Chapter 66 – A very important job
September 24, 2004
“She’s finally asleep. Quinn was all she had so this is going to be hard for her.” Sookie walked into the main bedroom of the suite where Eric and Hunter had been reading. “I wonder if we can get her something for nightmares. She’s just got so much to work through right now.”
Eric was concerned. “Does she not want to come with us; are we forcing her into living with us?”
“Not at all.” Sookie answered.
Hunter dove in as well. “Nope. I got that she’s excited to be part of a big family. She’s just scared.” Eric just gave him THE look. “Hey, you can’t blame me for wanting to check out the person who will be living with us. Plus, this place could be crawling with donors who want to get back at your for killing their favorite vampires or something.”
“Okay, fine. Too smart for your own good.”
“Well little man, I’m tired even though you aren’t since you were out for so long. Tonight will be long with some paperwork; then the trip home and you KNOW you’ll want to stay up for all that, so I would prefer if you tried to sleep again when Eric goes down. You can just snuggle in with us if you want.” She looked to a clock on the nightstand. “Eric should be up for about another hour or so; then Glad and Diantha are right outside the door if you need anything and you can’t sleep. You met them, right?” He nodded wildly. “There’s some breakfast food out in the common room.” She looked at Eric. “He needs to eat.”
“I’ll take care of that. Hunter, let me get Sookie to bed and we’ll get you breakfast.”
“I can see what they brought. Take your time.” He scurried out of the room so he could find what was delivered to eat.
“Hey little man – eat some of the fruit, not just the muffins.”
Eric was in the closet before the bedroom door shut behind Hunter. “I’ll grab you a nightgown.”
“A modest one.”
“Yes, with a family now, that’s going to be standard. How about one of my shirts? It still covers everything and I still love how you look in them.”
“Sure, better do that now before Roo gets me so fat I can’t even wear one without popping a button.” Her face and mood indicated that she wasn’t being funny: She was clearly unhappy with how she looked.
With the comment she just made, he knew he needed to broach one subject sooner rather than later. One of the mind games Felipe and Yvetta had tried on Sookie was convincing her she was fat. He needed to reverse any damage they’d done and quickly. “I for one can’t wait for that. I’m excited to get you home and fatten you up.” He’d removed her dress and was rubbing his hands over her torso. This was something he just couldn’t understand and it did make him angry. All his spies told him that she constantly sent food back – and it wasn’t always because she was sick. She was starving both herself and Roo. His comments were delivered gently, but seriously. “I hate seeing your ribs like this. Why couldn’t or rather wouldn’t you eat Sookie? You needed it. Roo needed it.”
“I just couldn’t. I can’t explain it. I can feel your anger and you should be angry. Even when I turned food away I knew I should be eating it. I just couldn’t.” She began ranting again about her time here and he was glad she was getting it out. “Hearing how fat I am every night? Getting disgusting, bland crap on my plate because it’s what Yvetta had decided for me – again because I needed to lose weight? Having them watch me while I ate? I just was turned off of food in general Eric. The few times they fed me something good as a reward I puked it right back up because I hadn’t had any added fats, dairy or sweets and my body wasn’t used to it.” Eric had heard some of this via the spies, but not all and this brief chat was finally giving him a glimpse of the damage they’d done in a few weeks. She was moving off of her rant to the future now. “I promise I’ll gorge myself when I get to Gran’s, but Roo and I are both fine. Can you let it go, please?”
He would let it go for now, but he wouldn’t allow her to continue to worry about being fat. That thinking was utterly ridiculous as far as he was concerned. The buttons were done on her shirt so he concentrated on her face. “For now I’m done, but I don’t want to hear anything about fear of getting fat or clothes that don’t fit ever again. You were never fat and now you’re damn near emaciated. These concerns over your body end now.” Trying to drive his point home, his volume rose a bit as he spoke. “Do you hear me?”
“Back off a bit! I hear you. It’s not like a switch though. I had to listen to all of them calling me fat the whole time I was here Eric. I’ll need time.”
A knock of the door broke them out of their conversation. “Come in Hunter.”
He peeked in the door and asked, “Are you guys gonna fight all the time?”
“Oh Hunter . . . baby – no. Come here.” Sookie opened her arms for him while she sat on the bed and he jumped in. “Hunter, we aren’t fighting really, we just need time to adjust to everything that’s happened. I won’t tell you we’ll never fight, because sometimes we do disagree. But even if we disagree – even if the disagreement is loud – that doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. Eric’s just worried about the weight I lost while I’ve been here. Sometimes grown-ups use forceful tones and yelling when they’re trying to convince the other person about something. That’s all that was happening. OK?”
“OK.” He was quiet for a moment then asked, “So are you going to eat better?”
“That’s the plan.”
“OK. I’m getting a banana now. You still coming out to read with me Big Dude?”
“In just a few minutes.” He bounded off the bed and out the door.
“He’s resilient.” Sookie laughed.
“Let’s hope that continues.”
“I hope it’s contagious.” She yawned out.
“And now it’s time for my ‘Sleepy Sookie’ and Roo to go to sleep.”
“Yes Papa Bear. Give us a kiss?”
“Gladly. I have weeks of kisses I owe you both.”
“We’re planning to collect all of them.”
“Shh, Sookie’s still sleeping.” Feeling that Eric had risen, Hunter sat up from his spot between them so he wouldn’t wake Sookie.
