Chapter 6 – Gavotte

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.

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Sookie wasn’t sure what had made her scan the area. It had been weeks since she’d felt the need, but as she stood under the bare trees of the Common, the sky as dark as it ever became stretching above her, she kneeled in front of Ricky, took his cold hand in hers, closed her eyes, reached all around them, and there they were. There were two of them. They were close enough to see her.

Sookie stood, trying not to panic. She made a show of fussing over Ricky’s mittens and used her movements to look around her. They were near the street, standing in the shadow of a statue. She could see their slight glow. She couldn’t read them, although she had no doubt they were watching her.

Ricky looked up at her and Sookie kept a smile on her face, trying not to let the natural link existing between them transmit her fear. She thought about what to do and headed to Sean’s restaurant. It would be busy, but he would help. Above all, she couldn’t lead these strangers to her home.

While she moved, she confirmed the two voids were moving, too, pacing her. They didn’t enter the park. Instead, they walked parallel to her and a little bit back, leaving the iron fence between them. Sookie wasn’t fooled. They were vampires, and it would be no problem for them to vault over the six-foot barricade if they wanted her. She could see the opening closest to the restaurant. It took everything to keep her pace slow and constant, a woman walking with her child under the stars. The restaurant windows were shining and Sookie checked to make sure the vampires hadn’t closed the space between them. They hadn’t.

There were several people standing near the front desk awaiting tables. Sookie realized she must look odd. Women with strollers didn’t come here at this time of night, but the hostess recognized her. “I need to see Sean,” Sookie whispered. “Can I go back to the office?”

The young girl looked confused, but she said, “Sure, Susan. Look, it’s pretty busy. Can you collapse that stroller and carry him?” and she looked at Ricky who was looking at her, his face all round blue eyes.

The girl lent a hand and they inched through the crowded restaurant, heading for the back. The door was closed and the girl knocked twice. Sean looked irritated after the door opened, but then he saw Sookie. “Susan? What are you doing here?” he asked. There must have been something on her face because, in the next breath, he said, “Thanks, Moira. I have this. Go back out front,” and he stepped around the desk to take the stroller from the girl’s hands.

“Come on,” Sean gestured to the chair and shut the door. Once Sookie was seated, he said, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. What’s going on?”

“I’m being followed,” Sookie figured she was being stupid, blurting it out, but she was so tense she couldn’t hold it any more. What was more embarrassing, as soon as the words left her mouth, she felt tears spill over her cheeks. Ricky twisted in her lap and his lip started to quiver. That was all Sookie needed to pull it together. She smiled weakly at her son and then, swallowing, said, “I need to call Fran. She’ll know what to do.”

“Why don’t I just walk you home?” Sean asked.

“They can’t know where I live,” Sookie told him.

“Do you know who they are?” and Sean sat on the edge of his desk, looking at the red-nosed woman bravely making faces to entertain her boy.

“I don’t,” she admitted, “but I know what they are,” then she looked up.

“Trouble?” Sean asked.

“Vampires,” Sookie nodded.

“Why don’t you give me that young man?” Sean asked. He smiled broadly, picking Ricky up from her lap. “You remember me, don’t you, boy-o?” he said in a broad Irish accent, and he lifted Ricky high and used his nose the tickle the child’s belly. Ricky laughed and grabbed Sean’s hair, and Sookie used the distraction to pull her phone out of her pocket.

A few minutes later, Sookie walked out the back door with Sean and Ricky. Fran assured them that no one would be able to detect them for hours. She had placed a cloaking spell on them and they could come home safely. “Just don’t get in an accident,” Fran warned Sookie. “No one will realize you’re lying on the sidewalk. You’ll be virtually invisible to every sense.”

After they walked into the kitchen, Fran turned to Sookie, “Well, I’d say that should put an end to these night walks of yours!”

“It was foolish,” Sookie nodded, and then, overwrought, she collapsed on the floor next to Fran’s chair, put her head in the older woman’s lap, and cried. Sean didn’t know what to do. Ricky, who one minute was watching everything around him, suddenly dissolved into whooping sobs as well.

Fortunately, it was Lora’s night to help, so she walked forward and scooped the hysterical child from Sean’s arms. “Let me take this one upstairs!” and she started talking to the infant, holding him closely as she took him from the room.

