Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
This would’ve been a mess without Meridian’s help. Honestly, I’m so grateful for every little bit I can get! 🙂 Padore, I hope you like the ending! I couldn’t have gotten here without you!
Most of my replies to reviews will be delayed. I’m going to a friend’s wedding in Tucson this weekend, and I won’t be taking my computer with me. See you Tuesday!
Sookie closed her eyes and let the warm water from the showerhead run over her cool skin. It had been four nights since they came back through the portal. The first two, she had no memory of, and then she woke to her new life.
Eric had been right there with her, helping her figure things out. He remained by her side, never leaving her, not even for a second, explaining things, guiding her through the changes in her body, and teaching her how to control her new strength.
She laughed as she thought of the first time she tried to get dressed. While stepping into her jeans, she accidentally ripped them in half. Eric promised to take her shopping to replace them, which was good because she didn’t have enough clothes as it was.
She spent countless hours in front of the mirror, trying to speak without lisping through her fangs, which, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t control. They were out all the time. Pam told her she had a case of perma-fang, which was common with baby vamps.
There were still a few things she struggled to master, but by and large, it was better than anything she could’ve imagined. When they woke that night, Eric left her to shower alone while he procured her evening meal from the hospital blood bank.
Her perma-fang made her uncomfortable feeding from a human, no matter how willing they might be. She also couldn’t bring herself to go home just yet. What if she lost control and killed her gran or brother? She would never forgive herself. Luckily, Eric and Pam didn’t have any problem with her extending her ‘vacation’ a while longer.
Eventually, she turned the water off, touching the sparkling knobs gently, unlike the previous night when she’d ripped them off the wall. She brushed her hair and pulled it into a ponytail and then got dressed.
A conversation drifted down the hall, and as Sookie paused to listen, she realized Niall was in the house. Her fangs jabbed at her lips at the thought even though she couldn’t smell him. After their return through the portal, the scent of fairy blood clung to Eric’s clothes, only spurring her hunger during her transformation.
“How much longer will it be?” Eric said, his voice soothing her and filling her with happiness through the bond.
“Next week. I gave a deadline,” Niall said.
Pam clicked her tongue. “Are any staying?”
“I’m not certain. Claude may stay; he’s rather attached to your realm. But Claudine and Claudette will return to Faery with me.” Niall paused. “I wanted to let you both know how much I have appreciated your alliance over the years. Without your help, I doubt I would’ve won either war.”
So that’s why he’s here, to thank Eric. Sookie smiled and walked into the kitchen.
Eric opened his arms to her, wrapping them around her body and pulling her against his chest. “Lover, we were just discussing—”
“The war. I heard.” Sookie leaned her head against Eric’s chest.
“Pam, please warm up her dinner,” Eric said, and Pam opened the fridge and pulled out a few units of blood.
Niall moved toward Sookie, reaching out to her before seeing her fangs and pulling away. “My dear heart, how have you been?”
“It’s been interesting.” She laughed. Pam handed her a large mug of warm blood and she drank. She moaned as the blood coated her throat. Niall recoiled, taking a step away. “Thank you,” she said to Pam, finally.
“So, what happened, you know, after…”
“You died?” Pam added.
“Yeah.” Eric had been so busy educating her, the war hadn’t come up, until now. Sookie looked at each of their faces, but it was Niall who spoke first.
“There were casualties on both sides.”
“Mostly their side,” Pam said, interrupting him.
“Is Dermot okay? Breandan stabbed him.” Her eyes went wide as she remembered that detail.
“He stabbed him with the blade he used on me,” Eric said, “so his wound healed almost immediately.”
“I don’t know why you think Dermot is such a bad guy, he’s been nothing but sweet to me.”
“Breandan sent him to kill you,” Niall started. “The night he visited you and dropped his knife? He was on a mission. He explained it all to me.”
“So why didn’t he?” She tilted her head.
“You disarmed him. I’m not sure if you know this, but being around our kind comforts fairies, it feeds us, emotionally. He said you cried and shared your sorrow.”
“I thought he was my brother. I was just venting a little, you know?”
Niall nodded. “And then you kissed him.”
Eric’s arms tensed around her, so she said, “On the cheek.”
“One kiss is all it took to break the spell Breandan had him under. Dermot had been under his control for centuries! I was so angry at Dermot I never even bothered to look too closely at why he sided with my enemy.”
“So everything is good now, between you two?” Sookie asked, hopefully.
