“We are each other’s magnitude and bond.”—Gwendolyn Brooks
Last time:“We have one more thing to discuss, and then you should get some sleep,” he continued quietly. “Tomorrow, we will leave here around dawn. I will wake you an hour before we go so that you can eat your morning meal and so that we can discuss tomorrow’s route before I get into the enclosure in the car.”
She nodded and they were silent for a few minutes.
“Okay. What else do you want to discuss?” Sookie finally asked.
“Forming a vampire bond,” he responded.
Sookie exhaled loudly.
“It will be your decision—whether or not we form one,” Eric said. “But I want you to begin considering it.”
“Will you tell me about it? What it will do?”
He nodded. “Yes. A vampire bond is rare—probably just as rare as a Fae bond.”
“It creates equal footing between a bonded pair. Plus, long separations are impossible between a bonded pair.”
“And vampires like control—and independence,” Sookie observed.
Sookie took a deep breath. “How is a bond different than a tie?”
“Well—as you know, a tie occurs when a vampire gives a human blood. In essence the vampire’s blood ties itself to the human’s blood. That tie will eventually die if it is not renewed. Ties are made for a variety of reasons.” Eric paused for a moment. “Would you like to hear them?”
“Okay,” Eric explained, “generally, a vampire will tie with a human in order to control the human to a certain extent. The more blood, the deeper the influence. The older the vampire, the deeper the influence.”
Sookie shifted a little, stretching out her legs until they were nearer the center of the couch.
Eric went on. “There are really two schools of thought among vampires—as far as controlling humans goes. There are those that use glamour almost exclusively and those that rely on ties. Godric was of the former school of thought. However, ties are thought to be better by many—stronger than just glamour alone—but a vampire gives something of himself when he gives his blood. Most vampires use glamour or a tie to control at least one human in their lives. These are called ‘day-men’ or ‘day-women.’ As I told you, I have—or had—a day-man named Bobby Burnham, and I have had other day-men before, such as Brady’s grandfather. Until Lafayette, I have always used glamour with humans I needed to control in some way.”
“Can you glamour Weres?”
“Not as easily as humans, but—yes—I have developed that skill over time. I have used glamour with Weres in order to make sure they cannot speak of my businesses or my resting places if they know of them.”
“What about Brady?”
Eric smirked. “You are clever to think of him, Sookie. Yes—Brady has been glamoured to keep my secrets too—and to give me a call if he ever decides to betray me.”
“A call?” Sookie asked.
Eric nodded. “It is a failsafe I have used with all my day-people too. It is impossible to anticipate all situations that might make one person betray another. So glamour can’t be used as a deterrent for all potentialities.”
“But—if someone ever did decide to betray you, you’d be the first to know,” Sookie observed.
“Can vampires glamour other types of beings—other than humans and Weres?”
Eric shook his head. “No. We cannot glamour other vampires or fairies, which is likely why you are immune. Also, we cannot glamour demons, and I couldn’t glamour Octavia even though she is only part Dae. In addition to not being susceptible to glamour, demons are also able to conceal their secrets with other forms of magic. That is why they make such good lawyers,” he said with a chuckle.
“Wait. Octavia is part demon?” Sookie asked, stretching her legs out a little more.
“I thought I’d told you that she was,” Eric said.
Sookie shook her head. “No—you said that Desmond Cataliades was her godfather, but I didn’t know she was part demon.”
“Sorry,” Eric said, unconsciously reaching out and taking her foot to begin rubbing it. “I didn’t mean to keep it from you.”
“I know,” Sookie said. “Funny. I could ‘hear’ Octavia with my telepathy,” she mused, “though she was a bit harder to read than others. I had speculated that was because she was a witch.”
“Maybe it was,” Eric shrugged. “Since she is both witch and part-Dae, she is formidable. Octavia—because of her practice in human magic as well as her inherent Dae magic—is able to cover her demon scent. Thus, she has the ability to pretend like she’s only a human.” His eyes filled with humor. “She can also pretend as if she’s been glamoured. I’ve seen it firsthand.”
