One early morning after Eric and Pam were asleep for the day, I made the effort to remain awake so I could make a very important phone call. My maker and husband had forbidden me to make contact with fairies, but he had done so as the over-protective male that loved me, not the dictator control freak he could be, therefore I could ignore his edict quite easily.
The way I saw it, Eric wanted me to make a cluviel dor, a fairy object. I only knew a handful of fairies. Of those, only one owed me – actually owed me – and that same fairy might help me if only to get closer to her own objective of becoming an angel.
“Sookie?!” the surprised voice of my fairy godmother said from the other end of the phone line. “I never imagined you’d call me.”
“Claudine,” I sighed, regretting my decision already. She would be pregnant by now, if my calculations were right, and she would lose her life before giving birth. Damn shame and waste. “I need your help.”
“Where are you? I’ll come over.”
“You can’t,” I said immediately. “Unless you can do what Niall does and mask your scent.”
There was a pause on the line. “It’s eight o’clock in the morning…” She knew I had been turned, but the time of day had thrown her off and she dared hope.
“I know; I can stay up during the day.”
“That’s amazing,” she said and I could hear she was sincere. “How can I help you?”
I explained that I needed to know how to make a cluviel dor and why. There was no sense in withholding information from Claudine when she could just as easily ask her grandfather. She listened quietly, though there was a sharp intake of breath when I told her, very briefly and very quickly, about the fairies we had killed in Scotland.
Claudine cleared her throat when I finished on my end. “Technically, I’m not supposed to help you,” she said in a low, pensive tone. “But from what you’ve told me before, I suppose I should. It’s not your fault that you were targeted by fairies and resorted to becoming a vampire in order to escape us.”
She chose to see my change as an escape from fairies, so I decided to let it go even though it wasn’t completely true. Whatever made sense to her to give me the information I needed…
“Keep in mind,” she continued, “that I only know how to make one. I’ve never been able to make a cluviel dor myself. In fact, I’ve never known anyone who could. We didn’t even know that your grandfather had made one, and knew about it only because you told us.”
Even with that disclaimer, when she gave me the “recipe,” it seemed too simple and I said so.
Claudine agreed. “The trick seems to be the purpose, the formality, and the solemnity when you try to make it. Your faith and your belief, everything that gives this world mystery and depth, you have to pour all of that into your object. Even the object itself must have significance. Just choosing a trinket won’t do. Everything you do must have meaning to you.”
Now that I understood the mechanics of making a cluviel dor, I gave my body and mind the rest they needed. For the next couple of weeks I didn’t do much by Eric’s standards. I read a lot while he continued to work on our plan to take over the world – so to speak. In truth our plan was to remain, period. We just wanted peace, all of us. Pam was helping him, so I didn’t feel so guilty for not joining them while I was doing something that seemed like nothing.
In truth, Eric understood perfectly my need to be left alone doing my reading. It was part of what I needed in order to make the cluviel dor, although he didn’t know that part yet. I simply needed to create the feeling of solemnity and mystery within myself so that I could translate it into the ceremony of making the cluviel dor. One of the things that Claudine had advised was to read. She didn’t know what would trigger the feelings I needed, as every person is different, but the suggestion resonated within me: never did I find myself better than when I got lost reading a book.
What Eric did know was the feeling of non-carnal desire and the peace I was finding by losing myself. It seemed to fuel his own, somehow. He called it desideratum, lacking better words but understanding my need fully. At times like these I was grateful for his age and his ability to understand things thoroughly, things for which I didn’t have an explanation. When I mentioned that I might feel guilty about not giving or exerting energy towards the common good, Eric dismissed it thusly: I had time ahead of me, so much time that taking time off for a few weeks was nothing, particularly now that I needed it and I wasn’t needed myself. He also told me that he had done this many times himself, sometimes for years.
Pam said I was on vacation.
