Catalyst Ch. 46

Chapter Forty-Six: With or Without You

Godric’s POV:

I hate the creature I am acting like right now, I think in agony. I do not like the accusations I have thrown at my Child, nor the fact I am being comforted by my newest progeny. I am two-thousand-years-old and should not be taking comfort from a fledgling. It is I who should be the calm in this storm. I should be their rock, but I cannot feel my Camilla and the pain is paralyzing, making me act irrationally.

Godric,” Sookie whispers gently like she is trying to coax a frightened animal from beneath a piece of furniture. “Why don’t you take Cammie to rest in one of the bedrooms upstairs?” She offers to lead the way, gesturing toward the staircase.

All I can offer is a nod as I rise from the sofa and allow Sookie to lead me down the hall. She glances over her shoulder from time to time, giving me reassuring, beautiful smiles.

Do you really believe Camilla will be all right?” I ask of Sookie when we arrive on the upstairs landing.

I do,” she nods and opens a nearby door. She turns on the light, revealing the soft blue walls and brown and cream bedding. “I have the same faith as Jason.”

What if she does overcome this…whatever it is, but she is not my Camilla any longer?” I voice my fears, hoping to receive better reassurances than Pam gave me. All Pam could offer was an insistence that I get to Eric… Or maybe she was telling me to get to Sookie. Run to the person who brings strength and comfort to our bloodline.

Sookie sits on the edge of the bed, stroking Camilla’s foot as she gazes thoughtfully at her best friend. It is difficult to fathom that my Bonded’s condition is hurting anyone other than myself, but I am reminded in this moment that Camilla is Sookie’s best friend, the one person who understands her life as first hand as possible.

If that’s the case,” Sookie smiles sadly, “then we’ll have to fall in love with her all over again. There are some traits that inherently belong to Cammie, y’know? You cared about her that first night, right? I know I liked her immediately, in her first life and this one. I’ll love her in the third one if that comes to be. I don’t want that, but I know I’ll still love her and make new memories with h-her,” Sookie clears her throat, trying to dispel the emotion that is building. It makes me admire her strength and I offer her a consoling smile.

Before I can say anything, Eric leans into the doorway and grimaces apologetically, “Sookie-”

You’re goin’ after Pam?” Sookie guesses my Child’s intentions.

Yes,” Eric nods. “I have to be certain no war erupts prematurely and if Compton is not the culprit, I am the one who can confront Grissom.”

Sookie rises from the foot of the bed and goes to Eric. I see her hesitate to kiss him in front of me, so I cast my eyes to my own Bonded.

Be safe.”

You, too,” Eric tells her and I hear their lips meet briefly. “Please, stay with your brother at all times while I am away? Yes, that means letting him drive the two of you to work. Carpooling makes more sense anyway.” I am not unaware that Sookie is still a horrendous driver, which usually brings me amusement. “Please, stay home with Godric and Camilla when you are not at work?” he requests in that voice that tells me it is not really a request, but he knows better than to make commands on Sookie outside the bedroom. That is a conversation we have had in length, I think with the first burst of amusement I have felt since this afternoon.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else while my friends are like this,” Sookie replies softly and it makes my heart swell that such a young woman wishes to be the anchor to this ancient vampire’s drifting spirits.

I will call you once I arrive in New Orleans,” Eric tells her and I hear their lips touch again. “It should only be about five hours,” he whispers softer and another brief meeting of their lips punctuates his promise.

I’ll miss you,” Sookie murmurs.

As I will miss you,” Eric chuckles before the sound of a long embrace.

After Eric departs, I look over my shoulder at Sookie who is leaning out of the doorway, staring down the hall longingly.

Are you all right?” I ask as she finally comes to sit back on the bed and stroke Camilla’s feet absentmindedly.

It’s silly,” Sookie blushes.

I could use silly,” I encourage.

It wouldn’t be silly to you,” she admits.

I am waiting.”

Eric and I haven’t been more than fifty miles apart since before we were married,” she mumbles, tilting her head down. “I can feel him flying away and I already miss him.”

My lips tilt into a small smile, “He has died for the day on many occasions. When that occurs, he is far more absent from you than he is now.”

Sookie frowns, “I really don’t have any right to be complainin’ right now, especially not to you of all people.”

As I am about to reply, Jason arrives in the room and goes to flop on the opposite side of Camilla on the bed. Before he can, I am up and snarling involuntarily.

Fine. You flop on the bed and gimme your chair then,” Jason grumbles. “I may be a vamp, but it don’t mean I wanna stand around lookin’ like a statue or gargoyle, y’know?”

My eyes roll toward the heavens. How did I land such a Child?

Slipping into the bed beside my Bonded, I wrap her in my cool embrace. Her body immediately begins to warm me as I pull her closer. Jason takes my seat and one of Camilla’s hands while he looks her over.

You called Ludwig?” Jason asks curiously.

Ludwig can treat only the body,” I tell him in exasperation. “This is purely an affliction of the mind.”

I meant so we can feed her while she’s down for the count,” Jason tells me and I flinch. “Maybe a feedin’ tube or somethin’?”

Would you-”

I got it,” Sookie assures, reaching for her phone and calling the doctor.

What is it?” I hear Ludwig’s voice answer Sookie’s call.

Dr. Ludwig, it’s Sookie Northman,” Sookie answers the phone formally. “We have a situation here and I was hopin’ you could lend us some expertise?”

I can arrive in two hours. I am with a patient. Will it wait?”

It will wait,” Sookie replies sadly and I know it is not because of the doctor’s delay, but because she wishes the situation would not continue another two hours.

I will see you around eleven,” Ludwig tells her and hangs up.

She’ll be here at eleven,” Sookie announces.

I know,” Jason and I say in unison and Sookie smiles.

We are sitting in companionable silence for an hour or so when I hear Jason chuckle.

What is it?” I ask, surprised he can muster so much amusement under the circumstances.

Cammie’s gonna be so pissed at you when she wakes up,” Jason laughs a bit harder. “She’ll say somethin’ like, ‘you flew us to fuckin’ Ohio just ’cause I took a nap‘!?”

Sookie giggles, “And then when I tell her how you came all the way up here to beg me to chop my wings off, she’s gonna say ‘over react much’!?”

Both Jason and Sookie are laughing at my expense and while part of me wants to reprimand them and say they do not know what this feels like, another part of me is laughing right with them. Those are words my Bonded would definitely say.

Camilla’s POV:

You flew us to fucking Ohio!?

I am going to throttle my Bonded when I can move again! I swear on my eternal life I will!

For now, I get to hang out and reflect on what the hell went wrong today.

One-Twenty-Niner, Echo, Romeo, Alpha, Sierra, Echo,” I think bitterly. I may not be completely up to date on codes and crap, but the words that stranger shouted at me are obvious. One-Twenty-Niner is probably the serial number Grissom gave me and the rest of it is some sort of code that sends me into this state?

What is this state? I start to wonder.

Every once and a while I catch a glimmer of what’s going on around me, but, for the most part, my ears and eyes aren’t filtering me any information. All I know is I’ve definitely heard a word or two from both Sookie and Jason. So, either they came down to Louisiana or Godric brought me up North. I get the feeling he brought us up North. Sookie and Jason just started their new jobs today or what I assume is still today, so he wouldn’t make them come down South.

It’s scary, but my heart won’t race, despite the fact I feel terrified. My skin’s not feedin’ me any information, either. I don’t know if I am sitting or lying down. It’s like my brain is in a glass jar, still firing all these thoughts, but unable to do anything.

Oh, my God, if I could have an actual panic attack right now, it’d be one for the books!

Instead, I’m just existing in this dark, little, place in my mind, wondering if Godric can feel me or if that’s disconnected, too? I can’t feel him, so it must go both ways. My poor Bonded!

I really hope he only brought us to Ohio for support during this confusing time and that he’s not about to do anything brash. After all, I still have all my memories as far as I can tell, which means I’m still conscious of who I am. I can’t be glamoured anymore and vampire commands can only last three days. If I’m lucky, this is a one and done experience. Maybe it’s some sort of short-cut Grissom planted in my brain if I needed to be “reprogrammed” for my buyer?

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about this long before now. Not to Godric, of course. He’d get overprotective and make me walk around in some sensory deprivation tank so no one could hit the reset button. I’ve talked about it with my magic tutor, Rose, though. Not specifically about me, but hypotheticals. I told her about a story I heard involving old human trafficking instances with vampires. I asked if she had any insight about the types of Dolls Grissom used to create.

Rose taught me a lot about vampire glamour and spoke about the terrifying genius of Grissom’s methods. Afterward she asked me if it was real and if so, she would need to be wary. I told her to be wary.

You flop on the bed and gimme your chair then,” Jason’s voice rings through and I want to laugh. My big brother makes me laugh. He’s way more of a brother to me than Eric. Eric, weirdly enough, feels more like a dad to me, but that’s a whole can of what does that make Godric that I don’t like to think about opening!

