On the morning of her second day in the fairy-realm Sookie woke up to find her no-longer-missing cousin Claudia waiting patiently in one of the comfy over-stuffed chairs at the table in one corner of her bedroom. The soft morning light filtering in through one of the windows in the room cast an ethereal glow over her cousin, and Sookie’s curiosity was piqued by the now pale rose-pink curls atop her head. She’d never seen Claudia’s hair that color.
“Well good morning, Claudy,” she said as she sat up. Sookie grinned when her voice startled her cousin from her revere.
“Sook! It’s about time you woke up,” Claudia exclaimed brightly, her composure quickly recovered. “Will you eat?”
Without waiting for a reply – Sookie’s appetite was notorious, she summoned one of her own maids to quickly fill the table with all manner of what Claudia apparently considered breakfast foods from the Earthly realm. Sookie just shook her head and went to the bathroom.
When she returned to the table, the smoked herring, bacon, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, toast, scones, bagels, cinnamon apple muffins, blueberry muffins, orange cream muffins, sweet little green peas, fresh creamery butter, cream cheese, honey, cinnamon honey, orange blossom honey, fresh cherry compote, pears, almonds, and celery sticks were easy for Sookie to identify, but she wasn’t sure what the gelled brown globs were. She didn’t ask…but at least there weren’t any alligator parts this time. Fairies were infamously curious yet surprisingly ill-informed about foods from other realms.
“In an egg mood today,” Sookie eventually enquired with a smile. All those eggs! Claudia simply shrugged and loaded her own plate.
After preparing herself a cup of coffee from the service on the nearby cart, Sookie picked her way through the plethora of foods available, then patiently if eagerly broke her fast as she waited for the point of her cousin’s own patience. Sitting by peoples’ bedsides waiting for them to wake up wasn’t one of Claudia’s general habits.
Fortunately she didn’t have to wait long for her companion to speak her mind. Between tiny bites of herring topped with cinnamon honey and poached egg bits, a concoction Sookie chose not to think too strongly about, Claudia began her slightly disjointed ramble…after asking her own question.
“After you left with his letter, Godric seemed concerned about you for some reason, so I poked my head through the Portal and found you holding the Tall Blond One as he cried. Is everything ok with…all that?”
Not expecting such a direct question, Sookie hastily took a large bite of a third orange cream muffin smeared with butter and flooded with honey, then chewed slowly as she thought about how to reply.
More than anyone else, Claudia knew all there was to know about her history with Eric, and had proven to be an excellent listener when Sookie had spoken at great length about all the vampires she had known.
In the beginning when she had first began discussing with and ranting to her about all things vampire, Claudia had freely admitted that, due to her innate fear of the species, her first inclination had been to strongly warn Sookie off vampires altogether. She had even admitted that her instincts urged her to do her “dead-level best” to keep the blonde in the proper realm from that point onward for her own safety. For weeks her hair would turn a shocking tone of red-for-danger and she would preface her thoughts with, “Now, you know how I feel about vampires…” or, “For your own safety you know you should never return to that realm…,” but she sincerely tried to keep her opinions logical and realistic instead of concentrating solely on her own fear and distrust.
Sookie respected Claudia for being able to think beyond her fear to hear what was actually being said and felt. As time progressed, due either to seeing the interaction between Sookie and Godric, or perhaps due to something in Sookie’s own words when discussing the Viking, Claudia dropped her introductory disclaimers completely. Her own interactions with Godric were even progressing, however slowly, into a form of acceptance.
Finally realizing that she had stalled as long as she could, she replied, “Things are… Well, they’re complicated. Obviously he’s still as attractive as he ever was, but now things seem to be a little bit different. It’s like that hard edge is… I don’t know, it’s like he’s not as cold and mean as he used to be. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like he even looks at me different now compared with how he used to. I don’t know, I’m not explaining this well, but you get the idea.”
Claudia cocked a rosy-pink brow. “Do tell.”
Sookie could feel her cheeks warming. She didn’t want Claudy getting the idea that she was mooning over Eric because she wasn’t. There was just something different about him now. That’s all it was.
“So, what’s up with the hair color? I haven’t seen that one on you yet.” She could give as good as she got, dammit.
When Claudia’s face flushed with a pink that oddly went well with her current hair color, Sookie grinned. When Claudia served herself some of the brown blobs of gel, however, she averted her eyes. Familial love only went so far.
“Ok, cuz, spill it,” she said to the window.
After tasting the newest addition to her plate then promptly banishing all the brown stuff into fairy oblivion, Claudia announced that Sookie could turn around.
