“You look happy, honey,” Gran said over her cup of coffee after supper one night while I was over for a visit.
I couldn’t help but smile at her analysis. I was happy. For the first time in my life I felt as normal as I was probably ever going to feel. I’d found my niche in the world and I was proud of where I was. After spending the first part of my life feeling like I was nothing more than a freak, I’d managed to find love with someone that not only appreciated my abilities, but encouraged me to explore them to their full potential. Growing up in a small town and left me feeling like my ability to read minds was more of a curse than it was a blessing, and I suppose there were times when it still felt like I’d rather trade the gift in for something more fun… like say Eric’s ability to fly.
Telepathy was a mixed blessing. There were times when it was lucky I could hear what people were really thinking because it certainly countered what was coming out of their mouths, and then there were times when I really wished I didn’t know what they thought. As a child I couldn’t delineate the difference between a spoken word and the thoughts I was hearing since the voices were the same. It took a lot of practice and scaring people before I learned to not to answer their thoughts.
I got picked on a lot as a kid, but it had more to do with the parents of my peers being small-minded bigots than it did the other kids really being scared of me. Anyone who says their prejudices and hatreds aren’t taught to them by others is lying to themselves. I’ve read the minds of small children and they don’t think about how a person needs to lose weight or how it’s a shame their skin is a certain color or that it’s evil for two people of the same gender to fall in love. Those sorts of things are taught to them, either by the environment they grow up in, the people that raise them or by a desire to fit in among a certain group of people.
As I got older, I realized not everyone thought I was a freak for what I was able to do, but most people kept their guard up around me. It was a little lonely, at times, but I understood. I would probably be leery of me, too, if I was on the other side of things. Having someone around that could call me on my bullshit all the time wouldn’t be too fun.
Then again, I had Gran so that was sort of the same thing. She always knew when I was trying to pass a load of horse feathers her way.
“Thank you, Gran,” I said, and sipped my coffee. “I feel good, like I finally found where I fit.”
“I can tell, and it looks good on you,” she said.
We sat quietly eating our pie and drinking our coffee for a while. I thought about all of the things I’d been through to get to where I was. Eric wasn’t the first boyfriend I’d ever had, but he was the cream of the crop. He was only the second vampire I’d dated, but he was the right one for me. Relationships with human boys were practically impossible because I could hear every thought they had, and touching them only made it worse. Because I was so rooted in living in Bon Temps, I had taken to dating Bill Compton when he first moved back into town.
His ancestral home was across the field from Gran’s house, plus he was the first person I could ever remember not being able to hear. That went a long way to wooing me. It was lovely being able to leech onto his silent mind. I could go out in public, hold his hand and turn it all off. I didn’t have to worry about what thoughts I might here or what people might be thinking of me. I could carry on my life like another other person, blissfully unaware of the nasty thoughts behind the people smiling at me.
That old saying about ignorance being bliss was never truer, and it was a notion that most people took for granted without even knowing about it.
I didn’t like Eric when I first met him. It was a stressful situation and I was still dating Bill at the time. Eric made his interest known, and at first it was a real turn-off the way he would flirt with me behind Bill’s back and insinuate that it was only a matter of time before I came around. Little did I know he was absolutely right. Things with Bill went in the shitter, and Eric was there to help me pick up the pieces. He put aside his ego and figured out a way to make me laugh again.
It wasn’t that I learned to ignore his gianormous ego, exactly, but that I learned to look past it to the person underneath. I knew it was a mistake to disregard the darkness that was lurking within each vampire, but I couldn’t let myself fall into the trap of assuming he was just waiting for the chance to bite me and drain me dry like Bill had suggested more than once. I realized I had been the victim of brainwashing, where Eric was concerned, and it took time for me to forget all of the crap Bill had said so my eye wouldn’t wander.
The evolution of my relationship with Eric was a slow one, but well worth the journey. Two years into it we formed a blood bond and six months ago, at the summit in Rhodes, we were pledged by the knife before everyone in attendance. In vampire terms, it meant we were married. The marriage wasn’t recognized by the United States government, but to me marriage wasn’t about a piece of paper; it was about commitment. The government couldn’t tell me I wasn’t committed to Eric, or that he wasn’t committed to me.