So, I’m guessing I got three days of this nonsense if Godric doesn’t do anything brash and stupid. I haven’t felt so alone in my entire life, but I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. My Bonded and best friends are beside me. I’m safe and all I need to do is focus on not losing my mind while I’m stuck like this and fighting like hell to get my senses back! I. Can. Do. This!

Godric’s POV:

So,” Jason murmurs thoughtfully, “I know I’m just a fledglin’, but Cammie don’t feel blanked out to me.”

I look up from where I have been staring at mine and Camilla’s joined hands and give him a glance that tells him to elaborate.

It’s just… A feelin’,” Jason tells me a bit louder. “I mean, I can feel she ain’t right, but I can feel her mind. Like… When I do glamours, I can feel a person’s consciousness. It’s like their mind wants to fill me up and move in mine. With Sook, I get that same full feelin’, but I can’t will it either way. That’s how Cammie feels-”

You have been trying to glamour Camilla?” I ask, trying to temper my frustration.

No, I’ve just been tryin’ to see if she feels any different,” He assures me quickly. “And she does, but not in an unfamiliar way. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being optimistic,” Jason mumbles self-consciously.

Sighing, I bring Camilla’s hand to my lips for the millionth time in twelve hours before encouraging Jason, “Please, speak your mind.”

Jason looks at me nervously, “Okay, so from what you and Eric have told me about glamour… Y’know, what I can and can’t do and why, it’s not something easy to erase someone’s mind.”

Correct,” I tell him. “You remember what we told you was done to Camilla to achieve this state-”

But she’s not in the state Eric found her,” Jason insists. “That Camilla was conscious. She was awake, but only had the sense to blink. She didn’t have the sense to eat, even though she was awake. Even with food right in front of her! She didn’t have the sense not to piss all over herself. Cammie isn’t awake. She’s unconscious. Isn’t this more like a coma?”

He is right, I realize in surprise. Camilla is not conscious. She had been after Eric retrieved her from Grissom’s. That would mean that whatever state my Bonded is in currently, it is not necessarily as dire as I had feared.

You are right,” I tell him softly, as I am still awed by the realization. “That would mean-”

She’s under an imbedded command!” Jason whoops. “That means she’s gonna snap outta it in three days ’cause that’s how long a vampire command can hold! Boo-yah!” He raises his hands in victory as he rises to his feet.

I would join in his celebration if I were not stunned into silence. How did none of us realize this? How did I fly several hundred miles with my unconscious Bonded in my arms to beg my family to give up all their gifts so that I might kill my beloved and die myself?

Godric?” Jason’s voice calls calmly and I feel his firm grasp of my shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. You were worried about Cammie. It’s figured out now,” he tries to sooth me as I feel this terrible urge to sob like some human child.

What did I nearly lose? What did I nearly take from my family!?

Love makes you stupid, y’know?” Jason tells me, still attempting to ease the burden of my betrayal and weaknesses. “Look at me and Sook. We’re just brother and sister and we ’bout killed ourselves for one another. I nearly lost my arm and Sookie ’bout starved to death. Okay, some exaggerating, but the truth is love makes you dumb. Whether it’s family or your true love, you’re gonna miss some of the answers. That’s why you got family, to solve shit for you while you’re bein’ stupid,” He tells me and laughs. “It’s okay. When it’s my turn to fall in love and Bond, you’ll have my back. Right?”

Yes,” I agree, nodding weakly. I almost killed myself and Camilla!

Now, no more Romeo and Juliet thoughts. Okay?”

Yes,” I tell him firmly in agreement as I try harder to shake off the shock of what I had come here to do.

Cool. Now, you wanna tell me what’s goin’ on with Eric and Pam? I can’t feel them,” Jason demands.

Pam is in New Orleans. Eric is just flying along the Arkansas/Tennessee border. He should arrive in New Orleans in two hours,” I inform him. “Pam’s frustrated, so I would assume she has not yet tracked down Compton.”

What do you think will happen if she finds him before Eric finds her?” Jason asks me with genuine curiosity.

Shrugging my shoulders, I confess, “I do not know either way. I have no idea what Eric’s intentions are any more than I know Pamela’s. For as long as I have known those two, they still surprise me regularly by their decisions. Pamela because she is spontaneous when not ordered by myself or Eric. Eric…he has a certain predictability about him, except when he decides to be unpredictable. He takes just enough risks to keep me guessing while not bringing me any concern. As long as Eric arrives before Pamela finds Compton, I have no worries.”

Jason nods at my explanation and sits back in his chair, having completed his victory lap after figuring out Camilla’s ailment.

We sit in silence until a sudden POP fills the air. The abrupt arrival of Dr. Ludwig causes Jason’s fangs to snap into place and he snarls in disappointment.

“Damn it, Doc! I ain’t popped these things unintentionally in almost two years and you gone and ruined my streak!” Jason complains as his lips curl and his fangs ascend back to their human façade.

Quit your complaining and…” Ludwig pauses when she sees Camilla, “and explain why your Bonded is in a coma.”

I sigh, “We believe it is an imbedded command from when Grissom was erasing her memory. A glamoured human spoke strange words to her, and then Camilla collapsed and disappeared from the Bond.”

Ludwig frowns, “I see.” She comes to Camilla’s side and begins evaluating her, but thankfully does not command me to move. Instead, she considerately works around me. That takes me by surprise. “I have seen this before,” Ludwig tells us softly. “It is an imbedded command. A short cut, if you will.”

Short cut?” Jason asks.

The doctor nods as she explains, “I had the displeasure of mending one of Grissom’s Dolls once. The poor thing had been so physically and emotionally traumatized that Grissom had to come and erase her memories all over again. I was setting a dislocation when he arrived. He spoke a code to the girl and she fell into a sleep just like this one,” She gestures to my Camilla. “It was a brief sleep, but when she awoke, she could not recognize her face… What Grissom said to her, I could practically see her mind breaking. When he tried to strike her, I stopped him. I told him I would report him and his techniques to the International Council of Supernaturals.”

And they did nothing,” I whisper.

And they did nothing,” she agrees gruffly. “Because she was a human. I told them I may be a supernatural doctor, but it is my creed to harm none, not to look the other way while harm is done to others. That was when I petitioned Endymion and the Pantheon to grant me neutrality. I am one of very few supernatural creatures not governed by most magical laws.”

As I listen to the doctor her words ring in me anxiously, “Does that mean Camilla will not know herself when she wakes?”

Ludwig frowns, “She will have all of her memories, but there is a possibility she will not recognize her face. If you handle that situation calmly, it will be far from the most traumatizing thing she has experienced.”

I suppose if I warned her before she sees her reflection, it might help?” I wonder aloud.

That would definitely be a good idea. How long has she been out?” Ludwig asks.

About twelve hours,” I tell her.

I will hook her up to an IV and put in a catheter. When she wakes up, keep her in bed for the first day with a few walks around the room every few hours, then straight back into bed. Sex as soon as she is willing after waking, but gently. She will be weak. Sex will help reaffirm your Bond,” She explains. “Light foods the first two days after she rises. Broths, fluids, and those protein drinks I have them on… Stuff like that.”

Is that all?” Jason asks in surprise.

Yes, because you have told me she cannot be glamoured. That means her mental state is in no danger and she has living immortality, so even if you don’t feed her, she can’t die. Still, there is no reason to let her come back from this in poorer conditions than she must,” Ludwig shrugs. “I will swing by in four days to check her over. I suggest you two remain here for the rest of the week.”

Jason leaves the room as Ludwig begins rolling up the bedding to insert Camilla’s catheter, and I hold my Bonded’s hand as she is given the most basic of treatments.

Do you know… Could this be done to her again?” I ask of the doctor.

I’m not sure. From what I could tell the code had to be re-imbedded, but that was because the subject’s memory was wiped. Camilla’s cannot be. However, depending on her current mental state, whatever is going on in that head of hers right now? Who knows? Her magic is growing stronger every day now. She may be able to erase the command herself.”

Camilla’s POV:

… may be able to erase the command herself…”



I can erase the command myself!? I think with excitement and surprise. Does that mean somewhere in all this darkness, I’m actually just existing in my mind?

Whoa, that’s way too paranormal, even for someone married to a vampire!

That’s also the first voice I’ve heard in forever and it was Ludwig’s. It’s also the only time I’ve heard Ludwig’s voice, which makes me think I haven’t been out for very long. After all, Godric would have called Ludwig pretty quick, right? Then again, he did fly all the way to Ohio before he did… Ugh, I have no idea what’s going on and it’s annoying the heck out of me!

However, that is a thought for another time. Right now, I know I’m trapped in my own head and while I’m here, I got an imbedded command to erase! This task seems way out of my league. Maybe if I was studying to be a psychology teacher or brain surgeon I’d have a better idea of what to do, but I’m a freakin’ math teacher. What do I know about brain mapping?

Mindfulness. Being aware of thoughts as they pass, but allow them to pass. Do not cling, merely be aware,” Rose’s words ring into my brain and I groan. Meditation isn’t really my thing, but my magic tutor has been rigorous about guided meditations. She has told me countless times that the natural ability to manipulate energy is useless if you cannot make it do what you want.

