A/N 1: I popped my writing cherry with the Poppin' Cherries Contest (more details at the bottom) and that gave me the extra "umph" to start writing and posting a multi chapter story. I'm pretty excited about this story so I hope y'all like it. Many, many thanks to my incredibly awesome beta, Miss Construed. She's perfect and I played with this when she was finished so I claim full responsibility for any mistakes in this thing.
Disclaimer: CH owns these characters, I just own a 6 year old laptop and a 17 year old car so please don't so sue me, it's not worth your time, really.
"You want me to do WHAT!?!"
I could not believe what I had just heard from my great-grandfather's mouth. Had I dropped into some Twilight Zone? I knew that there were other dimensional worlds, so it was entirely possible that I had been kidnapped and taken to one.
"Great-grandfather, you do realize that this is the twenty-first century, right? Arranged marriages were done away with even before women got the right to vote!"
"Yes, Sookie, but you forget that the supernatural world operates on a much older system of governance. Besides, human royals still form marriages based on alliances, and you are of royal blood," Niall, my great-grandfather, calmly responded.
"But…but…" I could not think of an appropriate response and looked to Gran for help. Surely my very human grandmother, who had raised me since I was seven, would take my side, wouldn't she?
"Don't look at me, dear. You are just as much a part of the fae world as you are of the human world. Niall has explained to both of us why this is needed," Gran told me. Traitor.
Oh yes, Niall had explained quite clearly how we got to this point. The fae were being attacked too often for his liking in Louisiana. Vampires find fae blood to be intoxicating - it is essentially a drug to them, or a really great glass of cognac. It is difficult for younger vampires to be in the same room as a faerie without succumbing to this intoxication and wanting to drain the faerie, so faeries and vampires don't mingle. This is also why I had not spent much time around vampires. While I was only one-eighth fae, I did spend a lot of time with my cousin and best friend, Claudine, who was 100% faerie. If I met a vampire smelling of faerie, it could potentially be disastrous. So I avoided them. Besides, I wasn't really too keen on hanging out with someone whose only interest in sitting down to dinner with my family was to decide which member to dine on first.
For the most part, fairies and vampires co-existed somewhat peacefully. However, it seemed as though a group of vampires were actively hunting fairies in Louisiana. Niall was forced to take drastic measures; he knew of an incredibly old vampire in a position of authority who was also seeking to take over Louisiana. They were currently negotiating terms of forming an uncommon alliance between fae and vampires. The fae and all of their interests would be protected in his area, which would extend to all of Louisiana once he became king, and in turn, the fae would be his allies whenever needed and would help him takeover the throne when the time came. To cement their alliance, a marriage was necessary between the two groups and since the vampire was male, Niall had to choose one of his female kin; I was pretty much his only option. For obvious reasons, it could not be one of his kin that was fully faerie. I had enough human blood that I was not in danger of being drained, at least unintentionally. On top of everything else, Niall wanted to make sure that I was a virgin and was requiring me to stay that way until the wedding so that not only could my future vampire husband have the honor of my maidenhood, but also to ensure that our family would not be dishonored if either party were to back out of alliance before the wedding. Oh joy.
I guess lucky for Niall, my telepathy pretty much negated any chance of me giving it up to a human male. You try having sex with someone when you can hear his every thought. Go on. Yeah, I couldn't do it either. The moment loses all the passion in the world when you can hear how he wishes you would hurry up and get him off, or you would stop being so shy and let him just feel you up already. Very romantic.
I didn't know where my telepathy came from; just that it was not part of my fae heritage. I didn't even learn about my fae heritage, or the existence of other supernatural (Supes for short) creatures, until my parents died when I was seven years old. Until then I just thought I was a freak and so did everyone else. People were afraid to be around someone who answered questions they hadn't voiced; even my parents tended to shy away from me a bit. They had taken me to see a psychologist but, despite her knowing the truth, she told my parents I was just good at reading body language. Living with my telepathy was not easy until I found out about my fae heritage.
Being part fae helped me learn better control over my gift. I practiced my telepathy along with all of my other fae abilities – teleportation, potions, and some basic magick. Along with igniting my fae spark, I also got the gift of fae longevity, which is uncommon for most people with as little faerie blood as I had, but the Brigant bloodline was strong, as was my "spark."
I loved being part fae, even if it was only a small part. I loved being Niall's great-granddaughter and a princess of the fae. I loved all of my fae family - well the ones Niall introduced me to -and my fae friends that I had gained over the years. I loved helping out with problems or situations whenever I could, but all of that had just come to bite me in the butt.
Especially when Niall pulled out the guilt card.
