Sookie lay almost motionless on the ground as Queen Mab approached her.
“What’s happened?” Claudette asked with curiosity rather than concern in her eyes.
Sookie heard words being spoken above her, but had a difficult time processing them as her breathing became more labored. The only thing that forced her to stay awake and alive was the fairy bond, which was being flooded with strength―strength that she somehow knew was coming from Eric. Somehow―he was sending her his energy, love, and magic despite their distance and the time between them. And because of him—because of her fucking magnificent vampire—she held on to her life by holding onto their bond, despite the fact that her body wanted to give up.
She intuited that she needed to stay awake―knowing that if she succumbed to the darkness, she would die. So she kept fighting. She heard Eric’s voice in her head begging her again and again to stay with him and to hold on to him. So she kept fighting. He promised that he would keep her strong enough to hang on. So she kept fighting. He told her that he needed her. So she fought for him.
She clung to Eric for her very life. She clung to him even as she marveled at him through her pain. Her Eric—her bonded—seemed to be breaking all the laws of time and space to keep her alive.
Answering Claudette’s question, Queen Mab spoke above her. “If I had to guess, I would say that the little slut has created a bond with the vampire.”
“A vampire bond would not survive the jump to this realm, your majesty―even if she had somehow managed to make one with the blond one. And I seriously doubt that a monster such as he would even be capable of such a bond,” Claudette scoffed.
“No,” Queen Mab said, toeing Sookie’s ribs with her dainty-looking slipper. “You are correct; a vampire bond would not survive the distance, but a fairy bond would.”
“You can’t be serious!” Claudette exclaimed. “How could this one even manage that? It takes an incredible amount of magic to bond, and she is mediocre at best—a hybrid.”
“Hmm,” Queen Mab contemplated as she once again kicked at Sookie, “she was able to marshal an incredible amount of raw magic her first time here. Remember, I felt it firsthand. This one has much magic in her; it is just undisciplined. A fairy bond with a mate from another realm is the only way to explain her rejection of the light fruit.”
“How so?” Claudette asked.
“The bond would not allow anything to happen to her body that would sever the connection with her mate, and the light fruit would make it quite impossible for her to return to her monster, and you know that vampires cannot come here. So her bond is literally pushing the fruit from her body, and something seems to be fueling it as well—though I’m sure that will not last for long.”
Claudette chuckled and spoke sarcastically. “So her bond would rather see her die than to be separated for eternity from the blond vampire?”
“Yes,” Mab confirmed. “It is a sweet story―don’t you think? A tale of star-crossed lovers. It is a shame that those kinds of stories so often end in death.”
Sookie continued to hear the words of Queen Mab and Claudette as she curled into her pain. She knew that Queen Mab was right. The fairy bond made between Eric and her was working hard to keep them together, and somehow Eric’s magic―his life force―was being pushed into her to keep her alive even now.
“Well―why doesn’t she just die?” Claudette asked, looking down at Sookie with derision. “She should not be able to reject the light fruit and live.”
Queen Mab laughed maniacally. “I believe that her vampire is feeding her his strength through their bond to keep her alive. I can feel her pulsing with foreign magic even now.”
“Incredible,” Claudette said as if she were looking at a science project. Her eyes glinted evilly. “That means that he lived,” she said with a little disappointment, but then she brightened, “but that also means that he is in excruciating pain and has most likely been so for many weeks, given the difference in time between our realms.” She laughed again.
“True,” Queen Mab said, “but still, I want this one dead. If she will not accept the light fruit, then she is no longer of use to us.”
“I thought you had great plans for her,” Claudette said, still looking down at Sookie.
“Yes, it is a true pity,” Queen Mab said. “With her innate magic, can you imagine the price she would fetch and the lineage she could spawn?” Queen Mab sighed. “Oh well―her cousin comes from the same gene pool and has already produced a telepathic child. Perhaps, Hadley will turn out better than I thought she would.”
Claudette raised the silver sword that she still had in one of her hands. “May I have the honor, my queen?”
Queen Mab smiled at her child. “Of course, my beauty.”
Just as she raised her sword to take Sookie’s life, a yellowish light pounded into Claudette, and the cruel fairy was sent flying. Claude and several others appeared and shot light at Queen Mab’s other fairies too.