That’s why I’m still sitting in the dark, trying to figure out how to meditate when I can’t focus on my breathing or heartbeat. I’m not good enough at this yet!

Don’t make excuses for somethin’ you know how to do. So, it doesn’t come naturally. That’s not an excuse to do it poorly,” Sookie’s voice rings in my mind, her words from back when I was first trying to understand my biology lessons. It was my worst subject by far and I hated it. Sookie’s solution was studying with me. Every time I got frustrated and shoved her notecards or books away, she would push them right back and say it would become easier if I worked harder. Everything couldn’t come easily. Some things had to be worked for.

Okay, Cammie. You had your entire memory stripped from you and you managed to get your GED within a year. You’ve had four years training with Rose. You. Can. Do. This! I chant my new favorite mantra several times before slowly stripping away thought after thought.

Unbidden by me, my memories swell with words my Bonded spoke several hours ago. They fill my thoughts and his voice becomes the breath, the heartbeat that brings my mind to focus.

It is amazing, Mila meum,” Godric whispered in my ear early yesterday morning before my classes began, “despite the same predictability the day shares with the night, there is also a newness to every day. A new openness, a new beginning. These past five years that I have been an Impervious Immortal, I experience every day with wonder. There are so many things to be found in the daylight. Trust, love, happiness. Since being gifted with the day I have seen more of those beautiful things in the past five years than the last five hundred wandering only in the night. Those months in the sun before you were brought into my existence… I think they gave me the hope and faith I needed to let myself accept your love.”

Really? I thought Eric still had to smack that sense into you,” I teased him.

Godric looked at me with that level of annoyance he only enjoys when I bring him to it, “Whatever the case, I am here now because I finally witnessed that those things still existed. That a woman like you could still exist in this world. I love you, Mila meum.”

I love you, too, Godric.”

Suddenly this corner of mind doesn’t seem as dark or isolated. I feel free to wander and chase that memory deeper. Thankfully the darkness doesn’t return as I explore. Listening to memory after memory, conversation after conversation, like traveling back through time, through my five year past until I hit the edge.

No more whispers, I think as I have gone as far back as my memory exists and old conversations can no longer murmur to me. It is like hitting a wall.

One-Two-Niner,” a vaguely unfamiliar, but most unwelcome voice snarls in my ear. “Echo, Romeo, Alpha, Sierra, Echo. When you hear these words, you will allow yourself to be rewritten. Your mind will not cling to its memories. They will be disposable to you. Obey.”

No, I think indignantly, they’re not disposable. They’re invaluable.

Then again, this memory is disposable. I do not want or need it.

Echo,” I try to say out loud, “Romeo,” I hope speaking it myself works just the same, “Alpha, Sierra,” I’m going for it! “Echo.”

Godric’s POV:

Are Cammie’s lips moving?” Sookie asks with a frown as she stares at my Bonded’s face.

I look at Camilla’s plump lips and see them tremble ever so slightly. It is the first sign of movement she has given me in just over fifty hours. As I feel my emotions swell at this tiny sign of awareness, I hear a soft, “’Ko’,” sound in the back of her throat.

Suddenly her emotions burst forth within me. Fatigue, relief, love, and gratitude as her eyes flutter rapidly open.

Godric,” Her weak hands reach for my face and I cup them with my own as I lean down to kiss her.

I see Sookie and Jason quickly withdraw from the bedroom and I deepen the kiss. “I missed you,” I say against her mouth.

“I missed you, too,” she tells me, sliding her hands behind my neck and pulling me tighter to her mouth.

Camilla,” I try to speak against her lips, “there is something you should know-”

What? Did you get over me already?” she teases in that way I have missed the past two days.

Do not even joke about such an impossible thing,” I kiss her again.

What is it, Godric?” Camilla asks calmly.

“There is a possibility that you may have forgotten what you look like, so when you look in the mirror, the face you see could be a stranger’s face,” I whisper guardedly.

Camilla pauses as she absorbs this information, “As long as it’s still the face you love, I’ll get used to it.” I smile and kiss her once more before she pulls away suddenly. “I’m sorry, I just gotta pee so bad-”

You have a catheter in,” I tell her. “It is probably giving you a sensation of urgency to urinate.”

Her face scrunches unpleasantly and she whispers, “Can you take it out?”

Chuckling, I nod, “I do, in fact, know how to do that.”

I can feel her embarrassment as I slide down the length of the bed and push the blankets up. Despite all the things I have done to her body, none of them have been as clinical as this particular act. I suppose a part of her feels I should not witness her nether regions in such a state, but I do not dwell on her strange insecurities. Instead, I focus on my task and break the shackles of her comatose state with the removal of the catheter.

Do you still need to pee?” I ask jokingly when she is free.

She pauses before answering, almost as if she is considering her body very carefully. “Yes!” she announces suddenly, flings away the bedding, and hobbles toward the door.

Other door,” I tell her amusedly and go to assist her. She has not moved a muscle in over forty-eight hours, and I can see she is hurting from it. Soon I have her sitting on the toilet and she holds her head in her hands as she urinates.

Go away,” she mumbles tiredly.

I laugh and shake my head. “You probably will not be able to stand up again.”

She finishes quickly and, sure enough, cannot lift herself off the toilet.

Okay, help,” she admits defeat when she cannot find a surface to hold onto and haul herself back to her feet.

I smile and take her into my arms. She has me stop to let her wash her hands and I oblige. When she reaches for the towel to dry her hands, she pauses and stares at the mirror. I can feel her surprise and I look at Camilla worriedly.

“That’s my face,” she murmurs.

Yes,” I agree gently.

“No! I mean, I recognize it! That’s my face!” She laughs and smiles and I hold her even tighter. “I must not have had that command!” She grins back at me from the mirror and I kiss her cheek before returning to the bedroom.

What command did you have?” I ask of her and her face frowns.

I don’t know… I don’t remember,” she confesses.

What do you remember?” I ask gently as I set her back on to the bed.

I remember being in darkness. I remember hearing you guys from time to time,” she thinks back. “I heard Ludwig once. She said something about overcoming the command myself and all I could think was, ‘I can do that?’ So, I worked on doing that,” Camilla tells me thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Maybe I succeeded? How long was I out?” she asks.

About fifty hours,” I tell her softly.

Camilla nods, accepting that fifty hours of her life have vanished, “I should have been out for seventy-two. It was an imbedded glamour. It should have held me for three days. If I woke in just over two, then I probably erased the glamour successfully,” she states confidently.

Why would you not know?” I ask.

She shrugs and offers, “I probably erased the memory of the imbedded command. If I did that, I probably wouldn’t remember erasing it either. That’s my best guess, anyway.”

All I can do is nod at her assessment, but my anxiety will not be quelled until her safety has been assured.

You want to see if I’ll go back under, don’t you?” she guesses accurately.

I do,” I confess.

Go on, then,” she waves her hand with her consent. She quickly snuggles back into bed and looks at me expectantly. “Well?” she prods when I have yet to speak.

What if you go back under? I will be without you again,” I whisper sadly.

It will be fine, Godric,” she tells me confidently. “I know it will be.”

I let out a sigh and finally utter, “One-two-niner, echo, romeo, alpha, sierra, echo.”

My words barely hiss past my teeth at the last word and I stare at Mila expectantly. She blinks at me with her cocky, little smirk, then leans in and kisses my tight lips.

See?” she teases. “I can take care of myself, too.”

My lips relax and I lean in to kiss her slowly, “I have missed you so much.”

I’ve missed you too, Godric,” she says quietly as she wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me atop her. “Now make love to me.”


Catalyst Ch. 45

Chapter Forty-Five: Relapse

August 2005

Jason’s POV:

I feel like the new kids in school again, I think nervously as Sooks and I make our way through the hallways of Stone Water High School.

As I guessed he might, Eric managed to get me and Sookie jobs at the same school and now, we’re the new kids, in a new town, in a new state. After Sookie graduated from Endene, Eric moved the three of us to Ohio to start a new life. I know it’s ’cause Sook wants to raise her kids in our family home and since none of us know exactly when that will happen, Eric thought it might be best to leave Louisiana behind until she gets knocked up.

It’s cool, though, Yankee girls got a thing for my accent, but I gotta make sure I throw some knowledge down pretty quick, otherwise I’m looked at like a stupid redneck and not an educated, southern gent. I’ve barely been in Ohio a month and I’ve already banged half the eligible women in my subdivision. Pam’s gonna be so jealous when she gets here this weekend!

Pam decided to go to New York before meetin’ us here and Godric’s stayin’ in Louisiana until Camilla finishes school. She’s got one year of college left, and then they’ll be on their way up here. Cammie surprised all of us when she said she’d like to teach math. When I asked what made her want to become a teacher, she’d told me nice and simple that the bloodline had shown her the importance of patient, knowledgeable people offering their abilities. If it hadn’t been for all of us, it might have taken Cammie a lot longer to get her GED and get enrolled in college. Eric’s already workin’ on glamouring one of the older math teachers into puttin’ in for retirement so Cammie can take his place next year.

