She could hear voices beyond the doors and Eric stroked her fingers on his arm in comfort so she figured there were already people inside. When she had toured the house earlier today she had expected some huge extravagant hall like Sophie-Anne had with a raised dais and massive throne with perhaps an Egyptian theme but had been pleasantly surprised at what she found.
Ahmose's throne room was much smaller and more intimate than Sophie-Anne's. It had high ceilings with marble columns all around with a stone floor. Beautiful art work hung on the walls and awesome statues were placed strategically around the room. There was nothing Egyptian about the room and Sookie found that odd since Ahmose obviously stayed connected with his roots due to the temple to his gods he had in the house.
Now as the doors opened she prepared herself as best she could to meet the former Pharaoh as Eric guided her through the open doors. She heard someone off to the side announce their arrival but kept her eyes on the man sitting on the throne at the end of the room. He looked to be mid thirties with short black hair and dark skin. He was wearing a dark green silk shirt with black pants. He actually looked very ordinary. He had a soft smile on his face as Eric led her forward to the center of the room while everyone around them fell silent. From the corner of her eye she saw Bill standing off to the side, but forced herself to ignore him as Eric brought them to a stop in front of the King. As Eric bowed she curtsied lightly and then faced the man sitting before them.
"King Ahmose. It is good to see you again. May I present my bonded Sookie Stackhouse," Eric greeted.
"Your majesty," Sookie offered in a shaky voice.
Ahmose smiled gently down at the human woman before him. He could tell she was afraid and nervous and immediately sought to put her at ease. "Call me Ahmose, Miss Stackhouse. I am the one that asked you to come see me after all as I am very interested in meeting you."
There was a collective gasp throughout the room as all the humans and vampires in attendance started at the king's offer to address him so personally while all eyes fell on Sookie to see her response.
Sookie returned the king's smile and replied, "Well if I can call you Ahmose you have to call me Sookie, and I sincerely doubt you're as interested in meeting me as I am in you. I'm just a barmaid from a small town in Louisiana that hears voices in my head. You're an Ancient, King and former Pharaoh. Your situation alone makes you more interesting than me, but I'm flattered nonetheless."
"Ah … so you've heard of me. have you?"
Sookie smiled even wider as she nodded her head at Eric and answered, "Eric's told me a few things. He hardly ever says anything nice about other people but he speaks highly of you. That alone had me hooked and wanting to meet you. You must be something else to have his regard."
Ahmose clapped his hands in delight and laughed, "You are just as charming as the stories of you boast! And such spirit! I like that."
Turning to Eric he added, "You are and will continue to be the envy of many Northman! Congratulations!"
Eric bowed his head respectfully as he said, "Indeed my lord." Smiling down at Sookie he continued, "She pleases me greatly. I'm glad to see she does you as well."
Focusing on the two Enforcers behind the pair Ahmose asked, "Worthy Warriors of the Council. Welcome. It is good to see you both again. How are you faring?"
Han and Ivan stepped up to either side of Sookie and Eric as Han bowed his head and replied, "We are quite well, my lord. It is good to see you again Ahmose."
"Ivan good," the massive Russian grunted with a nod of his head.
"And how is it being pledged to Sookie here?" the King asked.
Han smiled and replied, "It is ... different. Neither Ivan nor I have been around a human in many years, but I will say it is interesting. Sookie is unusual. We are pleased to serve her; though she refuses to actually give us any orders. Sookie prefers to do things for herself so we really only get to stand behind her and look menacing."
Ahmose smiled at the two Enforcers before facing Sookie and asking, "You have command of them and do not use it?"
Sookie shook her head and replied, "I don't want anyone to serve me. I'm just grateful they've agreed to protect me from whatever it is everyone thinks I need protecting from. I don't think I have the right to make any other demands of them even if they've given me the power to do so. That would be wrong of me."
The king was apparently pleased with that. "You are a curious thing aren't you? I think perhaps you will astound us all before everything is said and done." There was a moment of silence before he asked, "Are you enjoying your stay here so far? Is the room to your liking?"
"Very much. Your home is truly beautiful, and I love the room. It's very kind of you to open your home to us." Sookie found herself growing more at ease with Ahmose by the second. He seemed completely approachable.
"That's good to hear. My home is your home while you are visiting. My people tell me that you were fascinated by a number of things you saw while touring. Perhaps before we get down to business you'd like me to escort you around and tell you of the things that interested you the most?"
Sookie smiled brightly at that and replied, "I would be honored."
Ahmose stood from his throne and made his way down the small steps towards Eric and Sookie as he said to those around them without really looking at them, "You are all free to enjoy yourselves while I'll speak with Mr. Northman and his bonded privately. We will return when we return." Coming to stand beside Eric he asked, "Would you allow me her hand?"
Bowing his head Eric replied, "Of course. I know Sookie is very interested in speaking with you. She will enjoy hearing you tell her of your past."
As Ahmose tucked her hand through his arm after Eric took it from his Sookie added, "I've been bugging him about you. I have so many questions but you don't have to answer them if you don't want to."
Patting her hand Ahmose laughed, "Nonsense my dear. I would love to speak with you. I'll give you and Northman a personal tour and answer any questions you have while showing you a few of my favorite pieces."
As Ahmose began to lead Eric, Sookie, Han and Ivan from the throne room Bill stepped forward and bowed his head as he said, "King Ahmose I hate to intrude but my queen has appointed me the investigator for Eric's area, and ordered that I be present for all dealings between the two of you."
Ahmose felt Sookie stiffen beside him and watched Eric put a hand on her shoulder in comfort. He knew a bit about the relationship between Sookie and the Civil War veteran and doubted she wanted him to join them. Looking at Bill he replied, "I'm aware of your new station. You queen called and informed me of her desire for you to be present during our negotiations and business dealings. However had you been paying attention a few seconds ago you'd realize that I announced my intent to forgo our business discussions for now in favor of speaking to Sookie and Northman on a private level. She has personal questions to ask of me and the things she saw in my home and I intend to answer them. When we are finished with that and are ready to discuss the reason for you all being here I will have you sent for. Now, if you'll excuse us."
Eric smirked at Bill as Ahmose led them out of the throne room. The younger vampire had just been dismissed and put into his place in a very public way and he'd enjoyed seeing it. When they were out of the throne room he turned to Han and said, "Follow him. I want to know everything he does. Do not let him see you." Han bowed and left as their group of four continued on.
Sookie smiled up at Ahmose and whispered, "Thank you."
Patting her hand again Ahmose replied, "You're quite welcome my dear. Sophie-Anne plays with fire. She is too young and too wild to be queen. She only has the position she does due to her early arrival to the state some 150 years ago. Had another vampire laid claim to it she would not be ruling." Glancing back at Eric he added, "I doubt she will hold her throne for long. She prods a dangerous beast on a very weak chain … I think she will feel his bite soon enough."
Eric smiled darkly and growled, "She will at that, but I am no traitor. This beast will not attack first."
Nodding his head in agreement Ahmose said, "Which is why you are worthy."
Ahmose kept them at a leisurely stroll before Sookie pointed at a statue and asked, "That's Caesar right? Like Julius Caesar?"
"Indeed. I met him on my travels to Rome after being turned. He is one of my favorite children."
Sookie froze and gasped, "Are you serious? Julius Caesar? The Julius Caesar is your child?"
Nodding his head Ahmose replied, "Yes. I was about 1,500 when I made him. I was delighted with Rome. The greatest empire in the world other than my own people's in my opinion. They did great things. I knew his father Gaius and knew Julius from the day he was born. I watched him grow into a fine man. I always felt a pull to him from his first breath and knew one day he would be my child."
Still totally amazed Sookie asked, "But wasn't he killed on the Ides of March? Wasn't he stabbed to death by Brutus and the Senate?"
"You know your history, dear child. He was attacked and stabbed, but not killed as many believed. Marcus Antonius, a faithful servant of mine often called Mark Antony, was able to pull his body from the mob and make off with it in the melee. He'd learned of the assassination plot the night before and I had given him a vial of my blood in case he could not get to Caesar in time. He dragged Julius into an alleyway and poured it down his throat and over his wounds. It healed him enough to keep him alive long enough for Marcus Antonius to pull him down to my underground resting place. I turned him then," Ahmose explained.
"Wow … that's amazing."
Nodding his head Ahmose continued, "Julius is a great vampire. He rules Italy to this day. He traveled with me and my other child I had at the time for a few centuries but has never been able to leave his beloved Rome for long. He has been King for the last 900 years or so."
Looking over his shoulder at Eric he offered, "I believe you met him?"
"Yes. A brilliant man. I met him when traveling with Godric. They seemed to have quite the connection."
Smiling softly Ahmose replied, "That they did."
Looking at the Ancient Vampire Sookie asked, "You had two children at the same time?"
"Yes. I had made a child about 30 years before I turned Julius. It is rare to have two children at once like that but I felt the call to them both. I would not ignore it, and I have never regretted raising them side by side. They learned much from each other; after they stopped competing with each other, of course."
As Ahmose led her forward to view more of the Roman pieces he had Sookie asked, "Who was your other child?"
Another secret smile forming on his face Ahmose answered, "That you will learn soon enough. You did not get to tour my vault today and I intend to show it to you now. When we are there I will tell you of my other child I raised along with Julius. I think you will be surprised."
Feeling eagerness fill her as Ahmose guided them down another hallway Sookie asked, "Did he really love Cleopatra?"
"Oh yes. I had told him stories his whole life of my homeland and he was always eager to go see it. When the opportunity arose he was as awed by my homeland as I was by his. He fell in love with Cleopatra almost immediately. He wanted to turn her when he rose Vampire but knew he could not. He knew if his son with her, Caesarion, was to have any chance of ruling Egypt and keeping his throne he would need his mother. Thus we sent Marcus to her and he started a relationship with her so that she would have the backing she needed to keep her throne. After that we left Rome and traveled to the far east."
"Wasn't Caesar in his 50's when he died? Wasn't that really old back then?"
Nodding his head Ahmose replied, "Indeed. However I had vampires throughout the city give him blood often to keep him looking younger than he was. I put off turning him as long as I could because he had such ambitions for his homeland."
Looking over her shoulder at Eric she asked, "Did you know his Child was Caesar?"
Shaking his head Eric replied, "No. Many are secretive about their lineage. I knew Caesar was made by an Ancient but not which one." Nodding his head at Ahmose he continued, "Thank you for sharing your history with us."
Ahmose smiled and said, "It is my pleasure. Come my dear. I'm sure I have many more stories you'd like to hear."
For the next two and a half hours Ahmose led Sookie, Eric and Ivan through his home as Sookie pointed out things that had caught her interest. He would tell her the stories behind them before pointing out things he himself was quite fond of. He told her of his travels with his children in China during the Han Dynasty and the Wei and Jin Period. He told her of his fascination with the growing school and practice of martial arts in the area and that led to a lengthy discussion between he and Eric who both had great respect for Asian fighting techniques. It was nearing 8 when Ahmose led them to the doors that opened into the temple Sookie had toured earlier. He faced Sookie and asked, "Did you see this room today?"
Nodding her head Sookie replied, "Yes. I was the only one though. None of my guards would go inside and Edwin said he wasn't allowed. I thought that was pretty strange because usually my guards won't let me go anywhere without checking it out first. They just told me they would let me go in if I could get in. They said since it was a holy place they didn't need to check it out."
Ahmose smiled at that and pushed the door open as he gestured for her to enter as he said, "Enter please."
Sookie smiled and stepped into the room. It was a massive hall with huge towering black stone statues of the ancient Gods and Goddesses of Egypt that stretched all the way to the ceiling. The statues were so tall that Sookie barely came up to their knees they were so large. The same electrical charge in the air she'd felt before filled her and she turned around to see Ahmose looking at her with an awed expression on his face. "Aren't you coming?"
"In a moment," Ahmose replied before facing Eric and saying, "Now you."
Eric could plainly feel the power of the room. Magic surrounded it and he knew there was a barrier protecting the temple. He knew what the guards had meant that they'd allow Sookie to go in if she could get in.
He regarded Ahmose for a moment before stepping into the temple. He felt an electric charge fill him and took Sookie's wrist to pull her to his side as he gazed up at the massive statues of the ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.
Behind them Ahmose smiled brightly before facing Ivan and saying, "Let no one disturb us." The Russian Vampire nodded his head and took up guard outside the doors as Ahmose stepped inside and closed them behind him. He smiled at his two guests and led them forward to the end of the hall where the statue of Osiris faced them with all the other Egyptian gods and goddesses lining the walls facing each other with him presiding over them. Ahmose bowed before Osiris and offered a soft prayer to his god before turning to face Eric and Sookie who stood a little ways back from him.
Sookie didn't understand what was going on. The air in the room was charged with energy and she shifted closer to Eric unconsciously while he tightened his hand around her wrist. She wasn't afraid per say but she felt like there was something in the room besides them. Ahmose was looking at them like he couldn't believe they were here and she was waiting for him to say something.
Eric was equally as curious. He could tell that the fact he and Sookie had been able to enter the room was significant to Ahmose and he knew the Ancient one before him was about to say something that would shock them both…and he was right.
Ahmose smiled as he dropped to his knees and bowed before them both. "Hail to the Chosen One and her king. I, Ahmose, Ancient and King of New York, pledge my life and loyalty to you both till final death takes me. Where you lead I will follow. I will face any foe that threatens you, and fight to the death to keep you safe. This I solemnly vow."
There was a stunned silence as Sookie and Eric stared down in shock at Ahmose who remained bowed before them. Finally Eric said, "You are King. No king gives the pledge as all kings and queens are equal. They are ruled over only by the Council."
Still kneeling Ahmose replied, "I kneel before the Chosen One and the future High King. None rule them. Not even the Council; do you accept my pledge, my king?"
Eric was silent a moment before he asked, "This is the prophecy, isn't it? You know something about it?"
"Indeed. I knew of it 3,500 years ago when I was first turned. You will be High King of us all and she is the Chosen One. My life and loyalty are yours to do with as you see fit."
Sookie couldn't take it anymore. She pulled away from Eric to kneel down and take Ahmose's hands from where they laid on the floor as he bowed. Pulling him up she pleaded, "Don't kneel in front of me. Please. Not you … I … I don't know what's going on but I don't want you on your knees in front of me. If you're offering your friendship I'll gladly take it, but I would never ask you to sacrifice your life."
Ahmose smiled at Sookie and bowed his head as he said, "Whether you would take it matters not. All that I am and all that is mine is now yours."
Eric could barely contain his shock as he asked, "Do you know what is going to happen?"
"Tell us," Eric pressed as he took Sookie's elbow and pulled her back to his side; causing her to drop Ahmose's hands.
"I will tell you if you command me to do so. However I must point out that by telling you it might interfere with your fate. It could prevent the natural course of your joining and the path the two of you were born and destined to walk … but as my king I will answer if you command it of me."
Sookie bit her lip before she questioned, "Are we going to be ok? Is everything going to be ok?"
Smiling softly at the small woman next to the imposing Viking, Ahmose assured, "Your destiny is not terrible Sookie. It is great. You and your King are great. The Prophecy will not be easy but you will rejoice in it once you understand it."
"Then that is good enough for now," Eric replied. "Tell us of this room. There is magic here."
Ahmose smiled at that and looked around him as he explained, "These are the Gods of my people. Long have they watched over me and this world, but they have been forgotten by those who should have remembered. So many of the old ways have been forgotten. Soon what was lost will be found and restored to its rightful place. The magic you feel in the air is their power. What little they have left from the destruction the humans have wrought upon them with their lack of faith. A barrier surrounds this temple. Only those supposed to be in here are allowed in. None save me has ever been allowed to enter this sacred place since I built it; one of the last places of worship for my Gods. I carried the spirits of my gods with me wherever I went once they were cast out of Egypt. I erect a temple for them in each land I settle in and erect their monuments then take them with me when the time comes to move on. They keep out all those that would destroy them with their false beliefs and mindless hate. Here my Gods are safe."
Turning his smile upon the two golden haired individuals before him Ahmose continued, "They have accepted you. They prove to me that you are the Chosen One and High King. My heart has hope that all that is wrong in this world will be set to rights. The time approaches for the Prophecy to be carried out. My Gods will return to me." Looking directly at Eric he added, "Your Gods will return to you as well … it is time for the world to remember what it has forgotten."
As Ahmose spoke to Eric, Sookie found her gaze riveted on the statue of Isis to the left of Osiris. She could hear whispering in her mind and a tug to her soul. Something was calling her. A voice in her mind told her to come and she found herself pulling away from Eric to walk towards the statue of Isis that she recognized from her studying of Ahmose.
Eric was about to ask Ahmose what he meant by his Gods returning to him when he felt Sookie pull away from him. She was walking with her hand out towards the statue of Isis. "Sookie? What are you doing?"
Sookie didn't answer as she walked up to the statue and set her hand on Isis's leg. Immediately a glowing white light surrounded the statue of Isis and enveloped Sookie as well. She floated up off the ground to hover at eye level with the Egyptian Goddess as the light swirled around them. Sookie's eyes lit up brightly as energy ran about her body causing her dress and hair to ripple around her while her mind opened to connect to the Goddess's. Eric's eyes widened and he moved to pull Sookie back to him but was stopped as Ahmose put his hand on his arm.
"Isis would no more harm her than you would, my king. She is safe. Let Isis speak to her," Ahmose offered as he too watched the awesome sight before him. It was rare for the spirits of his Gods to manifest this way. They had such limited power left due to the collapse of the faith system they were created upon.
Looking around herself Sookie saw nothingness. There were swirling masses of sparkling mist around her as she floated in time and space. She faintly realized she should be afraid, but she wasn't. She felt safe and protected. She felt hands stroke softly through her hair and across her cheeks and arms in gentle caresses. She felt adoration, warmth, loyalty, and pure love surround her; fill her, become her.
"Welcome Chosen One," a soft whimsical voice greeted her.
Looking around Sookie asked, "Isis?"
"Once," the voice replied.
"What does that mean?"
The feminine voice laughed before explaining, "I was once a Goddess worshiped by many. They have all forgotten me and I am lost to that existence. What I was once will be part of me always, but I cannot go back. I shall be reborn … but I shall be new. Isis I was. Who I shall be is up to you."
"I don't understand," Sookie whispered as the mist swirled around her.
"I'm afraid. So much is happening and I don't understand any of it."
The mist wrapped around Sookie and filled her with light and love as the voice soothed, "You fear what you should not. Trust in your king. Trust in your heart. You are one half of a whole. He is dark and you are light. You were born for him. He is your destiny as you are his. You fear because you do not accept this truth. You will in time. Your heart yearns for him more and more by the day. Once you accept your destiny, accept your king, all will be well, Chosen One."
Feeling a soft tingle run up her spine, Sookie pressed, "Where am I?"
Looking around at the glowing mist, Sookie asked, "Where are you?"
The voice laughed again as it explained, "The body of Isis is no more. All that remains is my spirit; my essence. I cannot appear before you as you wish. None of us can."
"Who is us?"
"All those that watch you and your King. All those that love you and your king. We wait for you Chosen One. We wait for you to embrace your destiny; to embrace us."
Shaking her head Sookie replied, "I don't understand."
The voice laughed again as she promised, "You will. I bring you here to warn you. He who wishes to prevent the True Prophecy organizes against you. He will seek to kill your king and take you for his own. He wishes to steal the pathway to us and forge false bridges. He will send those loyal to him when the sun is high in the sky. Be prepared."
Sookie could feel herself fading away from the voice to rejoin with her body as she asked, "Who's coming? Who's going to hurt Eric? Why do they want to take me?"
"You know all that you need to. Tell our Pharaoh. He will aid you. Go now and rejoin your king."
Sookie watched as the light faded around them as she begged, "Please tell me! Eric can't defend himself during the day!"
"Our Pharaoh will protect your king. Go now. Learn and be who you were born to be … and Chosen One?"
"Yes?" Sookie asked as she felt lips kiss her brow.
"Never doubt that you are loved. Your King denies, but he will see soon enough, and we love you. We love you above all things. We loved you before you were born. We wait for you, Chosen One. We wait for you to open your arms to us and give us our new names."
Just like that Sookie was back in the real world as the glow surrounding Isis slowly faded while her body floated back to the floor. Her legs were weak and she would have collapsed on the floor if Eric hadn't caught her. She could still feel the light inside her from the connection she'd shared with Isis and set her hand over her heart as she wondered, 'What was that?'
Eric kneeled on the floor with Sookie in his arms with Ahmose crouched down beside him. He stroked her hair back as he asked, "What happened?"
"What did Isis say?" Ahmose pressed eagerly.
Sookie looked back and forth between them before she took a breath and said, "There is going to be an attack here tomorrow." Focusing on Eric she continued, "She said they're going to be coming to kill you and to take me when the sun is high in the sky. I don't think it's the Fellowship though. She said it was going to be some guy that wants to prevent the True Prophecy and wants to use me. She said something about stealing the pathway and forging false bridges."
Ahmose glared at that and assured, "It will not happen. I shall move the two of you out of the room you are in and bring you down to my underground lair for the day. No one knows where it is but me. It is impenetrable. I will have to notify The Pythoness. We did not think it would start so soon. We had hoped he did not know you were bound yet."
Eric held Sookie to his chest as he looked at Ahmose and asked, "Who would not know?"
Shaking his head Ahmose replied, "I cannot tell you since you have chosen not to interfere with the prophesy by knowing of it before you are meant to understand. Trust me when I vow that I will not let anyone get to you. I will call all that owe me loyalty and we will lay a trap for those he sends. Hopefully we can catch and we can get more information out of them. The Ancient One warned of this. It is why she sent Han and Ivan to you."
Looking at Sookie he continued, "I know you were going to go sightseeing and shopping during your days but I'm afraid I must insist you stay here. At least until we assess the threat. I will arrange for stores to bring you things here if you like, and you can see the major sites at night. I will cut back on all that I wished you to do in the evenings. You can listen to my employees here during the day under guard, and at night you will only have to listen at a few of my establishments. This will give Northman time to take you to see anything you wish to see."
Helping Sookie to her feet Eric replied for her, "This is acceptable. If there is a threat to Sookie I don't want her traveling with only Weres to protect her during the day."
Sookie was so shaken from the experience she didn't argue. It was finally hitting home that she was involved in something bigger than she could ever imagine. Speaking to no one in particular she whispered, "She said they're waiting for me."
Ahmose and Eric, who had been looking at each other, focused on Sookie as Eric took her chin in his hand to bring her gaze to his as he asked, "Who is waiting for you?"
"I don't know. Isis said she and everyone else, whoever everyone else is, are waiting for me. But she said her name isn't Isis anymore. She said she can't go back, and that she's going to be made new. She said I have to name her; that I'm going to name them all."
Ahmose smiled brightly at that as he took Sookie's hand and bowed over it. Kissing the back of her hand he said, "You will name them well."
Eric was silent for a moment before he sent soothing waves to Sookie to help calm her down. She was really starting to freak out. It's not every day you get pulled into the mind of a Goddess after all. "It's going to be alright Sookie. I promise."
Sookie offered no resistance as Eric pulled her into an embrace and whispered against his chest, "Why can't I be normal?"
Stroking her hair as he continued to send her soothing waves through their bond Eric answered, "Because you were born for greatness. You were born for me."
"Not making me feel better Eric," Sookie replied as tears built in her eyes.
Scenting the salty wetness that signaled her fear and sadness Eric asked, "Do you want some ice cream?"
Just like that she felt better. Eric's misconstrued belief that ice cream was a cure all for all human female woes was just too funny for her not to be amused by it. Sookie pulled back and wiped her eyes as she laughed, "I could use some Rocky Road … with fudge sauce. Have to have that. And cherries too."
Ahmose was intrigued by the little episode between the two and said, "I'm unsure what these are but I will arrange for you to have them very soon. However there is one last thing I wish to show you both; Northman especially."
Eric and Sookie followed behind Ahmose as he led them behind the statue of Osiris. He put his hand on the base of the statue and the marble floor gave way to reveal a hidden stair case that lead down into the ground. It was pitch black and had no lighting so Eric swept Sookie up in his arms as he followed easily behind Ahmose who brought them to stop in front of a large circular vault door. Eric watched while Sookie listened as Ahmose opened it to lead them inside. Once they were in he called out, "Lights," and the room lit up.
Setting Sookie on her feet Eric joined her in looking around the room. It was filled with ancient Egyptian jewels, stone templates with hieroglyphs, statues, Roman Vases and Jewelry, Chinese silk tapestries and artifacts. The things in this room would have some of the world's greatest museums groveling for the right to display them. Long lost works of art by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, and other renowned artists littered the room with pieces by artists that had never been discovered as their work was snatched up by vampires before they could become famous.
Ahmose led them to the back where a huge piece of stone that had obviously once been part of a cave was secured to the wall. Sookie felt Eric tense by her as his hand tightened around her own. The drawings on the stone were crude but the tattoos on the man depicted were clear as day. A rough drawing of Godric was before them.
Ahmose gazed up at Eric who stared unblinking at the cave drawing and said, "Godric was my child. I raised him and Julius together."
Sookie gasped and put her hand over her mouth as she looked up at Eric who showed absolutely no reaction to the news except to stare stone faced at the drawing. She tightened her own grip on his hand and thought, 'Oh my God!'
There was a long silence for a moment before Eric's rough voice replied, "He never told me who made him. He told me one day I'd find out on my own."
Nodding his head Ahmose turned to face the cave drawing and said, "I told him not to just as my Maker told me not to tell him who made me. You had to find your own way in life without knowing of the connections you had. Fate is a tricky thing and any interference could have consequences. We had to be sure you would be in place to meet Sookie."
When Eric remained silent Ahmose continued, "I've had five Children, and he was my favorite. In all my long years he is the one that made me the proudest. When he was young he would compete with Julius often. They had a natural rivalry as Julius did conquer Godric's people. He thought I favored Caesar more due to his high standing as ruler of Rome, but he was wrong. Godric always held more of my regard. He was a mighty chieftain in the North which was once called Gaul. Julius was born into the right to rule. Godric earned it. I watched him for a month before taking him. He led only 127 men against an entire contingent of invading Romans to protect their homeland. They won. I allowed him his victory feast and then turned him the following night. He and Julius fought much at first but they eventually become true brothers and I know they visited and spoke with each other often. It was Julius that warned Godric of Arina's betrayal before she could kill him. I had warned Godric about turning a child he did not feel the call too, but he was impetuous in his youth and had to learn the hard way. Regardless he stood by me for nearly 400 years before the call to travel took him and he left my side."
All three of them were still staring at cave drawing of Godric as Ahmose continued, "This was drawn the night of his victory over the Romans. When Godric left my side I tracked the cave down and carved this drawing out to store away with my other precious artifacts. As with my Gods I have carried it with me ever since."
Sookie felt tears slipping down her cheeks as she pressed against Eric's side. His hand was still tight around her own and she felt the turmoil in him. She wished she could help him, but honestly didn't know what to say. So she simply leaned against him and offered him her support.
Ahmose turned to look up at Eric and said, "He came to me when you left him. He knew then his time was coming to an end. He stayed with me for two more centuries before following after you." That caught Eric's attention and he looked at Ahmose in surprise. Nodding his head Ahmose continued, "He kept the bond between you closed off just enough to make you think you were separated by a great distance. Truthfully for the past 200 years he has never been far from you. He watched over you. He lived for you Eric. He wanted to end his existence long before he actually did, but he knew you were not ready for him to go. He also feared for you as the Great Reveal approached. He wanted to make sure you would be ok."
"He was there?" Eric asked softly.
"Indeed. He hated living. He hated his existence and wanted it to end. He had lost the will to fight and wanted to go … but he stayed. He stayed for you. He refused to go before he knew you were ready to live without him in the world. He loved you above all things; even himself and his own happiness."
Moving to the only bookshelf in the room Ahmose pulled an old, thick, plain, brown leather journal from the shelf. It took two hands for him to hold it. Walking back towards them he said, "Godric came to me a year ago and asked me to keep this for you. He told me when he was gone I was to give it to you. I have not read it."
Eric looked at the proffered journal for a moment reading the inscription on the bottom; Fader, Broder, Son. He simply stared at it for long moments before taking it in his hands and asking, "Did he tell you why? Why he …." He couldn't finish. His words trailed off as he lost himself to the memory of his last night and morning with his Maker.
Shaking his head as a bloody tear ran down his cheek Ahmose whispered, "He didn't have to. I was his Maker. I felt the despair in him. I did not and do not agree with his decision, but I accept it. It was his decision to make. I will admit that I thought about commanding him to live. I hoped that maybe he would eventually learn to enjoy life again, but I knew that was selfish of me. I wanted to command him to stay for myself. I loved him. I love him now. In the end I loved him enough to let him go … just as you did."
Indicating the journal Ahmose finished, "I think the answers you are looking for are in there. He knew you better than you know yourself and no doubt he wanted you to have what you need. I'll admit I was tempted to read it but I refrained. Godric made it clear these are his words to you. I have no right to them. He came last year and said his goodbyes to me; just as he traveled to Rome the year before and said goodbye to Julius. I think this is his true goodbye to you. I'm sure he would have found it too hard to say all these words to you in person. He feared hurting you above all things."
Sookie looked up at Eric and saw two bloody tears running down his cheeks. Her heart broke for him. Moving to stand in front of him she reached up to cup his cheeks and pulled him to her. She licked the bloody tears from his face and kissed his closed eye lids as she whispered, "He stayed for you Eric. He stayed centuries longer than he wanted to. He loved you enough to stay for you Eric. Remember that first and foremost."
Ahmose wiped his own bloody tears away as he added, "Her words are true. I felt his pain and he wanted desperately to end it all. Instead he stayed and suffered. Only you and the bond the two of you shared brought him comfort. Not even I could ease his pain. He thought only of you."
Eric gripped the journal tightly before tucking it under his arm and taking Sookie's hand as he nodded his head at Ahmose and saying, "Thank you for holding it for me."
Knowing that the warrior vampire wanted to get out of this emotional situation as soon as possible Ahmose replied, "I did only what was asked of me by my child. Now I must speak to you and your bonded."
When Eric nodded for him to continued Ahmose continued, "I have given you my pledge and I will keep it. However for now none can know. It is important that the truth of what the two of you are remains a secret for as long as possible. You are my king and your word is law to me, but until the Ancient One says the time has come none can know I bow before you. Han and Ivan know of course, but beyond that what has transpired here between us must remain a secret."
"I understand. Sookie and I will keep your pledge a secret."
Holding Eric's hand Sookie agreed, "I promise I won't tell anyone."
Nodding his head Ahmose added, "That's good. I am not ashamed, but I do not wish to draw unnecessary attention. When the time comes I will kneel again in front of all and renew my pledge. For now know you have my support and loyalty in any way you need it." Focusing on Eric he added, "Sophie-Anne will move against you soon. She is childish and rash and cannot stand you have what she sees as rightfully hers. Whatever resources I have are at your disposal. If you need any assistance merely let me know and it shall be given. For now I have a spy in the queen's court and am monitoring her closely. I'm sure you do as well, but if I learn anything I will alert you immediately."
"Your assistance is greatly appreciated," Eric replied.
Sookie smiled and said, "Yes. Thank you for helping us."
Ahmose smiled and said, "Well then I guess it's time to collect the queen's little spy and begin our business discussions."
Eric nodded his head before handing Sookie the journal so he could sweep her up in his arms to follow Ahmose out of the vault and back into the pitch black hallway. He carried her back up into the tomb as Ahmose closed the hidden doorway. When they rejoined Ivan in the hallway and Ahmose closed temple doors Eric set Sookie on her feet and took the journal when she handed it to him before taking her hand and saying, "I would like to store this with our things. Sookie and I will meet you in your office if that is acceptable?"
Ahmose nodded his head and replied, "Of course. Take your time and rejoin me at your leisure. I'm sure I can keep young Compton company."
Eric didn't say anything else just took Sookie's hand and led her away from the temple towards their room. The entire trip was made in silence with Ivan following along behind them and when they were inside Sookie watched as Eric released her hand and moved to tuck the journal inside his fireproof traveling coffin. After that he sat down on the couch and stared at the bed as he went inside himself and was lost to his thoughts. Sookie stood by the door as she watched him worriedly. Long moments passed where he didn't move and simply sat there before she moved forward. She didn't say anything. She just moved to curl up on his lap and laid her head on his shoulder as she pulled his arms around her.
Nearly a half hour passed in silence before Eric said, "He left me."
Pressing herself closer to him Sookie whispered, "He stayed for you first Eric. He stayed a long time."
"Not long enough."
"It's never long enough."
They fell into silence again and Eric began to gently stroke Sookie's bare arm as his thoughts whirled in his mind before he finally said softly, "I miss him."
Tears filling her eyes Sookie replied, "I know."
Tightening his arms around her Eric growled, "Promise me, Sookie, promise me you'll never leave me like that. Run if you have to … but never that."
Silent tears falling down her cheeks Sookie hiked up her skirt to straddle Eric's lap. She took hold of his face and kissed his closed eyes softly before kissing his lips as she promised, "I'll never do that Eric. Life is too precious to me."
His arms banded around her like steel as he pulled her into him. He had to hold her. He had to know she was here with him and wouldn't leave him. He buried his face into her hair and fought off the despair threatening to overwhelm him. 'Godric …'
Sookie could feel his pain. She could tell he was fighting it off and her heart ached for him. Wrapping her arms around his shoulders she pressed herself against him and tucked her face into his neck to hold him as tightly as he held her. She wanted to take his pain away. She wanted to soothe the hurt in his soul caused by Godric's departure, but all she could do was be here for him.
Another half hour passed with them holding each other before Eric fisted a hand in Sookie's curls and pulled her head back so he could look into her eyes as he growled, "I'll never let you go Sookie. You're going to be mine for eternity."
She could see the raw desperation in his gaze; could feel it through the bond. His emotions were hot and burning in his chest. His defenses were down and she felt the all consuming need inside him to be assured she would never leave him. Godric's death had wounded him in a permanent way. He would never truly move past it. He would carry the scar of it for the rest of his life. Yet she could feel that the mere idea she would be taken from him had his beast roaring in fury.
His undead heart seized in terror at the thought, and just like that Sookie realized the truth; Eric needed her. It wasn't just desire and lust. He really and truly needed her. He might never admit it but he needed her so much he wouldn't be able to continue on if she was taken from him. He would never admit to such a weakness but she could feel it inside him. This truth shocked her as she felt his warring emotions beating at her through the bond. She didn't know if he could tell that she was feeling him at the moment, but it didn't matter. Right now he was hurting and needed her to help him like he'd helped her that night in New Orleans.
Setting her hands on his cheeks she pulled him forward and kissed him. It started out soft and gentle as she nipped softly at his lips before slipping her tongue between them to meet his own. She felt his arms wrap around her and bend her back over his lap while he took the kiss over. His mouth moved against hers in desperation and Sookie met his need with gentleness. Her hands sank into his hair to hold him to her as his tongue pushed hers out of his mouth and back into hers to dominate the kiss completely.
For Eric this kiss wasn't about lust. It was about knowing that Sookie was his. It was about assuring himself and the darkness in him that Sookie, the tiny human woman that had become so necessary to him, was here with him; that she couldn't leave him. His mouth slanted over hers again and again as both their marks began to throb and glow on their chests. However instead of the flaming lust that usually raged between them at such times there was simply the connection between them; the bond they shared. Eric could feel her desire to comfort him, her need to take his pain, and it comforted him in ways he never would have imagined. When he could feel that Sookie needed air Eric drew back and began to nip at her neck as he growled, "I'll never let you go Sookie. No matter what happens I'll never let anyone take you or let you leave me. Never."
Tilting her head to the side as Eric scraped his fangs along her neck Sookie whispered, "I'm starting to think I'm not supposed to get away from you. Everyone seems to be doing their damnedest to keep us together."
Eric could feel a growl build in his chest as he said, "I want you, Sookie."
Stroking his cheek softly Sookie replied, "I know Eric. I know."
"I want you to yield to me."
"I'm getting there. You've told me yourself we have eternity. Give me a little more time."
Kissing her lips softly Eric offered, "I can wait a little while longer. You do know once you give yourself to me that will be it don't you? You'll be my woman in every way and I'll never let you leave my bed. Once you're mine, you're mine."
Sookie kissed his cheek as she laughed, "And there's my Viking! Back to the claiming, and you're my woman, and I own you crap." Standing from his lap she tugged his hand and pulled him off the couch towards the door as she said, "Let's go get this over with. I don't want to have to be around him anymore than necessary."
A few minutes later Eric, Sookie and Ivan joined Ahmose, Compton and Han inside the king's office. Bill immediately tried to meet Sookie's gaze but she refused to look at him. He glared at Eric when he passed and stood as he said, "The king has been informing me that he got a tip earlier about a security threat to Sookie and as such she will not be spending her days touring the city and shopping. I would suggest she get her reading of the king's humans done as soon as possible as well. She could go over them all during the next two days and tour his clubs and establishments at night and we could be back in Louisiana by Wednesday."
Obviously Ahmose had not told Bill the specifics of how he'd learned of the threat, which went along with the agreement to keep what had happened in the temple a secret between the three of them.
Eric could feel Sookie's aggravation through the bond as Bill spoke over her and sent her comfort as he replied, "No. We will return on Friday as scheduled. Ahmose has graciously agreed to have the stores bring things here for Sookie to look over and purchase if she likes. She will do this as well as read into the humans employed by Ahmose. I do not want her reading all of his humans nonstop over the next two days and wear herself out. We will spread out her readings of his humans during the days, and at his establishments over the nights so that I can still take her to see the city."
Bill clenched his fists and stepped forward as he argued, "It is foolish to keep her here if there is a verifiable threat to her. You are putting your desires over her safety."
Eric's fangs popped out as he took his own step forward and hissed, "You dare to accuse me of not looking after my bonded's safety! You are a fool Compton, that's why you lost her in the first place."
"You lied and tricked her away from me! She never would have chosen you over me and you know it!"
"At least I wanted her for her all along. I was never ordered to seduce her."
Bill's jaw clenched so tightly at the accusation and you could hear his teeth grinding as he growled, "I love her. Can you say the same?"
Before Eric could say anything else Sookie gripped his hand tightly and whispered, "Please … please stop." All eyes in the room fell on her and she kept her gaze on the floor as she said, "You're both standing here arguing over me and neither of you has asked me what I want. What I think I can do or would be comfortable with."
Ahmose, who had been sitting at his desk and watching the altercation with interest, smiled at that as he remarked, "Ah … a good point Sookie. So why don't you give us your opinion on this threat and how you think we should handle it."
Refusing to look at Eric or Bill, who were both staring at her intently, Sookie replied, "Well if someone is coming after me they are going to come after me wherever I'm at. Here or at home probably won't matter. So I think I should stay. At night I'm more than protected. I have Eric, who with his new gift is more than capable of protecting me, along with Han and Ivan. I think it's safe to say at night I'm covered. So daytime is really my only weakness. I can stay here during the days and read your people while under the guard of my Weres. Also, since this is your home I doubt you're lax in your security. I can read the humans you have here tonight to make sure none of them are betraying you and I should be well protected. I don't see any reason to cut our visit short."
Ahmose smiled widely at that and responded, "Excellent! I will arrange for all of my human personnel working tonight to be available for you to read into. Especially those that deal in security. You can read them throughout the night at your own pace." Looking at Eric he said, "Let me know what stores you had intended to send her to during the day to shop and perhaps give me an idea of what clothing you'd like and I'll make arrangements for them to send representatives with a wide selection for her to pick from."
Eric nodded his head and agreed, "That is acceptable. Just tell us where you'd like Sookie to read into your people. I'll stay with her while she listens into them."
"You can use my office. I'm going to be in the throne room the rest of the night settling disputes so you'll have more privacy in here. I'll send the humans already present here now if that is alright with Sookie," Ahmose offered.
Smiling softly at the King Sookie replied, "That's fine."
Eric nodded his head as well as he added, "That is acceptable. She needs to eat as well and she needs a bowl of ice cream."
Sookie smiled up at Eric's insistence she get ice cream and couldn't help but laugh a little at that. He really did think it made everything better for her. 'Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that I eat it when I'm upset. At this rate he's going to be cramming it down my throat every other day and I'm going to get as big as a whale.'
Looking at Sookie, Ahmose said, "I'll send Edwin in for you to read first. I doubt you'll find anything but I won't show favoritism. When you are finished with him tell him what you'd like and he'll get it for you."
"That's fine," Sookie replied with a smile.
Eric bowed his head at Ahmose as the king stood to collect his human servant before returning to his throne room. When he was gone, Eric focused on Bill and said, "You can go."
Shaking his head Bill argued, "I am under the queen's orders to be present during all of Sookie's business dealings. I'll be staying."
Eric felt a growl build in his chest but was calmed as Sookie squeezed his hand and whispered for him to let it go. He moved to sit Sookie behind Ahmose's desk. Han and Ivan took up positions behind her while he grabbed a chair to sit at her side.
For her part Sookie was doing her best to ignore Bill who was practically drilling holes into her head with his hard stare. It was making her uncomfortable and she was relieved when Eric leaned forward to block Bill's eye line of her. She could feel him sending her soothing waves of comfort through the bond and she appreciated it. The atmosphere in the room was tense and uncomfortable and Sookie was thoroughly grateful when Edwin walked into the room and took a seat before the desk. She smiled at him and began, "I'm going to ask you some questions Edwin. Just answer them honestly and you can be on your way."
For the next three hours Sookie interviewed and listened in on a number of Ahmose's human servants. She found nothing but absolute loyalty and devotion and told him so when he rejoined her. She told the New York King that the only problem she'd found was with one of the maids who was being harassed by one of the male vampires named Tony that worked for Ahmose. She was thinking of quitting despite it being such a good job because Tony was getting aggressive in his pursuit of her. Ahmose was displeased to hear this and assured her that he would handle Tony personally and give the maid two weeks paid vacation and a sizable Christmas bonus to make up for upset.
By now the dawn was approaching. Ahmose turned to Bill and said, "Go to your room while I speak with Eric and Sookie on a personal matter."
Bill looked like he was about to argue and Ahmose added in a firmer voice, "It was not a request, young one."
When he was gone, Ahmose looked to Eric and Sookie and continued, "I have made the necessary preparations for the impending attack. I wish the two of you to come to my underground lair with me for the day until it is over. My underground lair is quite large and I have a number of guest rooms down there for when my Children visit."
Looking at Sookie he continued, "I know you will be hard pressed to spend all day locked up so I will give you the access code and you may leave after you get word over the intercom that the threat has been dealt with and then begin reading my other employees and shop."
Nodding his head Eric replied, "That is acceptable. We are honored to be allowed in your personal resting place. Have Sookie's Were guards been appraised of the situation?"
"Indeed. They are all meeting with my daytime head of security. A Werebear named Albert. Your guards insisted on being a part of the fight. They agree it is best to lead people to believe that the two of you will still be in the bedroom previously assigned to you so I want you both to make a show of retiring to that room. Once inside there is an 18th century tapestry hanging on the wall. Behind it is a secret door that leads to the entryway of my underground lair. I will meet you both there."
Ahmose focused on Han and Ivan and added, "The two of you are welcome also. I am unsure as to the magnitude of this attack and it is best to err on the side of caution."
Han and Ivan both bowed their heads as Han agreed, "We accept."
"Very well. You were both housed in the red guest room. There is a Chinese tapestry in there as well. The hidden door is behind it. Meet us in the entryway. So shall we go? The sun will be up in a few moments."
They all left Ahmose's office and made their way to their rooms. Once inside their bedroom Sookie moved to get herself her white chiffon nightgown and one of her new outfits to wear the next day while Eric got himself some new clothes and grabbed Godric's journal. He would not risk it being destroyed in the attack. When they were both ready, Eric led her through the hidden door located behind the tapestry down a long winding stair case that led into a tall and spacious marble entryway where Ahmose, Han and Ivan were already waiting. Ahmose nodded at them and led them towards a marble wall. He took hold of one of the light fixtures on it and pulled down causing the marble wall to open up to another hidden staircase that led down into the ground. Thankfully this one was lighted and Sookie was able to follow along behind Eric as Ahmose guided them towards the true entrance to his lair.
At the end of the staircase was a giant metal vault door with an electronic keypad with voice and retinal scanner. Ahmose had Sookie come forward and entered her voice and eye scans into the security database before telling her the code as he typed it in. The huge door clicked open and slowly swung outward so they could enter. Inside was a small entryway with a set of wooden doors in front of it. When Ahmose pushed them open Sookie couldn't help but stare in awe at the room before her. It was a solid marble and stone room with a vaulted ceiling with wood beams. Marble stairs led down to a long room with six doors lining it on either side. White couches with wood frames sat in the middle of the room with a large wood coffee table and chest.
Ahmose led them forward. "The first doors on your right and left lead to my personal library and office. The doors after that are all bedrooms. Mine is the last one on the left." Turning to Sookie he continued, "There are TVs in all of the rooms so you can watch that during the day and there's one here in the living room. It rises out of the table by the couches." Pointing behind her to the small black desk set up by the door he said, "That is my terminal to access my security system. Edwin will send a message tomorrow when the attack has been dealt with and it is safe for you to leave the chamber. There is a bathroom in my office. It's never been used but I'm sure it is functioning."
Turning back around he said, "Follow me and I'll show you and Northman to your room. Julius has one of these and insisted I add one to my house. I've slept in it a few times as it is quite unique but I prefer my own chambers. I hope you enjoy it though."
Sookie gaped in shock as Ahmose opened the last door on the right of the living area. Inside was a spacious bedroom. What was so unique about it was that the floor was a huge pool with their being a small bridge and circular island in the middle to access the actual sleeping area. The furniture was black and modern with a round bed and understandably sparse. Sookie decided she wouldn't want a bedroom like this to sleep in on a permanent basis, but she was certainly excited about sleeping in it for the next few nights. "This is certainly different."
Eric agreed with her. "I have never seen a bedroom like this. It is … unique."
Ahmose laughed at that and replied, "Julius has always been fond of his bath houses. Even as a human, he visited them more than anyone else I know. He's obsessed with water I think. His bedroom in Rome is much like this, but far larger. I had this one made so when he visits he's more comfortable. The water is self cleaning and pure so feel free to bathe in it or swim in it if you like. It's eight feet deep and always kept warm. Towels are stored in the chest. I will leave you two to settle in. I have some calls to make in my office before I die for the day."
Turning to Han and Ivan he said, "I'll show you to your rooms."
When they were alone Eric crossed the bridge with Sookie behind them. They stored their few clothes and Eric tucked the journal safely away in one of the chests before he turned to face Sookie and asked, "Want to go swimming?"
Sitting on the bed to take off her heels Sookie laughed, "I don't have a bathing suit and all I have under this dress is my panties."
Smirking darkly as he began pulling off his suit Eric purred, "Even better. I'll wear nothing and you can wear nothing."
"Not on your life! I'm not letting you see me like that! You can barely control yourself under the best of circumstances as it is."
Using his vampire speed Eric dashed to the door and used the dimmer to darken the room almost completely so that there was only a dim glow that would allow Sookie to see enough to get around before moving to stand in front of her by the bed. As she pulled her jewelry off and put it on the nightstand he argued, "I'll close my eyes as you get in and out and your modesty will be assured. Come Sookie, how often will you be able to swim in the room you're sleeping in?"
She couldn't argue that she really was tempted. She really wanted to swim in the water. Biting her lip she looked up at Eric in the dim room and pressed, "You'll keep your eyes closed?"
"But of course." Eric didn't feel the need to remind her that the darkness of the room only made her feel better by inhibiting her sight. He would be able to see her quite clearly.
"Ok. Turn around so I can get out of my dress … and no peeking! When I'm in the water you can finish getting undressed and join me."
Eric stood facing the door with his eyes closed as he listened to Sookie shed her clothes. He was pleased by her acquiescence. She might not understand it but her agreement to swim with him now with no bathing suit showed she was coming to be comfortable with him in such intimate settings, and that she didn't feel uneasy around him with so little clothing. He hoped she shed her panties as well and got into the water with him completely naked, but he doubted she would. She'd want that small scrap of cloth as a barrier between them. He listened as she stepped down into the water and swam a bit away from him and when she said it was ok he stripped out of his clothes in seconds and dove into the water.
Sookie gasped as Eric emerged directly in front of her she laughed, "You're fast."
Swimming closer to Sookie Eric replied, "I'm a vampire. One day you'll be this fast too." He could see the outline and shape of her luscious breasts in the darkness of the room as they were submerged in the water. He could tell her nipples were rock hard and he truly wished to pull her close to him so he could take one into his mouth. He wanted so badly to touch her, but knew he couldn't. He'd promised to let her come to him on her own time.
Grimacing she whispered, "I don't want to talk about that."
Eric began to swim in a circle around Sookie as she moved to keep him in sight. "Sookie it is a fact you're going to have to accept. I don't understand why you are so repulsed by the idea. Most humans dream of being turned."
"Not me. I want to live and die as a human."
"You will … and then you'll rise vampire." Moving closer to her as they both treaded water he continued, "Think about it Sookie. You'll never grow old. You'll never die. You'll be with me forever. I'll show you everything this world has to offer. You'll go places and do things most humans can't even imagine, and when this world has no more secrets or wonders for me to show you we'll move on to the stars and new worlds. By then human technology will allow us to leave this planet behind and we'll have new adventures to experience together. Is that not a life you would want to live?"
Shaking her head Sookie argued, "Eric, those aren't the things I'm afraid of … it's everything else. You say I'll retain my humanity but you don't know that. I … I can't be like you and Pam, Eric. I can't be cold and cruel. I don't ever want to hurt people. I can't live like that."
"You think I'm cold and cruel?"
"I think you're capable of doing horrible things and not giving a damn. You're nice to me and those you care about, but that's a pretty short list." Biting her lip Sookie whispered, "I was inside Lafayette's mind Eric. I saw what you did down there in the basement. I saw Lafayette's memory of you tearing apart Royce. Then all you were worried about was your hair … I can't ever be capable of something like that."
Eric was quiet a moment before muttering, "Your telepathy is really starting to be a thorn in my side." Focusing on her he said, "First, that human was responsible for the deaths of three of my kind. Granted they were pitiful vampires, but they were vampires living under my jurisdiction nonetheless and it was my responsibility to take care of their attackers. Second, that human took silver to me. He provoked me and I responded. Third, I would never do anything like that to you or someone you care about."
"Eric that's not the point! The point is that you could and can do something like that at all. I don't ever want to be capable of such violence. I'll defend myself but only if necessary. When I was first with Bill I thought that being able to kill and torture was something that you guys chose to do, but if he was capable of doing what he's done when he was first turned I could be too. Maybe disregard for life is part of being a Vampire. Maybe it's something you all do at some point or are capable of. I don't want that Eric. I don't ever want to look at people and see only blood or a waste of space. I don't want to tolerate humanity. I want to always appreciate life."
Looking at her curiously he asked, "Are you afraid of me because of your friend's memories?"
Sookie laughed at that and replied, "If I was do you think I would have slapped you when you got there that night? I'll admit I've always been intimidated by you, but oddly enough I've never actually been afraid of you."
Smiling, Eric swam even closer so that they were only a few inches apart and purred, "Do you see Sookie? Even when you've seen me at my worst you didn't fear me. You knew, deep inside yourself, that I would never hurt you. You were meant for me, Sookie. You were born to be mine."
"Maybe, but I won't ever believe I am meant to be a vampire."
"We'll just have to agree to disagree again … so what did you think of Ahmose?"
"He's wonderful! Though that whole pledging thing freaked me out. I'm really starting to think whatever this prophesy is it's going to turn my world upside down more than I can even begin to imagine."
"Indeed." They were still treading water facing each other as he continued, "You seemed to do well tonight despite the company we were forced to keep."
"I just have to ignore him while we're working. All in all I'm not really around him that much. We'll be home on Friday and I won't have to see him anymore."
Shaking his head Eric replied, "Sadly, that is not true. The queen has ordered that he work with us each night at Fangtasia as well. Anytime you are working for me he will be present. No matter where we are."
"Eric! You didn't tell me that! Why does he have to be there?"
"I've already explained to you the queen's reasoning. I'm sorry it makes you uncomfortable, but there is nothing I can do about it. I can keep him out of our personal lives, but the times you are working for me I must follow the queen's edict."
Sookie was quiet a moment before she asked, "You're going to kill her aren't you?"
"Yes. However I will wait for her to make a direct assault against me first. I am a loyal man Sookie. I have never betrayed someone I've sworn fealty to and will not start now. I have the necessary precautions in place to know beforehand when she moves against me and will be prepared to thwart her attack. Once she has betrayed my trust in her I will be well within my rights to end her and shall do so. Along with all of her children to prevent them seeking vengeance."
"What will happen after that?"
Shrugging Eric replied, "I'll become king."
Mouth falling open Sookie asked, "King? I thought you didn't want to be king?"
"I don't, but if the queen moves against me I'll have no choice. If I kill her I'll have to either assume the throne or leave the state. There is no other alternative. If I leave the throne vacant whoever claims it will not tolerate my presence in this state. I do not mind leaving the throne but if I leave Louisiana I'll be taking you with me."
"No. I don't want to leave Bon Temps."
"Then I'll take the throne after I finish off Sophie-Anne."
"But wouldn't you have to move to New Orleans if you become king?"
Shaking his head Eric answered, "No. I can rule from wherever I wish and as you do not want to leave your home I will rule from Shreveport. I know of several worthy vampires who I could invite to take over as Sheriff of New Orleans and charge them with restoring the city to its former glory."
"What will happen once you're king?"
"The first few months are always the most hectic after a takeover. I will have to manage an entire restructuring of Sophie-Anne's organization. I'll audit her books and evaluate all of her people while bringing in some of my own. I'll replace several of the sheriffs and build a stronghold for me to rule from. My current home will not serve as a headquarters. I'll keep it as a getaway but I will need an actual basis of operation and place for visiting dignitaries and my subjects to gather."
Narrowing her eyes Sookie asked, "Is Adriana one of the sheriffs you're going to replace?"
Laughing at the obvious jealousy his bonded had for the female sheriff Eric replied, "More than likely. She was given her station because Sophie-Anne favors her. They get together often and Adriana is known for her adventurous side in the bedchamber. The problems you discovered among her people proved she is incapable as a sheriff. She does not take her job seriously."
"That and she's a bitch."
Eric began swimming circles around Sookie as he asked, "I want you to tell me more about what Isis said to you. I can tell there are some things you're holding back."
Sookie treaded water in a circle to keep Eric in sight as she replied, "Maybe if she wanted you to know she would have talked to you."
"She did. She spoke to you and you are mine. What you know I know? Tell me Sookie."
"I don't want to tell you."
"I know, but you will tell me regardless. I have ways of getting it out of you Sookie. You know this."
Sookie bit her lip and held his gaze. Seeing the determination in his eyes she sighed, "She told me that I should trust you and trust my heart. She told me we're two halves of the same whole. You're dark and I'm light. She told me I was born for you and things are so hard for me right now because I haven't accepted the fact that I'm yours. She said when I do, things will get easier."
