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Chapter 34 – No Ordinary Miracle
Eric didn’t even attempt to rouse his fiancée and at least Celia was already secured to his chest so he could just carry Sookie while he flew back to their car and waited for Mustapha. The Were arrived quickly and they decided to switch cars – Godric’s people could pick up the car Mustapha drove and since the car Eric drove already had Celia’s car seat and other necessities they took that to the airport. They were out of Longwood’s parking lot in less than 5 minutes; Eric didn’t bother to move Celia from the baby carrier to her car seat – all the anxiety he was feeling was rubbing off and she was getting upset as it was. He offered her one of her favorite things: His thumb and she started chomping happily on it.
They boarded Godric’s private plane and before he settled in, he noticed Genny was asleep. While he was happy she wasn’t upset, he was curious how she was asleep – she was a fretter. “I gave her a sedative,” Maria explained. “She was hysterical and I figured it wouldn’t help Sookie.”
“I understand. Sookie fainted when I told her.”
“I’ll check on her once we’re in the air.”
Mustapha and Bobby continued to load the family’s items into the plane for a few minutes then they took off. Since they were still belted in for takeoff, Eric stretching a belt around Sookie’s unconscious form and another over his lap with Celia in the carrier still, he asked Maria what she knew of Hunter’s condition.
“Ludwig called me earlier today – he was having some trouble breathing but she managed to get that under control so we decided not to worry you or Sookie about it. I avoided Sookie once I knew so she couldn’t read it accidentally.”
“We should have been told.”
“It was not an easy decision but let’s table that analysis until we have Hunter’s health stabilized.”
It took him a moment but he finally responded. “Agreed.”
“Thank you. Since he’d had a hard day, Hunter was actually asleep early and Hoyt was spending the night. They were all shocked by the alarms for Hunter’s heart going off. Ludwig popped in, got the heart started again but she’s keeping Hunter unconscious for now.” Maria took a breath to calm down. “She’s staying with him in the room until she starts the surgery as soon as we get there.”
“How do we prep Sookie for this?”
“No food now. When she wakes, we’ll give her water but that’s it – nothing else until after.”
“What if they’re ready for my blood and I’m out for the day?”
“If you rest where she can get to you, she’ll draw the blood when she needs it.”
“There’s no window in her operating room; I’ll stay in my coffin there. She can just shut it when she’s done.” He turned to Mustapha. “Can you arrange for a coffin to be brought in for Ludwig – she’ll likely need to clean it somehow to be in the operating room.”
“Maria, I can see you’re nervous about something.”
“You need to feed before you go to rest – but not from Sookie. Is that going to be a problem? Will Sookie be upset?”
“Not at all. Feeding for nourishment isn’t a ‘cheating’ thing for us.” He called out to Bobby sitting up a bit from them. “Bobby, can you arrange for . . . “
“Already done. Ludwig wants you to feed on donors; three will meet us at Ludwig’s before sunrise. We’ll have plenty of time.”
“Guess I should have talked to Bobby – it would have saved me worry time.” She paused for a moment then continued. “Any other questions before we take a look at Sookie? I can feel the plane leveling out; we should be able to move around soon.”
“A loaded one.” He took a breath before he continued. “How is he really?”
“With the monitor on and Ludwig’s ability to teleport, she got to him in under a minute and believes there is no damage. Hoyt did compressions for 30 seconds – well that was his estimate – just as Ludwig had shown him. To me, this just bumps up the surgery.”
“Thank you. One more. I know Sookie will feel as I do, guilty, for leaving Hunter. What do I tell her?”
“I knew this was coming.” She shifted her legs and leaned in even more towards Eric. “Eric, was this trip necessary?”
“No. Not now that this happened.”
“Let me rephrase. Would you have been happy selecting the location of your new home from pictures?”
“No but. . . “
“And you could have waited to make these decisions after you moved – but where would you have lived while the house was being built? I’m certain that Godric would have welcomed you, but he kept other vampires out of his house for your visit. If you were there for months – do you think he could do that?”