Sookie’s spot opened when the former English teacher’s husband got a terrific job in Michigan, but it meant they would have to move. His new job just so happened to be for a company Eric owned. My job actually came about naturally. I swear Eric did not give that poor old guy a heart attack!

Are you nervous?” My sister asks as we make our way to our respective classrooms.

Super nervous,” I confess. “Do I look all right?” I got on a pair of dark khaki pants and a deep blue polo shirt. Pam says duller colors won’t make my skin look so pale. Although, I got a pretty good color palette to work with ’cause Pam insisted I tan really good before comin’ over. She hung out with me on the old condo roof, soakin’ in the rays all summer those three years ago.

You look great,” she tells me confidently. “Don’t go makin’ any young girls fall in love with you!”

I roll my eyes, “Yeah, don’t go makin’ no little boys fall for you. Eric will kill ’em.”

Sookie flinches, but nods. I didn’t expect her to agree so easily that her husband is one possessive, homicidal dude. It ain’t jealousy. Eric knows better than anyone that Sookie ain’t goin’ nowhere, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see some yahoo gettin’ handsy with his wife. It doesn’t mean he’ll let someone walk away afterward.

I’ll see you at lunch. Did you remember your thermos?” Sookie, the mother hen, asks.

Yeah, Ma! I remembered it. See you at lunch,” I laugh and kiss her cheek as I open her classroom door and let her in. She waves goodbye to me as I head to my own classroom.

When I arrive at my desk, I make quick work of organizing myself and getting the chalkboard written up for the beginnin’ of my first class. Soon, my first student arrives and sits in the back of the room. He’s a quiet lookin’ kid with long, floppy black hair and downcast eyes. He sits in the far back corner, crosses his arms over his chest, and tucks his chin against his sternum. His brown eyes close and it looks like he’s already fallen asleep. Any thoughts I had about him being a quiet kid are shot to hell as he starts to snore. Whatever, it’s early. Let the kid sleep till class actually starts.

I go back to preparin’ the chalkboard and leave Snow White to his shuteye. Soon my class trickles to full. Some kids are noisy, others are still half asleep. Eventually the bell rings, signaling it’s time for me to start lessons. I begin by grabbin’ a copy of my thickest book and slammin’ it down on my desk. The noisy kids fall silent and look at me in surprise. The unconscious kids jerk awake and look around in confusion until their eyes are on me.

Good mornin’, Class,” I address my new students. “My name is Mr. Stackhouse. I’m the new history teacher and this is World History. Before we dive into it, let’s do roll call.” I pick up my first period class registration and quickly get through it, checkin’ off people’s names. “I’m gonna pass out this seatin’ chart. Write your name in the corresponding box, and congratulations! You are now married to your seat for the remainder of the semester.”

My mornin’ goes the same for each class. Same preparation, same announcement from class to class. World History, Ancient/Medieval History, Geography, and Government. Those are my classes this year and I’m stoked about the first two, a lot less stoked about the other two. Whatever, I think as I grab my thermos and head to the Teacher’s Lounge for lunch. My sister waves to me from a round table and I sit next to her.

How was the first half of your first day?” She asks, bubbly as ever.

Good. Only a quarter fell asleep so far. I think that’s good for a history teacher on the first day. To be fair, that entire quarter was my Geography class. It’s just so hard to make country borders and topographical maps interesting,” I tell her as I open my thermos and take a swig.

Is that all you’re eating, Jason?” A nosey P.E. teacher asks of my thermos. “You need more than that to maintain that muscle mass.”

It’s a protein drink,” I tell him. When he seems to have gone back to mindin’ his own business, I turn back to Sook, “How were your first classes?”

“Okay,” she smiles. “A lot of groaning when we went over the assigned readin’. My American Lit. Class wasn’t so happy about some of the novels, but they’ll get over it.”

I laugh and nod as Sookie dives into her three-course lunch. The gym teacher looks surprised at how much my little sister can pack away, but wisely keeps his mouth shut this time. He obviously knows that you don’t comment on a woman’s eating habits.

While she eats and I sip at my drink, I write her a quick note.

~ Had a Were in my second hour class. Don’t think he stopped staring at me for a second. His notes are going to suck. ~

She continues munchin’ on her sandwich as she takes my pen and replies.

~ Had a shifter just before lunch. He seemed very confused by me. I think he’s too young to understand what I am in the culture. His name’s Taylor Charleston. Check to see if you have him. I didn’t get a chance to get a good read on him, but he’s a freshman and I don’t know if his magic has popped yet. ~

I nod in understanding and sip at the last of my blood. I can feel my fangs pulsin’ in my gums, wonderin’ why they’re still sheathed when blood is on my tongue, but I ignore them. The past few years have given me plenty of time to hide the telltale signs of what I am. My fangs don’t pop unless I’m really caught off guard and no human has managed that in almost two years now. Also, it took a few months, but I finally managed to pull off a glamour. Apparently, I’m pretty good at it ’cause Sook said the human’s mind accepted it seamlessly. She said it was almost difficult for her to tell the memory I left her with was a fake one.

That sorta makes me nervous. I can manipulate humans way too easy for my likin’. I hope I don’t abuse that ability…

You’re thinkin’ awful hard,” Sookie comments as she dabs at the corners of her mouth with a napkin.

A shrug lifts my shoulders, “I guess I’m still distracted by some of the things we’ve learned over the past few years.”

Sook folds her hands under her chin and gives me a thoughtful look, “I have faith in what Endy has told us. Even if there are things he could not foresee or determine the origins or weaknesses, he’s seen us far, far beyond now. That’s all the reassurance I need.”

My sister’s words ease my nerves and I gotta confess she’s becoming the woman Endymion knew she would be, cool, considerate, and still absolutely lovely. I think Faith is her greatest strength. She has faith in me to keep it together. She has faith in Eric to love and protect her. She has faith in everything Endymion has seen for us. Most of all, she has faith in herself and that she will reach all those expectations the universe has set for us.

Earth to Jason,” Sookie laughs as I’ve spaced out again.

Sorry,” I laugh. “I just keep gettin’ caught up in all that’s happened over the past few years. I wonder when it’ll all settle for me, y’know?”

Sookie nods in understanding, “I do know.”

We finish our lunches, and then go back to our classrooms. It’s sometime halfway through fifth period when I feel the most unearthly rattle in my connection to Godric. All my willpower goes to keepin’ my face straight as Agony unlike any I’ve ever known tears through me like a knife, worse than the shredded muscles and tendons my shoulder had, more gut-wrenchin’ than losin’ my parents and Gran, and more destructive to my soul than seein’ my sister’s body disappearin’ from starvation I was failin’ to prevent. I feel blood in my eyes and need to turn away from the class.

Whatever’s happenin’, Godric’s tore up and it’s significant enough that he can’t even close his end of our connection. Ah, God, make it stop! I think desperately as bloody tears threaten to spill and divulge my true self.

Mr. Stackhouse, are you all right?” One of my students asks nervously.

Thinkin’ quick, I clutch my side, “Y-yeah, sorry, guys. I got a cracked rib and I must’ve strained it.”

There’s a real brief murmur as my excuse is digested. Before anyone can ask questions, my classroom phone rings and I reach to answer it.

Yeah,” I rumble into the phone.

Jason, your brother called. He said there’s an emergency?” The school’s receptionist, Tammy, tells me.

Which brother?” I ask.

Godric,” Tammy replies. “He left a message saying he’ll be arriving tonight and to keep an eye on your sister.”

Something happened to Cammie! Fuck! Somethin’ happened to Cammie! I think wildly, “Okay. Thanks, Mrs. Parker. I’ll be right there.”


I hang up the phone and turn to my class. “I want notes on the first two pages of the first chapter by the time I get back from the office,” I command before leavin’ to glamour the hell outta Tammy. That was too weird a phone call and message to let a human remember.

I’m in the office in a few short minutes and Tammy looks at me in confusion. “Your brother isn’t on the line anymore,” she tells me.

I know,” I catch her gaze and she slumps slightly in her chair. “You answered a crank call and I just wanted to tell you that.”

I’m sorry,” she says slowly. “That must have frightened you.”

It’s all right, Tammy,” I assure her frazzled mind. “No harm, no foul.” It’s a lot easier to change a human’s interpretation of a situation than to change the memory entirely.

Slowly I drift Tammy out of my glamour and she blinks rapidly several times before shakin’ her head. “I can’t believe I scared you like that! I’m so sorry!” she apologizes again.

Like I said, no harm done,” I pat the counter before wavin’ goodbye. Next, I swing by Sookie’s classroom and pull her out.

What happened?” Sookie demands as her door snaps shut behind her. “Eric actually panicked a bit before he brought himself under control.”

I think somethin’ happened to Cammie,” I tell her quick and quiet.

What? How?” Sookie frowns.