“I’ll need to wake her soon anyway. We have meetings tonight.” Eric sat up and pulled the boy to his lap for their whispered conversation. “Did she wake up at all?”
“No. Frannie and I had a late lunch but Sookie never woke up.”
“Did you sleep?”
“Yeah. I fell asleep after you did and woke when I heard Frannie cry out. She was having a nightmare so I woke her. I came back for my nap after lunch. I’ve been up for a little bit waiting for you.”
Eric nodded, acknowledging his report from Hunter. “How is Frannie?”
“She ate then she started crying. She’s really sad, but we talked. Her Mom didn’t want her either – so we’ve got that in common. But her mom’s dead – shot when she escaped from a sani sylum – whatever that is. She only had Quinn and now he’s gone.”
“What you heard was ‘insane asylum’. It’s a hospital for people when their minds need healing. She did only have Quinn but now she has us.”
“I told her that. I told her about Gran and Jason and Godric and all the family. She’s looking forward to meeting everybody, but she still wants Quinn.”
“And how are you doing?”
“I talked to Gran today. We’re planning a service for Daddy. I miss him already. Even when I had sleepovers at your house, I still talked to him every day. I’ve never gone this long without talking to him.”
He pulled him to his chest for a hug. “I’m sorry Hunter.”
“I know, but it’s not your fault and it’s not my fault.”
“That’s right.” They stayed embraced for a moment before Eric pulled back. “I need to wake Sookie since we haven’t done that by whispering around her yet.”
“What meetings do you have?”
Knowing the boy would be informed of most of their work and roles with this new council, he chose to describe the plans for the night in terms he would understand. “Sookie and I are getting new jobs tonight; we should discuss it as a family since it impacts all of us.”
“That’s what we are, right? A family.”
He smiled and nodded. “And your jobs affect all of us?”
“Yes, you’ll see. Please ask Glad and Diantha to call for some dinner while I get Sookie up. We’ll be out after showering.”
Eric sent and responded to a few texts before he moved to the bed to wake Sookie. He hated to do it, but they needed to be ready for the meetings at first dark. The sooner the contract signing began, the sooner they could go home.
“Sooookie.” He spoke into her ear. “It’s time to wake up.”
He chuckled. It was good to know some things hadn’t changed. “Min älskade, we have meetings and then we can go home.” Since she was on her back, he started unbuttoning the dress shirt she was wearing to play with her nipples. “We only have a short time to shower before you need to eat. Don’t you want to play?” Her nipples had gotten rock hard from his attention and she was starting to stir. Eric was hoping she would respond like this. Some shower fun would get them through until they were back in Bon Temps. Growing bolder from her reaction, he moved a hand into her boy shorts and growled: She was so wet.
“Shall we get in the shower?”
She responded without even opening her eyes. “I’m tired, can you carry us?” He knew she was including Roo in her request.
“I’d love to.”
They emerged a short while later to dinner already in progress. “Good evening Frannie, Hunter. Frannie, how are you doing?”
“Hanging in there Sookie.”
Sookie leaned over and hugged her. “It’ll be hard, but we’re here for you.” She moved to Hunter for a hug. “And little man how was your day?”
“I talked to Gran.”
“REALLY? How’s she doing?”
“She’s anxious for us to get there.”
As she settled into a seat next to Frannie at the table, Sookie moved onto the topic they all needed to discuss. “So speaking of getting home. Eric and I have some meetings about new jobs to attend before we go. We’ve been asked to do something that will impact all of us, so we thought we should discuss it.”
Frannie, still skeptical of vampire politics asked, “What does that mean? What are they making you do now Sookie?”
“Nobody’s making me do anything. It’s an offer or an opportunity if you will. First, with Felipe dead, there are changes to the monarch’s in the country.” Sookie and Eric went on to explain the new leaders of states and territories in the US. Hunter and Frannie each had their own reactions.
Frannie wept in Sookie’s arms for a moment before speaking. “He would have been so happy to see this day Sookie: A day when weres were recognized like this. I mean, Weres – Odair and Alcide as Kings? This is really great. I wish Quinn could have seen this.”
“It is great, and there’s more but my little man is ready to bust over there.”
“So Eric is a KING? Does that make me a prince?”
Eric laughed. “I don’t know. There has never been a supernatural king with a non-vampire child. I would say you are.”
“Okay, but I’m not going around kissing any princesses. That’s just . . . YUCK!” He faked gagging to emphasize his point.
They chuckled at his antics for a moment but Sookie needed to move them along so she interrupted his noises to continue. “So I said there’s more. A supernatural council has been created. This is the part that impacts us. The council has representatives from all types of people and Eric and I have been asked to do two things related to this council.” Hunter had finished his dinner and moved to sit on Eric’s lap. Once he was situated she continued. “First, I’ve been asked to represent humans on the council.”
Hunter didn’t like the sound of this job. “Will that take you away from us? Where does this council meet?”
“Well Hunter, I don’t know yet. We’ll find out more at the meetings. You can travel with me if you want. We’ll have guards. Or you can stay with Gran.”
“I don’t like it.” Hunter pouted.
Eric chimed in as the potential travel also concerned him greatly. “I think there will be some travel to get the group started, but I’d like to see the council use video conferencing as much as possible.”
“That would be really good Eric; especially with Roo coming.”
“And speaking of Roo Sookie, you eat while I explain the other request of us.”
“Ok.” Before Sookie could stand, Frannie grabbed a plate and started filling it for her from the buffet that had been wheeled in. “You don’t need to keep getting my meals Frannie.”
“I want you to rest when you can. Now’s the time to fatten you up.”
Eric leaned to her and said, “See? I’m not the only one.” Frannie placed a full plate in front of Sookie and Eric’s fingers almost twitched out of a strong desire to feed her himself, but he refrained – this time.
“Don’t you have something you want to tell Hunter and Frannie?”
“Yes dear.” Before continuing, he gave her a quick kiss to the ear. “Sookie and I have been asked to be spokespeople for the supernatural community. The goal is to improve human and supernatural relations. Actually, that’s not exactly right and this is the part that impacts both of you. The request is for us to be a ‘spokesfamily’ for supernatural. Eric looked at Frannie to make his point clear. “That means all of us.”
“You guys don’t have to do this. I know Quinn had a will and left me money. I can get by. . .”
“Frannie, you don’t know me yet but you know Sookie. Do you honestly think she’d stand by and let you go off on your own simply because you can afford it? When I told her about Quinn Sookie told me right away that we weren’t leaving you alone. So, you have to help me out here and stay with us. Sookie will never forgive me otherwise. Not to mention Gran will have my head since she’s already been told about you. I will warn you, you aren’t just getting a quiet house with the four of us. You’re getting the whole extended family.” He put his hand over hers where it rested on the table. “We aren’t doing this to provide you food, clothing and a roof; we want you to be part of the family.”
“That’s not entirely correct Eric.” His eyebrow rose at her statement. “When we discussed Quinn’s passing, YOU were the one that said we were taking Frannie before I even got the chance.”
Frannie, still very raw from the past 24 hours nodded and she wept again while Sookie had moved to wrap her arms around her. They stayed like that for a few minutes. Frannie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Eric was NOT like any of the Vegas vamps she’d encountered.
“Ok, so if we accept, we do this together. That means some publicity – like being on the news; especially when Roo is born. I don’t like it honestly but on the flip side, it also protects us. Being in the public makes it harder to get away with hurting anyone of us.”
“Why? I mean, who’d want to hurt us, you got rid of the bad guys.” Hunter asked, innocently.
“Hunter, we got rid of the monarchs in the country that were,” He struggled and just went with Hunter’s wording, “Ok, the bad guys. But there are still many vampires that aren’t going to be happy with the council, the rules and frankly Sookie and I for getting rid of the bad guys.”
“So will I have to keep staying inside the house forever?” His eyebrows were up at the top of his forehead at the question.
“No, and this is what I mean, being public will benefit us. If we aren’t going to hide, we’ll do it in a big way. Everyone will know the consequences of hurting my family. So are we ready to move forward?”
Hunter was still apprehensive about all this. He wanted Eric and Sookie and now Frannie at home, just being together. He sighed though and accepted what they asked. “As long as this is something that will help whatcha call it? Relations? AND you stay home as much as possible, then I’m OK.”
Frannie wanted to know more. “Hunter raised a good point. Is this going to help, will this be good for when weres and shifters come out?”
Since Sookie was still eating, much to Eric’s delight, he continued to do most of the talking for them. “We’ve given this some thought since we heard about it. I believe it will. Does it have to be us? I don’t know, but I do see why we would be selected. A vampire with a family? I’m the only one that I know. I think we need to help emphasize what’s been done to protect humans, come out with the monarchy structure and then inform publicly the problem vampires have been removed – over time of course.”
“I can help. I mean, I’m the human that hated vamps because I only saw and knew the bad ones. I can see I was judging all vampires based on a handful.”
It dawned on Eric that The Ancient Pythoness knew that with Quinn dead, Frannie would become part of the family, therefore helpful with the publicity and that again, she felt someone’s death was acceptable. He wasn’t sure he would ever agree with her decisions OR forgive them. “I think you’re right Frannie. Your story would be compelling.” He looked at the clock. “Ok, we have about 30 minutes before first dark when the meetings start. First, Hunter – I know your curiosity is making you put your shields down. I also want you to attend court tonight so I’m left with a problem that only you can help with. If I give you this signal,” He pointed his finger to Hunter’s head and made a quick circle. “Do you promise to put up your shields?” Hunter nodded wildly. “Ok we need to get dressed. Frannie, I believe you have your outfit for tonight?”
“It was delivered today. I’ll go get ready.”
As she walked way, Eric picked up Hunter above his head and he giggled. He knew as soon as he told him the next thing, the giggling would stop. “And now PRINCE Hunter, you find out that royalty has to dress a certain way.”
He scrunched up his face. “What does that mean?”
“Pam is coming with your suit; she sent someone out shopping for it today.”
“DUDE, a suit? Not cool.”
“The meeting won’t be that long; you can change when we’re home.” He moved him back to his lap. “She’s here.” He added the last part just as the knocking started. “Enter Pam.”
“HEY Smurf! How are you?”
“I’m good Pam. I hear you think you’re getting me into a suit.”
“Oh, I am – and with a tie.” Hunter shook his head ‘NO’ with enthusiasm. “Not even if it matches Eric?” He stopped shaking his head ‘no’ and it was obvious he was interested, but Sookie was the one who spoke.
“Oh I did. They both have Armani dark blue wool suits, blue shirts and matching blue ties. Hopefully Frannie is dressing in what I had purchased for her?” Eric nodded. “Ok, that leaves you Sookie. Let’s go to the other room.”
“Sookie is not done eating.” Eric’s voice was not loud but firm. “I’ll get Hunter ready. It should only take a moment for Sookie since she’s ready otherwise.”
“Off you go then; I want to catch up with my Crumbcake.”
The door hadn’t even shut behind Eric and Hunter before Pam launched into her questions for Sookie. “So, how do you feel about all this? The council, the ‘spokesfamily’ thing? Are you going to accept?”
“My head is spinning. I knew Eric would be a king after all this – but the council, right now? She couldn’t wait?”
“I like the council, but I agree, she could have waited a week or two to give you a chance to breathe. How ARE you doing?”
“I want to go home. I want to stay in yoga pants and lay around for a week. I want to glue myself to Eric. I want to get Frannie and Hunter through this.”
“You need to get through this too.”
“They have more to deal with.”
“They do have a lot to deal with – but so do you. Do you think you can just dust yourself off and keep going? You need to recharge yourself. Get help if you need it – professional help. I know we aren’t aware of everything that happened, but from what I know? You can’t just dismiss it.”
“I told Eric once when we spoke about my mother and uncle, that my past does not define me, and that’s what this will all be shortly – my past. I do have to work through some of this, but my time in Vegas is a blip in comparison to the life we have and will have. You can help by being the person who I don’t have to hear pity me or worry about me. You can just move forward with me and I don’t need to hear you thinking otherwise. Be my rock, please.”
Pam wasn’t convinced that this was really just a blip, but she knew Sookie was right. She was the friend with the mind Sookie couldn’t read. For her, she would keep her thoughts about the captivity to herself and simply move forward. If things didn’t just fix themselves, she would step in. “Ok Sookie, I’ll be that person.”
“Thanks Pam. Now, onto you.”
“You were not unaffected by all this. The silver poisoning?”
Pam’s face faltered just a bit but she righted it quickly. “I’m all over that. Even your Amma provided some healing blood.”
“Physically you are fine, I know that. Is there anything else going on in that head? You don’t need to say anything now, but I’m here for YOU if needed.”
“Thank you Sookie, but as a vampire I’ve been tortured similar to this twice before. I really will just forget it and move on. Besides, I’ve had Gran doting on me for weeks; I’ve had my healing time.”
Knowing her friend meant it; that the conversation about Pam was over, Sookie focused on her meal. “I can’t believe nobody treated me to sweets.”
“Ludwig wants you to build back your eating slowly. She wants you to keep down whatever you eat so everyone’s on strict orders to follow her plan.”
“That makes sense. So Miss Fashion Guru, what am I wearing tonight? I did see you had a dress bag in addition to the suits.”
“I kept the Armani theme for you and Frannie as well. Though something younger for her, shorter.”
“Not too short I hope. We don’t need anyone ogling her. She’s been through enough.”
“It’s not mini. It should come to just above her knee, and the back is fun. It ties at the top and kind of drapes down, but just a few inches. It’s all grays and blues, and you’re all gray. You guys coordinate.” She yelled into the main bedroom. “Are you boys just about done? Sookie needs to get dressed you know.”
“Just doing our ties Pam.”
“Well get out here for that.”
The girls switched rooms with the boys and Pam helped Sookie dress. “I bought you these lower heels, is that OK?”
“Yes Pam. It’ll be a while before I want really high heels again; the ones they had me in were ridiculous.” She fussed and got the dress on quickly. “I appreciate that you bought me a modest dress, like the gown last night. I . . . I want to be covered up. I know that seems silly considering the swimsuits I wear . . .”
“It’s not. It makes perfect sense.” Even though Pam never thought of herself as modest, she couldn’t help but feel for her friend. The outfits she’d heard about sounded degrading. This wasn’t about Sookie choosing to wear a skimpy swimsuit; it was about force, humiliation and being on display. Sookie would need time, but she would keep her opinions to herself so she could be Sookie’s rock during this time. There was one thing she was itching to do though, so she asked. “Sookie. Can I . . . I hope you don’t mind. Ah, can I touch the baby?”
“Of course Pam.” Sookie moved so Pam could put a hand on her bulge. Sookie continued talking. “One thing that didn’t happen was being touched. Occasionally Frannie and I hugged and Dr. Finard, but it’s been many lonely weeks. You can talk to Roo if you want too.”
“I don’t know about that. I think Eric considers that to be his job.”
She could hear through the door when Eric yelled, “You can talk to Roo. That way he’ll be used to your voice for babysitting when he comes out.”
Hunter caught onto the use of ‘he’ and asked, “Uncle Eric, Roo is a boy?”
“We don’t know Hunter. We just picked ‘he’ for now.”
“Are you planning to find out?”
“We haven’t talked about it. I’ll have to let you know.”
“I want to know!” Pam yelled through the door.
“Of course YOU want to know, but Roo’s not YOUR baby.” Hunter laughed as Eric rolled his eyes. “Just get Sookie ready, we need to leave soon.”
Frannie stepped into the common room with Hunter and Eric. They only had a few minutes but Eric decided to take advantage. He motioned for her to join him and Hunter on the sofa as she’d been standing there awkwardly. “Tell me about yourself Frannie. What do you do for school?” He was working Hunter’s tie around his shirt collar as they spoke.
Frannie hadn’t ever been a fan of vampires – ever. But given how Hunter spent the afternoon going on about his ‘Big Dude’ and all she’d heard from Quinn about how Eric was different, she decided to keep an open mind. So far tonight, that was working pretty well. “I haven’t been in school this year yet. I mean the high school I went to before all this only just started for the year the last week of August, so since Felipe kept me here, I haven’t missed much. I was already on academic probation for too many absences last year.”
“What do you want to do? Home school or go to school?”
“I don’t know. I don’t feel like a normal 15 year old with everything that’s happened. How will I fit in?”
Like Sookie, he realized, Frannie had been robbed of choices by Felipe – and this likely had gone on longer than it had for Sookie. “We’ll guide you and provide you with all the options, but you’ll make your own choices so you can pick where you’ll fit in the best. I’ll also find someone to help you and Hunter to transition.”
“And Sookie. She’s gonna need help too.” She whispered the last part because she knew Sookie wouldn’t appreciate being talked about like that.
“Of course.” He’d finished Hunter’s tie and moved him to sit in between he and Frannie. “What are your interests? If you give me some ideas, we can have what you want and need tomorrow at the house.”
“Eric, the past few years have been about getting over my mother’s death, school and dealing with vampire shit. No offense.”
“None taken. You’ve been mistreated, no doubt.”
“Back to your question: I have no interests, just getting through the school day and homework. Tending to my brother when he would come back from one of the pit fights Felipe would force him into and then running Extreme(ly Elegant) Events when he couldn’t – my life had other focuses. That’s why I was out of school so many days.”
“Then we’ll figure it out. The sky’s the limit – art, instruments, animals – dream big because you can have anything you want. I just saw your eyes glitter at instruments. Care to share?”
“I had taken piano lessons when I could. I played the last two years at school but I haven’t had any formal lessons since before my Mom broke out of her institution and . . .” She stopped talking and looked at Hunter.
“You can continue, you know he’s a telepath and likely heard what you were going to say anyway. He’s been lax on his shields while we’ve been here.” He looked directly at Hunter while he added, “That’s different at home. He’s to keep his shields up.” Hunter nodded affirmatively.
“Well, Mom escaped from her room at the mental hospital – I was 8. She killed several men and that’s when the problems started. Felipe came in at Quinn’s request to cover it up and we’ve been in debt to him ever since. Mom died about 3 years ago but the debt remained. I guess whoever rules Nevada will have the debt now and it will fall on me.”
“It’s gone. Stan Davis is taking Nevada and it will not be your problem.”
“Thank you. I figured as soon as I could earn money . . .”
“I told you before you’re family now. It will take a while for that to sink in, I know.”
She was struggling with the whole family thing so she pushed it aside and changed topics. “So tell me about you – if you don’t mind.”
“Hunter, where should I start?”
“Yes, Little Dude is right. I’m about 1000 years dead.”
Hunter shook his head at Eric. “Old, not dead – you know Gran hates when you say that.”
“Right. 1000 years old and I was a Viking as a human. I’ve been a Vampire Sheriff in Louisiana until Felipe and his maker decided they needed something that was mine.”
“I will tell you I hate that ‘mine’ crap.”
“So did Sookie. You should discuss it with her to help with the perspective. In reality I’m just as much hers, and while we’re working to change things with vampires, ‘being mine’ means something very specific to other vampires. You’re mine now too, as is Hunter, and Gran – the list goes on.”
“I’ll work through it with Sookie when we’re” She hesitated to say home so instead said, “in Bon Temps.”
He picked up on her hesitation. “Home Frannie, when we’re home. It’s not just a town.”
They were interrupted from further conversation when Sookie emerged. Pam deemed the ‘family’ perfect and headed out to the throne room to announce Eric and family were on their way. Eric would lead in his group after everyone was already in place. Being seated first and having everyone come and bow to him was more than he could stomach – he had always hated ceremony. Walking in and acknowledging a quick bow from his subjects was faster.
Just before they were going to leave, he received a knock on the door. It was Dario.
“Your highness.” He said with a bow. “I have some information on a vampire you inquired about.”
“Come in, please.”
Sookie smiled immediately. “Dario, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help and just your presence. Even though you never even looked my way, I always felt better when you were around.”
“Happy to be of assistance my Queen.”
Eric could see Sookie was ready to say something about the Queen part and he signaled her for quiet. They had much to discuss he knew. “You had an update on Hadley? She’s Sookie’s cousin, and Hunter’s mother.”
Hunter added, “Biological.”
Dario was shocked. He knew there was some connection since the first weeks that Sookie was at the palace they kept bringing Hadley in for public punishment, but he always figured it was because Hadley and Sookie looked similar. Eric read Dario’s face and gathered he did not have good news. “Dario, we can handle the news.” He reached to pick up Hunter and wrap his arm around Sookie.
“Your majesties, I asked the palace guards, those who have since pledged fealty to you, about Hadley. I regret to inform you that Appius had smelled her after a whipping and followed her to her cell. He lost control and drained her. Instead of giving her blood to heal, he staked her.”
Sookie gasped and reached to rub Hunter’s back as he was tucked into Eric.
“Dario, thank you. We’ll be up shortly, if you could alert those already in attendance that we need a moment.”
“Certainly, your majesties.” Dario moved out of the room quickly.
“Sookie, are you alright? Do we need to stay in?”
“I won’t lie and say I was her biggest fan, but I certainly didn’t want her dead. I don’t know how to tell Gran. Right now though, I’m more worried about Hunter. He just closed down.”
