Eric had not felt such physical pain since the sun was beating down on his skin and burning him outside of Fangtasia. However, this time, he felt like he was being burned from the inside out. But he ignored that pain and concentrating instead on the fairy bond, which was pulsating and pulling at him. It was calling to him for his strength, and he knew somehow that Sookie was in trouble—that it was her pain he was feeling.
And he knew with every fiber of his being that he could help her—that he was made to help her. He sent all of his power—all of the magic that he could muster—to the fairy bond, not knowing how it was going to reach her, but having faith that it would. He saw Pam reaching out for him, but signaled for her to stay away.
He felt the fairy bond weakening and yelled out, “No! Please, Sookie, stay. Please! Snälla, Sookie, stanna hos mig!” [Please, Sookie, stay with me!]
Even more pain ripped through him, and he fell to his knees as crimson tears fell from his bright blue eyes. “No,” his voice was begging. “You can’t fucking leave me, min kära. You can’t leave the bond you made. You can’t die. I cannot go on if you do, Sookie.” He writhed in pain as he spoke as if to his wife inside the fairy bond.
He knew that she could not hear him, but he hoped that she could somehow feel his words and his love through the bond. Somehow, he knew that she was dying, and he refused to fucking let it happen!
“No!” he yelled out. “I won’t let you leave me! Jag kommer att göra dig stanna hos mig, min kära!” [I will make you stay with me.]
Even as Pam looked on helplessly, Eric continued to send all of his own strength to the fairy bond; by gods, he would not allow his wife to die—not while he was still living.
Thirty minutes before sunrise, Pam had to act—despite her master still waving her off. The workshop was not light tight. She briefly left Eric and went to get Miranda. She quickly told the Werelioness what had happened, and the two women went back to Eric’s side.
Miranda took in Eric’s condition and spoke to him sternly, “Northman, if you stay here, you will die. You will leave Hunter. You will burn and, therefore, be of no use to Sookie.”
As if shaken from his agony, Eric looked up at Pam and Miranda, and though he was still fighting to protect his bond with Sookie, he nodded and spoke to them in a stilted voice, “Sookie is in trouble. I can feel her slipping away through the fairy bond she made with me. And I’m not going to fucking allow that!” He spoke passionately as tears tumbled down his cheeks. “I do not know how long this will last, but time is different there, so it may be a very long time.”
Pam and Miranda looked at each other nervously. Pam asked, “Master, what do you want us to do?”
In a pained voice, Eric answered, “I should go to the cubby. Hunter should not see me like this. I will need donor blood to keep strong—so that I can keep sending my strength to Sookie. TruBlood will not work as well.” He closed his eyes as if pained by this idea.
He staggered to his feet. “I have to find a way to stay awake as well.” He looked straight at Pam. “Once I am in the cubby, I will need the silver chains that Sookie stored in the hall closet after the Marnie episode.”
Pam drew back in horror. “But,” she started.
Eric shook his head. “It is the only way I know,” he said. “The pain will keep me awake—at least until something else can be figured out—but the silver means that I will need even more blood to keep replenishing the fairy bond.”
Pam shook her head.
“It must be done, Pam!” Eric yelled out in his pain.
Pam nodded; she was also in pain. She’d already heavily dampened her bond with her maker just to stay on her feet. She wiped a tear from her eye. “If you survive this mess, I’m gonna kill you,” she told him.
Eric managed a very small smile, “I’m already dead, Pam.”
She tried to glare at him but couldn’t. She goddamned loved him too much for that.
Eric continued, “Pam, you and Jessica are to stay in the ground-floor bedroom and help care for and protect Hunter for as long as I am like this. I do not think that Bill will act on his plans to confirm Hunter’s presence or kidnap him if he knows I am here, but I want as much help at night as possible.” Eric paused. “I could not fight him as I am. So Bill must believe that all is well. Make sure that Batanya knows about the eminent threat to Hunter, and keep the boy inside at night from now on.”
Eric went on, though each word spoken was clearly taxing his strength. “I want Jesus to come down to the cubby as soon as possible; he might know of a spell to help me stay awake.”
Eric sunk back to his knees. “Pam, I will need your aid getting to the cubby, and then I need TruBlood―all that is in the house―until the donor blood arrives.”
