Leonie could see the light under the tarp from across the garage. She couldn’t help but to smile to herself a little. Her great-granddaughter was very powerful when motivated. Still, Leonie thought with concern, the vampire should be moved under cover. Despite the tarp and the healing that he’d just gotten from Sookie, it was still daytime.
And he was vulnerable.
She looked at her grandson. “Claude, keep these two secure,” she said, speaking of the Were and the Weretiger who were still living. The Were was just hanging on.
Claude nodded, and then—with curiosity—he looked over to the area where Sookie and Eric were concealed under the tarp. “Lanine dum vampyr nalken jin?” he asked in the language of the Fae.
“Yes,” Leonie responded. “Your cousin has, indeed, healed the vampire. But I imagine he is still weak. She, too, will be weak.”
Claude’s expression displayed a mixture of surprise and mild disapproval.
“Do not be like your grandfather in this,” Leonie scolded, even as she walked toward the tarp. Residual light could still be seen coming from under it.
“Sookie?” she asked.
When she didn’t get an immediate response, Leonie spoke again—this time louder. “Sookie?”
“Yes? I’m here,” her great-granddaughter answered somewhat weakly.
“I know you are there, my dear,” Leonie chuckled. “And so is your vampire, but it would be best if he were not. He should go to his coffin before the ambient sunlight begins to undo the healing you have just given to him.”
“No!” Eric’s voice came gruffly. “I will finish off the men who would have harmed my bonded—or let her be harmed.”
Leonie sighed and glanced over at the captives. The remaining wolf was still crying, but he had good reason. His arm had been practically torn off by the raging vampire. It hung limply by his side by only a tendon or two.
“The wolf that is still breathing is in great pain and will be dead within a few minutes,” she said evenly. “If it is your wish, I can make his remaining time alive even more uncomfortable for him.”
“No, Eric,” Leonie heard Sookie implore her mate.
There was a slight pause. “Kill the Were now,” the vampire said gruffly, reluctantly.
Leonie was just as reluctant to give the animal a quick death, but she nodded toward Claude nonetheless. Her preference would have been to try to prolong the suffering of the creature who had planned to harm her great-granddaughter and the vampire. However, she understood that Sookie still had a human’s compassion. And Eric—to his credit—seemed to understand that as well.
Claude looked at her with surprise, but then quickly dispatched the Were with his Fae blade.
“The Weretiger was knocked unconscious when Claude hit him with his car,” Leonie informed. “You should consider letting me mesmerize him. Then, he would tell his masters whatever we wish for them to believe.”
Eric sighed. “Fine.”
“You should get to safety now,” Leonie said again. “The tarp is helping, but it is not completely light tight.”
“Sookie will take my blood first,” Eric said, his tone brooking no argument.
Leonie smiled at the thought of the vampire wishing to take care of her kin, even though he was likely still weak himself.
“I will bring your car closer as you strengthen my great-granddaughter,” Leonie said.
“Eric. No!” Sookie said insistently, even as her light continued to brighten the little enclave she’d made with Eric under the tarp. “I won’t take your blood when you need it to heal.”
“Sookie,” he said in a quiet tone. “You will have to drive us out of here, and your head is injured.”
Sookie felt her pain and some lightheadedness return to her at Eric’s words. In the next moment, she heard the tell-tale sound of him biting into his wrist.
“Please,” he whispered, even as he smoothed her hair down. “Min älskade, please.”
In light of his words and her pain, she took what he was offering to her.
Eric continued to caress her hair as she drank. “Thank you, little one. Thank you for saving my life.”
She sniffled as his wound shut. “Thank you for saving mine—for saving me.”
They held each other close as they heard the car approaching.
“Wait,” Sookie said. “The car was out of gas! How’s it movin’?”
Leonie’s tinkling laughter met their ears. “Claude has the ability to move particles. He has put some gasoline from one of the Were’s vehicles into yours. As soon as Eric is secure, he will fill up the car the rest of the way and also put together the rear window. But, for now, we should get Eric to cover, dear.”
Sookie sighed and leaned against Eric. At least for the moment—she tried to ignore the fact that her shoes slipped in blood as Eric helped her to rise to her feet. She could think about the gruesome havoc he’d wrecked after he was safe.
Keeping the tarp pulled firmly over them both, Eric slowly walked them over to the car, which was—thankfully—now parked in the shadows.
“I’ll see you tonight,” he said, bending down to kiss her gently on the lips. “I will not sleep, however. I will be with you the whole time.”
She whimpered a little as he bent down to kiss her gently on the lips.
“Your great-grandmother will help you now,” he said.
Sookie nodded as Eric used his vampire grace to move into his enclosure.