"My beloved great-granddaughter, do you not want to see your people better protected? Do you not want to do what you can to help your people? You are of royal Brigant blood. It is your duty to protect your people.
"I will not force you to enter into this marriage, but you will disappoint me greatly by not doing so. Your people need you," Niall gently said to me.
"Great-grandfather, you are devious. You really know how to lay on a guilt trip," I replied back. He was a picture of innocence. Figures.
"Can this man, this vampire, learn to love me? What kind of marriage will this be if he does not even care for me? I wanted to marry for love and have children, and I thought you wanted me to marry a faerie and have children as well. Am I suddenly not good enough to carry on the Brigant line because I'm too human? So you pawn me off on a vampire so I have no hope of ever having children!" I had worked myself up, going from actually considering what Niall was asking to being hurt and angry that he was asking it of me.
"Child, please calm down," Niall chided me. "You are still one of my beloved. If you wish to have children, I will find a way for you to have them and we will settle that with your husband when the time comes. You are correct, I did wish to see you mated with a fae, but as it is, you are our only option for this alliance. Without a marriage to bind both parties to one another, either party could back out at any time. We have tried other ways in the past, all to no avail. You are our only hope in this and it is important that the fae, and our interests, are protected in Louisiana. We have important structures and businesses here, as well as many portals and glens. We cannot leave this area."
With that, I began to cry. I couldn't help it; I had no choice. If I didn't go through with this, I was turning my back on my people and leaving them unprotected. If I did go through with this, I was turning my back on my hopes and dreams. It seemed to be a no-win situation for me.
I looked up at my great-grandfather, with tears in my eyes, and whispered, "Okay, I will do this. If there is no other choice, then there is no other choice. I can't and won't turn my back on our people." I walked to my bedroom, shut the door, and climbed onto my bed and cried myself to sleep.
I awoke the next morning with a hangover, though not the alcohol induced kind. It was the kind you get when you cry your heart out all night and eventually fall asleep on a pillow drenched with your own tears.
At first, I hoped last night had all been some horrible nightmare, but my headache and damp pillow told me that it had actually happened. I was giving up love and children to marry a man I had never met, a man who could never give me children, and a man who was very likely incapable of ever loving another being. I was doing all of this because it was the only way to ensure the protection of my fae kin.
I slowly and gingerly crawled out of bed. Every muscle ached as I had curled myself into a ball, and apparently stayed that way the entire night. I decided a hot shower was the first order of business and went off to take care of that.
When I had finished showering and getting dressed, I emerged from my bedroom to the smell of a wonderful breakfast being prepared. I made my way to the kitchen and my Gran immediately pulled me into a comforting hug. Before I started crying again, I pushed away and sat down at the kitchen table to watch Gran cook. She set a cup of coffee in front of me and finished what she was doing.
When she was done, the table was filled with homemade cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, sausage, and fruit salad. I was sure Gran was incapable of making a small or simple meal, but the cinnamon rolls clued me into the fact that she had done this just for me. Gran's cinnamon rolls were my favorite, and my ultimate comfort food.
We said grace and began eating. We had just loaded up our plates when Gran began to talk. "Sookie, dear, I know this is hard on you and not what you or I had envisioned for you future, but I want you to know that I am still so proud of you. I'm proud of you for doing the right thing and doing what you can to help protect the fae."
"But Gran, don't you think this is all a little crazy and old-fashioned? What happen to all you have taught me about being a strong, independent woman?" I asked her. It's true. She had always taught me that a woman didn't need a man to get things done or to support herself or her family. She taught me that Stackhouse and Hale women were strong.
"And what makes you think that by doing this you are being weak or losing your independence?" she countered.
"Well…" I took a few bites of food while I thought about what she was saying. "I'm required to be a virgin, but the same is not expected of my husband. Isn't it a little ridiculous and possessive to require that that be part of the contract?" I was pretty sure Gran would agree with me on at least that point.
"You silly girl. Do you really expect a man who has been alive for who knows how long to still be a virgin? It is impractical to even consider it. Besides, I raised you to honor your body and save yourself for your future husband anyways. This should not be a point that bothers you."
I simply stared at my grandmother. I couldn't believe she didn't even take my side on this point.
"Stop catching flies child," she scolded me and I closed my mouth. "Now, if you insist on being your usual stubborn self, I will explain some things to you. Are you going to listen, or just try to come up with ridiculous arguments to express how much you dislike the situation you find yourself in?"
"I'm all ears Gran. Please enlighten me," I responded somewhat sarcastically. I was a little upset that Gran seemed to be taking Niall's side on this.
