We’ve almost made it to the end of all this epicness! A huge thanks is in order to ladytarara for gifting not only Heather218 with this abundance but that we’ve all been allowed to share in it. Enjoy the conclusion to this tale!
DAY 16: A GIFT FOR HEATHER218 FROM LADYTARARA
THE CHRISTMAS FAIRY
Part 5: Shatter the Glass
Still seated on the floor, surrounded by shards of glass from the shattered mirror, Pam cradled her maker in her arms as he sobbed.
His shirt felt stiff under her arms and Pam inspected it more closely, her delicate nose sniffing the fabric with great offence, caked in blood and stinking of humans.
“Where did you get these clothes?” she demanded. “Did you rob a drunk?”
Eric stared up at her, his face a perfect mask of misery.
“You did? I’m right, aren’t I?” Pam sighed. “Come on.”
Taking him by the hand, she led him to his room, undressing him like a child, and searching through the closet to find him suitable attire, finally emerging with a dove-grey dinner suit, a white shirt, and a cravat.
“No top hat,” she insisted, placing the clothes on the bed. “You look like a dick in one.”
Some of the blood from his shirt and pants had stained his skin, so she turned to the porcelain wash-basin, delicately dipping a handkerchief into the water and clearing a spot on his chest.
“Might need a few more of these,” she muttered, turning to a drawer and pulling out a whole armful of cloths, eyeing the brownish-red water of the wash basin suspiciously as she wondered whether she could persuade the maid to fetch more water without raising too many questions.
“You aren’t him, are you?” she demanded at last as she continued to wipe the blood from his skin.
“What do you mean?” he demanded.
“My maker. I mean, you are, but you aren’t.”
“I don’t follow.”
“You look like him, you sound like him, and I can feel the bond I have with you, but when you walked into the dining room, you had no idea how to hold a knife and fork, or even pretend to eat and fool the fat wife of the hotelier, let alone glamour them to stay the fuck away. It’s like you were a kind of barbarian from the north – oh, I know you are or were a barbarian from the north – but you were missing the veneer of manners and gentility you wear so well to survive in this time, keeping to the shadows of society and fending off closer inspection. This Sookie creature, what is she? Who is she to you and what the hell is she doing in the mirror?”
“You’re right, I’m not – I have no child, no vampire progeny. At least, not yet. Sookie is a fairy, cursed to travel through time and I have bonded with her, jumping from Christmas to Christmas trying to seek a way to free her and – I don’t know how this is possible, how you can be here or where the other version of me might be.”
“You told me about fairies – the other you, that is. You told me to stay the fuck away from them, that they weren’t cute or quaint, that they had sharp teeth and nasty spells and blood that would make us drunk and leave us vulnerable. If you told me to stay away, then why are you breaking your own rules?”
“I don’t have those rules!” he shouted. “That’s not me – I… How is this possible?”
“Fucking fairies!” Pam spat. “That’s what it is. They probably have my real maker holed up somewhere, maybe he was a changeling – or perhaps you are.”
“A changeling? What?”
“Someone enchanted or glamoured to appear as another.”
Eric got to his feet, his chest still covered in streaks of blood. “I promise you I am me. This other version – I don’t know. But if you see him again, be wary. I would not have you harmed.”
“You don’t even know me. You didn’t choose me!” Tears threatened to form in her eyes and roll down her cheeks. Pam sniffed hard, forcing them back, determined not to ruin her artfully made-up face. Eric reached out to her, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“You are precious to me. I have not chosen you yet – not in my timeline anyway – but you are everything I would ever want in a vampire progeny. Loyal and brave and smart.”
“Shut the fuck up or you’ll make me cry!” Pam sniffed. “Come on, let’s get you the fuck cleaned up and dressed, and then we’re going to find this fairy and figure out what the fuck is going on.”
Sometime later, the basin water stained red with blood, Pam helped Eric button his coat, sniffing as she looked at his hands.
“You cut yourself on the glass,” she said, reaching for the washcloth again.
“No!” Eric shouted, his red hands held out in front of him.
Pam stood still, washcloth poised as Eric raised the palm of his hands and inhaled.
“It’s her blood, too,” he explained. “Don’t you see, Pam? It’s hers, too!”
Tentatively, Pam sniffed, her fangs erupting as Eric hissed at her and, shamefaced, she retracted them. “Sorry. She smells like – oh – like butterscotch and whipped cream and strawberries and meringue and -”
“Blood magic,” he whispered. “That is what has brought me here, dragged me from mirror to mirror. And now I have her blood.” Eric smiled at Pam. “Do you have another mirror?”
Pam huffed. “Do I have another mirror? Are you kidding me? Do you know me at all?” she demanded. “Oh right – sorry. Come this way.”
Eric followed as Pam led him into another dressing room, one hung with fabulous dresses in varying shades of pink, the walls lined from top to bottom with mirrors.
“I was going to put them on the ceiling, too, but I thought it might set tongues wagging. You know…” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively. “Wait – if I haven’t been fucking you in front of these mirrors then – have I been fucking a fairy? Is that even possible?”
“I don’t know – I will help you get find out. Surely if we can free Sookie, then we can get some answers about exactly who turned you and who has been pretending to be me in this time.”
Pam nodded slowly.
“Do you have candles?” he demanded.
“Oh, I can do better than that,” Pam replied, reaching up toward a knob and turning on the gaslight, flooding the small room with a bright golden light.
All around the room, her image repeated over and over again, was his Sookie, no longer reduced to the size of the mirror, but instead visible from top to toe, as though at last she was standing next to him again. She was floating beneath the glass, the skirt of her dress taut around her hips and thighs, the very ends of her skirt teasing at the water fanning out beneath her legs. Sookie’s bodice was transparent with water, her hair in long, wet ringlets framing her face.
