Chapter 29 – Charm of Powerful Trouble

Song of the Witches
by William Shakespeare

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38

~~~~~~

I was having so much fun.  Sure, I was working, but this was a treat, and only the vampires could appreciate it properly.  And me, of course.  It just so happened that Russell Edgington had wanted to appease Eric for the Bill incident, and had sent us Bubba, the Elvis impersonator who really was… Oh, my GOD!!!  He really was the KING!!!  His brain was a little addled because of the way he’d died (or turned, rather).  The poor man was found with only the tiniest spark of life by a vampire who worked in the morgue, and was turned, much to the detriment of the real man.

Bubba had been sweet when I first met him in Mississippi, and when we were introduced properly, he was even sweeter.  He was like a big kid, very polite, and one had to be careful because he took things literally.  But other than that, he was still the best entertainer.

I was tending to my tables, since we needed all the help we could get tonight.  It was New Year’s Eve, Bubba was singing, the crowd was going wild, and the alcohol was flowing freely.  That meant that the drunken brains surrounding me were not really that difficult to keep at bay.  People tended to lose their inhibitions, but their thoughts also tended to lose coherency when alcohol was involved.  Meanwhile, I was dancing around from my tables to the bar and back, watching Bubba shake his thing whenever I could, and wondering where in the world was Eric.  He was missing it all.

Just as we started the countdown to the New Year, I felt his arms circle my waist and his cool breath at my ear.  I sank into him, happy that I was able to celebrate this holiday with him.  Christmas had been special, but that’s a holiday to spend with families, so I’d never spent it alone in my life.  I used to spend New Year’s alone simply because that’s the holiday you spend with your significant other.  So, even though I was working and not really celebrating, it was nice to be cuddled when everyone yelled “Happy New Year!”

I turned within Eric’s arms, and he looked happy too.  I guessed he was just doing it for my benefit.  After all, what’s one more year for someone as old as him?  He kissed me fervently, holding me tight against him, and making it clear to whoever was watching that we were definitely together.  And if there had been any doubt, the new band on his left ring finger would have squashed it.  It had been my gift to him for Christmas.  It was simple, plain white gold, like mine but without the sapphires and diamonds.

“Eric, you need to come now,” Pam said at his elbow, looking nervous.  Whenever Pam showed emotion I was immediately on notice.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, thinking that they better tell me and now.

“Nothing yet,” Eric answered, and forced a smile.  Too bad for him I could tell what he was feeling.  He was in battle mode.  “People will be leaving shortly, and I’m going to need you to close,” he said.  Of course, when he put it that way, I had no choice.  The only people that closed the bar were Eric himself, Pam, Thalia or me.  It seemed the vampires were going to be busy doing something, and Eric wanted to keep me, the human, from whatever it was.

“Fine,” I said peeved.  The only reason he ever kept me from vampire business was because he was trying to keep me safe.  That didn’t mean I had to like being left out.

Sure enough, at around half past one, everyone had already skedaddled, and I was left cleaning up with Gabby, Sophia, Chow, George (all vampires, and all moving at incredible speeds), Ginger, Belinda, and a new girl named Lisa.  I was in charge of the cash money and Maxwell (the vampire I’d thought had resembled Denzel Washington) was taking care of the credit card monies.

“What are they doing in Eric’s office?” I asked Maxwell.  He usually gave it to me straight, and I liked him for it.

“I’m not sure but I know they have a witch in there sent by Queen Sophie-Anne’s second.  They might be working on a protection spell,” he shrugged.

Well, if that wasn’t a fine how-de-do.  What the hell?  Since when did vampires believe in witches?  Weren’t so-called witches these organic nuts that called upon the moon and the sun?  I’d never known Eric to be in any way religious, much less put stock in heavenly bodies.  I also knew that Josephine’s at Jackson had a spell around it to keep humans out.  But we certainly made our business off humans here at Fangtasia.  That didn’t make sense.

