[A/N: Sorry it's a short one, but I just need to end this chapter and get back to LATE.]
Part 18 Every Lusty Heart
Sookie woke up standing on the shore, hearing her name above the sound of the waves. She went toward the voice, up over the little hill behind the shore, and found Freyja in a beautiful garden relaxing in Her throne, drinking from a golden goblet and eating plums, grapes and blueberries from a big, low bowl on a pink marble table within reach.
Sookie ran to Her all excited, "Freyja! I got him! We found Eric Auberon and he's in me now!"
"Wonderful! I knew you could do it!" Freyja motioned for Sookie to sit next to her and she did, letting Freyja wrap her arms around her. Freyja kissed Sookie's cheek and stroked her long blonde hair as Sookie tried not to cry. Suddenly she was feeling the stress of the last few days and she flashed back on Freyja singing to her as a child. She started to break down but then a thought hit her:
"Hey, why couldn't You do it?" she choked back a sob and wiped a tear from her cheek.
Freyja laughed with delight, "I did do it, Dearest! I sent you!" She popped a big purple grape into Sookie's mouth and it was unbelievably sweet and perfect.
"Oh…" That confused Sookie for a minute as she chewed the big grape, then she went on, "but couldn't You…"
"Sookie, there are things you don't know – things I can't tell you yet. We have to let it unfold organically, in good time." Freyja picked up a plum, which fell into two perfect halves, and She ate one while Sookie ate the other. Freyja cast the pit to the side and in just the time it took Sookie to finish her half, a great plum tree sprang up where the pit had fallen.
"Do Goddesses and gods have rules?" Sookie asked as she watched the tree in amazement.
"In a manner of speaking. None of us is omnipotent except Magna Mater."
"Who's Magna Mater?"
"That's Latin for the Great Mother - Magna Mater deorum Idaea is Her complete title, "the great Idaean Mother of the gods.""
"The Great Mother? She doesn't have a name?"
Freyja laughed, "Only ten thousand or so. Cybele, Rhea, Gaia, Freyja… every place and time has a name for Her if you go back far enough. These days, most who know of Her call Her "Isis," but I've never gotten used to that. I've been calling Her Magna Mater since… well, since the Beginning."
"Can I ever see the Magna Mater like I see you here, now?"
"Not while you are in that body, Dearest – the sight of Her would cause every cell in your body to explode because you're a part of Her. Most beings only see Her as She truly is when they die, but you won't need to worry about that."
"You're not going to die. Not for a very long time, anyway, if all goes well."
"What if it doesn't go well?"
"We'll just have to see that it does, you and I. You've got to get back now and call Dr. Ludwig."
"Oh, yes – she needs to know that you are bearing twins now!"
"Doesn't she already…?"
"Niall never told her about Eric Auberon, so she might not expect you to have found him. He'll pay for his deception in time, but that's for another day."
"Who named the baby Auberon?"
"I did, of course," She laughed as She pulled Sookie to her feet and fed her three plump blueberries.
"Why?" Sookie asked as the berries gently burst on her tongue with the most amazing flavor she ever tasted.
"Auberon is the King of the Fairies, My Dear. Wake up now, Dearest! Sookie, wake up!"
"Sookie! Wake up, Sweetie, you need to eat!" Bobbie finally sat the tray down on the side table and shook her a little. "Sookie?"
Sookie's eyes finally flew open like she was startled. "Hey! What's going on?"
"Whew – you had me worried for a minute, kid. Were you dreaming?"
"I was with Freyja, eating purple fruit and talking, then She said I had to come back and call Dr. Ludwig." Sookie tried to push herself up so Bobbie could put the tray across her lap.
"Good idea. I was going to suggest that, anyway. She doesn't know you've got the twin yet, does she?"
"No, we didn't call her last night."
"I didn't think so. I wonder how she feels about all this? I know she wouldn't have let the baby stay in Elfyria like that if she had known about it. If anything happened to him, it could damage her reputation."
"Yeah, he wasn't in the most secure setting, either."
"Where was he?"
