Last Time: Niall growled a little, but stood up. “We will stay in the kitchen until you call,” the elder fairy said before walking out of the room. Octavia was a step behind him, but stopped at the doorway.
“Dee way tings happen does not necessarily ruin their significance,” Octavia said knowingly. “Dee woman who gave you her light will not hate you for creating a blood tie.” She turned and left the room quietly.
Hoping that the witch was right, Eric looked back down at the woman in his arms—the woman he’d been certain that he’d never see again.
The woman he loved.
“Ek elska þik,” Eric said in a whisper, the ancient language of his parents slipping like smooth silk from his tongue.
“I love you,” he translated, even more quietly, barely brushing the words against Sookie’s skin as he kissed her forehead.
He stood up, taking her with him before setting her back into the chair. He quickly grabbed the blanket on the back of the couch and made a pallet on the floor in front of the fire. He grabbed some throw pillows so that he could ensure Sookie’s comfort, and then he settled them both in front of the fire. He unwrapped the quilt from around her so that he could feel her body against his. But he placed her closer to the fire so that she would receive its warmth. Then, he covered them both with the warm quilt.
“For my people, a fire meant life because it gave both heat and light,” Eric said in a low voice, hoping that the fairy wouldn’t be able to hear. “For my other people—vampires—blood is life.” He paused and looked at the fire for a moment. “For me, you are my heat and my light. And you are quickly becoming the focus of my life. I cannot say how or why or when this happened, but it is the truth, little one. I wish that you were awake right now so that you could choose me as I choose you, but you will not awaken unless I choose for both of us.”
He sighed as he looked into the fire. “Please choose me, Sookie. Please, do not hate me when you wake up,” he said into the flame before biting into his wrist. He let the blood pool before putting the wound up to Sookie’s mouth. She was unresponsive as first, so he used his fingers to gently massage the blood down her throat. “Please,” he whispered.
Sookie began to swallow, and with each gulp, Eric felt that his blood was going home into her. However, this time, it was different. Bill’s blood was not there, interfering with his at every turn. Eric felt himself being welcomed by Sookie’s very essence. He closed his eyes and savored the feeling, for he had never experienced anything like it before. It was warmer than any fire he’d ever felt. It was richer than any flavor he’d ever tasted.
Sookie was beginning to move a little—to feed more forcefully from him. In that moment, Eric would have let her have everything—take everything. She moaned and he pressed into her, wishing he was as bare as his blood inside of her.
“Eric,” she gasped around his wound as she became slightly more aware. She bit into him and he was undone. His fangs had clicked down as soon as his blood hit her system, but now he allowed them to pierce her skin for the first time. He bit into her neck, seeking her blood more gently than he’d ever sought sustenance.
In truth, being gentle was the only thing that made sense to him—despite his vampiric nature. He felt the need to revere the woman who sustained his soul. He’d tasted her only one other time, and that blood had not been fresh from her body. But tasting her like this—in front of a fire, even as she took of him in exchange—was so much more.
The word for the divine afterlife had not changed much between the language of his parents and modern Swedish—or even English. Eric had learned it as “himinn.” But it had not applied to simply the afterlife. It had applied to the kind of contentment that could be obtained if one was at peace with himself or herself. Modern Swedes used the word “himlen.” In Old English, the word was “heofon.” Sookie would understand the word as “heaven.”
As a vampire, Eric had lost understanding the word—in any of the languages he knew. How could a vampire contemplate the afterlife when his life on earth could last forever? But now—drinking Sookie’s blood and having her drink his—the concept became clear to him.
Heaven was not some faraway place. It was not a mead-hall in Asgard. It was in the heart of the woman in his arms.
Eric forced himself to stop after taking a few sips. He licked Sookie’s wound, careful not to spill a single drop of his ambrosia.
Sookie was more cognizant now, licking his wound as well. She had been more or less on her back on the floor, but now she turned toward him.