“No. I wouldn’t expect that.”
“And you want to have a home where you and the kids can live downstairs together. How easy would that be to rent?”
“Practically impossible.” He opened his mouth to say something else, but she kept going.
“It was timing and it sucks but let me assure you Eric. Your trip did not CAUSE this. Since you came into their lives, you’ve worked as fast as you could to get Hunter the help he needed – and it was some very specific help. In fact, we’re all grateful at the timing – Rowan has a plan for the fairy dust, we have the heart ready in stasis and Sookie is strong enough to donate. We’ve practiced the routine three times now and had only one more practice planned. That’s the only thing we’re missing. All the other pieces weren’t in place even at the end of last year. His heart held out for this timing.”
“Ok Ok, I can see it. Sookie will not.”
“She’s going to be upset until she sees him healthy and she’s up and around from her surgery.”
“Yes. I almost wish I could glamour her.”
“Well, I see we can move around now. Let’s get her up and checked out. Can I convince you to hand that baby to Mustapha or Bobby so you can help me?”
Bobby saved him by stepping up. “I’ve got her Eric.” He pulled her from the Bjorn and starting baby talk right away. “That’s right, Uncle Bobby’s got you pretty girl.” Eric wanted to roll his eyes but he couldn’t deny that Bobby’s charms were working. Celia was smiling and spit-talking to him as he walked away with her.
Since they were on a private plane, when he unhooked Sookie’s seat belt, he just stretched her out on the long couch and tried waking her. “I can give her my blood. Just a few drops will do it.”
“That’ll be good anyway with the surgery.”
Sookie woke and once she oriented herself she became hysterical crying. Eric didn’t expect anything less but he also didn’t want her in a ‘fainted’ condition for the entire flight. They needed to talk and plan. Maria was a very calming influence with all the concerns she had about Hunter and once the questions were answered, Bobby came back with Celia, changed and ready for a bottle and sleep. The smart dayman figured feeding and tending to a sleepy Celia would also help keep her calm. He was exactly right. Sookie still whimpered and shed some tears, but holding her sleeping baby was enough to keep the full blown crying away. She and Eric spoke softly about the next steps and he made calls as needed to prepare. The private airfield in Shreveport was only 15 minutes away from Ludwig’s so they were there quickly and Sookie was taken directly into surgery as planned. Eric had only a brief moment with both Sookie and Hunter before he was shoo’d away so they could start. Rowan would work the first few hours with Ludwig, as this was the part where the fairy dust was being removed and Maria would sleep so she’d be ready to take over.
With an hour before sun rise, Eric spent the time with Celia sleeping on his chest as he prayed to his Gods for his family. He was terrified but worked hard to keep it under control. Regretfully, he placed Celia in her crib and made a mental note to thank Bobby for having dressed her in her monitoring onesie so he didn’t need to disturb her slumber. As he left the room he was surprised to see Maxine walking in. “A little early for you isn’t it?”
“Bobby called me last night. I ordered an early limo. I need to be here Eric. For you, Sookie, Hunter, everyone. You go rest and I’ll see you at sunset. I’ve got Celia today.” He hugged the woman – it was an act he welcomed when she initiated it – but today he reached out to her. “Good Lord Eric, you’ll have me balling again.”
“Can’t have that. I’ll see you soon.”
Eric fed from the three donors waiting for him, showered and changed into the scrubs left out for him and quietly got in the coffin. Since he could stay up past sunrise, he just laid there and listened to the surgery. Nothing they said gave him any clues on the progress. Eventually, he just drifted off when the day finally claimed him.
He rose hours later and was surprised to hear the surgery still going on but then remembered it was planned to be very long. He simply sat up and tried to assess what was happening. Unlike earlier, Sookie was cut open this time and that was hard to see but at the same time, he couldn’t keep his eyes off the scene. Ludwig noticed he was awake. “Vampire, get over here and get ready. We’ve almost got Sookie’s kidney out. You’ll give her some blood topically and orally once it’s out. Theresa will stay with you.”
