Part 9 ‘Tis Almost Fairy Time*
“Brigant?” Adele said with a shudder. She hadn’t heard that name in a long, long time.
“Yes, my Dear – you were very close to my son, Fintan, I believe?” He handed her a card with his name and a phone number printed on it.
“I know this must be a shock but I’m fully aware of the extent of your relationship. May I come in?”
“Oh… yes, please,” Adele stood to the side and let him in the front door. Her mind was reeling. She never expected to hear from “them” again.
He walked to the chair by the fireplace and sat down, waiting expectantly for her to sit on the couch. “I understand this must be quite a surprise. Certain developments regarding our grand-daughter Sookie make it necessary for me to renew our family connection.”
“Our…” She sat down hesitantly on the edge of the couch, sitting forward as if she expected she’d need to spring up for some reason.
“Yes. You and Fintan are her grandparents, I am her great grandfather. As patriarch of the Brigant-H’eloise clan, I have certain rights and responsibilities where Sookie is concerned.”
“Slow down, please, I’m confused. Where is Fintan now?”
“I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, my dear, but my son is deceased. While he lived he would not allow me to contact you. Now that he has passed, I want to know you and Sookie. Indeed, it has become essential that I meet her.”
“Jason is your great grandson as well,” Adele was trying to pull it together. She remembered Fintan warning her that Niall was powerful and conniving. It’s why he promised her he would keep the Brigants away from her and their offspring as long as he could.
“Technically, yes, but he has not manifested any true Fae abilities and shows little promise. Sookie, on the other hand, will soon begin to bloom and it is imperative that she understand who she is and what she can do.”
“Why now, after all this time.”
“She has become engaged to the vampire, has she not?”
“How did you know about that?” Adele felt as if she were being pelted with shockwave after shockwave.
“I’ve made it my business to keep abreast of the changes in Sookie’s life. She’s about to get some rather shocking, but very pleasant, news and it will be far less traumatic if she and I are already acquainted. Today is Wednesday. I’ll be here for dinner Saturday at 6 pm. You have until then to broach the subject with her in your own way, and then she and I will spend some time talking after dinner. You will serve seafood, please, and be sure she arranges her schedule so she can dine with us. You have my number there – call any time you like. I’m sure you will have questions.”
Niall stood up, bowed to her and walked out the door. Gran got up to follow him, but by the time she reached the front door, he was out of sight. Gran couldn’t imagine how he could have moved quickly enough to be completely out of the lights – it was as if he had just vanished!
She was a little freaked out, so she locked the door front and back doors, which was a very rare occurrence so early in the evening. She made herself a cup of comfrey tea and sat at the kitchen table absent-mindedly drizzling tea into the cup and thinking none too clearly about how she was going to explain this to Sookie. If you wanted to get technical, Sookie wasn’t even a Stackhouse. She was a Brigant or an H’Eloise or whatever, and Adele had known this all along. Sookie’s father had been so normal that she never thought she’d have to admit that she’d been unfaithful to her husband.
She puttered around the kitchen, dumping some leftovers from the fridge into the trash as she thought. As enchanted as she had been by Fintan, she never would have been with him if it hadn’t been for her desperate desire to have children. She and her husband had tried for years, and she had almost given up hope. When Fintan promised her children, she couldn’t say no even if she had wanted to, she reminded herself. She did have to admit that she didn’t want to say no, though, because she had been virtually on fire for him even before he proved to her he was Fae.
She tried to calm herself and focus on the situation as she washed the few dishes in the sink. Truth be told, one of the reasons Adele was so accepting of Sookie’s relationship with Mr. Northman was that she had always known Sookie would lead a very unusual life. Her ability kept her somewhat isolated from humans as she grew up, and Adele knew if she ever got married, it would be to someone unusual, or magickal in some way. She always wondered if Fae wouldn’t seek her out at some point, but when Sookie came home talking of vampires, Adele knew it wouldn’t be long before she attached herself to one. She would have been a little more comfortable if Sookie had chosen Mr. Compton, since she knew the family and he lived so close by, but once she met Eric, and had seen them together, Adele knew he was the one.