Maxwell saw my reaction.  “It’s not the kind of witch you’re thinking about, and it’s not the kind of spell you’re imagining.  There are women and men who know how to wield magic to do their bidding, and they’re powerful.”

“Can you hear what’s happening?” I asked him.

He nodded and grimaced.  “I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you.”

I was tired, and bitchy, and about to say something to the fact that I could command him to tell me what was going on when Pam beat me to the punch.  She appeared at my side and yanked me from the booth I’d been sitting in counting money with Maxwell.  She dragged me to Eric’s office, where he was… nowhere to be found.  I looked around, feeling a sudden panic for a yet unknown reason.  I closed my eyes immediately, searching for him within me.  He was there, inside me, but it was muffled, muddled.

“Where’s Eric?” I looked around again.  That’s when I saw the bloody body of a young woman lying on the floor close to Eric’s desk.

I looked up, my panic deepening.  Pam was clean and the other woman in the room was clean too.  Thalia was covered in blood.  My heart sank into my stomach and I felt like throwing up.  “What’s going on?” I asked, pushing the words out over the bile that was threatening to rise up my throat.  The penny smell of blood wasn’t helping with my nausea.

Pam looked down, so I moved my gaze to the black woman who seemed to be catching her breath.  She looked up at me, her eyes wide.  “I sent him home.”

“What do you mean?” I demanded.  I could feel my body begin to shiver with adrenaline.  I called to Eric without meaning to.

“That woman was booby trapped with a spell and before the spell could take effect, I sent Eric home,” she answered and sank on the couch.

I turned to Pam.  “I can’t feel him as I should.”  My voice came out strangled and I started shaking in earnest.  My breath was coming in quick short bursts.  Eric, my Eric.  What was wrong?

Pam’s eyes were wide with fear.  She knew what I was talking about.  Her connection to her maker had suffered as well as mine to my husband.  We both looked at the black woman, silently asking for answers.

“He will be wherever he considers home.  I don’t know how much of the other spell was able to transfer by the time I sent him home,” the woman said.  “You need to go secure whatever homes he has, because whoever is behind this might go there when they find out this spell didn’t work,” she said pointing to the woman lying dead on the floor.

“Thalia, you made this mess, you clean it up,” Pam barked, grabbed her purse and mine and we were out the door.

“I’ll go to Bon Temps.  Call me when you get to the other house,” I said to Pam right before we got in our cars.  Actually, Eric had driven tonight, so I had to drive the Corvette.  As much as I wanted to make the Corvette do what it could do, I had to watch it.  There were several speed traps set up to catch drunken people going home from New Year’s Eve parties.  I cursed my luck the whole forty five minutes it took me to drive to Bon Temps.

My phone rang halfway to Bon Temps.  “He’s not here,” Pam said, talking from the house in Shreveport.  “And I honestly don’t know if he would be at your house.”

“He will,” I said, hoping against hope that I was right.  He’d referred to my house as his house, and I hadn’t corrected him because it was true.  Whatever was mine was his as well.  So by process of elimination… “But can you check Godric’s place, just in case?”

Pam said she would and hung up.  I was in too much distress to cast a wide enough mental net to catch a cop, so I simply continued driving the speed limit.

I pulled into my driveway, the Corvette bouncing over the uneven ruts that had formed in the unpaved little road.  I slowed down considerably.  The security lights had been off until I’d pulled up.  I quickly turned off the car and ran out, calling to Eric the whole time.  If he was anywhere nearby, he would be able to hear me.

I’d parked in front, so I walked around to the back porch, calling Eric.  Before I saw him, I felt it.  His hunger and his lust came barreling at me and almost knocked me off my feet before he did the job himself.  He pinned me painfully against the steps, and for half a second I thought we were going to get naughty out there in the freezing cold.  I was wrong.  His face was feral, animal.  He would hurt me if I didn’t do something soon.

“Eric, please, what’s wrong?” I asked.  My voice had come out small, full of fear.

His expression changed and he moved off me quickly.  That’s when I noticed he was missing his shoes and his shirt.  His eyes never left mine, but now he was afraid.  “You know me,” he said.