He moved quickly and was near the incision site for Sookie. The kidney was placed in a pan and Theresa started pointed to where he needed to put his bloody finger. Then she told him to feed some to Sookie while she rubbed her neck. The swallowing worked and he could see she was already healing. He stopped himself not wanting to accidentally give her too much. The blood actually caused her to wake and she was immediately concerned about Hunter.
“We’re almost ready for Eric’s blood. Well, more of it. Things are going very well.” She squeezed Eric’s hand while Theresa worked to unhook her from the monitors and IV.
“So you did take some blood during the day?” Eric asked. He realized that he should feel strange or upset that he’d been so vulnerable during the day – but the thought never occurred to him until now, and even now – he was just curious.
“Yes, I applied it topically when we did the heart transplant. Do you need donors already?”
“I am fine.”
“Just another moment here.” Ludwig was quiet and concentrating until she yelled. “AHA! Look at that!” Eric didn’t know what they saw but he could see Maria tearing up – he assumed there was a smile under her surgical mask. “Come closer Daddy.”
He kissed Sookie and moved near Hunter. “Why are you so excited that he peed him . . .”
He could hear Sookie gasp behind him. “OH MY GOD! It works that fast?”
“It does Sookie. Did you figure it out Eric?”
“I did, I most certainly did. What do you need me to do?”
Ludwig guided Eric through the spots needing blood and then helped him give blood orally to Hunter as well. While Ludwig started removing his connections, he lifted Sookie to see Hunter. She looked down at the operating table and saw the puddle of pee. “Look, I haven’t seen Hunter pee in years. I can’t believe how happy this makes me.”
“This has to be the strangest conversation I’ve ever had min Röðull.” He kissed her nose. “I love it though.”
Just like with Sookie, Hunter woke from the blood. “Daddy? Mommy? Where am I?”
“Well my son, you gave us all a scare and we needed to do your surgery today.”
“Surgery? Is it starting or what?”
“You’re all done Hunter.” Ludwig entered the conversation.
“Mommy, are you OK?”
“I am baby. Just a little tired. How are you?”
“Let’s get these two back to your room. I’m sure there’s a crowd waiting for word.”
There was a crowd. Seems someone had called all the family, adopted family and other interested parties with the news of Hunter’s surgery. Ludwig updated everyone at once while Eric got Hunter and Sookie settled into bed then grabbed Celia from Genny. The relief over the success of Hunter’s surgery was evident – the room felt lighter and everyone was smiling – in some cases smiling through tears. Hunter offered some comic relief, though his question was VERY serious. “Can I get a burger and some fries maybe? Actually skip the burger. Can I have a huge order of fries with extra salt on the side?”
The days following Hunter’s surgery and leading to his birthday were filled with happiness that Sookie hadn’t felt in a long time. She’d had moments of happiness before but now she felt light, hopeful, even joyful. It did take her two days to recover from the surgery – even with Eric’s blood; she was healed but a bit tired. Every day Ludwig checked Hunter’s BUN:creatinine level, a critical check for kidney function, and every day he was doing well. On the fifth day after the surgery, she and Dr. Dayan conducted every test they could to check for fairy dust and found none. Their plan had worked. Rowan left Shreveport with pride over her success with Hunter and a new appreciation for tolerance and acceptance, something a 1000 year old vampire was able to show HER. The one concern they did have was Hunter’s rejection of the donor heart but Ludwig had done some testing and knew vampire could be used as an anti-rejection drug. She was training Doc Maria for how to monitor the use of vampire blood for healing – so she’d be able to assist Hunter as needed once they moved.
Eric rose on the 20th – the night of Hunter’s fifth birthday very excited for the evening. Remembering Hunter’s birthday wish, he’d planned the whole night of surprises for his son. A quick call to Bobby and he was able to relax knowing everything was in place.