Adele thought back to Eric’s first official visit as she put the dishes away. You could practically feel the electricity between them when they were together. He was rich, charismatic, and Adele had to agree with Sookie – that was one of the most beautiful men she had ever seen. She just prayed that he wanted Sookie for more than her ability, and that he really loved her, especially since he was sneaking into her bedroom almost every night. She’d never admit to Sookie that she could hear them in the wee hours – that would be untoward – but she knew that Eric was coming through the window after Sookie went to her room. She knew that there had been other gifts from him as well – the expensive bottle of perfume on Sookie’s vanity table, the new rubies Sookie was wearing, even the pink teddy bear – so the car hadn’t been that much of a surprise. That’s why Adele finally drew the line. For all intents and purposes, they were engaged, so it was time to stop pretending and be practical.
Now, how was she going to approach the subject of Sookie’s lineage? There was no easy way, she realized, so she’d just have to steel herself to it and say it outright. She’d assure her that she loved her husband, but she’d also appeal to Sookie’s fondness for vampires to describe how irresistible Fintan had been to her.
Well, since she couldn’t talk to Sookie until tomorrow morning, Adele decided to turn in early so she’d be well rested. She needed to be fresh to break news like this to her granddaughter. She just prayed Sookie would understand.
Eric flew into a swampy area near a lake outside Baton Rouge where a small enclave of vampires had been hidden away since Jean Lafitte’s pirates scattered when first attacked at Barataria in 1814. The story was that a vampire named Beaulieu escaped to the north and opted not to return for Lafitte’s stand with Andrew Jackson against the British. These vamps were clannish in a way that is unusual for vampires and rarely interacted with the American vampire power structure. Most of the time, that was just fine with Sophie Ann – they paid her enough to mind her own business as long as they didn’t interfere with that business. Unfortunately, Jean “the reptilian” Beaulieu decided he wasn’t afraid of Sophie Ann, even if the rest of his community warned him not to mess with her. There was a handsome profit to be made trafficking in vampire blood, and he didn’t content himself with selling what he could produce on his own. He had been associated by inference to the disappearance of three tribute-paying vampires in the area, and Sophie Ann didn’t take kindly to having her income reduced by any amount.
Jean was a big, ugly man – about six feet two and weighing a lumpy 350 pounds. He lived in a little shack with a hidden underwater sarcophagus that was accessed easily behind a chest of drawers rigged to hide the trap door and come back into place as he pulled it shut behind him. He hated humans so much that he only rarely went out to hunt, preferring to subsist on whatever vermin he came upon in the swamp rather than venture out. When he did have to hunt, he took vagrants and beggars and left their remains in the swamp. He didn’t have to kill, nor did he enjoy it. He just did it because it was the most convenient way to function. Snatch up someone no one will miss, drop the body in the swamp on the way home, maybe snack on a ‘possum or a ‘coon for dessert and leave the animal’s dead skin hanging on the porch so people think a trapper lives here. A couple of booby traps in and around the cabin made sure that anyone who got curious never made it back out of the swamp. He was mean and filthy so even the other reclusive vamps in the area avoided him.
He was making the rounds checking his traps when he was knocked unconscious. He was hit before he could react to the scent, even with vampire speed. When he came to he was wrapped in silver chains on the floor of his cabin.
“Hello, Jean,” Eric spoke from the large rocking chair in the corner of the room. He was covered in black clothing, right down to his black leather gloves, so the only thing really visible about him his face and his hair. Even vampire vision had difficulty distinguishing where he ended and the shadows began.
“Northman? What the fuck do you want?” He growled in a thick Cajun accent, writhing with pain. How the hell did Northman get these chains here?
“How’s the V trade going these days, Jean?”
“How the fuck should I know, you weasel.”
“I think you’re confusing me with your dinner. Honestly, Jean, how do you feed on this carrion?”
“Too few humans in these parts these days. Beaucoup police watching the homeless, now, in the cities.”
“You wouldn’t happen to know the whereabouts of Roberts, Canson or Grandville, would you, Jean?”
“Why should I care what happened to them?”
“Because your stench was detected near each of their nests when they came up missing.”
“Detected by who?”
“By me. Sophie Ann asked me to check it out when they failed to pay their tribute. You know how prickly she gets when someone misses the monthly tithe.”
“The money is in a jar beneath the floor. Take it and get the fuck out of my house.”
