I didn’t see Eric Northman for a week after that night.
The week, that I spent attempting jail break. Unsuccessfully. I tried going through the door, through the shuttered windows…I even damaged the air conditioning unit in desperation, pulled out the unit and tried going through that hole in the wall. When nothing else remained, I used the last thing I wanted to use, or abuse actually. I lured a were guard and tried asking him to get me a way to overcome the magic locks in the room from a witch I’d heard him talk about, in return of anything he wanted from me. To my utter shame, he patted my sour breast and said – ‘nice try’!
I wanted to die and bury myself afterwards.
That was this morning. So I guess, I should have expected the vampire to visit me tonight.
Eric came before sunset, looking like the devil, all dark and dangerous and spitting mad. I swear I saw his fangs peaking under his lips. Lips that were slightly curled in a sneer. Dressed in all black, the cliche vampire color, he looked too alive for a being who was permanently dead. I couldn’t help the sudden spike in my pulse. I’m sure he heard that.
“Are you done yet?” he spat.
Straight to the point then…
He raised an eyebrow.
“Making an utter fool of yourself.”
As if my earlier embarrassment wasn’t enough, now he had taken it as a personal insult and wanted to rub it in my face. Was it not enough that I lost another precious part of me when I propositioned the werewolf, keeping my sight only on my escape and putting distance between the portal and my child? Did he think I didn’t know what price I’d been ready to pay? Or what it took to put my body on the line like that? Did he think I took it lightly?
But here he was, acting all master of the universe, bringing it up again, trying to berate me like a deviant child. I was so pissed, I couldn’t even form a straight sentence for an answer.
“Well?” he prompted, when I said nothing. I was in the middle of a mental count from fifty to one, in an effort to calm down before I said another word. My immediate survival did depend on him. He had saved my child and I from certain death. I wanted to be gracious of that fact and be polite. Careful. It was a losing battle with myself though. I was breathing in short gasps, my flesh was heating up and my tightly curled fists just didn’t want to loosen.
He looked me over, from head to toe and back again. Even in anger, I felt a twinge of insecurity from his perusing gaze. I was far from put together, red from anger and unshed tears, bloated and pale, while he looked pristine and right out of a fashion magazine.
Then the vampire smiled like the devil he surely was.
“You’re one little hothead, aren’t you? I bet you’d be a hellhound in bed. Want to take me for a ride and prove me right? We could discuss the terms of your release afterwards.” he smirked.
Ohh the gall of the…
I didn’t even realize I’d moved before I heard the resounding swat of my hand hitting his face. The vampire gasped in surprise. And then he growled…
He advanced on me and I took a step back, craning my head to look at him now.
“Oh we like to inflict pain, do we?” he crooned, breathing on my face, “we’d be so good together.”
I took another step back. He followed and grabbed my elbow, keeping me right where he wanted. He bent down to stare at me, eyes glittering with something I couldn’t understand. Contrary to his words, it wasn’t lust at all.
“What’s wrong sweetheart? Why so angry?” he hissed, “Is my cock too cold for you? You did look all primed and inviting for that bloody scum of a werewolf! Don’t tell me you’re getting all high and mighty and moral on me now. And here I’m ready to promise to think about your release if you make it worth my while!”
I knew he could let me go if he wanted. I knew I had already tried to win my freedom through the very trade he was suggesting. And yet his words cut me like knives. Each and every one of them. I shook my arm in an effort to dislodge his hold. He didn’t budge.
“Let go.” I whispered, barely keeping my tears at bay. Why the hell did I want to cry when I was pissed enough to stake this infuriating vampire right then? Why the hell was he not letting go of my arm? Why was he looking at me like he was the injured party here and I the inflicter of injuries?
“No! I am not letting you go.” he growled
I tried forcing his hands off me but only succeeded in scratching his flawless skin. He was crowding me. I couldn’t see escape. I couldn’t see the door or the window. I couldn’t see the outside. He was going to kill me. If he didn’t, then he was going to drain me dry and kill my child. Or someone was going to step out from that portal and-
A sob escaped and my control crumbled. Only his hold on my elbow kept me upright.
I just wanted to go. I just wanted to go.
Away from the portal, this place, this house, this vampire, his minion werewolves…Away from everything that held me back and wouldn’t let me be free.
Maybe he sensed my distress because next thing I knew, he let my elbow go and I was cradled in his arms. He whispered soothing gobbledigook in my ear, scooped me up and eased me on the bed. Then he picked up a glass of water from the nightstand and handed it to me. I drank and started hiccuping. He rubbed my back.