"In a crystal bowl in the middle of a big gold circle with a star in it, with lamps and a thermometer on him to keep the temperature constant."
"Niall couldn't spring for an incubator?"
"He's obviously got money, so I'd say he never heard of one."
"Yeah, Fae probably don't know much about medicine, do they?"
"I never really thought about it, but what we did see there was pretty old fashioned. It was like you stepped back in time there."
"Was there any electricity?
"Yeah, there were electric lights on the egg in the bowl, but I don't remember seeing any cords."
"No. Maybe they were magick?"
"That's probably a safe bet…" Bobbie considered that for a minute.
"It's so hard to know where reality stops and the magick starts," Sookie said, mostly to herself, as she put together some salmon, cream cheese and a bagel.
"Technically, there is no separation. You've internalized human limitations that aren't real, Sookie. Amelia and I talked about this last night after you went to bed."
"Yeah, I called her to let her know you were back and everything was alright. She thinks maybe you don't really need to learn to do magick, you just need to unlearn not doing it."
"Yeah, she thinks you ARE magick, and you've learned not to do it. All you need to do is stop stopping yourself from doing what comes naturally."
Sookie considered that. "You know, I've been remembering some stuff from when I was little…"
"What's that, Hon?"
"Times when my mom or Gran would tell me not to tell anyone else what I had been doing, or just to not do that any more."
"What kind of things? Bobbie asked as she dug Sookie's notepad out of her tote bag so they could write things down as Sookie remembered them.
"Well, I remember having tea parties at the back of the yard and there would be…" her voice trailed off as she was trying to remember.
"Creatures. There were creatures there."
"What kind of creatures?"
"Rabbits, squirrels, birds, little people… wait – I dreamed that, right? That there were little men at the tea party?"
"What did they look like, Sookie?"
"The seven dwarves."
"The seven dwarves from Snow White?"
"Yeah, they were like from Snow White and the creatures were like from Cinderella, when they helped her make her dress."
"Were they the actual figures from the cartoons, Sookie, or were they just like the cartoons?"
"The little people were like the cartoons, but much shorter and skinnier – about twice as big as a Barbie doll - and they liked purple Kool Aid, and M&Ms, but they said never bring lemonade to the party or they couldn't play with me any more. There were some tiny boys and girls with colorful butterfly wings, too."
"What happened to them?"
"Well, Gran saw us one day and she chased them into the woods with a broom. She said not to talk to them anymore and don't tell Jason, and then she never let me take my tea set outside any more. If I wanted to have a tea party she said we'd have it at the dining room table and she'd bake me cookies. I was so excited about the cookies that I forgot about my little friends," Sookie was staring off into the distance, a little sad. "I haven't thought of that in years - I was sure it was a dream."
"I don't think so, Sookie, I think that was real."
"She told me not to pet the rabbits and squirrels because they might have rabies," she said sadly as the memory came back to her.
"You know, Sookie, rabbits and squirrels don't let humans come near them."
"They used to come right up to me and eat potato chips out of my hands. I know that was real because I remember how it felt when the rabbits nibbled things in my palm and the squirrels would touch me with their little hands. There was a baby one summer that would sit on my shoulder for hours while I sat under a tree and read my library books. He stopped coming around when Gran let me keep my kitten, Tina."
"Cats and squirrels don't get along, I guess?" Bobbie said.
"Right. They're rodents, I think."
"Can you remember anything else from your childhood?"
"Just the Fairy Lady. That's what I used to call Freyja, but I remember thinking one time She's not really a Fairy… but I am… or did She say that to me? How could I have forgotten that? I can even remember how She smelled like roses."
"You're remembering now, Sookie, and that's the important thing. You've always had magick around you, but no one explained what was going on."
"I wish I had known."
"You might have been better off not knowing, Sookie. Try to trust that everything is happening the way it needs to happen."
"Freyja said it all has to unfold organically in good time."
"That sounds right to me. When are you going to call the doctor?"
"Let's get that over with so we can enjoy the pool today. I need some color this week so I don't look pale in my wedding dress on Saturday."
