“I’m so sorry, min fru. I never meant to hurt you this way. I hope one day you can forgive me. I love you, Sookie. I will always love you,” Eric whispers in my ear.
I realize too late what his words mean.
He’s leaving me.
I quickly turn and reach for him, “Eric! Nnnnnooooo!!!” I scream, knowing even as I do my pleas are too late.
I gasp as I feel our bonds snap in half the second he vanishes.
It is no longer Andre’s screams that fill this room, but mine.
“NO! NO, NO, NNNNOOOOOOOO!!! EEERRRRIIIIIIIIC!”
My love is gone.
I crumple to the floor as my chest explodes with pain, the bonds frantically searching for our other half who is so far away we can no longer feel him.
“Eriiiiicc! Come back, my love! Please come back! Eriiicc, pleeeease!” I sob uncontrollably.
Why can I not feel him? If he went home to Faerie surely I would feel something, but there is nothing but a raw, ravenous ache where my heart should be, and it is threatening to kill me.
I can hardly breathe it hurts so much.
He must have went to the human realm. Nothing else could explain this anguish I’m experiencing. An explosion of fear joins it when I realize he has gone after Appius alone.
Gods Eric, what have you done!?!
Niall! I need him now!
I gather the deepest breath I can and scream for him at the top of my lungs, calling him with my mind just as loudly.
“GRRRANDFFAAAAATHHEEERRR! HEEEELPPP MMMMEEEEEE!”
If my screams do not work, I pray my blood is calling out to him right now letting him know my agony. He has to hear me or feel me, he just has too.
My prayers are answered in the next moment.
“Susannah, my child. What has happened? Why are you in so much pain?” Grandfather asks scooping me up in his arms.
“He’s……gone. Eric’s…..gone,” I gasp and clutch at my chest.
“Gone? But how? Where? He should never have been able to leave here without my help,” he says in shock.
“I do not give a fuck how old man, he just did! Please……it hurts. The bonds. We have to……help him. We….have….to go…..to him,” I pant as my vision begins to go black.
I hear Grandfather’s voice just before I lose consciousness, “Hold on child, hold on.”
I wake up screaming, still in tremendous pain, on the lounge chair in Grandfather’s study with Claudine trying to wipe my face.
“Shhhhhh, sweetheart. Everything is going to be alright,” she tries to soothe me.
The fuck it is!
I struggle to sit up and manage to push her out of my way, “Fuck you, Claudine! Everything is NOT ALRIGHT!!” I stand up and scream at her, my pain fueling my anger.
I scowl down at her shocked face looking up at me from the floor, “How long have we been here? And do not lie to me!” I demand.
“Only a few minutes, Sookie. I swear,” she gasps and scrambles to her feet.
I bend over bracing my hands on my knees when a wave of pain washes over me, “Where is Niall?” I bite out through my clenched jaw.
“I am here, child,” he answers after popping into the room, “Your bonded however, is not,” he says, his voice ominous.
“I could have fucking told you that,” I snarl, trying to stay on my feet. “We have to go, now! The time….difference. He has been….there……too…..long already.”
“We need a few moments. We have to get you stronger before we leave, you are no use to him like this,” he tells me quietly. “You have bonding sickness, Susannah. Claude has went to the healer for medicine to reverse what damage we can.”
I grit my teeth and growl at him, “Get me to my bonded and the sickness will stop! We can not stay here!! He needs me! I need him!”
“I know my child, but even bringing you back together, it will not be enough to reverse the damage as quickly as we will need it to. It would take weeks to repair the bonds, they must have help. If we do not wait on Claude to bring the medicine, you both will be too weak to do anything, let alone end Appius,” he warns me, his face etched with worry.
I refuse to wait another second and try to pop to the human realm without him.
Nothing happens, but I continue to try again and again to no avail.
I scream in frustration as I collapse back onto the chair my body wracked with sobs, “He will………die! He will die….. before……. we get there! Appius……will kill him!”
“Ssshhhhhh, my child. We will save him, I swear to you. Only a few days will have passed by the time we get there….”
“A FEW DAYS!?!” I scream trying to get up only to have Niall push me back down.
Oh gods! He’s dead! Eric’s already dead! My pain is this bad because he’s already dead! He could never survive Appius on top of all this pain!
I must be delirious because Niall shakes me roughly, “Calm yourself, Sookie! Your bonded is clever enough despite his asinine decision to leave on his own. Eric will realize he is sick and hide himself somewhere safe. He has the days to his advantage, Appius can not follow him into the sun. We will get there in time, I promise you,” he swears to me. “Please rest while we wait on Claude, save your strength.”
I lay down, utterly exhausted and in dispair. Trying to breathe through the pain, I call desperately to my cousin, “Hurry Claude! Please hurry!”
I hear him answer me, his voice coming through as barely a whisper, “I’m coming cousin, just hold on. Hold on!”
“Open your mind to me child and let me see what happened. The more I know the more I can help,” Grandfather rubs my back gently.
Taking a deep shuttering breath I force myself to relax enough for him to see so maybe we can figure out what made Eric leave.
