An hour later, Sookie was enjoying the glorious foot massage that Eric had been giving her as they discussed their days. He’d told her about the talk he’d had with Hunter, and Sookie agreed with him that Hunter should soon be told about the fact that his mother could not return to the human realm. They’d made a plan for Sookie to talk to Hadley about it the next day.
Then they had discussed the de Castro threat. Quinn had not come back to Area 5 that they knew of, but he was recruiting Weres in Areas 1 and 2. Tray had people he trusted keeping him informed about the status of those recruitments. So far, payments and promises had been made, but no plans had been set or details given about what Quinn planned for the Weres to do.
Madden also seemed to be welcoming quite a few vampires of the suspicious type into Mississippi—according to intel that had come from Thalia via Bubba. Wherever Thalia was, she had also discovered that the Weres from Russell Edgington’s pack that had remained in Mississippi were once again being supplied with vampire blood—this time by Madden. De Castro was obviously organizing his forces, and the sheriffs of Louisiana were secretly setting up their countermeasures. Truth be told, the more time de Castro took to act, the better prepared the other sheriffs would be. And though Eric wanted the threat dealt with as soon as possible, he also wanted for Sookie to have more time to complete her training so that she would be ready and by his side when the attack did come.
Unfortunately, Nevada was too strong of a state and its vampire population was too high to make a direct offensive against de Castro a viable option. Most of the Nevada vampires were not huge fans of de Castro, according to Eric’s spy in his court; however, if the state was attacked, they would likely fight with him.
Finally, after Eric and Sookie had discussed everything else they had needed to, Sookie could no longer put off talking to Eric about another day of failures with her magic.
To his credit, Eric didn’t view her efforts as failures at all. And he simply listened as she ranted on about Niall’s seemingly impossible tasks for her.
When she was finally done raving, he gave her a little smile. “So—you and Niall are both frustrated because you have not been able to utilize two or more of your new skills at the same time—correct?”
“Yep,” Sookie confirmed with a frustrated sigh. “Every time he has me try to do two or three things at once, I start getting tired. And he says that’s not supposed to happen. Heck—even I know that’s not supposed to happen, but it is.”
“Well—it is clear that you will need to be able to do this multitasking for what is to come, or he would not insist that you know how.”
“I know,” she agreed ruefully.
He gave her a serious look. “I have to concur with him. I want you to be able to use your shielding power to protect yourself, even as you try to attack others. I do not like the thought of those shields failing and you being injured or,” his voice caught, “taken from me.”
She reached out and took his hand in comfort for a moment.
He shook himself out of his fears and then readjusted his position before grabbing her other foot. She settled back into her lounging position as he began rubbing.
“Okay,” Eric began. “Let me go over what we know, and then we will come up with a plan so that you can use your gifts as Niall requires.”
“Just like that?” Sookie asked.
Eric smirked. “Why not?”
Sookie sighed and sank further into the pillows as she flexed her toes against her husband’s extremely talented hands. “See—I knew that you were exactly what I needed.”
He chuckled. “Do not forget that, woman,” he said playfully.
He did get to see her eye roll this time.
He chuckled again, “Okay—I will talk, and you will relax and think.”
Sookie nodded and closed her eyes, groaning under the pleasurable pressure of Eric’s fingers. She took several deep breaths and let Eric’s confidence in her settle over her like a warm blanket.
“Alright,” he started. “First of all, we know that you have the capability of doing as Niall wants. In Mab’s palace, you were able to simultaneously fire lethal strikes of your light even as you protected yourself with one of your force fields.”
She smiled at his use of her term for her newly acquired power; it sounded quite funny coming from him. “Yes,” she agreed.
“And I bet that you unknowingly placed a force field around Hadley too—in order to protect her.”
“I don’t know,” Sookie said, opening one eye to look at him. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
He grinned. “I know you, and I’m sure that you would have protected her if you could. And you say that she was not touched during your fight with the other fairies—correct?”
She nodded and then shrugged. “I don’t know for sure, but it makes sense that I would have tried to protect her.”
There were a few moments of silence as Eric continued Sookie’s massage.