"Here's your phone." Bobbie picked Sookie's iPhone up from the floor next to the bed and handed it to her.
Sookie dialed and the doctor picked up on the first ring.
"Queen….er, I mean, Sookie, is that you?"
"Yes, doctor – who did you think it was?" Sookie laughed, assuming Dr. Ludwig had made a mistake.
"Never mind – my mistake. What news have you?"
"We got the baby and he's in me now."
"I'll be right there." The strange little doctor popped into the room, carrying the carpetbag that was nearly as big as she. "Alright, Little Girl, let's see how we're doing. Bobbie, will you watch the door and see we aren't disturbed?"
"Yeah, sure," Bobbie said, quickly going to close Sookie's bedroom door and then leaning against it so no one could walk in on them since the maids didn't know the doctor was there.
The doctor started with the pelvic exam to make sure everything was as it should be. As she gently pressed on Sookie's lower abdomen, she smiled, and said, "there's our little lost boy - tucked in snug with his brother, just as he should be!" She threw away her gloves, patted Sookie's tummy, and then checked her eyes, ears, tongue and fingernails, ending with a listen to her heart and lungs and a check on her blood pressure. "Alright, Sookie, let's test your instincts. What am I going to tell you?"
"The baby is safe for now, I need more rest and my blood pressure is too high."
"Very good. Anything else?"
"I need real blood now that there are two of them."
"Yes, you do. Is Northman serving RM at the wedding?"
"I don't know what that is…"
"Alright, when he awakes, you have him call me and we'll see what we have to do to supplement your diet. Carrying one extraordinary baby was going to be a strain. Two of them will be quite a challenge. Try not to over do it at the wedding, and you get lots of rest before and after," she shook her finger at Sookie and disappeared.
"I wish she wouldn't do that," Sookie said with a laugh.
"Yeah, it's a bit unsettling to have someone disappear in the middle of a conversation," Bobbie agreed. "So – swim, massage, dinner, then I think you should spend a quiet night in bed."
"No "buts," Sookie. We have to consider this a pregnancy with complications now – a multiple plus high blood pressure is nothing to screw around with. You're having company the next two nights then we're shopping Wednesday, and you know you're not going to sleep well Friday night."
"I'd better get some sleep Friday – I don't want dark circles that day!"
"Get your rest now, Hon. Let's go get some sun!" Bobbie took the tray away so Sookie could get up.
"Great idea!" Sookie jumped up, but she was a little wobbly. Bobbie took her arm and helped her steady herself.
"Are you sure you're up to the pool today, Sookie?"
"Yeah, I just got up too fast."
"Alright, I'll take the blood pressure cuff with us and we'll monitor every hour or so."
"OK," she yawned.
Bobbie had a feeling that getting Sookie to relax that night was going to be easy. As hard as Sookie was trying to act as if nothing was wrong, she was visibly tired. Bobbie only let her float in the pool for an hour before she suggested they do some gentle exercises followed by a very complete massage. Sookie fell asleep on the table, lying on her side, stirring only when Bobbie helped her shift to the other side. Bobbie didn't want her on her stomach with two babies in there now. She had no idea how they'd "settle in" together as it was, so she was going to make sure Sookie was very careful from this point forward.
When Bobbie was done she talked Sookie into watching a little TV in the den until dinner was ready. They decided to watch Judge Judy, but Sookie was asleep before the first commercial break. Bobbie covered her with a small blue throw, then she, Margaret and Alicia agreed to let her sleep until Eric arose, since she was having grilled fish for dinner and it could be made quickly whenever she was ready to eat.
"Good evening, Ladies." Eric smiled, coming into the room as the sun went down. "Sookie is asleep in the den?" He could feel her in the bond, and knew by this time how it felt when she was sleeping. It made him feel warm and secure when he could feel her relaxation and happiness, especially when she dreamed. He'd never felt anything quite like it, and he was very grateful to have it in his life now.
"We thought we'd let you wake her and see if she wants to eat," Bobbie explained.