I blinked, my heart sinking again.  “Eric?  You… are you okay?”  I didn’t dare move from where I was on the steps.  Did he forget about me?  Was that the curse?  To forget his blood bonded?

Eric ran his hands through his hair and left them tangled in it, as if about to pull his hair off.  “You know me?”  This time he said it as a question.

“Yes, of course.  You’re my blood bonded, my husband,” I said, completely confused.  His face told me he was way more confused than me.

“You’re my wife?” he asked.  I nodded.  “What did you call me?”

“Eric,” I answered, a sudden fear overtook me.  “What do you remember?” I asked quickly.

He shook his head, looking like a lost puppy with big eyes.  His fangs had retracted a little, but his pupils were still huge.  I could see them well in the security lights.  “I only know I looked around me and I was on the side of a road, so I ran here following my scent.”

I didn’t know what had happened or how to fix it, but Eric was standing semi-naked in the backyard, and I only had a flimsy dress under my coat, the coat which had been a Christmas gift from him, coincidentally.

“This is your home,” I said, not caring about splitting hairs at that particular time.  “Let’s go inside and warm up,” I said standing up.  I held my hand out to him.  He slipped his large hand into mine hesitantly.  I pulled him inside house, and immediately noticed that his feet were leaving red spots on the clean linoleum.

“Holy Jesus, Eric!  You’re bleeding from your feet.”  I made him sit on a kitchen chair and got a large basin from under the sink, putting some liquid soap in it.  “Here, honey, take off your pants, they’re dirty.”  He stood up once more and stripped.  He’d been wearing his red bikini undies.  It had been our little joke earlier that evening.  I put his feet inside the basin, and he made a hissing sound.  I ran to our bedroom and got the blanket I kept at the foot of the bed, to put it around his shoulders for now.  I’d go searching for his clothes in a minute, but I needed to tend to his feet first.

“You really are my wife?” he asked as I washed his feet, getting the bits of dirt out of the larger cuts.  He’d been running alright.  I didn’t answer, just wiggled my ring finger.  He looked down at his own left hand.  “I don’t remember…” his voice trailed off.

I looked up at him.  His feelings were jumbled again, not right.  I could read his face easily enough, though: he was afraid.  Well, damn!  I was scared too.  What was wrong with him?  He looked so much unlike himself and it broke my heart.  I put a clean dish towel under his feet while I switched out the dirty water in the basin for clean one.  “I won’t hurt you, Eric,” I said to him from the sink.

“I know you won’t.  You can’t,” he added.

“But you can hurt me.  Are you going to hurt me?” I asked him, bringing the basin back to him.  That encounter on the porch did not make me feel all that great about being here alone with him.  I lowered his feet back into the basin, considering my next step.

“You have my blood in you.  You smell like me.  It wouldn’t be right to hurt you,” he said.  Well, not the answer I was looking for, but I took it anyway.

I pulled my cell phone from the pocket of my jacket and called Pam while Eric’s feet soaked.  “I found a present on my porch,” I said the second she answered her phone.

“Thank God!  I’m on my way,” she said and hung up.

“Who was that on the phone?” Eric asked, his fear flaring.

“That was Pam, your vampire child,” I explained and sank back to the floor to check on his feet.  They had healed completely.

“Is she the one who did this to me?” he asked.

My anger flared.  “No, it wasn’t her.  A witch did this, and I don’t know how.  You didn’t tell me what you were doing with witches.  I didn’t even know witches were powerful until tonight,” I answered.  Yes, I was cross… a little bit.  I dried his feet and then set off to clean the floor.  I was too tired to do it properly at that moment, so I only passed the wet towel over the blood stains.  I’d get it with the mop and the bleach the next day.

“My name is Eric,” he said as I passed by him to dump the basin.

I set the basin on the counter and turned to him.  “Your name is Eric Northman.  You are the Sheriff of Area 5 in the state of New Orleans.  You have many businesses and properties, but by far the most profitable is a bar you own in Shreveport called Fangtasia.  I work there too.  Pam is your child, your second, and your business partner.”