“I was in the fairy world at that time as well—at least by the pool. And that allowed for me to send you my magic directly—as soon as I felt your distress. If I have analyzed my actions correctly that day, I can say that I first gathered my own magic in my body, then used the vampire bond as a kind of conduit, and finally sent everything I had into the fairy bond in a strong burst.”
She opened her eyes and smiled at him gratefully. “That burst helped to wake me up from my fears and to fight.”
He smiled and continued, “I was certainly harnessing everything that I am as vampire as well as everything that we are together at the same time when I sent you that burst. And, Sookie, I had never felt more magic in myself before that day.”
Sookie closed her eyes again to concentrate. “Keep talking. I think I might be starting to understand why I keep having trouble.”
He grinned. “I never doubted that you would, min kära.”
He continued his relaxing touches between her toes. “So, it seems that the fairy bond can be like a,” he paused for a moment, trying to look for an analogy that would mean something to her. “Do you know much about plumbing?”
Sookie opened one of her eyes and smiled flirtatiously. “You tell me.”
He chuckled and popped her foot playfully. “Oh—you definitely understand the in’s and out’s of our particular plumbing, lover, but I mean the plumbing of a house.”
“Well—I know that it’s not good when there’s a leak. Gran and I had one once, and a plumber had to tear down a whole wall to find it.”
“Yes,” Eric said. “That is good. I think that your problem is that you are springing a leak—so to speak—when you try to use your gifts, Sookie.”
“Huh?” she asked. “Springin’ a leak?”
He grinned. “Yep—definitely. I want you to think of your gifts and magic like the plumbing system in our home, Sookie.”
She sat up a little. “Okay—tell me more.”
“Well most homes the size of ours have one main water line coming in, and that line will supply the whole house. Our main line branches out to other parts of our home that require water. However, our system is somewhat different from others.”
“How so?” Sookie asked.
“Well, when the house was first constructed, there was just a simple pumping system from a well put in. Plumbing was added throughout the house in 1934, but the water was still drawn solely from the well. However, the water pressure from the well was not enough to sustain all the water needed for things like a washing machine or a dish washer, so—according to the records of our home—a water line from the city’s system was connected to our main line in 1972. That was also the year that your grandfather Earl replaced the old lead pipes that were first installed with iron and copper pipes.”
Eric continued, “During the first set of renovations to the house after the Maenad’s stay there, I had the system updated again. The main line and most of the branching lines that carry warm water are still copper—though it is new and of better quality than before; there is also some plastic piping in certain places.”
Sookie was sitting up straight now, fascinated by the story that Eric was telling her about the house she’d grown up in. She sighed as she thought about all the care he’d put into their home when she was missing and in Faerie for the first time. She unconsciously reached out and began stroking his long leg even as he continued rubbing her foot.
He gave her a soft smile and continued, “Your Grandparents were quite frugal when they had the city supply added, so the water to the house still comes primarily from the well, and the city water is just drawn upon when needed. It is quite an ingenious system, according to Scott, and he left the overall structure of it intact when he oversaw the updates.”
“Cool,” Sookie said as she continued stroking his leg. “Now―help me to understand how all this relates to my magic, and I’ll let you keep those two dollars I won from you earlier.”
Eric chuckled. “Okay. I want you to visualize that our fairy bond is the main line of your magic.”
“Okay,” Sookie said.
“Close your eyes and imagine it, min kära,” Eric winked.
“Fine,” Sookie closed her eyes and tried to visualize a big copper pipe. “Okay. Got it.”
Eric nodded. “Alright. Now, our shared magic—the magic of our bonds flowing together―is the well. It feeds into the main line and is what sustains all of our basic needs. It is what we draw upon when we are together. It is that which flows between us.”
“Okay,” Sookie said, imagining the well feeding into the main water line.
“Good. Now there are times when the main line may need more water for certain operations, especially now that there is also the guesthouse to supply, so the city water will provide that. The same is true for you, my love. There will be times when we are not together or when I am not able to help you as you need for me to. It is at these times when you must take your power from another source—from your own spark. Like the city water, it will―perhaps―seem that this source is farther away or harder to access, but it is not. The water is waiting there all the time and at the ready for when you need to draw upon it. The process is automatic and occurs as soon as more water pressure is required.”
She opened one of her eyes again. “It doesn’t seem automatic to me.”