Eric sat forward, laying his sword across his knees. Where the hell did that come from? “I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Jean. If such anti-social behavior were allowed to persist, your neighbors might get the idea that they should join your little enterprise. Marketing V is a very grave offense. Killing your brethren so you can take theirs is a blood offense.”
“Get on with it, then.”
Eric stood up, swinging his sword a few times just for fun. “You actually got lucky, Jean. If my attention were not otherwise occupied, I’d torture you for a few nights before I execute the Queen’s command. As it is, I’ll have to cut and run,” Eric laughed and swung his sword, beheading the vampire and chopping him in half. He wouldn’t bother to clean up the body, so that if his neighbors came looking they’d know he was killed on purpose. A pile of ash here or there was always an effective deterrent to violating vampire law. Everyone would know who killed him, though there would be no real proof. There never was with Eric Northman.
Eric found the jar of money under the floor – and the one in the dusty butter churn – and the bundles of bills in the burlap lining of the sarcophagus. Not terribly creative hiding places for a former pirate, Eric sneered to himself.
Pulling a black zippered silk case out of his pocket, he opened it and quickly picked up the long silver chains with his gloved hand, then buried them in the little case full of “sinkers,” as the humans who normally used the lead pellets for fishing called them. Between the lead, the silk, the cotton cloth he wrapped it all in and his clothing, Eric would be able to get the silver back into his safe until he needed it again without suffering too much discomfort.
He reveled in the night air as he made his way back to Fangtasia, filling the bond to Sookie with amusement, love and care. Ahhh – he loved his job as Sheriff. It was the perfect outlet for a warrior with no cause to represent. Just enough bloodshed to keep him from pining for battle, not so much as to interfere with his comfortable routine.
Sookie was loading a tray with drinks when she laughed out loud. Sam and Terry, both behind the bar at the moment, looked at her strangely, and she said “sorry!” and scampered away. Wherever Eric was at the moment, and it wasn’t anywhere near Merlotte’s, he was having a blast. She smiled knowing he was having a good time and sent affection back to him. She loved this bond! If people only knew how close you could feel to someone, how you could feel what they feel and know that they’re loving you back – well, if people knew, they just wouldn’t want to marry people anymore.
Eric was in such a good mood later in the night that Sookie felt like her feet weren’t touching the ground. It was like she was coasting all night and when Jason and Hoyt came in and she saw Arlene bending his ear about the new Camaro, she just rolled her eyes and decided she was going to let whatever he said roll off her like water off a duck’s back. She didn’t even panic when he started up toward the bar instead of waiting for her to come near their table.
“Hey, Jason, how are you tonight?” She said in a bouncy, bubbly way that was really pissing Jason off, but he knew he didn’t dare yell at her in front of people. He didn’t think Eric would really kill him, but that guy came out of nowhere and Jason didn’t hear a thing until he had him by the throat. He was still going to speak his mind, though.
“So I hear you’re driving a new car?” He settled on a barstool in front of where Sookie was filling pitchers.
“Eric rented it for me because mine broke down.”
“When do you give it back to him?”
“When I want to.”
“I hear he leased it for three years.”
“So that’s no different than buying you a new car.”
“Yeah, so?” She was dripping with attitude at this point.
“You don’t think it looks a little funny, that guy buying you a car when you just met him?”
“I don’t care how it looks.” She motioned for him to lean over the bar, so he bent forward. “Don’t you dare tell anybody but we’re getting engaged…’
“SHHHH! Gran insisted, but we want to anyway. It won’t look weird if I have an engagement ring, will it?”
“Well…” he thought for a minute. “Gran really wants this?”
“She thinks it’s the best solution given the circumstances.” OK, that sounded like lawyer talk, but she needed Jason to lighten up and keep his mouth shut.
“I’m going to go by the house tomorrow and talk to her, so you sure that’s what she said?” Jason wouldn’t put up with Sookie lying to him under any circumstances.
“Yep, I’m sure. Here, take this pitcher back to your table with you and tell Hoyt I’ll put in an order for some wings. You want something to eat?”
“Yeah, get me a burger and fries, no mayo.”
“Coming right up!” She bounced over to the window and wrote up the order. “Hey, Terry, put two coleslaws with that, OK?”
“Sure thing, hon!”
She waited on a young couple wearing jackets from the local high school and thought how sweet they looked together. She was pretty sure it was their first date based on what they were thinking.
