A/N I hadn’t planned an update tonight. I am still trying to see what happens when Eric and Warlow meet for the final showdown, but you guys were so patient with last night’s cliffhanger that I came home from work and wrote this for you all.
It might be a few days before I can see how this ends, it might be tomorrow, but in the meantime please accept this offering to ease your anxiety.
With much love from to you all…
I refused to meet the True Death with my eyes closed. I watched the root pierce my chest. I felt it sink into the heart that I had promised to Sookie, not the night on her porch when I let reason fall away. No, I had promised it to her on the roof in Dallas, when she looked into the part of me that was bleeding and raw, telling me quietly that she would stay with Godric in my place as he met the sun.
I saw her again, there on that roof, in my bar as she came in with Compton, in the church after she had freed me from silver. In brief moments that passed quicker than heartbeats she had wound me around her, inescapably, inseparable. She was the best thing I had ever been smart enough to let into my life.
As if the very thought of her was enough to save me, yet again, I felt the Light she had given me attack and incinerate the wood in my chest and the roots that held me fast to the ground. The ground come up to meet me before her Light ignited again and took me away from the field where I died.
Fangtasia was musty from being closed so long. I was sitting on my throne as I had done a thousand thousand nights, looking out on a crowd of me. There were dozens of me, all standing completely still, naked, and covered in the blood that I had just swallowed as a last ditch effort to stop Warlow from taking her. Each incarnation of me representing a different point in my own timeline.
I saw the human me, recognizable by the heartbeat in his chest. I saw the Eric who had awakened as new vampire child, his fangs down as he stared me with this savage wild gaze. I was the vampire I had been in France, the pain in his eyes burning me with the reminder of the choice I had made. There was the vampire who had roamed London, saving Nora from her own stupidity, leading her to the death that I had given her six hundred years later, when she tried to kill the son I barely knew.
As I looked at them, I saw myself as I never had before. I was a vampire divided against himself, with my desires and passions at constant odds with the vessel that contained them. Glancing down at my chest I saw her Light again, burning so brightly that I was amazed there was no heat.
My hand came up to cover the Light, Sookie, I thought, and felt it spread out, almost hugging me. I gasped from the sensation, and missed her all the more. I had thought I was going to her side, but something had pulled me here to make me face myself.
“He never understood,” her voice came from the dozens of me on the floor of Fangtasia. My head jerked up, fangs coming down as I sought her with my eyes. “Warlow thought I had killed him because I was a monster. He was so sure that he even convinced me for a moment that he was right.” I saw her then, moving among me like a shark in the sea. The top of her dark head matching the deep feminine melodious voice that filled my mind.
“I had intended to bring him to my side, and offer him a love like the one you share with your woman, but it was not to be.” She came out of me then, and stood before me, naked herself, but not covered in blood. She was beautiful, and haunted. “I wanted to make him a god, and let him rule beside me. He let me walk in the sun, and then staked me through the heart. His love was furious and deadly.” She smiled at me then, and I felt something hard and tight settle in my chest pushing at the Light Sookie had given me. It ignited again, pushing back at the force that attacked it. “I loved him all the more when I died in his arms, by his hand.”
“What do you want?” I asked her, as I felt the Light in me struggling against Lilith’s relentless silky Darkness.
“I want to help you kill him.” I opened my mouth, showing her my fangs, telling her it was in idea I could definitely get on board with. “For a price.”
My bonds to Eric stretched out as they had before, only this time it was me being taken away to Fae, but I still felt him. He still lived, and as long as that was true, nothing else mattered.
We materialized in a stone castle, not unlike the one I had found Eric in when I followed him here. “Welcome home, little star.” I started to correct him, tell him my name was Sookie, but I didn’t want to even give him that much. I bit my lip, and held tight to the part of Eric I could still feel.
“Don’t be like that,” Warlow said, turning to stand in front of me. I kept my head down, looking at his shiny boots, thinking of kicking him in the shin just because it would make me feel better. The image of him hopping around holding his wounded leg amused me, but I refused to let him see even that.
He surprised me by kneeling at my feet, and looking up into my eyes. “If your kin had kept their promise you would never have known that vampire you call Eric. You would have welcomed me, because you were made to do just that.” He pushed into me then, his mind seeking to enter me as he remained perfectly still.
I had felt this before, when I met him in my mind. I wanted to hold on to my hate for him, my resentment that he had taken me from the man I love, but as he came into me, part of me welcomed him. I wanted to rail at the unfairness of it all. I knew who I wanted to be with, and I would not accept anyone else. “You will in time.” He spoke, telling me that my thoughts, just like my body were no longer mine.
Pushing my way through the door he had opened in my mind, I ran through him, opening doors and looking for the secret things that he wanted no one to see. I felt him welcome me, allowing me to look into all the places that he lived in himself for six thousand years. I took it all in and latched on to the first thing I found that would remind him of what he was truly doing here, no matter what he distracted himself with pretending.
“You hated Lilith for taking you against your will.”
“Yes,” he agreed quietly, still kneeling before me.
“How is what you are doing to me any different? How does this action not make you the monster you believe her to be?”
“You were made for me, little star.”
