About forty minutes after Hunter and Eric had left, Claude and Sookie both watched Hadley with heavy hearts as she went with Katherine into Faerie. Sookie sighed as her cousin left their view to go begin her new life. Exhausted, she sat down near the pool. Claude sat next to her and handed her a cup of the pool’s healing water.
She thanked him with a smile.
“You should get some rest. I’m not sure when Niall will be back,” Claude said.
“I know,” Sookie responded. “But I’ll wait for a while longer—just to make sure Eric and Hunter are settled in okay. I guess Niall must be spending time with Jason,” she speculated. “I hope so.”
“Hmm,” Claude sounded. “You should drink more of the water,” he said as he refilled her cup. “You used much of your magic to ensure Eric’s safety last night and this morning.”
Sookie sighed as she again took the cup from Claude. “I’m just glad it worked to keep him safe.”
“It did,” Claude assured again, though his voice was a little stilted.
She looked at him curiously. “What is it, Tanu? What aren’t you telling me?”
Guiltily, Claude looked away.
“What?” Sookie probed.
Claude shook his head. “I won’t lie to you, Tanah. Please don’t ask me to tell you more right now.”
Sookie’s eyes widened with concern. “What’s going on? Tell me that Eric wasn’t hurt by the sun!”
Claude looked back at her. “He was not. But when we arrived, he received a call from someone named Duncan.”
Sookie sat straight up and looked toward the pool. “That means de Castro’s forces are attacking! Claude, you have to take me to Eric—right now!”
“No,” Claude said forcefully. Then his tone softened. “This is why they did not want you to know. Since you are not ready, Eric is positive that this is not the threat you were waiting for. He wants you here and safe, Tanah. He charged me with the task of keeping you secure, and I aim to do just that!” He spoke passionately.
“Listen, Claude Brigant,” Sookie said, “since when do you take orders from a vampire? I need to get to Eric!”
“Sookie Stackhouse,” Claude returned forcefully, “calm down and think for a moment. Are you ready? Have you learned to control your powers?”
Sookie’s nostrils flared with anger, but she shook her head. “No!”
“Then?” Claude asked.
“Then I shouldn’t just run off half-baked to the human realm,” she admitted.
“Right!” Claude said, though he was clearly confused by her wording.
Trying to calm herself, Sookie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She took Claude’s hand. “I’m pissed off at you for not tellin’ me that somethin’ was goin’ on, but thanks for makin’ sure I didn’t do somethin’ dumb.”
He squeezed her hand. “I’m sorry I kept it from you.”
She nodded and opened her eyes. “Will you show me what’s happening?”
Claude shook his head. “I’m not sure that is a good idea.”
“Me neither,” Sookie breathed, “but I still need to see him.”
“Promise you will not do something stupid?” Claude asked.
“Like jump into the pool?” Sookie retorted.
“Yeah—just like that,” Claude responded.
“I won’t,” she promised. “And if I can’t help myself, I give you permission to use one of your fields—okay?”
Claude shook his head a little. “Okay.”
“Have I ever mentioned that you are the best adopted fairy brother I have?”
“Yeah right,” Claude said, using one of Sookie’s usual phrases to respond.
Claude squeezed Sookie’s hand and turned them toward the pool. He closed his eyes and activated the magic within it to show them what Sookie desired to see. He just hoped that she wouldn’t be hurt by what she saw.
It took a moment for Eric’s image to come into focus because the vampire was moving so fast. He was whirling around several enemies, pushing his sword through their necks as if they were hot butter.
Sookie gasped at the sight of her husband. It was still a little disturbing for her to know what an adept killer he could be. And it was even more disconcerting to see it. However, she steeled herself to those thoughts immediately. Eric was, after all, defending their home, their family, and himself. Their enemies had come to kill them—not the other way around.
Sookie squeezed Claude’s hand tighter as she watched her husband dodging bullets and taking down more foes.
“He is good,” Claude remarked with admiration in his voice.
“The best,” Sookie responded as her heart did somersaults in her chest. She felt a mixture of fear, pride, and what could only be described as blood-lust in that moment. She wondered if that last feeling was coming from her or from Eric. Given the beauty of her husbands, graceful movements, she figured that at least some of it was from her.
However, she didn’t have time to consider this for long as she watched Eric turn his focus onto a woman who literally made her skin crawl. She knew immediately that it had to be Hallow.
