I…..I do not know what to think, to feel or say. I can not believe what I just heard come out of Grandfather’s mouth.
Appius! It is always Appius!
How, and most importantly, why has he been entwined into my family for so long? I do not understand. It is like one long drawn out nightmare.
I look over at Eric and he is just as shocked as me. I guess now we know where his fae side comes from. We stare at each other just trying to soak in this unsettling news. Grandfather’s mournful voice wakes us from our daze.
“All of this is my fault. All of this pain. Aislen’s capture, her death. Appius’ birth and continued presence. Einin’s death. Even the lost of your rightful maker Eric, and your torture. If I had made Aislen stay here with me, begged her not to go, she would have never birthed that evil spawn. If I had not felt sympathy for the motherless child he was, I could have gathered the strength and taken his life. Or maybe I could have brought him here and raised him as my own instead of leaving him with the humans. I left him though, left him to live among those Romans and their callous ways. I was not there to teach him of his fae blood and our nature. I was not there to stop him from being turned vampire. I was not there to protect my daughter from him when he finally snapped and I was not able to give him the true death after he took her from us, preventing Eric’s pain in turn. But, I vow to you both, I will be there to finally bring an end to his path of destruction so that he never causes pain to any of us again. He has been the scourge of my long existence, but he will not be for much longer,” he ends his lament, his voice full of resolute determination.
I squeeze Eric’s hand then stand up and walk over to Grandfather, placing my hands over his that are resting on top of his cane. I have no idea why he uses the thing, he certainly does not need it.
Ugh Sookie, focus!
“There was no way for you to know that all of that would happen. If you had interfered at any point, all of our lives would have been changed dramatically. If Aislen had not been taken from you, you would have stayed with her and had her children instead of Branna’s. Mother would never have been born and then I would not have either. Everything happens for a reason, even the bad things. Do I want Appius truly dead? Absolutely. But my life has not been only pain, Grandfather. I was born into a great family that loves me and has always taken care of me. I have you, a wonderful Grandfather that allowed me to grow and be free enough to choose my own path. Which brought me to that incredible man sitting over there whom I love more than anyone can imagine. I would not trade any of the pain I have been dealt in this life, if it kept me from having the joy too,” I tell him, trying to ease his mind.
Eric walks over to us and hugs me into his side, pushing the pride he feels in me through our bonds. He looks to Grandfather, “She is right, you know. All of the pain he has caused me? It has all been worth it since I now know it was the only way to her. I would suffer twice as much if I knew she was waiting for me at the end of it.”
My heart nearly stops at those words and I instinctively hold Eric tighter as if I can keep him from pain with just my body wrapped around his. He moves his hand from my waist up into my hair to gently rub his fingers on my neck trying to calm me. I swallow down my fear knowing he is safe for now and let him finish.
“Do I wish that none of us had suffered? Yes, of course I do. But I would not be here, bonded to this amazing creature,” he pauses to kiss the top of my head, “if it were not for him. I will never be grateful to Appius for anything, but I can be grateful to you for allowing him to survive and for all the choices you made that lead us here,” Eric tells him quietly.
Grandfather looks both of us over, gratitude filling his eyes and maybe even a few tears too. “You are extraordinary creatures, I hope you both realize that. Thank you for being so gracious.”
We both nod and give him small smiles.
“So what do we do now? How do we find him. How do we end him for good?” I ask them.
“I have a few ideas, though I doubt either of you will like them,” Grandfather tells us.
I feel Eric go on alert and watch as he stands taller. He seems to grow several inches and his chest and shoulders expand too. He has made himself larger than he already is somehow.
This is vampire Eric I am seeing, not the sweet lover I know he can be, or even the sexy viking that drives me insane with lust, and certainly not the lost and broken soul Appius has tortured for a century. I realize I have witnessed him change this way a few times now, and it is always fascinating.
Remarkably he can hide any one of the many pieces of himself from view, switching them out on command, yet he is whole at the same time. Right now he has locked all but his calm, calculating, and in-control vampire side away, preparing himself for battle.
I do not know whether to be sad, mystified, or turned on. He is such a complicated man and I am sure I have not yet seen or experienced all the pieces of him either. At least eternity with him will never be boring.
“Tell us. I am sure we are both willing to do whatever we need to,” Eric replies.
“I am not so sure about that, Vampire,” he tells Eric.
“Do not be cheeky, Grandfather. You know we want this over and done with. We will do what needs to be done,” I fuss at him.
“Even use each other as bait?” Grandfather asks us, both eyebrows reaching towards his hairline.
Eric lets out a feral growl, his fangs snapping down, “Over my undead fucking body!”
I yell out a very unladylike and disrespectful curse at the same time, “Are you fucking crazy?!”
We are not amused by Grandfather’s laughter, I can assure you.
“I told you neither of you would like it,” he says, smiling at us. He is not bothered by our anger one but.
“I will be your bait, Brigant, but she will not go anywhere near him. You are lucky I did not rip your head off for even suggesting it,” Eric hisses, his voice full of malice.
My anger surges even more when I hear Eric’s little tirade, causing me to quickly turn on him. “Eric Northman, you do not get to decide what I will and will not do! That choice is mine to make!” I yell at him.
“You are my bonded, Sookie!” he yells back.
“And you are mine!” I fire in return.
“I will not allow you to risk your life! Do you hear me?! It is my responsibility to keep you safe! You will not die to save me, not if I can stop it!” he growls at me.
I turn around and fire a ball of light from my hands straight at one of the large tree limbs behind us. It explodes into a millions pieces, leaving nothing but glowing ash floating to the ground.
“Do I look like I need protecting to you?” I spit at him, my bow and arrow that I conjured the second after the light left my hands at his throat.
Grandfather is doing everything he can to hold in his mirth. He quickly walks away after seeing Eric’s shocked face though, his musical laughter drifting back to us.
“Fuck, Sookie!? What was that?” Eric asks once his shock has worn off.
“That is what happens when you piss off this faerie,” I tell him, sending my weapons back to my room and stalking away from him. “If I am in danger, or someone I love is and I am rested enough, I can fry my enemies to a crisp. Obviously I can do it when I’m pissed too,” I throw back at him, my arms crossing over my chest.
“That was so fucking sexy, lover,” he purrs into my ear after zipping over to me and wrapping his big body around mine.
I try my best not to let him see my smile, I am sure our bond is ratting me out though. I fight to stay mad anyway.
“Gods, Eric! Are you seriously turned on right now? You just saw me burn that limb to ashes in seconds. You probably should not be testing my patience,” I say, attempting to sound angry still.
“Angry, powerful Sookie makes my cock hard,” he growls against my neck as said cock rubs against my back.
“Yes well, if you keep yelling at me and telling me what I can and can not do, I may just stay this way,” I warn him, my voice beginning to falter as he sucks and kisses that spot under my ear. He knows it drives me crazy.
“If I recall you yelled at me first, lover. I think maybe I should punish you for it too,” he says, his voice deadly quiet.
“Uh…what?” I ask him in a shaky whisper.
His voice dripping with sex, he spins me around and slides his big hands down my body to squeeze my ass and purrs, “I said I believe you deserve a spanking, my lover.”
A deep shudder runs through my body and my core immediately clenches. I am almost ashamed at my body’s reaction to his words, but I can not stop the lust that is quickly taking over. My skin is covered in goosebumps and my thighs are already getting damp from the flood of juices my core is producing. All I can do is pant and hope he does not let me fall to the ground and melt into a puddle.
Eric’s growl gets impossibly deeper as he pulls my body closer to his. “Mmmmm, our bond seems to be telling me you like that idea, lover. Do you want me to put you over my knee and feel the sting as my hand comes down on your…..Perfect. Naked. Ass?” he growls, squeezing my cheeks with each word. “Do you want me to spank you over and over again until I make this sweet little ass warm and pink? I think you do, lover,” he whispers into my ear again.
The sound that comes out of me is unintelligible. Though the one that follows it when I figure out that he is laughing instead of growling certainly is!
My senses come flying back to me as I yell his name for the second time today, “Eric Northman!!”
I attempt to push him away from me, of course he lets me, stumbling back onto the bench and proceeds to laugh his ass off.
I rush over to him and start slapping at his head and shoulders. “You wretched beast! That was so mean! I can not believe you did that to me!” I shriek at him.
“I can not believe you fell for it,” he manages to get out through his laughter. He grabs my wrists and pulls me onto his lap, hugging me close. Probably just so I will quit hitting him.
