A/N: The title of this chapter comes from the song “Into the Fire” by Thirteen Senses. Check it out on youtube.
Sookie stood in the middle of the circle as Lafayette and Jesus sat as they had before, a new cauldron of fresh ingredients placed between them.
“Ready?” Lafayette asked this time.
“Wait,” Jason said. “Be sure to sit down first, Sook. That first bolt of pain will knock you down otherwise.”
“Good idea,” Sookie said smiling reassuringly at her brother. “Do it,” Sookie said, her voice quivering slightly as she looked at Jesus and Lafayette.
“And don’t stop no matter what,” Jason added.
“No matter what,” Sookie whispered, trying to gather all her courage together.
Jesus began crushing the mixture into the cauldron as he’d done before.
Sookie glanced at the clock. It read 4:14 p.m., still more than two hours before sunset. She thought about the two vampires whose blood would soon be eliminated―or as Jesus described it, burned―from her body. She hoped Jesus was right that they wouldn’t feel any pain; perhaps they wouldn’t even wake up, she tried to tell herself, suddenly wondering if she should wait until the next day to make sure Jessica was okay after the spell. She shook her head. Despite the fact that she loved them, she had to do this, and she didn’t want either of them to have a chance to try to talk her out of it.
In the end, she had to love herself more than she loved them, or she would always wonder and never be certain of herself. If she was ever to be in any kind of healthy relationship, she knew that she had to do this. She owed it to all three of them, and even Alcide or another potential partner for herself out there. It couldn’t all be about the blood, and she’d soon know how deeply her love really went for the two vampires. She tried not to let herself hope for one over the other. She needed to be smart and remain neutral.
“Ready?” Jesus asked Lafayette, disturbing Sookie’s reverie.
Sookie shook a bit, remembering her previous time in a magical circle when Marnie had tried to burn her to death. Now she was facing a different kind of burning. Sookie inhaled deeply and looked at Jason for strength as Lafayette and Jesus started chanting.
At first, Sookie felt nothing, but suddenly it felt like her whole body was warming up.
She doubled over, feeling the most intense pain of her life. She felt like the breath had been knocked out of her body, and suddenly she was as feverish and weak as she had been when she’d gotten pneumonia as a child.
She closed her eyes and tried to focus on anything else other than the pain. For some reason, the face of Gran was the first thing she thought of, and she held onto that as the pain got even worse.
Jason looked at his sister with concern as Lafayette and Jesus continued to chant.
Sookie was now writhing in agony, certain that she was going to die at any minute. She tried to control her breathing as the pain shifted from burning to more of an ache, but she soon lost all control and curled into the floor.
Ten minutes later, Lafayette and Jesus looked at each other anxiously but continued to chant. They’d been chanting for over fifteen minutes by that time, and Sookie’s pain showed no signs of diminishing.
Long before this, Sookie had lost track of time as her body swayed to the pain that had become her whole existence. Her brother, after several warning looks from Jesus, had stayed planted on the couch, his legs bobbing up and down nervously and his hands running through his hair constantly. Sookie was curled into the fetal position, jerking with a pain that seemed to travel all along her spine and then to her toes before curling upwards and traveling back to her head. She felt as if the sun had decided to take up residence in her stomach and like she’d be ripped apart.
She had no way of knowing this, but two vampires had been awoken a few minutes after the chanting had begun.
Bill woke again with a start and looked over at Jessica, who thankfully was still asleep. He realized that he was now experiencing the odd sensation that Jessica had spoken of. She’d been accurate. It did feel like some kind of force was looking for something in his body. It didn’t hurt exactly, but it was quite uncomfortable. His not knowing what was happening made things worse. Obviously, this thing had affected both himself and his child, but it didn’t feel like the necromancer’s curse to him.
As with Jessica, the force seemed to travel through him, and he jostled as it moved, unable to get up. A few minutes after it started, he felt the force latch on to something in his body. Bill tensed, and he realized what was happening as he felt his connection to Sookie sever and then disappear. He fell into his slumber moments after.
Eric, alone in one of his safe houses, had awoken the exact moment that Bill had. Of course, he had no way of knowing whether any other vampires were experiencing what he was. It began as an odd sensation, like an electric current traveling around his body, and then came the pain. He’d been tortured many times in his long life, and the only pain that he could compare this to was the few minutes he’d spent with Russell, burning in the sun after Sookie’s blood had lost its protective power over him.