Sookie grinned. “Lemme guess. She tricked you with her performance.”
Eric chuckled. “Yes—the first time I met her.” He shook his head. “In fact, she had me believing that she could be glamoured for quite some time. And it was decades before I knew about her demon lineage.”
Sookie giggled. “You’ll have to tell me more about her sometime.”
Eric smirked. “Maybe. Anyway, though hardly anyone knows of Octavia’s Dae blood, many supernaturals know that her husband is part demon. And trust me when I say that no vampire wants to fuck with demons. They are known to hold grudges for generations.”
“I’ll remember that,” Sookie smiled. “So are you saying that vampires will ‘think’ they have glamoured Octavia, even when they haven’t? Or are you saying that they will just leave her alone because of who her husband is.”
“A little of both,” Eric answered, smiling at Sookie’s astuteness. “That is another reason why Octavia’s not really worried about Hallow. If Hallow does track her down somehow, she will hold back because of Octavia’s connections. The most Hallow could do would be to tell Victor or Russell that Octavia was involved. Thinking she was a human witch married to a demon, Russell would likely contact the demon and ask for his permission to glamour Octavia so that he could question her about me.”
“And not having anything to hide, she would agree without hesitation,” Sookie intoned.
“Of course,” Eric said with a wry smile.
Neither she nor Eric had taken note that they’d inched a little closer to each other and that he was still lightly stroking her foot through the quilt.
Sookie thought for a minute. “Why else do vampires make ties?”
Eric sighed. “As I suggested, it is most often to maintain control over the emotions of humans—especially day-people. But sometimes they create ties to keep pets in line as well.”
“Pets?” Sookie asked.
“Yes. A pet is a human that the vampire claims as his or her own. Other vampires cannot use the pet without the permission of the pet’s master or mistress. Pets are kept for blood and sex—and for vampires to demonstrate their power upon,” he added with disdain. “The practice of making pets has been around for as long as vampires have been. Pets used to be called sanguinem iumenta.”
“What does that mean?”
“Was Bill marking me as his ‘blood animal’ when he said I was ‘his’ at Fangtasia?” Sookie asked, disgust tinging her tone.
“Yes,” Eric answered. “As his superior in rank, I could have taken you from him, but I intuited that that action would not have helped my cause to win you,” he smirked.
“It wouldn’t have,” she chuckled. “So—a tie helps a vampire track a human, allows the vampire to feel the human’s emotions, lets the vampire control those emotions to a certain extent, enables the vampire to send dreams of various kinds to the human, and causes the human to be more attracted to the vampire. Does that about sum things up?”
“Yes,” Eric smiled. “That is a good summation.”
“Well—as I have said, they require three mutual blood exchanges.”
“You and I had our first exchange already—right?” she questioned. “After Niall brought me back from the fairy world?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Making an exchange was what Niall and Octavia counseled for me to do in order to wake you up. I now know that they also suggested it because it somehow healed the Fae bond, which had been,” he paused, “traumatized by our sudden separation.”
She let out a shaky breath. “And—later that night—I had your blood again?”
“Yes. But since that was not a mutual exchange, it just made our tie a little stronger. Thus far, all we have is a tie. It would not be termed a bond until after a third exchange.”
“So with two more exchanges, we would have a vampire bond,” she said.
“Yes,” he confirmed.
“You’ve told me why vampires make ties, and I see how ties could benefit them. But why do vampires create bonds?”
Eric sighed. “A vampire makes a bond for only one of two reasons: affection or obsession.”
“So I’m lucky Bill didn’t force one on me?” Sookie asked with a little shiver.
Eric nodded in affirmation. “Yes. Ironically, you were fortunate that Sophie-Anne was Bill’s master and had ordered that you be procured for her. Left to his own devices, Bill would have likely forced or manufactured enough blood exchanges to bond with you.”