When Terry called the order for Jason and Hoyt, Sookie took it to their table, “OK, guys, the slaw is on me. I want you both to eat some vegetables. Cabbage will keep you from getting cancer.”
Hoyt laughed and Jason was dumbfounded.
“That’s really sweet of you, Sookie, thanks!” Hoyt said with complete sincerity.
“Why the hell’d she do that?” Jason said as she walked away.
“Well, Jason, when was the last time you ate a vegetable?” Hoyt laughed, salting his fries.
“I don’t remember,” Jason said as he reached for the ketchup.
“So eat up. That was really nice of your sister. She’s just lookin’ out for you. That’s what good sisters do.” Hoyt tore into his buffalo wings – Terry’s were the best – lots of vinegar in the hot sauce!
“You’re just sayin’ that because you never had a sister,” Jason sniffed at the little bowl of slaw.
“Right, so I know exactly how lucky you are. You ought to give her a break. Don’t you want her to be happy and in love?” The wings were hot, so Hoyt took a big swig of beer.
“I ain’t heard nobody but Arlene say anything bad about her guy, Jason. You saw how protective he is of her when those guys hassled her. I’ll bet he told Sam that better never happen again, just like you would if it was your girl.”
“Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t want anyone to paw at her,” Jason mumbled as he bit into his burger.
“She’s a good girl, Jason. Always has been.” Hoyt shook a French fry at him for emphasis, “I never seen her so happy. She’s glowing.”
“Yeah, she is,” Jason said absent-mindedly, more concerned that he was going to have to do extra sit-ups after eating these fries.
“That old car of hers is a piece of shit – you told me that how many times?” Hoyt finally had a chance to speak his mind, so he took it and ran with it.
“Yeah, it’s falling apart. I’m not surprised it broke down on her,” Jason said with his mouth full of hamburger.
“Right, so now she’s got a safe ride. That’s a good thing, Jason.”
“Yep, it is. Hey, who’s that blonde over behind the pool table?” Jason now had his mind on other things, and forgot all about Sookie’s car and her scary, rich man.
Sookie breezed through the rest of the night, and even volunteered to mop the floor so Terry could do some extra cleaning in the walk-in fridge. She was a little nervous when she walked out to the parking lot, but to her happy surprise, Eric was standing there leaning on her car.
“Hey, Sweetie!” She bounced over to him and he picked her up off the ground and gave her a big hug and a kiss. “I thought you couldn’t come tonight?”
“I finished my business early and I just had to see my beautiful bonded. So this is the new car? Do you like it?”
“Are you kidding? I love it! I can’t believe you did it, though,” she was baby talking a bit, beaming at him, and he loved it.
“The more I thought about you being stranded at night with that thing out in the woods, the more I realized you needed to be in a safe vehicle. It was the practical thing to do in order to see that you are safe.” He knew that she knew he was bullshitting, but he also knew she’d let him get away with it.
“That’s one way to look at it,” she laughed and wrapped her arms back around his waist. She felt so good just to be near him!
“Give me your keys, I’ll drive you home.”
“Oh, goodie!” she gladly handed over the keys and stood back happily as he opened the door for her.
Eric got into the driver’s seat with some difficulty. “Hmm – a little tight in here for one my size.”
“Yeah, it is, but you probably won’t ride in it much, will you?” She definitely didn’t want him to buy her a bigger car.
“Probably not. You’ll use it when I cannot be with you, which I hope will not be much at all.”
“Me, too!” She kissed him on the cheek and he laughed, then threw the car into gear and sped out of the parking lot.
“Well, it’s no Corvette, but it handles well,” he observed. “I think it can take whatever you dish out,” he laughed and she did, too.
“Yeah, I’m not likely to be racing it or anything.”
“No, let’s hope not.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Nothing, Sweetheart, nothing at all. How was your night? Did you make good tips?”
“About like usual. You know what’s really nice, though?” She sat sideways in the seat in spite of the seatbelt.
He smiled at her, “what is that?”
“The new waitress, Kim, was really nice to me. She’s all in favor of us and the car and everything.”
“She said this?” Eric was surprised anyone would comment either way.
“Yeah, she told me not to let Arlene get to me, because I deserved a nice guy because I’m so sweet.”
