The light from the bathroom behind Sookie illuminated this Godric’s ancient yet forever-young face, and the smile gracing his thinned out lips raised the hair on the back of her neck. It was at once predatory, curious, and intense…not a comforting combination.
Heart pounding through her chest, she whimpered, “Godric?”
Too quickly for her eyes to follow, he lunged forward and sniffed her neck, then took only a half-step back.
Dull grayish-blue eyes narrowed and nostrils flared, he demanded, “You smell of my child. Why?”
“I…I’m his,” she stuttered as she quickly flipped through her memory of what the correct thing to say might be, not that she’d ever thought she’d be having a conversation with Eric’s Maker in a bathroom doorway clad only in her underwear. She just hoped she’d said the right thing.
His question, not demanded but asked complete with head tilt, caught her off guard. He had been nice and intense, then glaring and intense…now he was curious…and intense. His mood swings were going to give her whiplash. And besides, she didn’t know exactly what to tell him; even she was still unsure about what was going on between herself and Eric.
“Erm, can I get dressed first? Then we can sit and talk all you want.”
He looked like her request made little sense to him, but gracefully acquiesced with an odd look in her direction.
Sookie felt along the wall until she found a light switch for the bedroom. She spotted Eric still dead for the day taking up well over half the bed, but his shirt and pants were lying in a crumpled heap on the floor on his side. Thankfully her own clothes were draped across a chair in the corner of the room. They were hopelessly wrinkled, but they were all she had, so she quickly shook them out and put them back on.
“Why must you clothe your body to speak words from your mouth,” his lightly-voiced query broke the awkward silence.
Sookie couldn’t help the “are you kidding me” look she gave him as she rounded the bed to pick up Eric’s discarded clothing, but seeing his honest curiosity helped her reply evenly, “For several reasons, actually. Mainly it’s because I’m probably more modest than what you’d expect, but also because it’s pretty chilly down here underground,” she explained, then added, “For me, at any rate.”
She looked around the bedroom for any sort of human sustenance but wasn’t surprised when she found nothing drinkable, much less edible. There wasn’t even a clock.
When she turned to face Godric again, she gasped. He was nowhere in the mid-sized bedroom, but the door to the stairs she remembered Eric carrying her down was ajar.
Not in the mood to play tag with a potentially unstable vampire who was over 2000 years old, she slowly put her shoes on, then when that didn’t take nearly enough time, she leaned over the bed to poke Eric’s shoulder. When that didn’t rouse him, she poked his ribs while shout-whispering his name in his ear.
Miffed with her lack of success, even though she logically knew it wouldn’t work anyway, she finally bravely tip-toed up the dark stairs to the partially ajar door at the top landing. She opened the door to a dark room, then felt along the wall for more light switches. When the room was lit, she discovered she was in a nice kitchen, and that the windows over the double sink were covered with black-out curtains. As she looked past the kitchen, it seemed as though the windows in the small living room were covered as well.
A quick look around showed neither a coffee maker nor a Godric. She huffed…this was getting extremely old. And where the hell was Godric, anyway?
Damn. Tap water it was, then. She filled the only glass she found in the otherwise empty kitchen cabinets with water from the sink faucet, took a long drink, sat the glass down on the counter, and looked up to find Godric less than six inches from her nose.
After yelping in shock, she squeakily informed him that he needed to wear bells on his ankles.
When his smile at her quip reached nowhere near his eyes, she reconsidered her first impression of the dark haired vampire. Something was definitely going on with him, but she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was. The only thing she knew for certain was that he seemed awfully unhappy, and as disconcerting as his youthful appearance was, that aura of sad desperation just didn’t feel right to her.
She lightly grasped his cold hand in hers, and led him through to the dark living room before releasing him. After turning on several lamps, she sat on the sofa and turned to face Eric’s Maker standing nearby. She had no idea of what to say to him, so she started with the most obvious thing she could find.
“How is it you’re awake so early? I’m not sure what time it is, but Eric’s still asleep. Why aren’t you?”
“At my age, I can rise well before the sun falls,” he obligingly answered.
After staring at the wall for a long minute, so long that Sookie glanced over to see what he was looking at, he abruptly asked, “Why are you here with my child?”
Unsure of what to say, Sookie opted for a vague truth. “I work for him.”
Just then Godric cocked his head a bit, obviously hearing something that Sookie didn’t, and she saw his lips move, but couldn’t make out the words.