Amidst the pain, he tried to think logically. Being tortured before had taught him to compartmentalize as a coping mechanism. He tried to concentrate. He wondered if the necromancer had somehow returned into another medium as Antonia had before, but he wasn’t being compelled to seek out the sun. He felt more like he was burning from within although no marks were present on his body. His infallible internal clock told him that it was two hours and five minutes until sundown. He wondered if the spell would end then and resolved to endure the pain as he always had before. He would hold on for Sookie, so that he could protect her, so that he could try to win her heart fully―try to deserve her if she would let him.
Upon thinking of the woman he knew he loved, Eric’s pain lessened to some degree for a split second, but then he began to sense the energy bolt traveling through him, as if it were locked on to something, almost like the pain had a purposeful meaning.
Right after this realization, he was struck by an especially hard jolt of pain right in the space that housed the thread―the bond―connecting him to Sookie.
He stiffened, but held onto the cord that held her blood to his, the cord of their new bond. Two years ago if someone had told him that he’d be holding on to a human so tightly, he would have denied it fervently. The fact that he could love at all had shocked the hell out of him at first. Now, he twisted in his bed and put his whole mind to keeping hold of his magic in her body.
He was truly frightened for the first time in his long life, frightened that the fairies may have returned for her or that she was clinging to her life somewhere. So he refused to let go of their bond despite the fact that his struggle was causing him intense pain. He used all the power he had over his blood to hold to hers, certain that if he didn’t, she would slip away from him. Yet as he tried to grip the bond more and more tightly, the agony grew worse and worse. He closed his eyes, as he ordered all the magic in his body to flood toward his bond with Sookie. His magic held to the bond even more tightly than before, and the magic of his blood and the bond seemed to become infused with a bright white light, which helped him keep his grip. He held on and held on, determined to make it to sunset and then to somehow go to her.
At 6:22 p.m., three minutes before the sun finally set, Eric struggled to rise, exhausted from his more than two-hour ordeal. For the first time, he noticed blood around his ears and nose. He was dressed in only a pair of track pants, but he didn’t care. He slumped over, waiting right next to the door of his day chamber with his cell phone in his hand, waiting for the sun to fall.
As soon as the sun was down, Eric managed to open the door of his chamber and climb the steps that led outside. He was sluggish, but he had to find Sookie. He knew that he couldn’t fly or run to her, and he also knew that he would be unable to drive himself. He opened his cell phone and called Pam.
She answered on the first ring, with concern clear in her voice. “Master, what is wrong. I feel you are in pain!”
Eric cut her off, “Get here, now!” He slammed his phone shut and slumped outside his home, waiting for his child. He could barely stand as he waited for her, but he was relentless in his hold of the bond; he wouldn’t let her go again, especially not now, not now that he knew that he loved her―that he’d been able to acknowledge it to her as well as himself. The stubborn fairy might not choose him over that pompous ass of a king Bill, but he damned sure wasn’t going to lose her presence in his world for another year, or worse, forever.
Pam’s brakes squealed as she pulled her minivan up his driveway six minutes later. As soon as she saw him, she bolted to him, concerned for his safety. She’d felt his pain since she had risen, but had never seen him look as tortured as he did now. She looked him over for wounds, noticing only blood dripping from his ears and nose as if he’d had the bleeds.
“What is it, master?” she asked as she reached him and grabbed his body to hold up next to her own.
“Sookie,” Eric said weakly. “Have to get to her.”
Pam sped into action for the sake of her master, a master whose forgiveness she was still desperate to earn. “Where?” was all she asked as she got Eric into the car and zoomed to the driver’s side.
“Bon Temps” was all Eric could manage.
As Pam drove like the proverbial bat out of hell, Lafayette and Jesus continued their chanting, now exhausted after more than two hours. Sookie was still in the circle and still in obvious pain; her body was covered with sweat, her hair matted to her forehead. More than once, Jesus had wondered if they should just stop and hope to revive her with the defibrillator, but they had kept going.