I sit there letting his laughter nearly shake me out of his lap. As hard as I try I can not stop my own laughter from bubbling up at our silliness. It feels so good to laugh with him even if I was the brunt of the joke. We calm down after a few minutes and I snuggle into his neck and chest. I love when he holds me like this.
“I am sorry I got so angry, kära en. I should not have yelled at you,” he says quietly, rubbing his fingers into my hair and giving my body a squeeze.
“I’m sorry too, baby. I did not mean to get so worked up, but the thought of him getting anywhere near you again horrifies me,” I admit, looking up at his gorgeous face and cupping his cheek in my hand. “I do not ever want you hurt again, Eric,” I whisper.
He looks down at me, his eyes full of unease. “I know exactly how you feel, my love. If I had my way he would never lay eyes on you. I am terrified you will get hurt, or worse, I will lose you. And I can not lose you, Sookie. I can not,” he whispers, his voice strangled.
I sit up straighter, wrapping him in my arms and stroke his hair. “You are not going to lose me baby. I promise you. I am not going anywhere without you,” I tell him, sitting back up and looking at him. “We will just have to find a way to do this together and make sure we plan for every variable so we are certain we can win. With Grandfather’s help I am convinced we can do it.”
“We must be one hundred percent positive before we do anything, Sookie. I will not risk a single hair on your head otherwise. My biggest fear is that he will order me to hurt you somehow or kill you and I will not be able to keep myself from going through with it. I was not strong enough to fight him last night no matter how hard I tried,” he says quietly, his whole body shuddering. He pulls me back into a hug before I barely hear him whispering, “Not you. I can not do that to you. I will not let it happen again. Never again.”
I can feel him shutting down on me, so I quickly try to pull him out of it. “Hey,” I say, rubbing his back. “I bet that our bonds would never let us hurt each other.” I pull out of his arms and smile at him as I run my fingers through his hair. “I bet that they are so strong they will even overrule Appius and his commands. Remember that Claude and Claudine told me nothing and no one will ever be able to part us? That would have to include Appius, right?” I ask, doing my best to sound as positive and strong in my belief as possible.
I have no idea if I’m right or not, I completely pulled that out of my ass, but it does sound pretty good and it makes sense to me.
He looks at me with some hope in his eyes. I can tell though he is picking up on the bit of uncertainty I am feeling instead of the assurance I am projecting, but he placates me anyway by giving me a small smile.
He reaches up and rubs his thumb across my cheek. “We do not have to even go after him. I am more than happy to just stay here in Faerie with you forever, Sookie. We will be safe here. There is no need for us to leave. This is your home and you are mine, so wherever you are, I will be right beside you,” he vows.
My heart swells and my eyes get misty at his words. He is just so sweet sometimes it almost melts me. That he has held onto this gentle side of himself after all he has been through will never cease to amaze me. I try to smooth the worry from his brow with my fingers before kissing him softly.
“I love you, you perfect man. Thank you for being willing to stay here for me and for us. That means more to me than you realize,” I tell him.
“Does that mean you are willing to stay here for good?” he asks, hope evident in his voice.
It breaks my heart.
I take in a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. “We could stay, baby. I am sure we could be very happy here. But Eric, one day we will want to go back. We will get sick of all this perfectness and sunshine. We will want to spend a night making love under the moon and stars again I bet,” I say with a sly smile trying to perk him up some.
I only get a small quirk of his lips for my efforts.
“Or we will want to feel the crisp, cool air on our faces, see the trees as they turn yellow and orange, and walk in the snow when it falls. We can not have any of that here and we can not have it there with any amount of peace as long as Appius walks that realm. We will never have real peace until he is gone. I do not want to feel my insides clinch in fear because of him any more and I am tired of my heart being heavy with hate too. But mostly…..well no…..actually, more than anything, I want you to be free of him. I want you to be able to put him and all he has done to you out of your heart and mind and never have to think of it again. That is what I want most. For you to be free of him so you can truly be happy. You deserve peace, Eric. Real peace, not this fake bubble of security we are in now. And I will not settle for less if I know with some careful planning I can give it to you,” I finish in a whisper, my forehead touching his.
He does not respond right away. He just sits there very still and holds me. I can feel his emotions having war with themselves inside our bonds. Anger, hate, and vengefulness are battling against things like horror, trepidation, and dread. He wants to kill Appius, to be sure, but his fear is overpowering that. Fear for me. Fear that Appius will get control over us. Fear of himself.