He chuckled again. “I think that is because you do not trust the system, or perhaps you are uncomfortable drawing from your own source of magic, Sookie. I know, however, that you are very strong. You are, for example, keeping me in your dream with you even now. Is this something that you must concentrate upon to do?”
She shook her head and looked at him. “No, but you are also ‘helping.’ I do have to call you into the dreams, but then you seem to grab onto the bond and pull yourself to me. When the dreams are over, you have to let go, just as much as I do.”
“Okay,” Eric relented. “I suppose—then—that the shared dreams come from the power of our shared magic through the fairy bond.”
“The well water.”
“Yes,” Eric agreed. “Let’s think of what we know comes from you and you alone.”
“Precisely,” Eric said with a smile. “That is your first and most developed ability. It is clearly from your own source of magic—your spark. And it is indicative of your wonderful and powerful mind, min kära. Both your telepathy and your shields are automatic. And I believe that more of what powers them—as much power as you might need—is just waiting for you to tap into it.
“But with the gifts that were awakened by your blood and magic—my light power and my force field thingy—I need to draw on our shared magic—the well.”
Eric shrugged. “I don’t think so, my love. I think that your ‘system’ can become automatic, just like the plumbing of our home.”
She screwed up her face. “Easier said than done.”
He chuckled and gave her foot a light squeeze. “Perhaps it is not the most ideal thing. Even your grandparents likely didn’t like having to pay for city water and would have wished that the well could provide for all of their needs; however, I am sure that Adele liked her washing machine, and I know you enjoy the dishwasher.”
She giggled. “Yep.”
He smiled, “I think it was rather clever of Earl to install a system that still drew heavily on the well, but also made your gran’s life more comfortable by providing a secondary source of water.” He paused. “I find it rather romantic―even.”
Sookie smiled at her romantic vampire. “Very.”
“It is what a helpmeet does, min kära,” he said as he rubbed up and down her legs in long strokes. “And it was smart of him to have a back-up plan―correct? When the well of our shared strength does not have enough pressure, you must have your back-up plan as well so that you can use your new abilities.”
Sookie nodded, starting to understand the ins and outs of Eric’s analogy. “So the fairy bond is the source of the water for the house, and that is where my new abilities are originating from. However, to power that source, I need water, which I can generally just draw from the well, which is the magic we share together. But when I need more water pressure, I can draw from another place—the same place that has always supplied my telepathy.”
“Exactly,” Eric said. “But you need not fear; the magic from the well will never go completely dry. It is just that the water pressure—as you said before—may not be high enough. So the well water always flows through the main line, min kära—ALWAYS—even if that flow is sometimes weak. So even if you don’t feel me as much, you can know that I am there with you nonetheless, and that will never change—no matter what happens to me. It is a deep well, min kván, and there is much water under our land to sustain it. There is a deeper river flowing underneath the region where we live. So the well water will not stop; however, it can be augmented as needed.”
Sookie smiled. “So you think this is what Niall meant when he was talking about all my magic coming from the fairy bond but me needing to take it from my own spark too?”
Eric nodded. “Yes. I think there may be times when you must augment the power of your magic from a place that is not from me or us—that is not the well. I think that this source is you—specifically, the fairy inside of you. I think that you must feel her too in order to have the amount of power you need.”
“Okay,” Sookie said, catching on completely. “And the pipes that lead from the main line to all the other parts of the house are the various gifts that I have now—my abilities.”
“Yes,” Eric said. “That is how I am thinking about it. If the water pressure is high enough, then many things can happen all at once. A faucet can be turned on in the kitchen, a sprinkler can be on outside, and you can be taking a shower, even as the washing machine is on, but the water pressure is sustained.”
Sookie sat up even straighter. “So using my force field should be like turning on a sprinkler. All I have to do it to turn it on and trust that the water is still going to it while I go and do something else.”
“Exactly,” Eric said. “You activate one facet of your magic, and then you can stop thinking about it. You must be confident, and know that it will be supplied until you turn it off. If you trust in that, Sookie, I do not think the magic will simply disappear. Then you can turn your attention to something else.”
“And just hope that I don’t spring a leak.”
Eric chuckled and took his wife into his arms. “If you do, we will just have to learn how to fix it together.”
“Together,” Sookie repeated.