I felt it happening, felt him cracking apart inside, but I did everything wrong in response to it. And now he is gone.
First it was his overwhelming fear of Appius being able to control us. I have felt Eric in some dark places before, but they were nothing compared to the consuming panic he was feeling then. It was so crushing it even had me paralyzed with terror for a time. I managed to separate myself from it just enough to help him and I thought we had gotten him past it. He seemed to have pushed his fear and unease aside and begin to think clearly again.
But I must have been wrong in that belief. I do not know what it is, but something tells me Eric decided to go after Appius alone right then. His panic was not for himself, but for me, and he was determined to protect me at all costs. It was a noble choice, and I love him dearly for wanting to keep me safe and protect me from his evil maker, but that decision may turn out to be worst mistake of our lives.
Then another terrible mistake was made.
This one can be laid at mine and Grandfather’s feet though. I could have never imagined Eric’s reaction to Andre. I knew he hated him, but this was something much more than hate. Once in that room, Eric’s fury quickly took over and I was helpless to stop it. It was so deep and so dark it took my breath away.
All I could do was try and protect myself, to shut down the bonds, blocking his rage from my light so it would not pull me down with it. I would never be able to help him if I let his anger overwhelm me too.
As soon as he had looked into Andre’s face he had become someone I did not know. Everything about him changed, his movements, his voice, and even his beautiful face became twisted with hate. He was cold, callus, and cruel. The man I love is none of those things. And even though I understood his devastating anger, I could not stop the feelings that had swelled in my heart at seeing him that way. Combined with the turmoil I had already been feeling, it was just too much.
When I had looked at Andre’s ravaged body, his blood pooling on the floor, and heard his pleads, all I saw was my love being tortured by Appius. It was not Eric taunting Andre in that room, it was Appius abusing my love in every heinous way imaginable. All of the unspeakable pictures I had seen flash through Eric’s mind during his panic were now going through mine too and I was overcome with emotions and none of them were good.
Horror, despair, sorrow, hopelessness, guilt, failure, and terror just to name a few, were washing over me, even drowning me.
I tried to keep them from Eric, but I obviously failed.
I do not know which one he picked up on and singled out, spurring him to drag me across the room, but I know he was too far gone to understand their meaning. So I shut myself down and waited for the ferocious storm that was my bonded to pass. I did not want my tumultuous feelings to add to his and only make things worse.
But I waited too long. Long enough that my love thought I was rejecting him, shutting him out of my heart.
He had been so wrong.
Watching someone you love more than your own life suffer so greatly is akin to having your heart ripped out, stomped on, then set on fire all while you are still alive to feel each excruciating act.
His pain was my pain. As were his rage, grief, shame, and guilt. Nothing I had felt in that room was because of anything Eric had done, or even in fear of him, but for him instead. And I wanted desperately to save him from all of it.
As for Andre, I felt nothing towards him except anger for making my love relive his torment.
My heart had wept only for Eric, begged to take his pain and heal it, to wipe away his fury and soothe it with my love. But I was too late to help him then and I may be too late to save him even now.
I let my pain and sorrow drag me under the darkness, only waking when I am roughly shaken by someone.
“Wake up, child! You must drink! Wake up Susannah, we must hurry!” I hear Niall’s voice yell at me, but he sounds so far away.
“Help me hold her mouth open sister. She must drink this, all of it, while we try to heal her with our light,” Claude’s faint voice floats into my ears.
A cool, sweet liquid is poured in my mouth and even half unconscious I eagerly swallow it. Along with the soothing warmth I feel spreading through my chest I begin to wake up.
“How long till it works? There is not much time.” It is Claudine I hear now and she seems much closer to me than Claude was.
“The healer said it should help her immediately, but unless we get her to Eric and give him the other vial it will not last long. We need to go, now!” Claude says, his tone desperate.
My eyes flutter open and I see three worried faces of my family looking down at me. The one most important member is missing though and my thoughts are only for him.
“Eric?” I whisper for him.
“It is time to find him child, but you need to tell me where. Where will he be?” Grandfather asks me.
“The rocks,” I answer him, my voice a bit stronger now.
“Then let us go,” he says standing with me in his arms.
I’m coming, Eric. Please hold on, my love, please hold on.
I know within seconds of making it to the human realm that I have made a grave mistake as I collapse to the dirt from the searing pain in my chest.
At first I fear it is the sunlight that is streaming down on me through the trees, but when I do not start to burn after writhing on the ground for several minutes, despite my intense pain, my mind catches up with my body and I grasp what is wrong with me.
It’s the bonds.
They are demanding I return to my lover, screaming in agony from having half of my soul ripped away.
How the fuck could I have forgotten about them and the sickness our separation would cause?
I am such a fucking fool!
First I go berserkers and scare my wife so badly she rejects even my touch and then I take off, leaving her to feel this torment from our broken bonds. And it is torment, unfortunately I am very familiar with it.
What terrifies me though is this anguish is worse than anything Appius ever did to me. Maybe it is only the guilt I feel for what I have done to her that is making it so much more unbearable. I pray she does not feel any on top of this too, none of it was her fault.
