“You said goddaughter?” Nargal asked.
“That is the title I have decided upon for my ward,” I responded.
“You do not have a ward,” Nargal commented.
I sighed. “I should have told you this many years ago, but it did not seem as if you would ever have need of the knowledge. Plus, there is a part of the story you will disapprove of.”
Nargal looked at me in an almost paternalistic way—as if daring me not to tell him all of my secrets.
“Spill, brother,” he ordered.
I took a breath. “Finn came to me decades ago. He had finally found the great love that had eluded him for most of his life. Her name was Adele. She was human and already had a husband,” I informed.
Nargal frowned. “Why did Finn not tell me this?”
I shrugged. “You have been in the Dae world for much of the last two centuries. And Finn’s affair with Adele lasted only a blink of that time.”
“Affair?” Nargal asked. “So the woman stayed with her human husband?”
I nodded. “Adele loved her husband, but he could not father children, something I understand well.”
Nargal frowned and nodded. One of the reasons my brother had been so free about “lending” me his children was that he knew that never being a father had gutted me in some ways.
Though he ought not to have felt guilt, Nargal did, for—opposite of me—he had been blessed with fathering many children. Diantha and Gladiola had been the fruit of his first marriage. His second marriage had produced ten other children, all boys.
Surprising himself most of all, Nargal was actually in love with his second wife, Klonna, something that he said he would never be with anyone! I liked to tease him about that, but—in truth—I was envious of what he’d found. The only drawback was that Klonna (and most of their boys) could not travel to the human realm, for she (and they) had been born with strong physical traits that prevented her (and them) from blending in with humans; thus, it wasn’t a surprise that Nargal’s visits to the human world had lessened over the years.
Of course, when Nargal became head of our family line, I was finally allowed into the Dae realm, and I visited my family as often as possible.
“Finn felt about Adele as you feel about your Klonna,” I told my brother. “Sadly, that is just the way Adele felt about her human husband. Finn settled for helping Adele have something that her husband could not give her.”
“Children,” Nargal said.
“Two,” I indicated. “Finn came to me when Adele was pregnant with the first, asking me to look out for them in case something happened to him. He also asked for something more from me.”
“This is the part I am not going to like—isn’t it?” Nargal intuited, steepling his fingers.
I nodded. “Finn begged me to give Adele a little of my blood during each of her pregnancies.”
“What?” Nargal yelled. “Why?”
Having expected his reaction, I sighed. The Dae, by rule, guarded our blood and our secrets better than any other race, which was why few knew most demons were telepathic.
“Finn worried about his progeny, especially if Adele asked him to stop visiting, which she never did. Still, he loved her too much to deny her if she asked him to keep away. He wanted his children to have an extra layer of protection if they manifested a spark. In his defense, he did not think they would. After all, what other one-quarter fairy do you know of with a spark? Enhanced features—yes. But a spark? No.”
“So Finn thought that your blood would create a spark in them?” Nargal asked, confused.
“No,” I returned. “It was Finn’s desire that—in the unlikely event that any of his progeny that did develop a spark—they would also be gifted with telepathy to aid them. Not knowing why I was hiring her, a young witch named Octavia Fant added a spell to my and Finn’s blood. All of my traits were bound by the spell, except for my telepathy. And even that trait could only be activated by a spark from Finn’s line.”
“And it was this potion that Finn’s beloved took?” Nargal asked with resignation.
I nodded. “Finn’s son and daughter—Corbett and Linda—were enhanced, but did not have a spark. Honestly, I was relieved. Still, I checked on the subsequent generation to be sure. The first two grandchildren—Hadley and Jason—were even less enhanced than their parents. I did not find out about Sookie’s spark until much later.”
“Sookie. I have heard that name before,” Nargal realized. “The Angel of Rhodes?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow.
I nodded. “Yes. She is also Eric Northman’s bonded and pledged mate. And, as I’m sure you have deduced, she is a telepath. She was the third and final grandchild born of Adele and Finn’s line. Not long after she was born, Finn was caught and slain as he entered this realm to check on his human family. Years later, Neave and Lochlan killed Finn’s son and his wife. Cancer took Finn’s daughter. Hadley was eventually made vampire. A werepanther took a liking to Jason, and that eventually led to his being bitten and made panther to a far greater degree than most bitten humans can turn.”
“So—like found like. The Supernatural nature of Finn’s descendants attracted other Supernaturals. And Sookie?” Nargal asked.
“She grew up believing herself to be abnormal at best and crazy at worst. There were none to help her learn to control her ability.” I shook my head. “To my eternal shame—I did not follow up after the second grandchild came. I made an assumption based upon what I knew.”
“It was a fair assumption,” Nargal comforted.