“Fader,” Eric whispered as he suddenly appeared, his tone filled with joy, relief, and reverence. He immediately bowed his head and fell to his knees before his Maker.
Sookie watched as Godric gazed down at his progeny with love and pride so obvious it brought tears to her eyes. He placed his hand on Eric’s bowed head, and stroked his hair in adoration a few times before gently commanding him to rise.
Instead, Eric looked up, his face streaked with tears, and implored, “Master, I cannot feel you…haven’t felt you in so long. You are gone from me.”
Unnoticed, Sookie dashed tears from her own eyes. She had never imagined that Eric could even possess such a sweet, tender side…a side that she was certain he would have preferred remained hidden from the world.
“Eric, my pride, my eternal joy, you do not deserve the weight of my hell.”
The achingly desolate tone of his voice raised the hairs on Sookie’s arms.
Shaking his head, Eric rose and clasped his Maker in his arms. “Your pain is mine, Fader, your sorrow is mine. Let me…”
Godric had returned the embrace, but then forcefully broke the hold to growl, “No! No, this is not your concern. I will not have you harmed on my behalf.”
“I worry, Master. I worry for you as you would for me,” he beseeched.
When Godric’s eyes drifted away, unfocused and unseeing, Eric’s concerned gaze followed, and saw nothing unusual.
“I am fine. Leave it be,” Godric said unexpectedly, his melodic voice whisper-thin.
Eric shook his head, then, softly but knowingly, he asked, “How long has it been since you last fed?”
“How can I feed when she no longer can? Why would I?” His voice was stronger, his tone truly questioning and his gaze just as unfocused.
“This so-called church they have out here, they killed her, Eric; they killed her. Raban, her Maker, he blames me, and he is right to do so. I did not save her.”
Eric started to speak, trying to find something, anything, to say to pull his Maker back from this brink, but Godric suddenly snarled at him, his eyes hard and cold and dead, “No. Do not insult me with trite platitudes.”
Self-hatred drowning in remorse marred his young face.
“Elspeth,” Godric whispered reverently a minute later, the focus in his eyes dimming as he looked past them once again at things they could not see.
“How do I continue, when my heart is dead,” he asked with quiet desperation, then mumbled, “The scent of her hair…the sweet curve of her lips…,” his voice tapered off, his attention lost in his memories.
“She was to be my forever, but she is no more.”
Eric could feel Sookie preparing to speak, but motioned with his hand to urge caution. He’d never felt such conflicting emotions. His Maker was volatile in a way that he’d never seen before, and he didn’t want to risk any harm to Sookie. Yet, his Maker needed help, and he had no idea of what to do.
Then he felt Sookie flood their small bond with a feeling that could only be described as ‘I got this’.
Her voice was softly curious and reassuring when she spoke. “Godric, will you tell us about her, about your Elspeth?”
They were both blessed with a sad, gentle smile that lit his face.
“Elspeth,” he breathed reverently. “Elspeth is…….,” he paused for a long, long time, his gaze falling slowly to the floor, before he continued. “Elspeth is……was a gentle, tender soul. This dark life…it was too much for her to bear. Too much death and anger, too many games and deceits surrounded her bright spirit and dimmed her inner sun. She should never have been brought to this life, but she was, and in the end I could no longer protect her from the pain in her soul. She once considered going to this “church” for what she called ‘redemption’ but I thought I had talked her out of it. I tried to introduce her once again to joy and laughter. And we did laugh! We laughed and we talked…we ran and we read together, and we fed and we explored together. We touched and we whispered, and we held each other close come every dawn. But it was not enough… I was not enough. She is now ashes, nothing but ashes and memories, the ashes and memories that now fill my soul.” His ghost of a smile broke their hearts.
Going on instinct from remembering her own losses, Sookie rose from the sofa before Eric could stop her and immediately wrapped her arms around Godric’s trim waist. He was a bit taller than she was, but her head fit perfectly in that sweet space at the curve of his neck. She choked back her own tears as she embraced him as tightly as she could.
For a long moment he held as still as stone, motionless as only a vampire could be, then slowly, hesitantly, his arms rose to very lightly clasp her warmth to his chest.
The bloody sobs that suddenly wracked his body took them all by heartbreaking surprise. This was his first relief since feeling his beloved Elspeth burn.