Eric laughed, “I could not have said it better myself.” He held her hand and let her chatter about her night, responding only with a word here or there to show his interest. This girl could read the phone book and he’d be happy to listen to that sweet accent.
“Wow, we’re here already! It seems like no time at all when I’m with you.”
“I was driving much faster than I’d ever want you to. Vampires have much quicker reflexes.”
“Yeah, it’s hard to wrap my mind around how much older and stronger and faster you are. You know what surprises me?”
“What is that?” He gave her his full attention as he parked the car in her usual spot beside the house.
“That you can be so gentle, like when we… you know…”
He laughed softly, “yes, that comes with practice. A younger vampire might have the same level of control that I do.” He leaned forward and kissed her, “let’s go in. I’ll meet you at your window.”
“OK,” she laughed and turned and before she could reach the handle he was opening her door for her. He walked her up the steps and waited for her to get inside before he went up to her room.
Once he was inside, there was no talking. He was trying to hold back the blood lust from his kill earlier in the night, but he was having trouble being quiet. OH, what he would give to be able to let go. He should have taken her somewhere before he brought her home. Damn it! She needed to come live with him now, or else he’d have to find a motel in the area for nights like this, and he didn’t think she’d be too thrilled with that arrangement.
Sookie was having trouble being quiet, too, especially when Eric went down on her for the first time. She had been wondering why he had never done it before, but she didn’t know how to ask or what he would think if she did. She thought maybe he just wasn’t into that, but, man, was she wrong! He was as good at this as he was everything else, at least as far as she could tell. She’d never had it before, of course, but this felt better than she ever imagined. She was already moaning into her pillow when she began to come and as she did, Eric slipped a finger into her back entrance and his thumb into the front, making her convulse in the most amazing way, arching her back and then collapsing backward and bucking upward twice.
Sookie was stunned. How many times was he going to be able to drive her so wild she had no control over herself and leave her feeling like a lump of flesh with no bones? Sex with Eric kept getting better and better. Part of her was overwhelmed but one small, inner voice wanted to know how much “better” there might still be.
Eric was nuzzling her neck when she caught her breath enough to say, “when are you going to take me to Fangtasia?”
Eric laughed softly, “you are not angry with me?” He kissed her cheek, reached into his coat at the foot of the bed and poured some gel on his hand, then took a tissue from the box on her nightstand.
Sookie laughed, “uh, NO, I’m not angry with you. That was so intense. I never… do you always…?” Sookie wanted to ask a question, but she couldn’t get the words out. Sex was still a new thing to her and as close as she felt to Eric, there were still many questions she was too embarrassed to ask.
“Sookie, you know you can ask me anything you want, yes?” He threw the tissues in her wastebasket and took her in his arms.
“Yeah, I guess, I just…” she snuggled up against him and avoided looking up.
“Listen to me, Sookie,” he whispered in her ear, “we are bonded. You never have reason to be embarrassed with me. You can ask me anything, and you can refuse anything you don’t like.”
“There’s nothing I don’t like, so far, just sometimes, I don’t know… why I like some things.”
He kissed her gently. “If it feels good, Sookie, that’s all that matters.”
“Is it normal to….”
“…to like what I did just then?”
“”Yeah, I never really read about that anywhere.”
“You just aren’t reading material that is explicit enough to include such details.”
“So everybody does that?”
“Not everybody, but many people. It is an acquired taste – some like it, some do not.”
“It’s not weird that I liked it?”
“Not at all. I consider it a great advantage if you enjoy that kind of stimulation.”
“Because then there’s more we can do?”
That answer satisfied her for the moment and she snuggled into his chest. She didn’t realize she was dozing off but soon her breathing slowed and she drifted into a deep sleep as Eric held her. He would give anything to be able to stay with her, listen to her gentle breathing the rest of the night, and be there when she woke up in the morning. When he could wait no longer, he took a note out of his pocket and laid it on her nightstand, then quietly slipped out the window. He quickly buzzed the woods where the creature had been seen, but there wasn’t even a fresh scent tonight. He had to fly home very fast and ended up answering email on the laptop in his cache because it was too near daylight to work in his office. He even heard Margaret arrive for work as he slipped away.
“Sookie, Honey?” Gran called up the stairs at 10 AM.