The blonde warily surveyed the table then laughed at the empty spot. “That bad?”
Claudia nodded and grimaced. “It was worth a shot.”
When she didn’t continue, Sookie simply waited.
Finally Claudia huffed, then she said with a beaming smile, “Eanah’nae sent word that she wanted to see me…and meet Godric, so we…we visited her yesterday.”
Sookie’s eyes lit up, and the sparkle almost matched the one suddenly blooming in her cousin’s eyes.
“Yeah? How did that go? What did she say? Can she help him? And did you say “we“??” Claudy went with Godric?
“I…it went well,” she said, glancing shyly at the cup now in her hand. “Since you’ve been gone, we’ve been talking, a little, here and there. You always told me that he wasn’t someone I needed to fear, that while he’s vampire, he’s also fae, and so I decided to trust you. He still makes me nervous, of course, but he behaves better than most of our Princes do in the presence of royalty, and that helped…”
Claudia’s voice trailed off, and Sookie sat there for a long minute waiting to see what else she would say. The blush on her face was intriguing, only, Sookie was afraid she might be reading more into it than there actually was. They would make such a great couple.
Suddenly her cousin snickered. “I played your “catch me if you can” game with him on the way to see Eanah’nae.”
At Sookie’s shocked expression, she elaborated, “If she’s going to help him then he needs to know how to reach her himself, so I would pop a distance and wait for him to find me, then do so again. He always found me quicker than I thought he would. He’s so fast!” She glanced up with her proclamation and beamed in remembered pleasure.
Claudia wasn’t one to be overly impressed by a handsome face or full coffers, and to the disappointment of many a suitor for her semi-royal hand, fancy words held little sway. Proof of mental prowess and physical dexterity, however, were far more likely to catch her eye, as were proof of kindness and a respectful nature.
Godric, Sookie knew, would pass those tests and many more so easily it was laughable. Now that her cousin’s fear was apparently abating, she could almost see Claudia going down for the proverbial count, and the telepath couldn’t be happier for her.
“He is,” she agreed happily. “And I don’t think it’s just his vampire side, either. He might be an ancient vampire, Claudy, but he’s also very much fae, too, and together that makes him extremely quick, and strong, too. He’s also smart, very smart. He’s had to be so survive as long as he has.”
She reached across the table and placed her hand lightly atop her cousin’s. “And he’s kind, Claudy. He’s sweet and kind, and honest. He’s also blunt,” she added in a slightly warning tone, “but he’s not mean about it. And now I’ll be blunt. If you’re interested in him, then I think you should seriously consider going for it. “
Claudia jerked her head up and looked at Sookie intently.
“Are you sure?”
“Well, yeah,” she replied. “You two would get along great, and in some ways you and he are very much alike.”
The intent look remained.
Claudia turned her hand over and held Sookie’s hand gently.
“I had wondered if, perhaps, you and he would…”
Sookie blinked in surprise then shook her head firmly.
“I, um, no. No,” she finally stuttered. “There was a time when for a few moments I saw him for what he could be to me – a strongly compelling, virile male who will always have just hit his prime, but that’s not who he is to me now. No, to me,” she trailed off for a moment. “To me, he’s…he’s Godric. He’s a friend, a sometimes mentor…he’s someone to play with, to share secrets with, and he’s Eric’s Maker. Yes, he’s a sexy, potent beast of a man, but that part of him isn’t for me. Claudy, if you want him, take him,” Sookie ordered as she gazed directly into her cousin’s relieved eyes.
Claudia felt the relief wash over her down to her toes. She wasn’t ready for anything intimate to happen between herself and Godric, not yet…maybe not for a while, but while being physically close to him was the best she could do for now, it was enough. His presence had somehow changed from “scary” to “comforting”…from making her nervous in a bad way to making her nervous in a…good way.
She’d been worried about the closeness between the ancient faepire and her cousin for a while now. At first her worry was that Godric might drain Sookie, but when that never happened, she became convinced that something else might happen between them. Sookie had already been used terribly by vampires, having been bitten and almost drained, basically left for dead – who was to say that this Godric would treat her any better? All vampires were untrustworthy; the only thing you could depend on was that they would hurt you.
As time went on, however, she began worrying that Godric might break her cousin’s heart, that he would hurt her in a different manner by following the traditional vampire way of using others for their own gains, whatever they may be, without regard for the victim. That seemed to be the way of vampire from what she had seen, but then came along this thing with Eric and the letter – and the chance that Godric might be able to visit again the realm whose sun had driven him into such a horrifying depression.
