“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”—Thich Nhat Hanh
“So far you have blocked him from feeling your love?”
Sookie shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve tried. And—if he feels it—he probably thinks it’s from the Fae bond.”
“Why do you try to block your love from him?” the redhead asked.
“Because—I . . . .” Sookie paused and took a deep breath. “Because I’m afraid.”
“Ah!” Leonie said with realization. “Because you will soon feel his emotions for the first time. If you complete the vampire bond, you will be able to know what he feels. You fear that your love will be met by something very different from him,” she posited perceptively.
“Yes,” Sookie whispered. “Since we shared blood a second time, I have picked up flashes from Eric—beautiful streaks of light. But I am scared.”
“You fear that he will be bitter?”
“You fear that you will feel his resentment for both you and the Fae bond?”
She nodded again, as tears began to fall from her eyes. Claudine came around to Sookie and placed her arm around her shoulder comfortingly. She spoke to Leonie in a language Sookie didn’t understand.
“Claudine wants me to stop naming your fears, child,” Leonie said. “Is that what you want?”
Sookie shook her head. “No. I’m tired of hiding.”
“Then what is your worst fear?” Leonie asked.
“That the Fae bond would fight against the vampire bond and hurt Eric.”
“That will not happen,” Leonie said fervently. “The Fae bond wouldn’t want either of you to be harmed—least of all by it. Tell me your second worst fear.”
“That I will feel only bitterness and lust from Eric,” Sookie answered.
“But you would accept that destiny—wouldn’t you? To help your vampire?” Leonie asked.
“Yes,” Sookie answered unequivocally. “Eric wants the vampire bond. I think he needs it. And—as long as I know it wouldn’t hurt him—I’ll give that to him.”
Leonie sighed deeply. “What about you, Sookie? Do you not value yourself as much as your Eric?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“Then that is what you must learn to do; if you truly wish to give your mate what he wants.”
“How do you know what he wants?” Sookie asked.
“I have a strong feeling,” Leonie said enigmatically. “Now—tell me, Sookie—what do you enjoy doing? What would you like to do in the future? What are your dreams?” The elder fairy’s eyes probed into Sookie as she re-asked the questions she’d asked earlier. However, this time, Sookie didn’t feel a tapping at her shields.
“I like to read. I like learning new things. Books don’t think—at least not out loud,” she responded.
“What else do you like?” Leonie asked.
“I love my family,” Sookie said with tears in her eyes. “I love my friends.”
“Because they accept you?”
“No!” Sookie answered immediately. “Because they love me back even though they don’t!”
“And what would you like to do in the future?” Leonie asked. “Do you want to go back to being a waitress?”
“I’m good at it,” Sookie said.
“Yes. Because you anticipate your customers’ needs as they think them,” Leonie said, sounding a little sarcastic.
Sookie bit her lip and wrung her hands together. “What else could I do?”
“What do you want to do?”
Sookie thought for a moment. “I did the books for Sam once—when he was sick. I liked that.”
“Accounting?” Leonie asked.
“Uh—yeah,” Sookie answered. “I’ve always liked numbers.”
“They do not talk back,” Leonie said with a little smile.
“No. And Sam’s books were a mess,” Sookie said.
“But you fixed them?”
“I tried. He wasn’t sick for long.”
“And he thanked you for fixing them? For organizing his books?”
“No,” Sookie said quickly, her brows furrowing.
“Because you made errors?”
Sookie shook her head. “No. The numbers were good. But he seemed mad at me for a little while. I didn’t listen to him to find out why.”
“You did them better than he could,” Leonie reasoned. “So he reacted like a foolish man,” she added with a roll of her eyes.
“Uh—I don’t know. I’d never done anything like that before.”
“Did he ever ask you to do it again?” Leonie asked.
Sookie shook her head sadly. “Sam doesn’t get sick much.”
“Your own budget. Tell me about it,” Leonie requested.
“Uh,” Sookie thought for a moment, “It’s the 28th of September—right?”
“Yes,” Leonie confirmed.
Sookie sighed. “The electric bill is due on the first Monday of November, but I haven’t been at home since the third of September, so it shouldn’t be much. Even still, I won’t be able to pay it this month.” She sighed. “I’ll have until November third to pay it before they start calling, but the phone will be shut off soon since it was a week overdue when I left. Um—the electric company will probably turn off the power around the beginning of December.
“But it’s the inheritance taxes—related to Gran’s Will—that I’m most worried about. I negotiated a payment plan with the bank—a loan—but the next payment is due November 15th. I have only $63.73 in my savings account. I was planning on what Eric paid me for Dallas to help with the inheritance taxes and the property taxes; the property taxes aren’t due until February though.” Sookie shook her head and sniffled a little. “But I can’t pay the inheritance taxes, so I’m gonna lose Gran’s house by January anyway, so I shouldn’t worry about things like the electric bill or property taxes.”
“Oh!” Sookie said suddenly. “Sixty thousand dollars!”
“Sixty thousand dollars?” Leonie asked.
Sookie nodded. “Yes. Jason is the executor of my will, and I have a sixty thousand dollar life insurance policy.” Sookie did some quick figuring in her head. “Minus fees for Sid Matt, who will help Jason figure stuff out, he’ll have enough to pay property taxes at Gran’s for at least ten years,” she frowned, “if he decides to do that. Or he might sell the house.” She sighed. “But Eric has promised to buy it for me if Jason does.”
“Why did you take out a life insurance policy?” Leonie asked.
“Gran,” Sookie answered. “Her social security wasn’t enough. Based on her age and life expectancy when I got the life insurance, I figured that she’d need fifty-one thousand dollars so that she could keep up with all the bills.”
“But you got a sixty thousand dollar policy,” Leonie said.
“Well, the insurance company projected that Gran would live to only eighty-six,” Sookie said with a roll of her eyes. “As if. Gran could have lived to be a hundred,” Sookie’s voice trailed off a little. “If not for me. But I couldn’t afford more than the premium for a sixty thousand dollar policy.”
There was silence for a few moments before Leonie spoke again. “Will you ask your vampire for a job as his bookkeeper then?”
Sookie laughed. “I don’t have any schooling for that,” she said. “Plus, I’m not sure what businesses he has left.”
“Perhaps you could build a new one together,” Leonie suggested. “Can you tell me what you want for your future?”
Sookie felt weary from Leonie’s repetitive questioning, especially given its nature. She answered sarcastically. “I want to live—maybe even see my brother and my friends again so that they don’t all think I’m dead.”
“Is that your dream for the future?” Leonie said just as sarcastically.
“I—uh—don’t know what my dreams are,” Sookie answered, now rattled.
“Everyone has dreams,” Leonie pushed.
“No—I don’t think everyone does,” Sookie returned.
“You must have aspirations, goals, desires for yourself,” Leonie said relentlessly. “You must want more for your life than being a mere waitress.”
“Hey—being a waitress is a good job!” Sookie insisted.
“I agree. It is for some. But you are not meeting your potential by being a waitress,” Leonie returned. “What are your dreams?” she asked at a slightly higher volume.
“These are my dreams!” Sookie yelled with sudden anger as she reached for Leonie’s arm, and dropped her shields. She bombarded Leonie’s mind with the dreams Bill had woven—first the one that had caused her to give her virginity to him and second the one that had elicited intense fear from her.”
Leonie cringed as Sookie pulled her hand away.
“I’m sorry,” Sookie said, immediately contrite. “I’m sorry for takin’ my problems out on you. I’m sorry you had to see that.” She shook her head. “That was wrong to do. I’m so sorry.”
Leonie shook her head and sighed deeply. She reached out and took Sookie’s hand. “If you cannot think of dreams for your future, Sookie, I fear that you will not live a happy life.”
“I’m happy when I’m with Eric,” Sookie said with a little smile before she frowned again. “When we—uh—make love. When we have sex—I mean—it’s good. And we talk; he seems interested in me. He—uh—listens to me. And I have thought about the future a little bit. We’ll have to stay together because of the Fae bond, and I’m not sure where we might go. I guess if Russell and Sophie-Anne are both gone, there would be a new king or queen, but I don’t know if Eric would get Area 5 back. Mr. Cataliades told us that Fangtasia was burned down by Russell, so I don’t even know if Eric would want to go back.”
“Do you want to go back to Bon Temps?”
Sookie shrugged. “The thought of leaving Bon Temps and Gran’s house used to be something that I didn’t even want to contemplate. I mean—I really did have a life that I liked before Bill showed up. I had Gran, and I liked being a waitress most days. It was fun to do a normal job, and Sam was a good boss. And I liked working with my friends. Gran and I had plans. We were saving for a new roof for the house. And after I took care of Sam’s books that time, I was also trying to put away a little money to save up for a computer and the Internet so I could take one of those online classes. That’s what my savings account had been for. And Gran and I were gonna double the size of our vegetable garden next year since the town council decided to have a farmer’s market on Sunday afternoons starting in May. But everything changed when I started seeing Bill, and things changed even more when Gran died.”
“How?” Leonie asked.
“Well—uh—people in town have always thought that I was ‘off’—um—crazy. When I was four, Mamma stopped taking me to church because I asked aloud why the reverend kept thinking about lots of the women there naked. And then—once I was in school―sometimes I accidentally answered people’s thoughts aloud. But over the years, I learned how to avoid doing that, and I just tried to stay out of everyone’s way—you know, to blend in. Before Bill, most people thought of me as ‘crazy Sookie’ in their heads, but most of them actually just thought that I was a little dumb. After Bill and I were a couple, they started to think of me in much less flattering ways. Even my brother and my friends thought less of me when I was with Bill—except for Lafayette. I mean, I sort of understood about Tara. I’d never had a boyfriend before, and she was worried and a little jealous when I started spending more time with Bill. And once I found out that Sam was a shifter, it made sense that he wouldn’t like the fact that I was with a vampire.”
Sookie rambled on nervously. “After Gran died, it became clear to me that most people thought I was to blame—even more so than the person who actually killed her. And even the townspeople that didn’t blame me thought about how they wouldn’t have to tolerate me for Gran’s sake anymore.” Sookie paused for a moment. “Jason blames me for Gran dying,” she continued quietly. “He’s forgiven me for it, but he thinks that if I’d not been so selfish and headstrong about being with Bill, Gran would still be alive. The funny thing was that I wasn’t even with Bill at the time; I was on a date with Sam—actually. But it didn’t matter. Tara defended me when Jason came into the house and hit me after he found out that Gran was dead, but part of her agreed with him. I can’t really blame them—to tell you the truth. And now the farmhouse is a wreck and so many of the things that Gran treasured over the years are gone because of the Maenad. Tara blames me for Eggs dying, but I got from Jason’s head that he was the one that killed Eggs, and now he’s being driven crazy by his guilt and wonders why I had to stick my nose into Eggs’s business in the first place. The last time I talked to Sam, he thought about how he couldn’t count on me at work anymore. And Lafayette is afraid to be around me.” She sighed loudly. “And I don’t know how to fix things. If I went back to Bon Temps, it would have to be with Eric, whom Lafayette is terrified of and Sam hates. Jason would likely never accept the fact that I was with a vampire; heck, he calls them ‘fangers’, and even though he’s not with the Fellowship anymore, he still thinks it’s ‘unnatural’ that I would want a vampire.”
Sookie took a deep breath. “But despite everything, I thought I could be happy in Bon Temps with Bill. And then Bill asked me to marry him, and there was a moment—just a moment—before I knew that Bill had been kidnapped that I was so hopeful about everything. And I made plans as I looked in the mirror in the ladies’ room. I thought about how I wouldn’t have to do everything alone anymore. I decided that I was still gonna put in the garden just like Gran wanted and use that to start saving for a new roof again. I thought that, with Bill’s help, I could start fixing the house—little by little. Terry had given me some paint left over from when he painted his house last year, so I decided that I was gonna scrub and paint the front porch after Bill and I got back from Vermont. I figured that—with time—Jason might accept Bill, and since Bill had helped Sam kill the Maenad, I hoped that Sam might even be okay with my relationship too. I even had hopes that Tara might forgive me.”
Sookie shrugged and continued her long monologue, almost as if talking to herself. “But then Lorena happened and Russell happened. And then I found out the truth about Bill. And then I heard the thoughts of most of the people whom I cared about when I agreed to speak with Eric at the hospital. Alcide was disappointed in me and jealous; he was also disgusted that Eric had given me his blood. Lafayette had resolved that he was gonna ask Sam not to work the same shifts as I worked. Tara had decided to cut me off from her life for good and blamed me for Franklin Mott too. Jason just thought about how disappointed Gran would be because of the way my life had gone, and he once again thought that Gran would still be alive if it weren’t for Bill and me.”
Sookie smiled ruefully. “That was all because of the fact that I’d agreed to speak privately with a vampire who had just saved my life. They’d been happy I was alive just a minute before, but that one choice, turned all of their thoughts in a different direction, and I was too weak to have my shields up to keep them out.” She shrugged again. “So when you ask me if I wanna go back to Bon Temps, all I can see is how none of my plans are gonna work now. I see how all of my plans were swirling around a relationship with a man who had me beaten the second night I knew him. I see how everyone would be happy that I was alive and back for a minute, but then would hate the fact that I was with Eric in the next minute. No amount of scrubbing or paint would stop that from happening. No garden would be big enough. No roof would be sturdy enough. And I would never be good enough. The only thing that I would be able to do would be to raise my shields so that I wouldn’t have to hear their thoughts.”
Leonie squeezed Sookie’s hand in comfort and looked at her with realization. “That is why you truly worry about feeling Eric’s emotions if you complete the bond. You worry because you have no shields to protect yourself with—no lie to insulate yourself with. That is why you asked Claudine if there was a way for you to block Eric’s emotions if you completed the vampire bond.”
Sookie nodded and brushed away to tear. “I thought that maybe there was something that fairies did to block things getting through when they had a Fae bond. If you could teach it to me, then I could use it to block out Eric’s feelings.”
“You truly think that he will have negative feelings about you,” Leonie stated as much as asked.
Sookie nodded again. “I know he cares for me, but—yes—I think that he probably feels other things too. But knowing that’s true and having to feel it all the time are two different things—just like knowing someone disapproves of me is different from having to hear his or her thoughts about it. Everyone has stray thoughts, and it’s those—coming from the people I love—that have hurt me the most. I’m sure that Eric—even if he does care for me—will have stray feelings.”
“And those will hurt the most,” Leonie said with understanding.
Sookie nodded. “Yes.”
Leonie sighed. “There is no blocking a bond—not that I know of,” Leonie said sadly. “At least, there’s nothing a fairy can do to block out his or her partner. But—given your uniqueness—you might be able to build one yourself, something similar to your shields.”
Sookie nodded resignedly. “After what you said earlier about the nymph thing and about how my telepathy was different, I kind of figured that.”
Leonie and Sookie looked at each other in silent contemplation for a moment as Claudine resumed eating the contents of the tray.
“I will wait here to meet your vampire when he wakes up,” Leonie said suddenly.
“Uh—I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Sookie stammered.
“Yet I will do it anyway,” Leonie said with certainty. “Do not worry. I will cause no harm to your vampire. I simply want to meet him and speak with him for a while; then I will go.”
Sookie gulped hard, knowing that there was nothing she could do to stop Leonie from staying. “Okay,” she relented. “If he agrees. He’ll probably wake up a little before sunset and I’ll ask him.”
“Agreed,” Leonie said. “Now, do you have any other questions you’d like to ask me?”
Sookie pulled her list of questions from the Fae book and saw that most of them had been answered throughout the day, but she saw that there were a few things she still needed to ask.
“Um—my light is a weapon, right?”
“Then why doesn’t it hurt Eric?”
“It recognizes him as your mate. I imagine that it will heal him if he is hurt or strengthen him if he is not. That is how it works when two Fae are bonded.”
“Do you know how he’d be strengthened?”
“I believe that your light would seek out the magic within him and bolster it.”
Sookie asked a question not on her list. “If Eric took my blood a lot, would he build up any kind of tolerance to the sun? After Bill took my blood in the van, he was able to be in the sun for a little while.”
Leonie considered that for a moment. “I do not think so. A vampire that takes a fairy’s blood will have an immediate immunity from the sun, but since you are only one-eighth fairy, it wouldn’t last for long even if Eric took a great deal of your blood. There have been many times in the history of the Fae when a vampire has drained a full-blooded fairy, and even then, it is only an hour or two before the vampire burns in the sun. This knowledge has been a great weapon for fairies.”
“What do you mean?” Sookie asked.
Leonie sighed. “As you know, vampires are very attracted to the scent of fairies. Did Claudine teach you how to manipulate your own scent?”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah—once Claudine helped me to understand how I was already masking my scent, it was easy to turn it off and on and then to amplify it. And then I tried to smell like her and was able to do it.”
Leonie smiled approvingly. “Excellent. Scent manipulation is actually one of our best weapons against vampires; some fairies can use their scents to drive a vampire into a frenzy. But all Fae will release a toxin into their blood if they sense impending death. The blood of a full-blooded Fae will always make a vampire feel—for lack of a better word—drunk. However, the toxin is even more potent, and the vampire will continue to feel intoxicated, even after the fairy blood has stopped protecting him or her from the sun. Thus, he or she will not feel the danger from the sun. In the past, fairies have watched vampires burn helplessly in the sun as retribution for killing their kin. So—if vampires catch and drain us—we are often killed, but they will die too.”
Sookie shivered. “Well—I know that my blood doesn’t make vampires drunk. Um—do you think I have the ability to release the toxin?”
Leonie shrugged. “I am not sure, but I believe so.”
“Why didn’t I do that to Bill—when he was draining me?”
“It is not released until the fairy truly gives up on living, for the toxin will kill the fairy too,” Leonie responded.
“Why isn’t that in the book?” Sookie asked, looking down at the Fae book.
“Niall was very exact in what he told me to include. I believe that he wanted your vampire to meet his death by the sun if he ever drained you. He believed that if you didn’t know about the toxin, you would release it by instinct. He also believed that you would refuse to release the toxin if you knew of it, and he wants the Viking to die if he kills you. Niall is not confident that the Fae bond breaking would be enough to cause Eric’s final death.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Sookie asked.
“Niall asked me not to write it, and he ordered Claudine not to tell you of it, but he didn’t tell me not to speak of it,” Leonie said with a twinkle in her eyes. “Now—do you have any other questions?”
Sookie looked at her list and wracked her brain. Finally, she shook her head.
“Good,” Leonie said. “It is still an hour until sunset, and Claudine told me that you were unable to teleport.”
Sookie sighed. “I’m getting better at using my light, even though it starts to weaken after I shoot it a few times in a row. And the scent thing was easy, but I couldn’t teleport. Maybe Niall was wrong about that.”
“Maybe you were not properly motivated,” Leonie remarked.
“What do you mean?” Sookie asked.
“Could you call the young Werebear?” Leonie asked. “We could use his help.”
Sookie nodded and poked her head in the door to call for Kuruk.
As soon as Kuruk appeared outside, Leonie caught the Werebear’s eye. Sookie glanced at Claudine and saw that the younger fairy looked pensive. When she looked at Leonie, she could see that her mouth was moving, but her ears couldn’t pick up what the elder fairy was saying. Kuruk, however, seemed to be listening intently. Sookie quickly entered his mind, but heard only a buzz there.
After another thirty seconds, the Werebear suddenly turned around and walked back inside.
“What was that about?” Sookie asked.
Leonie rose and motioned for Claudine to rise as well. In the next second, they were both blocking the door of the cabin.
“I have just mesmerized the Werebear,” Leonie said coldly. “He is shifting even now and will drag his claws down the chest of your mate! Unless you can teleport to your vampire and stop the bear.”
A/N: Hello all. To tell you the truth, I struggled with the revision of this chapter. I even thought about scrapping it because it rehashes a lot of things. But, in the end, I let it stay. Sookie needs to speak out the fears that she has. And she also needs to acknowledge—aloud—that a life in Bon Temps (a ‘normal’ life) is not going to work for her. In a way, I am trying to get her to give up that idea so that she can seek out a “bigger” life with Eric and learn to value herself as worthy of being anyone’s partner. By getting her to say all that she says, Leonie is trying to help Sookie—just as Octavia did before the severing spell was done.
Anyway, I hope it wasn’t too boring or repetitive of a chapter. And—if it was—never fear! The Viking will soon be waking up! And things are always more interesting when he’s around (at least to me).