“So, Pam, after I shower you will explain exactly how and why you came to be here,” he demanded more than asked as he stripped off the magically restored but deeply wrinkled pants.
He couldn’t wait to be rid of the memento of last night’s attack and the pile of fresh clothing obviously waiting on a nearby table-like structure was irresistible. On the floor near the table’s “feet” he’d spied a new pair of light-colored boots with thick socks draped over their tops. The oddly shaped piece of other-realm furniture itself warranted a side-glance as he wondered how it wasn’t listing sideways.
For once having risen before her Maker, the recalcitrant brat otherwise known as his progeny was already clad in fresh clothing resembling his own. While he was glad to see that she’d healed and apparently showered before changing into her clean clothing, he still had questions.
Lots of them.
He himself had risen only a few minutes earlier and was somewhat frustrated to find it was already early evening, but the extra rest had perfectly healed his wounds. His first thought upon rising had been of Sookie, of course, and a subtle probe of their new bond had reassured him that, while she seemed weak, she was well…and that she still slept peacefully.
As he quickly showered, he considered the drain on her powers. The amount of magic she had worked the previous evening had been extraordinary – she had been extraordinary – but he felt responsible that the need had risen in the first place. It was one thing for her to practice her abilities, to strengthen and flex those magical muscles, but quite another to have to do so under such stressful conditions…and then she was attacked after having depleted herself so badly.
Fucking Compton, he cursed, then he corrected himself. No, he blamed himself for not having foreseen just how vile the festering bastard’s cunning vendetta was and just how far his deranged sense of entitlement could reach.
That was a mistake he would never make again.
Compton was weak, yes – weak, arrogant, and foolish, but even the deranged lunatics of the world could attract, blackmail, or hire minions and nefariously control those with higher brain functions.
He looked down at the remnants of the formerly new bar of soap in his hands and smiled cruelly.
Compton would pay.
In the meantime, however, his Sookie needed to heal. He detested having to remain apart from her during the daylight hours, but she needed the sun’s restorative healing powers far more than he needed to feel her skin against his own.
For now, at least.
The effects of that magical deficit had worried him badly the night before, still did of course, but Niall, whose sudden arrival had also yet to be explained as there had been so little time afterward for idle chatter, had soothed most of his fears.
Her ancient relative had been deeply and noticeably concerned, but not frantic. He’d stated quite firmly that she would heal completely but that she would need an abundance of sun, rest, and sleep.
The memory of her pallor and utter stillness still sent jolts of residual fear through his heart, though, and he couldn’t wait to see her once the sun finally descended. Bonds were great, brilliant even, but he needed to see with his own eyes and smell and feel and hear for himself that the danger to her health was truly eased.
He exited the oddly large bathing area and toweled himself dry en route to his bedside. Pam had gone into downtime during his ablutions and didn’t bother “waking” when he returned to the room. He would like to believe this was her way of giving him privacy for dressing but knew she was simply lazy since it wasn’t anything she hadn’t seen countless times before anyway.
Disregarding the provided undergarment as a matter of course, he pulled on the fine off-white silken pants that fit surprisingly well. The silky material reminded him of Sookie’s dress from the evening before and he immediately began remembering how he had tended to her fallen form, gathering her into his arms, checking her pulse and scent then brushing away the dank dirt from the roadside.
Meanwhile Niall had been hurriedly ordering his guards to destroy all evidence of both the attack and the fallen enemy. The sun would remove vampire evidence but the few humans forms needed further…care.
Sometimes bloody evidence could serve as a powerful warning to future assholes with bright ideas; other situations, however, called for a more discreet approach.
During this time he’d accessed his Maker’s bond with Pam to be sure of her health. Just because she was ably mobile didn’t mean she wasn’t more injured than she appeared. Although she was fully capable of wailing the dead alive over the tiniest of nicks, she would more easily hide an extensive wound than vampires thrice her age.
He wasn’t sure what had caused her to so directly – and so very helpfully – defy his order, but he would find out. She was a brat – headstrong, willful, sometimes a tad arrogant – but outright serious defiance was gratifyingly rare for her.
Now, however, was not the time. She lived, what injuries she had sustained would heal quickly and most likely before her sadly messy hair even hit a pillow, and she…she had helped save Sookie’s life.
Had she not arrived when she had, that damn iron netting would have…
The last thought would require more time than he could currently spare.