“Eric,” she whispered, her eyes opening and taking in the fact that she was in the Slidell house with her vampire.
Her home. Her vampire.
“Sookie,” he whispered.
Their eyes finally met—her recognition meeting his passion. And by the next moment, their lips had met too. Their blood mixed in their mouths as they drank in each other with a fervent kiss.
Eric wanted Sookie with everything inside of him. His cock was hard and ready. His hands were explorative. His lips asked and then yielded to hers.
And Sookie was just as eager to take and to yield. She’d awoken to paradise, even as she’d fallen asleep to hell. Her core was on fire, and her underwear was a melted puddle as she tried to stretch her leg around Eric’s.
Eric gave them one minute in the paradise of each other. Hands and mouths and legs and tongues. Nothing was off limits. He even allowed himself to palm her breast and found that it was exactly as he’d imagined—supple and the perfect fit for his hand. In return, her hands were all over his ass, gripping and squeezing and trying to pull their bodies together using that perfectly formed body part as her leverage.
One minute came too soon, but Eric forced his mouth to separate from hers.
“Sookie,” he whispered.
“Eric?” she said, clearly still asking—still wanting to make sure she was with him and not dreaming or dead.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Why am I back here?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he said honestly. “But you are here. Do you remember anything that happened after you left?”
She shivered in his arms. “I felt myself moving away, and there was this pain that came over me. It hurt so bad I thought I was dying.”
I gripped her closer.
“I heard voices,” she went on. “Niall was asking what I’d done, and another voice—a kind voice—was telling him to bring me back. But that’s all I remember.”
“How long were you there?” he asked.
“Maybe thirty seconds?” Sookie responded uncertainly.
He sighed. “Time was not unkind, little one. You were gone no more than fifteen hours here.”
“Eric? Why do I taste blood in my mouth?” she asked as her eyes fully focused for the first time since she’d been back.
He looked for judgment in those eyes, but found none. Still he was nervous. Would she hate having his blood in her again? Would she doubt her feelings again? Would she doubt him?
He spoke nervously, “Whatever happened to you during the time you were gone weakened you. Niall brought you back, and Octavia is here as well. They said that the only way you would wake up was if I gave you my blood. They said that I should take some of yours as well, but they didn’t offer much of an explanation for why. I believe that Niall intends to explain what happened now that you are awake.”
“Niall’s still here?” Sookie asked, licking her lips absentmindedly in a way that greatly distracted the vampire.
“Yes,” Eric said, looking at her lips for a moment before returning his gaze to her eyes.
“I won’t go with him again,” she averred quietly. “When I got to wherever it was he took me to, I felt like my body was going to be ripped in two. I hurt so badly.”
“He cannot take you there again,” Eric assured, leaning in to kiss her forehead. “No one with vampire blood can pass into Faerie.”
“Vampire blood will hinder Breandan and Mab from finding you as well,” Niall said from the doorway of the living room.
Sookie—aided by Eric—scrambled to a sitting position as the witch and the elder fairy came back into the room.
“You were to wait until I called you back in,” Eric growled irritably.
“I got tired of waiting,” Niall said snidely.
As Octavia and Niall retook their places on the couch, Eric shifted his body so that he was leaning against the oversized chair he’d been sitting in before. Not wanting to let go of Sookie, especially given their recent blood exchange, he was happy when she slid over and leaned against his body. He made sure that the pallet moved with her and then covered her once more with the quilt from their bed. Still a little weak, she rested her head onto his broad chest as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders to support her.
Niall looked at their position on the floor judgmentally; however, Eric ignored the disdain on the fairy’s face.
The vampire felt rooted in the woman and in the home and in the hearth that had somehow been built between them during the past weeks. It was on this floor that they’d lain in each other’s arms for comfort during the severing spell. And now, it was on this floor that they’d begun a blood bond based on love. And it was on this floor—right at that very moment—that Eric first felt Sookie’s love for him through the blood tie they’d just made.
