Michael was thousands of miles away, when he felt the crack in time. It was very slight. Slight enough that no one would recognize it. Maybe no one else did notice it.
But he did.
There were just two who could tamper with the fabric of human time. He was one. He had believed that the other who could probably do it, was still too young to actually be able to manage doing it successfully. Realization dawned over him on how wrong he had been. With the realization, came alarming worry for his sister. He stilled his mind to call out to her. She did not answer. She blocked him instead. She had never blocked him before.
Desperate to find her, his sight travelled the world, carefully sifting through everything, frantically searching for her. But she was nowhere to be found. Drawing blanks everywhere, he decided to try looking for her in other realms. But before he went, he checked one last place where he might find her.
Somewhere around where the Northman was…
Michael pictured the Viking’s homeland clearly in his mind, and crossed the realms in a blink of the eye to step on to the mountain ledge, overlooking the Scandinavian village he had pictured. He manifested himself into a human form for cover. However, the sight that met his eyes was not one he was expecting or would soon forget.
Hordes and hordes of them. Finishing up with slaughtering, destroying, eviscerating what was left of the settlement and the humans and part humans within. Piles of bleeding bodies lay everywhere, anywhere that was not burning that is. The village, and the neighboring villages which might have aided them, were all burning and falling into ruin. Fanned by the steady ocean wind, the dark flames leapt high to the sky, taking the gagging smell of burning flesh far and wide with them.
From his high perch, Michael frantically felt out for any beings that could be saved before going after the fairies that had caused so much devastation in the realms he protected. He detected a trickle of magic, coming from a mangled and burning wooden long house in the middle of the largest settlement. He concentrated on it to find out the source. It was some form of shielding magic, barely keeping up. The source was growing weak and desperate.
Erik’s kin! And the only remaining trace of royal Earth fae that he could detect in the realm.
If this was Erik, and he was the only one left, then was Sookie here with him? Shielding him from the sky fairies? But if Erik was here, how had the sky fairies breached the ancient treaty in the first place? Michael tested the shields. They were wearing out and would not hold for long. The essence was not ‘angelus essentiam’, the magical essence of an angel. So his sister was not here.
Undetected by the sky fae, Michael entered the burning house and found a woman, injured gravely, but kneeling on the rough ground with her fingers half buried into and clutching the Earth, her long fiery golden hair spread out and mingling with the dirt, glowing, her eyes closed in feverish focus, no doubt to hold on to her shields.
She felt the angel enter the house and gasped as she opened her eyes and saw him.
The fairy trembled as she felt Michael’s power wash over her, and crouched back, fearing that even if she had hid herself from the sky fae, another foe had found her instead. But she did not lower her eyes. Slowly, she clenched her hands, lifting a broad sword in her right hand, collecting a ball of her beloved land in her left fist to keep drawing energy from there. She stood up straight to face the angel. She was uncommonly tall. Her eyes, blue green like the ocean, sparkled with challenge. Her posture told Michael that she was not going down without a fight.
“I mean you no harm. Please come with me.” Michael said softly, in the language of the fae, trying to sooth her out of her stance.
She raised her chin defiantly, “The sky fairies found us. All of my kin has been murdered. My son,” her voice broke a little before she recovered herself again, “is gone. I am standing at the end of my blood line. I am not going without avenging their deaths!”
Michael took a step towards her. She took a step back to maintain the distance.
“I have a suspicion that your son is not dead. Yet.”
“You do not understand.” She shook her head mournfully, not wanting to break down just yet, “The ancient treaty was worded this way. Till the time there was one heir, one son of the Earth and the fae, still living on this realm, the sky fae could not set foot here. They could not find us. We were protected. When my son was born, I gave him my spark. There could only ever be just the one, who carried our spark. That has been our way for eons. We do not diminish that essence by dividing it among all. My son was the vessel and my heir. He hadn’t even come of age yet. He didn’t even get to use his powers.” She paused and a mad glint entered her eyes, “And now he never will! Because now they are here,” her lovely face contorted in anger and grief, “and they killed everyone. So much blood, spilt because of a petty feud for land.” She took a deep breath and a cold gleam entered her eyes, “I. Will. Tear. Brigant. Apart.” she hissed through gritted teeth, “and I care not if I live through it or no. I will die a warrior’s death and the Gods will welcome me to Valhala for having avenged my people.”
Michael knew all about the treaty. That was the reason Erik needed to always stay in this realm and then marry a mortal who could give him an heir. That was the way of the Earth fae. It was the reason why he would not let Sookie reach out to him. He hoped against hope that her interference with time tonight had nothing to do with Erik’s disappearance.
“Zisa stop!” Michael commanded, authority and power radiating in his words, “Your son is gone from this realm. It doesn’t mean he is dead. Your people are not all dead. There are those who were travelling the ocean. They still live.”
She went still and glared at him. “Who are you and how do you know all this? How do you know that my son was at the sea?”
“Who I am is not important. But I am your ally. I am going to save you. And if it is in my hands, then I will save your son too.”
The thought of a chance at saving her son softened her stance a little. Zisa’s shoulders dropped, but she did not lower her sword.
“How can I trust you? Why should I give up the chance at vengeance just because you tempt me with tales of my son being alive but elsewhere?”
Michael took another step towards her and felt encouraged with the fact that she did not back away this time.
“You have to trust me on this. I do not lie. We have watched over your kin and your son for years. Peace of this realm is my responsibility. You have earned the right to vengeance, but I cannot let you walk into sure death right now, when there is still a chance for us to save what is left of the Earth fae. You are weary and angry right now. You are in no shape to fight. Let me help you come away from here and once we find your son, the magical runes of the treaty will drive the sky fae back to their own realm for now. The ancients will sit in judgment over them for their crimes against your race. They will give you the right to exact justice.”