“The Birth of Venus,” Pam murmured, stepping closer to the mirror. “A Botticelli under glass.” She ran her finger along the edge of Sookie’s face, Eric taking her hand in his and pulling it away from the mirror.
“I couldn’t stand to have you both trapped.”
Pam nodded, stepping back from the glass.
Sookie held her bleeding hands up to the mirror’s surface.
“Lover,” Eric breathed, stepping toward her, hardly daring to hope as he laid his hands against the mirror’s surface, matching palm for palm and finger for finger with his Sookie, though his hand was, of course, much larger.
The mirror rippled like water, the gaslight dappling its surface like sunlight as tiny waves travelled across the glass, at first far apart, but then closer together, the glass swelling and bubbling as the ripples grew into waves.
“What the fuck?” exclaimed Pam as the surface of the mirror stuck to Eric’s hands like half-set toffee, stretching itself out into peaks as fine as spun sugar. He gathered armfuls of the stuff, peeling it away, the glass below growing thinner and thinner, as delicate as eggshell, and then it snapped and water gushed into the room. Sookie fell toward, gasping for air, as though she had been drowning, Eric catching her in his arms, lowering her gently to the floor as the foaming water swirled around them.
“I have you, lover. You are here with me again and I promise you I will never let you go. I will never let another take you from me again.”
“Niall -” Sookie gasped.
“Niall must die,” Eric said firmly.
He stroked her hair, holding her body close to his, her wet hair plastered to her skin, her gossamer gown sticking to her like the wings of a drowned moth. He lowered his lips to hers as Sookie sighed against him, her body melting into his. None of it mattered – the shattered glass, the wet carpet, the ruined gowns – all that mattered was that his Sookie was in his arms again.
Pam, however, was pissed.
“Fuck a fucking zombie! My clothes! My mirrors!”
“I will replace it all – ten times over,” Eric began.
“With what? The money you have is several hundred years out of date, not to mention, have you heard of inflation?” Pam glared at the couple on the floor, the strange woman and this man who was some other version of her maker, a younger, more feeling one. Her eyes lit up. “Oh, I have to go out to the stores! This other Eric, whoever he is, is rich – fabulously rich – and until he knows we’re on to him, I plan to use his credit in every store in London!”
Pam turned to run out of the door, almost colliding with her maker.
Her other maker.
Dressed in a black coat with tails and a comically tall top hat, this Eric was the exact double of the one on the floor.
“Who are you?” growled Pam.
With a snarl, the other Eric dropped his fangs, grabbing hold of Pam by the wrists. “What have you done, Pam?”
Gently lifting Sookie from his lap, Eric got to his feet, sizing up his other self. No sword, no weapon. He heard the bones in Pam’s wrist snap as the imposter held her hand too tightly, pushed her wrist back too far and Pam cried out. Eric winced in pain, noting the other him hardly seemed to feel it at all. Was this what he was to become in the future? Cold, emotionless? Eric drew his sword and the other man chuckled.
“Such a barbarian,” he snickered. “A Viking as they would call you now. So easily outwitted, only the strength of your sword between you and death.” Eric felt Sookie place a warning hand on him as she got to her feet, sheltering behind his sword. The other vampire tried to rush at him, to grab the blade in his hands, to use his superior strength to snap it in two, but Eric anticipated his move, stepping neatly out of the way, his blade dipping lower, and cutting into his arm above the elbow. He swung his blade once more, this time biting deep into the other Eric’s shoulder.
“Iron!” he snarled, his face white and peaked as his form glimmered and spluttered.
“Look!” cried Sookie. “Can you see?” The glamour slipped and faded as the changeling directed his energy toward the cuts made by Eric’s iron blade, a metal poisonous to fairies. His fangs disappeared, his mouth instead filled with jagged teeth like the blade of a serrated knife, his nose growing more hooked, his mouth shrinking inward, the lips puckering and his eyes wrinkling as a wizened old fairy face began to poke through the Eric mask.
“I knew it!” snapped Pam, quickly followed by retching sounds as she remembered how she had fucked him, thinking he was her maker instead of a fairy imposter. The fairy stared at Pam quizzically as Sookie tried to summon her light to her fingertips, but it was strangely blue and spluttering, still cold and more than a little damp from her ordeal.
The fairy cackled, calling a silver sword to his hand with a snap of his fingers, no longer caring his disguise had been blown, a flaming red ball of light appearing in his other hand as Sookie began to say a protection spell, her lips moving fast.
Then an iron blade tore through the imposter’s chest, Godric and Oren stepping out from what was left of the mangled mirrors.
Godric had used his own hands to help right the stones, raising the monoliths back to their former height, no longer a refuge for slaters and worms. More shades from the Otherworld worked by his side, working together to replace the smaller stones. Oren had used his magic on some of them, working at such a frantic place and with such blinding fury, Godric had worried he would exhaust himself.
“if we can restore the circles, refill them with power, then we just might have enough magic to defeat Niall,” Oren explained.
“But the druids,” Godric began, “are long dead, their bones scattered…”
“Not if they return with me from this place to the world of the living.” Oren raised his arms, gesturing to the shades who toiled around him, and Godric nodded slowly, seeing many of them bore the mark of the Celtic tribes in tattoos and dress.
Perhaps they had a chance after all.
Oren ripped the veil between the world of the living and the dead as though it were the thinnest of tissue paper, and all the shades supposedly vanished many centuries ago could roam the night once more.
Sieglinde had turned to him, wrapping him in an embrace.
“I can go to him,” she suggested. “Your child. Let me use my craft to find him, to tell him to use the bond that is between him and this Sookie to free her.”
“You think that is what took him from me?”
“I do. Old and powerful blood magic, blood from a vampire turned before the Christ was born.”
“And my maker,” Godric said softly. “He was turned when the pyramids were still being built.” He looked into her eyes. “Will you return to me?”
