Chapter 54 – Survive
July 30, 2004
“YOU KNEW!” He bellowed at the Ancient One.
“Stand down my grandchild.”
“Don’t call me that. That’s a term for family and family wouldn’t let this happen.”
With those words, Gran came to stand next to Eric. “Is this true? You knew about the miscarriage spell, the takeover and you let it happen?”
“Adele, it’s an honor for me to meet such a strong and worthy human. I am the Ancient Pythoness; I suppose we are in-laws so you may call me Pythia.” In a rarely human gesture, Pythia extended a hand to Gran.
Instead of taking the offered hand, Gran reared back and slapped the crone with as much strength as she could. “At the moment I can’t say I return the sentiment at meeting you. I think you need to explain yourself. My granddaughter could’ve lost her baby.”
The room collectively gasped at Gran’s words waiting for a reaction – possible a very bad reaction – from the Ancient Pythoness. Before the Ancient Pythoness could speak, Eric quickly stood in front of Gran and added to her request. “And no riddles, speak plainly.”
When the Ancient Pythoness simply answered with an “I will,” the group calmed. “Before I start, can you explain what you meant by ‘Sookie could’ve lost the baby’.”
“Felipe had a miscarriage spell sent to the house.”
“Yes. I admit I knew that, I thought that’s why you were so angry.”
“You .. . . you’re vision showed her actually LOSING the baby and you didn’t stop it?”
“The baby was saved? How?”
“You owe us answers first – even more so now that you actually would have let my baby die.”
“Please get my son on speaker phone and I will explain what I can.” Eric quickly dialed Godric and got him up-to-speed. As the Ancient Pythoness started speaking; the room was silent. “Sometimes great things require sacrifice. In this situation, the sacrifice was or rather would have been your baby Eric and I am sorry I did not tell you this plan. My decision to let Sookie miscarry was not easy. It was something that needed to happen for the bigger picture. Of course, now you still have the baby so that worked out well.”
“And what is that bigger picture?” Eric asked through gritted teeth.
“I can share SOME of this bigger picture.” She paused for a moment. “You must defeat Felipe with your allies in order to restructure the country. Your need to retrieve your bonded from his grasp is your motive my grandson.”
“So she will be with him for more than just an assessment?”
“Yes, and you MUST let this happen.” Eric’s head started shaking but she persisted. “He will not touch her or drink from her in any way – no vampire will while she is in his captivity. She will be hurt with words and actions Felipe takes towards others, but again she will not be bitten or touched by a vampire.”
“And what if I am killed while she is there? She will live out her days under Felipe.”
“Felipe does not intend to kill you. But if you prevent her from going he will. Do not try to stop this using legal means and the contract. You will die; I’ve seen it and then he will truly have Sookie.” She was quiet for a moment, apparently lost in her thoughts. “You must allow Felipe and Victor to believe she lost the baby. It’s the only way to save your little one now. If she arrives and they find she is pregnant, they will spell her again and she won’t have the support system there to save the baby.”
“Why should I believe you?”
“I deserve that.” She sighed, the second human action for her in only a few moments. “Godric, you can feel me, am I lying?”
Pythia noted that Godric called her master, even though they were in the company of family. She knew neither of them would accept her decision – yet. It still hurt a bit if she admitted it to herself. She might appear cold and uncaring but that, like many vampires, was a necessary façade. “Before you can defeat Felipe, Russell will call you to aid him in a separate project I have assigned to him. You will consent and take up arms with him when he calls.” Her face was stern and her tone left no room for argument. “Once Russell is victorious, you will have your opportunity to defeat Felipe.”
“As I understand it, he had multiple ARMIES with him tonight, I don’t have those numbers.”
The Ancient Pythoness turned her head towards Sookie’s door then back to Eric. “Do you forget so quickly? Your wife has befriended the monarchs of Florida, Mississippi, California and Texas. She has numerous ‘friend of packs’ statuses. You have your army.”
“They will fight for a human?”
“They will fight for Sookie, for you.”
Godric spoke, “Toni has already texted the pack master of her Kentucky family, they are ready to stand with us.”
“Us.” Eric said quietly. “This was all for certain vampires to lead the states?”
“Something like that. I’ll say no more. You have as much of the bigger picture as I feel safe sharing.”
“I can’t believe there was no other way.”
