OCTOBER 23, 2005—ONE WEEK LATER
Sookie had welcomed me into her new home with all the hospitality of a grand Southern lady.
However, I could tell from her blood-shot eyes that she was having difficulty sleeping.
Still, she’d gotten me a blood and had started rattling off information about the spell Amelia and Claudine had finally perfected, the one that I was there to “test” out to make sure I couldn’t smell a connection between Sookie’s child and the weretiger.
“It works,” I told her simply, once she’d taken a breath.
She smiled. “Good. So I can work tomorrow night!”
“Sookie, you needn’t . . . .”
She interrupted me. “But the doctor cleared me to work. And working will help me to occupy myself!” she said with false enthusiasm.
Amelia came into the room, and she and I shared a worried glance. The witch had been the one who’d packed up all of Sookie’s belongings in the old farmhouse the week before—after Sookie had insisted she leave Dr. Ludwig’s hospital and come to New Orleans immediately.
The witch had also performed stasis spells on both the vehicle, which had transported Sookie to New Orleans, and her new home—so that her scent wouldn’t be detectable. However, Sookie had been trapped inside of one or the other for a week.
Given the immaculate condition of the house, I was glad that Amelia had agreed to move along with Sookie. Obviously, the witch had helped Sookie to unpack; I would have hated to think of a pregnant Sookie doing it all by herself.
Sookie’s abrupt exit from the hospital had not been explained to me until the day before—when I’d insisted that Amy tell me what had happened.
Apparently, Eric had spoken—at last—though in delirium. Still, Sookie had taken his insistent words that she get away from him as a sign that he didn’t want her—in any way.
I wasn’t so sure about that, however.
But my opinion had not been asked for by my friend, so I’d refrained from giving it. I knew Sookie well enough to know that her stubborn (and, perhaps, self-destructive) streak had set in.
“I could use you at 9:00 p.m.,” I said, instead of trying to talk Sookie out of working.
My friend smiled with relief. “Thank you, Sophie! Thank you so much!”
Only Sookie would thank someone for letting her work!
I looked at Amelia. “Did you visit your apartments today?”
Yes—I was trying to be “polite” and to keep the conversation on something that was decidedly “un-Viking.”
“Yeah,” the witch responded. “The power to that area is slated to come back on next week. And—after that—I’ll be able to get a contractor in there.”
I took a card out of my clutch. “This is the name of my contractor. He is honest.”
“Thanks,” Amelia said gratefully. “My dad’s been trying to convince me to use his people, but I wanted to avoid that.”
I nodded to the witch. Sookie had invited Amelia to stay in her new home until her own apartment was habitable again. The residence I’d gotten for Sookie was well outside of New Orleans—and, thankfully, on higher ground than most of the area. Thus, the property had received only minor wind damage from the powerful hurricane that had blown through the month before.
The house I’d chosen was actually similar to Sookie’s previous home. It was an old farmhouse with a large porch. And, importantly, it was far enough away from other residences to offer her peace.
Bubba and a vampire I’d known for centuries, Adalene, were acting as Sookie’s vampire guards—since Thalia did not care to relocate from Area 5. However, if Sookie decided to move back there, Thalia would become Bubba’s back up again.
Hennesy and a trustworthy Were from the area pack were her day guards. However, I had no reason to suspect that anyone knew where Sookie was staying.
“Well,” I said, after finishing the horrible synthetic blood I’d been given, “I must go. I will see you tomorrow night.”
Sookie’s smile was forced. “Yes. I’ll be there! Thank you, Sophie! So much!”
I leaned in to kiss my friend’s cheek. “Try to get some sleep, my dear friend,” I said.
“Of course!” she nodded.
I’d been visiting Sookie at Dr. Ludwig’s hospital the week before—when Eric had spoken his first understandable words in three weeks. He’d said a series of short sentences which had systematically torn away any hope Sookie had found regarding Eric and herself. I recalled them all as I made a tea which would hopefully help Sookie sleep.
“You were right.”
“Why did you come?”
“You stupid woman!”
“Stay away from me, Sookie!”
“Get away, Sookie.”
“Get away, Sookie.”
When Sookie looked upset as I took her tea into her room, I cursed myself for being such a loud broadcaster.
The last thing she needed was to re-hear Eric’s words from my brain!
“I know you can’t help it, Ames,” Sookie said kindly. “And—really—I don’t know what I’d do if I had to be here all alone right now.” She took a deep breath and accepted her tea. “I think that working will help me—don’t you?”