Fran stroked Sookie’s back. “Now, now. All’s well,” she assured her. Looking at Sean, she said, “You have a minute, or do you need to get back?”

Sean glanced at his watch. “I really do need to go,” he told the witch. “Give me a call later.” He hesitated, but couldn’t bring himself to say anything to Susan. She was still crying, her shoulders shaking. With a last nod, he headed back out the door, leaving the women to themselves.

Lora came back downstairs after a bit. Sookie had stopped crying, but she remained on the floor. Fran stroked her hair, allowing the younger woman to recover from her shock.

“Well, get off the floor then!” Lora sniffed. “I’ll make us some tea and we’ll figure out what to do.”

Sookie realized that in the minutes she’d spent on her knees, her legs had gotten stiff. She swayed a little, then pulled herself onto the chair. “I don’t know what came over me,” she apologized.

“It’s been a difficult week,” Fran soothed. “You saw Northman, and you can’t tell me that wasn’t one hell of a jolt. There are vampires in town and now you’ve been followed. I think you’re entitled to a panic attack.”

“Well,” Sookie laughed weakly, “when you put it like that…”

“Do you think they were watching you?” Lora asked.

“I’m sure of it,” Sookie nodded, biting her lip. “They followed me, but they held back.”

“Well, they’ll be in trouble when they go back to report,” Fran chuckled. Then, looking more serious, she said, “Lora? Go get my phone. Let’s call our inside man and find out if anything’s going on at Vampire Central that we should know about.”

“Inside man?” Sookie asked.

“Desmond,” Fran said absently, “you know, your attorney?” In a few minutes, Fran was speaking with Mr. Cataliades, and then she handed the phone to Sookie.

“Sookie? You are all right?” the attorney asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. They never approached us. They were following me, though. Any idea who they are?”

“No,” he told her, “but I’ll check around. The Summit ends tomorrow and everyone will be leaving, which is all for the better. I’ll call you back tomorrow.”

When the call came, the news was mixed. “I wasn’t able to determine who gave the order to have you followed,” he told Sookie, “but your name is being whispered around the Summit. There’s a rumor you’re in Boston and Felipe de Castro has heard it. On the other hand, there is no talk or thought about extending our time here to find you,” the attorney assured her. Sookie knew Mr. Cataliades could read vampires. It wasn’t something he shared around, but Sookie trusted the attorney had spent time scanning every vampire he could find.

“It leaves the question of who sent those two,” Sookie said to Fran as they started pulling lunch together later. Ricky had been fractious all morning, an unusual mood for him, and the women were ready to eat and put the little man down for a nap.

“Is it possible your vampire recognized you the other night?” Lora asked. She had returned today, even though, technically, it was her day off. They all knew it was because decisions needed to be made and Lora wanted her say.

“He’s not my vampire,” Sookie shook her head. “And I doubt it. Hell, even if he was curious, there’s a big old contract that tells him he has to stay well away from me! If there’s one thing I know about Eric, it’s that he’s a real stickler about contracts,” and Sookie was aware of how bitter she sounded.

“The fact is, someone sent them,” Fran nodded. “They saw you and they followed you, so someone knows you’re here.”

“You don’t think they were just hunting?” Lora asked hopefully.

“It’s possible,” Fran looked thoughtful.

“I don’t want to think about that for even one second!” Sookie exclaimed, scooping her son off the floor and taking him to his highchair. “But no, I don’t. There was something about it. They were trailing me and taking care not to be seen. They had their opportunity to split up and cut me off. They didn’t.”

“So, we’re left with the fact that someone knows you’re here.” Fran nodded.

Sookie spooned the spinach into her son’s open mouth, “Even if they don’t do anything about it, they know where they can come and find us later.” Sookie reached over and brushed back her son’s white-blond hair. It was growing longer and less fine, but Sookie was holding off on a haircut until Ricky was one.

The telepath didn’t have to say it. Lora did, “You have to leave the city.”

Fran nodded, “There are too many people here. You can’t be looking over your shoulder every moment.” Fran’s eyes were fastened on Ricky who was alternately eating and fussing, “And what about when he starts school?”

Lora smiled at Fran as she circled her arm around Sookie’s shoulder, “You have a plan.”