Niall sighed and looked directly at Sookie. “The vampire’s blood will not make it impossible for Mab and Breandan to find you, but as long as they do not know you are alive and do not know to look for you, I believe you will be safe enough from them as long as you are with the vampire.”
“What happened when you took me away? Why did I feel like I was dyin’? Why did you keep askin’ me what I’d done? Who was that woman I saw?” Sookie asked her questions in quick succession.
Niall chose to answer her last question first. “The woman was Claudette, one of my granddaughters from my Fae wife. You may think of Claudette as a cousin if you wish.”
“She looked familiar to me,” Sookie remarked.
“Her twin sister is your guardian of sorts. It was she—Claudine—whom I had watching over you after your grandfather and parents were killed.”
“Oh. Like a fairy godmother?” Sookie asked, having to—despite the tension in the room—refrain from giggling at the absurdity of the idea.
“Something like that,” Niall said wryly. “Claudine was assigned to keep an eye on you and to protect you if any Fae came after you. You should never have seen her, so she shouldn’t have looked familiar to you,” he added gruffly.
Sookie shrugged. “I can’t remember a specific time when I did see her; it was just a feeling that I knew her.”
Niall nodded as if pacified by her response.
“So I had a fairy godmother—all this time?” Sookie mused. “I get why she couldn’t help me with vampires around, but why didn’t she help me when I was attacked by Rene or the Werewolf?” she asked. “They both attacked me during the day time. And why didn’t she help with . . . .” She stopped and sunk further into Eric.
“Her uncle Bartlett,” Eric finished for her.
Niall addressed his response to Sookie. “The situation with your uncle was regrettable, but by the time Claudine was assigned to watch over you, your grandmother had already ordered him away. There is a time difference between Faerie and here. Several months went by here between the time Fintan died and the time I came to see Adele Stackhouse. It was only then that I found out you were alive.”
“Okay,” Sookie said, glad at least to know that her fairy family hadn’t been around when her Uncle Bartlett was abusing her. But she was especially glad for Eric in that moment. His arm had tightened around her, and the pressure of his touch made her feel safe—protected.
“As for the other times you were in danger—,” Niall said as if it were obvious, “none of those enemies were fairies. Claudine had been tasked with keeping you safe from them. Plus, Claudine could not be with you at all times—especially after you began associating with,” he paused and looked scornfully at Eric, “his kind. As your kin, she would have sensed if you were in danger and teleported near you. But she was only to reveal herself in a case that was dire.”
Given the fact that she’d almost died several times, Sookie wondered what would be needed to make a case dire. “Why couldn’t Claudine ever introduce herself and tell me what I was?” Sookie asked. Knowing that there had been a fairy close by for most of her life—someone who might have befriended her and helped her with her telepathy—was what made Sookie the most angry at her great-grandfather.
“I determined that it was best that you did not know,” Niall said unashamedly. “And Claudine is bound to obey my wishes. But—now—we must move forward instead of looking to the past.”
Sookie sighed. She’d not expected an apology from Niall. But it would have been nice to understand his reasoning. When it came to his mostly-human descendants, it seemed that the fairy took little notice unless there was a spark present in them. And once he’d prevented her spark from showing itself, he seemed to have pretty much written her off as well, except for providing a guardian that couldn’t really protect her at all when it all came down to it. Niall’s choices and actions had hurt her—had damaged her. And Sookie realized as she looked at the stern-faced fairy in front of her that she’d never get what she really wanted from him: a family.
“Why did you bring Sookie back?” Eric asked. “And why was she so ill?”
Niall leaned forward a little, his eyes piercing into the couple sitting on the floor.
“Sookie could not exist in Faerie because of a bond she has formed in this realm. As soon as she was in Faerie, that bond began to stretch for its complement in this realm. The severity of her reaction was proportional to the strength of that bond and her unwillingness to let go of it.”
“What do you mean a bond?” Sookie asked, sitting up straighter.
