“Why is her Light so strong in you?” she asked as she pressed her essence against it inside me, making my head buzz, and the Light snap, crackling at her. She moved back quickly, hovering, but still focused on the bond I shared with Sookie. “Would it have been like this for me if I had not made him my child?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps.” Her sadness filled me as she saw the possibility of chances missed play out for her.
“What’s it like?” I could feel her genuine curiosity.
“Peace,” I told her, allowing her that much before adding somewhat reluctantly, “And chaos at once. I was a creature of control and order, necessitated by my nature, and my instinct to survive. Her Light makes that seem less important, less necessary than having her be mine.”
She was quiet for a long time before I felt her curiosity change first to regret, and then determination. “Let’s go,” she told me, and I felt my body respond to her wishes automatically. It wasn’t the first time it had been so since I had taken her blood, but each time she commanded me, and I followed I became more certain that her control over me might not something I could fight.
We arrived at Sookie’s farm house in record time, Lilith might control my form, but the tradeoff was access to her power. It was like nothing I could have imagined, and I enjoyed it, even if I could see the edge of the cliff I was dancing on quite clearly.
“Viking!” Claude greeted me, coming off the porch to meet me in the yard. I noticed her house was packed to the rafters with Fae who had escaped here from the club massacre. “I worried that Warlow had ended you.” Lilith used my nose to inhale the incredible scent of the farm around her, and immediately started pushing me to feed.
We need them to help us get to Warlow, I reminded her. If you eat them, the remainder will flee.
Claude must have heard me, and her too perhaps when she grudgingly conceded the moment, all the while planning to return, and take her fill once we had settled the matter at hand. He took a step back from us, looking intently at me, and in turn the creature who huddled inside me.
“What have you done?” he asked, taking another step back.
“What needed to be done,” my voice growled at him, but it was both of us speaking. Neither of us was used to being questioned. He shook his head sadly, the expression on his face telling me all I needed to know.
“Does Cantos live?” I asked.
“I don’t know. He was fighting Warlow when we ported away. You saw him last.”
“He was wounded.”
We don’t have time for this! She hissed at me.
We will make time! He is my son! She swirled, but did not press the issue any further. She was smart enough to know that until we made it to Warlow she needed to be accommodating, at least to some small degree.
“Warlow is gone,” I told Claude. “Can you return me to the club?”
“And the others?” he gestured around him to the ones who had come out of the house, and the few who had gathered around us in the yard.
“They may stay here for now, if they wish.” I felt her settle deeper in her decision to come back to the all Fae buffet, but said nothing for the moment.
“They were here,” I told Claude, kneeling over the ground that was covered in Cantos’ blood. I followed it back into the bar, and saw the Water bottle shards laid out. “But they are no longer.”
“What matters is that he lives.” I couldn’t agree more.
“Can you take me to Warlow’s stronghold in Fae?” He agreed, porting us at once through the still open gate to fairy land. We landed in the middle of a desert that might even be the same one I had escaped across with Sookie in my arms a few days before.
“It’s not,” Claude said. “We are half a world away from Alloria, and the dead lands that surround it.”
“It all looks the same,” I observed.
Is this where he came from? Lilith hissed in my mind. I ignored her, looking around but seeing nothing, not even in the distance.
“Where is his stronghold?”
“Further in. His lands are protected by magic. I’m afraid I can’t port you any closer. You’ll have to proceed on your own from here, but be warned, may will sense you, all of you when you cross his wards.”
“East. I expect he will greet you before you get there. Be ready.”
“You as well,” I told him, holding his gaze for a long moment, hoping that he would understand he needed to move the Fae without me having to fully think it or speak it. He nodded after a moment and ported away, leaving me in the barren wasteland with a head full of Lilith.
I felt Eric when he crossed the portal. He was the sound of thunder in the mind fortress I had made to keep Warlow out. I could feel him coming closer, and ran the parapets of my thought palace to watch his approach. I had to let go of tracking Warlow to follow him, but it wouldn’t matter for much longer now. This was all about to end, one way or the other.
As I stared across the dark empty sands looking for my lover, I felt Warlow flip the pages of me. “Sugar and spice, and everything nice. Is that what you are made of, little star?”
“Hardly. You saw to that.” I felt my hands shift to claws as my Light and Fire stoked themselves, preparing for what was coming.
“It’s a curious thought that anyone would be made of such things.”
“It’s a human notion. A song for children to chant as they play together.”