Sunset seemed to take longer than usual since he was impatient to get to the hospital but it finally did and he flew the short distance to Ludwig’s. Hunter started bouncing in his seat as soon as he saw Eric and lost interest with his dinner. “Happy Birthday Hunter!” He leaned to give his son a kiss.
“Thanks Daddy. When are we leaving?”
“After you eat.” Hunter pouted and Eric added. “I know you’re excited for your surprise, but you must finish dinner.” He nodded towards Sookie’s plate. “You too Mommy, I’ll finish feeding Celia.” He sat and did just that: Spoon fed his baby her cereal and peaches. Sookie always enjoyed Eric’s feelings when he fed their little girl – he was overjoyed every time his little bird opened her mouth for more spoonfuls of food. Celia, however, enjoyed making funny noises with her lips like a motorboat when she ate so he was always prepared with an extra shirt. Hunter had been right on the very first day: Celia was messy.
“Are you gonna tell me what we’re doing tonight?”
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you Hunter.”
“You could just yell ‘surprise’ after you tell me.”
“OR, I’ll stick to my original plan and yell ‘surprise’ when we arrive.”
“You’re no fun.”
He made a surprised face at Celia and spoke to her. “Did you hear your brother? He said Daddy’s no fun. Can you believe that?” Since he was giving her his full attention, she replied in her animated way with arms waving, feet kicking and that motor boat mouth going. “You see Hunter, Celia doesn’t agree.”
“She’ll learn you’re a tease.”
“I’m not a tease, just adding to the suspense of the surprise.”
“You’re keeping up your shields, right?”
“Yes Daddy. The whole drive.”
When they arrived at the gazebo on Eric’s property, Hunter noticed the lake and the paper lanterns. “I knew you’d remember!”
“Of course I did, Fidget.” Eric responded as he lifted Hunter from the back of Sookie’s wagon. “The paper lanterns aren’t your surprise though.”
“THEY AREN’T?” Eric shook his head to confirm. “Is it the bonfire by the lake?”
“No, it’s a little chilly out tonight.”
“Then what . . .”
“SURPRISE!” A crowd shouted as Eric made his way around the Gazebo. They’d stayed out of sight while Eric approached them. He even kept Sookie in the dark until now. Hunter beamed as he saw many friendly faces – not just the family, he expected them – but in addition to the family, Eric had invited the nurses from Parish Hospital and folks from Bon Temps (Lala, Reverend Collins, even Sam). The biggest surprise was that Grady and his family had made it. Eric held his son as they greeted everyone – and survived an awkward hello with the shifter. Hunter’s mobility was greatly improved but he didn’t want to tire his boy out too soon; the paper lantern release was only part of the celebration tonight.
Excitedly, Hunter spoke to everyone and received their congratulations for his healing. He and Grady even joked about how he could pee just like a real boy now – causing quite a bit of laughter. While Hunter as the birthday boy was the honored guest, Celia’s introduction to everyone also caused quite a bit of excitement as well. The baby was a bit overwhelmed by all the attention at once and practically leapt into Eric’s arms when one of the nurses had her: It was too much for his baby. At seeing Eric’s behavior with his children, Sam realized how wrong he truly had been and he pulled Eric, Sookie and Celia (now gripping onto her Daddy for life) to the side. “Eric, I don’t know what prompted you to call me and give me this chance but I thank you and I ask you both for your forgiveness. I clearly was wrong about you and I should have trusted Sookie. I’m sorry.”
“We accept your apology Sam. I invited you because Hunter has asked a few times about you and I heard from Lala and Reverend Collins that you’ve asked about him. I wanted to make my son happy. It’s as simple as that.”
“Well thank you.”
After their side conversation, Eric and Genny traded Celia for Hunter and Eric carried his son to the lake’s edge where the paper lanterns had been prepped. Bobby and Mustapha helped everyone light their own and they launched them over the lake. “Why is there an extra, Daddy?”