Eventually my reading led me to go to a nearby church. The closest one to the house was Roman Catholic. Remembering the large cathedrals that I had visited in Europe, I gave the one by my house a chance, but not having been brought up Catholic, I had no clue what to do during a service. The first time I attended the early morning service – during which nobody had a clue that I was “other” – I sat in the back and watched, saying the Lord’s Prayer when we were told to, listening to the readings of the Bible, trying to memorize the many gestures made by the congregants as well as how many times they sat, stood, knelt, sat again, stood again… After several days of attending mass in the morning, in the midst of this rather cumbersome way of worshiping, I noticed something: solemnity. Not only were the faithful serious about all the intricacies of the mass, but the mass itself produced the needed gravity, either during the austere singing of “Kyrie Eleison;” or while all sanctified their minds, mouths, and hearts prior to a reading from one of the gospels; or while we all sat in silence when we were all supposed to be praying with the body of Christ inside our bodies. Of course, I didn’t partake of the communion. I understood that I was not supposed to.
Back home, snuggled in bed beside my husband, I considered some of what I needed to do to make the cluviel dor. Part of it was my own faith, the other part was pomp and circumstance. Before succumbing to sleep, I already had a rough plan in my mind.
Running, walking, or otherwise traipsing through the woods was not really something I enjoyed doing very often. Inevitably something always went wrong: either I was being chased by a lunatic, or I found a body, or an injured Were, or something happened that disturbed what should have otherwise been a peaceful commune with nature.
My darling Eric, however, thought it would be a good idea, now that the nights were longer, for me to practice a few basic skills that I had to hone, and who better to practice on than himself? After all, he would never harm me, but he was not going to go easy on me either. He gave me back my full ability to read his thoughts and manipulate them, since we weren’t in any danger.
Jason and I had talked on the phone more often now that I was back in Louisiana, but I stayed away from him as a twofold safety measure: he was safe from me, and he was safe from those who might harm him because of me. Nevertheless, the cover of the dense woods behind our childhood home would offer Eric and me the training space we needed, so Jason said we could use them, as long as I came by afterwards and visited him. He knew I’d been changed, and he didn’t sound like he harbored any regrets on my behalf. I was thankful, and agreed to his caveat. And, so that my presence near him would go undetected, Eric parked far, far away from Hummingbird Lane, hiding his car away from the road and as deep in the woods as possible.
My instructions from Eric had been simple: use my power and my instincts to not get caught. Eric would be hunting me using his own power and instincts. I had to stay a step ahead of him. Easy enough in theory, but not in execution.
He gave me two minutes’ head start and I ran as fast as I could through the woods that I thought I knew so well. But I ended up in the cemetery between the Stackhouse land and the Compton estate, which would provide no cover for me. While I hesitated on direction, Eric tackled me and we fell among headstones and dried shrubbery.
“Unfair!” I declared as Eric held my body down under his, his hair tickling my cheeks because he’d run so fast that his ponytail had come loose.
He chuckled. “If I were your enemy, this would be a problem for you.” Taking a deep breath while his eyes roamed over my face, I could see he was debating his options. I didn’t need to debate mine.
“You’re not my enemy,” I said, undulating beneath him, sending tremors through my own body when I felt how hard he was for me already.
Eric’s mind was full of me, playing through every erotic scenario that he could conjure up in the middle of the cemetery. As flattered as I was, and as much as I would have liked to love him right back, this was the opportunity I needed to win our game and I took it. He was not expecting me to push away and run, so when I did he was caught unaware and it took him a few precious moments for him to come back to the game. By then I was long gone but managed to keep his mind and feelings at the forefront of my mind. Whenever I felt his mind too far away, I slowed down and hid until I could hear him again.
Eric was enjoying the game and kept feeding me naughty scenarios and pleading mentally to return to him. Once in a while, though, I sensed his purpose, particularly when he caught my scent or a sound I made and he would start following my trail again. I could smell him too; his scent in the wind wasn’t something I was used to, since he was always nearby, and at the same time I could smell so much more: the soil, the water nearby, a fresh corpse from the cemetery, even what Jason had cooked for dinner… it all floated in the wind.
“She’s nearby,” Eric thought as loud as a shout. He could feel me so close, so close… and then… he forgot and thought I was somewhere else.