I don’t know,” I confess, “but Godric’s on his way up here. Should be in by tonight.” Sooks nods and pulls her lips between her teeth thoughtfully. “I’m only tellin’ you this because I know you’re worried and I also know Eric’s not gonna call, too. They wouldn’t want to draw too much attention.” Sookie nods again and I pull her into a quick, comfortin’ hug outta view of her class. “It’ll be all right. No matter what it is that happened, it’ll be all right.”

Pullin’ away, Sookie wipes at her eyes and nods silently again before turnin’ back to her classroom. She doesn’t have any words of assurance or comfort, but the set of her jaw as she opens the door tells me her faith in the future remains intact.

Pam’s POV:

It is almost five in the early evening when I arrive in Shreveport. A rather concerning phone call from Godric has brought me here and I waste no time finding a taxi to take me to his home. So abrupt was my summoning, I did not even pack. I merely grabbed my purse and caught a flight.

Pamela,” Godric flings open the door as I walk up the steps to his front door.

Godric,” I reply worriedly at the look in his eyes as he opens the door further to usher me in.

I stare confusedly at the scene before me. Camilla is resting upon the sofa in an unsettling stillness that is like no sleep I have ever seen, but more like a vampire’s day death. If my body still could, it’s hair would stand on end as goosebumps broke out along my flesh. Instead, all I experience is a strange pain as if my heart has been staked and cannot mend.

Her cognition has been switched off. This must be the same condition Eric discovered her in nearly five years ago.

How?” I turn to Godric desperately.

My Maker’s Master points to the human I have barely even registered as present. He is a young man, probably Sookie’s age or a little younger. He is entirely human and his ability to bring Camilla to this Purgatory once more is confusing.

Godric goes to kneel in front of Camilla and takes her hands in his own. I see that those ancient, strong hands tremble with fear and agony I cannot begin to comprehend.

I was walking her to classes as I usually do,” Godric tells me. “That young man approached and I could tell he was not right. I could see the glamour. He stopped several yards away and shouted out to us. I thought perhaps it was a prank or perhaps not a glamour, but a man having a mental breakdown…until Camilla went unresponsive beside me. Her emotions vanished within me. It was like someone purged my entire body from the inside out with freezing water. She was gone from me,” Streams of blood wind rivers down Godric’s face as he finishes his tale and I feel my own crimson tears drip down my chin.

What were the words?” I ask softly. “Maybe if they turn off her cognition, repeating them will turn it back on?” I suggest hopefully.

Godric shakes his head. “I have tried that!” he barks in frustration and I regret making such an obvious suggestion. Of course, Godric will have tried countless options already. “I called you here for two reasons. One is to try to determine what vampire sent the human to recite those words and the other is to attend Camilla’s classes until we have figured out…”

It will be all right, Godric,” I try to comfort the eldest of our bloodline.

What if it was an imbedded memory reset?” Godric whispers. “What if Grissom left a code in her mind to wipe her memories?” He brings Camilla’s hands to his lips and kisses them frantically as if praying to his Bonded to rise from this nightmare. “I will never have my Camilla back. She will start from scratch all over again. What if I do not love that Camilla? What if she does not love me?”

Godric, get her to Ohio,” I tell him. “Jason has the best glamouring skills of our bloodline, shockingly enough. Maybe in her state he can try-”

He is not experienced enough. He could do more harm than good!” Godric snaps and kisses Camilla’s hands once more, rubbing his thumbs repeatedly into her palms.

What is it you suggest then?” I frown.

I am going to beg Sookie to cut off her wings,” Godric announces as he lifts Camilla into his arms.

But then-”

I know,” Godric whispers, cutting me off. “I am sorry, Pamela, but I will not live without Camilla.”

Though every fiber of my being wants to shriek and beg him not to even consider robbing the entire bloodline of our freedoms and futures, a newer, less selfish, part of me cannot bear to think of him existing another day after such a loss.

I will see what I can find out from this one,” I tell him without protesting his intentions.

Thank you, Pamela, and I am truly sorry,” he tells me sadly before leaving the house and taking off into the night sky with his vacant Bonded.

Turning to the captive who has brought this turmoil upon our bloodline, however unwillingly, I begin to dig for my answers.

Around one in the morning, I end my delving after concluding that this young man has what Sookie would call, “A hole in the head.” The memory of his encounter with whatever vampire has not been replaced, but blatantly ripped out, a very dangerous method that can inadvertently ruin the way a human’s brain forms future memories. If we all went around pulling this sort of crap, most of the human populace would be incapable of forming new memories!

I hate sloppy work and I am not all that gifted at glamouring. Whomever did this is not only gifted, but brutal. Initially, I would have thought Grissom or Compton because of the knowledge of some sort of mental self-destruct button in Camilla’s head. However, this car wreck of a glamour tells me it was neither. They both have too much respect for their skills to leave something this slovenly.

Still, that does not mean Grissom did not sell the code to some other vampire. It does not mean Compton did not discover or plant the code as insurance, either. Either way, it still comes back to those two. They are the only vampires Camilla has encountered since before becoming immune to glamour. They are also the only two vampires with the means and abilities to do this.

Even with my immunities, I can’t hope to detain or interrogate Grissom. However, I can easily make Compton spill his guts literally and figuratively.

Glamouring the young man to sleep until I return, I grab my purse, head out the door, and find my quickest route to New Orleans.

Jason’s POV:

I’m sittin’ as quiet and still as I ever have in my entire life. I can feel Godric approachin’ and I look to Eric nervously. All I can really feel is his presence. I can’t tell how he feels, just that he’s on his way.

There’s little else to do. Eric’s already told me that Godric rushin’ up North can mean only one thing. He’s comin’ to ask Sookie to chop off her wings and take away our immunities. Only problem is, Sook’s wings aren’t the source of our immunities, nor how they’re shared. That’s the work of the Blood Lettin’ Blade and Sookie’s own heritage. Hell, even if Eric turned Sookie, there’s no guarantee it would reverse Camilla’s immunity to glamour.

Godric will arrive in a few moments,” Eric tells me as he sits, holdin’ my sister’s hand, and pattin’ it calmly. I don’t know how he keeps so much in. Even though I can keep my body still, I know my face is tellin’ the entire room how nervous and uncertain I’m feelin’.

Like Eric predicted, the front door flings open and we all rise to greet Godric almost like a funeral procession. When I see Godric’s face, I realize somethin’ very dark and scary. Godric ain’t here to ask Sook to chop off her wings so we can reverse the damage done to Cammie. He’s here to ask Sook to chop off her wings so he can kill the both of them. If my heart could beat, it would break my chest right now!

Master,” Eric greets Godric all solemn and I can’t do nothin’ but keep my mouth shut. I don’t trust myself not to sob like a little bitch. A girl I’ve been comin’ to love like a sister is bein’ held limp and unresponsive in my brother’s arms. My new family is breakin’ and I don’t know any kinda glue that could put it back together.

While I stare sadly at Cammie, I feel somethin’. It’s a familiar sorta pull that tugs at some pure instinct in me. It has a taste, texture, and whispering voice. It brings me a calm relief that’s totally welcome right now.

Godric,” I start, but get cut off by a snarlin’ Eric. “What?” I ask him, more than a bit exasperated. Drama King much!?

Where the fuck is Pamela going!?” Eric roars as he takes out his cell phone and speed dials my friend.

I see Godric shut his eyes and frown, “She is heading South of my residence.”

She’s headin’ to New Orleans,” I announce with a shrug.

What?” Sookie frowns. “Why?”

She is going after Compton,” Eric groans as he snaps his phone shut when Pam’s goes to voicemail.

I nod in agreement. That’s really the only way she would head. There’s no way she could handle Grissom, even if she knew where he was, but Compton’s easy to find. He’s also a bit younger than her, so she can hold her own against him by herself.

She ain’t about to start a war, is she?” I ask with a groan.

Eric’s jaw clenches, so I take that as confirmation.

Sookie,” Eric turns to my sister and sighs, “could you grab the green portfolio in my desk? Master, please, put Camilla down,” He gestures to the livin’ room and the comfy sofas.

Godric nods slowly and lets himself be lead further into the house so we can all sit around comfortably. Sookie returns with the paperwork Eric asked for and sets it on the coffee table.

I have been keeping tabs on vampire movements since we disbanded from the community,” Eric tells us. Godric is sittin’ with Cammie’s head in his lap, strokin’ her hair all sad and slow. What is this feelin’ in me? I wonder. “Tracing donations and glamouring a few representatives along the way, I have discovered many “bought” politicians and officials. At first, I only focused on Louisiana, but have since expanded to include other vampire population dense states. Pam was supposed to bring me more information on New York, but was diverted. Nevertheless, I do have California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas under enough scrutiny to conclude a very intense political shift is occurring.”

Not that this is not fascinating,” Godric rumbles under his breath and I can tell he feels like he’s bein’ stalled, “but what are you getting at?”

The ruling vampires of the United States are trying to influence the next presidential election. My guess is a human is already being groomed for the position and is deeply funded by vampires,” Eric explains.

What makes you think that?” Sookie asks, but it’s me who answers.

“Those states you mentioned all have the biggest swing in the electoral college,” I realize.

Yes,” Eric nods. “This past year’s election went as normal, but now the vampires of those states I mentioned have four years to imbed the fondness for their chosen campaign hero in 2008.”

I thought a command only lasted three days,” I frown.

A command, yes,” Godric sighs, “but an alteration to memories is forever. Otherwise, we would have to track down and glamour every meal we had every three days to keep our existences secret.” He turns back to Eric and sighs, “You think war is coming.”

I believe something is coming,” Eric replies, “and without enough information, I cannot begin to presume what it means. Depending on those responsible for these actions, it could be something rather benign. Regardless, if they are trying to plant the next leader of the the United States, it is not a good thing.”

What could they be after?” Sookie asks with a frown.

It could be something as simple as having a vampire sympathizer in office, Sook,” I tell her. “They could just be trying to push some vampire friendly bills through office, or it could be more nefarious. Without really knowin’ who’s pulling the strings, it’s a mighty big gamble to let it follow through.”

Sookie looks at me skeptically, “You really think vampires could accomplish that in four years?”

Eric shakes his head, “I have seen vampires accomplish political shifts in a fortnight. Given a decade or two, they could change the world if they had half a mind. They changed the world overnight merely by exposing their existence. Do you really believe vampires did not already have several politicians packed neatly away prior to the Great Revelation? After all, many laws and restrictions to the vampire community cropped up a mere week after their existence was known, well thought out, but intentionally vague laws they could manipulate as needed. I should know, I was helping to write many of them prior to meeting you,” he tells my sister.

Godric has been silent up until now, but his voice finally comes out angrily, “This is your way of trying to dissuade me from ending mine and Camilla’s existences, correct? You think I would suffer for this cause a hundred-fold?”

Master, our bloodline is the only one who can stand in the way of another vampire’s motivation,” Eric tells him gently. “Do you not believe that Camilla might possibly be the first flame to this future war?”

You believe you are the only one who has seen this on the horizon? Perhaps you are the only one who has spent time trying to prove rather than speculate, but you are not the only creature who sees this coming,” Godric tells him, his voice a combination of growls and snarls. “You sit there in front of me with your healthy, safe Bonded and pretend to worry over the world, but I know the truth. You want your eternity with your Mate and eternal damnation to me in exchange-”

Stop!” I snap. “You two aren’t like this! Stop bein’ like this!” I demand. “Godric, Cammie’s gonna be just fine. Even if we do absolutely nothin’, she’s gonna be just fine.”

Godric looks at me in surprise before finally demanding, “How could you possibly know such a thing?”

Clenchin’ my fists, I say the thing that’s been ringin’ in my ears all day, “’I have faith in what Endymion’s told us. Even if there are things he couldn’t foresee or determine the origins or weaknesses, he’s seen us way beyond now. That’s all the reassurance I need,’” Sookie looks at me, surprised I’m quotin’ her, but gives a soft smile. “Endymion saw Cammie in the future,” I tell Godric soothingly. “He saw all of us as Impervious Immortals well down the line. She’s gonna be okay, Godric. It’ll hurt for a little while, but it’ll right itself. I promise.”

Godric pulls Cammie tightly into his arms and holds her there. It’s somethin’ I wish I could unsee. That kinda love and pain is just somethin’ I’m too young to understand. I hope I never feel that kinda pain.

On to Chapter Forty-Six!

Catalyst Ch. 44

Chapter Forty-Four: Runaway Bridal Party

(Wedding Arc Finale)

Jason’s POV:

So, the Ancient Pythoness and her Sugar Mama know all about what’s up. She even knows about my telepathy. Apparently, she’s known since Sookie and Eric Bonded. That was when the vision came to her.

The Pythoness, who saw what we would become, witnessed two futures. In one, we continued to hide our advantages, in another we came out on this night. In the first world many ancient vampires lost their existences. In the second, the loss was way down. Unfortunately, in both possibilities, the Ancient Pythoness does not see herself existing much longer…

‘Do not tell them about me, Young One,’ the Pythoness doesn’t beg, but somethin’ in her mind gets to me. ‘We will stand behind your bloodline, but you cannot tell Diedre or your family what is to become of me.’ After the commanding thought, there’s this glimpse of an image. Just a little scrap of foresight. It’s Diedre in the arms of someone taller than her. I can’t tell much, ’cause I’m seeing it from a downward perspective. It’s like I’m looking at Thorn from someone taller’s perspective, but there’s some arms around her in a loving kinda way. Just like that, the image is gone.

Do you know me, Young One?” the Pythoness asks simultaneously, ‘Do you understand?’

Yes, M’am,” I swallow hard. How long will I have to keep this from everyone? But if the Pythoness says no one can know, then I gotta be strong and keep this part to myself.

‘In both time lines, the only thing that stopped the deaths was my own. However, without your family’s abilities outed, the wrong party will go unpunished, and a whole new problem will grow.’

I see the countless humans screamin’ and fleein’. I swallow hard a few times as I realize what it is the Pythoness has to see all the time. All I can do is hope she gets to see nice things from time to time too.

Thank you, M’am,” I murmur. I hope she knows when I say that, I mean for her sacrifices and the pain she’s probably had to endure for a very long time.

Leanin’ into Godric, I give him my best ‘I need to talk to you now‘ face while Diedre talks to Eric and Sookie. He gets my point, looks at Eric sternly, and then leads me out to the balcony. At first, I look at him in confusion. The balcony doesn’t offer any privacy from Supes, but he answers my confusion by bear huggin’ me and flyin’ up into the sky.

Speak quickly,” Godric tells me impatiently when we are up so high no one could ever hear us.

Uh, Pythoness obviously knows everything. She’s sayin’ if we don’t come out now a lot of people and vamps will lose their lives,” I tell him. “If we don’t make our announcement tonight, it could start a timeline we can’t hope to fix later. Diedre and the Pythoness have our backs, though. They’ll stand with us.”

Fuck,” Godric growls low under his breath. I admit, he doesn’t curse much, so it catches me a bit off guard. As we start descendin’ toward the balcony, Godric tells me, “Keep up appearances. Keep your sister calm. If I could tell you were having a telepathic conversation, so could she. After the humans leave, we will make our announcement and simultaneous exit. Your and Pam’s jobs are to get Camilla and Sookie to safety. Fuck the hotel. Head straight back to Shreveport. We will regroup there.”

Yes, Master,” I tell him a bit cheekily. I don’t usually do the vampire formalities, but he’s gone into full-Maker-mode, so I can’t really help myself. Godric actually sighs and rolls his eyes a little bit once we land.

First thing I do is write out a note for Pam. Godric does the same, but for Eric, and then goes to my brother-in-law’s side. I find Pam as quick as I can, show her the note, and watch as her face remains politely stoic. Damn, these vamps can keep a straight face when they need to!

Pam takes the note and burns it on the candle on a nearby table’s centerpiece. Across the room, I see Eric doin’ the same thing as he nods to Godric. A human at that table gives Eric a confused look but, other than that, he just shrugs and goes back to starin’ at the dance floor.

None of the vamps in the room look like the burnin’ of notes is anything suspicious. Obviously, because there’s some things that are just meant to be between members of a bloodline and no one else.

Once everyone’s brought up to speed, except Sook and Cammie, Eric takes my sister back onto the dance floor and makes a show of dippin’ and spinnin’ her. They’re gonna have some beautiful weddin’ pictures of the two of them dancin’.

All too soon, the humans start leavin’ and I know that our playtime is comin’ to an end. Once all the mortals are gone, Godric will only have a short amount of time to make the announcement. That’s when Pam and I make our designated moves. I grab Cammie and Pam grabs my sister so we can disappear among the departin’ guests. Pam’s changed Sookie into a dress that appeared out of nowhere and we meet out by the door.

Soon we’re all piled into the Escalade and tearin’ toward the highway.

Someone wanna explain what’s goin’ on?” My sister asks in confusion.

Pam chucks a metal and plastic wand at me and tells me to sweep the car for bugs before she’ll explain anything. I climb over seats and find nothin’. I guess they learned it was a waste of time and resources, buggin’ our cars.

The Ancient Pythoness knew of your brother’s ability. She has issued a warning that if we keep our powers hidden, great misfortune will befall both humans and vampires,” Pam tells them.

Sook nods, “I figured the Pythoness knew about my brother. Cammie and I looked a lot like Jason and the Pythoness did when we were having conversations no one could hear. Too long periods of silence, too many meanings to my responses.”

Yes,” Pam nods, “even I knew what was happening.”

So, what’s the plan?” Cammie asks as she relaxes into her seat.

We are driving straight back to Shreveport,” Pam tells her. “We will wait for Godric and Eric to return to the farmhouse, and then we will decide from there what it is we must do.”

Somethin’ in the tone of Pam’s voice makes my body tighten. She doesn’t sound so confident. She actually sounds a little concerned and I know if Pam’s worried, the rest of us should be shittin’ ourselves. What aren’t you sayin’, Pam?