Why was the vampire being so nice all of a sudden? His mood swings were giving me a whiplash. For Pete’s sake I was the pregnant one here, not him!
“I am sorry for your arm.”
He looked sorry too. I glanced at my elbow and saw a hand sized bruise forming.
“I’ve had worse.” I whispered.
He flinched and stared at me for a few long moments.
“What happened to you Sookie?” he asked, just like last week, voice considerably gentler than it was a few minutes back.
Now that was a question that had no simple answer. Or a short one either. I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell someone. But that would surely lure me into attachment with the first person who showed me kindness after years of abuse. Did I want that with him? What would he do with the story of my sad life? Hurt me with it, throw it in my face or help me get over it? Was I capable of trusting someone long enough to test this?
I was still thinking when he must have decided that I didn’t want to talk. So he left, leaving the room emptier than it had been before he came.
I was looking through the area tithe receipts when my phone chimed. I didn’t recognize the number.
“Northman. Who is this?”
A woman answered, succinct and polite.
“Vampire sheriff Eric Northman from Louisiana, greetings. My name is Calla. I am the Ancient One’s handmaiden. I have message for you from Her Ladyship.”
I clicked on the call recording feature.
“Good Evening Calla.”
“Her Ladyship said this about the woman you are harboring. You gave her your blood and life. Now you will let her go. My sister, another handmaiden, and I will call on you before sunset tomorrow. You are to send this woman with us. The Ancient One will care for her.”
The call ended before I could respond. Clearly they didn’t need my opinion on the orders. Besides, one didn’t argue with the Ancient Pythoness’s orders. One just followed what she said to the last word and thanked her for the privilege.
The image of the stubborn set of Sookie’s chin and narrow shoulders floated in my thoughts. I would have to tell her to go with unknown people to an unknown place for unknown reasons while insisting that she was not a prisoner. She was not going to like it one bit. In fact, I could clearly see her throwing another fit and then trying something idiotic to escape me.
I couldn’t let her escape and I was loath to give her up. In fact, the intensity of our half formed bond was already making me obsessive about her. I had taken to sitting outside her room for long hours just to listen to both the sets of heartbeats I could hear from within. Odin only knew why the twin beats calmed me and filled up spaces inside my dead heart I didn’t know were empty. The guards were starting to look at me funny. One even mentioned calling my recalcitrant progeny to come talk sense to me when I missed this week’s vampire meet and greet of my area just because I couldn’t fucking leave the house while she was in it. I broke the screen when I saw the recording of Sookie propositioning her gaurd. This had already gotten out of hand. The normal me, head in the game instead of in my ass should have been relieved to have gotten orders which would rid me of the problem of the rogue one-eighth fairy in my area so neatly. I should have been plotting how to milk this small window of connection with the Ancient Pythoness. Instead, I was fucking worrying over Sookie’s feelings and the wellbeing of her unborn child.
I tapped my phone and replayed the recording of the call. Fucking handmaiden Calla and her message. Coming to get Sookie before sunset tomorrow. Couldn’t she just say they were coming tonight like a normal vampire? They could not expect him to hand over Sookie while he was dead for the day.
I got up and felt weary of the night already. I would have to talk to Sookie about this, sooner rather than later, and then talk her out of escape attempts. I would have to explain that one did not simply go against the Ancient One’s wishes. If she ran, with or without my help, our high council would find her and drag her right back. Then we would both be punished harshly. It was better to go quietly and then wait and watch before attempting anything. Who knew what the Ancient Pythoness even wanted with the little fairy.
I grabbed a bottle of blood and climbed the steps to the main level of the house, drinking and thinking. The blood tasted stale and my thoughts were downright rancid. Then I heard a car making a turn towards the approach road of my property.
Fuck! They were already here…
I dashed towards Sookie’s room and barged in without knocking. She lay on her side, facing away from me, curled in a tight ball. She turned to look at me and her eyes went wide with whatever she saw in my face.
“What’s going on vampire?”
I knelt on the floor near her and grabbed her hand, partly to keep her sitting there until I finished speaking and partly to just fucking hold her small hand while I still could. I didn’t have time to think about this latest development of my insanity. I just went with it.
“Sookie. Listen to me carefully. Vampire society has sovereigns to govern individual countries. Those kings and queens have pretty much all power over their subjects. Then we have a High Council. It is made up of our ancients. All vampire kings and queens have sworn fealty to the council. If the council speaks, everybody stops and listens, though it only speaks on rare occasions or during disputes that threaten more than one country.”