“That one is for Marjorie.”
Sookie contained her sob when she saw that Hunter’s face lit up over the gesture. Instead of making Hunter sad, the remembrance of his friend at his birthday celebration was a source of joy for the boy and he smiled and waved to the lantern as it rose.
While the lanterns floated, Eric held Hunter tightly while Sookie and Lala sang him a song: Ordinary Miracle by Sarah McLachlan. It was actually no ordinary miracle that had saved Hunter, and Celia, and now Johanna (fully healed from her own surgery) and there wasn’t a dry eye by the lake. Lala continued on with music while Sookie stole Celia from Genny and moved to embrace Eric and Hunter. The lanterns over the water combined with the bonfire actually reflected enough light that Genny was able to snap a picture of the family in silhouette. She knew it was going to be gorgeous and couldn’t wait to have it framed for them.
Chef Henry joined the group shortly after with a huge birthday cake – Ice Age theme of course – and Hunter beamed as the crowd sang to him. When everyone had had cake, they started to depart from the gathering and Hunter hugged Eric tightly. “Daddy, this was the best birthday surprise ever!”
“It’s not over yet. Let’s get back in the car.”
“Where are we going?”
“To the next surprise.”
A short drive later and they were pulling up a driveway. “This is our house! I get to see our house!!”
“No Hunter.” His face fell at Eric’s serious look. “You get to live here now. You and Celia have been discharged! SURPRISE!”
“No more hospital?”
“Mommy, did you know?”
“No. Daddy and the doctors kept this from me too.” She was answering through tears.
“What about my stuff Daddy?”
“It was moved while we were at the lake.”
“Let’s go in!” Hunter was bouncing in his car seat and Celia started to mimic the action as well making an excited ‘mmmmm mmmmmmmmm’ noise. Eric had Hunter unbuckled and started to pick him up. “Daddy, can I walk into the house myself?”
“There’s a few steps, are you strong enough for that?”
“I really want to Daddy. Mommy? Please?”
“Ok Baby. But Daddy carries you for the rest of the tour.” He nodded and she turned her attention to Celia in her own car seat. “Hi little one. You ready to see home?” Celia simply blew bubbles and clapped while being lifted out, then grabbed onto Sookie’s hair and tugged. “Yikes baby girl, you have a grip.”
“Don’t we know that min Röðull.” He placed Hunter on the path to the front door and took his hand. Sookie stayed back and watched as Hunter made his way up the steps to the front door and waited while Daddy unlocked it then stepped in slowly.
“MOMMY! Our house!”
Sookie shared Hunter’s joy – but her reaction was more tears. “I know baby, I know.”
“I saw it in your head but this is way better. Can I see my room?” He asked with his arms up knowing he promised to have Eric carry him for the tour.
“Sure thing Fidget.” The tour lasted a while since Hunter was curious about every detail. He loved his Ice Age and blue bedroom from Eric. If his squealing was the indication, he also loved the toys, the play chalkboard, and books. It was getting very close to his bedtime, but he was in no way tired now. He and Eric played in Hunter’s room while Sookie showed Celia her room across the hall. Unlike Hunter, she was getting tired so she suggested they move to the chamber for baths and bed. Eric couldn’t wait to show Hunter the hidden panel for accessing the hidden chamber – his boy was impressed, just like Eric had hoped he’d be.
Before he’d left for Ludwig’s earlier, Eric had opened up the fold out sleep chair he placed in the small sitting area of the light-tight chamber for Hunter, knowing full well he’d likely be in bed with them anyway. Hunter did a modified bounce inspection of his little bed AND Eric and Sookie’s bed in their room when they carried him in. He didn’t have the energy to jump, but he did kneel and bounce. “Sookie, How big of a piece of cake did we give him at his party?”
“Way too big Sweetie. He’s loaded with sugar.” She reached an arm to slow the movement down while Eric started a bath for Celia. “Hunter, we need to calm down a little. I know you’re excited but it is late. I’m not saying you need to go to sleep, but can you stop bouncing?”