Oh, this was way too easy! Even Eric thought so, when he remembered. My giggle carried in the wind and called to my husband as I climbed a tree and made him run in the opposite direction. I wasn’t mean enough to keep him in the dark for long, and quickly gave him back his own mind. There was a mixture of pride and annoyance coming through our bond whenever he realized what I’d done. Every single time he thought he was heading in the right direction, I controlled his thoughts and made him run in the opposite direction. He didn’t question it until I took the suggestion away.
For being a good sport with my mind games, I was more than willing to reward him, and myself, of course. I’d done an excellent job of escaping Eric’s clutches.
The only mind in the woods was Eric’s, so we were quite alone. I took off my sweater and dropped it on the ground below the tree where I’d perched. The sound made Eric stop walking in the wrong direction and pursue me once more, this time without any interference from me.
I dropped my shoes and pants at the same time that he appeared below me. Hands on his waist, he looked up into the canopy. “You let me find you naked?”
“I’m not completely naked yet,” I teased and he smiled, flying up to where I was sitting on a thick branch. He hovered and watched as I took off my bra and let it fall to the ground. “Can you help me with these?” I ran a finger under the seam of my panties and he narrowed his eyes and bit his lower lip.
When his hands moved to undo his pants in midair, I felt my gums itch as my fangs made an appearance. I loved it when he stripped. I loved it when we had sex in odd places. I loved it that he let me sink my teeth into the soft flesh and hard sinew of his body. I loved to be his in every way and I loved when he gave himself to me. My invitation on the tree had been well received.
Slowly, so as to torture me, I supposed, he lowered the zipper, his long fingers making the pull tab look tiny. He knew I was staring as he reached inside to ease his length through the opening. He’d gone commando, perhaps foreseeing that we would end up tangled in each other, or else hoping that we would.
Still straddling the branch, I crooked a finger and summoned him closer. He floated close enough for me to touch, but didn’t give me the opportunity as he asked for my hands so I would stand on the branch.
“Turn, dear one,” he said in a dark whisper that I obeyed.
He settled my hands on the tree and stood behind me, slowly testing how well the branch would hold both our weights. Then, just as deliberately, he pulled my butt against his hips, pulling my panties down, letting me feel his skin and denim against my bare skin. I looked behind me to notice Eric’s face: he was still biting his lower lip as his fangs lengthened, his eyes locked onto my derriere where his hands caressed. When he smiled and looked up, I knew I was in trouble of the best kind.
That’s when I gave myself over; sweet abandon; luscious surrender; perfect trust that my husband would see to my every need, my body completely his tonight. I forgot where I was and concentrated on just pleasure.
The stars witnessed our lovemaking, twinkling high above, always watching, never changing, and as the first powerful orgasm hit me, so did another revelation, something important that I had to struggle to remember. That feeling of trusting Eric so thoroughly that I could forget the danger of having sex on a tree, that I could climax so intensely without care, and then to want to continue feeling his hands on me, his breath saturating the strands of my hair with his scent, a part of him inside me and the rest of his body around me… Communion!
My serendipitous insight was interrupted by another forceful orgasm as Eric also reached his own. He’d bitten my shoulder and my blood inside him enhanced our moment exponentially.
Slowly he turned me around, hugged me tight, then floated us down to the ground. He was feeling peaceful for two very good reasons: one, we were both sexually sated – always popular with my sexy Viking; and two, he knew I could keep myself safe and those who would seek to harm me wouldn’t even be able to find me.
Both of us smiling, I put my clothes back on and he sorted out his own. Then he pulled me closer, knotting his fingers in my hair to kiss me. I threw my arms around him, standing on my toes and pulling him down, or climbing up him, whatever would get me closer. But as frenzied as our kiss started, it ended up tender, like the first time we’d kissed.
“Let’s go visit your brother, dear one,” Eric announced when we, reluctantly, stopped kissing. It would take a while longer – much longer, years, decades, centuries – for me to get used to the way my body reacted to his touch and his kisses. It almost never mattered if we started out passionate or soft; it always left me loving him all the more.
As we walked at a leisurely pace towards my brother’s house, I knew I had found the final piece of the puzzle needed to make the cluviel dor. Love and faith. I had them both in spades for one person, the one who was quietly exploring my hand as we strolled. He, in turn, loved every part of me. He told me every night; I could feel it within me.
