As Eric slid into her mind, he noticed that things were different. There was no chamber, and no doors any longer. Perhaps this change was due to her unification? Instead, he was there in the memory observing as part of the scenery.
Tea Cup Sookie’s mother was putting her to bed, and he heard her thoughts from Sookie hearing them. God, why is my baby a freak? What did I do to deserve this? How I am supposed to hold my head up in town around decent folks after she has one of her spells? Oh, God please help me. Tea Cup Sookie seemed to only understand that her mother was sad, scared and angry and that it was her fault. Eric felt that through the bond, and it broke his heart, and it made him angry, furious in fact. He felt his Sookie send him calm and warmth through their bond.
Shhh, Eric, it’s ok. I love you, and this was long ago. Don’t let the pain of the past blind you from seeing what you came here to see, she whispered in his mind. He instantly felt better and worse at the same time.
When her mother left, he watched Tea Cup wipe the lonely tear from her face, and then take a deep breath. She scrunched her face up, and he could hear her over and over, begging someone, anyone, and everyone, to help her be better so that her mama could love her. So that he mama could be happy. Please, let me mama love me again!
As Sookie prayed, Eric saw her start to glow, familiar lavender light covered her little body. When she opened her eyes, she was standing in the middle of a library. The Library, Eric corrected. He focused on looking around and what he saw at first was a room that seemed to have no walls or boundaries, with shelves that ran out of sight when you looked upward and tried to follow the row to the end. They ran diagonal to each other and met in the center in a circular pattern. Eric noted that there were twelve rows that led out from the center.
In the center was a large dark leather chair, and in front of it were two large dark leather sofas that faced each other, one to the left and one to the right of the chair. Above the seating area hung a large crystal chandelier that gave off soft light, making the setting seem intimate despite the seemingly infinite space all around it. The shelves of books were also illuminated but from no source that Eric could easily discern. The floor was black and white tiled again, like the floor of her mind chamber had been.
As Eric looked around, he thought for just a second her saw something else. He thought he saw a different place entirely around them. White walls, bright lights, computers, all there and then gone in a flash, his vision returning him to the leather and endless shelves. He did note that where one of the computers had been was small writing desk, with a chair. Dismissing that for now, he turned to locate Sookie.
She was standing in the center of The Library, before the large chair, looking around with wide eyes. To the right of Eric, from between the shelves came a figure. Eric, forgetting he was only a spectator here, moved between the man and Sookie, wanting to protect her from this unknown menace. The man moved right through Eric, as though he wasn’t there, because he wasn’t there. He sighed in exasperation and felt Sookie hug him again in the bond. Hold on my love, she whispered and once again he forced himself to calm down and focus.
“Who are you,” Tea Cup Sookie asked him, not rudely, but with no fear in her voice either. Eric’s heart ached with love for her, as she faced this unknown man bravely. He kneeled down at her feet, the light falling on him and Eric got his first look at this stranger.
His garments were loose and flowing, not unlike the kind of clothing that Godric had favored. His hair was short and dark as were his eyes, but they had a warmth in them that Sookie recognized immediately when she looked into them. He was of an average height and average build and seemed average in every way, but he didn’t feel average. To Sookie, he felt strong and safe, to Eric’s older and wiser eyes he seemed as powerful and dangerous as he was unknown.
When Sookie moved closer again he wanted to protect her, and when he heard the reply to her query he wanted to scoop her up and run, but this was all so long ago, and he was so powerless that it sparked his anger again.
“Sookie, you can call me Mr. Jones. Welcome to The Library.” She smiled and moved closer to him. The scenery around Eric changed.
Now Tea Cup sat in Mr. Jones’ lap while he told her story. Her pajamas were different which helped him conclude that this was a different night “What shall it be tonight, Little One? Shall I tell you of Fae and the creatures who live there? Shall I tell you of things to come or things that have happened?” His manner with her was like that of a doting father, very warm and she responded to him in the same way, completely at ease and comfortable.
“Tell me ’bout de Vikin’s! Tell me ’bout Ewic! Please!” Huh? He told her stories about me?
“Where did we leave off last time?” Jones asked her indulgently.
“Ummm,” she said, scrunching up her face thinking back, “Somefin’ bad had just happened to Ewic’s fambly, and he was about to go to war. What happens next?” Jones looked directly at where Eric was standing, as though he could see him, locking eyes with Eric, he asked her why she wanted to hear about Eric the Viking.
“‘Cause, he’s MY Ewic.”
“What does that mean, Little One?” Jones pressed her for more.
“Someday, when we meet, I will love him,” she answered him as though it were so obvious that he was silly for asking her this question.
“How do you know that, Sookie?” She shrugged and reached up to put her hand on his face.