“Yeah, Gran?” Ugh – she was groggy this morning. She looked around and saw the note on her nightstand, which brightened her mood, but she was still tired.
“Don’t you have to go in early today?”
“Yeah, I do. Thanks for waking me! I’ll be right down.”
Adele went back to the kitchen where she had potatoes frying in the skillet and eggs at the ready for it when she finished with them.
Sookie pulled on the same yellow dress she wore the morning before and trudged down the stairs. She sat at the table as Gran put cranberry-grape juice in front of her.
“You seem tired, Sookie, are you sure you’re getting enough sleep?” Gran knew for a fact that she wasn’t sleeping much at all.
“I’m OK, I’ll make it up this weekend.”
“Alright, just don’t let yourself get run down, especially since…” Adele stopped short of saying it.
“Don’t worry, Gran, he hardly takes any blood at all. He’s so old that he doesn’t need much.”
“Well, alright then. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to give that up.”
Sookie was a little taken aback. Was Gran saying she knew the biting was a turn-on?
“Is everything OK, Gran?”
“Yes, everything is fine, I just have something I need to talk to you about, if you’re up to it.”
“Sure, Gran, what’s up?” Sookie expected a lecture of some sort but was completely wrong this time.
“You know, Sweetheart, that you’ve always been different, and, frankly, I always expected you to marry someone unusual, even before the vampires made their announcement.”
“You mean, you knew?”
“I knew vaguely about vampires, but I’m talking about other Supernaturals. Have you ever heard of the Fae?”
“Like Morgan Le Faye? Fairies, right?”
“Right. A long time ago, Sookie, I knew a fairy man.”
“You did?” This was shocking news. Sookie always suspected there were fairies or something like them, but Gran was saying she knew one!
“Yes. You see, when I was a very young woman, your Grandfather Stackhouse and I wanted very much to have children, but for many years we were not blessed.”
“That’s so sad – but it worked out OK, right?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes, but not the way you think. I was working in the garden one day when suddenly, the most beautiful man I ever saw was standing there watching me. He knew my name and asked questions about me.” She continued wistfully, “As much as I loved your grandpa and as long as we were together, I think Fintan asked things that he never knew about me.”
“That’s kind of like me and Eric…”
“Yes, your relationship with Mr. Northman reminds me very much of my… infatuation with Fintan Brigant.”
“Wow – unusual name!”
“Yes, well, a part of it was that I was so taken with him, but there was another, more important aspect to the relationship.”
Sookie was concerned. Why was Gran telling her all this now? “What aspect?”
“I was able to have two children with Fintan, Sookie. No one ever knew until now.”
“You mean Daddy? And Aunt…”
“Yes, Darlin’, your Daddy was half Fae, though he never showed any tendencies of any kind.”
“Then I’m …”
“Yes, Sookie, you are a fairy – part fairy, anyway.”
Sookie’s head was spinning. Is it possible she wasn’t even human? And she never knew?
“My grandfather wasn’t a Stackhouse – he was a fairy named Fintan Brigant? Is that what you’re telling me?” She couldn’t quite wrap her mind around it yet.
“Yes, Sookie. I’m so sorry I never told you before, but I didn’t think you’d ever need to know.”
“But I do – need to know?” She said cautiously
“Yes, Sookie, you do.”
“Why? What happened to Fintan?” Sookie knew he was dead. She didn’t know how she knew, but she did.
“He passed away, Dear, and his father…”
“Yes, his father is a very important person in the Fae world and he wants to meet you.”
Sookie sat back and just stared at Gran. After a minute, she could speak again. “I have a real, live great grandfather, who is a real, live fairy, and he wants to meet me.”
“Yes. I’m not sure why, but he says you need to meet him and speak to him.”
“He’s coming here for dinner Saturday night at 6 o’clock. You’ll need to ask for the night off.”
“Today is Thursday,” Sookie said out loud, but to herself. “I have to get through Friday, then Saturday day shift if I can trade, then I’ll meet… what’s his name?”
“Can Eric be there?”
“I don’t know, Sookie. I can call and ask him if you like. He left his phone number and said to call if we have questions.”
“So I can talk to him now if I want?”
“Well, yes, you could, but wouldn’t you rather wait and meet him face to face?”
“I want him to meet Eric, too.”