“Will you play with me now, little star?” He was so soft, so dark and so sensuous that it was becoming harder and harder to hold him back.
“Never,” I snarled, meaning it less every time I said it. He was winning, and he knew it.
“Never is longer than you have.”
“You, too,” I answered, smiling as I caught my first psychic glimpse of my Eric. As he came closer I saw that he was not alone. In him was a Darkness so great that it rivaled the soft black one that was encasing me from head to toe.
I opened my eyes to find his handsome face right above mine, his hands as possessive as his mind. I hated it with everything I was, but my body was leaning into his touch, enjoying the sensations rocking through it as he moved over me, his hand sliding down to touch me between my legs. The traitors opened for him, despite my words of denial.
In those moments a hate darker than anything I had felt before filled me, setting my body on fire, and burning him wherever he touched me. He pressed his slick fingers deeper into me, and laughed softly as his flesh sizzled inside me. He sank his fangs into my neck and drank deeply, using my blood to heal what my fire had damaged. When he pulled back his savage fangs were covered in the red of me. “I will take your bond now, little star, and then this futile resistance will cease. I will show you the world we were meant to live in, made with your hand in mine, my blood in your veins, and your Light in my soul.”
I felt my chest grow warmer as the chosen half of me entered Warlow’s stronghold. There was barely time for my heart to beat before he was there. I looked into his eyes, as he stood over Warlow who had me pinned down. The rage and pain I found there ignited me, causing me to blast Warlow away, clearing a path for Eric, and his arms to surround me.
“Sookie,” he whispered as I wrapped my arms and legs around him, clinging as I had when I had awakened from my first meeting with Warlow the last time we are in Fae.
“I killed you, Eric,” Warlow sneered behind us.
“KNEEL!” Eric commanded him, turning me just enough to see him forced to comply. His face showed surprise and wonder as he watched his body respond against his will.
*Now you know what it feels like, fucker!* I screamed at him, as I snuggled closer to Eric, checking our ties and bonds finding an answer sooner than I would have liked as to why Warlow was forced to comply.
“You drank the blood,” I said in his ear. Without answering me moved to lick the wound closed that Warlow has torn in my neck, his body trembling as he continued to hold me. His lips crashed into mine, and all thought fled as our ties and bonds fully awakened, reunited.
“This is how you resisted me, little star. I wanted to give you peace and time to mourn his loss. I never thought to verify the severing of your ties. I was sure he was dead.” The Darkness that could only be Lilith tore Eric’s mouth from mine to scream.
“YOU LOVE HER!” The sound was a curious mix of Eric and other, but the rage was the same. Each entity furious over Warlow’s perceived affections for me.
“Yes. As much as I know how, yes I do, Lilith.” I felt a tremor run through Eric again, and gasped a little as he clutched me tighter in his grasp. He took a deep steadying breath, and sat me carefully on my feet before moving a step toward Warlow. At the last minute he turned back to me, his eyes filled with love and fear.
“Port when he falls. As far as you can, and don’t look back, Sookie. Promise me!”
“No.” I crossed my arms, stood as tall as I could.
“You must,” he snarled at me, clearly fighting to get the words out. “She will take me whole when he is dead. It is the price for your freedom.”
“And I suppose you agreed to this?”
“Anything for you, my Sookie.” A single tear slid down his cheek, I barely saw it before his hand wiped it away, and his face changed into something else entirely; some version of the cold Eric I had first met on his throne in Fangtasia. Despite the danger we were in I found that I could not believe it now any more than I had then. There was a world inside my beautiful vampire, more than a single mask could show or contain. I made up my mind in the split second that I watched him change that I would either save him or die here with him.
He turned to Warlow, approaching him with a slow deadly pace that showed plainly the predatory nature of what he held inside him. “Do you remember the first night we talked, Warlow? Under the stars when I called out to you, and you let me see you for the first time?”
“I will never forget,” I looked at Warlow, whose gaze was fixated on Eric’s body and Lilith’s words. “Though it was many nights later that I died in your arms that was night you stole my Light.”
“I stole nothing! I took what was offered to me!”
“YOU FUCKING KILLED ME! YOU MADE ME A BLOOD DRINKING MONSTER! I HAVE KILLED EVERYTHING IN MY PATH FOR SIX THOUSAND YEARS BECAUSE OF YOU, BITCH!” The part of me that was connected to Warlow felt pity for the crumbling monster forced to his knees before me. I would have cut that part out of me if I could have. I didn’t want to feel bad for my abductor.