All of it was mine.
Knowing I’m the reason she will be feeling this unspeakable pain, I’m powerless to stop the sobs that begin to wrack my body. I have become the thing I have most despised in my existence, and swore I would never be.
And to make it all the worse, I am her torturer.
If she did not hate me before I left, she certainly will now.
I try desperately to pop back to her in hopes of fixing my gigantic fuck up, but I fail there too. Over and over, I wind up no more than a few feet from where I started each time and my repeated attempts only succeed in making my pain all the worse.
I do not understand why my powers are so weak unless the bonding sickness is causing it. Maybe I must be in Faerie for my new gifts to work, or I must have the other half of my soul with me.
Without her I am useless.
I want to roar from the pain and frustration, but manage to have sense enough to keep my mouth shut. I can not attract any attention to myself in this weakened state. I doubt I have enough strength to roar anyway.
I struggle to my hands and knees and start to crawl towards the resting spot I dug out under the rocks the first night I was here. I need to get out of sight until I can hopefully gather enough power to find somewhere safer to pop too. If Appius is anywhere near this place and can still sense my blood I am nothing more than a sitting duck.
Since it is daylight right now I’m somewhat safe for the time being, but I’ll need to move on if it all possible once the sun goes down. The least I can do for Sookie is stay alive so that she does not die from my stupidity.
Gods, how could I have been so foolish?
I meant to keep her safe, to protect her and keep her away from Appius, but instead I’m the one she needs protecting from. I fucked up and let my panic and rage consume me, blocking all logical sense from my mind, and it could very well cost my Sookie her life.
I do not give a fuck about myself at this point other than staying alive so that she can too.
I feel a small spark of hope when I think of Niall. He can help her, he will know what to do for her. She will be safe there with her kin.
I will find some way to kill Appius and maybe with some rest I can pop back to Faerie so I can stop the bonding sickness before it kills her. The time difference is on my side here, so I find a few more specks of comfort knowing she will not have to suffer from this nearly as long as I will. I would take it all if there was a way to do it.
But I know Sookie and her hard head, she will probably refuse to stay in Faerie. She will be insisting on coming to find me and save my fucking idiot ass. I would do the same if it was her who had been the imbecile. Not that she ever would have been, but if she does decide to come for me, she is no doubt going to kick my ass first and save me later.
I would deserve no less.
I will stand still for her as long as she deems necessary too. I vow to do whatever it takes to make this up to her if we survive it. I will gladly grovel at her feet for eternity if she wants me too.
I finally make it to the hole and curl my body in on itself trying to find any relief I can. But my pain and misery only increase ten fold as the weight of what I have done to my bonded truly hits me. I try to keep my sobs as quiet as possible while I pray to any god that will listen to help my wife through this. To save her from my stupidity.
After a while I feel unconsciousness begin to creep over me. I hate myself just a little more for it, I do not deserve a respite from this torture. I fight to stay awake as long as I can, but eventually it takes me.
It could be only hours or even days that have went by as I float in and out of pain and awareness to completely comatose and back again.
I have tried to get up and crawl out of my hole a few times, but I never make it far. I am just too weak. Somewhere deep beneath the pain I can feel my hunger and thirst becoming intolerable, along with my deep despair. I am fading fast in body and in spirit.
But I must fight it. If I give up now I will only wind up taking Sookie with me and I refuse to let her die because of me.
I crack my eyes open and see the daylight fading through the leaves above me. Dark is coming again. I have seen the daylight and the darkness come and go through my hazy vision as I have laid here, but how many of each I do not know. I truly have no idea how much time has passed, but it must be two or three days at least.
When I’m awake I pray for the gods to protect my wife, to help her endure the suffering I have brought upon her, and though I want nothing more than to pray for forgiveness too, I refuse to let myself.
Only Sookie can give me that.
Only hers will ever matter to me.
As I feel the blackness quickly begin to pull me back under again I do allow myself one prayer….
That the night passes without Appius finding me.
I let out a groan when I’m awoken by something causing my pain to spike.
I’m moving and not on my own. I feel like I’m being dragged. Someone is pulling me across the ground by my arm I think and they are being rather rough too.
I could be dreaming though. There have been lots of dreams, well no, not dreams, more like nightmares since I got here.
Nearly every time I black out I have them and they seem to get more vivid each time.
I have seen my bonded screaming in pain but no matter how hard I try, I can not reach her. I have watched as she died an agonizing death just before I could save her. Or I do save her only to feel her hatred for me and the agony I caused her in return.
And if all those were not enough, I have seen him.
Again and again I have relived my worst moments with him, heard his laugh as I cry out in pain, felt his hands on my body, my gut twisting in disgust with his every touch, and forced myself to be silent to not give him the satisfaction as he broke my bones.
I have endured his sick, malicious abuse all over again it seems. So I just assume I’m having another nightmare when I crane my neck back to look up and see who is dragging me.
Pitch black eyes meet mine as I hear a voice that never fails to fill me with dread.
“Hello, my child. It is so good to see you again.”