Jason was now sitting just outside the circle, with tears flowing freely down his face, watching his sister’s torment. He glanced at Jesus and Lafayette, both also covered with sweat. Their eyes were closed as they grasped each other’s hands. He could do nothing but pray that his sister would live through what was happening to her. Every once in a while, he’d said the words, “Don’t stop,” aloud when he saw Jesus or Lafayette looking especially tired.
Eric was able to direct Pam to Lafayette’s home through signals and grunts, the pain getting harder for him to bear as he got closer to Sookie. Despite its being night now, the bleeding continued from his ears and nose, and blood was escaping from his eyes now too, laying tracks down his cheeks and bare chest. He was crying.
Pam screeched to a stop in front of Lafayette’s house and pushed on her horn, cursing the fact that car horns had become so damned wimpy sounding. She zoomed over to Eric’s side and pulled her master up to his feet. She had to rest almost all of his considerable weight onto herself as she practically carried him to the door.
As soon as she reached it, she pounded, sensing four humans and a shit load of magic inside. One of the humans was definitely Sookie, and Pam also recognized the scents of the others as Sookie’s useless brother Jason, Lafayette, and his witch boyfriend Jesus. She took a split second to think about how much she would love to kill the two witches for their part in her curse despite the fact that it had been lifted by either Antonia or Marnie’s death two nights before. But she remembered her master’s command and put the thought out of her mind.
Jason barely registered the horn sounding, but once the heavy pounding started, he rose and went to the door, avoiding the circle and hoping that neither Lafayette nor Jesus would stop their work. Sookie, her eyes closed, was now convulsing in the center of the circle.
As Jason opened the door, he tried to comprehend the strange sight in front of him. Pam, dressed in what looked like pajamas, was holding up Eric, who had on only track pants. Blood was flowing from Eric’s nose, ears, and eyes, falling into lines that trailed as far south as the waist band of his pants.
“What the fuck?” Jason said, surprised by the sight in front of him.
“Let. Us. In.” Eric growled weakly. He could feel that his invitation to enter had not been rescinded by Lafayette, but he needed his child’s help to stand at this point, so he hoped Jason’s invitation would be enough to help them pass through the magical barrier.
“Must. Help. Sookie,” Eric muttered, hoping Jason would understand that she was in danger.
“Come in,” Jason said after a moment’s pause. Then he quickly added, “But don’t do a damned thing to mess up the spell or step into the circle thing, or you will kill Sook!”
Pam had to pick up her master at this point, and she carried him into Lafayette’s living room to a couch. She carefully avoided the circle drawn in the center of the room.
Pam took in what was happening quickly. Sookie was in the circle, and Lafayette and Jesus, now looking at the two vampires with trepidation, were chanting to the side of her. They looked exhausted, but Sookie looked near death.
“Don’t!” Jason yelled as Eric tried to push himself toward Sookie.
Pam laid him onto the couch and moved to hold him back, surprised at the strength he could muster in this state.
“Explain,” Eric managed weakly.
“Now!” Pam added when Jason paused. She noticed that neither Lafayette nor Jesus stopped their chanting.
Jason flinched, looking anxiously toward Sookie. “We decided to do this spell that would take away the vampire blood magic. I needed to get rid of Jessica’s blood, and Sookie wanted to get rid of Bill and Eric’s,” Jason gestured at Eric before continuing. “It worked on me like a charm. You have to go unconscious. That’s how you know it has worked, and it only took a few minutes on me. But when they tried it on her, something must have gone wrong. It’s been just like this for hours, and I don’t know what to do. If they stop, she’ll die. If I try to take her out of that circle, she’ll die. I think she’s dying now!” As he finished, his words had turned to sobs.
Eric, despite his agony, looked at Jason. His clear, sharp blue eyes cut through Sookie’s brother. He managed, “She wanted this?”
“Yes,” Jason answered still sobbing and not able to hold Eric’s gaze. “She wanted to know which of her feelings was real and which was because of the blood.”
Eric nodded, understanding finally why the string between Sookie and himself was being pulled upon. The magic that held their blood together was being threatened. His reaction had been to try to hold onto their connection, to try to use his side of the bond to keep her alive, to keep her with him, to keep her strong. But he’d inadvertently been causing the spell, which she had wanted, to slowly kill her. He knew in a split second what he had to do, but it was the hardest decision he had ever had to make.
He looked at Sookie, curled up and convulsing in pain, and then he let go of their bond.