“Kiss me,” Lilith said to him as she made Eric kneel next to Warlow. He tried to fight, but in the end, the will of his maker was too much. Then she went one step further into the abyss of his mind, dragging him behind her like a broken kite on a string. “Enjoy it,” she commanded in a whisper just before his lips touched Eric’s.
The forced sounds of pleasure he made as their tongues danced together made my want to vomit. I could feel Eric screaming, hating being under her command as much as Warlow. I wanted to free them both, it was a near undeniable compulsion, but deny it I did. No matter what I was feeling, if I interrupted Warlow might kill Eric to get to Lilith, and if he did that, then all this would be for nothing.
Instead, I did the only thing I could do as I watched them kiss. I dug into my bond with Eric and sent him my strength and love, hoping it would be enough to calm and focus him in this battle. If he lost himself to the monster he had invited in to save me, then again, all of this would be for nothing.
I had learned in my long life that the most devastating battles were not the ones that left physical wounds, but rather the ones that took place in the mind. It was why no one could inflict a greater harm on you, than you could yourself.
I had agreed to let her have my physical body in return for ending Warlow and freeing Sookie. I had let myself pretend it would be quick, vicious and bloody, knowing all the while that she had waited far too long to end this any way but slow.
These two lovers had murdered each other, and now they couldn’t stop. I could feel her pulsing in my stone dead chest like a rotten heart, filled with vengeance, and some twisted love that told her she could be with him again. Her inner war distracted her, allowing me a chance to rail against the place she had stored me away when she turned to face him.
My will, the part that made me Eric Northman, was chained naked to a cross that was surrounded by wood, ready to burn. It was an image pulled from my deepest nightmares. Helplessness, destruction before me and no way to fight or run. That’s what happens when you let the boogey man in, I told myself, they open your closets, and pull all your monsters out to play.
Lilith was commanding Warlow surrender his flesh to her will. I didn’t need to be bonded to him to know he hated it as much as Eric did. His eyes caught mine for just a moment, and I heard him in my head like a faint radio signal.
*A door opens both ways.*
I felt him open to me telepathically as he had when we had first arrived here, offering me everything in his mind as Lilith took everything from him physically. He took me into himself, and into her, landing me deep in the mind she shared with Eric. I found him there, chained and ready to burn.
*I will never let you burn, my Eric. Our love will save you.*
I wanted to tell her again to escape, but being near her again made all that I knew was happening outside much less important than it should have been. I watched her rise off the ground, and float toward me in shining circle of light that pulsed in time with her handprints on my back and the Light she had given me in my chest.
When she wrapped her arms and legs around me as she had done when I arrived, I couldn’t stop the sigh of contentment that rushed my center. This was home. This strange lovely woman who had let me sweep her off her feet and carry her up the stairs to her room in another world. The woman who had demanded I tell her why she made me feel human, and why I was afraid of that feeling.
It was distant now, so distant, but I thought it might have been because I feared death, and humanity meant that I was more vulnerable to it than I could ever admit. It seemed ridiculous now. Since then I had learned that if I died I would find her again, somewhere in a universe that sang our names among the stars, and assured me that nothing ever truly ends. As she settled around me, I was reminded again that where there was me there would always be her.
Unlike those we shared these moments with, she didn’t have to tell me to kiss her. It was like blood for me to put my lips to hers, whole and sustaining. As soon as our tongues touched I felt the light she had shown me in the tree come out of my chest again to meet hers, flaring in a blinding affirmation of what no words could truly describe.
I felt a flair of fear from Lilith, but it passed quickly, leaving the impression that she erroneously believed that Warlow was sharing his Light with her at last. Rather than fight the sensation of being consumed, she ran into it, pressing faster as she started to burn.
*I love you.*
Sookie said to me.
Lilith said to Warlow.
Warlow said to Sookie.
I said to Sookie, and we burned as bright as any sun that had been born or ever would be. It was divine. We were divine.
I watched them burn with my eyes as I felt them with my soul. Warlow’s final conscious thought haunting, and filled with a love I didn’t believe he would ever understand.
*I knew your light would save me, little star.*
It was still echoing in my mind when I felt Eric’s cool arms slide around me, welcoming me home at last.
(A/N a little more to go. Maybe another chapter or two, to tie up our lose ends, and we have to find Cantos and Mira and see what they are up to as well.)