Although Niall had instantly reverted into what Sookie called his Prince Mode, the elder had wasted absolutely no time directing the guards and had returned to her side with the alacrity of a grandfather who genuinely adored his injured granddaughter.
While keeping a strong, secure hold on his Sookie, Eric had then tersely informed the monarch about the troops stationed at the three other locations. More guards from the Prince’s realm had by that time popped into existence, some joining their brethren in tidying the roadside and field and poofing the limo and driver away while others remained to stand guard over their charge. Within a few blinks the area was cleared and most of the brigade popped away to “do their duty by their Princess”.
Eric suspected Compton was now short the vast majority of his minions.
By the time the detail had left, even his deepest injuries had stopped bleeding. Thankfully most of his cuts and contusions were vaguely annoying surface cuts, but considering how badly outnumbered he’d been, he knew his extreme skill and the oh-so-timely arrival of such talented reinforcements had made the difference between unlife and final death.
He wasn’t worried about himself – a good day’s rest would easily cure him; his thoughts were on Sookie, his hardheaded child, and what future surprises Compton may have planned. Sookie was too still, too pale in his arms, but she wasn’t bleeding anywhere – the only Fairy blood he smelled came from Niall and a few of the guards, but he did sense blood and pain coming from Pam who had mentioned nary a word about either.
Wounds possibly to the mortal extent and she goes silent but let her scuff a fucking shoe…
Against his express orders given solely to ensure her own safety, she had needlessly risked her own life and health. Yes, she had, indeed, helped save the night. The situation on Sookie’s side of the vehicle had been clearly dire and the horde of vampires attacking on his side were both vicious and seemingly never-ending, and there had been no way for him to come to her aid. Had Pam not arrived when and how she…
He couldn’t decide whether to hug her or beat her…lightly…with a feather…or maybe a new purse.
Now, as he donned what appeared to be a long-sleeved button-up tunic that was actually broad enough to fit his shoulders, since the sun wasn’t quite below the horizon yet he had the luxury of time and safety to enjoy that brief moment of inane absurdity. During the chaos he’d rolled his eyes at himself and held Sookie a little tighter in his arms but now that he thought more about it…
…a new purse…and maybe a dozen pairs of new shoes thrown at her order-disrespecting ears while I’m at it…
With a nod he allowed his thoughts to continue at vamp speed while he sat on the side of the bed to examine the light buttery-soft leather boots and thick socks of a material he couldn’t place. Hunger tingled in his empty stomach but he put thoughts of feeding aside for the moment.
Niall had honestly surprised him. Of course the ancient Prince of the Fae would be a talented swordsman – it was part of the job, after all, plus he had his own recollections from brief encounters during nights long past, but the male’s advanced age hadn’t seemed to have noticeably slowed his actions or dulled his wits.
From Sookie’s descriptions he’d known that the Prince did seem to care deeply for his hybrid relative; seeing him in action had more than solidified the knowledge. His Sookie had a strong, capable relative more than ready to literally come to her defense, and he was glad for her. Everyone needed family to support and cherish them…even better in the rare instances when that family was related by blood as well as affection and history.
Even so, not once did Niall dare suggest taking Sookie from his arms. Eric figured the old man knew better.
Despite the Prince’s obvious wounds, with scant warning he and the remaining guards had rested their hands on Eric, on Sookie held in his arms, and on Pam, and had quickly popped them away from the now seemingly undisturbed roadside.
In the blink of an eye, he and his child had been magically shifted to mere yards away from the Portal into the Fairy realm…the Portal right in Sookie’s shallow back woods. Even at the time the irony hit with bludgeoning force. Bloodied, exhausted, worried about Sookie and needing to feed, rest, and heal, he had sank down against a nearby tree to watch as Niall created not one but two minor miracles of magic.
Senses tuned to their surroundings in case Compton or his minions tried something else, he had watched as Niall called into being what he termed “bubbles” and then carried Sookie to her healing bed with his own hands.
The fairies who had popped in to assist with her healing in some sort of magical way had squealed upon seeing him and his ever-curious child who had tagged along, but a few quietly spoken words of assurance from Niall had seemed to suffice.
Eric hadn’t wasted much attention on the actual structure or furnishings except for the impossibly comfortable bed with the luxurious trappings. The bravest of the healer ladies had boldly stepped forward and lowered the covers so that Eric could gently lower his precious burden, and then before his very eyes a few waves of her hand had Sookie’s person cleaned, her few bruises healed, and her clothing changed for sleep.