“I do,” Fran nodded. “I have that place in Chester. I don’t think they even believe in vampires yet. It’s a small town and the folks who live there all the time are a close group. All they have are schools, which are of no interest to vampires, and the artists in the summer. I don’t think there’s a light-tight room in the whole town. It’s quiet and off the grid.”

Sookie looked at her son, imagining what it would be like to grow up in a place like Chester, and the picture she was seeing in her mind felt good. “It would be the ideal place to raise a child,” Lora echoed Sookie’s thoughts.

“New England folks can be a little stand-offish, but they all know me and they knew my family,” Fran said. “They’ll see you in the house with me and they’ll take you into their hearts. Won’t find a more loyal, caring community anywhere, and they’ll watch your back.”

“Well, it’s all fine and good,” Sookie sighed, “but I won’t have any work there. It’s not like Sean can ship me his receipts, and I remember the town. There’s not much going on. I can’t be living out there and not have some way to pay my own way.” Sookie wiped her son’s mouth before turning to Fran, “You said it yourself, just heating that place in winter costs a fortune.”

“So turn it into a B&B,” Lora suggested. “I’ve been telling Fran for years that she should do it. With all those schools, the parents are always visiting. The closest hotel is miles away. There’s only one other place in town that offers rooms and Fran’s house is perfect.”

“You’d have to figure out the housekeeping, and those folks expect tea in the afternoon and breakfast before they leave,” Fran said. “Most of them are rich and entitled, and that will be a cramp in the ass, but you’d make enough to pay the taxes, the utilities, and have plenty left over.”

“You’d do that?” Sookie asked.

“You’d be doing me a favor,” Fran told her. “Cover the bills and I’m ahead. Plus, I don’t have to worry about the place sitting vacant most of the year.”

“I’d want to pay you something,” Sookie bit her lip.

“Shut the place down for the summer, so I can come out there whenever I want and we’ll call it even,” Fran told her. “I also want rooms available the first week in May every year because I’m coming out for my godson’s birthday.”

Sookie didn’t trust herself to speak. She knew about running a restaurant, and she knew how to keep a house. She was sure there were things she’d need to learn, but the possibility of living full time in that picture-perfect little town with its quaint houses and tidy green was a dream come true.

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

There were no movers needed. Sean offered to drive them, but the women declined. It was decided that once Sookie moved, Fran would cast a spell that would wipe her from the memories of those who had met her. Rae, the doctor who still examined Ricky, was on the list. Sean Bailey was as well.

“It’s for their own protection as much as yours,” Fran assured Sookie. “If they don’t know where you are, then no one will be motivated to torture them.” Sookie wasn’t quite sure that was true, but when she looked at her son’s face and considered what his life might be like as a hostage to vampires, the decisions became easier.

Sarah was waiting for them when they pulled up, the driveway and sidewalks already shoveled. Sookie had never seen so much snow and she was dazzled by it. The fields and woods that had been so lush and green were now bare, but no less lovely, covered in deep drifts of white.

“How long will the snow be around?” she asked Sarah.

“It can stick around well into April,” Sarah shrugged. “The old-timers won’t even put tomatoes in until Memorial Day.”

That afternoon the contractor walked through the house, making suggestions that would best convert the rooms. Two more bathrooms would be installed on the second floor and a bathroom would be added to the third floor as well. The downstairs bedroom that Fran used would be expanded into more of an apartment and Sookie and Ricky would live there for most of the year. When he finished, he sat down at the table, and Lora handed him a cup of coffee. The next hour was spent dickering over prices and schedules. Sarah reminded him she’d changed his diapers while Fran told him stories about his grandmother that had him laughing. It was agreed that the work would be completed in two weeks, and that Sookie and Ricky would live with Sarah until everything was ready.

“And don’t think I won’t track you down if you disappear to another worksite,” Fran warned him. “There’s no place you can hide from me! Ask your father!”

“Well, you’re not going for any of that crazy custom stuff,” the contractor laughed. “I can start day after tomorrow. If I have a problem with one of my guys becoming available, I’ll let you know.”

“If you have a problem with one of your guys becoming available, you give me their name,” Sarah looked serious. “There’s not one of these boys I don’t know and most of them owe me. This job needs to be done quick. This little boy,” and she pointed at Ricky who was watching everyone in his quiet, thoughtful way, “needs a good home, and I aim to give him one as good as any of you got,” and she leaned over the table. “Don’t think I’m going to let some foolishness get in the way!”

