexander, you’ve had your fun, so let’s give Mommy a break, all right?” Eric kissed him, then lowered his voice to a whisper, ”We’re supposed to be making her feel better, not giving her a heart attack,” he snickered just a little as he said that and Alex caught on.
That was pun, but he was getting tired now, any way. Making cake and lollipops was hard work! A page with a pan of water and a wet washcloth came to their table immediately and wiped messy little Alex down. It took a minute, but a little bit of elbow grease found a baby under all the syrup and cake frosting and dust from the ceiling. Aubie got a little sponge bath, too, though he barely had a hair out of place.
“Well, that was eventful!” Nivian declared. ”I’d say everyone is ready for a siesta!”
“A Siesta?” Sookie said, “but that’s a Mexican thing, right?”
“Around here we call it a “nap prynhawn,” but it’s the same thing. Everyone takes a break between 2 and 4 and then we’re all ready to gather around the hearth or fire in the evening. We’ll be having a circle in the Grove tonight. Your little ones will love it! Gwendolyn here will help you find your way back to your rooms, and I’ll see you in a bit, Precious,” Nivian shooed them along and they followed a female apprentice with short dark curls and big hoop earrings back up to Sookie’s room looking out over the ocean.
“This seems a much farther trip than it did this morning!” Sookie said about half way there. By the time they got to Sookie’s rooms, both boys were sound asleep so she and Eric tucked them into a wide crib that was big enough for both of them, letting the sheer canopy down to keep it cozy, plus Sookie was afraid there might be bugs.
Sookie had finally realized how she was dressed so she found her closet to see what was there. While she did that, Eric opened the French doors out to Sookie’s balcony by the sea. He took another deep breath of the salt air, and it reminded him of how he loved to travel, to steer a ship, or to hide beneath the floor and feed on the night watchmen. Sookie could see in her mind that Eric was picturing his travels, so she pulled on a nice pink gown cut exactly like her magical robe from home and went to find him.
“You miss it, don’t you?” she asked as she came up beside him and slipped under his arm. “Not really. The sound of the water just brings back memories. I wouldn’t give up any part of my life right now. I’m having too much fun,” he assured her and kissed her nose.
One kiss lead to another and the two of them moved toward the big bed in the middle of the room in one smooth swoop, clothing flying in every direction. This was no ordinary bed, being built on huge circular “posts.”
Eric laughed out loud when he pushed forward into Sookie and the bed rolled all the way over and they stayed on the mattress facing down. “What the fuck?” Sookie said, looking around, not believing her eyes. “Apparently one needs to be able to fly to fuck in this bed,” Eric said. It was the last words spoken for two hours, but it was far from the last sound.
As soon as they forgot about the rolling of the bed the room seemed to change. Every thrust would make the bed do a 360 degree turn and it started rocking ALL THE WAY around as Eric took Sookie harder than he could remember ever doing. It was as if the room was 10 times its actual size and gravity didn’t exist or it did but in a very weird way. The harder Eric’s stroke, the further the bed turned, rolling right up the wall and across the ceiling. The movement was disorienting, but fun, and they found that if Sookie pushed back really hard, it would sort of turn a quarter circle, so they were covering this whole, huge room in Avalon or where ever the hell they were now.
Things really started to rock when Sookie got on top. She flashed back to the year Gran was able to send her to summer camp and she learned how to ride horses. She also learned that riding horses was particularly stimulating, you know, for a girl, and she spent every minute she could on the back of a horse while she was there. She took full advantage of Eric’s endurance now, actually enjoying the rolling of the bed around the walls and ceiling. Everything exploded into white light then, and she couldn’t hear anything at all.
She had no idea how much time had past, but at some point she woke up, her head laying on Eric’s chest as the bed now stood gently rocking a little back and forth. Maddie was at the door. “Are ye awake yet, Milady? Time to dress for the circle tonight!”