Claude held onto Sookie tightly as she inched toward the pool. “No, Tanah,” he warned her.
Without taking her eyes off of Eric, she nodded to acknowledge the promise she’d made. However, she had to actively concentrate on keeping her ass to the ground as she saw Hallow chanting. However, a stirring in the air seemed to stop Hallow’s spell from reaching her mate, and Eric’s head moved as if he were looking at someone on the second story of the house.
Eric turned his attention back toward the witch, who was now cutting her arm. As soon as Sookie saw the blood, Claude had to hold her back again.
“He’s mine!” she growled.
“He knows,” Claude said comfortingly. “Just wait, Sookie. Stay with me.” Claude didn’t want to have to bind her with his magic to keep her still, but he would if need be.
Sookie tried to feel her husband’s emotions through their bonds and realized that he was calm and steady. He was literally clinging to the fairy bond and their love in that moment, and Sookie knew that he was not tempted by the witch’s blood. She calmed herself and watched. Eric launched toward the circle encasing the witch, but his sword did not get through. After that, there was more talk between Eric and Hallow, and then Eric tried to stab at the circle once again. Again, he was repelled.
Sookie felt more than she saw what happened next. The fairy bond inside of her chest seemed to flutter and then warm, and she realized that the power she’d transferred into Eric that morning and her blood were somehow pooling inside of her husband.
“Digon,” she heard Claude mutter under his breath. She’d heard that word before and knew it was a kind of curse word in the Fae language. “The light, Tanah. Look at his hand.”
Sookie was already looking at it. Eric’s hand was lit up with light that looked similar to her own fairy light bursts; however, his was reddish in color, just as it had been when he’d held the second dagger. Holding her breath, she watched as her husband made a fist and pooled the energy. Though she didn’t know if it would help, she tried to send Eric her love and confidence through the fairy bond.
In the next moment, she saw the power burst from her mate’s hand. The force of it seemed as strong as anything she’d ever done before—maybe even stronger—and Hallow and the man who was with her in the circle flew out of their protective barrier.
Sookie felt pressure in the fairy bond as she watched Eric fall to his hands and knees. She tried to pull away from Claude again.
“He’s hurt!” she cried out.
“I know,” Claude said. “But you cannot go. For both of your sakes, you cannot go!”
“But he’s calling me!” she insisted. “The bond is calling me. He needs me!”
This time, Claude did have to use magic to restrain her. He put up one of his force fields around them to keep her from lunging into the water.
“Tanu,” Sookie’s voice was begging, “please. He’s hurt.”
Claude could see the tears in her eyes. “Not this way, Tanah. You cannot help him this way, and you know it!”
Sookie felt it when Eric dampened their bond. And even as tears began to stream down her cheeks, she realized that he was trying to make sure she stayed right where she was. She took a deep breath and steeled herself as she watched the man she loved on the ground. And in that moment she knew with certainty that she needed to honor Eric’s decision. Clearly, he didn’t feel that this was the time when he would need her, but it didn’t mean that she wasn’t going to do her damnedest to try to help him from where she was.
“Okay, Claude,” she said with certainty in her voice. “I’m not gonna try to go into the pool, but I still need to help him.” She looked at her fairy brother out of the corner of her eye even as she kept her main focus on Eric. She saw that her mate was gripping his sword tightly in his hand as if getting ready to strike, but she also saw that the sun was beginning to redden his beautiful alabaster skin. “I have to heal him. He’s my bonded. I have healed him before.”
“But how? He is there, and you are here.” Claude responded.
“I’ve healed him through the pool before. I cured his bonding sickness through the pool.”
“No,” Claude corrected. “Your body produced the healing magic needed to heal your own bonding sickness. You were just unconsciously passing that magic to Eric through your connection. But since you are neither injured nor with him physically, your body is not sensing the need to produce magic, so you cannot help him.”
“Exactly!” Sookie exclaimed. “If I am not with him, my body needs to be hurt in order to produce my healing magic.”
Claude turned from the image in the pool to Sookie. “No!”
“Tanu,” Sookie begged. “I know that if you shoot me, then I will produce magic to heal, and then I could send it to Eric. He’s startin’ to burn!”
“No!” Claude said firmly. “He will be okay. Niall is there.”
“Please,” Sookie pleaded. “You don’t have to hurt me bad—just a little. Just enough so I can try to stop the burning, not enough to fix it.”
“Claude!” she yelled. “Please.”