“You know I’ll pass it along,” the contractor nodded, and they all shook hands.

Fran and Lora left the next day and Sookie moved into Sarah’s spare bedroom. The room was crowded with the crib and Ricky’s things and, that first night, Sookie sat in bed, wondering if she was doing the right thing.

The contractor started work as promised, and with very little effort, Sookie settled into a routine. Sarah’s twin sons, Seth and Peter, adopted Ricky as their new play toy. They rolled him balls and pulled faces that made him laugh. In no time, the infant knew what time the boys left in the morning and what time they returned in the afternoon. He watched for them, making sounds that were uniquely theirs, and the boys nicknamed him “Chub.” “He’s built like a brick!” Peter exclaimed. “Have you lifted that kid? He weighs a ton!”

Sookie came to understand that there were really four towns in Chester; there was the town she saw that was centered around the Town Hall and the small green, and then there were the separate towns that were the three private schools. One of the schools, Grayson, taught children from first to sixth grade. Much like the other two, children were sent here to board. Sookie thought about what it had been like to move in with her Gran after her parents died. She wondered if that’s what it was like for these children, living so far from home.

The second school, Chester Academy, taught students in the sixth grade through twelfth. The students wore uniforms and there was a religious tradition, although the school didn’t dictate religious beliefs. There was a beautiful chapel on the grounds with a bell that rang every hour until midnight, and then picked up at six the next morning.

The third school, Morris-Tabor, was more of a traditional high school, but it boasted a rigorous college preparatory program that guaranteed its students consideration at the country’s top universities. While all the schools offered sports programs, Morris was the one that emphasized it and they hosted teams from other schools in competitions that spilled into the town on weekends.

At each of the schools, there was staff who lived on campus in housing provided for them. Their lives rotated around their school. Of course, they came into town to buy things like groceries and small gifts, much as the students and their parents did when they visited, but there was a clear separation between townspeople and academics.

It was just understood. If you were part of the school, that was your primary community. Teachers and administrators socialized amongst themselves and the amount of wealth the families of the students represented guaranteed that the interests and activities of both the teachers and the students were vastly different than the families who called Chester their home. The teachers were often part of their students’ lives and Sookie would overhear them talking about their latest trip to Europe or a field trip planned to some national park. She wondered about it sometimes, the difference that money could make for two people who lived so close to each other. Other times she worried about what it would mean for Ricky when he found himself in school with children who would have access to experiences he never would.

Once she was ready to open, Sookie dutifully met with the Headmaster or Headmistress of each school. She offered tours of the B&B and prepared samples of the breakfasts her guests might expect. She confirmed hours, rates, and had to provide references, but once the school people were convinced, the email booking site came to life, and Sookie found she had a full house until the end of the school year.

With each day, Sookie found that her place as a townsperson became more established. She felt it the first time the man who ran the small hardware store called her by name, and when she had a casual inquiry about Miss Fran’s health from the woman at Town Hall. The snow continued to fall and Sookie’s neighbors taught her the lessons of New England. She learned to brush ice from her bushes, so they wouldn’t break, and to not shovel all the way to the pavement since it would only melt and refreeze.

Night fell early, and Sookie found her evenings stretched unimaginably long and lonely after Ricky went to bed. She found herself staring out the window of her apartment, looking into a night sky with more stars than she ever remembered seeing. It was inevitable that her thoughts turned to Eric Northman. She thought of his blond perfection, and the way he’d tease her and shake his world-class ass in that sexy dance he had. She thought of the feel of him under her hands. She thought of the way his eyes would soften when he called her clever. At night, she used her fingers and memories of his lovemaking to find completion, and when the house was empty except for Ricky, she’d let herself call out his name when she came.

Her solitude felt like a friend but, over time, that changed. At first, she declined any invitations that came her way. After almost a month, though, Sookie allowed herself to be lured into helping out at the Library fundraiser. A few days later, Sarah guilted Sookie into joining the Chester Baby Playgroup with Ricky, reminding her that any normal child needed socialization. Once she attended a couple sessions, there was no turning back. The parents took their children to the town events, and they asked after Ricky. There was a small parade to honor some long-dead town leader and then there was the “End of Winter Bonfire.” At each event, it was Ricky’s smiling face that drew people toward them, and before the Patriot’s Day Celebration, Sookie realized she spent as many evenings out as she did at home. She had become a ‘townie.’