Pam helped Eric into the house and then quickly arranged with Bobby Burnham for a large supply of human donor blood to be delivered as soon as possible. She texted Jessica to tell her to come to the farmhouse at first dark and then got Eric safely to the cubby only a few minutes before sunrise.
Eric said, “Go to your sleep, Pam. Miranda can bring me down the blood.”
As Pam was reluctantly leaving the cubby, Miranda was approaching with a warmed four-pack of TruBlood. Pam quickly told Miranda of the Bill situation and then went to the light-tight first-floor bedroom a few minutes after dawn. The light-tight shades in the house were activated, however, so she was in no danger from the sun. Bubba, who had stayed in the house and had been waiting for orders, joined Pam in the bedroom for the day.
After speaking to Pam, Miranda quickly took Eric the TruBlood and then warmed him an additional four-pack. Next, she briefly outlined the situation to Batanya. Without a word, the Britlingen took a position closer to Hunter.
Miranda’s next move was call Jesus and Lafayette. Then, she texted Jarod to come over to the main house before going back down to Eric, who was now on his fifth blood. He already had the bleeds despite his age and the early hour. He was obviously expending a lot of energy doing whatever he was doing to channel his strength to Sookie.
Eric looked up at Miranda. “Hunter?”
Miranda assured him. “He is safe. I was just up there and informed Batanya of the situation. She is ready.”
Eric seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. “When he wakes up, tell Hunter that I am sick. Explain that I am here in the cubby, and tell him that I will see him tonight for a few minutes―if I am able to do so. I will only see him, however, if I am able to stop the bleeds. Tell him that all will be fine, but that I am ill―like he was last month when he caught the flu from Coby.”
Miranda nodded. “What else do you need?”
Eric spoke stiffly. “Blood―human blood—as soon as it gets here. And I need that silver chain soon so that I can stay awake. Have Jarod bring it. I don’t want to risk your handling it at all since you are pregnant.”
The Werelioness nodded and got up. “Jarod would happily donate blood now, Eric. And Lafayette and Jesus will also give you some as soon as they arrive—I am certain. And I will give you my blood as well as long as you don’t take enough to hurt the baby.”
Eric shook his head as a smile ghosted his lips. “No―the donor blood is cheating enough. I promised Sookie I would never take blood from another except in battle.”
Miranda touched Eric’s arm almost affectionately, “Okay―I’ll bring the donor blood as soon as it’s here and keep the TruBlood coming until then. And Jarod will bring down the silver.”
She paused at the steps, “And Sookie would understand. She would see that you are in battle―a battle for her.”
Eric nodded and closed his eyes. He had been sitting on the bed, but he slunk to the floor so that he wouldn’t get blood on the sheets. His clothing was already destroyed by his own blood due to the bleeds.
He concentrated his magic on the fairy bond and on staying awake so that he could continue supplying Sookie with his energy.
By sunset that night, Eric had gotten into a rhythm. The energy demanded by the bond was very taxing on him―and quite painful to maintain—however, he found himself being extremely thankful. He could tell that the fairy bond on Sookie’s end was accepting his aid and absorbing his energy. And that meant that his Sookie was still alive and fighting for him—fighting for them. He hoped that she could recognize—despite her own pain—that she wasn’t alone. For so many months, he had felt like he’d been without her, but now he knew that he wasn’t alone either. She could call to him, and he could strengthen her, and that fact heartened him.
The thousand-year-old vampire was able to deal with the pain; the husband was able to hold onto his and Sookie’s fairy bond and feed it with his strength and love.
In the hours since Sookie had first called to him, Eric had found an effective routine. He would replenish himself with blood every two hours and then filter that new strength into the bond, keeping up a steady and even flow. Then he would repeat the process. The human blood, though it did not taste any better to him than TruBlood, was much more potent and gave Eric additional energy; thus, he felt steadier and better able to control the movement of his energy into the bond.
As Eric had hoped, Jesus was able to find a spell to keep him awake without the need of the silver. The waking spell, which was generally used to aid in the torture of vampires, had been welcome to Eric.
As nightfall approached, Eric’s bleeds thankfully stopped. He asked Miranda to bring him some wet towels and fresh clothing so that he could clean himself up and see Hunter.
Eric wanted to make sure that Hunter didn’t feel like he’d abandoned him, and truth be told, the vampire knew that he would be strengthened by the child’s presence.