Eric's smile turned predatory as he swam towards Sookie. She swam away from him as he stalked her until her back hit the island. Putting his hands on the white stone on either side of her he leaned close and nipped at her lips before pushing close so his chest brushed against her breasts as he whispered in her ear, "A Goddess herself told you that you are destined for me. A Goddess pulled you into her mind and told you we are one. A Goddess told you to yield to me … how can you still doubt your destiny to be mine?"
Sookie's breath hitched at the feel of his body pressing against hers so intimately. Her hands went to his chest to push him back a bit as she replied softly, "A Goddess I don't know and don't worship. I'm not saying I'm not starting to believe we have some destined connection, but I'm not just going to meekly accept slavery Eric."
He pressed his body closer to her so they were flush against each other. He could feel every delicious inch of her soft skin against his in the warm water and groaned, "Why do you fight me Sookie? I feel you. I know you want me desperately. I know your feelings grow for me by the day. I've promised you forever. Why not come to me? Give yourself to me and let me take care of you. Let me pleasure you beyond your imagining."
As Eric began nipping at her shoulder Sookie's eyes fluttered closed and she whispered, "Because as you yourself said once I come to you you'll really never let me go. It's a big decision Eric. I'm not going to lie; I do want you. I dream about you and you're certainly making sure my waking hours are filled with thoughts about you as well, but the problem is I don't know what happens after I give myself to you. You've taken everything else I have except my body. It's all I have left. Once it's yours, what will be left of me? What will I have left to call my own?"
Kissing her lips softly Eric answered, "You'll have me. You'll have us. You'll have my attention, my affection, my protection, and my care of you. You'll have our life together. You'll have anything and everything in my power to give you."
"Except my freedom."
"Except your freedom."
Unconsciously Sookie's fingers began stroking Eric's chest as she held his gaze. They were pressed tightly together and oddly she felt comfortable and safe: aroused, but safe. She knew nothing would happen that she didn't agree to. Eric would do no more than he was doing now unless she gave him the go ahead and that comforted her. "What happens if you change on me again?"
"What do you mean? How would I change on you?"
"Eric you change on me all the time. One minute I think I know you and then you're completely different. Before Dallas I thought you were a cold ruthless monster. After Dallas I knew you had hidden depths. Then the whole arrangement between us happened and I thought you were just an opportunistic jerk. Of course Sam came back and I found out just how conniving you can be. I've seen so many sides of you it's confusing the hell out of me. I believe you when you say you care about me. I've felt it, but I also know you can hurt me. You've done it before, and you've admitted you'll do it again. How can I trust if I give you the last parts of myself that you won't change on me again and make me regret my decision?"
He was silent a moment as he moved one arm to lay across the stone of the island behind her head while his other hand moved to trail along her collar bone. He held her gaze without blinking before he finally said, "Sookie, I am capable of acts of evil you cannot even imagine. I will not lie to you; I do not do them solely out of necessity. I enjoy doling out pain to those I deem deserving of it. I will never be a tame or harmless vampire. I can only promise you that what is between us now will never change. I will always do my best to make you happy. I will always protect you. I will always desire you above all others for the rest of our days. I will always be whatever I need to be in any given situation, but what is good inside me will always be for you. There will probably be times you regret your station as mine, but these times will be fleeting. Once you are mine, once you come to truly realize what that means and entails, you will rejoice in my ownership of you. These are the assurances I can give you."
Unable to hold his gaze Sookie looked down at his chest as her fingers stroked his tattoo and said, "I looked this up."
Realizing she was done talking about them for the time being and wouldn't respond well to being pushed further Eric asked, "And what did you find?" He could feel the hum begin to build in them as her fingers slowly caressed his chest and mark.
Sookie felt the energy as well as she whispered, "It's a symbol for power and protection. Thor's Hammer could level mountains and only those worthy of it could wield it … it suits you. I can see why you chose it."
He laughed, pressing himself closer to her as the hum began to grow between them. "I'm glad you like it. This mark found its way to me. I rose with it on my chest the night after the completion of our bonding. I didn't get a tattoo, Sookie. This mark came to me through whatever power or magic is watching over us."
Eyes widening as she met his gaze, she gasped, "You didn't tell me that!"
"I didn't think you were ready to hear it then. I never actually said I got a tattoo I just let you believe that because I didn't think you would take hearing the truth well. I told you this mark chose me and it was apparently time for me to wear it. That is the truth."
Looking at the mark as her fingers stroked it slowly she whispered, "Is that why it feels this way when I touch it? Is that why my body gets like this?"
"Yes. I believe it is a symbol of our connection." He didn't mention her own mark. She still could not see it so he didn't believe it was time for her to know.
The heat between them was pulsing softly; it did not threaten to overwhelm them as it usually did. Sookie's mind was still clear and lucid as she traced the intricate patterns of his mark with her fingers before leaning forward to kiss it softly. "I'll make my decision soon Eric…that's all I can offer you right now."
"That's enough," Eric growled as he fisted a hand in Sookie's locks and claimed her lips in a heated kiss. He ground his body against hers as her arms wrapped around his neck. His tongue forced hers into submission as she whimpered in his hold. He could feel her breasts pressed tightly against his chest and a purr built in his chest at the sensation.
Sookie tilted her head all the way back to open herself fully to Eric's assault. There was no denying he damn sure knew how to kiss! She wrapped her legs around his waist as her hands tangled in his hair. She might not be ready to give him all of herself to him yet, but she was more than willing to engage in a make out session with him from time to time. Just as he had claimed her want and need for him grew by the day; as did the feeling inside her that he was right and they were meant to be together.
Eric kept one arm pressed to the stone floor of the island to support their bodies in the water while his other hand traveled down her body to cup her ass and pulled her into him as his mouth slanted over hers again and again. Fire and heat raged between them as Sookie moaned sexily into his kiss. He wanted her so desperately it took everything he had to hold himself back, but he wouldn't push her. As hard as it would be for him to wait he would do so.
'Besides it will only make it that much more satisfying when she yields to me. The greatest rewards are always the ones hardest to come by.'
When she needed air Sookie pulled away from him and tilted her head to the side to expose her neck as she whimpered, "Please Eric."
He needed no clarification on what she was asking for. Scraping his fangs along her neck he groaned, "When you yield to me Sookie it will be the greatest night of both of our lives. You will scream and cry for me. You will know only me and the feel of my body against yours; pressed against you, inside of you. I will be your world."
"Eric," Sookie moaned as his fangs sank deep into her neck. She arched against him and hissed in pleasure as her hands left his hair to rake down his back.
His eyes glowed brightly as he drank deeply from her neck. Her blunt human nails dug into the muscles of his back and urged him on while her legs tightened around his waist causing his erection to press hard into her womanhood. He growled against her neck as her powerful Faery laced blood rushed into him igniting the magic in his own.
Together their marks ebbed and flowed with magic as the bond between them increased. The strings of fate wound tighter and tighter between them as magic and power more ancient and supreme then they could conceive grew strong inside them; binding them together, making them whole. His darkness brushed against her light and melded into one.
When he knew he could take no more Eric forced himself to draw back and lick her wounds closed. He nuzzled her neck and whispered, "Waiting for you is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in all my life."
Laughing softly Sookie replied, "Well telling you no is the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
Eric lifted his head to smile at her as he teased, "I'm pleased to hear that. Soon you will be screaming yes over and over."
"We'll see about that, Viking," Sookie said. Pushing against his chest she continued, "Now I want to swim."
Treading backwards in the water Eric laughed, "By all means, come get me Sookie. If you can catch me I'll let you have your chair back at Fangtasia."
Sookie swam after Eric but he kept himself out of distance every time she tried to catch him. She knew she had no hope of catching him but it was fun to try. After 15 minutes of trying to catch him she growled playfully and splashed him with the water to soak his face and hair.
She laughed hard when he looked completely affronted before splashing her back and that led to a war. They were shoving their hands in the water to soak each other before Eric suddenly disappeared under the surface. She spun around looking for him but the room was so dark it was impossible for her eyes to locate him. She screamed in surprise when he suddenly popped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her body to draw her back against his. "Eric! Don't scare me like that!"
Chuckling softly as they tread water together to stay afloat Eric nipped her shoulder and said, "It's so much fun, though. Besides you are such an easy target."
Looking at him over her shoulder she argued, "It's not fair since I can't spook you in return. You have enough advantages over me."
"You have your own ways of getting back at me quite well and are quite capable of torturing me. I seem to remember pissing you off and you coming to Fangtasia in the dress. It was horrible of you forcing me to sit there beside you all night looking at you and not being able to have you. You know what that dress does to me … you have more than enough weapons in your own arsenal, Sookie."
Sookie laughed at that before pushing out of his arms and swimming towards the stairs that led out of the water and up to the island. "Time to get out Eric. I'm getting tired and some of us don't get to lie around down here dead all day tomorrow." Looking at him over her shoulder before she got out she said, "Close your eyes, Viking. You promised no peeking!"
Rolling his eyes before closing them Eric replied, "See? You torture me now. You won't let me fuck you or make love to you and now I can't even watch you … you torture me in the most painful of ways."
Laughing, Sookie checked to make sure his eyes were closed before she rose out of the water and retrieved one of the towels in the chest while saying, "Yep. I'm a regular sadist. Poor you." Drying her hair and body quickly she grabbed her nightgown off the bed and pulled it on while checking on Eric every few moments to make sure he wasn't peeking; though considering how they'd been pressed together a few moments ago Sookie doubted it really mattered, but it was the principal of the thing. When she was done and perched on the bed as she raked her fingers through her hair to pull out the tangles she said, "Ok. You can come out now." When he moved to the stairs and simply walked out of the water in all his glory she let out an "Eep!" before spinning around on the bed to face the back wall.
Eric chuckled behind her. He got one of the towels as well and dried his body off before donning a pair of boxers. He joined Sookie in the bed while running his own fingers through his hair and reminded himself to bring a brush down tomorrow night. When they were done fixing their hair he pulled her into his lap and bit into his wrist to offer her his blood. "Drink my Sookie." As soon as her mouth latched over the wound he forced calm through the bond. Sookie was tired, and she was right; she had a hectic and full day tomorrow. He wouldn't get her worked up right now.
Sookie held Eric's wrist to her mouth and drank his blood freely. The desire to struggle over the act never crossed her mind any more. She wasn't to the point of being willing to admit it, but she really did look forward to their sharing of blood. It made her feel whole and special in a way that was entirely new to her. She enjoyed it. She could tell that Eric was keeping her calm through the bond so she didn't get excited, and she was thankful for that. She was really tired. When she'd taken enough and he pulled his wrist away from her she whispered, "Thank you."
"You don't have to thank me for taking care of you, Sookie. It is both my pleasure and my responsibility."
Sookie didn't say anything as Eric positioned them both beneath the comforter. The room was dark enough for her to go to sleep but light enough for her to be able to see when she woke up. When they were both situated with him on his back and her on her side with her head resting on his chest she stroked her fingers over his chest and asked, "Are you worried about tomorrow?"
Running his hand up and down her back softly Eric replied, "No. We were warned and as you said Ahmose is quite capable of protecting his home. All will be fine, and you will be safe."
"I wish we knew who it was that was after me."
Eric was very pleased by her words. She had already stopped saying "I" and was now using "We" when referring to the problems or situations they faced. She was already looking at things with the idea of him being at her side. This pleased him very much. "It doesn't matter who our enemy is. I'll protect and take care of you regardless. We know there is danger and that is enough."
"They're coming to kill you."
"They won't, and they are coming to take you as well."
"Taking isn't killing Eric."
Pleased by her worry for him he kissed the top of her head and assured, "No one is going to kill me. I have no intention of dying before I have the pleasure of being inside you."
Looking up at him Sookie sighed, "Eric will you be serious! People are coming here to kill you tomorrow and you act like it's no big deal."
"Because it's not. They will come. They will be defeated. Hopefully we'll catch a few of them and can question them, and life will go on. You are new to the Supernatural world and do not understand yet how normal occurrences like this are. You will get used to it. I will take care of you Sookie and never let anyone take you from me. That is all you need to know."
Snuggling back against his chest as her fingers traced the contours of his muscular torso Sookie whispered, "I don't ever want to get used to violence Eric. Not ever."
"Then you need to make a choice Sookie. I can shield you from most of the violence that will always surround us and you can live your life as my bonded blithely unaware of how gruesome and cruel my world really is. If you choose this you will never get used to violence. You will be as shocked and appalled by it all as you are now the few times it manages to get by the safeguards I have around you and touches you. In order to do this however I will have to keep far more secrets from you than I do now. Or I can continue telling you as much of the truth as I do now and you will slowly become more and more accustomed to violence."
"And how much is that?"
"Believe it or not ever since you learned you were my bonded I have kept very little from you. I cannot tell you of certain vampire workings or affairs since it is forbidden to share certain things with humans and even for you I cannot break that rule without the Council's permission, but I tell you all that I can as needed or when you ask. There are a few secrets I'm keeping from you from before we bonded, but now I keep very few things from you as they happen. As my bonded, there is no point."
Sookie bit her lip in contemplation. "I don't know how to respond to that. I don't want to be in the dark because it makes me feel more helpless than I already am, but I don't want to become numb to violence. I don't want to be accepting of it in everyday life … so I guess we'll just see as we go. Maybe you can edit things for me?"
Smiling and kissing the top of her head Eric agreed, "We'll try that."
They fell silent for awhile before Sookie asked, "Do you like this room?"
"It is different. Do you?"
"I wouldn't want it to be my permanent bedroom but it's pretty cool. It would be better if it had a waterfall so you could hear the water moving. And I probably wouldn't tile it like a bathroom, but it's nice. Ahmose certainly has a wonderful home."
Stroking his hands through her hair Eric replied, "I'll build you a room like this when I build my compound in Shreveport. I'll make sure it has a waterfall. You can decorate it however you like and we'll sleep in it as often as you want."
"Eric you don't have to do that! I was just asking your opinion. It would cost a fortune to build a room like this."
"I have a fortune. Several actually."
"You really made that much money over the last 60 years since you settled down to be able to afford anything you want?"
"I've made hundreds of millions over the last 60 years. Most of it from wise investments. Apple being one of my most profitable. However, I've also hidden treasures I've obtained over the centuries throughout the world. When I settled here with Pam I would uncover some of it bit by bit. Most of it I have kept, but I've sold a few pieces to private collectors and museums and made more money than you can imagine. I have cash accounts all over the word and money is literally never a consideration with me. I have more than enough."
Playing with his necklace Sookie asked, "If you have so much money why do you drive a Corvette? They're not the best car out there. The car you got me is better."
Smiling softly Eric replied, "When Pam and I first moved here she got me a Corvette as a gift. Back then they were one of the most expensive cars on the market in the US. I've always driven one since then. She gets me a new one every few years. She gives them to me on the same day I turned her. She says it's her thank you gift. You are right and they are not the most luxurious or lavish car, but I will drive them as long as they are made. I still have six of them in storage. Including the first one she ever gave me in 1956 when we moved here. They're always red."
"That has to be one of the sweetest things I've ever heard. Who would have thought Pam had a sentimental side?"
"Few, and I suggest you keep that to yourself. Pam hates emotions and does her best to make others think she doesn't have any."
"Just like you."
"I taught her well. Allowing others to see your emotions gives them an advantage over you. We both have them, but are good at hiding them to keep the upper hand."
Ignoring the coldness of that statement Sookie asked, "What do you get her?"
"Anything she wants. Early on I provided for everything Pam wanted or needed as she had no form of personal income. She has never been one for work and was perfectly comfortable with the idea of me supporting her in all ways. It has only been over the last 15 years or so that she has started branching out on her own financially and even then I end up doing most of her books for her. She hates to work."
"Her loyalty makes up for that though right?"
"Indeed. Pam may hate to work but she never fails to do as I ask, and her loyalty is absolute. As the desire in her grows to leave my side she'll take a more active and interested approach in supporting herself and really start to focus on building her own financial empire. She is quite capable of doing so now but as she has no intention of leaving me for at least another 150 years or so she doesn't see it as being that important. Frankly neither do I. I make more than enough to support us both and with her lingerie store and share in Fangtasia her day to day bills are definitely covered." Feeling her pleasure at his words through their bond he asked, "You are pleased by this?"
Nodding her head against his chest Sookie replied, "I think it's beautiful how you two take care of each other. I think it's wonderful that she buys you a new car every few years and I think it's one of the sweetest things in the world that you always drive them and kept some of them including the first one. I also think it's great that you enjoy taking care of her to the point that you don't see a need for her to work more than she wants to."
His own pleasure filling him at her words Eric said, "It will be the same with you Sookie. If you wish to work once you are turned you may, but if you do not you won't have to. I do now and will always give you anything you ever want. You have but to ask and it is yours … except your freedom of course."
Smiling against his chest Sookie joked, "Can I have a ferris wheel?"
"Do you want it in the front yard or back?"
Laughing Sookie asked, "How about a roller coaster?"
"Wooden or one of the new steel pipeline roller coasters?"
"Can I have an elephant?"
"Asian or African?"
"Can I have my own ice skating rink?"
"What size? Speedskating, Bandy, or Ice Hockey?"
"Can I have my own movie theater?"
"IMAX or 3D?"
She couldn't help but laugh as she rolled on top of him. Folding her arms across his chest to rest her chin on them she looked into his eyes and said, "I don't want you to buy me any of that stuff Eric. You give me more than enough already."
"I know you don't want me to buy you those things but if you want them they are as good as yours. I mean it Sookie, you can have anything you want but freedom from me. You are mine and you deserve the best of everything. I want you to have anything your heart desires." Indicating the room he said, "You like this room. You said you'd like it better if it had a waterfall and was decorated differently. Very well. I'll build you one with a waterfall and you can decorate it any way you like."
"Eric, I don't want you to build me a room like this. It would cost too much. Especially since I'd only use it every once in awhile. Don't waste your money."
"Do you like this room, Sookie?"
"Eric I …."
"Yes or no?"
Resignedly sighing, Sookie replied, "Yes."
"Then you'll have one of your own when I build my new compound."
Rolling her eyes at his stubbornness she moved to lay with her head over his heart as he pulled the comforter up to tuck it around her before enfolding her in his arms. She could feel unconsciousness pulling at her as she whispered, "Good night Eric."
"Good night, little one. Sleep deeply and don't worry about tomorrow. You are safe." Eric was far more worn out than he normally was due to the emotional drain he'd felt from what he'd learned about his Maker tonight. He could feel the call to die building in him despite it being a few hours earlier than he normally died.
Nuzzling his chest as she dozed off while death called to him Sookie replied, "I know, I'm with you."
"Always, min älskade."
Sookie smiled at Eric. "I'm glad that you agree."