"Don't you get smart with me Sookie Stackhouse. Now I'm trying to help you out here, so you listen good. You agreeing to this marriage is not a sign of weakness, nor do you have to lose your independence in the process. Yes, you will be expected to be a good wife, but a good wife is also strong and independent. When is the last time you read your Bible child? Proverbs has many passages about how a good wife is strong and independent; she cares for all of the needs of her household and she is wise and kind. She also is not afraid to make good investments and see them through. How are any of those things weak or dependant?
"This is how I have raised you and this is how you will be. You will be a good wife because you are a strong woman already. You have a good head on your shoulders and you are kind. These things will help you when you become queen. Queens are never seen as weak or dependant, even when they do have a king to help them rule. You can still do the things that you want to do, but you must now share your life with your husband and you will honor and respect your husband by including him in any decisions that will affect you both, as should he. This would be the case no matter if you were marrying for love or not."
Gran went back to eating as I pondered over her words. She was right, as usual. A small part of me was annoyed about that, but a larger part found comfort in her words. I knew the terms of the contract and I had forgotten that one day I would be wife to a king. I didn't know if that would make me a queen though, since I was not a vampire, but I would most likely be expected to act the role of a queen. If the fae and vampires did enter into a time of peace in Louisiana, it was even more likely that I would be elevated to the status of queen and given rule over at least the fae, in the human realm anyways.
"You're right, Gran. I hadn't thought of all that. I guess I became too focused on what I was giving up. It bothers me that I may never have children and I'm not even sure that vampires are capable of loving, so I may never have love either. Vampires tend to be so cold and emotionless. What is this man going to expect of me as his wife?"
"I understand your concerns and your fears child. But you forget that I too thought my husband would never be able to give me children and yet I managed to have two beautiful children, a son and a daughter." I had forgotten about that. "And do you really think that a vampire that was interested in breaking out of the confines of his culture and entering into a innovative alliance with fae, people who he should be more interested in feasting on than allying with, would be foolish and cruel? The fact that he is considering this, whatever his reasons, tells me that he is wise and has compassion within him somewhere. I am also certain that no man who gets to know you will ever be incapable of loving you in whatever way he can."
Once again, Gran had eased my fears. I got up and went around the table to give Gran a hug and whispered "thank you" into her ear.
Since Gran had cooked, I cleaned up breakfast and then went to enjoy the mid-June sun and give in to my one vice, tanning. I settled on a lounge chair with my book and glass of iced tea and got to the business of relaxing. I didn't have to be at work until four o'clock so I had plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine and peace.
I hadn't been outside for more than thirty minutes when I heard a "pop" and a "Hey cuz!"
I turned in the direction of the voice and smiled when I saw Claudine lying on the other lounge chair looking beautiful. She really was a gorgeous woman. She was about 6' tall, with green eyes and long brown hair. As if her beauty wasn't enough, she also had a killer body, no matter what she ate. She was definitely a lot thinner than my size eight body. I almost hated going out to clubs with her because of it. But then I'd hear what the men were thinking and realize that I didn't really want their attention anyway.
"Claudine, what a surprise," I replied sarcastically. I was sure she would've already heard the "good" news from Niall and that was why she was paying me a visit.
"The surprise my dear is that you actually agreed to do this marriage. I lost my bet with Claude because of you," she said with pouty lips.
I laughed at her ridiculous face, despite myself. I was more intrigued about the fact that she knew about this before and had yet to tell me. "Claudine, how long have you known about this, and why did you not think it appropriate to tell your favorite cousin and best friend?" I asked, barely concealing my annoyance.
"Sookie, please don't be upset with me. For one thing, I just found out yesterday. Secondly, you know grandfather, he told me he would be talking to you that night and basically commanded me not to say anything. I'm sorry. I wish I could have. I'm sure that it would have eased the blow."
I sighed because I couldn't stay mad at her after what she said. "Okay. You're forgiven Claudine."
"Yay! I knew you couldn't stay mad at me! So tell me, what do you know about your future mate?"
"I was about to ask you the same question. I know nothing. Niall won't tell me a thing about him, other than he is a very old vampire that he's known for hundreds of years and some of the terms of their alliance. I was hoping you had found something out." I looked to Claudine, hoping that she knew more than me, as usual.
"Hmm. I'm afraid for once you know more than me on this one cuz. If I find anything out I'll let you know, but Niall is pretty hush-hush about this. He's afraid of rumors getting out which could jeopardize your safety and the alliance."