Aside from the social aspects, Sookie found that by being a full-time resident, Ricky would be attending the private schools in town. In fact, Chester didn’t even have its own public school. Instead, it had a special waiver from the state that recognized the Town’s special relationship with the private academies and it paid a stipend for each child to attend.

Sookie wondered why there weren’t more families interested in moving to Chester. It seemed so ideal. “It’s because we’re snobs,” Sarah explained. “Anyone who wants to buy land or real estate here has to be voted on by the whole town. Twice a year we get together at the Town Hall, all of us, and we govern this place through a Town Meeting. Everyone gets a say on everything.”

“You’ve met us,” Sarah winked. “We’re not the easiest bunch of folks to get along with, and there’s usually someone in town who won’t like you just because you’re a newcomer, so almost no one gets approved unless they have family or someone from here to vouch for them.”

“You’re kidding!” Sookie exclaimed. “Don’t you worry about getting sued?”

“Bring it on,” Sarah shrugged. “Besides, we don’t really have much of anything that would attract outside folks. No big box stores. No transportation. No thriving night life. We get artists who come here from time to time, and once we had a big Hollywood type who thought he could buy his way in. Boy, did he get shot down fast!” and she laughed.

“Still,” and Sookie shook her head, “It just seems wrong.”

“Look at it this way,” Sarah smiled. “You’ve been to the schools to introduce yourself and get your name on their referral list. Did you get a good look at those kids? Each one of those children can walk around town and go out into the fields and woods around here, just like any other kid because of how close we are. If you’re a stranger, we know right away. No one and nothing escapes notice and, because of that, those kids get as normal a childhood as they could ever expect, without having guards and flunkies following them around.”

Thinking of the children almost made up for the sense of unfairness that Sookie felt about things, and as the days passed, she came to appreciate the security the town provided more and more. Sookie moved back into the house, and just before Spring break, she had her first guests. Ricky was crawling and starting to pull himself up by holding onto things. It was clear he was mere days away from taking his first steps, and Sookie found she needed Sarah to help out making breakfasts in the morning since a second set of hands was essential with an active baby around. Together, the women worked out the best menus and their own way of moving around the kitchen. They used one of the formal sitting rooms as the guest dining room and the other as a guest lounge.

Sarah suggested using the walls to exhibit the work of resident artists and soon, Sookie was earning small commissions from the sales she made.

When Ricky’s first birthday came, Fran and Lora drove out and together they went to the town green to watch the annual May Day celebrations. There were Morris Dancers and a Maypole dance. Sookie helped cook pancakes for the whole town in a makeshift field kitchen and everywhere there were people singing and dancing.

The music here was something Sookie hadn’t anticipated. It seemed there were an unusual number of townspeople who played some kind of instrument. There were fiddlers and mandolin players. The woman who ran the post office played a concertina and Sarah’s twins were learning banjo. It wasn’t unusual to walk around a corner and hear someone playing that unique blend of country and acoustic instruments that folks here just called traditional music.

Bowing to the spirit of the day, the women wore willow branch crowns and had made a small one for Ricky, who promptly demonstrated his walking ability by throwing it in front of him, then scampering after it.

The day was sunny and bright. There was still a slight nip in the wind and the ground was cold under their feet. People waved and smiled, and a teenage girl whom Sookie knew asked if she could take Ricky to do the Maypole dance. Soon the smiling child was being passed around, his face reflecting his joy.

“He is a special boy,” Fran squeezed Sookie’s arm.

“He’s so happy here,” Sookie agreed.

“You are, too,” Lora observed.

Sookie nodded, “I am. I’ve feel like I’ve started a new phase of my life.”

“And what would that be?” Fran asked her.

“My ‘Ricky’s Mommy’ phase,” Sookie replied, and hugging Fran, she said, “and it feels good.”

 

xxxXXXxxx

 

So it seemed that ten years passed in the blink of an eye.

For many years, Ricky thought the town’s May Day celebration was his own private birthday celebration, and Fran and Lora came every year to help him keep that illusion.