That he would willingly risk such a thing only to visit a man who he had made vampire so long ago spoke well of his ability to love and remain loyal. Such traits would not come from one who was unworthy, would they?
The threat that Sookie wanted the ancient being who appeared so youthful had loomed large and…but now it did not.
Claudia had a decision to make.
She had sensed a certain feeling behind the faepire’s sometimes darkening blue eyes, a feeling she might like to investigate at some point…
Choosing to savor such thoughts in private, she changed the subject.
Several expressions crossed Sookie’s fair face as she gazed out the window in obvious contemplation.
“I feel like maybe I never knew the real Eric, and I think maybe I want to. I’m scared, though. I have lived through exactly how fast a vampire can turn on someone, how quickly they can choose their own aims over someone else’s safety, and I don’t want to live through anything like that again. Of course,” she added with a cocky smirk, “I’m also hella stronger now, so it wouldn’t be nearly as easy for shit like that to happen now, but,” she paused as her expression grew more serious, “I just don’t want to be hurt again.”
A knock at her door startled them both. Sookie rose and gestured with her hand, and the door opened to reveal Godric. His old, youthful expression was contemplative as he entered, and both noticed that Claudia remained relaxed as he slowly approached.
Before Sookie could move to greet him or even offer to poof him a chair, he spoke.
“As a vampire you know my sense of hearing is annoyingly acute and that I therefore hear many things whether I want to or not.” He smirked pointedly at both ladies. “So yes, I have heard your words.” Still a respectful distance away from Claudia, he turned to the fairy with the fascinating hair and gave her a smoldering gaze. “Ma chérie, we have much to discuss at a later time.”
She gasped and flushed, and her hair turned bright red for a brief second before settling back into its former rose-pink hue. Her hands may have trembled a little, but she remained seated. The pride in Godric’s ancient eyes was obvious as he nodded in approval of her continued courage in his presence.
After giving her a slight bow, he moved closer to Sookie. He knew well when to be bold and when to give a certain flighty little fae room to breathe. Time, after all, was on their side.
“Sookie, Eric would have my hide for telling you this, but by now you must have begun to realize that much of his arrogance and callousness are simply a façade gained and hardened by surviving over a thousand years in a world where any sign of weakness could well mean his end.”
He took her hand in his, and delighted in the barely detectable stiffening of Claudia’s shoulders that he noticed in his peripheral vision. Any jealousy was completely unnecessary, but the minute evidence of such still made him want to crow. He sensed Claudia would be a possessive little thing, and that was fine – he certainly was! The more he thought of it, the more he concluded that they would be quite well matched indeed.
“When you say you feel that you have never known the true Eric, you are mostly likely correct. By necessity, few have had that privilege. Should he offer you the opportunity, I would advise you to take it, and know it for the gift it is. He doesn’t share of himself often even when it is safe to do so…it might damage his vampire mystique,” he quipped with a grin.
He could see that Sookie was taking his words to heart and hoped she was truly considering how she might proceed with his Child. He expected his gut feeling to be right and that she would, eventually, give him a chance to make up for his mistakes.
Unfortunately, as with any vampire Eric could be a selfish, unfeeling monster, but such times were thankfully rare and even then only when his Child could see no other option. When given the choice, Eric would far rather act with fairness and gentle, if aloof, hands.
The Viking had a conscience and a good heart, albethey well-hidden, miles wide and soul deep. Mentally Godric shook his head. Said Viking had surely stepped in it this time, but the fact that Sookie was willing to at least deal with him enough to play mail carrier spoke well of his chances with her heart.
Eric also had huge feet – he hoped they didn’t enter his mouth too often. Speaking of which…
“Speaking of the vampire himself, do you have a reply?” He didn’t know it but his eyes had immediately brightened at the thought of a missive from his adored progeny.
He had caught Eric’s scent when he entered the room and knew there to be something, but of course he wouldn’t simply sniff it out, grab it, and go. He knew how to use his manners…when he wanted to.
“Oh yes – hang on,” Sookie said, pleased that she was able to help the two of them stay in touch.
She quickly grabbed the letter and handed it to Godric, and after he gave her a long if belated hug of welcome and gratitude, he left with a promise to return soon with his reply.
A few long, silent moments passed as Claudia made sure they were alone before stating quite succinctly, “Sook, I think we’re both fucked.”
**A/N: If “albeit” can be a word, why can’t “albethey”? It might just be me since I’m The Creator of this fic (and of Claudia) but I thought Claudia was cute in this chapter. (I may also want Godric to give ME that look, too, but that’s for another fic I guess…) Sookie may also be receiving a clue of her own, too. Anyway, what did you think? Reviews…muse…etc.**