THIS MARKS THE END OF BOTH THIS STORY AND THE CALENDAR I’M AFRAID. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND A BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE THAT HELPED OUT AND WERE A BIG PART OF IT. MANY THANKS ESPECIALLY TO NATSGIRL, KINNIK, EYS1214, LADYTARARA, QUEEN OF AREA V
AND HISVIKS! WE MUST ALSO GIVE A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO THE BETAS WHO MADE THIS ALL RUN SMOOTHLY AND KEPT THINGS LEGIBLE, THANKS TO MSSTITCHER FOR HER WORK ON EYS1214’S STORY AND MSBUFFY FOR SEEING TO EVERYONE ELSE’S STORIES!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WE SHOULDN’T FORGET OUR SPECIAL DESERVING RECIPIENTS WITHOUT WHOM WE’D HAVE NO ONE TO GIFT THESE STORIES TO, ALISONACTUALLY, AMIRAMO11, 4XAMOM, HEATHER 218, MAZZABLUE, AND CIASTECZKO! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK ON THE STORY LOCATOR!
ENJOY THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF THE ADVENT CALENDAR BELOW AND WE’LL BE BACK TO OUR NORMAL SCHEDULED POSTS AGAIN NEXT YEAR!
Day 25: A GIFT FOR CIASTECZKO FROM HISVIKS
Sookie woke with that disturbing sense of being observed again, thankfully, this time it was a rather familiar set of eyes that screamed in delight, “Momma! She’s awake can we open my presents now?” before bounding out of the room with a speed that would make the average vampire envious.
Instead of running right after him she cuddled her body further back into Eric’s. “Don’t you want to go see your presents?” he murmured into the shell of her ear before dropping a soft kiss just below it.
“Too comfy,” she complained, turning her body round to face him and inevitably getting trapped under the covers that his weight atop it had firmly anchored on one side. A huff escaped her, blowing the small hairs from her face after the exertion required before greeting him with a sunny smile. “Got my pressie already right here.”
He moved in for a kiss, giving plenty of forewarning only allowing her to screech, “Morning breath!” and commencing another battle with the sheets. This time using it to his advantage it helped Eric halt her attempt at escape as he had her neatly wrapped in them in seconds.
“Nothing wrong with your breath,” he pointed out while she continued to wiggle against her sudden constraints. “You smell bloody delicious. Always do.”
“I also kind of need to pee,” she retorted lamely as she finally managed to free her arms.
“If I recall correctly, and granted it has been a few centuries, one can hold that up.”
“I guess,” she pouted before finishing the kiss he never got started on. “Merry Christmas, Eric.”
“Merry Christmas, Sookie.”
“About-” she started, only to then lose her nerve. He remained silent, waiting expectantly till she found her power to speak again. “About yesterday, when you said I was special to you. You know you’re special to me too, right?”
“I suspected,” he grinned, swooping in for another kiss and letting his hand roam over her body just a bit further, “but now I know for sure.”
“Good,” she beamed. “And you always will be, I mean there won’t be many of ‘you’ in my life or any for that matter. So yeah, you’re it and all. You couldn’t even be ‘unspecial’ and ‘one of many’ even if you tried, but even if you were, you’d still be, you know, special. To me.”
Her face had gone red, cheeks flushed with exertion from the nervous prattle.
“Does it bother you?” he asked, loosening the covers further.
“No, it’s fine,” she answered, “was never all that trapped anyhow.”
“I meant, does it bother you that you’re one of many? To me.”
“Even though I’m special?” she asked with a smile that answered much of what he asked. He gave an affirming nod, albeit a cautious one. “I know it shouldn’t, but it kind of does. The thought of all those others, it just- I don’t know, it does something to my stomach and makes me mad, then sad, and then disappointed in myself. Then I’m back to never feeling good enough.”
“You’re more than enough,” he pointed out. “More than I expected and more than I ever sought. Don’t doubt it for even a second. I meant it when I said you were special and I wouldn’t know how to spot it had I never encountered so many of the ordinary ones.”
“Does that mean I should really go and see what else is out there?” she mused with a hint of mischief. “I mean for all I know you’re dreadfully ordinary.”
“Don’t you dare,” he growled. “Furthest thing from ordinary.”
“I know,” she smiled before kissing him again, completely losing herself in it momentarily, and it was even better than all the other kisses they’d shared so far as it allowed her mind to switch off completely, relishing in the sensation that was purely him.
“AUNT SOOKIE, UNCLE ERIC!”
“I guess Pam isn’t letting him open anything without everyone being there,” Eric grumbled. “Out you come.”
“I still need to pee,” she replied, practically shoving him out of the room, confirming to him her shy incantation really only was related to her inexperience in matters of the heart.
He chuckled on the other side of the door, “I can still hear you, and if I tried I could probably still hear it miles away!”
“Hush you!” she yelled. “Let me pee in private!”
She’d barely finished when he had returned to knock on the door with a gentle rap. “For God’s sake!” she yelled, yanking the door open only to be confronted with the silver-haired king from the night previous. “You really have to stop barging in like this!” she spat out without thinking.
The King chuckled, pointing out, “I knocked.”
“Yeah, well,” Sookie replied lamely, “a voice helps identify the one who knocks. Not that I even know your name.”
“I have many,” he grinned. “Which one would you like to hear?”
“The one you’d respond to would be most helpful, or should we all just stick to ‘your Majesty’?”
“My friends call me Ernst,” he smirked.
“Well thank you kindly for the electric blanket, Ernst.”
“You’ll need it in the winter time,” he replied in all seriousness, holding out his arm to her which she took with some hesitation.
“I figured we wouldn’t be going anywhere,” Sookie mumbled under her breath.
“Why would you ever want to leave?” he posed with genuine confusion. “You’re home now.”
“Right,” Sookie replied tightly, not wanting to regress back to her memories of Gran’s home and her grave that now stood long forgotten back in Louisiana.
“Don’t be sad,” Ernst spoke soothingly. “You’ll like it here, I promise. You can always visit.”
“We really can’t,” Sookie whispered. “It’s in the past now. Not that it matters, everyone important to me is under this roof now.”
“Things change,” he assured with a sparkle in his eyes. “You’ll see, in fact, it smells of change. Can’t you feel it? Just look outside.”
Sookie did as asked, startled by the site before here, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
Ernst regarded her curiously, “How did you know I also go by Toto, and we were never in Kansas.”
“It’s from a movie,” she whispered, still mesmerised by the landscape of vivid colours that revealed itself beyond the veil of heavy falling snow. “Where are we?”
“We’re exactly where we were, my dear, just without the glamour.”
“What are you?” Sookie asked, mesmerised by the creature beside her. Surely he was more than a vampire, and she could swear he was able to tap into her thoughts. “Are you like me?”
“In a way,” he grinned. “Come see your presents.”
Sookie followed him down the stairs, chancing upon an almost idyllic setting of her ‘family’ around the Christmas tree, the idyllic open fire crackling as if she had just ended up in a movie. Eric was even wearing a weird Christmas sweater that made him look like a 1950’s dad. Pam sported a very pink and fluffy peignoir that made her look from the same era. Jason and Hunter appeared to be wearing matching pyjamas and their hair smoothly combed down with strict partings making them appear more like brothers than cousins. Only then did she notice she too was wearing a different outfit, a long sleeved tea dress in red crimson.
“Did you see, Aunt Sookie?” Hunter cried out excitedly. “The sky is purple!”
“I saw!” Sookie replied with similar excitement, allowing herself to be dragged to another spectacular vista. Ernst hadn’t lied, the mountainscape that had taken her breath away with its sheer beauty when they’d just arrived was still there but everything seemed to be turned up in colours she didn’t even think she could name.
“What’s he doing here again?” Hunter asked telepathically while tugging at Sookie’s sweater. “Is he a magician?”
“Furthest thing from it,” Ernst answered with a chuckle, startling Hunter again and running to the arms of Pam.
“It’s not nice to scare a little boy like that,” Sookie pointed out sternly, causing Eric to brace himself, standing ready to defend her. Instead, Ernst only seemed further amused.
“I apologise, young Hunter,” he soothed, sinking to his knees beside the boy while Pam watched on warily. “Why don’t you open this present?”
“Ok,” he whispered carefully taking the box in his arms. Hunter looked towards Pam and upon receiving her approving nod gleefully ripped the wrapping paper. “It’s a crown! Just like yours, Momma! We can play Kings and Queens. You’ll be my queen Momma and we’ll get married!”
“How about we don’t,” Pam grimaced while marvelling at the meticulously crafted piece of ornate jewellery, recognising it as something far more valuable than her collection of ‘play’ tiaras.
“This way,” Ernst explained, helping Hunter sit the small crown atop his head carefully, “all will know how to address you now.”
“Does Momma get one too?”
“Why don’t you go look under the tree,” he encouraged. “Look for a pink bow.”
Eagerly Hunter set to his task, handing out the presents one by one unveiling similar headgear.
“What is the meaning of this?” Eric growled out when confronted with the sight before him, a crown long lost and sought for, never thinking he’d ever see it return. “Where did you get this?”
“Eric,” Sookie whispered, her hand grabbing at his forearm in the hopes of reeling his suddenly flared temper.
“I took it back from the vampire who stole it. The fool thought he could hide out here unscathed during the Second World War. One should know not to bring stolen goods into Switzerland, I was all too happy to correct his mistake and hold it for its rightful heir,” he finished with a sinister grin.
“You’re related to, Uncle Eric?” Hunter asked, since receiving his crown suddenly losing his shyness and natural wary around the king.
He shook his head, patting the young boy on the head. “Though I suppose in a way he is now,” he replied with a wink.
“Can I see your fangs?”
Ernst smiled widely before opening his mouth for examination, revealing a perfect set of white teeth, not a sharpened fang in sight, causing Hunter to pout. “You’re not a vampire,” the little boy harrumphed.
“Indeed,” he grinned. “I just pretend to be. Shh, don’t tell anyone.”
“I won’t tell,” Hunter promised. “I’m very good at keeping secrets.”
“Yes,” the King nodded. “Your mother has taught you very well. If you let me, I’ll teach you some too.”
He regarded him carefully before, with a shrug, delivering an agreeable nod. Finding the man friendly enough now, he whispered in his ear, “Uncle Jason, doesn’t like his gift.”
“What would he have liked then?” he asked in return, startling Hunter that suddenly he was inside his head.
“A girl,” Hunter giggled, carrying on the conversation mentally easily enough. “Who wants a girl for Christmas?!”
“Indeed!” Ernst exclaimed, mirroring Hunter’s grimace with a chuckle. “Don’t worry, he’ll find one soon enough,” he added with another wink.
“Can I open the rest of my presents now?” the little boy pleaded, eyeing the huge mountain of gifts with terrible impatience.
“If your mother permits, by all means.” With a curt nod from Pam Hunter dived in, followed closely by Jason.
“Do you like your present, Sookie?” the King asked hopefully.
“It’s very nice,” Sookie acknowledged. “Don’t think I’ll have as much occasion as Hunter to wear it, but it is very lovely.”
“That wasn’t the present I meant.”
“Oh,” she blushed. “I thought already thanked you for the electric blanket, but thank you again. It really is a very thoughtful gift.”
“I meant your new home,” Ernst indulged. “You finally have a place to rest your head easy again. Nothing will come to harm you here.”
“Oh, I thought this was just a rental,” Sookie replied with confusion, regarding Eric who nodded, confirming her assumption. “You didn’t need to buy us this Villa, it really is too much.”
“Well if you like it,” the King shrugged. “I suppose that could be arranged too. It’s a little off the beaten path, but-”
“No please don’t!” Sookie interrupted, regretting it as soon she saw the despondent look on the King’s face. “I mean, it’s really not necessary.”
“No! It’s my fault I should have thought of it,” he grumbled. “You’ll need somewhere to live, my palace isn’t really fit for company.”
Eric regarded him curiously, the King of Switzerland’s palace was legendary for its understated opulence. One would be hard pushed to explain exactly where the riches resided but there was no denying it was a sight to see and never to forget.
“It’s far smaller than it appears in the glamour,” he shrugged. “I am but alone so need for little. Though I suppose that’s no longer true, you cannot imagine the excitement I felt to sense some of my long lost blood crossing the border.”
“What do you mean, alone?” Pam all but purred, eyeing the King in a new light. “Your giant army is legendary, it’s why all the vampire summits and peace talks happen here.”
“Well,” he coughed, not failing to notice the sudden attention lavished on him, suddenly seeming shy under her scrutiny. Practically croaking out, “It’s all part of the glamour.”
“So we can walk out here unharmed, no one would stop us?” Pam suggested soothingly as if inviting the lonely King for a leisurely stroll.
A dangerous glint appeared in his eyes, senses astute once more, “There’s far more to this place than a glamour. A small legion of Brittlingen keep this place running far more efficiently than a huge army. It helps there aren’t many of us, I suppose.”
“How many Supernaturals are there exactly?” Eric posed, wondering how much of the myth and lore around the Kingdom of Switzerland had actively kept the space Supernatural free. Or at the very least vampire-free. Now that he considered it he’d never met a vampire whose word he could trust claiming to ever have resided there, let alone serve the court.
“Oh, I lost count some time ago,” he shrugged. “Not many, a few hundred. Most keep to themselves and leave me be. I have a beer with the two werebears who live in Bern now and then, but they make for dreadful company. Such messy eaters.”
“How is that possible?” Sookie whispered.
“That uneasy feeling you felt when you first came here,” the King elaborated causing all the Supernaturals to nod their head in recognition, causing Ernst to preen with delight. “It’s an elaborate ward, keeps the space safe for those who seek refuge and I know exactly who is coming in and out. We’re so close to the sky here and with the energy from the mountains, it’s hardly a bother to channel the magic that is already here. Have you not felt stronger, more in charge of your abilities?”
“I hadn’t noticed,” Sookie stammered, “I thought it was just Eric.”
“He is a bit of a walking mountain, isn’t he?” he joked, causing the Viking to self-consciously regard Sookie who didn’t seem to find any insult in the observation at all.
“It’s a good thing,” she whispered for his ears only, though it would easily reach the ears of the other Supernaturals. “You’re solid and dependable, it’s brought us all exactly where we needed to be. Only you could deliver such a Christmas surprise for a set of telepaths needing a safe haven.”
“I helped too,” Pam interjected with a huff.
“You’re like fudging granite, Pam,” Sookie acknowledged. “Eric wouldn’t be him without you at his foundations.”
“Just as long as you know it,” she replied, seemingly unimpressed though internally quite contented with the compliment.
“Indeed,” Ernst agreed, carrying a suitably captivated look for the vampiress. “Without your continued care and affection for the boy I would never have let you stay, or for that matter come to understand there’s more to vampires than meets the eye. You imitate one for so long you almost forget what they’re really like. I can’t express how high my debt is for taking in my family as you both did. Had I known of their existence-”
“Exactly how are we related?” Sookie asked, wondering where that easy familiarity with him had come from as soon as he dropped his vampire glamour.
“My sister married your great-grandfather, Niall Brigant,” he explained. “He’s very eager to meet you too. He’d be here today but he had some unfinished business to attend to. In your home state I believe,” he finished with a malignant twinkle in his eye.
“Fudging hell! You’re Royalty!” Pam exclaimed aghast while looking at Sookie in disbelief. Though soon changing her tone, “I always knew my baby was destined to be a Prince! And of the Realm no less!”
“He indeed might be,” Ernst acknowledged. “Sookie and Jason may make claims also and I am still without an heir, so plenty of possibilities abound. Though that is for much later, a few centuries or so. Give them plenty of time to learn and lead the lives they wish as ordinary folk for a while.”
“You mean it?” Sookie whispered in a tremble, tears forming at the mere notion that it was possible.”
“You doubt me?” Ernst posed with concern. “I promise they will acknowledge your heritage, it’s hard to deny when one senses it in their blood.”
“No,” Sookie whispered through her tears, “that we get to live ordinary lives, here in the safety of your kingdom.”
“Why of course!” he exclaimed, “Just promise to visit this old man now and then, it gets awfully lonely in that palace of mine, all I have is the electric blankets for warmth.”
“You’ll stay for dinner tonight, won’t you?” Sookie pleaded, suddenly falling with ease into hostess mode. “No one should be alone at Christmas.”
“Well, I don’t mean to impose-”
“Nonsense,” she interrupted, “You didn’t seem to have an issue barging in without invitation before and provided you learn to announce yourself a bit better it shouldn’t be an issue in the future, Grand Uncle.”
A pleased smile graced the King’s face with the familial title and Sookie couldn’t help but fling her arms around the lonely man, startling him momentarily before letting out a contented sigh. “Will there be any potatoes in goose fat? I do so like potatoes in goose fat, perhaps with a little rosemary?”
“Ehm,” Sookie started nervously before Eric gave an assuring nod that he’d find the necessary ingredients, “of course!”
“Do you have any idea how to cook these?” Sookie whispered as Eric handed over the pilfered ingredients. With not a shop open in sight, he eventually had to glamour some kitchen staff into handing over the necessary ingredients. He hadn’t, however, bothered glamouring a recipe out of them too.
“I’m guessing it’s no different from lard,” she shrugged, dumping two jars of the fat into a roasting tray along with the potatoes and rosemary. “The more the better.”
Sookie looked around the kitchen, pleased that everything was now in the oven and ready to go in an hour or two. Pam had set to painting her nails by the Christmas tree, soon convincing the King to lacquer her toes while Hunter and Jason happily watched cartoons on the TV. It wasn’t like any other Christmas before but Sookie could barely remember a happier time.
“Did you mean to be so excited about what he said?” Eric asked casually.
“He’s just a lonely old man, Eric,” Sookie explained. “He’s a bit socially awkward but once you get past that, he seems friendly enough. I don’t know how to explain it, he just feels like family and something I ought to care for.”
“I’ve heard that’s the case with the Fae and their blood relations. It wasn’t what I meant,” he acknowledged while her face scrunched up in confusion. “The bit about leading ordinary lives.”
“Oh,” she replied, finally catching on. “Did you miss the part about a few centuries?”
“No,” he replied with confusion.
“Did you really think I meant I thought that would be with Mr Mortal, 2.4 kids, a yard and a white picket fence?”
“You do tend to cling to human values,” he pointed out.
“So do you,” she countered. “In case you failed to notice you’ve been as close to a father to Hunter that he’s ever had, you’ve fought his corner since day one when no one ever asked you too. Don’t you think that’s exactly the type of man I always imagined to have beside me?”
“Well, when you put it that way he grinned.”
“I don’t know why you took me on, Eric,” she whispered as his arms came to surround her. “I’d like to think it was more than taking an initial liking to me, I’m not stupid I know what value and use I bring but I also know that among the supernatural that’s a thing to barter. That I could have been a substitute in trade for Hunter. Maybe you meant to and changed your mind, I don’t know and I don’t think I ever want to know the answer but I’d like to think it was only ever a passing thought because I like to think I know your heart. It’s filled with a deep sense of kindness and generosity even if it is reserved for a select few. And it’s not the hair, or the statuesque physique that pulled me in, it was that heart and the space it carved for me in it. I really couldn’t care less what container it comes in, nor that it beats or not, as long as it’s there for me.”
He stared at her in brief wonder, forcing Sookie to add with a wry smile, “And in case you’re wondering nothing wrong with the package it comes in either. It’s quite becoming actually.”
Eric grinned widely, desperately trying to contain the innuendo he truly wanted to let out about a certain package that he couldn’t wait for her to unwrap and would be coming for her. It probably wouldn’t be tonight but with the worst of their worries alleviated he figured it wouldn’t be long either. He placed her hand where his heart should be beating, almost wishing it would ignite the long obsolete organ once more so she too could feel the heat he felt for her.
“I think I’m falling in love with you, Eric,” she whispered softly against his chest, not quite ready to meet his eyes yet.
He swore his heart actually did swell with that, not quite sure how that managed to have such an impact on him, plenty of women had professed their love to him, except then he came to understand. “I hate to disappoint you, Sookie,” he spoke sternly, causing a worrying look to appear on her face, bracing itself for rejection, “but I’m already there.”
A shy smile formed on her face, her eyes finally meeting his again, “Promise to take me there?”
I DO HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT CIASTECZKO ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE!
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