We watched her stomp away toward the graveyard. I felt the corners of my mouth quirk up.
She was very like Sookie, indeed.
“Northman, what designs do you have upon my granddaughter?”
“None,” I replied in all honesty. “I was not aware of her existence before last evening.”
“As it should be,” He stated flatly.
His arrogance stirred something in me. “I could easily take her for my own, however. She seems discontent with her life here.”
“She is not for you,” he said solemnly. “She was marked before birth, and has a path clearly laid for her. One of light. She can never know your darkness.”
“Have you tried telling her that her future is planned for her?” I asked with some real amusement. Not-Soo-… Nan obviously inherited a few personality traits from the woman I had loved.
Niall actually laughed at that, then heaved a great sigh. “Brigant women are notoriously… stubborn. No sooner could I tell Anabelle to wear her hair a certain way, than she would resolutely deny its logic or practicality. No. Anabelle will be guided without being aware it is happening.”
“You may come to regret this approach,” I said sagely. “Sookie-”
“Is dead, Vampire.”
“Do not think that because I spent some nights in the ground and appear disheveled that I have lost the use of my mental facilities, Fairy.”
He regarded me silently for some time as the sky deepened into an velvet black stitched with twinkling diamonds. “Sookie should have been in Nan’s place,” he continued finally. “She too was marked, but Fintan kept her a secret, and by the time I found her, you had marked her with your darkness. She was no longer a viable candidate.”
I felt anger bristling inside. “Sookie was not marked with darkness,” I growled. How dare he insult the woman who filled the unending twilight of my existence with long-forgotten sunshine? Darkness had never seemed able to touch her despite its insistence in her life.
“It matters not what you believe now, nor what you felt then,” he said mildly. “Only that darkness does not touch this child.”
“She is important to your race.” I was not asking a question.
“She is more clearly marked even than Sookie. You noted her eyes, I’m sure.”
“I could kill her. You have trusted me with too much, old man.” My ire rose with every word. “Do you intend to try to end me?”
Niall looked in the direction of the Stackhouse farm. The night’s breeze seemed to taunt me with the lingering scent of the fairy-child in question. “No, you couldn’t,” he returned confidently. He chose to ignore my latter inquiries. I took this as confirmation.
“I will not go to my final death easily.”
“I am aware of how hard you are to kill, Northman.”
We stood in silence for a while longer, letting only the sounds of the Louisiana evening fill the chasm of malice between us.
Then he spoke again, “I bear you no ill-will, Vampire. I believe you truly cared for Sookie and leaving her was a sacrifice of which I’d never have believed any of your kind capable. I will not seek your final death now. I believe the love you still carry for Sookie will keep my Anabelle safe, but I must impress upon you the importance of keeping your distance. She needs all of her light for the… events coming. She would be too good not to share it with you.”
I turned toward him, stunned, but he had already dematerialized.
With much to consider, I entered Compton’s former dwelling. By the moldering and musty scents present and more by those absent, I knew that he no longer resided there, but kept the place (mostly) maintained, though, in true Bill Compton fashion, did not update the house with any modern advancements. It would suit my needs for the time being, however, and I made full use of the facilities, cleaning all traces of earth from my body. My clothing was a lost cause, and Compton’s forgotten garments had long since decayed away in their drawers, so I went without.
I then set about making this temporary nesting place livable for the present. I was unsure how long I would stay. I was unsure about much, but I felt strongly that I would not be leaving Bon Temps in the near future. I felt compelled to stay, and I trusted my instincts. One does not survive for more than a millennia without learning to trust what is instinctual.
I built a fire, more for the desire to be constructive than any actual need, and settled myself before it.
I had drifted into ‘down-time’ when I heard the faint knock at the front door.
I hesitated, scanning the room for potential weapons. The iron fire poker was in my hands in an instant. Confident I could dispatch whomever Niall sent, I strode to the door and pulled it open in a blink.
“Oh! Good God!” The little blonde woman with the golden eyes shrieked before turning a delicious shade of red and covering her face with her hands.
It took me a moment to understand her discomfort.
“Look! I know it’s your house and you can do what you like, but can you cover up?” She pleaded through her fingers.
I grinned and dropped the iron tool against the whitewashed door frame.
“Human modesty. Please?” She continued with flaming cheeks behind slender ivory hands, “…please?”
I chuckled, “Come inside if you like. I will see what I can find. I had not… expected company.”
She entered, careful to keep her face and eyes averted while I moved up the stairs in search of some kind of covering for my body. I settled on a mostly intact linen sheet and wrapped it around my lower half before returning to Not-S – Anabelle.
She was not waiting in the foyer. She had drifted into the living area and was seated before the fire, gazing at it intently. I spent a few moments watching her before she noticed my return.
“You knew my Great-Gran, ” she was not asking.
I raised one eyebrow in response.
That sent her into peals of laughter. My confusion only intensified the mirth.
“I’m sorry,” she choked between heavy breaths. “It’s just, I’ve read about The Viking Eyebrows so often. I honestly never thought I’d get to see them in action for real.”
“Have they lived up to the hype?”
She blushed and squirmed. “Sookie wrote about a lot of your expressions… Most of which I don’t guess she’d like knowing I read…” Her eyes met mine then darted away quickly.
I found that statement amusing and curious. Sookie had written about me?
“What else did she write about?”
“Lots. She had pages and pages of notebooks that she’d journaled in. Some were stories she’d written long after she married my great-grandaddy, some were from when you were her -” she blushed and looked away from me again, “her lover. And some pages were just shopping lists for the Piggly-Wiggly. When she died, my grandaddy had them all compiled and bound into the Sookie-Book. Kind of our family’s homage to our Great Adventurer. Only, when I was little and Niall – he’s actually my great-great-great-great-grandfather… I mighta missed a great… Anyway, when he… started seeing me, my daddy gave me the book. I guess Niall told them I would be like her, so they wanted me to learn about putting up shields and the like…”
“You are telepathic?”
“May I read this… Sookie-Book?”
“Well, why do you think I dragged myself all the way back here at this time of night? Lord knows I could be sleeping like the dead right now… Oh, sorry.” She heaved a leather-bound tome from her bag and made to rise to bring it to me. In a blink I was seated before the fire with her. Thoroughly startled, she lost her balance and landed with her face in my linen covered lap.
Red-faced and scowling in a very familiar manner, she pushed herself up and shoved the book onto my now vacant lap. “God damned supes,” she muttered, “I know he coulda caught me.”
I smirked. She swatted at my bare shoulder.
“I swear, I have your number already, Mister. Northman, and that wasn’t funny!”
I could no longer hold back my laughter.
Still chuckling, I leaned back and began to peruse the well loved, deteriorating pages. Her school-girl script was enough to bring back a flood of mixed memories and emotions, and I found myself lost scouring every page, trying to memorize each line.
When the front door closed, I barely registered that the girl had left. I spent the last hours of the night in front of the fireplace (which had long since burned out without tending) pouring over my lover’s accounts of our time together.
When I could no longer resist the call of dawn, I crawled into Bill’s old resting place under the floor with the ‘Sookie-Book’ held close. I stroked it one final time before I was dead for the day.