“Yes,” I said honestly. For the first few days after we’d gotten to the new home, Sookie had done okay—but only because she could concentrate on unpacking boxes. I’d packed up everything—literally everything in her old home—from her attic to her root cellar. So she’d also been sorting through things as we unpacked. Many of her grandmother’s possessions had been repacked for charity or thrown away.
Sookie had taken a lot of time over each item, mourning her grandmother again and again
Among the possessions was a small token that seemed quite magical to me. And—as soon as my mentor, Octavia, returned to New Orleans—Sookie had given me permission to show the token to her.
I sighed. I knew Sookie had thrown herself into her emotional unpacking so that she wouldn’t have to focus upon the man she loved.
“He was delirious,” I said to my friend; actually, Sookie now seemed more like a sister.
“Yes. He was,” she sighed. “I really am trying to tell myself that, Ames. And—once he’s better—I do plan to go see him.”
“You do?” I asked, both surprised and pleased.
“I have to.” She sat up a little straighter. “I still plan to tell him how I feel.” She gave me a little smile. “I owe myself that. I owe him that.”
I nodded. At least that was something. “Have you heard anything—about how he’s doing?”
“Olivia called earlier. He’s apparently thrashing around again tonight.” She shrugged. “The doctor says that’s a good sign though.”
“That’s really good,” I said to Sookie. “Hopefully, he’ll be awake soon.”
She nodded and went back to sipping her tea as I slipped out of her room.
A loud popping noise made me jump as soon as I reached the hall.
“Claudine!” I yelled out as I looked at the beautiful fairy. “You scared me half to death. Is everything okay?” I asked when I saw that she looked pensive. Another “popping” sound came from behind me, and I turned around to find a tall, beautiful fairy with long gray hair standing there.
His eyes were the exact shade of blue as someone I knew very well: Sookie.
“Fuck,” I muttered to myself.
OCTOBER 30, 2005—ONE WEEK LATER
We were in a freefall.
And then I was using all of my remaining energy to land us safely.
She was okay. Her child was okay.
I smelled her—a fading scent, but a distinctive one.
She’d talked to me—words I sometimes couldn’t make out. She’d read to me. I’d missed out on a lot of the texts, but I’d been comforted by her voice, and I’d picked up on a few things. She’d hated Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and had moved on to something “less fuckin’ annoying” before she was halfway through. On the other hand, she’d liked Wuthering Heights and had laughed that I was probably the inspiration for Heathcliff.
She’d told me that she was trying to read “smarter books” so that she’d be able to teach her little girl how to appreciate more than romance novels.
The last book she’d been reading to me was Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. I recalled her apologizing for taking a break from the highbrow stuff—but, apparently, the book was in Gran’s collection, and she’d read it many times. Sookie said that she’d been looking for something familiar and hoped that I didn’t mind.
But then she’d disappeared.
No more reading. No more words.
No more Sookie.
Where was Sookie?
“Sookie,” I whispered. She did not speak back.
I forced my eyes open.
She was not there.
“Pam?” I said as I took in my child sitting next to me.
She’d clearly been in down-time.
“It’s about time,” she said sarcastically.
“How long?” I asked.
“Five weeks,” she said.
“Almost a record for me,” I said enigmatically. Once, when Appius had decided to flay me and then light me on fire, I’d been unconscious for six weeks. “How bad was it?”
She scoffed. “Well—if you are talking about Area 5—it’s better than ever. Thanks to me,” she preened. “Jennifer Cater and Freyda are shaping up to be real problems, but because of my excellent ‘strategery,’ they have been thwarted.”
“What did I tell you about using that non-word, Pamela?” I grumbled, even as I tried to sit up a little.
Pam had been incorporating that horrible pseudo-word into her vocabulary ever since she started thinking that Will Farrell made a better George W. Bush than the current president himself did—not that I necessarily disagreed.
“You just don’t appreciate good humor,” she returned.
I shook my head. “So—the two queens to our north have been trying things?” I asked, refocusing us onto the important topic at hand.
Pam nodded, her expression more serious now. “Yes. And there is reason to believe that they are allied with de Castro. Sophie should have just claimed Arkansas.”
I shook my head. “She was wise not to. How is the rebuilding coming?”
“Well. The Queen has put almost all of her private funds into getting New Orleans back onto its feet, and she has pressured the government to get its head out of its ass and actually act! Much is being done—and quickly.”
“What were the losses in Rhodes?” I asked—even as I recalled Sookie saving my life.
“Stan lost three vampires, but Isabel and several others were saved—thanks to Sookie. Victor Madden perished. Compton was Louisiana’s only loss.”
“Olivia?” I asked. I sighed, knowing that if I loved her, she would have been my first thought. But I had not thought of her until that moment. Indeed, I knew that I needed to cut her loose—for her own sake.