“Yes. I am still a shade, a ghost – a warning is all I can give. Then I must return to this place, to the tethers of the dead that bind me here.”
“Hasn’t Oren broken them?”
“For a time only. Not even he is strong enough to defeat death.”
Godric bowed his head. “I always wanted the chance to ask you for forgiveness that day – the day you were killed. I should have been with you.”
“And cut down by Caesar’s men with me?”
“I think Niall had a hand in it.”
“Let me save your child. You had no opportunity to help me, but we can at least offer him a chance.”
Godric nodded, watching as Sieglinde disappeared, pushing aside the pang he felt at her loss once more.
He returned his attention to rebuilding the stone circles, this time finding Oren’s frenetic pace had stopped altogether.
“What is it?” Godric asked. “Have you exhausted yourself? My blood could heal you.”
“No, that is not it, though thank you for offering. It’s the circles,” he gestured to the half-resurrected henge around him. “So many stones are missing, carted off to the gods know where. I don’t think there’s enough. The circle is broken.”
Godric felt the world closing in upon him at Oren’s despair, the dark night sky pressing in like the lid of a coffin. Was this the end then? Was that it? Their attempts to rescue Sookie and Eric gone for good?
“They have to be here somewhere,” said Godric, running his hands through his hair. “Think of how large some of them are. How could they have been taken away?”
Oren didn’t respond, his whole body slumped with the weight of defeat. Godric began to search frantically, turning to one of the shades who toiled by his side. “You know this place better than me,” he began. “Think – what is different here since you died? Which buildings have changed? Where could that stone have gone?”
The shade, a young man, pointed into the distance and Godric followed his line of sight as it disappeared through the trees, just able to make out the shape of a stone building.
It was a rough kind of building, pieced together out of the stones from the hillside, of varying sizes and shapes, but most noticeable of all were the large corner stones, bigger by far than the others.
Oren stood tall and Godric felt hope rise in him again.
“Why not?” he said gently, “They have borrowed so much from us, is it not fitting that we should borrow something from them?”
“It is hardly borrowing when it was ours to begin with,” said Annwyn.
The house of the Christ was demolished quickly, the more modern stones tossed aside in favour of those other, ancient stones, the ones that bore their own kind of power. Godric took them one by one up the hill, Oren insisting on helping him, even though Godric was more than strong enough on his own.
As the stones were lifted upright, returned to the places from which they were stolen, many hands long since dead helped to right them, to restore what had been broken. The Carnac stones stood whole once more on the ancient lines of power radiating through the earth.
Oren stood in the centre of the circle, Godric by his side, Annwyn with him when Sieglinde returned from her mission, hurrying to stand in the centre with them.
“Is he alright?” Godric demanded. “My child – is he well? And what of Sookie?”
“I told him what I could – the rest is up to him. But he is well enough,” Sieglinde replied.
Those who had been druids before they had died stood at each of the stones, hands joined, voices chanting, as Godric felt the power begin to flow through the land once more, felt the magic spike again as Oren held his palms open, face downward, the light gathering around him as it swirled like a mist about their feet.
“I am coming,” Godric whispered. “Oh my child, I am coming.”
Oren’s lips moved as Godric spoke, his mouth speaking the same words as the magic took them within its grasp and all four of them vanished.
Shattered glass, wet carpet, his child fighting a beast, a thing, that with every blow turned more monstrous. Godric snarled, his fangs dropping even as he noted the changeling wore a caricature of Eric’s face, but one that had been stretched and kneaded into all the wrong shapes. Sookie stood to the side and he could see her trying to gather her magic, trying to draw on what little she had to attack this creature, her light weak and blue, rather than strong and golden. Godric drew his sword, running it through the monster’s chest with enough force to explode the rib cage outward, spraying blood and bone onto the already sodden carpet before mid-flight it turned to magical, sparkling fairy dust.
“Fuck, I don’t know what’s worse to get out of carpet: blood or glitter,” moaned Pam, noting that the fairy glitter had already worked its way into the weave of the pure wool, never to be dislodged again.
Sookie gasped, running into the arms of her parents who held her close, her mother crying and her father whispering words of vengeance. “I will give you Niall’s head on a pike, my dear,” Oren insisted.
“Master, I am in your debt -” Eric’s words were cut off as Godric put his sword aside to hug his child.
But as the fairy dust settled, each scattered piece of glitter began to grow and change.
“What the fuck?” demanded Pam.
“Glitter,” Oren gasped. “He wouldn’t!”
What was glitter, but a thousand teeny, tiny mirrors?
A thousand teeny, tiny portals?
The glitter shimmered, and then a contingent of Niall’s guards appeared before them, a fae soldier making first contact as his body whirled and his sword clashed against Eric’s. Sookie shook out her hands, trying to dislodge the last few drops of water, summoning what she could of her light to her fingertips, her magic no longer blue and cold, but returning to its warm golden hue. Godric swung his sword in a graceful arc, connecting with fae blades as Pam rolled her eyes, dropped her fangs, and picked up a wire coat hanger. Eric, still fighting the fae soldier, raised an eyebrow as Pam deftly skewered a fairy through the eye with a sickening pop. Shrugging, Eric returned to the slaughter, determined to protect Sookie this time.
“If we kill them, we open more portals!” Oren shouted as another fae exploded into dust and more appeared to replace him. Oren raised his hands, chanting furiously as he tried to block the portals, drawing on the still incomplete reservoir of power in the Carnac Stones.
A tinkling sound echoed behind Sookie and she wondered what it could be, not daring to look as she concentrated her fire power upon the fae whose sword was bearing down upon Eric. The soldier used the flat of the blade to deflect the spell, sending it flying back at Sookie’s head, Eric diving under the soldier’s sword-arm to save her, to pull her body to his below the reach of her own blast, twisting back toward the fairy and gutting him swiftly with his sword. He bled for a moment and Sookie watched him struggle not to turn and drain the man.
“Don’t!” she cried, “Eric, please don’t! The glitter – if it got inside you – those tiny mirrors, those terrible portals -”
“Hush, Sookie, I know. I won’t give in, I promise.” He held her close for a moment and that was when she looked up, her mouth dropping open in horror as she saw piece by piece, sliver by sliver, the broken glass spread across Pam’s dressing room begin to reform, to drag itself back toward the walls it had come from, as though it was magnetised, the glass shards collecting and pooling, forming little balls like mercury.
More gathered, moving lightning fast to recreate the mirror, the glass a puddle on the floor before it crawled its way back up, spreading itself out across the walls once more.
Who or what could possibly do that?
Oren turned to face the wall of mirrors, hoping that they were ready as a dark shape began to appear on the glass, starting out small, but then steadily expanding, spreading, and growing till it filled up one wall after another, the deep pitch blackness reminding Godric of the mirror he still carried with him. Then an image appeared, flickering briefly, in and out of reality like a TV not properly tuned to a station, picking up only the ghosts of static.
A face formed in the dark mirror, a face that cause Oren to swear softly under his breath as he stepped forward, and said, “Hello, Father.”
Niall grimaced, not returning his son’s greeting, but instead shouting, “Damn you! Where have you been that I could not find you? You are dead to me – dead!”
Stepping out of the mirror, Niall raised his hands, gathering his power, swollen large by his magical connection to Faerie, drawing down upon the life force of the land, even drawing upon the sparks of his subjects, dimming them, not caring if he took too much, not caring if they died as he tried to wring every last drop of power out of them all. The light concentrated in his hands was reflected by the reformed mirrors, the darkness inside the frames blasted away by the intense light, every last drop of the power Faerie possessed concentrated in the hands of the one who was supposed to protect them, one who had for years done everything he could to control them, to subvert them and manipulate them for his own power and his own gain.
The light was so bright the vampires began to smoulder, as though the sun itself had taken up residence in this mirrored room. Niall’s skin crackled, the light feeding into him in thick sinewy ropes, distorting whatever had once been human in his face, peeling back his human skin, and revealing the true fairy within.
He howled, head thrown back to the ceiling, all four rows of his predator’s teeth exposed, his eyes turning green and slanted as a cat’s, only with a reptilian chill. Niall’s body became a conduit for power, and he roared, the small room vibrating, threatening to explode the mirrors again.
Sookie quailed behind Eric. “Father, don’t!” she pleaded to Oren. “He is too powerful! He will destroy you!”
Niall raised his hand, drawing Oren’s spark to the surface of his chest, threatening to rip it out, to devour it, to use it to feed his terrible huger for power. Oren screamed as Annwyn grasped one of his hands and Sieglinde the other, the two of them chanting a spell, pooling their gifts to draw the power of Carnac to Oren. But would it be enough?
The two lights of the fae princes battled each other as Eric, Godric, and Pam fought to keep the fae soldiers at bay.
“You fool!” spat Niall, “you cannot beat me! The stones are no match for me!”
Sookie threw herself between Niall and Oren, Eric cursing as he fought his way back to her. “Stop, Niall, stop! Don’t you see – you are killing everything! What will be left? What will you rule?”
Niall hurled a fireball at Sookie, Oren using the opening to blast the prince with his own light, damaging some of Niall’s connection to Faerie. Eric threw her to the floor again, using his body to shield her, the flames unable to do him much damage as they struggled to burn his sodden clothing.
A blue mist filled the room, pouring in from cracks under the mirrors, filling the room with a nauseating smoke.
“What foul trick is this?” Niall demanded.
“None of my making!” Oren snarled.
Then the mage appeared, the one who had sent the changeling, and Niall began crowing. “Victory is mine! My loyal servants have come once more! How many did you bring?” he demanded of the mage.
“None. It is time this charade ended. I know you poisoned our people, that you brought the iron across. No more!”
Niall howled as one by one his fae troops passed out from inhaling the blue mist, the vampires and shades unaffected.
“I will end you all for this!” Niall screeched as he threw himself back through the mirror, hurtling himself to the gods knew where in his bid to escape just vengeance.
The mage kneeled at Oren’s feet. “My liege, you are the true prince. I lay myself at your feet. The spell will not harm you or yours, it is only to render unconscious those who would fight you.” The mage reached into a pocket of his robe and pulled out a crown of entwined golden flowers. Standing tall, he raised it with two hands above his head before depositing it onto Oren’s head.
“A coup? How lovely. Now who is going to clean up this fucking mess?” Pam demanded. “Glitter is a bitch to get out, and I am not the bitch to clean it. Someone had better do it because I have no intention of finding glitter in my ass-crack three years later that used to be some fucking fairy.”
Eric raised an eyebrow at his child’s language, but, of course, Pam didn’t blink, though she did roll her eyes a good half-dozen times at his shock.
“I would suggest we torch the whole place,” the mage said, turning to face Pam. “By placing the crown of the fae on Oren’s head, I have cut Niall off from his ability to draw on the magical reserves of Faerie and its inhabitants. However, he still retains the control of all portals. All mirrors, all glass, all reflective surfaces remain a potential doorway for him to wreak his vengeance. And that includes this glitter.”
“Do you mean I will never be able to wear anything that sparkles again? Never be able to gaze upon my own reflection?” gasped Pam.
“Not if you want to keep your head. The glitter is a powerful threat; only a very hot fire will cause it to melt. And this glass,” he gestured to the walls, “is more dangerous than any other kind.”
“May as well throw myself on the pyre,” Pam grumbled.
Eric placed a hand on his progeny’s shoulder. “It will not be so bad.”
“Easy for you to say. Not a lot of sparkle in your era now, is there?”
“Not much, no.”
Pam swallowed back her tears. “You are right. I will adapt. When do we leave?”
“Now,” the mage insisted. “I will personally see to the destruction of this place. Your Majesty, may I suggest you return to Faerie? Niall has caused much damage with this little stunt, and there will be your coronation to see to.”
Oren nodded, wondering what horrors he would find there, what Niall might have done in the interim since he had last been in Faerie.
“Sookie?” Oren queried.
“I can’t,” she shook her head gently, stepping toward Eric and looping her arm through his. “My place is with Eric now. I claim him as mine.”
Eric smiled down at her, running his hand softly along the length of her arm, touching the ring he had gifted her with.
“As she is mine,” Eric replied.
“You will wed her?” Oren demanded.
“If she will have me, and if the laws of the fae and vampires will allow it.”
Godric pursed his lips. “Many of our kind will not like it, but it can be done and there are few who would truly stand against me. You have my blessing. There is much love between them, Oren.”
“I am glad to hear it. I always wanted a love-match for you, Sookie, as I had with your mother.” Annwyn smiled at him, Oren linking his hand through hers.
“There’s one more thing,” the mage interrupted. “The progeny – this woman – ” he gestured toward Pam, “her time has not yet come.”
“I will allow it,” said Oren. “Whatever it takes, we bring her through with us.”
“Sire, it is not that simple. The changeling has tainted her bloodline.”
Oren raised an eyebrow. “Did you share blood with him?”
“Um, well, yes, since I thought he was my maker. Did he turn me? How does this shit work?”
“Eric turned you. You have a child-maker bond with him, but there is the taint of fairy blood in its undiluted, purest form. What you see of us now, our pleasing forms, our charm – all of it comes from our intermingling with humans. That monster you saw, the one dressed in an Eric suit, that is what we are when we are pure fae. The changeling destroyed the Eric who turned you, most likely ate him, but given we are going back, this future will not come to pass, so he is safe enough. But you – you shared blood with the changeling, so I cannot say the same for you.”
“What do I do?” said Pam, aghast.
“I would suggest you remain here,” the mage said as gently as he could.
“What the fuck? No! Eric, tell him no! I am not waiting eight hundred years or whatever the fuck it is for you to turn up!”
“For you it will seem but an instant. If you come back with us, you could endanger us all,” the mage continued.
“Pam, I will find you. I will come for you. I will go back to allow the timeline to right itself, the changeling to be erased, and then I will come for you. Sookie can travel through time as all the fae can – she can take me with her because of our bond. Please, it could be dangerous for you, too. I want you to protect yourself, keep yourself safe, and I promise I will come to you and find you and turn you as soon as I can, and then bring you with us, wherever or whenever we might be.”
Pam sniffed. “Will that get rid of the no glitter and no mirror thing, too?” she demanded.
“Afraid not,” sighed the mage. “For all reflective surfaces not to be a threat, Niall must die.”
“Then see to it he does,” Pam said grimly.
“I will get you first,” said Eric. “We will hunt him together.”
“And then I’m going to wear glitter to his fucking funeral!”
Eric embraced his future child, placing a kiss on her brow as she batted him away. “Go find me already,” she whispered. Godric placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I will help him. You are a worthy child of my line.”
“Let us depart,” said Oren. “Give them leave to torch this place. Where would you go?”
“My village is gone,” said Eric. “My family dead. There is nothing for me there. Sookie and Pam are my family now.”
Pam turned away quickly, trying to hide the tears welling in her eyes, but she was not fast enough.
“You are everything to me,” Pam whispered. “This,” she gestured to herself, “being vampire, is everything to me. Freedom, power, a chance to be myself. If you don’t find me, I will be married off and forced to bear children. You told me many times, Eric, that women in your era had more rights. They could divorce; they could fight. But my time – you don’t know this yet because for you it hasn’t happened – in my time women are caged.” She gestured to her voluminous skirts. “These may as well be a prison. I am an unconventional woman in a conventional time with a father and male relatives who have tried to make me conform. Please, Eric – don’t let them force me into being something I’m not. Find me – give me my freedom.”
“I will. I swear it.” Eric wrapped his arms comfortingly around Pam.
“I will see to it also,” said Godric, standing by his child’s side. “You are mine as much as you are his. I swear to you we will come for you, that you will walk the night with us for all eternity. At the very least, I owe you a debt for taking my child in and caring for him when I could not. I will fulfil this oath and then I will retire to the Otherworld.”
“No!” shouted Eric. “Your place is with me!”
“I have wandered this Earth for such a long time,” Godric tried to choose his words carefully. “Alone until Sookie found me and brought me to you.”
“Do you find me wanting?” demanded Eric.
“No. You are more than I could ever have imagined, and do not for a moment think that I would have chosen any other than you, that I turned you only at Sookie’s behest. As soon as I laid eyes upon you, I knew you were mine, that you would be mine.”
“Then stay with me!”
“I will – for a time. But I long to be with my beloved, to dwell with her, wherever that may be.”
Sieglinde shook her head sadly. “You can’t. No good will come of it – you saw it with Oren. Let me go.”
“There is a way,” Oren said, conjuring to his fingertips a bough of mistletoe.
“It doesn’t work,” said Sookie. “I tried it on Eric.”
“But he was not dead,” Oren explained. Sookie sucked in her breath.
“Of course! Don’t you see, Godric – you can bring her back. Daddy, can you do it?”
“I think so, if the old stories are true.”
The mage nodded his agreement. “It is possible, but our powers are not what they were. Perhaps it could be done. Perhaps not. You must try and wake the gods from their slumber in the stones. Now, you really must depart, so this place can be destroyed.”
Nodding, Oren raised his hands, returning them all to the stones at Carnac just moments after they left.
Everyone except Pam, who stood watching, not bothering to brush away the blood tear that rolled down her cheek, wondering what it would feel like to be reset, to be unravelled. Would it hurt? She squared her shoulders, determined to face it alone.
“You will be quite safe until the room is destroyed,” the mage explained to her.
Pam watched from the hallway as the room was prepared, the mage using a spell to dry out the room before setting it alight, making the carpet burn with white-hot light. A crack, a thud, and the tinkling of broken glass as the black mirror broke into a million tiny pieces, once more shattering from the heat. The flames consumed the shards, melting them into strange and wicked shapes, lumps of black molten stuff creating a nightmare landscape.
And Pam thought she could see a face gleaming on the surface, a reflection, a face that had once looked human, but was now stripped bare, the evil fairy left to stare out at the world it longed to destroy. Something wicked and dark, crouched in the corner, ready to leap out at you, at any weak point, to hook in its claws, and rip open your flesh.
Shaking her head to clear her vision, Pam wondered if perhaps the light was playing tricks on her, some kind of shadow in the dark conjured by her own imaginings, coloured with the sadness of her loss.
Strangely, the glitter lasted the longest, sitting there, its claws firmly dug into the carpet, refusing to budge and stubbornly holding on, even as the magic fuelling the flames to their white-hot heat turned the insides of the room into a flaming tornado.
Typical, thought Pam. Fucking glitter lasts forever. Even the cockroaches will be dead, but somewhere on the corpse of the earth, some poor mutant fucker was going to find glitter lodged up his or her ass somewhere.
Well, If I’m going to go, better do it in style, Pam thought. No playing the violin on the decks of the Titanic as I get sucked under.
Racing down the hall to her other dressing room, the bigger one you could only get to by following a secret staircase she’d had installed behind a false panel in the dining room, Pam grabbed hold of a candle sconce, pulling it sharply to the left. The whole wall opened out to reveal a plethora of pink. Using vamp speed, she found her glitteriest, most gaudy gown and quickly shed her other, classier dress, tossing it aside.
This one had been modelled after the ladies of the night she saw walking the streets after dark. Shortened at the front, gathered up to show her stockinged legs, the low-cut bodice of the dress was covered in tiny, hand-sewn glass beads, reflecting the light from every angle and making her bosom sparkle in a way she quite admired. Cloistered as she had been when human, she remembered gasping at the sight of them, this whole hidden world, this underbelly of London, where the poor and the destitute of her sex offered themselves for money.
Fascinated, she’d had her own gaudy, glitzy gown made to order, so that one night, a night that would never come now, she could walk amongst them and see what their world was like, the world she had always been denied a glimpse of.
Returning in her new glitzy attire, sparkling far more than even her new-fangled Christmas tree, Pam stood next to the mage for a moment, sizing him up.
“So, what’s a girl got to do to get a drink around here?” she demanded, the mage almost choking as Pam gave him a fangy smile.
The stones of Carnac loomed, lonely sentinels to the night, and Godric sighed, knowing that a parting of the ways was necessary. Sookie and Eric had wandered off, hand in hand, to examine the stones, to relive tales of her childhood here, a childhood she now remembered properly. Godric tried not to envy them, and failed.
The laws that bound the dead were strict on Earth, more fluid on Faerie, so Annwyn would go to dwell with Oren there, never minding the loss of her human body.
“We could grow another,” Oren explained gently to her. “When I thought our child was dead, with Niall ruling Faerie with an iron fist, I thought it best for us to stay here, shut away from all the worlds. To take you to Faerie would have been too dangerous.”
“What of Sieglinde? You know I call her friend.”
“We could take her to Faerie with us, do the same – but she would not be able to come back to Earth as you cannot either. And Godric cannot cross to Faerie. No vampire can.”
Overhearing, Godric stepped closer to the new king and queen of Faerie.
“Then take her with you. Let her live again. That would be some comfort at least,” he said.
“Not without her permission, and it would mean you are cut off from her forever.”
“Is there a chance at bringing her back here?”
“We can try.”
Sieglinde, seeing Godric had wandered off, followed him, catching the end of their conversation as it floated on the evening breeze.
“I stay here,” she said. “As a shade, I may see you sometimes, as and when it is permitted. I will be your winter shadow. And All-Hallows Eve -it is permitted to walk between the worlds then also. It is better than nothing.”
Godric lowered his gaze, trying to hide his grief.
“I don’t wish such a half-life for you,” he whispered. “Go with them. Live – for me.”
Sieglinde gazed into the bright blue eyes of the man she had loved, knowing that the moment of the winter solstice was passing, feeling again the pull of the ties that bound her to the shadow-world.
“I must leave soon. And you – you, Godric, must live. Be with your child; save your grand-progeny. Perhaps there will be a way for me to return, but until then, until you know for sure, until I am at your side again, go and live and love as you should.”
Godric nodded, his chest tight, his head swimming. He hated this – hated it. As an old and powerful vampire, he could tear down these stones, even build them up again, but when it came to the woman he had loved more than anything, he was as powerless as a newborn babe.
Sieglinde kissed him tenderly, farewelled Oren and Annwyn before disappearing into the mist that was the doorway back to the land of the dead.
Oren placed a comforting arm on Godric, who struggled not to shake it off. “I will do what I can,” he insisted. “I owe you a great debt. Without you, Sookie would have been lost and I would never have been recalled to the world of the living, and the crown of Faerie would still be resting on Niall’s cursed head. You have my word I will move Heaven and Earth.”
“I know it, old friend.”
Sookie and Eric came back up the hill, their faces transformed with the joy of the other, Sookie’s golden light returned to her, as Godric remembered it when she was a child. The eyes of everyone present following her as she moved, hoping to catch a smile or a glance or somehow share in her beatific glow. Godric noted how all her smiles were now aimed at Eric, and he managed a small smile of his own as he saw how Eric beamed at her in return, how the reflected light of her golden glory made his vampire child so much more than he had ever been without her.
“Is it still mid-winter?” asked Eric.
“It is,” replied Oren. “For a scant few more hours or so.”
“Then I have something I would like to gift to Sookie, with your permission.”
Oren inclined his head and Eric approached his side, the larger man bending to the new king of the fae’s ear, and whispering something to him that made Oren smile.
“Of course – it would be my pleasure.”
Eric took Sookie by the hand and together they both stepped into the circle of stones as Oren drew lightly upon the power stored there, to grant Eric’s wish for his daughter.
The dark of night was graced by the beauty of a moon bright as a new penny worn on a chain around a lover’s neck. Eric pulled Sookie close to him, kissing her softly.
“Come with me, lover. Let me show you my gift.”
Together they stepped into the woods, the trees drawing the cloak of night more firmly around their branches, many of them this far south still retaining their leaves. The air had a chill, but the snow and ice of northern France had melted away, replaced by this cold, still night with the softest of breezes gently teasing at the edges of the leaves, the sound of their rustling a gentle lullaby to the night.
Eric led the way, heading toward a pool of warm light spilling out from the distance, and Sookie gasped as the ramshackle old house came into view, the porch bowed with age seeming to offer a curtsey to the new fae princess and her suitor. Gravel crunched under her feet as Sookie ran toward the light, Eric easily matching her pace as she hurtled toward the old woman standing there, her long gray hair knotted into a bun, a white apron covering her flowered dress of a style long since past. Sookie wrapped her arms around the woman she had called Gran.
“Oh Sookie, you’re just in time for dinner. Jason’s already tucking in, bless him. He has a sixth sense for knowing when I’ve got a pie in the oven. I swear he can smell it all the way from his place. See, there’s his truck in the driveway. He’ll be pleased as punch to see you.” The old woman straightened up, seeing Eric walking at a more sedate pace up the front steps. “And who is this? Is this your beau? My, but isn’t he handsome? Oh, Sookie, you should have told me you were bringing company! Lord – I’m being a vain old lady now, aren’t I, when he’s only got eyes for you, anyone can see that. Well, come in – come in – don’t just stand about like that! Jason – come see! Your sister’s here with – what did you say your name was?”
“Eric,” he supplied.
“Eric who? You know I’m right into genealogies. I’ll check yours out straight away.” Gran’s eagle-eyes noted the ring on Sookie’s finger. “A wedding! Oh, how adorable! You must tell me what your last name is, so I can have the bans printed at once in the local newspaper!”
“Northman,” Sookie supplied. “He is Eric Northman.”
“Oh, well, Mr. Northman, my name is Adele Stackhouse, but everyone calls me Gran. Please do come in. Sookie, will you be keeping your family name?”
“Oh, Gran, you know I’ll always be a Stackhouse.”
“Let me see what is keeping that brother of yours. Oh, my pie! He better not be stuffing it into his face!” Gran went scuttling off to save her pie from Jason’s clutches.
“Northman?” Eric asked with a raised eyebrow. “Stackhouse?”
“Aliases,” Sookie supplied. “Daddy always insisted we use them, just in case. There is power in knowing the true name of things.”
Eric nodded. “Then I guess I am Eric the North Man.”
Sookie giggled. “Thank you for bringing me here. How did you know how much I love this place?”
“Godric told me. I wanted to gift you with something as is the tradition, and I could think of nothing better than a place you delighted in as a child. I wanted somewhere happier than my village, less tainted by death. And I can see by the light in your eyes that this place makes you happy.”
Eric reached out to touch Sookie’s cheek gently.
“You chose well – it makes me happier than you could know. I love my parents, but this place was always my home away from home, a place where I could be myself, even if I was being continually stuffed with pecan pie.”
Sookie stood on her tiptoes and kissed her vampire. He pulled her closer to him, his answering kiss more demanding, leaving her breathless.
“Now, now, my beau,” she snickered. “What would the neighbours think?”
“Are there even any neighbours?”
“There’s the old Compton place across the graveyard, but you’d need vampire vision or a telephoto lens… Not to mention all the trees in the way. Oh, Eric – let’s be wicked and not go in.”
“But your Gran -”
“Has been glamoured by my father to accept my comings and goings without question. Her pecan pie can wait. There’s something I’d like to show you.”
Nodding his assent, Eric took Sookie’s hand and followed her back out onto the porch, the night greeting them like long-lost lovers with its gentle caress. “Come and see.”
Eric followed her out into the woods, ever-watchful, always beside her to catch Sookie if she should fall, but she was as nimble as a cat and disappeared from his sight, the branches of trees filling in the place she had been.
Alarm filled his voice. Could Niall have snatched her? He’d done it before from this place. He’d been a fool to put her at such risk!
His concerns were answered with tinkling laughter from a treetop. His brow creasing, Eric floated up to the tree to find a wooden platform connecting several of them, a cheeky fairy dangling her legs over the side, kicking her ankles in merriment as he caught hold of first one and then the other, pretending to pull her to him in mock fury, but his growls fooled no-one and sounded more like deep, contented purrs as he cradled her in his arms, hovering between the ground and what could only have been a tree house.
“I used to come out here by myself a lot, or sometimes with Jason.”
“How did you stop the panthers from sniffing out all the pecan pie crumbs and eating him?”
Sookie playfully batted his shoulder and Eric clutched it in mock pain before flying them to the wooden platform in the trees, seating them both on its edge. Sookie twined herself around him, wrapping her arms through his.
“I have a present for you,” she said shyly.
“Where is it?” Eric asked.
“You can’t see it. Not yet.”
“An invisible present? Tricksy fairy!” He kissed her ear and then her cheek, working his way down her neck. “You are present enough for me.”
“What if there was more?”
“What do you mean?”
Sookie grabbed his hand, placing it over her lower belly.
“Sookie – what is it? That second sound?”
“My heartbeat and our baby’s. Eric, I carry your child. That is my mid-winter gift to you.”
He kissed her then, holding her small body close to his, trying to protect it and their unborn child with his larger one.
“Oh lover, you have gifted me with the world.”
His large body covered hers, pressing her down into the wood of her childish haunt.
“Shouldn’t we tell Gran? What about the pie?”
Eric answered her with a kiss, his body rocking against hers.
“You know what,” she said, “the pecan pie can wait.”
Monsters walk at night, lurking in the bottom of cupboards, under your bed waiting to snatch you, flickering in and out of the shadows, always avoiding the light. In winter the shadows are darker, the light weaker and sometimes, just sometimes, the monsters are real enough to catch you.
Look in your mirror now – can you see it?
There – flickering just on the edges.
That is the exiled faerie king, waiting to reach out through the glass, to snatch you in, to swallow you whole, bones and all.
Whatever you do, don’t let him in.
Niall’s body was bloated and sick, the taint of iron and the loss of the crown weakening his human form. He flitted from mirror to mirror like the darkest of moths, cut off from much of his power, forced to rely on his own spark as he had when he was a boy.
Revenge would be his eventually. It was all just a matter of time.
The right time. The right mirror.
Smoothing her hands over her watered pink silk dress, Pamela Swynford de Beaumont spun around as much as her heavy skirts would allow her, the voluminous petticoats stiffened with horsehair itching horribly against her sensitive skin. Still, she liked the effect, so she would put up with it, just as she put up with her tightly laced corset.
Her hair was artfully arranged in ringlets and piled on top of her head, still sticky from the sugar-water and rags her lady’s maid had used to set them. This would be the first time her mother allowed her to wear her hair up instead of in childish pigtails.
There was something about pink – so sweet, so delicate – and she hoped the colour would be enough to fool the men who wanted to dance with her at the debutante ball. Pamela pocketed the gilt-edged dance card and pencil she had been given, hoping her mother wouldn’t force her to dance with her fat cousin Henry again when really she would so much prefer to dance with his sister.
Such things were shocking, she knew. Perhaps she just hadn’t met the right man yet, but the giggling, flirting girls hiding behind their lace-edged fans held so much more interest for her. Pamela sighed, knowing such thoughts were unbecoming to a young lady of her station.
She ran her fingers over her scoop-necked gown, scandalously low, but all the fashion, so her mother had allowed it. Besides, she had the figure for it, her breasts small, but pushed high enough that their creamy rounded smoothness were visible to all.
Around her neck she placed a pendant, turning to her maid to clasp it for her, bending a little lower than she needed, allowing the girl a good look down the front of her dress. The maid averted her eyes and Pamela sighed again, wondering what was so wrong with her, her behaviour so wanton if her mother knew surely she would be sent off to a nunnery.
Picking up her muff, Pamela turned to face her maid.
“Thank you, Suzette. Has my partner arrived yet?”
Her father had chosen a man to accompany her to the debutante ball – with a proper chaperone, of course. Pamela wondered darkly how she could lose her former nanny and find some way to have a good time.
Who was this mysterious man her father was insisting she go with? Certainly, no-one of her acquaintance, no one she had met. Her father had shown no inclination to pair her up with anyone before, and she wondered if he had some kind of a match in mind with whoever this man was. Perhaps he had money. Perhaps he was an American industrialist who could prop up their old family name, their status as landed gentry already under threat as they’d had to sell off estate after estate to prop up her brother Alexander’s gambling debts.
He was such a terrible rake.
Still, it had to be better than being forced to marry fat cousin Henry, which is what she had feared for so many years. Not that she knew much about what marriage entailed other than the lady had to ‘lie back and think of England’ whatever the hell that meant. Pamela had tried to ask Alex once and he had merely laughed uproariously in her face before scampering off to whatever drinking den he was now inhabiting since he had been turfed out of both Oxford and Cambridge.
Apparently, it was up to her to save the family fortunes by being sold off like some breeding cow.
Carefully she made her way down from her bedchamber to the sitting room, arranging herself on the settee in such a way that her corset would not cut off her oxygen supply and make her pass out. The butler stepped in a moment later, ushering in a man in a grey uniform with a yellow sash, his brown hair arranged into sideburns.
“Mademoiselle, may I introduce you to Mr. William C. Compton, a man of your father’s acquaintance visiting from the Americas?”
The man bent low over her outstretched hands.
“My deah Pamelah,” he intoned as he kissed her proffered hand.
Eric sat at the worn old table in the farm house kitchen, watching Jason pack away pie after pie as Sookie kept picking at the same piece. It was only by the grace of the gods that Sookie had been able to stop Gran stuffing it down his throat.
“Gran, he’s a vampire!”
“Oh, dearie me! I do apologise. And me without my glasses on.”
Eric smiled indulgently at the old lady who made his Sookie so happy.
Her squeals of delight at the news of Sookie’s pregnancy and her compulsive hugging and kissing of them both had gone a long way to endearing her to him.
A child. He had hardly dared to hope.
“Well, better speed up that wedding unless you want to be the size of a house!” Gran had advised.
Eric nodded his agreement. The sooner the better. Sookie was his, soon to swell with his child, and it was only right that he should wed her.
But what of Pam? How would he rescue Pam with a pregnant Sookie in tow?
He rubbed his hands across his face, then paused.
There was something in his eye.
Pausing, wiping the eye carefully, a single piece of glitter came fluttering down.
To be Continued in: Winter’s Shadow.
MANY THANKS TO THE LOVELY AND ALWAYS ENTERTAINING LADYTARARA FOR THIS IMAGINATIVE AND CAPTIVATING TALE. DO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND LIKES AS ALWAYS THEY DO END UP WITH HER!
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