“Remember, I have only given you part of the bigger picture, and there is more to be gained by defeating Felipe than just a wealthy state. You need to trust me, though I know at the moment that is hard. Believe me; I have no other decisions like this that I am keeping to myself.” She put her hand on his arm. “Will you please tell me how you saved the baby? I never saw that vision.”
Angry at what she could have let happen, but understanding her need to fill in the gaps from her visions, he informed her that Ludwig stopped the contractions while Amelia reversed the spell.”
“I don’t have Amelia in my visions. I will have to think about this. I know my visions are not always exact, and this has happened before. I still like to review what I missed.” She removed her hand from Eric and spoke again. “Goodbye for now my Grandson, min son, Adele.”
“Wait, you teleport.” He’d never actually seen how she suddenly arrived and departed from locations until tonight.
“Just figured that one out Eric?”
“Made a deal with a fairy. One that I’m sure will contact you soon. He has an army you know.”
“What will he want?”
“Clever boy. The Fae never work without a deal. It’s nothing you need to worry about, I have paid it forward.” With that she winked, which honestly looked creepy with those milky white eyes, and teleported away.
The group started talking at once until Eric suddenly turned his head to the hall. “One moment. Sookie is waking.” As he approached the bedroom door, Michelle was just stepping out to get him.
“How is she physically?”
“Ludwig is still in there, she can give you an update.”
Sookie was just coming to when Eric walked in. Her hands went to her tummy immediately. “Roo?”
“Is fine min älskade.”
“Yes, Ludwig stopped the contractions and Amelia found and reversed the spell. Doctor can you give us a few minutes?” While Ludwig was walking out, Sookie lost it. Sookie cried for a while, Eric holding her tightly as he worked through the events of the evening himself. Sookie had already endured so much today, and now he needed to tell her that she was going to Vegas and likely staying without him. When she settled a bit, he called for the doctor. Normally, Eric was kicked out when the doctor examined Sookie, but this time she asked him to stay and he held her hand. Ludwig worked quickly and updated them both. “Well Sookie, everything seems good but you’re body’s still recovering from the shock of everything so you’ll need to stay in bed, a few d . . .”
Eric cut her off. “I guess you haven’t been listening Dr. Ludwig.”
“No I fell asleep in here for a while, what’s going on?”
Eric went on to explain the takeover, the magic that caused the miscarriage, since Sookie didn’t know that yet, and finally the current situation where Sookie needed to travel to Vegas and pretend that she’d lost the baby. Sookie was near panicked so he sent her waves of calm as he continued. When Eric was done with his summary, Ludwig offered, “She really shouldn’t be moved tomorrow night either. I will appeal to Victor’ agent with you at sun set – that will make sense anyway since if she’d really lost the baby I wouldn’t let her travel that soon.” She fussed over Sookie for another moment then informed him. “I’ll just stay at the house until this situation is over.”
“Thank you Doctor Ludwig.” Eric said, and this time Ludwig didn’t get her usual enjoyment over laughing at the polite Viking, the whole situation was too depressing.
“Ok girly, let me get you changed and fix the bed, we only did a quick clean-up of you before we moved you here and the sheets need to be changed.”
“I’ll handle that Doctor.” Eric offered immediately.
“Very well. I’ll grab stuff for a sponge bath. Be right back.”
While he was bathing Sookie they both remained silent, their eyes speaking volumes – they had come so close to losing Roo. When Eric got to Sookie’s legs, she got upset at the blood on her thighs. It wasn’t much, but it was a physical reminder of what she’d almost lost. In Sookie’s mind, she’d somehow failed her baby. “I’m sorry.”
Even before she said the words he was overwhelmed by guilt and shame and he had to control his anger – not at Sookie, but the situation. “Sookie, this is NOT your fault. This was done TO you and Roo. I don’t want you to think of this as something you could have prevented. Have you considered that YOU were strong enough to somehow prevent the miscarriage from happening?”
“This whole thing has me terrified. Now I’m going to Vegas where I have to hide the pregnancy or else suffer the spell again – without Amelia and Ludwig. We don’t know how long I’ll be there. I can’t keep this a secret for too long.”
“I have to believe that The Ancient Pythoness wouldn’t have suggested you hide the pregnancy if she thought you wouldn’t be home again before you were showing. I do agree with her advice in any case. It seems like your miscarriage was a distraction, but I can’t be sure that they wouldn’t try to end the pregnancy as a punishment. They don’t need to ‘touch’ you to do it.”