“And your name?” he asked, standing up and letting the blanket fall.  He walked to me, his lust flaring… but nothing else: no love, no longing… this wasn’t my Eric.

I put my hand on his chest and pushed.  He let me and took a step back.  “I’m Sookie Stackhouse, and I am not a fangbanger.”  I held my chin up in defiance.  “I will not have sex with you because you think you’re entitled.  I only have sex with my husband.”

“You said I am your husband,” he said arching an eyebrow and smirking.

I shook my head.  “No, Eric.  I’m sorry this happened to you, but you’re not the same man.  We will try to fix your memory, I promise.  For now I ask that you please keep your distance.”

He frowned, turned, and sat back on the chair while I finished cleaning up.  When I turned back to him he was wrapped up in the blanket, his face blank.  He hadn’t gone into that state of suspended animation, because I could see his eyes moving a little.

“Eric, would you like a blood?” I asked, not really waiting for his answer and getting it from the fridge.  He nodded when I finally turned back to him.  He had the sad puppy look again, and I felt no hint of his lust.  He was fearful again, and confused.

I took deep breaths as the blood heated in the microwave.  I needed to calm down.  My adrenaline was still raging in a mix of fear and anger.  I wondered if he could feel it.  I handed him the blood and sat next to him.  I’d go look for clothes, I promised myself, but I was exhausted.

“Eric?  Can you tell what I’m feeling?” I asked, searching his eyes.

He searched mine too.  “I’m not sure.  I smell fear.”

I nodded.  He was probably too confused to separate everything inside his head.  That might be the reason why his feelings inside me were a jumble.  “I can tell what you’re feeling.  You’re afraid too,” I said, waiting for him to deny it.  He didn’t.

He didn’t say anything at all, only looked at me.  I looked back at him.  He was mine after all, my beloved.  I waited until he was done with his blood and pulled him to the bedroom.  He let me lead, still confused.

“I’m sorry I didn’t give you clothes right away,” I said, looking in the closet for a pair of jeans and a shirt.  I pulled a pair of socks from a drawer and handed him all the garments.  “You don’t need shoes here in the house, but you have a couple of pairs here,” I pointed inside the closet where I was now putting my own shoes.

I changed out of my Elvira dress and into sweats while he dressed.  I could feel his lust but it was tempered this time, like he was trying to behave.  I pulled on a pair of thick socks while sitting on the bed.  Eric was standing in the middle of the bedroom, watching my every move.  I understood he needed to feel safe with me, and to that end I’d let him see me at my most vulnerable.

“Is that our bed?” he asked.

I was startled by his question.  “Yes, Eric.  But you have a place where you spend your day.  You do know you have to hide from the sun?”  He nodded and then cut his gaze towards the front of the house.  “Do you hear something?” I asked.

“A car,” he answered then looked at me scared.

“That will be Pam.  Come, she needs to know you’re okay,” I said, and held out my hand.  He took it and squeezed it, looking for comfort.  I squeezed his too, giving him what he needed.  Halfway to the front door, I turned around and hugged him.  I startled him at first, but he relaxed after a moment and returned the hug.  I didn’t say anything or look at him for fear I’d cry.  I simply turned around and continued to lead the way to the front door.

I opened the door just as Pam stepped out of the car.  She was before us in a blink, scaring Eric.  She gave me a quizzical look before looking at him again.

“Eric, this is your child, Pam.  Pam, Eric doesn’t remember what happened, or anything about his life,” I said to her, watching as her eyes just about bulged out of her head.

Eric studied her, not letting go of my hand.  Pam was speechless.  I motioned for her to come in so I could close the door, and had us all sit down in the living room.  I offered her a blood and she shot me a disbelieving look.  I sat on the corner of the couch, with Eric practically sitting on top of me.  Pam sat at the chair next to us, looking like somebody had hit her upside the head.

“Do you know who I am?” she asked Eric.