"What kind of day did she have?"
"Quiet," Bobbie reported, "some time in the pool, gentle exercise, a long massage. Dr. Ludwig checked her out this morning and wants her to get a lot of rest. I told her I think she should take it easy tonight since she'll be busy the rest of the week."
"Her Grandmother and Amelia are still planning to visit?"
"Yes, and we're supposed to go shopping Wednesday."
"I'm not convinced that is a good idea, but we'll see how she feels then. Is her dinner ready, Margaret?"
"I'll finish it as soon as you let me know she's ready."
"Alright, I'll go check on her now. Bobbie, I'll call you if we need you."
"OK, great. I'm pretty sure Dr. Ludwig wanted to talk to you. Something about RM, whatever that is."
"Alright, I think I know what that's about. I'll call her later."
Bobbie had Margaret finish her plate and took it up to her room, where she had some reading she wanted to do. She needed to brush up on the symptoms of preeclampsia so she could explain it to Sookie. She had a feeling the blood pressure issue would get worse as the pregnancy progressed.
"Sookie, my Angel, wake up," Eric said softly as he knelt next to her on the couch, admiring how pretty she looked still wrapped in the sheets from her massage.
Sookie stirred a little, smiling and blinking at him sleepily. "I keep falling asleep!"
He laughed softly and brushed her hair away from her face. "Sleep is good in your condition. I want you to sleep whenever you can."
"Don't let me get boring."
"You will never bore me, Sookie, I can promise you that."
"You always say the right thing," she sighed and yawned as he watched her, fascinated by the way the light danced on her hair, and how soft her skin felt as he stroked her cheek.
"Can you eat dinner now, Sweetheart?"
"Yeah, I think so – what am I having?"
"Some sort of fish, apparently." He smiled and scooped her up in his arms, carrying her into the kitchen. "Margaret, Sookie is ready to eat her dinner, then she's going to bed."
"All by my self?" She pouted playfully at him as he sat her in her usual spot.
"Of course not. I'm going with you so we can keep each other company. It's a treat for me to have a warm girl in my own bed, you know. I had no idea how much I needed that until I found you. Now that I know how it feels, I wonder how I ever lived without it," he teased her and made her giggle. He was saying it in a silly, exaggerated way, but he was serious, too, and Sookie knew it. She let him feed her dinner, not because she was that tired, but because she could tell it gave him pleasure to do it, especially the big piece of chocolate cake Margaret left her with as she and Alicia left for the day. Eric was giving Sookie big bites of the cake that she was washing down with a wonderfully cold glass of whole organic milk, rolling it around her mouth to bring the flavor out of the creamy chocolate frosting. When she finished, Eric put her dish in the sink and carried her up the stairs.
"Hey, we could soak in the tub…" she suggested as they passed the second floor.
"I think it would be better for you to go straight to bed."
"Are we going to fool around?" she asked hopefully.
"Probably not. I'm going to call Dr. Ludwig, then we'll decide about that, alright?" he smiled at her as he sat her down gently on the bed.
"She's going to tell you I need real blood since there are two babies," Sookie told him as he helped her out of the white sheets, "but will I be able to drink it? It's not safe, is it?"
"Bobbie said she mentioned RM – did she explain what that is?" He helped her turn down the bed and crawl in, then sat on his side next to her.
"No, but she thought you'd be ordering it for the wedding."
"Yes, there will be about 10 cases for the vampires we've invited."
"What about True Blood?"
"That's synthetic blood. I can't serve that to the Queen and her party. They'll be expecting RM." He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket.
"What's RM stand for?"
"The Real Meal. It's a filtered blood product. It's real human blood that has been pasteurized and screened for any diseases or impurities. They make it safe for humans who are in long term relationships with Vampires, or prostitutes who specialize in them, too."
"How come I never heard of it?"
"You're not a Vampire. Very few humans know of it. Some of it is labeled in such a way as to disguise what it is. We want people to think we can survive with synth blood."
"An older vampire like myself could survive well enough on it, but younger vampires need real blood. Don't tell anyone."