She waited until she heard the locking mechanism click before she removed the tarp from over her head. She left it in place around her body, however, since it afforded her some modesty, given the fact that the now-deceased Ray had ripped open her shirt and basically destroyed her bra.
She looked over to where his head lay; she was not sad to see him dead.
She quickly adjusted the Bluetooth device, which had become slightly askew in her struggle against the Weres.
Leonie approached Sookie slowly, as if afraid she might startle her. “Are you okay?” the fairy asked, the concern clear in her tone. As if sensing that Sookie would welcome direct comfort from only her bonded in that moment, the fairy stayed back a bit.
Sookie nodded. “Yes. Eric came before they could do much to me,” she said in a quiet tone. “Where were you?” she asked, her hurt clear. “What took you so long?”
Leonie sighed. “The SUV that separated from these Weres in order to get gasoline pulled into the garage only moments before we did. It was necessary for us to eliminate that threat before we could come to you,” she said with regret in her voice. “I am sorry.”
Sookie nodded. “It’s okay.” She looked back at the car—at where Eric was lying. “We’re okay?” she said, half-questioning and half-stating.
“Yes,” Eric said through the earpiece. “We are okay, min älskare.”
Leonie nodded in agreement. “The good news is that none of your things seem damaged by the shattered window glass.” She smiled. “And Claude will be able to repair that well enough.”
Sookie nodded, even as she shivered a bit.
“Here,” Leonie said kindly as she pulled out Sookie’s suitcase from the backseat of the car. “Let me get you some fresh clothing. Then you should reapply your potion so that your personal items no longer carry your scent. I cannot smell you now because you are using your Fae gift, but I can smell you on your things.”
Sookie nodded as Leonie took some clothing out of the suitcase. The elder fairy held the tarp up as a kind of privacy curtain as Sookie shed her blood-soaked jeans, shoes, and socks before removing the remaining tatters of her T-shirt and bra. As soon as Sookie was done redressing, Leonie lowered the tarp and then wrapped the soiled clothing into it. Then—with a snap of her fingers—the tarp disappeared.
“What did you do with it?” Sookie asked as she went to the duffel bag to get Octavia’s potion.
“I’ve destroyed it, of course,” the redhead winked.
“You can do that—by—uh—snapping?”
Leonie smiled. “Just inanimate objects. Claude can put atoms together. I can tear them apart. The snap? Well—it creates a spark that obliterates them.”
“Handy,” Sookie said before taking a deep breath and letting herself look around. She saw ten dead Weres—most of them missing limbs or heads—strewn around the space.
“Your mate is impressive,” Leonie said as she followed Sookie’s gaze. “Quite the feat indeed, given the fact that it is daytime.”
Sookie gasped in horror. “So much blood,” she whispered.
She heard a sigh in her ear. “Now you have seen the monster that I am,” Eric’s voice came resignedly.
“No!” Sookie whispered fervently as she turned away from Leonie in order to respond to her bonded. “That’s not what I meant. They were the monsters. You saved me from them, Eric. They had chosen to,” she paused, “hurt me. They didn’t have to make that choice.”
“Sookie,” Eric said softly, “I could not stop myself when I felt your fear, and I couldn’t show them mercy if I was to kill them quickly enough before the sun debilitated me.”
“I know,” she said. There was a pause. “Thank you for coming to my rescue,” she reiterated. She took a deep breath, and Eric felt resolution flow through her and into the Fae-bond they shared.
It throbbed with her approval of him—and her love.
It was the best feeling he’d ever experienced.
“Considering what they wanted to do,” Sookie said, her voice strong, “they got off easy.”
“Yes,” Leonie commented from behind her, “they did.”
“What should we do now?” Sookie asked Eric through the Bluetooth.
“Ask your great-grandmother if she will continue to help us,” the vampire replied.
“Of course I will!” Leonie exclaimed before Sookie could speak.
The fairy smiled sheepishly as Sookie turned around. “Sorry, dear, but you remember these,” she said, pushing her hair behind her ears.
Sookie chuckled a little. “It’s hard to forget them.”
“What is your plan?” Leonie asked both Eric and Sookie. Though she couldn’t make out the vampire’s words from inside his box, she could hear him through the Bluetooth well enough.
“As Leonie suggested earlier, she can use her mesmerizing skills on the Weretiger,” Eric said. “Quinn needs to believe that Ray described someone fitting Leonie’s description at the café. And he will need to carry Leonie’s scent with him. We want Russell, Victor, and Felipe to believe that it was Leonie—a full-blooded fairy—with me the whole time. If they do, then the secret that you are still living will have been kept.”
“Did you get that?” Sookie asked the fairy.
Leonie nodded. “Yes.”
Eric continued, “It would be impossible—at this point—to cover up the fact that I am being aided by the Fae, but that fact will just cause more questions for Russell—and, perhaps, more doubts.”