“He may already know Eric, Dear.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, I don’t understand how, but he knew about your relationship with Eric. I got the impression that was why he wanted to meet you.”
“You don’t think he objects, do you? I mean, it’s really none of his business, so I don’t see why it would concern him.”
“He said something about his “rights and responsibilities as the patriarch of the Brigant-H’Eloise clan.””
“Yes, that’s what he said.”
“So I don’t even know him but he has rights and responsibilities – what, about me?”
“I’m not sure, Sweetheart, you’ll have to ask him to spell it out for you. I was in such shock from seeing one of them after all these years that I didn’t ask for any detail. I don’t think I drew breath the entire time he was here.”
“All this time, Gran, and you never told me…?”
“It wouldn’t have changed anything, Sookie.”
“Yeah, it would have! I might not have thought I was the only freak in the world that can do what I do. I might have known there was something special about me instead of something freaky and unnatural. I’d much rather be a Supernatural being than an unnatural freak, Gran! I could have had a grandfather and a great grandfather and who knows what else, instead of just one sleazy brother and one junkie cousin!”
“Sookie, don’t you speak about Jason and Hadley that way…”
“Wait a minute – what about Jason? Isn’t Niall his great grandpa, too?”
“He is, but he says Jason has shown no Fae abilities.”
“So he’s only interested in me?”
“At the moment, apparently…”
“And Eric! I don’t know if Eric will want to marry a Fae or not!”
“If he loves you, Sookie, it won’t matter.”
“What if there are rules or prejudices or something? Were you going to let me get married and have ki…” Sookie stopped. It hit her like a bolt of lightening. If she married Eric, she’d never have kids.
“It wouldn’t have been a problem, Sookie, you know that. You did think that through before you got so deeply involved with Mr. Northman, didn’t you?”
“Not specifically, no, but it doesn’t matter. I love Eric and that won’t change.” Sookie silently asked herself whom she was trying to convince.
“It’s getting late, Sookie. You don’t want to be late for work.”
“Right – Eric will be here to pick me up at 8 tonight. I’ll talk to him about all of this then. He’ll know… something. He’ll explain what all this means and he’ll know the right thing to do.”
“Gran – just let me think about this, OK? I’ll get Sam to give me Saturday night off and I’ll talk to Eric and it will all work out but right now, I need to think about it, so let me take my shower and go to work. I’m not angry with you, Gran, but I’m in shock. This is all so much…”
Adele was afraid Sookie was literally going into shock because she was pale and talking fast. She insisted Sookie sit down and eat her breakfast, which she did until she cut into the egg yolk and it made her really sick. She ran as fast as she could and barely made it to the toilet before she threw up.
“Sookie, maybe you’d better call in sick…”
“I don’t want to do that right now, Gran, I need to get Saturday off so I need to talk to Sam, and … I don’t know, I just know I want to go to work. I need to be busy right now.”
Sookie went to her room and got her big pink towel to wrap up in and her comb, plus a packet of special deep conditioner and a fresh razor from her top drawer in the off-white, “shabby chic” bureau next to her closet. The oddest thoughts were flashing through Sookie’s mind right now – like she’d never have to live in a room with mismatched furniture again if she didn’t want to; she’d want to lose 5 pounds before she became a vampire; and why did people think fairies had wings? – while a part of her felt like it was sitting back watching another person go through the motions of showering and dressing for work. It occurred to her as she robotically drove over the country roads that she felt disconnected from everything and everyone except Eric. He was the only thing that felt real right now.
Gran wasn’t the person she thought she was. Not that she blamed her for wanting to have kids, or being attracted to a Supe, but the fact that she never told her about something so fundamental to whom Sookie really was, was disorienting. She tried to remember pictures of Gran when she was a young woman, and to picture what it had been like for her back then. It dawned on Sookie that she must have been very lonely, because the Compton house was the only one anywhere nearby and even then it was only old Mr. Compton living there alone with his mother. What must it have been like watching her kids grow, knowing they were half Fae, wondering if they would ever have any of those qualities or abilities? What was it like for her to raise Sookie, knowing she wasn’t entirely human? When Sookie’s ability made itself known, she realized, her grandmother let her mom and dad grapple with it without telling them what she knew. How could she do that to the whole family that way?