“She said the same to you, as she fucked and sucked you dry, making you hers. Remember how it burned you, not just your pride, but the very heart of you, to be taken away from yourself like that?” He blinked in the face of my rage.
“It’s not the same.”
“Says you. Stop pretending that I am not real, because I am. I have feelings, and people that I chose to love. You decided to take me because it’s what you wanted, just like Lilith did to you!”
“No!” he shouted as he sprung up from the ground, and grabbed me by the shoulders.
“Yes, and you can’t make me love you anymore than she could make you love her! I may not be strong enough to kill you, but you can’t force the love I have already given to another to come to you!”
“I have killed your fucking vampire!” he screamed in my face, losing all his composure as he jerked me off the ground to hold my face in front of his so he could be sure I heard him.
“I don’t believe you,” I told him, echoing what Eric had said when Warlow promised to spare him if I came with him.
“It doesn’t matter what you believe, I staked him with the tree root as we departed the human world. What you feel is the echo of dead limb. You want to believe it so much that you allow yourself to be fooled that he still lives.” His face was so close to mine that our noses were nearly touching. I glared at him, refusing to believe his lies, but in saying them he had given me an edge. It was a small one, but I would take it.
“You gave me your word, fucker! There is no way I will ever trust you now!” I struggled against his grip, and when I couldn’t break free, settled for spitting his face.
“You would never let him go if there was even the tiniest chance he would come for you.” I watched my spit run down his handsome cheek and smiled my very own version of a cold Eric Northman smile at him.
“I will never let him go, period, asshole.”
It was the deep itch of my healing wound that finally roused me. Slowly, I felt my senses returning, my limbs twitching with the magic of bonding to Mira.
I felt her stir beneath me, trying to move. “You weigh a ton,” she grunted as she tried to move me off of her. I rolled away, laughing at her brutal candor in the face of the commitment we had just made. I landed on my back, jarring my wound which stopped the laughter instantaneously. I felt her move, and then heard her gasp in pain before she fell on her back beside me.
“Mira?” I rolled up on an elbow and stopped, a feeling of terror shooting through me as I saw her dress covered in blood in the exact same spot I had been cut by Warlow’s sword. I remembered then that the scrolls had spoken of shared wounds, to speed healing between bonded Fae. Fucking awesome, I was ten seconds into this bad idea and already I had hurt her!
“Mira,” I said, my voice filled with all the regret in my heart for her wound, but I stopped when my eyes traveled up her body. She had been on the edge of her final effusion for a while now, I knew that. It was the last change that took her to her to the age of readiness for mating. Apparently, what we had done to save each other had given her that final push, because the Mira before me was very different from the one I had bonded to.
Before she had been a young lovely girl, what humans considered a teenager in appearance, now she was all woman, some of which was spilling out of the top of the bloody dress that was now at least two sizes too small for her. “Mira” I said again, sounding more awed than regretful as I took in her long dark blonde hair that pooled around her on the ground.
I felt my mouth go dry as I watched her full breasts move up and down when she took a breath, giving the impression that any minute they might escape their bonds and wreak havoc on my shell shocked brain. “It’s nothing,” she said dismissively. “I can feel it healing already, Cantos.” She thought I was still fretting over her wound. I should have been fretting over her wound, but her transformation was proving to be too much for my gallantry to withstand.
When I didn’t say anything, she cracked open one of her emerald green eyes and looked at me. “What?” she asked, sounding alarmed when she saw the look on my face. Rolling part way up herself, she stopped when she realized she was having trouble seeing her wound over her new breasts. “Oh!” she gasped, and then ran her hands over her body.
She had grown another foot, I noted as I looked at her stretched out beside me, and filled out in all the places that I might have wished for, if anyone had asked me what my wildest dreams were when it came to a woman. She was perfect, and fuck me, she was mine!
“Well,” she said after taking stock of everything she could reach without stressing our shared wounds. “This is-“
“Awesome!” I finished for her, my eyes taking in the light spray of freckles across her delicate nose. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at me, looking at her.
“Is it now?” she asked, her tone teasing, and not all at the same time. The edge of it knocked me back into myself.
“Really? All I needed to tame you was breasts?” I opened my mouth, and then wisely, closed it again. There was no way to win here. She stared at me for a long minute before she fell back to the ground groaning as I had when she jarred her wound. “I’m still the same, Cantos, in all the ways that matter. This,” she raised a hand to point at her new body, “Is not what matters about me, any more than it is your looks that make you the man I love.”
“But you want me to keep them, don’t you?”
“Yes!” she smiled again, with her eyes shut as she listened to me, and felt me out in our new bond.
“Are you sure? I can use my magic to look like I did before, or even something else entirely, if you prefer.”
“No!” Her smile faded slowly. Keeping her eyes closed, but listening intently in all the ways that mattered, she asked a question that made me ache for her just a little. When her bottom lip came out slightly I knew I was done for.
“Does it really matter so much? How I look now?” I snorted, and laid back slowly beside her on the grass, my hand seeking hers.
“Don’t forget I bonded to you when you were still just a straight little stick with too much hair.” She snorted then, and squeezed my and tightly in hers.
“I love you, too,” she said, relaxing next to me.
“I know you do, little Mira, and when I am healed, I am going to show you just how much I love you, too.”