“Sookie ensured that she’d be saved,” Pam informed.
I smiled to myself; that sounded like Sookie.
“And Sookie?” I asked.
“She was here until last week,” Pam said somewhat cautiously. “She had some minor injuries. And during the week after the bombings, she had some false labor scares.”
“But the child is well? Sookie is well?” I asked.
“They are both fine.” Again Pam was tentative in her tone. “Sookie’s moved to New Orleans now.”
I cringed. That fact bit at me.
“Do you remember speaking to her last week?” Pam asked.
“No,” I said. “I remember nothing but pain—and . . . .” I stopped midsentence.
“A comforting presence,” I said as I recalled Sookie’s voice.
Pam scoffed. “Well—it’s extremely doubtful that that was me. Sookie stayed with you most of the time—you know. Until you ordered her out,” she added acerbically.
“What?” I asked.
“She stayed with you almost constantly. Olivia has come a lot too. I week ago, however, you ordered Sookie away.”
I contemplated for a moment, trying to recall why I would have done that. Of course, Sookie and I were not “together,” so why would she even want to sit vigil at my side. But, then again, she was already in the hospital because of her own situation. That must have been why she’d been there.
And then I recalled a clear picture of Sookie standing in my hotel room. She was quivering with fear as another blast went off. She was clutching her belly. Why the fuck had she risked so much to rescue me?
“Sookie is better off in Sophie-Anne’s care,” I said, trying to sound indifferent. And she was. I was injured. Hell! It would take me at least six months to grow back my arm and hand.
“I’m done! I fucking give up!” Pam said, standing up.
I frowned at her. “What are you talking about?”
“Two idiots,” she muttered before walking out of the room.
I heard her saying something about Dear Abby as she moved down the corridor.
DECEMBER 10, 2005—ALMOST SIX WEEKS LATER
I wasn’t due for three days, but it was clear that my daughter was ready to be born. Hennesy and Amelia had both come running when my water broke.
I was glad that Amelia had decided to keep being my roommate when I asked her to stay on. She had opted to maximize her profits on her newly renovated (and repaired) apartments by renting out all of them. She’d also found a family to rent Gran’s house in Bon Temps for a fair price.
Plus, I’d pretty much made Hennesy move in too—since I hadn’t liked the other Were guard Sophie had gotten for me and wanted Hennesy full-time.
Despite her initial sourness, I’d warmed to Hennesy, and she’d warmed to me. Plus, she’d relocated in order to stay my guard. So—a room in my home and a chair at my table—had seemed appropriate things to offer her.
Her not even blinking when I got baby blue paint for the nursery also worked in her favor. Apparently, she liked blue too, and she thought it was dumb that it was a supposed “boy” color.
In contrast to the new friends in my life, Jason had tried to sue me, claiming ownership of the old homestead, but happily Gran’s Will had been ironclad, and Desmond Cataliades was—well—a demon.
As I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and suffered through another contraction, I contemplated what my newly discovered great-grandfather Niall had told me about Gran. I shook my head. She’d had an affair which had spanned at least the production of two children—though Niall thought that it had lasted much longer.
Gran had also known all along that I was part fairy.
The first piece of information had been easier for me to stomach. That Gran had had an affair made me feel less “bad” about my own sexual choices in a lot of ways. Plus, I’d seen how she was with my Grandfather Mitchell. They’d loved each other and had made a good life together. Who was I to judge if they were both happy?
However, the fact that she’d known that there were fairies in the world—and that I was part-Fae—was more difficult for me to deal with.
I squeezed my eyes tighter as another contraction took over my body.
Through my pain, I imagined what my life would have been like if Gran had told me—at any point during my difficult childhood—that I wasn’t a freak or a crazy person. I wondered what it would have felt like to know that I was part fairy—and that there were others like me out there.
“You are perfectly normal for a fairy,” Gran said in my fantasy. “Your real grandfather was a telepath, too.”
As my body shook with pain, I imagined her sitting down with my mother and father, explaining to them why I wasn’t “normal.” Would it have made a difference with them? Would’ve my mother—knowing that my dad was part-fairy too—been more accepting of me?
Would there have been fewer doctors’ visits—where my “head” was checked?
Would there have been less medicine—which made me sleep for days and live inside the thoughts of those around me like nightmares?
Would my family—at least—have just let me be me when only we were around?
After all, my father and my brother weren’t normal either. We were all part fairies!
Or—maybe—they would have all loved me. The thought of that brought tears to my eyes that even my labor pains hadn’t done.
“It’ll be over soon,” Sophie cooed.
But it was already over—at least where the family I’d been born into were concerned.
My parents were dead.
Gran was dead.