Still, we flew from Rhodes to Connecticut, which was the first state to recognize human/vampire marriages and got married for real there. It was a formality, in some ways, but it also honored my background. Marriages were about give and take and doing things for one another to honor each of your pasts to begin a future together, as far as I was concerned. Eric respected my need for a human marriage the same as I respected his need for the pledging by knife.
What surprised me was that Eric had managed to get Gran and Jason up to Connecticut without me knowing about it so they could be there for the wedding. It meant the world to me having them there to see me get married. Jason had certainly assumed it would never happen for me, but truthfully, I had fallen into the same boat. Gran was the only one that had never given up on the idea that I could someday meet the right man, fall in love and make a life with him.
Of course, there were some concessions I had to make by marrying a vampire. For starters, Eric and I had never been out in the daytime together and we never would be. He would never get to go for a walk or watch a sunrise with me. He wouldn’t be attending any of Gran’s summertime picnics or get into a water balloon fight with Jason. That was probably a good thing since Eric had a hell of a throwing arm. There was a lot of my life that my husband was going to miss out on firsthand because his life was confined to nighttime only.
The other big thing was children. I’d always, deep down, thought I would be a mother. I wouldn’t even really need a man for it aside from the conception part and that could be done in a doctor’s office by a female doctor. With Eric, however, there wouldn’t be any babies. Vampires were sterile and I couldn’t imagine carrying another man’s child. The government hadn’t ruled on vampires adopting humans yet but I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.
No matter how far humans had come in regards to seeing vampires as people, there would always be that fear of what could happen to a small child around a hungry vampire. As if a full grown adult was really that much safer? Still, I understood the human need to think that adults stood a better chance.
So that meant I was going to have to sacrifice motherhood. It was probably for the best anyway, considering the sort of lives Eric and I lead. I wasn’t really even sure how or where a child would fit into our life together, but the thought of Eric holding a teeny baby that looked like him made my ovaries twitch. I knew he’d been a father as a human and while he mostly had children because it was what was expected, he had delighted in his children. He had loved them as much as any father loves his children and he had taken pride in their accomplishments when they surpassed milestones. He told them stories, taught his sons to fight and let his daughters braid his hair.
That was long, long ago and Eric didn’t usually talk much about what his human family was like. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was too painful for him or if so much time had passed that he had lost whatever attachment to them that he once had. I knew his maker was a cruel vampire that had employed some awful methods to try and break the humanity from him. For more than a century Eric had been abused daily by the man that murdered him. It was a testament to Eric’s spirit and love of life that he didn’t simply meet the sun or intentionally get himself staked.
I didn’t know all of the gory details of his first hundred years as a vampire but I knew enough to know it wasn’t at all pleasant for him. As soon as Ocella had released him, Eric had gone on his way. It was a lonely life for him for quite a while there, always moving from place to place without having someone to really share his life with. About three hundred years into being a vampire he decided he was ready for the responsibility of being a maker, and having sworn to himself that he would never treat a child the way he had been treated, he turned Karin.
She had stuck around for the first hundred years while she learned the ropes of her new life. When he released her, Eric was on his own again. He made friends along the way, connecting with other vampires so he wasn’t completely alone, but it wasn’t the same. His loneliness got the better of him and while he was in London three hundred years ago he spotted Pam. He had watched her for several days before making the decision that she was the one.
We’ve talked about him turning me at some point, but I’m on the fence about it. The romantic in me loves the idea of us being together for eternity, seeing the world together and experiencing all the things life has to offer a vampire. But then I think about how eternity is a really long time and eventually, I would want to go out on my own to experience things as all children do. I would want the chance to do things without Eric watching me every second, and experience certain things on my own. Like with just about anything else, there would be pros and cons to being a vampire, and it wasn’t a decision I could take back once it was done.
“What’s wrong, honey?” Gran asked, breaking into my thoughts.
“Oh nothing,” I waved it off.
“Horsepuck,” she said. “I know when there’s something wrong. Go on, spill it.”
I sighed and said, “I don’t want to sound like a whiner. I feel like I have no right to complain about anything.”
“Go on,” Gran insisted.
“Well… I’ve been thinking a lot about having a baby lately. Now that Tara’s got her twins and Halleigh’s about to pop any minute I guess I’m just feeling a little left out of the Expectant Mother’s Club,” I tell her.