Niall smiled. “Yes. I have my son back.”
Niall’s smile fell. “We lost Kaelyn and Teagan.” He shook his head. “They were both very important females for breeding.”
Sookie grimaced and was glad she wouldn’t ever be treated like livestock. “I’m sorry for your loss.” She cleared her throat. “Hey, did you ever figure out how Breandan knew I was here?”
Pam looked at the ground. “Naomhan, Breandan’s second in command confessed that he had enchanted a human, extracting information from her.”
“A human? I thought Breandan hated humans.”
“He hated hybrids,” Niall corrected.
“It was Marie,” Pam whispered.
“Your Marie?” Sookie frowned and Eric’s arms tightened around her.
Pam nodded. “I invited her here over and over again thinking nothing of it.” She sighed, her shoulders slumping. “Apparently my glamours didn’t work on her since she was under a fairy spell.” She looked at Eric briefly before looking down again.
“She’s a victim, just like Dermot!” Sookie took Pam’s hand in hers. “How would you have known?”
“I don’t know, but I should’ve. She asked questions. Too many questions. I should’ve known she was a spy. She told them everything.” Pam pulled away.
“No, Fintan told them about Sookie before he … went to the Summerlands,” Eric added.
Sookie whirled in his arms. “How do you know that?”
“Neave and Lochlan conveyed the story of how they dispatched him. Piece by piece, getting every last detail out of him about his human family.” Eric’s eyes flickered to Niall’s.
“Fintan forced me to stay away because he didn’t want Breandan to know about any of you, but as soon as they tortured the information out of him, your parents paid the price, as you know.” Niall shook his head sadly.
Sookie frowned. “But that was years ago, why would they wait so long to come after me?”
“Time passes differently in Faery. Whenever I enter your realm, a tremendous amount of time has gone by here. From our side, it’s difficult to see what’s happening because your world is a blur of activity. Breandan most likely used that time to gather his allies to attack. First, he sent Dermot, but when he didn’t return, he sent Murry. News of Murry’s death spread quickly. You have quite a reputation in Faery.”
Sookie struggled to respond. Should she be proud or horrified to be branded a fairy killer?
“She killed Neave too,” Pam interjected.
Sookie’s stomach churned as she remembered the incestuous coitus she’d interrupted.
“And Breandan,” Eric added.
“Yes.” Niall nodded. “And you paid heavily for your bravery, which is why I’ve decided to seal Faery.”
Sookie frowned. She could count her family members on one hand, and now he was saying he wasn’t going to be around either. “But that’s what Breandan wanted, can’t we just—”
Niall took her hand in his and squeezed it. “No. I fought his idea because I selfishly wanted to form a relationship with you, but I’ve done nothing but bring misery to your life. That ends now. Breandan still has supporters in Faery, so I will keep the portals closed until I can be sure there are no more threats to you or any other fairy-human descendants.”
Sookie wanted to argue with him, but how could she? Since his first visit, she’d had a terrible fight with her gran, almost been killed at her home (twice), Eric had been abducted, and war broke out in Faery because of her. It wasn’t a great track record. “So this is it? I won’t get to see you again?”
He kissed her hand and shook his head. “Not for a while. It will be better for everyone here.” His eyes glistened as tears formed. “Before I go, I have a gift.” He turned Sookie’s hand over and placed two beautiful rings in her palm, one large and one small. “I don’t mean to be presumptuous. Eric explained his plans for your future and you have my blessing. His ring carries the water symbol of his ancestors, and yours represents the sky. When I open the portals again, you are both welcome to visit. These rings have been enchanted with magic and will protect you in Faery.”
The ornately carved metal bands hummed in her hand, warming her skin.
Pam chuckled. “Your wedding will be the talk of the supe world.”
Sookie smiled and fought tears as she turned to face Eric. “I guess we don’t have to wait for human rules anymore, do we?”
He shook his head and kissed her. “Nothing can keep us apart.”
“Thank you, Niall,” Sookie said, facing him. “I’m sorry to see you go.”
“Good bye for now.” He bowed and walked toward the door. “I hope you have a long and happy life. He’s a good man, and he loves you,” Niall said, nodding toward Eric.
“I know.” Sookie squeezed Eric’s hand. “I love him right back.”
I hope you enjoyed the story. Thank you for all the lovely reviews along the way. I have loved each and every one of them! I’m working hard on the next story, so keep your eyes out for it!