Sookie made it to Merlotte’s on time, and she did her job for the most part, but everyone could tell she had something on her mind. She avoided Arlene all that she could and Kim and Sam ran interference for her when she couldn’t. Kim asked her if she was mad at Eric and she told her that everything with Eric was wonderful, she just had a family matter she was worried about, but even that might end up being a good thing. Kim said she’d keep her fingers crossed for Sookie and even gave Sookie her home and cell phone numbers in case Sookie needed a friend to talk to. Sookie gave her a huge hug and thanked her a lot because it was nice just to have someone offer. Kim also covered Sookie’s tables so she could sneak into the office and call Eric just before the dinner rush. He wouldn’t be awake, but it made her feel good just to hear his voice on the machine and to tell him she couldn’t wait to see him because she had something she really, really needed to talk about.
Eric awoke and checked his messages before he opened his door. The first message was from Sookie.
“Hi, Sweetie. I got some really shocking news today and my head is all jumbled up. You’re the only thing keeping me a little grounded right now. I can’t wait to see you tonight. I really, really need to talk so much and I know you’ll talk me through it and make it alright. I love you. ‘K, bye!”
Hmm – he concentrated on the bond and felt sadness and turmoil. Well, he would cheer her up tonight, no matter what was going on. He would move heaven and earth to make her happy, so he set his mind to making the rest of this night as lovely as possible so she would have something to counter whatever was upsetting her.
The second message was a shocker.
“Northman, this is Niall Brigant. I’ll be at your office in Fangtasia at 8 PM Friday to discuss matters pertaining to your engagement. Your attendance is mandatory.”
WTF? Why was that old freaking fairy calling him, why was he telling when what to do and, most particularly, what the hell could he possibly have to say about his engagement? Eric had the oddest feeling that this had something to do with why Sookie was upset, but he couldn’t imagine how the two could possibly be connected. Sookie didn’t even know Fae existed, did she? He was trying to remember if they had ever talked about that, but even if they had, what had this to do with Niall, of all people?
He was trying to send Sookie comfort in the bond as he had his car washed and detailed and went to the airport to pick up the special package he had ordered from Sophie Ann’s jeweler. Who needed the Yellow Pages when you had a font of information like his lovely Queen, he laughed to himself? He had luckily managed to avoid telling her what he needed the jeweler for, knowing she’d be less than thrilled with this development for a number of reasons. Eric knew of no other Sheriff in the Americas with a blood bond, let alone an engagement to a human. Add in the fact that she not only wanted this particular human for her own purposes, but had her own designs on Eric as her royal consort, and this was going to seriously displease her royal highness.
He was confident that neither her lust for him nor her fear of him would allow her to interfere in any way. She didn’t take rejection well, but there was no official offer on the table. It was more of a standing flirtation that everyone knew could put Eric on the throne if he so chose. Sophie Ann would never admit that she wanted Eric enough to show any hurt or embarrassment where he was concerned. She always tried to appear aloof and commanding with him though everyone knew she wanted him desperately. To do so would be weakness and regents who show weakness didn’t remain regents long. Politics would force her to be gracious even if she were bitterly disappointed. She would never give Andre absolute confirmation of her preference for Eric, either. He loved her, but not enough to watch her install another man in his place.
Eric never turned his back on Andre in any way, and had regular reports of his movements. It wouldn’t surprise him if at some point Andre came after him or sent others to attack, but he would never catch Eric unaware. Andre’s retinue was nowhere near as loyal as he believed they were. Nobody expected loyalty from Eric, and they knew they dare not refuse him anything he wanted. Andre was betrayed for the most part by those merely wishing to keep their heads attached to their shoulders. More than one had clearly stated their intention to follow Eric if he ever challenged Andre and/or Sophie Ann, though he wasn’t vain enough to imagine that they hadn’t made the same promise to them about him.
Eric’s last stop was a local caterer who was making up a special picnic for Sookie. Everything was in place, so he headed for Bon Temps a little early, and he could feel Sookie suddenly relax as he started on his way to her house. He was also aware of some other sensation, probably relaxation from a warm shower. He knew she’d wash and dress after work for their special evening together. He was looking forward to tonight even if he had to deal with a little drama of some sort. He had no doubt at all that he’d leave her secure, smiling and sated before the sun rose again.
*The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve.
Lovers, to bed; ’tis almost fairy time.
~William Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream