As the Queen sank her fangs into my cousin again, we all turned to leave the room. We were escorted back the way we came and out the front door. None of us said a word as we drove back down the driveway and through the main gate. It wasn’t until we were on the highway that I started to feel better. We had made it through the meeting and I hadn’t messed up. We were on our way back home.
I felt like everything might be okay. Then I chastised myself for thinking so positively. If I’d learned anything in my one month as a vampire, it was that nothing was that simple.
As if they could hear my thoughts, Eric and Godric started talking as we left the boundaries of New Orleans.
“It’s not over.” Eric stated plainly.
Godric’s response came a moment later.
“No, it’s not.”
The next week was filled with preparations for my return to New Orleans to read the Queen’s staff. We all hoped I would be able to read them in a single night, but everyone was in agreement that the Queen would more than likely find a way to keep us there longer.
Pam and I had another shopping trip to pick up additional dresses for our monthly trips to the palace. The outing to the mall was my first time truly away from Godric since I became a vampire, and I knew it was a sign of his trust in me, or in his confidence in Pam to control me. Whichever reason he used in deciding to let us go without him, I felt a new sense of independence that had been lacking ever since I first rose.
One of the most surprising aspects of the past week had been my ever-growing friendship with Pam. Of course, I wouldn’t call her my friend in front of anyone else because she works hard to put forth her bitch attitude with everyone, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it. However, I had quickly grown found of her snarky attitude, dry humor, and ironic love of pastels.
Whenever we were bored at Fangtasia, we made fun of the fangbangers together or played games with my telepathy. I’ll admit that Gran would have been appalled at my actions, but really the fangbangers made themselves spectacles. How could we not make fun of them?
‘Spot the thought’ was Pam’s favorite game. I would listen to the customers until I heard a particularly vile, funny, or unexpected thought and share it with Pam. She had three guesses to find the culprit. At first, she would get annoyed at losing but she had improved drastically and had started hinting she wanted to place bets.
I’ll admit I was afraid to find out what her version of betting entailed.
Luckily, we didn’t spend all night every night at Fangtasia. Pam and Eric alternated opening the club at night, while one of them would stay with Godric and me for a couple of hours.
Godric decided it was time to start training me to fight. Pam was my hand-to-hand combat partner, since she was the youngest and thus closest to my strength level. Eric was teaching me to fight with a sword and Godric was pushing me to learn the limits of my gifts. The training sessions were intense but I was learning a lot and I could feel Godric’s pride in me. I had even managed to pin Pam to the ground once. Of course, she made me pay for that twenty times over that night; but it was a small victory nonetheless.
When I had my lessons with Eric and Pam, Godric usually watched and provided additional instructions from the sidelines as well as encouraging me to try and use my powers while sparring. However, on one of the nights I was scheduled to spar with Eric, Godric stated he had an errand to run and would meet us later at Fangtasia. I didn’t ask him about his errand, as I knew it wasn’t my place, but I was curious.
My scheduled sparring with Eric was as intense as ever and I was beginning to enjoy using the katana Eric had made especially for me.
When we finished for the night and were on our way to Fangtasia, I decided to try to satisfy my curiosity regarding Godric’s whereabouts.
Eric had frowned when I asked, “I thought you had already learned not to question him.”
“I have.” I said quickly. “I’m just curious. Besides . . .”I trailed off when I looked at his face. “Oh! You don’t know either.”
He smirked. “Perhaps not.”
I laughed at the mischievous sparkle in his eyes. I couldn’t help it. When Eric wasn’t at Fangtasia, his personality was infectious.
That thought made me wonder.
“Why are you such a fuddy duddy when we are at Fangtasia?” I asked, as I turned in my seat to see him better.
“Fuddy duddy?” He snorted. “You have the strangest sayings.”
“Maybe so, but you didn’t answer.”
He sighed. “I am an elder and a Sheriff. Both of those titles come with an expectation.”
It was my turn to snort. I shook my head disbelievingly. “You never struck me as the type of vampire to let others dictate your actions.”
“I don’t.” He growled the words out slightly.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “You just said that your position comes with an expectation of your actions. How else am I supposed to take that?”
“Sookie, if you worked as a teacher of tiny humans, would you go around all day swearing or wearing revealing clothing?”
“Of course not!”
“My actions while around other vampires are guided by the same principle as a teacher conforming to the expectations of her superiors or the parents of those children.” He paused for a moment. “The difference between the two scenarios is, for a vampire, the essence of survival.”
I thought over his words for a few minutes and we were soon pulling onto the road that passed in front of Fangtasia.
“So, you’re saying I need to be more of a fuddy duddy around other vampires in order to survive?”
Eric didn’t answer me until he had pulled into his parking spot. I waited in my seat for his answer and he soon turned his gaze to meet mine.
“I’ve cultivated the image I have now over a thousand years. Any change in my personality at this point could be seen as a weakness to exploit.” He reached up to push a stray hair behind my ear. I fought the urge to both flinch away and lean into his touch. “You are still new and can build your own image that sets other’s expectations of your actions. However, it is much easier to earn respect among vampires by being cold and calculating than by being sunny and warm.”
I couldn’t help but to smile at his description of me as sunny and warm. He smirked back in response. My previously human, overly friendly personality then took over my next action.
I quickly leaned forward and pecked him on the cheek.
It wasn’t until I leaned back in my seat that I realized what I’d done. I was about to freak out and try to dissect my actions down to the smallest degree but then I saw the look of shock on Eric’s face. I couldn’t help but laugh slightly as I opened the door.
“Thanks, Viking.” I called to him as I stepped out. “I think I understand now.”
I didn’t look back at Eric again and I was still slightly giggling as I walked through the dark hallway and into the main club area. Pam quickly caught my eye as she sat on the stage ‘enthralling the vermin’ and I made my way over to join her. I felt it was only right I keep her company since it was my fault she was there to begin with. Apparently, it hadn’t occurred to Eric that he could require other vampires to occupy the throne when he was otherwise engaged or not in the mood. When I had asked him why he didn’t order others to do the ‘throne duty’ he despised, he readily jumped onto the suggestion and required Pam to take the first week’s rotation.
She was thrilled.
I was still waiting for payback from her for opening my mouth.
“Did you beat Eric while sparing?” Pam asked as I stepped up onto the dais.
“No.” I grumbled.
She raised an eyebrow. “Then what was so shocking to Eric that you found it funny?”
I smiled widely, but wasn’t about to tell her the truth. “I found out I could stun your Master speechless with a simple kiss on the cheek.”
Nope. That was my secret weapon for now. I might need it again in the future.
“You’re not going to tell me are you?”
I shook my head in response.
“Shall I guess?” She asked as a waitress placed a True Blood on the small table beside me.
“It wouldn’t do any good.”
“Hmmm.” She hummed as she studied me and tapped her finger against her lips. “Did you proposition him?”
Suddenly I was laughing again as I shook my head. “No, Pam, I didn’t.”
Pam had been joking about Eric and I ‘hooking up’ since we returned from the palace. At first, I was annoyed with her insinuations and crude jokes but I’d come to just accept them as Pam being Pam. Plus, I think she enjoyed finding new popular terminology for ‘shacking up.’
“I suppose that was a wasted guess.” She pouted.
“How so?” I asked while taking a sip of my vile drink.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I was in for it.
“Well,” she started as she settled back into the throne, “It’s obvious Eric wants you. If you had propositioned him, he would have accepted. Then you would obviously smell more of Eric and definitely of sex. I’d even doubt you would have shown up tonight. So, the fact you are here and do not smell of sex means you obviously didn’t proposition him and I wasted a guess.”
I simply smirked at her. “Your deductive reasoning is astounding.”
Before she could respond, we both turned to look at the back hallway.
“Come.” Godric ordered before turning back towards Eric’s office.
Within moments, Pam and I were sitting on the couch in Eric’s office. Godric was sitting in one of the chairs in front of Eric’s desk while Eric opted to lean against the wall closest to the couch.
“You’ve swept the office today?” Godric asked.
During the week, Godric had been getting updates from Eric on the Queen’s most recent antics and exploits. Come to find out, a couple of months after I disappeared, Eric discovered a listening device in his office. Ever since then, he had been ‘sweeping’ his office for bugs nightly. He was almost certain the person spying on him had been the Queen.
After Eric nodded his head that he had taken care of his nightly chore, Godric took out three small velvet bags from his pocket and handed one to each of us as he explained.
“Ever since Sookie told us about the witch she had contacted to block her blood tie to Mr. Compton, I have been worried.” He started before sitting back down. “If a witch’s magic could interfere with a human/vampire blood tie, then could they interfere with a Maker/child blood tie.”
All three of us became inhumanely still as we digested Godric’s words. He nodded to us as he silently acknowledged our concern at his words.
“I became even more concerned once Sookie was forced to tell the Queen of, not only the witches existence, but also of her name.” He paused. “I do not believe the Queen will immediately kill the witch when she could be of some use.”
“You believe she will try to use the witch in order to gain Sookie?” Eric asked stiffly.
“Yes.” Godric replied and, before I could voice any of the lightening quick thoughts flashing through my mind, he gestured towards our hands.
“Open the pouches.”
I was slightly confused but followed my Maker’s instruction as I opened the pouch.
Inside my bag was a simple hairpin with a small glittering diamond. I could feel my eyebrows furrow with more confusion as I glanced over to see the other’s gifts.
Pam was turning over a hairpin similar to mine but it contained a small deep blue sapphire.
Eric was staring at safety pin.
I was more confounded by the second as I stared at the strange items.
“Each of these items has been bewitched to repel any magic against their owner.” Godric’s words had each of us snapping our eyes back up to meet his. “I know of a powerful witch in the area and she has provided these items for us. I know they may seem strange, but they had to be specific for each person’s use and something you could wear always without being conspicuous.”
He turned his eyes on Pam and myself. “I know that some of your outfits would not allow you to wear any item underneath as it may be revealed. Most jewelry is too obvious. However, you can choose whether or not to place a hairpin in such a way as to allow others to see it.”
We both nodded as he turned his attention to Eric and smiled. “As a hairpin would not work for you, I chose the simplest thing I could imagine that no one would find threatening.”
“I suppose there is little that can be said to be threatening about a safety pin.” Eric said sarcastically and the tension in the room came down a notch.
“Very true.” Godric replied with a small smile. “Be sure that you wear your item from this moment forward until you hear otherwise from me.”
Pam and I both reached up to put the pins in our hair while Eric fastened his safety pin to the inside of his jean’s pocket. When Godric was satisfied with the placement of our new tokens, he dismissed us all from our impromptu meeting. Pam and I returned to the stage, Godric took his normal spot in Eric’s booth, and Eric returned to his desk to work on paperwork.
The rest of the night passed without incident and we all returned home a couple of hours before sunrise. Each of us went our own way to pack a small bag to take with us, in the event we were kept in New Orleans for more than a single night.
After I packed my bag, I took a quick shower and put on some comfortable pajamas. Then I lay down on my bed and stared at the ceiling as I waited for the dawn to take me away.
I did my best not to think during this time of the night – the times when I was alone.
Over the past week, I had developed a good rhythm to my nights and I even found myself enjoying myself at times. However, when we all returned home and went our separate ways, I was left only with memories, regrets, and fears.
I did my best to distract my mind each night from going down the useless path of depression, but tonight I seemed to be struggling more than ever.
I was pulled out of my thoughts by Pam’s presence outside my door.
“Come in, Pam.”
Pam let herself into my room and shut the door behind her. I had to smile at her pink satin PJs.
“None of us are good with emotions.” She stated bluntly.
She placed a hand on her hip and huffed impatiently. “Did you forget we could all feel you to some degree?”
My eyebrows shot up. I had forgotten that. How could I forget?
Suddenly I was embarrassed. “Sorry.” I muttered.
“Your fear I believe we all understand, as there is much unknown with the Queen, yes?” I nodded. “However, your sadness could have several causes. How do we make it better because I don’t do depression?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at her. “I don’t know how to make it better Pam.”
“Is it regret?”
I thought for a moment before I nodded. “A large portion of it is regret. I miss my family and friends and wonder if I could have helped them if I’d stayed instead of running away.”
Pam sat in an armchair near the end of my bed while I sat up and crossed my legs in the middle of my bed. “Regret is useless. You do not know that things would have been different, and they could have been worse.”
“Logically, I know that, but it doesn’t stop how I feel.”
“What would make it better?”
“I said I don’t know.”
“Bullshit.” Pam said as she stood up. “What is it that you want, Sookie Stackhouse? We can all feel you yearning for something but you won’t voice what it is and quite frankly I am tired of feeling it.”
“Pam.” Godric’s soft but commanding voice came from the doorway where Eric stood behind him.
Pam’s posture became less rigid as she started to back off but I knew she was right. There was something I wanted – even though it was ridiculous.
I dropped my eyes to the bed and quickly whispered my secret.
“I want to find Jason.”
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply before looking up at the others. As expected, they were all staring at me.
Godric recovered first. “You want to find your brother who joined the Fellowship’s soldiers?”
I swallowed uselessly. “Yes, Master.”
“To what end?” His voice wasn’t challenging but it wasn’t warm either.
I sighed and looked at him. “He’s going to get himself killed if he’s trying to go against vampires, and he probably only joined because he thought Bill did something to me. I want to see if I can convince him to leave the Fellowship.”
Godric kept eye contact with me for a moment but it was Eric who spoke next. The softness in his voice surprised me, “You realize Sookie that he will still die one day regardless of his affiliation with the Fellowship.”
“Yes.” I whispered. “But I wouldn’t feel this guilt that he was in trouble because of me.”
Godric hadn’t taken his eyes off of me when he nodded.
“We will track him down and gain the opportunity for you to speak to him, but if he doesn’t come around after that meeting, then you will need to let him go.”
Hope immediately filled me. I could get my brother back.
“Sookie, he may be too far gone with the Fellowship to change his mind.” Eric warned.
“I understand, but I have to try.”
“Very well.” Godric stated with finality. “We will begin looking for him after our trip to New Orleans. For now, I want you to focus only on our task at the palace.”
With those words, everyone turned to leave the room and for once in the past several months I didn’t feel so alone.
“Pam?” I called out as she started to close the door.
When she turned to look at me, I nodded at her and whispered a soft “Thank you.”
She simply nodded in return and closed my door.
I lay back down on the bed and soon started to feel the pull of the sun. I let myself have a moment of happiness and hope at the thought of seeing Jason again, before I turned my thoughts back to the coming night and our visit to the Queen’s palace.
My last thought before the sun pulled me to rest was that the Queen better think twice if she thought she’d be taking me away from my new family.
A/N: Please review and let me know what you think about my direction with the story. Thanks for reading.