I sighed in defeat and replied, "Oh I know how Niall is on the hush-hush. He basically commanded me to tell no one about this and to not discuss it outside of Gran's house. The way he's acting, I'm almost considering throwing up a cloaking spell if I do talk about it to anyone so no one can hear outside of who I'm discussing it with."
Claudine chuckled but then turned serious and said, "It might not be a bad idea actually. Grandfather has every right to be concerned. If anyone who didn't want this alliance to happen were to find out, you'd be their first target. It's probably a good thing we've kept your fae heritage a secret all of these years, or we'd be in danger of someone figuring out what's going on once your engagement is announced, and it will be announced."
"What?! What do you mean it's going to be announced? When? Where? Why? I figured this would all just be kept quiet and then we'd get married and it be done."
"Silly girl. We've kept you too shielded from the vampires. It would look very strange for a person in your betrothed's position to quietly marry a human. No, they will be working on a story to make this plausible. I'd bet they use your telepathy on this one and claim you as an asset, which would be a decent excuse for a vamp to marry you. I'm not sure what will be expected as for your living situation and you making appearances with him, but that will all get settled.
"I'm a little bothered by the fact that you are going to have to feed this vamp, but it would be expected of anyone he was binding to himself in such a way, so it will be unavoidable."
Suddenly, I wasn't feeling so comfortable with the marriage thing anymore. I hadn't thought about how things would appear in public, or what being married to a vampire would really mean. Would it hurt when he bit me? How much blood would he take? How often would he require me to feed him? Where would he want to take blood from? I could feel myself getting paler and my stomach tightening with each new question.
"Sook, are you okay? You don't look so hot. Maybe we should get you out of the sun," Claudine asked. The concern was very evident in her voice.
"No, no. It's not the sun. I just hadn't thought about having to feed him. I don't know if it's going to hurt, or how much blood he'll take, or how often he'll take it. It scares me and kind of disgusts me as well," I replied back.
"Oh honey! How could you not realize that? You're going to be marrying a vampire!"
"I know, but having to feed your husband in such a way is not normal; it kind of slipped my mind. Sorry for being so dense about it," I replied back a little harshly.
"Sookie, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that you were stupid or dense. It's just that it's the first thing I think of when I think of vamps, their fangs. Maybe that's because I need to avoid those two little teeth at all costs though.
"I obviously can't tell you how it feels to be bitten, but if fangbangers are any indication, it can't be too horrible. Of course, I think those people aren't playing with a full deck anyways, but what do I know? I just can't imagine intentionally putting yourself in a situation in which you could potentially lose your life, with a strange vampire you've never met."
"It's okay, Claudine. I guess I'll just have to adjust to it like everything else. It's a good thing I'm such a quick learner because this is definitely going to be a 'learn as you go' kind of situation."
"That's the spirit! Try to stay positive!" Claudine exclaimed. "Well, I need to be shuffling off. Things to buy, people to see!"
"Alright. Thanks for stopping by Claudine. See you later!" I replied. And with that, Claudine was gone.
A few hours later, I headed back inside and began getting ready for work. I knew that this marriage meant I would eventually have to leave my job, but I didn't know yet where I would be living, or when I would be required to move. I wanted to keep at least part of my life normal and decided I wouldn't tell Sam, my boss and the owner of Merlotte's, about my leaving until it was absolutely necessary. He deserved to know within enough time to hire a new waitress, but I wasn't ready yet, nor did I know what to tell him.
I got to work fifteen minutes before my shift started, dropped my purse in the bottom drawer of Sam's desk that he allowed the waitresses to lock their purses in, and headed out to the floor to find out what section I would be covering. Since I had a few minutes, I stopped by the kitchen to speak with Lafayette. He began telling me all about some crazy sex party he was going to later and all I could do was roll my eyes and laugh. I would miss Lafayette when I had to leave.
My shift went smoothly for most of the night, that is until a vampire walked into the bar. I glanced at Sam to see what his reaction would be. We had never had a vampire come into the bar before and I wanted to make sure that Sam would be okay with this. Sam looked at me and just shrugged his shoulders, so I headed over to him since he had sat in my section.
"Good evening, sir. My name is Sookie and I'll be your waitress this evening. What may I get for you?" I politely asked the strange vampire.
"Good evening Sookie. Do you have any bottled synthetic blood?" the stranger asked.
"No sir, I'm sorry. We don't get any vampires in here so Sam stopped buying it."
"Well then, I'll just have a glass of red wine."
"Okay, coming right up!" I hoped my enthusiasm made up for our lack of being able to cater to his needs.
I headed over to the bar to get his drink as I heard Mack Rattray turn to the stranger and say, "Don't mind Sookie, mister, she's crazy."