He’d finished cleaning her up and moved to change the sheets and her gown. They were quiet as he worked and Sookie thought about his words.
Once he settled her back into the bed she tucked into him, pressing her body as close to his as she could. “How long until dawn?”
“We have almost 4 hours then whatever time I can stay awake.”
“Then I want to spend two hours snuggling before we move onto business. Can we do that? Can you just hold me?”
“Of course Sookie, we both need it.”
Eric held tight to Sookie as she cried about the trip to Vegas. To try to help her, he spoke of their future – beyond Felipe’s monarchy so they could find something to look forward to. Eric promised to continue the search for Harold so they could try to have Roo with his assistance but he also said he would investigate other doctors in case they really couldn’t find Harold and his family. Doctor Ludwig only bothered them once to check on Sookie and deemed that while she was doing well but she had one concern: Sookie was spotting and she wasn’t sure when that would stop. Eric knew why she pointed this out. It was another huge concern for Sookie to head to Vegas if Vampires could smell any blood. He would deal with whatever Felipe handed out as punishment to keep Sookie in Louisiana until she was well enough to travel.
Finally, their two hours were up and they needed to talk a bit about their situation. Sookie started, “How is Pam?”
“She’s hurting but more pissed than anything.”
“I bet. It’s not often or is it even EVER that anyone gets the upper hand on Pam.”
Eric knew it was concern for Sookie’s circumstances that had Pam distracted, but he wasn’t going to tell Sookie that. “She’s either pissed about that or they ruined her shoes. Or both.”
The comment earned him a brief smirk from Sookie, but nothing more. “Should I pack for Vegas?”
“No, you’re staying in bed all day today. I’ll carry you to the bathroom before sunrise and hopefully you won’t need to get up too much. I’ll instruct others to help you through the day.”
“You’re sure I don’t need to pack?”
“You aren’t leaving tomorrow. I promise. Even if you were, I don’t think you want to pack much. Anything you care about should not be with you.”
“He’s going to treat me like a pet – a true slave isn’t he?”
“Yes.” There was no reason to lie or sugar coat it. In a few days time – as long as he could stall for – she would be considered no more than a pet to the vampires in Vegas. Eric hoped he could stay with her, but he was positive that wasn’t going to happen. The best he could arrange for would be blood bond visits every week. “He can’t touch you or feed from you – no vampire can. Even Felipe will respect our bond. You’ll probably be shown off in court as a prize and you’ll need to work reading minds.”
“For how long Eric?” The panic she’d felt earlier when he spoke about the ‘asset collection’ was coming back.
“Based on what the Ancient Pythoness said, until I kill him. I have been told by The Ancient Pythoness that shortly after Russell needs me for something; it will be time to overthrow Felipe. I just don’t know how long all that will be.”
“She knew didn’t she?”
“Yes. She insisted that we look at the bigger picture, but then only told me SOME of the bigger picture. Godric confirmed she was not lying when she said you would not be touched or bitten in Vegas, so I have to believe that.”
“That’s not the same as not being hurt Eric. I mean, like you said – causing my miscarriage could be a punishment and that would hurt me very much.”
“I know. He will still seek to control you by words, humiliation or hurting others in front of you.” Sookie gasped. “You must use your ‘crazy Sookie’ poker face min kära. If he knows something is working, he will use it again. You must also remember the lessons we had for Vegas and act as a subservient pet.”
“I hate this. He tried to kill my baby and now I have to bow down to him.”
Knowing it was going to be worse than anything she’d seen yet, he continued. “There will likely be activities that were mentioned as only being permitted on the ‘3rd floor’ at the Summit: Public feeding, sex and punishment all around you. I know Felipe dresses pets in slave attire, you will likely be given such outfits.”
“The alternative will get you punished somehow and will be worse. I don’t like it either, but we must comply. We must be strong until I can arrive and rip the head from his shoulders.”
“Then you will be king. You never wanted that.”
“I want you safe more than anything. We’ll make it work. I won’t get so lost in my monarchy that I ignore you like Sophie-Anne tended to do with Hadley. I promise.” He wanted to tell her he planned to rule WITH her, but he was sure now was not the time.
Sookie toyed with Eric’s hands, enjoying the comfort for a few minutes before she had a sudden realization. “What about the contract saying you go with me for my telepathy work?”
“All Asset contracts have language for a crisis in the monarchy, he’s exploiting it.”