Since they couldn’t see his face while he had it buried in Eric’s neck, they had to pry his hands away to get his attention. “Hunter, are you OK? I can’t hear anything from you.” His eyes remained screwed up tightly so she tried again. “Hunter, I need to know what’s happening with you. Should I stay back with you? You’re worrying me.” He let his own shields down and she gasped. “Oh baby, you did not cause this.” Her worry showed in her eyes. “We’ll all get through this I promise, but you can’t blame yourself.”
“But I want you to be my Mommy. I wished for that and she died.”
Frannie caught on and felt for the boy. He’d lost both parents in one day and blamed himself for their deaths. She tried to soothe him herself. “Who wouldn’t want to have Sookie as a mother? But wanting to be hers doesn’t mean you caused this. I wanted to be with Sookie after this was all over too, but I didn’t kill my br . . . my brother. Right?” She struggled with the words but continued to help the boy.
“So, you and me, we gotta just blame Appius for our troubles. Can we do that together?” She held out her hand to shake. He took it and made and exaggerated shake with her. “Ok, how ‘bout we go to court and find out about these jobs for Eric and Sookie. I want to see if we’re all going to be in a magazine shoot in fancy clothes. What do you think of that?”
“NO TIE!” Hunter called out while he pulled at his collar. ‘At least his feelings on ties were consistent’, Eric thought as he chuckled to himself.
“OK. And no heels for me. I don’t know what Pam was thinking when she picked these stilts.”
Taking in the conversation between her two ‘new children’ Sookie smiled. “I think we’ll all be just fine. Let’s get the meeting done so we can go home.” She started leading the group away from their room.
“Yeah, time to learn about these jobs that are just gonna take you both away from us.” Obviously, Hunter was unhappy with the situation and worried that they would travel more than he wanted.
Eric stopped everyone as they were walking towards the throne room. Placing Hunter on his feet to stand, Eric squatted and held onto Hunter’s arms; he wanted the boy to know he was serious. “Hunter, our jobs in the kingdom and for the council are important but make no mistake about it – our jobs being part of this family are the most important. If the council work changes that – we quit.”
“You would quit for us?”
“Yes.” Hunter smiled and wrapped his arms around Eric’s neck before he stood and started them walking again while they spoke.
“How will we live if you have to quit?”
He looked to Sookie and smirked. “We’re covered Little Dude. We just need to cut back on Pam’s spending for a while – that’s all.”
At this point, they’d reached the outer doors of the throne room and he checked with Dario and Pam, still outside, for any updates.
“Your majesty,” Dario started. “All who have pledged fealty and the required monarchs are present. We have the information on losses to review, the contracts, and the discussion of the council to cover. I gather Her Grace will appear when needed.”
“Very good. Let’s get this done.”
Dario and Pam walked in first, taking positions behind the thrones and then Eric entered. He was holding Hunter in his arms with his free hand in Sookie’s. Sookie’s other hand held Frannie’s. Even though Frannie was nervous about where everything would lead, she held her head high and walked with them as a bulk of the room bowed. Sookie noticed that her friends Lala and Sam were there; she smiled at them and their beautiful suits: Likely gifts from Pam’s shopping spree. They both smiled in return.
They made it about a third of the way into the room when Frannie stiffened; Sookie gasped and made the sign for Hunter to put up his shields. She leaned over. “Eric, have the room closed, nobody leaves.” He barked the order. It was almost too late as two of Felipe’s former vampires had tried to run for it. Pam was faster and while she didn’t know the details, she knew he was closing off the room for a reason and running wasn’t the right thing. She and Dario secured the vampires that attempted to escape while Eric, Sookie and Frannie were seated in the thrones (one had been added for Frannie at Eric’s request). Hunter remained on his Big Dude’s lap. “Min kära, can you explain?”
“I’m not sure everyone needs to know the details. Can we have them detained for later?”
“It’s OK Sookie.” Frannie squeaked out. She was making a stand; accepting the position that Eric had offered when he said she was his. It meant he would be responsible for punishing these two for the actions they’d taken against her and that was something she wanted. She also knew it made no difference for Hunter if it was announced out loud given that he was burrowed into Eric’s neck he already knew, hell he probably saw her exact memory before he put up shields. As the accuser, she held her head high and pointed at the men in front of them. “These men, Andrew Palmer and Peter Sobilo, both took it upon themselves to rape me while I was being held to ensure my brother’s compliance.” Pam groaned. Now she knew what Sookie meant when she said Frannie had been through enough.
Eric had started to suspect but the confirmation had his face turning dangerous. “She’s fifteen years old!” He paused to gather his thoughts as he was ready to start ripping them apart at that very moment, but he couldn’t with Hunter in the room. When he decided to bring both Frannie and Hunter into the room, he never anticipated this turn of events, but he needed to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate to Frannie what being his meant. “Mr. Reynolds?” Lafayette stepped forward. “Can you take Hunter to the courtyard for a while? Peter will join you and I’ll call when we are finished.”
“No, I wanna stay with you.” Hunter cried.
“Not for this Hunter. It won’t take long to deal with these men.” He made the sign for shields to reinforce the earlier request and added, “Do not argue with me on this.” He didn’t raise his voice, but his tone was firm.
“Yes sir.” Hunter knew that tone, you didn’t mess with it – even before he was a king.