Gran knew that Eric couldn’t produce a biological child. We’d had that talk back when I was dating Bill and she figured out I was through with saving myself for marriage. I had assured her that no children would result from it, not that Gran would have judged me for having a child out of wedlock. She was traditional in a lot of ways, but felt that it wasn’t her place to judge me; that was the Lord’s job.
“There are other ways to become a mother,” Gran said.
“We talked about it,” I told her. “But I couldn’t have another man’s baby, especially with all of the ‘otherness’ floating around these days. The last thing I’d need is for the biological father to come forward and cause problems for us somewhere along the line. I can just imagine what some random man would think of a fairy hybrid and a vampire raising his child. The average human probably wouldn’t be too excited about that prospect. Besides, having a baby is a little dangerous considering the kind of lives we lead. Wouldn’t it be selfish to bring a baby into all this?”
“I suppose it depends on how you look at it,” Gran said, and sipped her coffee. “I suppose you could say it would be a case of a woman wanting too much, but I don’t see it that way at all. You would love your child, care for it, give it the tools it needs to grow up and become a productive member of society. I’ve seen the way Eric is with you, so I can only imagine how much he would love his child. He would give anything to protect both of you and I’m confident that you would make excellent parents.”
Hearing Gran say those things meant the world to me. I knew I didn’t need her approval or blessing, but knowing I had both meant more than she would ever know. Gran was the moral compass I guided myself by. I looked to her for guidance and advice when I wasn’t sure what to do.
Only in this situation, there wasn’t anything to do.
“Thank you, Gran. That means more to me than you know,” I said to her.
“Are you sure there’s nothing medically that can be done to help you? I’m sure there are fertility experts that have been tasked with figuring out a way for vampires to make human children,” she said.
“If there is, they’re working underground on it. I don’t even know what the demand would be for treatments like that. I suppose there are some human/vampire couples like Eric and me that would like to produce human children together, but I don’t know if it’s a great enough demand that it’s something doctors have been trying to figure out how to fix.”
Gran was quiet for a few minutes and there was a thoughtful expression on her face.
“Wait here,” she finally said, and excused herself from the table.
I stayed right where I was and finished off my piece of pie. It was strange to be in the farmhouse and have it not feel like home anymore. Eric and I lived in a beautiful brick house in the Ellerbee Woods neighborhood of Shreveport. I had a swimming pool to lounge by on sunny days and there was a light tight basement where Eric spent his days. There was plenty of room for children in our home and there was a big part of me longing to fill up that space with little people that were the perfect blend of Eric and me.
Gran came back into the room with a wooden box in her hands and placed it on the table in front of me.
“Open that,” she said.
I set aside my fork and lifted the lid on the box. Instead was this beautiful piece of sky blue glass that looked like an egg. There were patches of glittered spots that made the piece look like it had been dropped out of the heavens.
“Gran, this is beautiful,” I said as I lifted it from the case.
“It’s a Cluviel Dor,” she told me.
I looked up at her with confusion and asked, “A whatiel what?”
“A Cluviel Dor,” she repeated and reclaimed her seat. “Niall gave me that the day you were born. I’ve been looking for the right time to give it to you, and now seems to be that right time.”
“It’s lovely, but… what is it?” If it came from Niall that meant it was something magical and wasn’t just the pretty paperweight it appeared to be.
“It allows the bearer to make one wish that will be granted,” she told me.
“Get out,” I breathed, and took a closer look at the object in my hand.
“Obviously I couldn’t test it without sucking up its power, but Niall told me that he enchanted it himself. You can’t wish for the death of another, bring someone back to life or wish for more wishes. Otherwise, the sky’s the limit,” Gran said.
“Gran this is… why now?” I asked her.
She looked at me like I was daft and said, “You could wish for a pregnancy, Sookie. This wish could give you the baby you want.”
My mouth dropped open as the possibility washed over me. This little piece of glass could make me a mother.
“Gran, I…” My eyes filled with tears and I put the Cluviel Dor down on the table so I could hug her. “Thank you, Gran.”
“You’re welcome, honey,” she said as she hugged me back, and before long we were both having ourselves a good cry.
This enchanted piece of glass was going to change my life… I just knew it.