“I’m too excited, no more hospital.” He deflated immediately. “What about Johanna? We left her all alone.”
“I don’t know.” She called into the bathroom. “Sweetie. Do you know anything about Johanna?”
“She went home to her Bon Temps house after the party. Ludwig discharged them all. Hoyt knew, but he knew we were doing a surprise so he asked me to glamour him not to think about it.”
“That was cool. Oh Geez! Are Theresa and Maria out of jobs until we move?” She moved to position herself in bed with Hunter and tucked him close, hoping to calm him a bit.
“Not at all. Ludwig will be doing intense knowledge transfer with both of them in preparation for the move. It’s all good my sweet.”
“Mommy, what about Genny?”
Eric answered from the bathroom. “Bobby is driving Genny home tomorrow so she can start tagging items for the move, for sale or for donation. They’ll be gone for two days – home by Saturday. Then she’ll actually live here until we move.”
“You’ve taken care of everything haven’t you Sweetie.”
“It’s my job now, you get to relax as much as possible now. Get yourself ready for school.”
The water turned off from filling Celia’s pink tub and now she could hear Eric talking to his baby as he undressed her for a bath. Given the amount of noises coming from Celia, they were having quite the conversation. Next she heard the usual splashing from her precious baby girl. Lord knew she loved to get her bather soaked. Neither of them minded; they just were prepared to change after Celia’s bath if needed. Hunter had gone quiet, but she knew he was awake. “Sounds like she’s trying to soak him extra good tonight Mommy.”
“Sure does. I know Daddy bought you some new bath toys for here so you’ll probably do the same.”
“Really?” His eyebrows rose up and she nodded at him in confirmation. “Hurry up with Celia Daddy! I want to see my new toys.”
“I’m cleaning squirmy here as fast as I can.”
“So Mommy,” He started. “What happens tomorrow? I almost don’t know what to do outside of a hospital.”
Eric answered for her. “Tomorrow we have a new Were guard starting in addition to Tony. I wanted the extra protection at the house. Anyway, her name is Molly and she’s a physical therapist. She’ll be here to protect us as well as work with you on your strength.”
Sookie added to the conversation. “We’ll also spend time on some learning – like your reading maybe. The best part though . . . is we just get to be and do whatever Hunter. No medical tests, no dialysis, no wires.”
“That is the best part Mommy.”
Eric interrupted their conversation by handing a towel-bundled Celia to Sookie and grabbing Hunter. “Can you play with her for a little bit to keep her up? I want to say goodnight but Hunter and I will be a while.”
“That many toys?” She raised her eyebrow at him.
“It’s not that it’s that many as much as I’m joining him so we can play together.”
“You are the biggest and oldest kid I’ve ever known and I love you.”
“I love you more.”
“Do you love me enough to keep the water mess to a minimum in there?”
“Already have it all planned. I placed towels around the tub and I’ll wash them after you guys are all asleep.”
“Mr. Mom indeed.”
He smirked and carried Hunter in for his bath.
A while later, they got into position for story time with Daddy. It had become the nighttime routine for them and Eric loved it. Tonight he picked Song of Night and he gave them each a kiss at the end when he read ‘here’s one more kiss’, and Sookie lost it when he read the last line ‘I love you so.’ Eric didn’t just read the words to these sappy kid’s books, he felt and lived them.
Eric gave Sookie the rocker for Celia’s last bottle while he and Hunter cuddled in the bed for a more Hunter-aged story. Once Celia was asleep in her crib (right there in the bedroom), Eric started singing Hunter to sleep in their bed; Sookie knew there was no way Hunter was sleeping ALL THE WAY out in the sitting area. Just as Hunter was really relaxing, Eric gave him a final kiss on the head. “Happy Birthday my son. Welcome home.”
(A personal favorite of mine) Song of Night by Katherine Riley Nakamura Illustrated by Linnea Asplind Riley