“If you hadn’t married me,” he began out of the blue, “what would you have done with your life?”
I frowned. Where had this come from? “Do you mean as a human or as a vampire?”
He was thoughtful for a moment. “I’m curious to know what would you have done if I hadn’t forgiven you for breaking our blood bond and if you hadn’t used the cluviel dor at all. What would that other life look like for you?”
Strange question. I said, “I don’t know,” to buy some time while I formulated an answer. A good answer, not just as stock one like, “I would have asked you to forgive me and we would be happy forever and ever.” That would not do, and he would know it wouldn’t be a sincere response. Besides, I did want to explore that a little more for my own sake.
“I think that I would regret pushing you away. I would be one of those people who look back on their life and linger on thoughts of ‘the one that got away.’ It would have been my fault, which would hurt all the more,” I said with some conviction.
“And your life? Would you try to do the usual: marry, have children, continue working, die?”
I snorted. “We can all die, Eric.” Regaining my composure I answered honestly. “Knowing that I could give my telepathy to a child of mine would keep me from having a baby. As for marrying… I don’t know. Probably not. I can’t stand another’s thoughts inside my head day-in-day-out. It would be unfair to both of us: to my partner because he would never have privacy, and to me because I would never be alone in my own head.”
“Do you regret this?” he gestured at everything under the dark sky.
“No,” I said immediately. I’d heard him ask me this before. Sometimes he needed reassurance. “I’ve never felt more in control of my body and my power. Nobody could love me better, and there’s nobody I’d rather love than you. Do you not feel it?”
He nodded and smiled looking at me. “I feel it. The last few days you’ve been distant. I didn’t know if it had something to do with me, or us…” He stopped talking and walking and pulled on my hand to make me stop too.
We were about a hundred yards away from my brother’s house. At first, I wasn’t sure what had made him stop, but once we did I was just as alert as he was. He sensed danger, of that much I was sure. I took a deep breath while honing my hearing. What I smelled was faint at best, delicious like fairy blood and human blood mixed together. Rather than making me hunger for a little fairy romp, I was instantly terrified.
Without a word, Eric took my by the shoulders, turning me to him so that I would pay attention. He mouthed the words, “Read my mind,” and I did, immediately.
Keep your mind on mine, only mine. His thoughts were like controlled chaos because he wanted me to pay attention but at the same time he was trying to figure out what was going on, how to keep me safe, and whether he should summon Pam. Then I saw exactly how a maker summoned his child through my connection with Eric.
Follow me. Not in front. Follow. His thoughts went chaotic again, this time filled with mayhem and the blood of fairies, memories of a battle where I had not taken part.
The scent of fairy along with blood that smelled amazingly similar to mine instilled fear in us both. As Eric’s thoughts morphed into what he feared the most, it seemed like he was actually mirroring my own thoughts but with the wrong protagonist. As many times as I’d told him about what Neave and Lochlan had done to me, all Eric could think about was my torture.
All I could think about was Jason taking my place.
My near panic was nothing compared to my rage. Even my heart beat a couple of times in response to my emotional surge. Regardless of what I was feeling and the throats I wanted to rip with my bare hands, I followed Eric’s instructions and pace, trusting him implicitly. If something had happened to Jason, nobody would avenge him better than me, but nobody could rescue him better than Eric.
The closer we got the better I could hear. It was Neave’s little laugh that sent me reeling back into that muck of memories that I never wanted to revisit, yet couldn’t seem to shake. These fairies didn’t know how successful they had truly managed to be in their torture of me. They hadn’t killed me, but their malice lingered in my life forevermore.
Do what I do, was Eric’s mental direction. We were moving around to the shed behind the house. He had accurately surmised that Jason might have some iron tools inside. The smell of blood coming from the house was momentarily obscured by the smell of rust coming from the shed.
For a moment I was shaken by a scream that could only be my brother’s. How long had they kept him? What were they doing? And why? What purpose could it possibly serve to hurt him? He didn’t know anything about fairies. And where was Tray Dawson? I’d left him in charge of my brother.