“Just know,” she said as if no further explanation were needed. Jones looked away from Eric, and went on with his story for Sookie. The scene shifted again.
Now Sookie sat in the big chair alone, listening as Jones, seated to her right, spoke to another across on the other sofa. They were all eating ice cream sundaes. Sookie had strawberry, Jones had caramel and the other man had fudge.
The Master, Sookie whispered in his mind. He felt her anger and no small amount of fear from the Sookie who was guiding this tour. From Tea Cup Sookie, he knew that she liked strawberry sundaes and that The Master should go soon so she can get Mr. Jones to tell her more about Ewic. While she didn’t understand what was being discussed she did remember the words. She never really listened to grown up talk anyway.
Eric looked at The Master. He was physically the mirror of Mr. Jones, same height, same build, and same style of clothing. His hair was a lighter brown and his eyes were blue. Both men seemed relaxed, their tones low and comfortable, but the words they were a different thing entirely.
“Jones,” The Master began, taking a bite of his sundae, “You know that bringing her here is not allowed, and that as a result I am owed a boon.” Jones looked at him smiling a smile that never touched his eyes.
“I did not bring her here, she came on her own. There is no boon owed to you.”
“The rules clearly state—”Jones cut him off, still speaking softly. Eric was starting to understand that they were discussing Sookie, and that while their tones were soft it was to protect her from understanding what was really happening.
“The rules state that if I interfere in any way that you are owed a boon to do the same. I did not interfere, she came of her own Free Will.” The Master snorted, chuckling.
“Ah, your ‘get out jail free card’, Free Will!” he took another bite of his sundae as he chuckled at Jones. “Tell me, Jones. How did she just happen to find her way here, with no interference from you? And spare me the lies, I know what she means to you, both her and the Viking. How did she come to you so soon if you did nothing?”
“She asked for help, she came here under her own power. I did nothing but refuse to bar her way, once she had arrived.”
“Tsk, tsk, Jones. We both know that you did more than that when she arrived. You told her of the Viking and began to lay the ground work for their reunion. Though how you plan to keep him alive for a thousand years, is beyond me at this point! I can’t wait to see though! You are always so creative with your Horses.” Eric saw a shadow slip over Jones’ face when The Master said that.
“My Horses, are free. They are presented choices, and opportunities that sometimes change the course of their path but they are never harnessed and forced, never ‘ridden’.” There was no change in his tone as he spoke the words, still calm and amiable rhetoric toward a friend, but the feel of The Library changed. Tension was in the air now and even Sookie could feel it.
“You know, Jones that even if I were of a mind to ignore the breach of her being here, that I would not be able to ignore your interference with stirring tales of The Vikings.” Sookie looked up at this, her sharp gaze falling on The Master at his mention of the one thing she was waiting to hear about.
“You know about my Ewic?” she asked him sliding to the edge of the big chair and standing on the floor, looking at him intently, her sundae still in her hand, but forgotten in favor of the potential of a more desired story. The Master turned to look at her directly, smiling, but his eyes were ice.
“Of course my dear, who do you think put him where he is?” She frowned, not understanding. She knew she didn’t like his tone, but was not sure what to say to that. Before she could speak, Jones opened his arms to her and she immediately ran into them, letting him pull her onto his lap. Eric saw The Master frown now, openly for the first time as he slid forward, ice cream now gone from his hand. Eric glanced around, and everyone’s ice cream was gone.
“Jones, for my boon, I will take her memory of this, and of the Viking.” Eric saw Jones hug her tiny frame close in reflex.
“How?” he asked.
“As painfully as possible. I want to make it hurt. I want to make permanent.” His tone was now anything but amicable. Sookie clung to Jones in fear, but still did not cry and did not speak.
“The permanence of the boon is not up to you,” Jones said, looking at where Eric was standing again. Eric was sure Jones was seeing him. The Master sighed.
“Sad, but true. I can only devise the punishment, how it plays out long term is still a matter of Free Will. It’s a bitch, but whatcha gonna do?” He shrugged and smiled charmingly, but no one was being fooled anymore. The Master stood up and looked at Sookie one last time. The predatory look on his face, made Eric again, want to kill him. The Master chuckled, “You couldn’t kill me and you know it.” The Master turned to look at him then. The contempt on his face was rivaled only by the coldness in his eyes. “It is heartwarming though, well at least for me it is, to see you so chivalrous. Who would have guessed you could find some moral ground to stand on underneath all the blood you have spilled, Viking.”
Eric moved forward to attack The Master, perhaps they could end this now. The Master laughed as he passed right through him. He looked at Jones, “This, this is why I will win, Jones. I made sure of it this time.” By the time Eric turned to face The Master again he was gone.
“You see me, too?” he asked Jones, who nodded.