Sookie took a long, shaky breath. “And bonds for affection?” she asked.
Eric’s expression relaxed, and for a moment he looked at her with an expression that could only be described as longing. “A bonded human would be a true sharer with his or her vampire; the human would feel the vampire’s emotions as much as the vampire would feel the human’s. If close enough, the human could also track the vampire, which could—potentially—be very dangerous for the vampire. However, the vampire would have the ability to shut down the bond to prevent the tracking. I don’t know if you would have a similar shielding ability. Being part-Fae, you might.”
“Okay,” Sookie said. “What else is different about a bond?”
“We would both be able to control each other’s emotions to a certain extent, but from what I have heard, it is not as we might think—and not nearly as,” he paused, “subtle as a tie.”
“Yes. As you know, it is difficult for a human to know when a vampire is affecting a tie, though I think the fairy in you helped you to intuit, to a certain extent, when you were being manipulated by Compton—at least once you knew what you were looking for.
“With a bond, you would definitely know what was coming from me,” Eric continued. “I could send you emotions—like caution or comfort. But you would feel what was coming from me, and you could accept the emotions or reject what I sent. You would have choice. And—you could do the same for me. And we would not be able to lie to one another—at least, not without our deception coming through the bond.”
“So it’s not like the Fae bond or a tie because we would know what our own emotions were?”
“Yes. And we would not have to accept what the other was sending,” he reiterated.
“Well—that actually sounds preferable to what the Fae bond does,” Sookie observed.
Eric nodded. “But there are other things too—things you might not like much.” He sighed. “A vampire bond would make us even more sexually attracted to each other—probably to the point that we’d be in physical pain if we resisted the urge to have intercourse.”
Sookie immediately reddened. “Uh—okay.” She giggled to cut the tension she felt. “Not that I wasn’t already attracted to you.”
He smirked. “And I you.”
“So it would be like the attraction a tie creates—but on crack? Plus, the attraction that’s been between us all along?”
Eric chuckled. “Yes. Everything that a tie can do, a bond does stronger or slightly differently. The main difference between the two is that the vampire shares control with the human, thus accounting for the rarity of bonds—as I indicated before. There are other benefits for the human as well. A bond helps the human to live longer, especially if blood sharing is regular. A human’s senses are sharper, and he or she is stronger. The human is less likely to get sick.”
“What does the vampire get out of a bond?” Sookie asked skeptically. “Vampires always seem to get the upper hand in things like this.”
Eric chuckled. “You are learning. However, in a bond, the vampire doesn’t get an upper hand; I think there is more of a balance achieved. The main attraction is that the vampire gains a human companion for a long while, a companion who is incapable of betraying his or her vampire. Most often, a bond is a precursor to a vampire turning a human with whom he or she wants to maintain an enduring relationship. However, according to Niall, we would not have to consider the option of turning you for a long time because your lifespan will be much longer than that of a full-blooded human.” He paused. “Octavia also believes that if we had a vampire bond, it might counter the power of the Fae bond to a certain extent.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“This,” Eric said, pointing to their hands which had now become entangled without either of them realizing it sometime during their conversation.
He sighed. “I just realized that we were touching a few moments ago. I do not recall initiating the touch. I do not recall returning the touch. But I feel better for having it, and I am loath to break it.”
She looked at their hands, registering for the first time that they were touching. “Oh!” she said with surprise. However, she couldn’t bring herself to break the touch either.
“Octavia thinks that a vampire bond would help us to not be so dependent upon physical contact—because we would feel each other’s emotions. When two fairies bond, they would likely be able to communicate through their telepathy—even if they were out of each other’s sight. And that likely helps them to be assured that their mate is safe and secure. A vampire bond could do something similar for us—only, instead of thoughts, we would feel each other’s emotions.”