“Hello Mother,” Claude said as he approached the queen. “It is nice to see you.”
“Betrayer!” Queen Mab yelled at her son.
“No―you are the betrayer,” a voice said from behind Claude as a beautiful, older fairy with long, silky silver-golden hair strode toward them.
Queen Mab shrank back in fear. “You promised never to come near me again!” she yelled. “You gave your word. We have a treaty!”
“Yes, and you promised to refrain from bringing Sookie here or harming her, so the treaty we had was broken by you first, my dear,” he answered calmly as he bent down to look at his great-granddaughter in person for the first time. He immediately saw that Sookie was dying, but surprisingly, his reaction was to chuckle a bit. He looked at Mab, “She is being kept alive by her bonded one.” He added sarcastically, “If I remember correctly, wasn’t it you who said that fairies couldn’t form bonds with those from other species?”
Queen Mab answered bitterly, “It is you who has passed down your whoring ways to her. If you had never gone to that realm to father the bastard Earl, then you would not have to worry about your tainted lineage now.”
From his bent position, Niall looked up at his wife, “Perhaps if you were capable of love, I would not have sought it elsewhere.” His voice boomed with power, and Queen Mab once again shrank back.
Niall turned back to his great-granddaughter and looked at her lovingly. “Now―let’s get you settled, my dear. I’m sure your vampire could use the rest as well.”
He placed his hand over the fairy bond he felt inside of his great-granddaughter. The bond was flowing with continuous energy and strength from the vampire, Eric Northman. In that moment, Niall decided that he really did like the vampire, despite his race. It was obviously taking a major effort from him to keep his great-granddaughter alive, and the vampire had clearly been at it for a while. He silently cursed the Ancient Pythoness for not letting him know about Sookie and Hadley being there sooner.
Niall closed his eyes and sent his magical power of healing into Sookie. Once he felt the effects of the light fruit completely leave her and her fairy bond settle, he whispered into her ear, “Sleep, dear child.”
Sookie shook her head weakly. “No―Can’t. Leave. Eric,” she managed.
Niall smiled, picked up his great-granddaughter, and cradled her to him. “Just for a few minutes. I promise―you will not lose your vampire in that time.”
For some reason, Sookie trusted the kind voice above her and sank into an unconscious state.
“You force me to retake arms against you, Niall,” Queen Mab said with bile in her voice.
Niall looked at his wife, “I have simply forced you to keep to your word, Mab.” His voice turned cold, “You have tried to compel Sookie to eat the light fruit twice now, which is against our agreement. It seems to be you who wishes to make war again. And look what the result of that has been.”
Queen Mab scoffed, “Fine! Take the product of your infidelity and get her out of my sight! I do not want her anyway.”
Niall looked down at the precious cargo in his arms, “You could not have had her anyway, so it seems.” He chuckled again, “I have never felt a stronger bond―not even between two fairies. My great-grandchild, it seems, has chosen her mate very well.”
“Abomination!” Queen Mab yelled. “She is a whore to vampires.”
Niall’s voice took on a dangerous edge that made Queen Mab shiver, “She is the faithful wife to one vampire, my dear.” His use of the endearment cut right through her. “And that makes her more than you ever were to me.”
“Go!” Queen Mab yelled, though a little meekly.
By this time, Claudette was cautiously making her way to her mother’s side and Mab’s other fairies had taken up defensive positions behind their queen.
Niall looked at Claudette with love in his eyes, “There is always room for you at my side, Daughter.”
For an instant, Claudette’s cold heart melted a bit, but she immediately stiffened. “No!” she said. “I stand with Mother against the pollution of our race. And do not call me daughter! It was her vampire mate that killed your other daughter!” Claudette gestured toward the unconscious Sookie.
Niall nodded sadly. “Claudine will always be beloved by me, but the vampire was following his instinct―attacking her scent―and it was your mother who sent her―once again against our treaty―to Sookie despite the fact that she knew vampires were near. And Claudine was never a warrior as you are, my dear child.”
Claudette sneered, “Do not call me that.”
Niall went on, “I will always love and miss your dear sister, Claudette―just as I will always love you―but I will put the blame for Claudine’s death where it really lies.” He glared at Mab.
With that, Niall pulled Sookie tightly to his chest, turned, and walked away―followed closely by his group of fairies with Claude acting as rear guard.