“Why are you telling me all this?” Sookie frowned, straightening up and coming closer to me.
“At the head of that High Council is the Ancient Pythoness, oldest among the ancients, an oracle from Ancient Greece. On the vampire totem pole, no one is above her.”
“I got a call a few minutes ago. It was one of the Ancient Pythoness’s handmaidens. She told me to send you to her.”
“To this old boss vampire lady?”
Sookie pulled her hand away from mine and scooted back. She got off the bed on the other side and clutched at her loose hair. I heard her heartbeat quicken.
“I need to run. You have to help me. I can’t get captured. I won’t go with these strangers Northman. I won’t!”
I got up too.
“You have to. You can’t outrun these people.”
“I can and I will! The king of fairies and his henchmen are looking for me. What if these strangers hand me over to curry favor? If I get taken again, I’ll be back to having no say in my life or the life of my child. As soon as my baby is born, they will begin trying to breed me again. Full fairies are not very fertile. I am one eighth fae but useful as a broodmare. I have survived countless rapes Northman. I don’t have it in me to go back to it. I would die.” Sookie sobbed as her hands went from her hair to her abdomen, cradling the life growing there.
I didn’t know what to say. Or think. I had known she was running from someone. But the shit she just wailed about? That was…my insides had gone colder than I already was. My fangs were out, fingers curled to claws. I wanted to rip something apart.
The silence in the room grew. A car entered my driveway, headlights arcing over our faces as it came to a stop.
“Eric. Help me run away.” she whispered.
I would be killed if I helped her run. Somehow, I was not thinking about my own mortality at the moment. I was thinking of ways to get her out of the mess she was in.
“You can’t be on a run all alone in your condition. You need allies. Your enemies are very powerful, so you need allies with more power.” I took hold of her shoulders and stooped to look in her eyes. “Hear the Ancient Pythoness out. See what she wants from you. If she helps you, you’ll be untouchable.”
“What if I am a prisoner all over again? Or a blood whore? What of my child? I could be walking into the same old shit, just with different masters and unknown rules.”
A knock echoed like a crack of a whip around the house. The handmaidens were there. My time with the lovely Sookie was coming to an end.
“The Ancient One doesn’t have blood slaves, or any slaves for that matter. She feeds once a year, from donors who compete for the privilege. Her household is all women of different species and races.” I swallowed on a dry throat. “I am old and strong. But in the event of an attack from the royal fae, the safest place in this world is with The Ancient Pythoness, not with me, or out on the run.”
Sookie stared at me. The knock was repeated at the door.
“What do I do?” she whispered.
“Do you trust me?”
“You saved me once. That’s more than anyone else has done. Yes, I trust you a little.”
“Complete your bond with me before going. The Pythoness might punish me for interfering like that, but I’ll survive. If we bond, I give you my word that you will never be alone or without help.”
The words just tripped out of me. I had never bonded with anyone before. It was a huge responsibility and commitment for beings like us who didn’t die easily. But I just offered a bond to a one-eighth fairy I met a few days ago, not to keep enjoying her company and blood but to keep her from feeling alone when she left here. I could tell she didn’t trust me enough to bond with me. I still wanted to offer her my life on a platter.
I had gone stark raving mad!
Someone, most likely Calla, yelled at the door.
“Northman! We know you are inside. Open the door.”
Our time had almost run out. Sookie visibly slumped a little. She stepped into me and placed a hand on my jaw. Her eyes were red, hair tousled, her skin was sickly pale despite all the healthy meals I’d been feeding her.
“I know about vampire bonds. I am honored, believe me. Before, everyone just took and took without asking or caring. You have shown me more regard in a few days than I have been shown in years.”
Her smile was brittle but she seemed determined to hold on. I, a thousand year old jaded vampire, was the one who was breaking into pieces in front of this slip of a woman. I understood why she would refuse and still made the offer just to let her know that she had options.
“But I can’t accept right now. I can’t make that commitment. I can’t repay your kindness by bringing the wrath of the fat on your doorstep. Ask me that question some other time, when I am done running. When I am able enough to think for myself again, not sinking under gratitude for what you’ve done for me and my baby. If you’d be willing, maybe we’ll be able to build something new. Now’s not the time though.”
“If things were any different Sookie Stackhouse, I wouldn’t have let you go.”
She smiled that sunshine smile of hers.
“I know. I wouldn’t have wanted to go either.”
I breathed her in, stepped closer and kissed her forehead. The taste of her skin left me wanting more.
“NORTHMAN!” Calla yelled again.
“Lets go talk to them.” I whispered and pulled her out of the room.