She nodded grimly. “HEY WAIT. He can’t spill my blood. A miscarriage would do that. Maybe we can be honest.”
“You’re right. We need to think about this. Is it your blood, or the baby’s? In either case we’re covered because all your contracts include you and your children. Remember, we added that after the discussion we had about Dawn’s baby not being explicitly mentioned in her protection contract and some vampires would believe that meant the baby could be harmed without repercussions. Felipe would definitely have that mindset, but we don’t have proof of his involvement – yet.” This was overwhelming, even for Eric. “I need to speak to Godric. The Ancient Pythoness told me that Felipe should believe that you had lost the baby. She must know something for that to be the case. BUT, she also thought you’d lost the baby and she came up with her suggestion quickly. Maybe she needs to think it through.” He sat up. “I want to call Godric now.”
“Ok. Can you get me something to eat after you talk to him?”
“Sure. Scrambled eggs?”
“That would be great.”
“I’ll call him while I cook.”
Eric returned a short while later with her food and an extremely grumpy mood. “What’s wrong?”
“Eat while I tell you, please?” She grabbed the tray and started eating so he told her what he’d just discussed with Godric. “Well since you convinced your Amma to get a laptop, Godric was able to email her immediately and ask her about our discussion. He agreed with us, believing that Felipe would have no choice but to include the baby as under protection since pregnancy and children were written into ALL your contracts. The Ancient Pythoness stood firm on her request that we tell Felipe you lost the baby. She was so adamant that she commanded Godric to command me to follow her decision on this matter.”
She gasped and thought for a moment. “I don’t understand why.”
“Neither do Godric and I, but we believe she wouldn’t enforce this without good reason.”
“So we stall him for another day, then I go and pretend I lost Roo.”
“We stall until you’re healthy enough to go and NOT spotting.”
“You said menstruation wasn’t a big deal to vampires.”
“Even your blood at menstruation smells sweeter than other humans, so that’s a concern. But now, this spotting seems to be more like fresh blood, perhaps from the trauma to your system, so we really don’t want you going with that enticing scent. I’ll keep giving you blood to speed the healing.” Internally, Eric was torn. The sooner she healed, the sooner she would be gone yet on the flip side he had Pam’s health at stake as well.
“So we’ll just tell Victor that I need time.” His answer didn’t come right away and she detected concern through the bond. “It’s not that easy is it? Something bad will come of our delay.”
“Nothing that I can’t handle. Her eyes narrowed and she put her hands on her hips. “I have been assured by the Ancient Pythoness that Felipe wants me alive, anything other than that I CAN handle. Do not spare a moment worrying about me.”
“I will worry about you. What about Pam? You’ve got to free her from the silver, she could be poisoned.”
He sighed. “Sookie, I can make her well from silver poisoning. I hate needing to make that choice, but it’s made. If you go smelling of blood and a younger vampire attacks and drains you? I can’t fix that. Getting justice for your spilled blood won’t bring you back.”
“I don’t like it either, but I understand it. Tell her I’m . . . I’m sorry.”
“That’s not necessary; this is not your fault.” He leaned over and grabbed her tray. “I’ll take this to the kitchen; then I’ll help you to the bathroom before I’m confined here for the day.”
As they got comfortable for bed, Sookie spoke softly to Eric about the Queen. “I’m sorry about Sophie-Anne. I know you didn’t wish for her final death.”
“I did not, but the time I spent with her as her second was eye opening. I don’t think she could’ve survived without Andre. She wanted to flex her control as the monarch so she wouldn’t listen to my advice. I believe Andre was running the kingdom and she didn’t question HIM. I’m not sure she would’ve accepted a husband. Honestly, I was thinking of agreeing on a new state with you, likely Texas if we both wanted that, and buying out my contract. I saw no short end to my time as her second and she and I argued about it every night.”
“Wow, I had no idea.”
“Wow indeed. This was something I could never have discussed with you over the phone.”
“Of course not. I wasn’t admonishing you over my surprise, just telling you I was surprised.”
“I know. And now, I can feel the pull. Let’s get some rest. It’s been an especially difficult night.”
“That’s an understatement. The worst hasn’t even happened yet.”
“We must stay focused on The Ancient Pythoness’ words that we will be victorious and I will dethrone Felipe.”
“You’re right. We’ll stay positive.”
“Quinn! How can you be part of this?”Alcide shouted from the end of the driveway at the tiger who’d been assigned as the head of daytime security while they waited for the telepath to go to Vegas.