“By the time I heard that Sookie was telepathic, Queen Sophie-Anne already knew about her, for Hadley was her child. Sookie has been circled by Supernaturals since then.”
“And the North Man?” Nargal asked.
“He and Sookie love one another in a way that—forgive me—makes what you and Klonna have look like a crush.”
Nargal growled. “A crush!”
I shrugged apologetically. “I am sorry, brother. I always thought that you and Klonna would be the most complete couple I would ever know. And—don’t misunderstand me—I know that you and she will retain your love as long as you live. But there is something different about Sookie and her Viking—something that transcends all that I have ever felt could exist between two individuals. Something that moves even beyond the concept of ‘soul mates.’ Maybe it is that they are from different species. Maybe it is because there have been so many obstacles for them to overcome. Maybe it is because—though they tried to resist each other for a very long time—the universe simply wouldn’t allow them to stay apart. They are fate itself,” I said, shaking my head at the hyperbolic quality of my own words.
Nargal frowned. “You have never believed in the concept of a ‘fated pair,’ brother.”
“I do now,” I offered.
“And how are Klonna and I different?” he asked curiously.
“From what you’ve told me, you and your Klonna knew from your first meeting that you would do well together. And you have done well together,” I stated. “There have been no impediments.”
“But we would stand together through tests,” Nargal returned.
“I know,” I replied. “I’m not saying you wouldn’t.”
“What are you saying?” Nargal asked.
“You know me. I have had little time for the concepts of love or destiny during my life,” I answered. “You and Klonna certainly exemplify the love part. But Sookie and her mate have shown me that love and destiny can exist together. I cannot describe what I feel when I am in their presence in any other way.”
“Is that why you would die for them? Why you ask me to fight with you?” Nargal pushed.
“Yes and no,” I replied. “Such a love as theirs should be allowed to live and thrive—just to see what might occur because of it in the future. However, I will do what I can for them because of Finn and my affection for him. And because I will always owe him.”
Nargal nodded solemnly. “As will I.”
I looked at my brother, and I knew that we were both recalling the day when we’d discovered Ezzy’s body—burned to the point that it was unrecognizable, except by scent. It had been Finn who had cut her down from the stake and helped us to perform the funeral rites of the Dae. And, then, it had been Finn who had helped us to kill all of the villagers who had been willing to mindlessly follow a hate-filled zealot. And—years later—when that zealot had proved elusive to Nargal and myself, it had been Finn who had found him and held him until my brother and I could arrive.
Oh—what fun we’d had with that so-called “man of God!” Yes—by the time we were done with him, he’d been willing to sell his soul to Lucifer. In fact, I’d almost called the “fallen” angel himself—just to see if the zealot had anything left to piss or shit out of his body.
But—in the end—Nargal and I had been content to allow the bastard to burn slowly.
“Sookie favors Finn,” I commented, “both in looks and in spirit. Her eyes,” I added, “they are his eyes.”
“If she is his by blood and yours by commitment and blood, then she is kin to all of our family,” Nargal said after a few moments.
“I knew you would feel that way—once you understood her connection to Finn,” I said with a smile.
“And her connection to you, brother,” Nargal declared. “She has your blood; she has your demon gift.” He shrugged. “Finn became a brother to us in all ways but by blood. Sookie seems to have corrected that one lack. And she has brought a piece of him back to us.” My brother smiled at me. “And it seems that you are a father—at long last.”
I shook my head and went to protest, but he continued speaking before I could.
“Godfather, father, guardian—these are all mere words until feeling is added. I can see that you love the girl,” Nargal commented, “just as you treasure my children as if they were yours.”
I sighed and nodded. “But—unlike with my nieces and nephews—I did not do right by Sookie. I did not even know that she was a telepath; I should have checked all of the issue from Finn and Adele’s children, not just the first two!”
“Do not rehash this pain. You could not have known the gift would skip over the firstborn children or grandchildren. Such a thing does not happen,” Nargal comforted.
“But when has a similar situation ever occurred?” I shook my head at my own failures. “A human-fairy match is common enough, but the introduction of my blood changed the situation, and I also should have accounted for the strength of the Brigant spark. I did neither, and I let Sookie down—and, in so doing, I let Finn down. Sookie’s telepathy was an infliction to her—rather than the help that Finn intended for it to be. Sookie had no guide! And now I have learned that Hadley had a child, a son, and that son is telepathic as well.”
Nargal sighed deeply. “Feeling the weight of guilt will not help either Sookie or the boy. Tell me—are you now doing for them as you can?”
I nodded. “I have already arranged for the child, Hunter, to have the help he needs even if I am slain.”
“And your calling me for help to assassinate Felipe de Castro is evidence of your commitment to Sookie,” Nargal reasoned. “Plus, since she has the spark, her life will be long, so you will have ample time to make things up to her,” he added with a slight smirk.