A glance down at himself in passing proved his own clothing had been cleaned and mended, and although the lost blood was also removed, it seemed her magic couldn’t heal vampire wounds.
He had nodded his gratitude for the consideration then turned his attention back to his Sookie.
As she rested in her bed, he stroked her hair from her face and realized that although she remained pale and still, it appeared as though she merely slept rather than having just endured a bloody, malicious attack.
Once assured of her comfort, Niall had stepped away to confer with the healers thereby granting Eric some privacy.
Pam, still showing remarkable restraint, or possibly self-preservative guilt for having disobeyed her Maker so spectacularly, excused herself to go to their own accommodation. He vaguely noticed that her appearance was also now far cleaner than before.
A small commotion took place near the “door” of the bubble but a quick glance proved no new impending assault – apparently those within the structure’s confines could see out perfectly well while outsiders couldn’t see in – so he had returned to trying to comfort and ease Sookie through their bond.
He needed her to know that they were now safe and sent as much reassurance and peace as he could to her.
Niall wandered over a few minutes later appearing somewhat healed.
“By all rights she should be in Fairy,” he began only to be abruptly interrupted by a low snarl. “And that,” he continued smoothly, “is exactly why she remains here. That, and the fact that she would most likely risk great injury to her spark by trying to return herself to this realm too soon.” He shook his head sadly; apparently, he truly did know Sookie.
“Northman, you are standing in what amounts to a bubble realm. Although different, your sun is still capable of providing her with most of what she will need to recover and in the past I have created numerous magical structures of this type to allow the sun’s rays to enter unimpeded. Your shelter is the reverse. However, in both our scents are magically dampened and the exteriors have been shielded so that no mortal or vampire save yourself and your child could possibly detect it. If your Compton,” he spat the name, “himself were to slither this way, he would pass through both this and the other bubble none the wiser.”
Remembering his conversation with Sookie, Eric asked, “What about witches?”
Niall pinned him with a sharp look..
“Compton had glamoured an old, powerful one into servitude. Through Sookie’s influence she is now free, but he has no problem trying to acquire another.”
The elder Prince’s expression became markedly angry, then he closed his eyes. A moment later Eric felt a wave of magic flowing over and around both himself and the structure. He had no doubt the large surge of power encompassed both “bubbles”.
When finished, Niall glanced back down at Sookie for a moment, then regained Eric’s gaze.
“I can see you have questions,” he said just as Eric opened his mouth. “I must return to my lands as soon as possible so I will speak quickly. We will have more time to speak tonight after your sun sets, but for now you should know that her recovery will be slow and will likely require much rest and sleep. Our healers know well how to deal with this kind of situation so you must trust them to do what is best for their princess.”
He glanced at the wounds slowly healing on the vampire’s body. “If you are healed enough come the night to share your blood with her, it will aid in her recovery. That is between the two of you,” he added at Eric’s look of shock. “I am simply relating facts as they stand. You must not allow her to tire herself in any way, Viking. We will discuss this more later, but be assured that she will recover completely. For now, your bubble is ready, and my guards have obtained appropriate sustenance for you and your progeny. Do not,” he enjoined with a gleam in his eye, “ask how. Now come.”
Eric spared a last long glance down at Sookie who had yet to move, kissed her forehead, and followed the Fairy Prince who was currently behaving toward him more like a grumpy uncle than the monarch of a mortal enemy.
Niall led him around to what shimmeringly appeared to be the back of Sookie’s bubble into one with an entirely different feel. Although simple in design, the place was far larger internally than it looked and contained seating for half an army along with appropriate tables, lamps, and the like.
The main differences between the so-called “bubbles” were that instead of grass carpeting and solar-enabled exteriors, the floors, doors, and ceiling were solidly crafted of what appeared to be thick hardwoods, and the walls were built entirely of large gray stones with no windows or other external openings anywhere.
Once the outer door was closed, not one single ray of light would be permitted to enter the structure.
Niall strode across the room and beckoned both vampires to follow him. He opened the door Eric had suspected led to a bathing room but led instead to a set of steps.
As he and Pam followed Niall down the case illuminated by brightly glowing lanterns placed closer together than necessary, he noticed that the walls were sealed and somehow perfectly smooth.