With the way Lala carried Hunter, the boy was still facing the dais as he left and Eric noted the scowl; he was clearly unhappy about leaving but this was something he did NOT want him to see. “Now that my son is gone, we can take care of this situation.” Standing to his full height and looming over the men in chains, he continued. “Frannie, please join me.” He held his hand out for her and with some encouragement from Sookie; she took it and stood next to him. “Frannie is MINE. Did you hear the lessons last night for what happens when you try to take or hurt what is mine?”
“She wasn’t yours when we took her and why do you get to fuck her and we don’t. Maybe we called her ours back then.”
Eric lost it and backhanded the vampire that had spoken so hard his cheek caved in. “I’ve claimed her as a daughter you sick fuck, not my pet.” He took an unnecessary breath and continued. “If you’re all done trying to justify your actions, I need to get to the reminder about my lesson last night. You hurt or take what is mine, you die.”
“Eric.” Pam had moved to stand near him.
“You jacket please? You have meetings still tonight.” They traded: A jacket to Pam while he grabbed the sword she held out to him. “Stand back when you take their heads; try to stay clean, please. Come with me Frannie, your dress is too fabulous to be caught up in this mess. I can take you out of the room if you want.”
“NO! I want to stay and see them pay for what they did.”
Pride for Frannie filled his chest and he nodded to her; then returned his gaze to the rapists in front of him. “Before I take care of these two, are there any others that should be standing with them?”
“No. I mean, there were some others that hurt me under Felipe’s orders, but not like these two.”
“Very well.” He turned to the two vampires who were about to die. “I’m too anxious to get my family home tonight drag out your punishment as you deserve. For the record: Andrew Palmer and Peter Sobilo, you are guilty of raping a minor who also happens to be mine. For this crime, your existence will be ended.” He raised the sword and with two slices, took both their heads.
While several vampires removed the remains, Pam returned with a cloth that he used to wipe some of the blood that sprayed onto his legs; luckily the dark blue would hide it just as the jacket would cover the bits that landed on his right sleeve. Once he was put back to rights, he stood before his throne. “Does ANYONE have ANY questions about consequences for actions against me and mine?” The room was silent. “Good. Pamela, please text Peter and Lafayette to return my son to me so we can get the next actions completed.”
Sookie wished she could have a private moment with Eric to tell him Frannie’s thoughts. There was no doubt she would be dealing with the death of her brother for a long time but she was already hopeful about being part of this new family. When Eric referred to her as a daughter, her thoughts warmed and she reeled a bit about never having a father and how wonderful it felt to hear the words. Frannie then felt guilty immediately al allowing herself the gratification of his words. Sookie knew they’d be working through those feelings for a while. Sharing that information would have to wait however since the contracts were being brought in for signature.
Before they completed the transfers of power, all the monarchs stood together while Desmond read the list of those killed during the battle. Eric’s army was victorious, but they did suffer losses. The mood was somber as they all listened and remembered each killed vampire and Were with a moment of silence. As the group dispersed for a break before turning to the contracts, Sookie asked Eric how they knew the names of all the vampires killed. “Every vampire fighting for us was required to wear a tag so we could identify remains.”
“Did you have one? All the monarchs?”
“Yes, I removed it last night before we rested.”
“That was a really good idea.”
The group reconvened when Cataliades announced he was ready with the contracts. A short while later, the monarchy paperwork was signed and with that complete, Eric stepped aside and Stan took the Nevada throne with Liz. Sookie actually breathed a sigh of relief. She did NOT want to stay much longer, nor did she really ever want to have anything to do with Nevada anytime soon. She gladly moved aside and gave Liz the throne. Stan established his monarchy, naming Dario as his second, and closed the book on the transfer of power.
The next tasks were not as easily accomplished. The Ancient Pythoness popped in right as Stan’s vampires pledged their fealty. “Good evening. I have the contracts for our new council. Will all the named representatives and their seconds come forward?” The group she had identified the prior evening walked to the table with the contract and she continued. “The contract is for 50 years, and will be signed in blood.”
“Yes Sookie. You are accustomed to human timing, I had considered 100, but I’m aware of your turning and took that into consideration.”
With an exasperated look on her face, she turned to look at Eric. His face showed shock, and his attached little buddy looked like he had eaten a lemon he was so unhappy. Eric answered for them. “We won’t be signing that.”
“Fine 25 years. I also thought that since we now have everyone present, we can just stay here and have some initial meetings.”
Godric could see and feel that Eric was about to lose it. His son had made it clear to everyone that could hear – his goal was to get home. Gran would find and stake Pythia if she was the cause of any delay. In his thoughts, Godric truly wondered if his maker was losing touch with reality. Hadn’t her granddaughter – the girl she claimed to care about so much – earned some downtime? He decided to step in. “Master, I believe our goal was to complete some business so the attendees who traveled could go home this evening. I also believe a trial period contract,” He looked to Sookie for confirmation and she nodded, “Is optimal. Can that be produced instead of the overly long terms currently written in?”
Owning her role as the human representative, Sookie chimed in. “Your Grace. As the human representative, I suggest we consider that even after the trial period is over we choose shorter terms. If your goal is to someday expose our council to humans, they will never understand such long terms.”
“Acting in your role already. I will acquiesce to the request for a trial period – for one year.”
“Four months!” Hunter yelled out before Eric could put a hand across his mouth and make the sign for quiet. The room chuckled at his outburst.
“Allow the boy to speak my grandson. I’d like to hear his reasoning.”