Godric’s POV:

Northman, where is your Bonded Bride?” Sophie-Anne asks of my Child, scanning the room curiously. She is understandably surprised to see the newlyweds separated. Even though vampires hold no considerations for human marriages, they are still aware of their significance to humans. Therefore, undoubtedly, she is curious to why Eric’s Bonded would have left his side on their wedding day.

I had her leave ahead of me,” Eric replies firmly. “There are matters that must be negotiated now, so this is no place for her.”

Sophie-Anne smiles at his statement and waves her hand for us to address our requests. No doubt the Queen is assuming we are vying for a decree for Sookie to fall under her Queendom’s protection. Our actual requests will certainly create a riff in our relationships!

Sookie is not human,” Eric tells her and the vampire chatter dies behind us. All attention is now upon the throne as my child and I open a whole new world for those who had believed they had seen everything. “Upon my Bonding to Sookie,” I feel Diedre’s hopeful stare and I find her gaze, briefly, among the fifty or so vampires in attendance, “the bloodline of Gaul became immune to the sun.”

The silence that falls after Eric’s announcement is a silence that can only occur within a roomful of vampires. No breath is taken, no eye blinks, no heart beats. It is a silence of death. Diedre and the Pythoness are the only ones among the throng who lack any note of surprise in their expressions. Still, their masks do not match. Where Diedre wears a face of hope, the Pythoness wears a face of hesitation. What is that look?

And what, pray tell, is your Bonded Bride?” Sophie-Anne asks in a quiet whisper. The sound of weight shifting behind us alerts me to the presence of a potential blitz.

She is a descendant of an Angel,” Eric tells her as we had discussed in one of our many different scenarios for this moment. Feeling the room beginning to contract around us, there is little option other than to warn that a fight with us is one that will not succeed. “Which means that her lifespan is one without end. She is a true immortal and now so are all who share the magic of her blood. Even Master Godric’s Mate has been gifted the benefit of living immortality.”

You are telling me that…that the entire Gaul line is immune to any final death?” Sophie-Anne demands quietly. Her face speaks of displeasure and disbelief.

I am,” Eric confirms. “You may try to take my head right here and now if that is your desire, but it will only provoke a fight, one you cannot win. We will fend you off until daybreak, and then end what would have sparked a war.”

Then what have you stayed to negotiate?” Sophie-Anne hisses angrily. I both feel and see ourselves being enclosed by the minimal mass of vampires; Jorge leading the mass. What fifty of them plan to accomplish when the likes of Joan and Russell are standing, shocked, yet unmoved, along the edges of the mob, I could not say.

Finally, it is my turn to speak. Turning to face both the queen and all those in attendance, I call out, “It is the desire of the Gaul line to secede from the vampire community. From here forth, we will not interfere with vampire politics and we will not be interfered with by vampire politics. That is our offer. We ask that in return for peace.”

A violent murmur rolls through the crowd, some voicing outrage and others disbelief. Finally, Diedre silences all with a raising of her arms and impossible silence fills the room once more.

Are you saying you refuse to act with or against vampire policy?” Diedre demands, but I can see a glint of hope.

There is no point referring to things that have not yet happened. Therefore, in my most commanding voice, my reply is simple, “I am saying that my bloodline wishes to exist alongside the human race rather than the vampire race. However, we do wish to offer peace. If the vampire community finds itself needing our assistance, we will happily come to its aid.”

Diedre looks pleased by my response, “I see.”

You are siding with the breathers over your own kind!?” Sophie-Anne demands shrilly.

We are siding with freedom,” I reply. “The freedom to live, not merely exist.”

Camilla’s POV:

Pam and Jason are being quieter than I am used to. Normally the two are making rude jibes at one another or lewd innuendos that are both creative and simultaneously embarrassing. Seeing them both this quiet, though, is worrisome.

Guys, everything’s going to be okay, right?” I ask from the backseat where Sookie and I were shoved upon our escape from the Queen’s estate.

Pam glances at me from the rear-view mirror and I see her shoulders lift. A shrug is promising. A shrug implies she is more at ease than I thought, but I can see the sternness in her eyes, which isn’t a good sign, and I’m left stumbling in uncertainty about the situation.

Truly, the only comfort I can take is Godric’s emotions. He’s calm, occasionally amused, but there’s a sense of caution about him that has me on edge.

Don’t worry,” Sookie takes my hand and gives it a good squeeze. “They’ll be fine. The most you can do is stay calm and don’t distract them. Okay?”

“I wish I could do more,” I whisper.

Me, too, but, for now, this is it,” She squeezes my hand again and I let out a resigned sigh.

Before Sookie can comfort me further, I feel a surge of anger and maybe a little bit of glee. Sookie must be feeling something similar coming from Eric because our hands simultaneously clutch one another’s. I hear Jason gasp in the front seat and could swear Pam’s body tensed up.

Is this a fight?!” I ask anxiously.

No,” Pam answers me sharply. “This is something far different than a fight. They are gloating.”

Sookie groans, “What about approachability?”

It would seem that option was not met with enthusiasm,” Pam replies.

Which means?” Sookie demands impatiently.

Pam lets out another sigh, “More than likely they will be forced to fight their way out. Eric will love that! Either way, our request to be treated separately from the vampire community will be respected.”

I can feel Godric calm suddenly, maybe even a small inkling of disappointment. I wish I knew what was happening!

Eric’s POV:

Damn Endymion!

I watch as the Voice of the Pantheon approaches the dais where Godric and I have announced our bloodline’s newest status. There is a hush amongst us Supernaturals and Endymion smiles smugly at the attention his presence commands.

Good evening,” Endymion begins in a rather professional timbre. Gone is the jovial, teasing cadence he usually maintains around my bloodline. In its place rings a voice of authority and little patience. “It is my duty as the Voice of the Pantheon to inform those in attendance to spread word far and wide among those of Supernatural ancestry and creation that the Gaul Line is to maintain human appearances as the multiple supernatural communities make themselves known to the world of mortals.” The command brings no questioning murmurs. No one dares to risk obscuring Endymion’s decree. “Susannah Stackhouse-Northman is a creature sent by myself and the Pantheon to maintain balance between the supernatural and mortal worlds. Through Fate, her heart has chosen the Gaul line to represent her support. I do not appear before you to sweep the Gaul line into the Divine Protection of the Pantheon, nor threaten with our wrath should they be harmed. I appear now to assure you that the immunities and abilities of the Gaul line are ones of truth and those who wish to take up arms, be assured your true deaths will be imminent. The Gaul line needs no sweeping protection from the Pantheon. They are more than capable of protecting themselves. Take them on at your own risk, and lose the peace offering they have extended to you all.”

There is a pause in the silence as if one burning question can be contained no longer. Finally, a hidden face shouts, “Why give them such power!?”

Endymion’s body tightens, justifiably angered at being questioned by a lowly vampire, “Because this world is on a precipice of destruction. Within it, a cancer is festering and we need Susannah to rid this world of it. In this world lurks a darkness that only a God or Goddess could rid. Susannah is the answer the Pantheon has sent.”

Without another word, Endymion vanishes before our eyes and in his place, are faces of anger and disbelief. I can read resentment there. I can see pair after pair of eyes wondering, demanding, to know what makes the line of Gaul so much greater than their own. Why should our bloodline receive such gifts and not theirs? The answer is simple, of course.

Because Sookie is mine. In this world and the next. Because I make Sookie a hero where others make her a damsel in distress. In return, she makes me her hero, someone whom she can look up to and she makes me kinder. Yes, where I give Sookie strength, she gifts me with compassion. The truth behind her power is not the strengths or immunities she provides; it is that she makes me care for more. She makes me desire the intangibles. Sookie is the harbinger of love. She makes me love her and she makes me love any world with her in it and all those she loves. That is her true power. She is an Angel of Love.

Pam’s POV:

How do I tell them that we may not be able to take on this human façade of which they all dreamed?

It would destroy Jason to learn he won’t be able to pretend he’s still human and explore his dream of becoming a teacher. What can we do, though? If we do not offer some sort of gesture of subordination, we will be fending off attacks from all angles.

The complications of our new gifts grow more and more each day. I charged headlong into those gifts, never fully appreciating the complications they brought. Now that Thorn and the Ancient Pythoness have shown themselves to be less than trustworthy allies, our secession from the vampire community is likely to become much more complicated.

Endymion did warn us that our relationship with the vampire community would never be the same again, I remember nervously. Even though we cannot be killed, the prospect of being attacked endlessly or being constantly on guard protecting Sookie and Camilla is daunting.

Still, these fluctuations within Godric and Eric are curious, if not plain-old confusing. At this point, I have no idea if Eric’s announcement is one merely stating we are daywalkers, or if it is a declaration of our bloodline’s secession from the vampire community. Godric and Eric had planned several different circumstances and responses for this very moment. The only consistency to those options was that Jason and I were to remove Sookie and Camilla before any action was set into motion.