"Who am I going to tell," Sookie laughed. "I'm not going to tell Gran about it, Amelia might already know. Bobbie will probably ask, though…"
"Bobbie's your caretaker so it won't hurt to explain it to her, since she didn't seem to know what it is."
"Why don't Vamps just tell people they need blood?"
"It would scare them. We needed to come out sooner or later, and when the synth blood was invented, it allowed us to claim we had no need to feed on humans. It makes us seem less threatening."
"Is drinking bottled blood like that as good as taking it from a live donor?"
"Oh, no – nothing compares to feeding on a living source. It's a little safer, though, because it has been screened. You never know where a human has been these days," he laughed, teasing her again.
Sookie laughed, but said, "seriously, though, there is that disease, right? Sino-Aids?"
"Yes, there is. That's the main reason the product was developed, but since they knew certain humans would need it as a supplement, they test it for all strains of HIV and hepatitis, et cetera," he explained as he pulled Ludwig's number up on his cell phone.
"Yes, Doctor. I hear you wanted to speak to me?"
"Yes, I think you need to try giving your little fiancée RM instead of True Blood now that she's carrying twins. She needs to gain a little weight as it is, and the babies will grow rapidly in the coming month. We need to give her every possible advantage so we have two healthy babies and a healthy mama at the end of the process. Your wedding is Saturday, yes?"
"Does she have anything strenuous planned to get ready for it?"
"I believe they're going to shop at one of the local malls Wednesday."
"Alright, I'll have a wheel chair with automatic controls delivered tomorrow. She's to stay in it as much as possible and I don't want to hear any sass about it. You be firm with her - the survival of your children and your wife have to come first, you understand me?"
"Yes, Doctor, I do."
"Alright, let her try the RM at the wedding and let me know immediately if she's unable to drink it. If she is able, start her on two a day and we'll go from there."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"I'll probably see you at the wedding, but I'm not sure of it. If not, I'll certainly talk to you after," she said as she hung up.
"She's going to send a wheel chair for you to use on Wednesday," Eric told her as he ended the call and laid his iPhone on his nightstand.
"Is that really necessary?" Sookie wrinkled her nose, not liking the idea at all.
"The doctor thinks it is, so you do as she says. She said she didn't want to hear any sass about it – your life and the lives of the boys are at stake, so you stay in the chair as much as you can."
"Well, if you put it that way…"
"That is the way it is, Sookie," he said firmly, looking her right in the eye. "You need to appreciate the gravity of the situation."
"Gravity? It's not that big of a deal."
"Your doctor, who knows more about this than either of us, says it is. I don't want any argument about this, and I'll tell Bobbie and Alicia to make sure you follow her orders, so don't put them in a position of disobeying me to accommodate you."
"Yeah, that wouldn't be fair to them…"
"Hey, are we having a honeymoon?"
"That will be a surprise, my Angel," he kissed her on the nose and made her giggle. He stood and undressed, smiling to himself that she was yawning as he hung up his shirt and jeans. He slipped back into bed next to her, wrapping her in his strong arms and kissing her hair as she snuggled into him. "Did I ever tell you about the time I explored a pyramid, Sookie?"
"No! You did, for real?"
"Oh, yes, I was with the Carter Expedition that opened King Tut's tomb. I was in Egypt on business when I heard what they were doing and I offered my services to keep the expedtion working 'round the clock. Carter jumped at the chance, because they were rapidly running out of funds and time. I was able to do more at night than their entire crew in the daytime, and I had the advantage of needing neither air nor light as I worked in the tunnel. Both Carter and Lord Carnarvon suspected there was something strange about me and the speed with which I worked as they slept, but they were too grateful to question me openly. I lead them down the night before they were about to announce that the tomb had been opened, so they were the first to see inside the tomb for thousands of years…"
He stopped as Sookie let out a sigh and gave herself over to sleep. He had work to do, but he indulged himself by staying with her, his hand over her womb, sending love to his sons as they slept within her.
The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit – Sir Thomas Malory