When I returned with his wine, I noticed Mack and Denise Rattray had relocated to the stranger's booth and were trying to carry on a conversation with him. I didn't trust the Rats, my nickname for them, so I dipped inside their heads to find out what they were up to. I found out that they were drainers and were trying to lure the stranger outside so that they could drain him. At this, my blood boiled. I wasn't fond of vampires, but no one deserved to die that way.
Most often, drainers would capture a vampire, drain its blood, and then leave it to die when the sun rose. Occasionally, some drainers would leave a vampire tied up for weeks or months and continually drain it of its blood, but this was a riskier move. If a vampire ever managed to escape, it would usually go after the drainer and he or she would suddenly go missing.
I couldn't let the Rats follow through, but I didn't know how to warn the stranger without letting on about my gift. It wasn't that big of a deal, but Niall didn't want many Supes to learn about it. He feared someone would try to take me because of it, and it wasn't a risk I was willing to take, at least not until the engagement and marriage was announced and I would be under the protection of my future husband. When Mack asked for another pitcher of beer, I got my opportunity to get rid of the Rats without anyone knowing. As I walked back to the table I "tripped" and poor Denise got beer all over her.
"You clumsy little bitch! These are leather pants!" Denise screeched. Then she demanded Mack take her home immediately so she could try to salvage her pants and take a shower.
I chuckled as they walked out the door. When I noticed the stranger looking oddly at me, I realized I should probably say something. "Sorry about that. It's just that the Rats are bad news around here. You'd be smart to stay away from them. I've heard rumors that they sell V." V is the street name for vampire blood and with that statement the vampire's eyes flashed in fury.
After a few seconds he seemed to calm down and replied, "Well then thank you for your assistance and your warning Sookie. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is William Compton but you may call me Bill. I have just moved back to town."
"Compton? You wouldn't be related to Jesse Compton, would you?" I asked.
"Yes. He had no descendants to leave his home to and since vampires can now legally claim property, I have taken ownership of his home," Bill replied.
"Well that's pretty neat! That makes us neighbors! I live right across the cemetery from you, with my Gran." Despite knowing I should avoid vampires, I knew Gran would be excited to know one that would be living near us. I just hoped Bill was as decent as he let on to be or this could be bad news.
"The Stackhouse residence, yes? Yes, I do believe I remember them from when I was a boy."
"Really?! My Gran will be so excited to hear that!" I exclaimed. "Well, I better go check on my other tables. It was nice meeting you Bill. I hope to see you around again some other time."
"It was a pleasure meeting you as well Sookie."
I walked away to check the rest of my tables and get a few refills. When I turned back around, Bill was gone, his untouched wine paid for and a substantial tip left. I shrugged and continued on with my night.
When I got home, Gran was waiting up for me and I told her all about meeting Bill. Then she voiced a thought I hadn't even considered when she said, "Huh. I wonder if he's the gentleman Niall is negotiating with."
"I don't know Gran, why would you think that?" I asked, because I really didn't even understand what would lead her to consider that.
"Well, he said he just moved into town, yes? Perhaps he just moved her to be at a better vantage point for taking over. Or perhaps he moved here from somewhere else nearby so that he could be closer to his betrothed. Niall has never said that he hasn't told this man anything about you, just that he didn't want you to meet him until their negotiations were finalized. Perhaps this is your suitor."
Huh. Well Gran certainly made quite a leap. I couldn't be sure that it was him, but I couldn't be certain that it wasn't either. I said goodnight to Gran and went to my room to change and settle into bed.
As I lay in bed, waiting for sleep to claim me, my thoughts turned to Bill. He seemed to have a Southern charm that was appealing. And he was definitely easy on the eyes with his dark hair and brown eyes. I could get used to seeing him every day. We didn't get to talk much, but he seemed pleasant enough to carry on a conversation with. I drifted to sleep imagining what it would be like to be married to Bill.
A/N 2: So what did you think? Worth it to keep going? Any interest to see what happens? If so, let me know please.
I'm working ahead on the story so I will be posting every Friday morning for y'all and I will post spoilers for the next chapter on the SVM Teaser Monday thread. If you don't follow it, you should. There are lots of amazing stories being teased there. The link is http:// forum (dot ) fanfiction (dot ) net/topic/55534/19191439/1/
Also, the Poppin' Cherries contest deadline has been extended to December 13th. If you haven't written yet or have only written one story consider writing for this. It really was a blast and I got some good feedback. Plus, as you can see, it gave me the courage to write more! The link for the contest is http:// www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net/u/2130969/Poppin_Cherries