“So—if we could feel each other through the vampire bond, we’d be able to be more independent from each other?”
Eric nodded. “Theoretically—though we would still probably feel better when we were in close proximity.”
Sookie contemplated for a moment. “What else are you thinking?” she asked astutely.
“Do you want honesty?”
“I am thinking that a vampire bond might help us to distinguish our own feelings from those of the Fae bond. I am thinking that a vampire bond would allow me more equal footing in whatever it is that we are making together.”
She sighed. “You’re probably right.”
He squeezed her hand. “But it would take away one of the things you like best about me?”
“Mystery,” he smiled. “You would not be able to hear my thoughts, but you would feel what I felt. The silence you crave—and the peace—would be replaced by your knowing my emotions unless I was actively blocking them from you. And I would sense yours even more strongly than I do now. We wouldn’t have the ability to keep secrets from each other, Sookie.”
The telepath exhaled loudly. “Is there anything else?”
“If you were in pain, I would feel it as if it were my own. If I were in pain, you would feel it—though I could shield some of it.”
“And there’s no way to break a vampire bond—right? You said before that even Octavia’s spell wouldn’t have done anything to a bond—if that’s what I’d had with Bill?” she asked.
Eric tensed, and Sookie squeezed his hand.
“A vampire bond is breakable in only one way: death,” Eric reported. “Of what I have heard, the vampire would survive such a breaking; however, the human usually doesn’t.” He sighed. “And even if magic could be found to break it, I have a feeling that it would be extremely dangerous for us to try because of the Fae bond. Once we are closer, the Fae bond will fight to keep us that way.”
Sookie considered for a moment. “What if another vampire tried to give me blood?”
“Your body would expel it to prevent a tie.”
“What about the blood between us? Would we have to keep exchanging?”
Eric sighed again, sounding very human at the moment. “Sookie, I already crave your blood like nothing else. Even as we sit here, I thirst for it, and that feeling is coming from my own instincts as well as from the Fae bond, which wants me to take it so that we will be closer—more connected. TrueBlood and even the human blood I drank last night pale in comparison, but they still nourish me, which is good. If we had a vampire bond, I would have to take your blood on occasion; otherwise, I would be driven mad by my cravings—to the point that I would hurt you. If we formed a vampire bond, we would have to feed from each other at least once a week in order to slow your aging. We could try to refrain from sex, but that would be difficult.”
Sookie was somewhat astounded by the evenness of Eric’s tone as he explained everything to her. However, she could tell from his eyes that there was a storm inside of him—at least until he noticed that she was looking at him with a little trepidation. Then, he reigned in his emotions.
“You should think about all of this for a while,” he said. “When you are ready, we can talk again.”
She nodded. “Okay. I guess I’ll try to sleep now. I should take a shower when I get up in the morning and then reapply the potion—right?”
“Yes. While you sleep, I will do another sweep and then get your route information ready. I’ll leave it on the kitchen counter for you.”
Sookie sighed as Eric broke their shared grasp and got up. She also got up, grabbed the fairy book and her quilt, and went into her bedroom. She used the en-suite bathroom to take care of her human needs and to brush her teeth. Then she went to the bed and wrapped herself into the quilt. It was a comfortable bed—not as big as the one in Slidell—but the mattress was obviously of good quality and new. Still—she knew that it would likely take her a long time before she could sleep.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I rewrote it a few times (so forgive any lingering typos since it was being changed so much). I wanted to try to capture both the pros and cons of the vampire bond for Sookie. Eric has already decided that he wants one. But—for Sookie—the stakes are higher. Eric is a welcome and wonderful void to her right now. But—with a bond—she would know what he felt. I think he appreciates the fact that she needs to take her time to make this decision, and I think that Eric’s patience in this matter is extremely telling of his unselfish behavior where she’s concerned. In fact, I hope that I am showing that they are both being careful and thoughtful in their decision-making. Anyway—enough talk.