Thirty minutes later, Jesus had helped Eric to wash and to put on his fresh clothing. Eric drank an extra pint of donor blood so that Hunter would see him at the strongest that he could be. Then he settled himself into the bed so that he was propped up against several pillows. He looked around him to make sure that there were no signs of blood anywhere.
Then he called Pam to him. His vampire child brought down a very somber-looking Hunter. Eric could see and smell that the boy had been crying, so he mustered a smile even as he continued to send energy into the fairy bond.
In his little hands, Hunter carried the afghan that Eric had still been wrapping himself up into every morning when he went to his day sleep. “Hello, Uncle Eric,” Hunter said in a quiet voice. “I thought you might be cold and want your blankie.”
Eric closed his eyes for a moment and then reached out for Hunter’s gift. The afghan―because of the resilient, absorbent nature of its yarn and intricate twining―still held Sookie’s scent, and as the blanket was stretched or folded, it would always let out varying levels of that captured smell.
“Thank you, Hunter,” Eric said as he looked at the afghan and then at the boy. “This is exactly what I needed.”
Hunter gave him a little smile before looking at the cold floor of the cubby. He was itching to jump up into Eric’s arms, but he was also hesitant—afraid even.
“Hunter,” Eric tried to make his voice sound strong—normal—for the child. More than anything, he wanted to fix things so that Hunter wouldn’t be frightened. “As you have been told, I am sick right now, but I want you to know that I will be okay in time. And you are to go on as you have with your studies. The others will look after you until I am better.”
“But Uncle Eric,” Hunter said, pushing a tear from his eye, “vampires don’t get sick.”
Eric sighed. “Do you remember the bond I told you I had with Aunt Sookie?”
“The one that lets you know that she’s okay?”
“Yes―your Aunt Sookie is sick, so the bond is sick, but I am trying to help her get better by making the bond feel better. But that makes me a little sick too. Do you understand, smár rekkr?”
“I think so,” Hunter nodded.
“Good,” Eric said. “You can see me like this for a few minutes each night until the sickness goes away, Hunter, but most of the time, I will need to focus to make the bond better―okay?”
Hunter nodded sadly.
Eric sighed. “I know that you would do anything you could to protect your mother, right?”
Hunter nodded again.
“And that wouldn’t mean that you cared any less for me, would it Hunter?”
The boy looked up at Eric and shook his head, “No.”
Eric forced another smile, despite his pain. “Good. Then you understand. I have to do what I can to help your aunt Sookie because I love her, but that doesn’t mean that I care any less for you. Okay?”
Hunter took a deep breath and nodded.
“Jessica or Aunt Pammy will read you your bedtime story and kiss you goodnight until I am better―okay?”
Again Hunter nodded sadly. “Sometimes when Mommy got sad, she would think about how hugs would make her feel better, so I would give them to her.” The little boy looked up at Eric with wide eyes. “Will a hug make you feel better, Uncle Eric?”
Eric nodded his head. “Yes, Hunter,” the vampire’s voice caught a bit, “a hug would make me feel better.”
The boy tentatively climbed onto the bed and then reached out for the vampire, who took the child into his arms and rocked him. Eric did find himself feeling better due to the boy’s nearness.
“I love you, Hunter,” Eric said softly.
Hunter let out a little sob. “I love you too, Uncle Eric.”
Eric closed his eyes and took in Hunter’s words, which felt like a salve to his pain. It was the first time either one of them had spoken those words out loud, though both had felt the emotion for months—probably from their first day together, truth be told.
Eric rocked Hunter in his arms.
“Please don’t go away,” came Hunter’s little voice.
Eric vowed to his child, “I’m not going anywhere. And I will get better. I promise.”
Eric looked at Pam, who came over and picked up Hunter into her arms. She cradled him against her chest and rocked him for a moment before carrying him up the steps and out of the cubby.
Eric lay back onto the bed, closed his eyes, and focused his energy on the fairy bond. He placed his hand firmly over where the bond was housed in his chest. “Sookie,” he said quietly into the dark of the cubby after the motion detector lights had turned off, “there is so much for you to live for here. You have to stay with me. You have to let me help you to live, min kära. You have to live and come back to me―and Hunter. I need you. We need you. Snälla, gå inte bort.” [Please, don’t go away.]