“You are Pam, my vampire child,” he repeated.  He was merely parroting what I’d already told him.

Pam frowned and looked at me.  “Did he remember anything?”

“Not even his name,” I shook my head, feeling a new wave of sadness hit me, making my eyes smart with tears.  I looked down, trying to contain them.  Eric started massaging my shoulder gently, and I knew at once that I wasn’t completely lost inside him.  His need to comfort was tied to my sadness, even if he didn’t know it yet.

“Okay, okay, alright,” Pam was looking into the near distance, not really focusing on anything, just thinking.  She looked at me, then Eric.  “You cannot hurt Sookie,” she said to him.  Sometimes I wondered who the maker was and who the child was.

“Of course I cannot.  She’s my wife.  I would never hurt the future mother of my children,” Eric said affronted.  Pam and I exchanged a charged look.  Where had that come from?  Pam raised a finger about to say something, but I shook my head infinitesimally.  If that’s what it took for him to curb his baser instincts, then I’d deal with that tiny delusion.

“Alright,” Pam said, satisfied.  “In that case I’ll return to Shreveport.  Tomorrow night I’ll come back with Octavia to see what can be done about this curse,” she stood up.

“Who’s Octavia?” I asked.

“That was the witch who sent him home.  She will need to figure out what type of curse was put on Eric in order to lift it.”

“Wait!  Sit down!” I ordered Pam.  She arched an eyebrow but complied.  “What the hell happened?” I asked, suddenly mad as hell.  I’d been sad and afraid for the mental health of my husband, now I was freaking mad.  Who had done this to him, and why?

Pam took a deep breath so she could speak.  “Eric was approached by a witch named Hallow.  She’s a Were and also hyped up on vampire blood.  She asked him for protection money, and said she would collect on New Year’s Eve.  Instead of coming herself, she sent one of her followers.  Instead of money, she changed her price.  She’d asked for half of the bar’s profits for a year, now she was asking for only a fifth if Eric would spend seven nights with her,” Pam grimaced.

I felt my heart sink again.  I don’t think my poor organ could take so many emotions in one night.  I was sick with jealousy now and felt my nostrils flare in disgust.

“I must have declined,” Eric said beside me, rubbing my lower back, trying to comfort me again.

“Yes you did, quite nastily I might add.  The witch thought you were about to attack her and set off a spell that had been booby trapped to her person.  Thalia tried to stop her by killing her, and Octavia extracted you so that the rest of the spell couldn’t take hold.  Since we don’t know the ultimate purpose of the spell, we don’t know if it was successful.  Obviously your loss of memory was part of it.”  Pam exhaled the rest of the air left in her lungs in a big puff of defeat.

Eric took my left hand in his, still rubbing my back.  At any other time this gesture would have been completely normal and very “Eric.”  Now I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to discourage any tenderness from him.

Pam left and the rest of my energy left me.  I showed Eric the cubby hole so he could get in it when the time came, and then I moved about the house, checking windows and turning off lights.  The window-checking was just me having an OCD moment.  I made it to my bedroom… our bedroom… and hid under the covers.  Eric had kept his distance, and I could still see him standing at the door, unsure and confused.  Afraid.

“Come here, Eric,” I called to him softly.  I couldn’t stand his fear, or his confusion for that matter.  He stood in front of me.  “Get on your side of the bed,” I said, still making my tone soft.  I pulled the covers down and he walked around, getting in and scooting close to me.

I lied on my back, staring at the dark ceiling, unable to come up with a good enough prayer.  I felt Eric’s finger trace the line of my jaw and I turned my face to him instinctively.

“Do you really belong to me?” he asked.

I sighed, unable to contain the single tear that spilled.  “Yes.”

“You’re so beautiful, Sookie.  I know I hurt you, but I don’t know how to make it better,” he said.  That was my Eric talking.  I shook with a harsh sob and turned to him.  He held me while I cried, into his shirt, exhaustion and sadness finally making me succumb to sleep.

Next Chapter

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