Along the way, there were milestones that Sookie thought of as turning points.

There was the day Sookie received a call from Ricky’s second grade teacher. Ricky was telling his classmates that his father was a spy, which was why no one knew who he was. “I don’t know what to tell him,” the teacher sighed over the phone. “I thought you should know.”

Sookie called Fran in a panic. She wasn’t sure what she should tell Ricky, but it was clear that not telling him anything was not keeping the questions at bay.

“What do you think you should say to him?” Fran asked.

“I really don’t want to tell him about Sam,” Sookie sighed. “How do I tell him his Father is someone I didn’t love enough to stay with? How do I…”

“How do you keep telling yourself such an obvious lie?” Fran snapped.

“What are you talking about?” Sookie asked.

“That boy is not Sam Merlotte’s, and you know it!” Fran growled. “Shit, Sookie! You are a smart woman about so many things. How can you be so stupid about this?”

“Well,” Sookie sat down heavily in her kitchen chair, “There was no one else.”

“Sure, there was,” Fran chuckled. “It’s rare, but it’s not unheard of. Legend mostly, but anyone who looks at that boy knows he’s Eric Northman’s.”

“That’s a cruel thing to say,” Sookie choked.

“Truth can be,” Fran agreed, “but take a minute for the shock to wear off. You know I’m right and when you catch your breath, you’re going to realize how happy you are about this.”

Sookie sat very still. She breathed deeply and thought about what Fran was telling her. She saw her son’s face and she thought of Eric’s, and it was as if blinders fell from her eyes. “Oh, shit,” she sighed.

“He was always going to need to be protected,” Fran said in the silence. “What you have to consider is whether you will make it okay for your son to go find his father.”

“Eric will never believe it,” Sookie sighed. “He’ll think it’s a trick.”

“You could have him examined by someone who knows what they’re doing,” Fran said helpfully. “There are a few Supe doctors out there who could verify things.”

“I know one,” Sookie sighed again. “Amy Ludwig. I’m pretty sure I know how to get in touch with her, but I’m also pretty sure that if she finds out, others will, too.” Sookie thought about it, “Look, there’s no reason for anyone outside of us to know. There’s nothing about him on the outside that looks different. If that changes, then I’ll figure it out.”

“What about your vampire?” Fran asked. “Don’t you think he should know?”

“Eric belongs to someone else,” Sookie said. “Ricky is all I have,” and although it was not a good answer, it was the only one Sookie wanted to consider.

That night when Ricky came home, Sookie told him about his daddy. She told Ricky how she met him and how his daddy courted her. She told him about how smart his daddy was and strong and brave. “You look just like him,” she told her son, and, with her new eyes, Sookie could see how true her words were.

“Where is he?” Ricky asked.

“He’s dead, Honey,” Sookie told him, and that was the truth, too.

In retrospect, the change in Ricky almost seemed to link back to that conversation.

The next year Ricky was playing lacrosse on the school team. He had always been stronger and bigger than most of his peers and he ran faster as well. His play in other years was generous, but, this year, the coaches told the boys to get aggressive, and Ricky seemed to take it to heart. During the opening game, he checked his opponent hard and the kid hit the ground like he’d been struck by a car. The kid broke his arm and was out for the rest of the season. Everyone said it was an accident, but Ricky dropped out of lacrosse after that and refused to play any more team sports.

The twins convinced Ricky to try track, and it became the boy’s excuse to take off for hours at a time, running the trails through the woods. It made Sookie nervous and, when he would disappear, she would scan the trees, making sure she kept track of him and any other beings out there he might encounter. One day it was turning to afternoon and Ricky had been gone longer than usual. Sookie left the serving of afternoon tea in Sarah’s capable hands and took off down the trail toward where she could sense her son. When she reached the clearing, she couldn’t see him and she had a moment of panic, but then she looked up.

Ricky was sitting high above her, his feet dangling from a branch of the tree. For one, mad, moment, Sookie thought he had inherited Eric’s gift of flight and had flown up there. She resisted the urge to yell at him, afraid of startling him.

“Oh, Hi, Mom,” he called down, as if it was the most normal thing.

“What are you doing up there, Son?” Sookie asked, struggling to keep her voice calm.