Quick math is all it took for me to realize that on this exact same night it was me who was being tortured instead of my brother. Neave and Lochlan would die, all right, but the Stackhouse flesh they mutilated would be Jason’s instead of mine. The guilt was nearly enough to paralyze me. Nearly. Nevertheless, when Eric handed me a long spade with a wooden handle, I gripped it tightly and felt ready.
Do what I do, Eric said again. This time his mind went to a zen-like place, readying for battle. Not a moment later we were joined by Pam as we walked to the side door on the porch and paused.
Neave and Lochlan were talking, teasing my brother, the same way they had teased me to break me mentally. I had to keep my calm and focus on Eric as we determined in which room they were keeping my brother.
A low growl came from the house as well, followed by Neave’s sing-song tone, “Doggie want a bone?” I closed my eyes as I understood that they had captured Tray as well.
Why hadn’t I realized what day or night it was on the calendar? How could I forget?
Things changed, Sookie. Eric tried his best to make me come back from the guilt that was coursing through our bond. Jason does not die tonight, he thought and kept repeating. I had to keep that at the forefront of my mind. All I had to do was stop the fairies, which meant killing them since they were slated to die. Unfortunately, so was Tray. But not Jason.
Not a moment later we entered the kitchen through the door on the porch, where Neave and Lochlan had Jason and Tray tied to chairs. My eyes went directly to Jason first, but then to my former captors.
Neave bared her teeth, her shiny silver-capped smile a warning to all but me. For whatever reason, I wasn’t scared of what her teeth could do. I wasn’t scared of her at all.
Iron trowel in hand, Eric engaged Lochlan – the bigger of the two fairies – and Pam ripped the spade from my hands and went after Neave.
Without a weapon to defend myself, I reached my brother and untied him quickly, his blood on my hands making things slippery. There wasn’t time to lose trying to see what exactly had been done to him. Without thinking too long I bit into my wrist and put it against Jason’s mouth as I dragged him away from the fight.
He drank some, but weakly, and my wound closed before much could get to him. I ran my tongue over a gash on his forehead, to at least seal it with the coagulant in my saliva. My concentration had been on my brother until Eric landed on top of me, with Lochlan stalking forward.
Stay, Eric commanded me, and I had no choice as I watched him get up.
I cradled my brother in my arms and tried my best to enter the minds of the demented fairies, but their thoughts were just like Niall’s, worse even. The abysmal darkness in their brains was littered with the oily corpses of all their crimes. However, what I couldn’t control, could control me, and as soon as I realized it, I embraced it and turned the evil against them.
Without an ounce of guilt or fear, forgetting any and all of my weaknesses, with as much hatred as my simple heart could muster, I abandoned my brother and tackled Neave who was closest. Pam didn’t waste any time and sank the spade into Neave’s chest, only to collapse over the exploding glitter that was the fairy’s remains.
A strangled cry resonated through the small kitchen when Lochlan realized his sister was dead. It was the moment Eric needed to deliver the final blow and then he, too, was gone. At that moment, the darkness from the last fairy left my mind and I was back to myself: all the guilt, fear, love, concern… my conscience! It returned to me.
“Pam?” Her name didn’t make her look up and I had a sinking feeling that I already knew what was wrong. “Pam!” I grabbed her and pulled her to me, examining every wound I could see.
“That bitch bit me,” she said weakly as Eric towered above us, already on the phone with Dr. Ludwig, was my guess.
I was about to give her my blood too, but Eric took my arm away immediately. “Go to your brother.”
My instinct to save my kin had short-circuited somehow, and Eric had to remind me. I moved back to my brother’s side. He had let go but was still alive, only unconscious.
“I failed,” said a weak voice from the other side of the kitchen. Tray was still tied to a chair and he was fading fast. No matter what we did he would not survive the night. I felt I had to do something to ease his pain.
“This is not your fault, Tray,” I assured him. “You kept my brother safe all this time and I will be forever grateful. I will make sure your family is taken care of.”
“Thank you,” he said within a breath. He was fading fast and in great agony. The best I could do was take it all away so he would know peace before leaving this world.
Dr. Ludwig arrived at the same time that Tray took his last breath, popping into the kitchen in a fairy-like manner, to quickly assess Pam and Jason.