Magic, it appeared, could do extraordinary things.
Once the trio reached the bottom step, Niall placed his hand to the dark wall then nodded to himself after a moment.
“This area is obviously light-tight and as above is protected against detection, much less invasion, from mortals, fairies except for Sookie and myself and any guards I approve, and all forms of nature including flooding considering this particular area.”
He glanced around with obvious distaste. “I understand your kind heal better beneath the earth.”
With a shiver he turned on the ball of his foot and more or less floated back up the steps far more quickly than he had descended.
“Come drink your, er, supper. I must go.”
A quick glance showed the lower room had been outfitted with two ridiculously comfortable beds, one much larger than the other, and several tables and chairs, lamps, and assorted other things he was too tired to care much about just then. Another internal door led to what he thought might actually be a bathing room, and the place smelled softly of old wood and stone instead of dirt. The walls, floor, and ceiling were finished in the same manner as the room above.
With a nod to Pam to follow, he ascended the steps and found to his surprise that Niall had already left but a royal guard he remembered from the clash remained in his stead.
The tall, blond male – lithe yet as well-formed as any of his brethren – gestured toward a new table on which rested a warmer that smelled strongly of an AB+ mortal’s finest.
“Enjoy the blood of one of your enemies this night,” he offered with a twinkle in his blue eyes as though he understood and sincerely approved of the desire. In his surprisingly deep voice with the odd cadence, he continued. “More from a like source will come after this sun falls. My brigade stands guard today over our Princess and her Royal Guests,” he inclined his head toward both vampires. “I am Pere should you need aught.”
The guard had bowed then exited from the door before popping away.
Feeling most of his thousand years of existence, he had wearily approached the container of “dinner”.
The surprising amount of fresh blood magically sealed in what looked for all the world like clean flower vases had somehow retained the perfect drinking temperature.
He and Pam had downed the blood quickly and within moments had each claimed a bed and gone wearily into their dayrest.
Eric now automatically glanced over to the door as he and Pam ascended the steps.
His internal clock informed him that the sun would be setting within the next twelve minutes and he was ready for blood and Sookie, and not necessarily in that order.
Now, however, it was high time for some answers from his child before the sun sank much further into the west.
He raised a brow at Pam who had yet to say a word. Granted the act of showering and dressing, even with all the mental meanderings, had taken him less than five minutes but…
Pam sank dramatically into one of the comfortable chairs but immediately composed herself rather than fidgeting.
“I was at the bar,” she began, but not in the wheedling or explanatory tone he was used to hearing from her. For two cents she would almost sound…contemplative?
“I had received yet another complaint about that whiny server – the redhead, not the brunette,” she clarified unnecessarily, “and was about to fire and glamour her useless ass when I felt the need to be where you were. Now, it wasn’t just that I wanted to be by your side while you faced a potentially unknown threat,” she stated firmly, and he could read through the bond that she told no lies. “This…this felt more like a pull, almost as powerful as a Maker’s Call…,” her voice trailed off as she stared unseeingly at the wall.
A moment later she added, “I felt something along those lines, something nagging stronger and stronger at me that staying away would be exactly the wrong thing to do, several times when you were ordering me to stay away and to go to ground should anything happen. I understood your orders and why you issued them, but something about them felt…felt wrong, but in a way I couldn’t explain. A few hours ago, though, that feeling drew me to you just like a Call. I couldn’t ignore it. So…I didn’t,” she baldly admitted as she boldly met Eric’s thoughtful gaze. “Something was telling me that you were in danger and that I needed to be where you are, so I closed the bar down early and sent everyone home. I changed clothes quickly, of course, and then let myself be led at vamp speed to that godforsaken road just in time to stop two vampires from dropping what turned out to be an iron net on your Sookie.”
She shrugged, and Eric stared.
Could this be an emerging gift? If so, her timing is excellent…and she’s still a good age for the more mental gifts to reveal themselves. Could it be?
Someone knocked on the door before Eric could speak, but he blurred to her side anyway.
“Should this happen again,” he whispered solely for her ears, “tell me immediately. This could be an emerging gift. You do come from a strong, talented family, you know.”
He kissed her forehead then sent her a burst of pride as he walked to the door.
**A/N: So…there are Eric’s abbreviated recollections and the ‘splainy bits about how Pam came to be there. Does Pam have a new gift coming about maybe? What didja think?**