Eric removed his hand and Hunter spoke up. “Roo will be here in 6 months. Mommy will need time off before she has the baby. You also need to put in something about not too much travel.” Sookie practically swooned at being called Mommy but she kept it together since the conversation was too serious.
The Ancient Pythoness countered. “I agree to limited travel but not the length of contract; her second can step in.”
“He could if the term was over as well, and then Mommy wouldn’t be pressured with turning over stuff so late in the pregnancy.”
The Ancient Pythoness was impressed. It wasn’t the most brilliant argument, but the boy was only four. She caved, knowing she had a long road to earn back the trust of both Eric and Godric. “How about six months for the contract; she starts transitioning for her pregnancy leave at four months and we’ll put in a maximum of two trips?” Hunter agreed and she turned to Eric. “I want two years though on the spokesfamily contract. Whether you like it or not, the baby is going to help relations.”
Eric countered. “We’ll agree to a year only.”
Her grace was already disagreeing by shaking her head. “I have a second supernatural family that will help – so it will cut down a bit on your obligations, but your family will be the official spokesfamily. This new family is just too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Eric gritted out, “Fine, two years. Who is this family?”
The Ancient Pythoness turned towards Alcide and Potts. It took Alcide a moment to catch up while Potts, normally stoic, started to fidget. “Potts?” She nodded with a big smile. “How far?”
He picked her up to hug her happily then returned her to the floor. Eric approached him with his hand extended. “Welcome to fatherhood. Congrats.”
“Thanks. Just don’t hug me.” Mirroring the gesture Alcide made when Eric said the same to him, Eric put his hands up and said “No worries about that.”
While a few others in the area took a moment to congratulate the new expectant parents, The Ancient Pythoness turned back to the business for the evening. “Well, now that that’s handled, Cataliades – make the changes so we can sign.” Desmond was off to revise and print the contract. “While he prepares the contract, we should plan your first meeting since you aren’t agreeable to staying now.”
Russell stepped up. “I suggest Shreveport.” He turned to Eric and Sookie. “That is, if you’ll have us. Perhaps we can have an unwritten agreement that the second meeting during your trial period is also Shreveport since Sookie’s expecting?” The group agreed and they started discussing the date.
“Actually, we have the fall festival the third week of October in New Orleans. It was already booked by Sophie-Anne with Fons before any of this happened so we’re committed.” Eric suggested. “Perhaps we can combine the two? New Orleans is a quick trip for us. Now that I think of it, we should just schedule the coronation at the same time.”
“Perfect.” Russell stated and the representatives agreed again.
As they made that final decision and everyone confirmed in their calendars, Desmond returned with the contracts and the council members reviewed and signed them as needed.
Russell and Eric were chatting about the upcoming events in New Orleans while the representatives were still signing. “How will you get the coronation handled so quickly?”
“I’ll call Quinn’s company. He had plenty of account managers, I’m sure for a coronation they’ll be able to fit us in.”
Frannie added, “I can plan it and just get the staff from Extreme(ly Elegant) Events to work it.”
Eric was not happy with that comment. Since the girl meant so much to Sookie and since she’d been instrumental in the killing of Appius, he meant to care for Frannie and provide some semblance of a normal teenage life for her. Rather than explaining that fully, he simply stated. “No.”
Frannie was hurt and Sookie could hear it so she handed Hunter to Pam and pulled Eric aside for a quick conversation. “What the hell Eric?”
“Frannie believes you don’t think she’s capable of handing the coronation. She’s crushed. Every bit of progress you made with her tonight is quickly diminishing.”
He groaned wondering when he would learn about women. “Frannie, can you join us?”
As she walked over, he could see her hurt. Her head was looking at the floor and her shoulders were slumped. “Frannie, I’m certain that with all the time you spent with your brother, you could pull off the coronation, but I don’t want you to work. I want you to mourn and heal and when you’re ready, I want you to be a kid, well a teenager.”
“I want to be useful.”
“Frannie, you’ve earned the right to be a teen. We can talk more about it home; just know my ‘no’ wasn’t an assessment of your abilities.”
“Ok? I really do want you to be a kid.”
“I don’t know how to be a kid.”
“Don’t worry, I’m over 1000 but I bet I can help you with that.”
“He sure can Frannie. He never grew up.”
Now that he had Frannie with a small smile, he decided it was time to head out. “I think it’s time to get going. Let’s find a fairy.”
With a final thank you to his fellow monarchs and friends for their assistance; Eric and the rest of the Bon Temps travelers moved to the courtyard for ‘Air Fairy’ as Hunter said. One fairy left with Sam and Lala to drop them at Merlotte’s and in less than five minutes, the remaining group moved from the palace to the edge of the farmhouse ward where Amelia met them. “Hi Frannie, my name is Amelia and I’m in charge of the wards here. I just need a strand of your hair and I can get you in beyond this barrier. Glad and Diantha, I’ll need hair from you as well.” She focused on Eric for the ward explanation. “The plan is to change the wards with the blood spell Octavia used in New Orleans, but I wanted to get you all quickly into the house now.”
Eric concurred. “Agreed. I’m sure Gran is ready to bust something.”
“She is. We cleaned a spotless house from top to bottom today. She even had Jason vacuuming.”
Sookie laughed. “I didn’t know he knew what a vacuum was.”
“Michelle showed him and he didn’t argue a bit.” With a few chants and a flick of her wrist she declared the spell done.
Sookie smiled. “We all ready to go home? I know I am.”