“Give her your blood,” she said to Eric who had been holding Pam, then turned to me. “Take him to bed.”
I gathered Jason in my arms, able to carry him for the first time ever. Only then did I notice he was naked. There was so much blood covering him that I didn’t even know where he was bleeding from or even if he was still bleeding – since he’d had a bit of my blood already. His bedroom had been ransacked by Neave and Lochlan, but the bed was still usable. I settled him on it and let Dr. Ludwig work over him.
“Bring something to clean him and see if you have True Blood in this house,” she said which was only the first of many instructions and requests she made of me. I found True Blood that hadn’t expired yet and brought it. It was O negative, so she didn’t even ask if it was my brother’s type, simply set it up to do a transfusion. For the first time I was seeing True Blood being used for its original purpose.
The whole time I felt numb. Watching my brother go through the same agony I’d suffered – it gave me a new perspective. I felt guilt and rage. Someone I loved was hurt because of something I did. But it would have happened anyway, and how fair was that? Breandan would have sent his torturers after any of Niall’s hybrid family members, whether I had killed the fairies in Scotland or not. I knew this to be true. Since they hadn’t found me, they tortured my brother instead.
At some point, unbeknownst to me, Dr. Ludwig had called Niall to tell him about the attack. When my whole fairy family arrived at my brother’s house, it took Eric’s command to stop me from attacking them all. I could smell them from Jason’s bedroom, and I started to leave his side until Eric silently stopped me all the way from the kitchen where he was still tending to Pam.
Niall alone entered the bedroom, his face full of agony at seeing my brother so injured. But just because I wasn’t allowed to physically attack didn’t mean I wasn’t going to speak my mind.
“You will bring Breandan upon us,” I said in a hiss. “Why did you come here?! What else do you want?!”
“I will take him to the Summerlands,” he said in a low voice, walking one step closer to Jason until I blocked his advance.
My whole being vibrated in anger. Any moment I’d be liable to go into a berserker rage just to let go of emotion.
“He is not meant to die tonight,” not if I had anything to say about it.
“You cannot heal this,” Niall tried to reason.
“Even if I have to turn him myself,” I began.
“NO!” My great-grandfather yelled the word and it reverberated through the whole house and into the earth. “I will not lose another.”
“Neither will I!” I said and faster than he could track or stop me, I’d bitten my wrist and had seated myself next to Jason’s head, to feed him my blood. It would not form a blood bond if I didn’t take any more of his blood, and I wasn’t about to do that to my brother anyway. The small taste I’d gotten when I’d licked the gash on his forehead was nothing.
“Stop it!” Claudine yelled from the door. She pleaded with her grandfather, not with me. “Let us leave. Breandan is coming to this place. We cannot remain.”
Niall thought briefly, watching as my blood made its sluggish way into my brother’s mouth. “You brought this on yourself,” he said before turning and leaving.
A few minutes passed during which I tried my best to listen to everything around me with both my mind and ears. Then a battle started outside, but I couldn’t bring myself to give a damn.
Here we were again, paying for our sins in one way or another. Jason had not suffered at the hands of the werepanthers from Hot Shot, but he had faced torture at the hands of Neave and Lochlan instead. He was not going to turn into a different being at the full moon, but I just might end up turning him into a vampire in order to save his life. Eric was trying to save Pam’s existence and heal her from silver poisoning, but I knew he’d been injured as well and had already given her so much blood that now they were both ill. And even though I would have liked to think that there was one point in time that could be changed in order to avoid this, I knew in my gut that suffering, like death, was fixed and there was no escaping.
The cries of victory from the outside marked the end of the battle and the fairy war over the portals to Earth. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“Does Eric’s maker still live?” Dr. Ludwig asked, concern in her voice. She’d just come from the kitchen.
I closed my eyes. I’d been monitoring Eric and Pam: she was calm but in pain; he was still raging inside, still in battle, fighting to keep Pam alive with his own life. He owed her that much, was his thinking. Then came a stab of pain at the thought of losing me. “Yes,” I said. “His name is Appius Livius Ocella.” And he was the only one who could now give my husband back his life.