So, here I drive North, returning to the farmhouse, and wondering what life I will be leading from this moment forth. Will I live an existence of freedom in the sun, or freedom in the moonlight? Will I escape the persecutions our kind may expect in upcoming years, or openly exercise my overwhelming power and abilities freely? I have hidden my true power for over a century. I have learned to protect myself without exposing my gross advantage over mortals. In my mind, the only freedom I truly want and desire is the sunlight. I want to stroll in its golden rays and watch the beautiful women jog half-naked through the parks, their breasts bouncing and glistening with sweat in the warm sunlight. Hardly any women jog half-naked at night through the parks, and there are no twinkling beams of light to make their bodies glow invitingly.

There is a calm in the connection with Eric and I feel him and Godric speeding toward us. No doubt they have taken to the air. Perhaps we will have our answers upon arriving in Bon Temps rather than waiting there for answers.

Eric’s in the air,” Sookie announces and then blushes. “Sorry, I forgot Jason can feel Godric now,” she confesses with a laugh.

No worries, I was wonderin’ why he was movin’ so fast,” Jason replies with a chuckle.

Feels like they made it out without a fight,” Sookie frowns. “Does that mean they didn’t announce anything other than the daywalking?”

Maybe they made a really good demonstration of how futile a fight with them would be?” Camilla suggests hopefully.

We will know in two short hours,” I tell them sharply. “It would be best not to speculate before then.”

Though my words bring respectful silence from my companions, I know they are all doing exactly as I am, wondering about what the future holds. Two hours, even for immortals, is a long time to wait to know the path your entire future is now headed down.

Sookie’s POV:

Eric!” I yelp excitedly as I lunge out of the car and fling my arms around my Bonded. Camilla’s done practically the same thing as me with Godric and she’s nuzzlin’ into him as we all walk toward the house.

What happened?” I ask impatiently as we are walkin’ up the porch steps.

Before Eric replies, he scoops me up into his arms and carries me through the front door Godric opened for us. His lips press to mine as he carries me over the threshold, and then sets me back on my feet.

We are no longer under vampire rule. We are, for lack of a better term, humans,” Eric tells us with an expression that shows a surprising lack of disgust. I’m not at all oblivious to the fact Eric thinks himself a far greater caliber of creature than human. “Officially, we are free to walk about in the day.”

YES!” Jason and Pam yell, raising their arms up into the air excitedly. Jason turns to her for a high five, which Pam rolls her eyes at, but begrudgingly returns. I have to laugh at their sudden show of exuberance, mostly ’cause they were both so tight-lipped and solemn over the last three hours. Seein’ that somberness break is both relieving and entertaining. It’s like two kids who just found out they’re goin’ to Disney after havin’ the chicken pox!

Though Jason still needs to complete his newborn year before he can comfortably remain aware throughout the day,” Godric reminds my brother and he scowls openly. And that’s the look of a kid bein’ told he’s too short to go on Splash Mountain, I think pityingly.

But no vamp formality crap?” Jason asks hopefully.

No vampire formality,” Godric agrees with a smile. “However, you will need to forgive Eric and I if we fall on old habits. You must understand we have over a thousand years of that “formality crap” guiding us.”

We all laugh and crowd up in the livin’ room to talk some more. Discussions about our next course of action, timelines for how long we can remain in one area before our lack of aging forces us to depart. Heck, we even talk about findin’ Camilla a magic tutor now that her powers are starting to resurface.

Finally, sometime around five in the mornin’, everyone leaves for their own houses and Eric turns to look at me.

What?” I ask, tiltin’ my head curiously at his intent gaze.

Eric smiles and pushes a stray lock of hair from my face, “I was just wondering if my bride was interested in consummating our marriage?”

The question’s barely outta his mouth and my butt’s jumped off the sofa impatiently. “Darn right I am!” I tell him, reachin’ for his hand to drag him to our bedroom. He laughs again as he finds himself in our bedroom with a needy, new wife climbin’ him like a tree.

So impatient!” he chuckles against my mouth as I yank his shirt open and rake my nails through his curly chest hair. I give a lock of it a tug, makin’ him let out a little snarl. “How am I going to make your wedding night special if you do everything yourself?” he asks as my hand is already undoin’ his pants to play with his hardenin’ cock.

I was thinkin’ you’d put it up my butt,” I tell him with this devilish wink I’ve developed in the past year and a half. Eric looks at me stunned. “What? I gave ya one virginity for our Bondin’, I figured you’d get the other for our wedding.”

You are the strangest girl,” Eric tells me, his eyes full of lust and humor, a strange combination, but mighty powerful. “You barely handle two of my fingers up that tight ass of yours,” he rumbles against my ear and I melt.

I’ll take anything and everythin’ you give me, Darlin’,” I assure him with a moan.

Gods, I love you, Sookie,” he whispers and catches my ear between his teeth. I cry out at the attack and bring his hands against my body to rub them all over. We haven’t had sex all week, which is really like two weeks since we’re both awake nonstop. It’s been torture, but I don’t want to leave our lil’ love nest until the end of winter break. We’re not even havin’ a Christmas celebration this year just so I don’t have to leave the house.

My anticipation for the next few weeks is pushed to the back of my mind as Eric pushes me onto my back on our bed. His mouth is coverin’ me in kisses, but I ain’t had him in a week and I just want him inside me, makin’ me forget it’s been so long since he’s been where he’s supposed to be.

Eric, please, I don’t wanna play. I want you so bad,” I tell him weakly, drawin’ my arms and legs around him. His mouth covers mine now and I feel one of his hands trace down my body to test between my thighs. How can he not tell how bad I need him!?

When he’s satisfied with the fact there’s a flood worthy of Noah’s Arc between my legs, Eric wastes no time divin’ himself deep inside me. I cry out when he’s finally home and wrap my limbs around him tightly, keepin’ him in close for a moment longer, and savorin’ how long seven days felt without this familiar sensation.

In no time at all I feel myself start to cum and as the tremors are still wrackin’ my body, Eric flips me onto my front and drives right back in. I cry out at the roughness, but it’s an appreciative cry. Lord knows how long it’s been since I’ve felt any sort of genuine discomfort durin’ sex!

Of course, I know the reason he’s put me on my chest and knees and I’m proved right when I hear the click of a tube of lubricant and feel his thumb pressin’ and probin’ at my backdoor. I just let myself get lost in the stroke of his cock and try to enjoy the far less common sensation of fingers strokin’ and twirlin’ up my butt. We’ve been playin’ back there for a few months now and I take his fingers easily enough. I’m relaxed and maybe a bit impatient to finally try anal sex.

Are you ready, Dear One?” Eric whispers against my ear and I shiver with anticipation and arousal.

Uh huh,” I mumble my consent and take calm even breaths to keep my body from coiling from the excitement. My Bonded Husband chuckles as he can feel exactly what I’m doin’ in the Bond, but I feel him slip from my pussy and start pushin’ against my butt. “Ah, ah!” I do my best not to panic at the sudden pressure and fullness and Eric stills to let me accommodate the girth I’m not used to.

Slowly, Eric starts to slip deeper and deeper until I feel his curls pressed firmly against my bottom.

Like a pro,” Eric tells me and I feel his wonder and marvel at my newest accomplishment. I want to laugh at his awed voice, but the sensation of him fillin’ me in this new way has stolen my words. Instead, I grunt and gasp as his hips buck short, soft little bucks against me. “Gods, Sookie, I finally have all of you. Every inch of you is mine at last,” He’s bitin’, lickin’, and kissin’ my neck and ears. Down one side, up the other and back again. It’s arousing and soothing all at once.

I find myself widening my thighs a bit and pushing back ever so slightly to encourage him to move more. He takes my silent hint and begins to openly thrust inside of me and it is the strangest sensation of wrong and right I’ve ever felt. When his free hand finds my clit and begins rubbing at me, all former ideas of ‘wrong’ are thrust away, everything becomes just right.

I love you, Sookie,” Eric tells me as his hips start to move in a familiar rhythm. He’s not bein’ careful anymore. He knows I can take it just like I said, that my body can recover from him being less than gentle, and that I love the less than gentle.

I love you, too, Eric,” I tell him in a much higher voice. Anal sex definitely isn’t my preferred act, but hot damn, does it change up the game!

My husband snarls at my words and I feel his movements become more erratic until he’s pressed as deep as he can get. I feel his cock begin to pulse in a way I’ve never truly felt before. Admittedly, feelin’ him cum inside my butt is much different than when he cums in my pussy. It’s like my walls are holdin’ him so tight I can feel every little quiver of his cock. That’s so sexy, I think with a tired moan and a slightly kinder criticism for anal.

Shower?” My husband asks me and I know it’s a sensitive way for him to offer cleaning me up.

Mmhmm,” I agree. “You gonna do me again in the shower?”

Of course,” he laughs and lifts me into his arms.

As I’m placed carefully on my feet in the shower and the water starts to fall around me, all I can do is reflect on the last two years. All I can think to do is thank every one of my lucky stars as my husband wraps his arms around me in the warm spray. Officially, I am home with my husband, enjoying an evening in.

On to Chapter Forty-Five!