Claude looked into her eyes and melted. He knew that if it were Hadley in danger, he’d want to do the same thing. “Okay,” he relented. He lowered his force field. “Ready?” he asked.
“Hurry,” she said, as she watched smoked begin to rise from her husband’s body.
Without dropping her hand, Claude shot his energy into her. Normally, the blast would have thrown her back, but Claude gripped her tightly, holding her in place.
“Fuck! Ouch!” Sookie exclaimed as the shock of Claude’s blast entered her body. Immediately, she felt her own body trying to heal itself, just was she knew it would. She willed herself not to let it and instead turned her attention back toward her husband, whose skin was now blistering. She felt her magic leave her body as if through the fairy bond and prayed that it would reach the destination she desired.
She sighed with relief as she saw Eric’s skin stop burning. Then she gasped in horror as Hallow shot into the image, this time in wolf form. Before Sookie could launch herself into the pool, Claude had a shield around them again, and Niall came into the image. Just as easily as if he were flicking an insect from his shoulder, Niall took his sword and ended Hallow. He had his weapon put back in its casing before Sookie could blink. His actions were all so quick and efficient that she wondered if the sword had even gotten any blood on it.
“Yes!” Sookie cried out with delight. “Your dad’s a badass!”
Claude chuckled at Sookie’s reaction. “Indeed,” he agreed.
They watched as Eric was taken inside to the first-floor bedroom, which Sookie knew had been made light-tight during the renovations to the house. Sookie gasped in surprise when she saw Tara offer Eric her wrist and was internally grateful when he didn’t take it, even though she desperately wanted him to heal.
Claude chuckled again.
“What?” Sookie asked.
“Your internal conflict. You and your mate make me laugh.”
Sookie smacked Claude with her free hand without looking up from the pool.
“Well—if this is what I can expect after I go to all the trouble of hurting you,” Claude joked, “then do not expect me to zap you again.”
Sookie squeezed his hand and chuckled in relief when Tara returned with some TruBloods. She was even more relieved when Eric started drinking them and seemed to be becoming stronger.
“Do you think the rest of the—um—battle is goin’ okay?” she asked nervously.
“Niall has stayed with your vampire; I’m sure he would have rejoined the fight if there was a need,” Claude assured. “If there is one thing my father enjoys―it is a good fight.”
Sookie nodded as her emotions caught up with her. She took some deep breaths as she watched Eric continue to drink. She sighed, so grateful that she hadn’t lost him. She tried to send all of the love in her heart to him through the fairy bond, and he seemed to be looking at her through the pool for a moment.
“Sookie,” Claude said quietly, “we need to shut down the image for a few minutes.”
She went to protest, but Claude stopped her.
“Please, Tanah. My blast did hurt you—not badly, but it did—and you were already tired after giving Eric so much of your magic earlier. And I need to rest a little as well.” He paused, “We will leave off the image only long enough for you to drink and then bathe in order to replenish yourself. Then we will look again to make sure that Eric is still okay. But for now, we must ensure that you are okay.”
She began to argue again.
“Think of your husband,” Claude said firmly. “What would he have you do?”
Sookie scrunched up her brow. “You don’t play fair.”
“I never claimed to,” Claude chuckled.
“How do you know that once I’m in that pool, I won’t just go to him?” Sookie asked.
“Because you promised,” Claude said with a shrug. “And you don’t yet know how to.”
“But I did try to go,” Sookie said with a raised brow. “And I think if I wanted to badly enough, I could go to him.”
“I know,” Claude sighed, “but you tried only because you were following your emotions. Now that Eric is safe, I believe you will follow your head.”
Sookie nodded and looked back at Eric’s image. He was asleep now. They watched as Miranda entered to check on Eric. She was holding onto her arm as if it had been injured, but she seemed fine otherwise. Lafayette brought Jesus in minutes later. Jesus looked shaken and pale, as if he were ill, but had clearly insisted upon looking in on Eric. Tray walked in, and after talking to Miranda for a moment, he took a seat next to Eric, obviously to watch over him while he slept.
“Sookie?” Claude said gently. “Your mate is at rest and is being looked after. It is time that you took care of yourself.”
She nodded, and, after taking a deep breath, she dropped Claude’s hand. The image immediately disappeared. Sookie sighed. “I’ll stay in the pool for five minutes.”
“Twenty,” Claude said.
“Ten,” Sookie compromised.
“Ten it is,” Claude smiled.