Zisa looked into the eyes of the strange magical being in front of her. All her instincts told her that she could trust him, that he could help. With what he was saying, it started to make sense to her that at the moment, her first responsibility was to save whatever of her race she could save. Vengeance would come afterwards. She would make sure of it.
She lowered her sword and nodded. Michael touched her forehead and spirited her safely away from the gore.
Sookie sat in the circle of Erik’s long legs, eyes closed, forehead leaning against his chest, with their arms around each other. Erik’s steady breathing silently nudged her hair, the rhythm of his heartbeat against her body, the circle of his strong arms, the sanctuary of his thoughts…Everything was perfect. It was the moment she did not want to ever end.
They were sitting in a bubble of golden light, protected from outside influence, in a stolen piece of time, lost in the presence of each other, truly content. Sookie wanted to savor everything as much as she could, for as long as possible. Out of their little circle, dawn was fast approaching. She could hardly hold time in her hands any more. It was starting to drain her.
But they were in a bubble…And the bubble had to break…
When Michael started looking for her, from afar, Sookie felt the white hot touch of his searching gaze in the very depth of her being. She felt him calling her urgently. She felt his desperation and frustration at not being able to find her. With all her remaining strength, she built a shield around Eric and herself, blocking them from Michael’s eyes. This time however, the shields took everything in her to build.
She didn’t move, couldn’t move, in an effort to concentrate her will.
All the while she silently implored and wished for her brother to give her yet another moment before her beautiful dream ended. But that was not to be. Because Michael was getting close and he would soon find her. And take her away from Erik.
She raised her face and looked at the half mortal who held her heart in those eyes of his…So blue…So beautiful…So alive…This half mortal, who had touched her more than just physically, and forever made her his. The tragedy was that he would never know. He would not remember. He would go back to living his life as he had lived it before this night happened. He would step away from her, right into the next second of his existence, and for him, the magic of these moments would never have happened. The thought of letting go of Eric now, after everything, cut her in two and brought forth tears.
Her first tears.
Her first sorrow.
It was only fair that her first touch of pleasure also brought the red hot brand of deep despair; the brand that was now pushing against her breaking heart, painfully branding its burning mark on her.
Her first heartbreak.
Eric brushed her cheek as he caught a tear on the tip of his forefinger.
“Vad är fel?…(What is wrong)” He asked and put his finger with the tears, in his mouth, tasting the salty water of her grief.
Sookie’s eyes lit up at what he did. “Varför gjorde du dricker det?…(Why did you drink that)”
Eric caressed her cheek and kissed her forehead, then playfully licked her cheeks to catch the other strays. “Vi delade vår glädje … Våra kroppar … Nu delar vi våra tårar också.” (We shared our joy…Our bodies…Now we share our tears as well.)”
More tears fell from her eyes at his beautiful words.
“Det finns magi i dem… (There is magic in them…)” she whispered, cupping his face in her hands and looking lovingly in his eyes. “De är livselixir…(They are the elixir of life)”
“Jag lever redan, älskare…(I am alive already, lover)”
Eric leaned in and kissed her lips. Sookie reveled in the warmth of his lips and savored the touch. She closed her eyes and sighed at the feel of him so close to her.
She knew Michael would find them, any second now. If that happened, he would not be able to save her from their council elders. She would become a fallen one, stripped of her powers, her memories and relegated to the mortal world as a fragile human. She did not fear mortality. The only thing she did fear, more than fear itself, was not being able to watch over and protect Eric. She feared not remembering Eric. And that, surely, would be the first thing the elders will do.
As it were, keeping the secret of her night with Eric to herself was going to be a near impossible task. There were things she had wanted to say to Eric. But they didn’t have time now. With every particle of her being, Sookie was fighting for each real second she could get with her beloved, out of the ages she would have to exist without.
“Det har satts i rörelse. Vi skulle kunna gå vägar vi aldrig trodde att vi skulle … Men jag tänker inte låta något hända dig. Jag kommer alltid skydda dig. Även om du aldrig känna igen mig igen. Jag lovar … (Things have been put into motion. We might walk paths we never thought we would…But I will not let anything happen to you. I will always protect you. Even if you never recognize me again. I promise).”
Eric tilted her face and kissed her again. This woman, this goddess, had given him so much in one night. She was so much for him to fathom. So larger than life…And now she spoke of forever. He smiled as the thought entered his mind that he still didn’t know who this magnificent woman was.
“Ska du tala om för mig vem du är? … (Are you going to tell me who you are?)”
Sookie placed a hand on top of his and turned to kiss his palm before answering, “Jag kan inte. Jag är ledsen…(I cannot. I am sorry.)”
She felt Michael’s gaze begin to penetrate her mental shields. She could see him in her mind’s eye, clear as day. He was furious. And something was deadly wrong.
She cupped Eric’s face in her last desperate hold on the time slipping through her fingers, “Jag är ett med dig … Du kommer alltid att hitta mig inne… (I am one with you…You will always find me inside),” she whispered and brought a hand down to where his heart was beating, “här… (here)”
There was a flash of bright white light and she ripped herself away from him.
Time moved imperceptibly again. The next second, Eric was back on his ship, looking out at the mist on the ocean, just as Sookie had found him before walking up to him. He had no recollection of what just happened. It was as if he had been standing there all along. He saw was a small flash from the rays of the sun as it sank in the West. He did not know that that was the precise moment when all of his people died in his homeland and miles away, his mother was being taken away from the realm by another angel.
All he felt, was a sudden emptiness inside.