I hate pushing him and to feel him so anxious. Maybe we should just wait awhile, give him some time to relax. He has barely had a moment in a hundred years that was not fraught with tension.
I suddenly feel horrible for asking him to go ahead with this. I am basically torturing him. Forcing him to do something he does not want too. Damn it Sookie, how could you be so heartless?! Gods, I am a terrible mate!
I sit back again and take his face in my hands so he will look at me. “Eric baby, I’m so sorry. I am such a heartless bitch. We can stay. We do not have to do anything right now, okay? We can wait as long as you want to. Forever if need be. I am not going to push you anymore. We can just stay here and be happy with each other, okay?” I promise him.
He scowls at me, setting me off his lap before getting up to pace. He is very frustrated and I am certain it is with me. I am such a stupid idiot! I just need to keep my damn mouth shut and quit making things worse!
Finally he stops and towers over me. I have to crane my neck back to look up at him.
“I am not weak, Sookie. You do not need to coddle me,” he says his voice low, quiet, and full of irritation.
“No! Eric no, that is not what I meant!” I wail. I try to stand up but he is so close to me I have nowhere to go. I am sure I look like a fool when I decide to crawl up on my hands and knees and then stand on the bench instead. I look at him, my heart aching at seeing the hurt in his eyes. I clutch the front of his tunic, trying to gently shake him, but he does not budge.
“You are the strongest person I have ever known Eric. Weak is the last thing I think you are. I just feel like I am forcing you to go ahead with this when all you want to do is take a breather. I was manipulating you, using your feelings against you. I was all but torturing you emotionally. I did not mean to, but I did it anyway and that makes me no better than Appius. I’m so sorry, Eric,” I beg him, letting out a small sob.
His scowl of anger turns into a frown of sadness as he wraps me in a hug. “No, kära en. You are nothing like him. You want to help me. You only want to take my pain away and give me happiness because you love me. Appius has no idea what love even is and pain is all he wants to give me,” he assures me.
He straightens back up and holds my face in his hands. “You are right, Sookie. We will never be free to live our lives in peace as long as he is still around. I can not give you all of my heart if there is still a part of me stuck in the past, wrapped up in fear and hate. You deserve better than that.”
“You do too, Eric,” I interrupt him with a whisper.
He smirks at me, “Thanks to you, my little faerie, I think I am figuring that out,” he says kissing my forehead. “I do know that we deserve to live without the threat of him always hanging over us though. I want to set both of us free from him. I just need to trust that we can do this without you getting hurt,” he tells me.
“With you and Grandfather there I am sure I will be fine. And you will be too, because if he gets too close to you I am going to fry his ass!” I tell him.
That makes him laugh. “I sure hope I never piss you off enough for you to turn those fire throwing hands on me,” he says with a smirk.
“I would never hurt you baby. But I bet you would just jump up and try to have sex with me afterwards if I did,” I laugh.
“You are probably right, but I would give you a good spanking first,” he purrs before smirking at me with that sexy eyebrow raised.
“Oh no. You better hush. I am not going to fall for your teasing again mister,” I sass, trying to hide my arousal.
“Who said I was teasing?” he whispers leaning in to nibble on my neck.
Unf, why fight it?
“Eric, please?” I sigh.
Funny thing is I am not so sure what I’m asking him for.
He leaves my neck to look deep into my eyes. “Soon, lover. Very soon,” he tells me, his voice like velvet.
He means it too, I can see it in his eyes and feel it in our bond. Once again I fear I may melt into a puddle at his feet. If he pushed me just a bit more I would probably cum right where I am standing.
Instead he scoops me up in his arms and starts walking back to the palace. “First though, we are going to finish our talk with your Grandfather,” he says as if he did not almost send me into a release with just his voice.
Damn sexy vampire.
When I feel his amusement at my frustration, I reach up and pinch his nipple hard in retaliation for it. But before I can enjoy my tiny victory he has me hoisted, head down and ass up, over his shoulder and proceeds to smack my ass just as hard.
“I did not mean quite this soon lover, bit since you insist,” he chuckles giving me another loud smack.
“Eric! You better put me down!” I scream, trying my best to wiggle out of his hold.
“Oh no, my faerie princess, you are in for it now,” he laughs evilly.