“She does, too,” he barely got it out before a tiny squeal split the air.
“Ewic!” and she was on him, trying to climb him like a tree. “‘S’at really you, Ewic?” He picked her up and rained kisses on her head and face. His large hand covered the entire back her head.
“Wait, how can I touch her and not The Master?” he asked Jones still clutching her close.
“Because she wants you, too.” Moving Sookie to his hip he let go of the idea that he was in her memory of the past interacting with her in real time. Wasting time arguing over what was possible and not possible was still just a waste of time. He was here, it was happening. He could melt down later. In fact, he was sure he would melt down later.
“What has just happened here, Jones?”
“We lost some ground on a technicality, and now, The Master is going to claim his right to interfere and balance things again.”
“What will he do?” Eric was scared, though logically he understood that this had already happened.
“She was ahead of her time, and found her way here long before she was supposed to. I took advantage of that to try and restore the bond between the two you sooner that it was originally planned to happen.”
“You told her of me?”
“I reminded her of you.”
“What will he do?” Eric asked again, more urgently this time.
“If I know him, and I do, he will break her. He will find some way to slow down her development into who and what she is to be. He will take her memory of me and of you, he has already promised that. She needs those memories to hold onto.”
“Can you stop him?”
“No, he is within his right to do what he is doing. It is part of the place he holds to act in this way. He can do nothing else but this, or something like it.”
“But,” Eric hesitated here, thinking back over what he heard while they discussed her fate, “she is yours, right? How does he have any right to do anything to her, if she is yours?”
“She is ours, his and mine. Everything I am, I have, is his, and everything he is and has is mine. In this there is balance, order from chaos. Her actions and my actions are out of The Order. To prevent Chaos he must act. I would do the same, were the situations reversed and have on many occasions.”
“So, what makes you different from him?”
“He enjoys hurting them. I do not. It is another aspect of our Balance.”
“What will you do when he breaks her?” Eric pressed, desperate to save her, and knowing that he never would be able to.
“I can’t stop him from breaking her. I can perhaps guide the fractures, perhaps delineate the pattern that his breaks must cause.”
“WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?” Eric screamed, finally just losing his shit. Powerless to protect the Sookie in his arms, or the one in his bed, or any version of her anywhere ever it would seem, he reached his magical tipping point and just lost it.
Tea Cup Sookie put her hands on his face and looked him in the eye, he heard her in his mind. Eric, you know this turns out ok. You know that I love you, and I know that you love me. You know that, take comfort in that knowledge and see the rest of what there is to see.
“It means, Eric that I can’t stop him, but I can protect her to some degree. I can give her a way to fight to become what she is supposed to be. It won’t be as easy as it should be, but I think that I can turn that to our advantage as well. There is strength borne from adversity and that she can surely only benefit from on her path.
“Sookie,” Jones spoke to her directly now. “I have another story to tell you now. It’s about magic doors, and how a young girl can protect herself if things get bad. There are some scary parts to it, but it all works out in the end. Do you want to hear about the doors?” She nodded in Eric’s arms, turning to him one more time and kissing his cheek, hugging his neck tight, she wiggled to get down.
“See you soon, Ewic?” he nodded and tried to smile for her. He was sure it was as pitiful as he felt.
Eric took one more look around at the The Library. “Jones, are you The Librarian?”
“No,” Jones chuckled at the question, finding it ridiculous.
“Then who is?”
“You might as well ask me who The Writer is, Eric, for I cannot tell you that either. Not here and not now. Come to me of your own choosing and prove your worthiness to be here, then we can talk of such things.
“One last thing, Eric. Where you are now, The Master will have chosen a champion for his cause. Beware.”
“What is his cause?” Eric asked, not really expecting an answer at this point, since so few were forthcoming no matter how much he railed and questioned.
“On the surface, to keep you and Sookie apart, but the endgame is much bigger than just the two of you. You are ultimately but cogs in the wheel.”
“If we are so insignificant then why bother with us at all?”
“Small does not mean “insignificant”, Eric. Some cogs are essential to the rolling of a wheel.”
Eric opened his eyes in their chamber at Uppsala and looked at Sookie again, anew with wonder and awe. He had so many questions, but before he could open his mouth to ask any of them he heard a voice in his mind. That fucker Northman is here! He said he would be. Can’t let him know I was here, gotta get back let him know that we found them.
“Sookie, do you hear anyone outside?” she listened and her eyes grew wide.
“No, but there are several voids out there. There are three vampires in the woods around Uppsala, Eric!” She looked at him, puzzled. “How did you know?”
“Looks like I have access to your telepathy after all. Just that it only works for me with vampires.” He closed his eyes to listen in for more information, wondering if one of these guys was here to champion for The Master.