“I believe she intends to let Northman turn her eventually,” I commented.
Nargal chuckled. “Well—then you shall have even longer to make amends, though—to be frank—I would have arrived at the same suppositions you did after finding that neither Finn’s children nor firstborn grandchildren carried his spark. Although it is not impossible for the spark to skip a generation, that is already rare enough. To have it skip over children in the same generation has never been heard of. And having it skip two generations? I would not have thought that possible. Of course, as you said, your blood may have made the difference.”
I sighed. “I will always regret not doing more for Sookie once I discovered that she was a telepath. But Finn was so firm about not wanting his human family tied up in the Supernatural world. He feared for them. Like I said, by the time I knew of her, she had already worked out her own method of shielding, and her life was already tied to vampires. It seemed best not to add Niall’s problems—his enemies—into the equation of Sookie’s life.”
Nargal nodded in agreement. “Finn had good reason to fear for his family—given his fate.”
“But Niall’s enemies got to Sookie anyway,” I said sadly.
“Neave and Lochlan,” I whispered.
My brother’s sad expression deepened. “To have survived such a thing indicates your goddaughter’s strength.”
“And the strength of her bond with the Viking,” I added.
“He aided her?” Nargal asked with surprise.
I nodded in confirmation. “Like I said, theirs is a love match that transcends normal rules. Even with a bond, the fact that he was able to aid her as he did defies all that I know of Supernatural connections. Hell! Even that skeptic, Ludwig, said that—though Eric had deep wounds from being silvered by Victor Madden—the Viking still came for Sookie at her hospital, gave her his blood, and joined in the fight against Breandan’s forces. Ludwig told me that she felt energy between them—energy that was strengthening them both. It must have been their bond.”
“Impressive,” Nargal commented.
“Yes,” I agreed, even as there was a knock on the door of my hotel room. Quickly ascertaining the identity of the knocker, I walked to the door. “See—polite people come to a door and knock,” I said over my shoulder to my brother.
“Ah—so I am not nice,” he chuckled. “Thank you, dear brother, for clearing up that mystery for me.”
I rolled my eyes and opened the door. I then stepped aside as two coffins were wheeled in. Having guarded them from the Texas border, Diantha walked in after the coffins.
Nargal’s eyebrow rose, even as he glanced out the window to see that the sun was about ten minutes from going down. The hotel attendants placed the coffins where I indicated and then took their leave after I’d given them a generous tip. As Nargal greeted his daughter with a hug and a few words of affection, I moved to close the light-tight shutters in the room. Immediately after I’d done so, one of the coffins opened.
“Karin,” I smiled in greeting. “It has been a while.”
She nodded in agreement. “It was good of you to arrange for my sister and me to be here,” she said, looking at the second coffin, which I knew held Pam. The younger vampire would not be awakening for several more minutes, but Karin the Slaughterer was older and had likely been awake for a while.
“You are welcome. Karin, I don’t believe you’ve met my brother Nargal or my niece Diantha.”
Karin nodded a greeting to both as she gracefully exited her coffin. “I have not had the privilege, though I have heard of your exploits,” she said, bowing to Nargal.
“As I have heard of yours, Karin the Slaughterer. I am honored to fight by your side. And, perhaps, we will find an opportunity to exchange notes. Your maneuver in ending Altair is the stuff of legends,” my brother smirked as he bowed in return.
Karin grinned, her fangs showing. “And may I just say that your work with that warlock in Algiers should have poetry written about it.”
My brother laughed heartily, his sharp teeth prominent. “Who says it doesn’t?”
“I should have known that you two would find topics of common interest,” I intoned, rolling my eyes. My brother wasn’t exactly an assassin—as Karin had been during certain times of her existence—but he had “dabbled” in the art of death-dealing.
“You’llhavemorestoriesaftertonight,” Diantha said in her rapid way that almost eluded my part-Supernatural ears at times.
“No doubt,” Nargal grinned, just as the second coffin opened to reveal the Viking’s second child. As greetings were made and Pam assured those gathered that her child would be “adopted” by King Stan if something went wrong that night, I smiled to myself, knowing that Eric Northman would be grateful that his children were with him.
A/N: In the end, I spent more time on the demons than I had intended, but I had fun with them, and the entire sequence helped me to get out of a writer’s block. Anyway, I hope you liked it and are pleased with the unexpected vampires at the party. I went back and forth with whether to bring Pam back since Miriam is still “cooking” somewhere in Texas, but I will deal with that difficult decision on Pam’s part a bit later. Meanwhile, rest assured that Miriam is safe in Texas and won’t be rising until the next night.
Next up: we return to the “main action,” but it will be from the viewpoint of one of the antagonists.
As always, thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia for all they add to my stories!!!!