Eric too had tensed next to her. “But I felt no vampire bond in her,” Eric said. “What you say isn’t possible.”
Niall ignored Eric and looked at Sookie. “It is a Fae bond. You have formed a Fae bond with the Norseman,” he said accusingly, not even trying to hide his disgust at the fact.
“What are you talking about?” Eric asked. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“It matters not what you have heard of, vampire,” Niall said through clenched teeth. “You would not have heard of this kind of bond because you have no business in fairy affairs.” He scowled. “A Fae has never formed a bond with a vampire—or a human for that matter. Fae bonds are only formed between two fairies, and, even then, they are very rare—perhaps one is formed every hundred years or so.”
Octavia scoffed. “Apparently, dee rules are changing,” she said under her breath.
“Back up!” Sookie said apprehensively. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t form a bond with Eric. I didn’t even know I was part fairy until a few hours ago!”
“You did not know what you were doing, child, but I sensed there was something strong between you and dis vampire when I met you. I had heard only rumors of Fae bonds existing, so I was not sure about what I sensed until I saw you place your light into Eric without harm coming to him,” Octavia said gently. “You should have been told of bonds by your kin,” she added, looking at Niall critically.
Niall growled next to her. “Without her spark, forming a bond would have been impossible for Sookie! And—as I told you before, witch—one with so little Fae blood should not have been able to form one anyway! It has never happened before. And certainly never with a vampire! It’s impossible!”
Octavia glared at the fairy prince. “I am beginning to tink dat you don’t understand dee meaning of dee words, ‘never’ and ‘impossible,’ fairy. You should have sensed dee bond as soon as you saw dem.”
“Yes,” Niall confessed quietly, though with no contrition in his voice. “I will admit that I should have sensed a bond; however, it was not even something I could imagine happening.”
While the two supernaturals on the couch had quarreled with each other, a shift had occurred on the floor. Sookie was now sitting a little further away from Eric, their only physical contact being her knee touching his leg. She was having a hard time understanding the fact that she had formed a Fae bond with Eric; she didn’t even know what one was.
For his part, Eric no longer felt grounded to the floor. The roots which he’d celebrated being planted between Sookie and himself moments before seemed almost like chains now. He thought about the feeling of Sookie being gone from him and focused his blood to examine the site from which his pain had come. He had thought it was his soul, a soul that was empty without her—but a soul nonetheless.
Now the vampire knew that was not the case. What he’d been feeling was a bond. He struggled to remember when he first noticed it, but he couldn’t pinpoint its birth. All he knew was that it had been growing inside of him for a while.
He had thought that growing thing was his love for Sookie. Now—he was not sure. A vampire could use a tie to affect the emotions of a human. And with a bond, both vampire and human could share and affect emotions. What if a Fae bond was similar?
Eric interrupted the bickering fairy and witch.
“How is a Fae bond formed? And what is its effect?” he asked in a cold tone.
Sookie shivered and pulled the quilt around her even as she moved toward the fire.
Niall turned to look at the two on the floor. He smiled slightly when he saw the new, subtle distance between them. On the other hand, Octavia frowned and sighed sadly. She wondered what would become of Eric, whom she had always liked, and Sookie, whom her heart had gone out to like a mother.
“A Fae who has decided to bond needs only to give his or her light to the one he or she has chosen. It is done with a single touch,” Niall said.
“But I didn’t decide. I didn’t choose,” Sookie said insistently, looking over at Eric as if praying for his understanding. He wasn’t looking back at her. He was looking at Niall.
“In your case, great-granddaughter, the choice would not have been conscious,” Niall said, shifting a little uncomfortably in his seat.
“I believe you recognized dis vampire as dee only being to ever look at you with both truth and acceptance in his eyes,” Octavia said, hoping that both Sookie and Eric would see the truth in her words—that they would quell the distance growing between them due to their uncertainties about themselves. “‘Tis only trust dat could have forged such a bond.”