My brother blamed me for all three deaths and hated me.
Gran hadn’t chosen to tell anyone about her knowledge of the Fae—likely because she didn’t want to admit that she’d cheated on her husband.
I sighed as my contraction passed.
I’d felt Gran’s guilt at random times over the years I’d lived with her. But I’d refused to listen to her mind as she’d felt guilt—except for one time. That time, Gran had recalled how Uncle Bartlett had once been “too affectionate” with her daughter, Linda. However, she’d turned a blind eye to his behavior, though she’d made sure that he was never alone with Linda again. I knew that she’d carried around a lot of guilt for allowing Bartlett to get close to me and Hadley. By then, she’d felt certain that her brother was too old to try anything. But a leopard didn’t change his spots, which Gran had learned the hard way. I’d forgiven her for that many years ago. After all, she’d wanted to believe that the initial incident was just a misunderstanding. And—like me—she’d wanted to believe good things about her brother.
I supposed we’d both been let down in that way.
Yes—I’d forgiven Gran for letting Bartlett get close to me, but I was having a more difficult time forgiving her for not ever telling me why I was different from everyone else. After all, she’d taught me both charity and forgiveness.
Did she think so little of me to imagine that I would have judged her for having an affair?
Or had she just not thought about the fact that the truth would have been the greatest form of charity I could have ever received?
The greatest peace.
The greatest gift.
Had any of her guilt ever been about not telling me? Of course, perhaps, had it been Fintan’s paranoid warnings which had kept her silent?
He’d stubbornly erected spells to keep his fairy family away from his human family, though he’d not done anything to keep other fairies from finding us—at least according to Niall. I’d learned that the Water Fae had killed my father. My mother had been collateral damage. Had Fintan not erected his spells to limit Niall’s power with my family, my dad would have been guarded.
However, those painful thoughts gave way to my physical pain as my very large daughter decided that she wanted to meet the world.
Amelia held one of my hands as Sophie gripped the other.
“Where’s Ludwig?” I growled.
After setting the scene—so to speak—Dr. Ludwig had left after telling me she’d be back when I was no longer wasting her time.
As soon as I asked my question, the doctor “popped” back and announced that my child was crowning.
“Push,” she said simply.
I obeyed—for a very long time.
Claire Sophie Stackhouse was born fifty minutes later.
She was eleven pounds and one ounce.
I cursed her father—but what was new?
“You promised me that you would locate her!” I growled.
“Do not forget yourself,” Felipe said, showing a little fang. “Sophie-Anne is careful with the asset.”
“That asset is carrying my child!” I said.
“I thought you cared nothing for the young woman or the baby,” the vampire sneered.
“She tried to trick me,” I said, my body shaking. “And she will pay for trying to make me the fool.”
Felipe shrugged. “If your daughter proves to be a telepath, I will allow you to punish the mother however you wish, but I will not be left empty-handed. I will have a telepath! It has cost me much already!”
I didn’t contradict him, though I honestly didn’t think that Victor was much of a loss.
“Is the takeover still on for New Year’s Eve?” I asked.
Felipe nodded. “Yes. Northman intends to make that his first night back at Fangtasia. His unknown whereabouts and condition were the only things that stayed my hand up until this point.”
I didn’t respond to that. As long as I got what was mine out of the situation—my revenge upon Sookie Stackhouse—I would be content.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I know that it covered a lot of time, but I think that time was needed here for all kinds of healing to happen. Plus, I wanted for the baby to be born.
Yes—I had Sookie “run.” But she’s running “differently” now. She still intends to tell Eric the truth once he’s healed, but she didn’t want to take the chance that her presence would continue to upset him (or—frankly—herself). I can understand that. However, we see that the Rhodes incident has changed her too. Sookie is—finally—done with Bon Temps. And she has finally dealt with both her grief for Gran and her new identity as a part-fairy. Plus, her eyes are now open when it comes to Gran. In the end, that’s why Sookie didn’t choose “Adele” as one of the names of her child. Perhaps, I’m not charitable, but—if Gran was able to tell Sookie about Fintan—she SHOULD have. Anything less allowed Sookie to feel so alone and “abnormal.” Some theories about the books and in fanfiction offer versions where Gran “couldn’t tell,” but then that just makes Fintan/Niall/etc. look worse. Either way, Sookie was screwed over in my opinion.
Meanwhile, we see that Eric knows what Sookie did “fight” for him in Rhodes. We see that he has recognized that Olivia wasn’t going to ever be enough to replace Sookie. And we see that he is now not going to Sookie b/c he thinks she’s better off without him (especially in his injured state).
So, their roles have reversed again.
Thanks so much, as always, to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia!