Each night Queen Susanna—Sookie—told me about more of the hell that she had called a life. Each night I listened to how she had survived in spite of all that she had faced.
Each night, I recognized more and more that the broken woman cradling the child was my true mate.
But there was a problem: a big one! She was a fairy, too. And the treaties established millennia ago could not be broken without risking my entire world.
It was for this reason that I did not offer her my blood to heal her wounds, which I had wanted to do from the first night. It was for this reason that I did not offer her any hope that I could be anything to her other than the void that her child sank into each night.
I did not tell her when I arranged for a place where I could “play” with the priest who had beaten her, Steven Newlin. I drew out his pain as long as I could and allowed Pamela to give him additional attentions when I was with Sookie and the child. The man begged and pleaded for mercy—until I taught him how to beg and plead for death.
But the greatest boon was Bartlett. When I went to Sookie’s father’s home to glamour him to tell me Bartlett’s exact location, I learned that the merchant and pedophile was due to meet with William upon the king’s return to London. And, even better, Bartlett was already in London.
Oh—how I punished Bartlett Hale! I had never taken such pleasure in torturing a body, and I was certain that I never would again! Vampires were “civilized” now—mostly. But we still knew how to deal with enemies and deviants. And what I did not know before, I learned with Bartlett Hale.
Newlin screamed when I finally gave him the mercy of death. Hale was not afforded that luxury. My last night with him, I cut off his cock and then broke his back so that he could not use his arms or his legs. And then I glamoured him to forget all about vampires. I also glamoured him to be haunted by his sins—plagued by then in nightmares until he died. Then, I left him on Corbett Stackhouse’s doorstep.
Of course, I had wanted to kill Sookie’s father and brother too, but I knew doing so would hurt her. So I refrained. I felt that the burden of Bartlett would be a fitting one for them, however. Oh, and I glamoured them to give me the quilts that Sookie had spoken of so lovingly. I took them to her, but she begged me to keep them for myself—to hide them away, lest they be destroyed by William. She told me that they were payment for my continued visits. Though rudimentary due to the limitations of her materials, they were warm and comforting to me, and I could not help but to wonder what she might produce with finer materials.
During our nights together, I freely shared some of my own stories with her, too.
She reveled in hearing of my adventures in Terra and smiled through all of my recollections of my homeland.
Meanwhile, I had placed “feelers” into all of the acceptable channels regarding Sookie. But no fairy had contacted me regarding her. It seemed that she had been written off by any fairy kin she had in the same way that she had been abandoned by her human kin.
I so wanted to make her mine—if she chose me.
However, I was powerless to intercede or to interfere in her situation beyond our talks; maddeningly, I could not even risk touching her—though she offered me her blood each night and always worried when I took none.
Eventually, she offered without hope, though she offered all the same. It was clear that she thought her blood was unwanted by me—rather than forbidden. But how could I tell her that without also telling her that the fairies of Terra ought to have been looking after her all along.
How could I tell her that even more people than she had thought had discarded her?
And then we received bad news. The weather had stayed fair, and William was to return as planned.
When—on our next to last night together—she told me specifics of the goblin with whom she had bargained, I finally realized why her kin had not claimed her, and I dared to hope.
I knew the name Fintan. He was known to have a part-human family. But his father Niall did not know where they were since Fintan had taken great pains to hide them. After I left Sookie ten minutes before sunrise, I sent a message to Niall, though I wondered if it would reach him in time to do any good.
I wished that the treaty would allow me to kill the goblin and to—at the very least—rescue Sookie from her current situation with King William. But Sookie had made a bargain with the goblin, and a Supernatural’s word was a bond that could not be broken. And my hands were still tied regarding the rest of her situation too; because she was part Fae, I could not interfere with Sookie’s life no matter how much I wanted to do so!
No matter how much she would have wanted it—if I could have offered.
On our last night together before King William was due to return, Sookie had focused mostly upon the child, to whom she had given all of the love that she could. She told me of both her despair and joy upon realizing that she was with child. She told me of how she had learned to sequester the despair in her mind so that her telepathic boy would only ever feel the joy. She told me of how she expected to burn forever in hell-fire—just so that she could ensure that her innocent boy could be raised in a place she called heaven by a woman she called Gran.
I had been right. Her story had broken my heart.
As dawn crept upon us that last night, she rose and beckoned me toward a chest near her bed. In it was the most beautiful quilt I had ever seen.
“It does not even contain straw!” she laughed as she offered it to me, calling it a “token” of gratitude. She apologized that it was not made out of a single color, even as I marveled over the pattern that she had created with garments that had been worn when she had been thick with child.
So that I might remember both her and the child.
She told me that she had “heard” that vampires’ skin was very cold from the Weres in the castle. Thus, she had made the quilt extra thick for me. Even as she had offered the stories of her life as if they might not be good enough to hold my interest, she offered her gift with an apology.
I had resisted my urges regarding her for so many nights, but I could no longer do so, given that I might never be alone with her again.
I kissed her. A gentle kiss—barely a touch. I risked my life to give it.
“Know that you are loved, dearest Sookie,” I said before zipping out of the room moments before the sun rose.
I vowed to risk more for her. There was only a week until I had to return to my own realm. A week until Sookie would be forced to give the goblin her child or tell him his name.
I swore that I would spend that week doing all that I could for the woman who dwelt so fully in my heart.