Niall sighed. “The witch is right in that respect, child. You could not have formed a bond with the vampire unless you trusted him unreservedly.”
“But I didn’t always trust Eric,” Sookie said quietly, not looking directly at Eric, but seeing him flinch nonetheless.
“I was not always trustworthy,” the vampire admitted, also in a quiet voice.
“I am talking of a different kind of trust,” Niall said. “Ironically, it has very little to do with actions. It is instinctive.”
“I don’t understand,” Sookie said, sounding a little defeated.
“Even if Eric broke your trust to a certain extent—as I’m sure he would have, given his high-handed nature,” Octavia chuckled a little, “you would have known—on dee inside—dat you could trust him with dee most important part of yourself: your very essence.”
Niall sighed. “As a rule, fairies are taught not to bond, and it is usually in their nature not to bond either.”
“Why did I bond then? How could I do it without knowing it?” Sookie asked.
“Your human side probably compelled you,” Niall said somewhat disdainfully. “You were obviously looking to make a connection with someone since the only one who had ever truly cared for you—your grandmother—had recently died,” he continued matter-of-factly. “You were lonely and looking for someone willing to be your companion.”
Sookie let out a little sob.
Octavia glared at Niall. “You speak too harshly, fairy!” She softened her tone as she turned back to Sookie. “You were seeking something you’d never found before, child: a true connection. There is nothing wrong with craving dat. We all do—you know.”
“So I formed a bond because I was lonely? Because I was pathetic? Because I knew no one would want me otherwise?” Sookie asked, feeling all of her self-doubts flooding through her like a tidal wave. Her fingers itched to reach out for Eric, but she wrapped them into the quilt instead. There was nothing about Eric’s demeanor that told her that he would even accept her touch, let alone offer her comfort. And she was beginning to understand that all the care he had been showing her had originated from a bond that she had unknowingly forced upon him.
“What are the effects of a Fae bond?” Eric asked, repeating his question from earlier.
“Before you hear of the effects, you need to understand that a Fae bond cannot form unless it is accepted,” Niall said punitively. “So you were just as responsible for it as she was, vampire.”
“I understand,” Eric said detachedly. “Sookie unknowingly offered a fairy bond, and I unknowingly accepted it. Now—what are the effects?” he demanded once more.
The Viking had to restrain himself from taking Sookie into his arms. He could smell her tears now, and her harsh words directed at herself had stung him more than silver. However, all of his feelings for her seemed to be coming from what he now recognized was the fairy bond—a foreign thing that had taken him over and that was trying to control him.
How could he trust that any of his feelings for Sookie were his own? How could he trust anything anymore?
A/N: Well—here you go. I hope you are ready for some angst as Eric and Sookie work through this hurdle. I will tell you this much: they will be working through it together—which, considering the issues they both have with trust and “feelings”—is a step in the right direction for them.
Thanks to everyone who commented on the last series of chapters. So appreciated! Speaking of thanks, the UN-Series (Uninvited and Uncharted) has been recognized with two You Want Blood Awards! It got second place in the Flying Monkey (Best Villain) Award for Russell, who is pissed that Appius (from my Comfortably Numb series) beat him. And this series was also awarded 1st place for the Edge of your Seat Award (for best cliffhangers). Thanks to all who voted for me!
P.S. Just in case you are interested, this chapter was the first one I outlined in the UN-Series. I drafted it about three years ago. There is a moment in Back and Forth (which I was working on at the time) when Eric and Sookie discover that a Fae bond has formed between them. That pair (having lived through most of the events of season 4) accepts that Fae bond. This pair is at a different point in their evolution as individuals and as a couple. While I was writing B & F, I asked myself, “What if Eric and Sookie had a harder time accepting the forming of a Fae bond?” And this story stemmed from that thought.
P.S. Once more, here is Seph’s wonderful banner for this chapter. When I told her about the chapter, she made a wonderful .gif to illustrate the Fae Bond. Amazing!