“You don’t have the whole story man.”
“I knew you were a jerk, but this is huge man. I thought you liked Sookie, Lord knows you go into heat whenever she’s around.”
“I do like Sookie and I’m trying to do what I can to get here there safely.”
“You knew all of this and said nothing?”
“He couldn’t.” Alcide turned quickly to see Sookie yelling from the porch. Potts wouldn’t let her go any further, but both Quinn and Alcide heard her with their superior hearing.
“Sweets, get back in bed, Eric’ll have my head if he discovers you were out!”
“Your argument woke me up!”
With no parting words to Quinn, Alcide ran back to the porch, grabbed Sookie and put her back in bed next to Eric. “Don’t get out again.” She ‘harumphed’ at him but no more. “Now, what do you mean he couldn’t say anything?”
“They have his sister in a cell. She’d been hurt a few times while Quinn was on the phone since they left Vegas two days ago.”
She heard Alcide loud and clear. ‘FUCK! And this is where we have to send Sookie. We need to escape somehow.’
“We can’t escape, they have Pam. Well they have others, though they are just restrained not impaled by silver like Pam, but even just Pam being held would prevent me from trying to run.”
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have thought that. I know you won’t run.”
“I want to run, but I know this will all work out. I’m going to trust Amma. Well, I’m pissed at Amma, but Godric said she wasn’t lying about what’s coming next.”
Alcide expressed more concerns through his thoughts and Sookie cringed. “Sorry Sweets. . .”
“You can’t help your thoughts. I know her visions aren’t guarantees but it’s all I have to go on.” Truth was, Sookie was struggling with holding onto hope, but she wanted to appear strong. Maybe Gran could help her.
“Can you move me to the sofa?” He narrowed his eyes. “I want to talk to Gran.” He shook his head so she tried again. “I need to talk to Gran.”
“I’ll bring in an arm chair and Gran can come to you.”
“You’re being a pain in the ass.”
“I like my ass, and I don’t want Eric to chew it out if he finds out you were out of bed.”
A short while later, Sookie was speaking with her Gran about Felipe and Vegas. “It’s gonna be hard baby, no doubt.”
“It will be Gran. Eric was honest with me last night about what I can expect. I know I need to be positive, but some of what will happen, the behavior expected of me . . . I don’t know if I can stay positive. Hell I don’t know if I can behave.”
“You listen to me Sookie. This will be harder than anything you’ve ever done, but you can do it. Where is the girl that found and infiltrated a Vampire’s warehouse to save her brother? Where is the girl who helped take down the Fellowship of the Sun? Where is the girl that stood beside her mate during a witch war? Where is the girl that stood tall when the Vegas vamps tried everything to break you down? You are the strongest women I know, don’t go soft now.”
“I’m that way because of you.”
“You’ve also spent most of your life dealing with folks who thought little of you and you held your head high. How is this so different? Granted, speaking out to one of your teachers wouldn’t have resulted in some punishment that Felipe can order, but you learned that keeping quiet about their thoughts was in your best interest. In this case, behaving like a pet will be in your best interest.”
“I hear ya Gran, but do you know he will likely have me parade around in a slave outfit? I’ll be practically nude. I’ll need to watch as other vampires feed on, have sex with and punish their pets Gran.”
“Dig deep Sookie. Give away nothing. You know how to make a poker face – use that. Find someplace in your mind where you can go so while you might be in the same room with these pet activities, you can divorce yourself from whatever is going on. As for the slave clothes? Are these skimpier than some of your bikinis?”
“GRAN! What are you saying?”
“I think you know what I’m saying.”
“But a collar and leash could be involved.”
“And that will be degrading – but don’t let it show. I don’t want you to go, I don’t want you to see the horrors you will likely witness, I don’t want you to be humiliated, but this is where we are. This is our reality.”
Sookie couldn’t figure out if she should cry over the situation or be really pissed off at Gran so she sat quietly for several moments. Suddenly, she realized she had a third choice. She could listen to Gran. She could be strong, for Roo, for Eric, for HERSELF. Could she be a perfect pet? No, she was sure she wouldn’t get everything right, but she would try. Gran’s words had her confidence growing about the time she would be spending in Vegas. She would be hurt in Vegas somehow she knew, but she would survive. Her Gran received a huge hug in thanks from Sookie as she rose to leave the room.
Yes, they would all survive.