Leonie smiled and looked over at Claude. “I will take the tiger over now,” she said of the still unconscious Quinn, over whom Claude was hovering, his sword poised.
Claude nodded and approached Sookie slowly. He nodded at her. “You are my cousin, and you are well met,” he greeted somewhat formally.
Sookie tried to smile, though the horror of the day had left her a bit numb. “You too—uh—well met and all. And—uh—thanks for comin’ to help.”
“I would do or give anything for my Uncle Fintan—both when he was alive and now,” Claude said passionately. “After my own parents were lost, he became my anchor,” he smirked and a twinkle entered his eye, “despite the fact that he was younger than I. You see—I am the black sheep of the family, but Fintan accepted me without question. He and my grandmother have been the most important guides in my life. It was Fintan who intuited that I would feel more at peace in this realm. It was he who encouraged me to come here. He changed my existence for the better in more ways than I can express.”
Sookie sniffled a little at the mention of her grandfather.
“I met Adele too, but just once—so that the secrecy of Fintan’s location could be preserved.” Claude looked at her intently. “You have eyes like my uncle’s—a rich brown that I have seen only in this world.”
Sookie wiped away a tear and smiled a little more easily than before. “That’s what Gran always told me—that I have his eyes.”
“You are bonded to the vampire?” Claude asked, though it was clear he already knew she was.
“Yes,” Sookie answered nonetheless.
“Leonie is covering up my scent, but—without her near—I am what would be considered vampire-nip—like catnip,” he added. “For this reason, I do not much care for vampires.” He shrugged and seemed to be coming to a decision. “However, I do care for you, Cousin. Before she left this realm, Claudine told me you were kind-hearted and strong—like Fintan. I can see that she was right. It was an honor to see the lumenqui sanat.”
“The light that heals,” Claude said with a smile. “It is rare and beautiful.” He chuckled, “Of course, it is odd to imagine it working on a vampire.” He shrugged. “Usually, our light would incapacitate or kill one!”
“Claude!” Leonie said with warning, even as she revived Quinn.
“I mean no offense to your bonded, Cousin,” Claude said. “In fact, I want you to know that I accept and endorse your match. Of course, I am only the third eldest male in our bloodline, so it doesn’t really count.”
“Uh—um—thanks anyway,” Sookie said, her eyebrows furrowing, even though she was pretty sure that Claude meant well.
Her fairy cousin nodded and then gestured for Sookie to move a bit as he marshalled his magic to repair the broken window. In under a minute, it looked as good as new.
“Wow!” Sookie said, impressed by Claude’s gift.
He winked at her. “I’d much rather be able to blow things up, but I do not have the light of the hands as you do. But this is almost as good,” he said, raising his sword.
Sookie nodded as she tried to ignore the blood on the blade.
As Claude had worked, Leonie had as well, questioning the tiger and then making sure that she implanted the information they wanted Quinn to spew out to his masters.
“You should go soon,” Leonie said to Sookie when she was done. “According to the tiger, the confederates of these men were informed of this location, and others may come, though I have mesmerized the tiger to phone his people to tell them that all is well and that they will be heading to King Sampson’s compound—with their two new prisoners, I might add. However, it is better to be safe than sorry.”
“What’s going to happen to him?” Sookie asked, looking at Quinn, who was currently in a stupor.
“That depends on your vampire. I also need to know what to do with the,” Leonie paused, “mess.”
Eric spoke to Leonie via the Bluetooth. “Can you make it look like all the Weres died by your hand—by Fae magic or Fae weapons? And then just leave the Weretiger here. His people will find him, but hopefully not until later.”
Leonie smiled. “Good plan. That way the others need not know you were ever awake during the day. Other than the one Claude killed with fairy steel, I will stack and burn the bodies with my light—oh—and I’ll let Claude hack off the rest of that one’s arm too so that it doesn’t look like a raging vampire ripped it off,” she said, giggling a little.
Sookie cringed. “Could you—uh—wait to do that until I’m gone?”
“Of course, dear,” Leonie said affectionately. “Anyway, after we are done, none will be able to tell that these Weres didn’t all die by my hand. In fact, I will also mesmerize the tiger to recall that he saw me killing his compatriots. I will make him think that I left him alive as a warning not to fuck with me or the Norseman,” she cackled.
“Eric? Wouldn’t it be best if they didn’t even know that you were here?” Sookie asked. “I mean—Ray smelled a vampire back at the café, but he didn’t know it was you. But Quinn—he knew it was you when he saw you. He recognized you.”
Eric sighed and spoke a little reluctantly, “Sookie, it is likely for the best that they know it was me. We will have to change vehicles, but that is fine.”
“Okay,” Sookie said, trying to sound strong, even though she was starting to feel overwhelmed again.
“May I?” Leonie asked as she approached Sookie, her arms outstretched.
Sookie nodded and the elder family stepped in to hug her. “Do not fear great-granddaughter.”
“Yes,” Eric said into Sookie’s ear. “Leonie is right. Do not fear.”
Sookie nodded, feeling a little better after the hug. “Okay—so we should go,” she said.
Leonie smiled. “Claude has successfully moved more gasoline to your vehicle so that it is filled up.” She gestured toward the elevator bank in the center of the garage. “There is a restroom facility on the other side of the elevators. You should use it before leaving so that you can avoid stopping again if you can.”
“That’s a good idea, Sookie,” Eric said gently. “It will be almost four hours from here to Needles.”
“You’ll stay with him—while I’m gone?” Sookie asked, gesturing toward the car.
“Yes,” Leonie promised. “And Claude will stand as guard at the bathroom door.”
Sookie nodded and hurriedly went to the bathroom.
She looked at herself in the mirror and then washed the blood off of her neck and cheeks, being careful not to wash where she’d applied Octavia’s potion. Then—as she took care of her “human business”—she made the decision that she was going to put some adult diapers on her next grocery list.
Pride be damned! She was never going to stop in enemy territory again if she could help it—not because of her bladder!
After she was done, she flushed the toilet and washed her hands before wetting some paper towels and wiping down every surface she’d touched. Then she placed all but one of the used towels into the trashcan and removed the trashcan liner.
Using the remaining towel, she opened the bathroom door without touching the knob and then wiped off the outside of the doorknob before adding that towel to the trash.
Claude winked at her, and she nodded as she passed by him.
“We will meet again, Cousin,” he said.
“I hope so,” she responded as she approached Leonie, who was standing by the door of the Prius looking at her with pride in her eyes.
“Can you—uh—get rid of this?” Sookie asked, lifting the trash bag a little.
“You have learned from your vampire well,” Leonie said, taking the bag. With a snap of her fingers, it was gone.
Leonie hugged her great-granddaughter again, and—again—Sookie felt more energized.
“Thanks,” she said before getting into the car.
“Ready?” Eric asked.
“More than,” Sookie responded.
Leonie got into the passenger side.
“Uh—what are you doing?” Sookie asked.
“I will ride with you until you are a few blocks away—just to make sure you are safe. Then I will teleport back here and set up the scene.”
Sookie nodded and looked at Leonie with grateful eyes. “Thanks.”
“You already said that,” the fairy laughed.
“But I mean it,” Sookie said sincerely.
“You’re welcome, but you will never have to thank me, dear. You and your mate are like Finn,” Leonie said softly, patting Sookie’s hand. “You are miathanan.”
“What’s that?” Sookie asked.
“Family that is chosen,” Leonie smiled sincerely—radiantly.
Again, Sookie felt more energized. She brushed away a tear, started the car, and drove out of the garage.
No words were spoken until about two blocks later when Leonie looked at her lovingly. “I am proud of you, great-granddaughter.”
At that, she popped away.
“You okay?” Eric asked gently. He’d been silent in order to give Sookie “private” time with her relative.
“Yes,” Sookie said with strength. “But—after today—I will be using adult diapers when we travel!”
The vampire chuckled. “Bold fashion choice, min älskare.”
She let out a shaking laugh as she looked in her rearview mirror.
“Like Leonie, I am proud of you,” Eric said sincerely. “Very proud.” He was silent for a moment. “You are the most important person in my life, Sookie—the most important person in all my life.”
“And you are mine,” she responded fervently, as she wiped away a tear. “Now—tell me a funny story?” she requested. “In fact, tell me funny stories all the way to Needles?”
“Did I ever tell you about the time that Pam and I were living in Australia?” he began immediately, his voice full of amusement.
That voice was like a hand holding onto hers. Wisps of light and song smoked through their fairy bond.
“No,” she said, her voice heavy with relief.
“Well—one night we saw this great white shark. It was seven meters long—at least. Anyway, Pamela bet me that I couldn’t . . . .”
I want to take a moment to say something about the passing of Northman Maille / Alisonbynumbers, which Sephrenia told me about. I do not know the details of her death, but I know that many of you will recognize her “name.” Alison was a great supporter of SVM/TB stories, including mine. She was an amazing beta. She was also a wonderful author in her own right. (Her stories are here: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/2240681/Northman-Maille.) And she became a beloved friend to many in our community.
She will be missed. Whatever your religion (or lack thereof), I ask that you send of prayer/your well wishes to her family and friends.
Rest in peace and bliss, Alison.
For more information, see: www.thesookieverse.com/2014/12/alison-griffiths.html.