“Oh,” he shrugged, “I do this all the time. I like to think up here,” and, with no hesitation, Ricky started down the tree, dropping from branch to branch. Sookie’s heart was in her mouth the whole time, waiting for his hand to slip or his foot to miss the branch, but he didn’t. He jumped down the remaining six feet and landed lightly, and Sookie wondered again how he’d made the leap to the branch overhead.

Walking home, Sookie said, “I don’t like you doing that, Ricky. What would happen if you were alone in the woods and you were hurt? How would we know to get you help?”

“You’d know,” he said, and then Ricky touched his forehead, “You’d know because you can hear me.” Sookie had never discussed her telepathy with Ricky. From time to time, she probed him, looking for signs that he, too, was telepathic, but she’d never had any inkling that her son had inherited her gift, and she was grateful. Sookie bit her lip and turned to ask her son how he knew, but he stopped, and his eyebrow lifted in a way that was the mirror of his father’s. “What? You think I’m stupid?” he challenged. When Sookie didn’t answer, he shook his head, and walked ahead of her. “I’ve known forever,” he answered her unasked question.

“Can you read my thoughts?” she asked for the first time aloud.

“No,” he shook his head, “but I don’t need to be in your head to know what you’re thinking most times.”

“What about other people?” Sookie asked.

“Nope,” and then Ricky grinned, “not yet.”

When he entered fourth grade, Ricky told his mother he was no longer a baby, and he didn’t want to be called by a baby’s name. From that day forward, he was to be called Rick. It was everything Sookie could do not to laugh at first. He was taller, but still shorter than her. He had avoided the rounding out that many of his peers were experiencing. He was still running and if he was climbing trees, he took care, so his mother didn’t catch him.

As he sat at the dinner table, Sookie noticed that his face was becoming leaner, the roundness of his cheeks thinning out. He was engrossed in a math exercise and, as usual, didn’t ask nor need her help. Rick was at the top of his class, but he finished his work with such an easy arrogance that it made the teachers hold him to a higher standard than the other kids.

As winter approached, Rick started offering his services around town. He mowed lawns and hauled brush. He helped clean out basements and stacked firewood. He pocketed every cent. “What are you working toward?” Sookie asked him.

“I haven’t decided yet,” was his standard answer.

Then, one day in late October, he came down the street hauling a used kayak. The paddle and life jacket were in it. He wanted to test it on the river right away, but there had been rain and Sookie convinced him to wait for the water level to drop. Fortunately, she was saved by an early snowstorm and there were no more opportunities to test out the kayak that season. The twins helped Rick take the kayak into the barn out back and Sookie thought her worrying was over until spring.

What she hadn’t counted on was that Rick would have money left over and that he would buy a sled. It was really more of a toboggan, but it was smaller and could be manhandled by one person. As soon as the ground was covered, Rick headed off into the woods. There were some of the kids from town with him and Sookie felt better, knowing her son wasn’t alone.

It was just starting to get dark when one of the kids ran up on the porch and banged on the door. They had found an old abandoned barn and between the boy’s gasps, Sookie gathered her son had taken his sled up on the sloped side roof and used it as a ski jump. The toboggan had gone up and her son had come down. He was hurt and the kids needed help bringing him home.

Sookie bundled her clothes on and hurried down the trail. It was slow going in the snow, but they could still see the trail the boys had left earlier. They weren’t too far from the house when they came upon the rest of the boys dragging a sled. Ricky was on it, his pale face pinched in pain.

The doctor from Morris-Tabor came out to the house. Rick’s leg was broken, so they all bundled into the doctor’s car and took the ride over to the school infirmary. Ricky spent the rest of the winter in a cast, and Sookie was guilt-struck at how grateful she felt that her son’s wings had been clipped.

It was during the follow-up visit that the doctor mentioned that Rick was anemic. Since the accident, Rick had started to tire more easily and he seemed to sleep more, but Sookie had written it off to the demands of his healing body. “No, it’s more than that,” the doctor told her. “I’m prescribing an iron supplement, and we should monitor him on a regular basis.”

The next shoe fell during Rick’s dental exam; the hygienist took x-rays of Rick’s emerging canines. What the film showed were fangs, there was no other word to describe them.

“It’s a rare condition,” the dentist said in his professional way. “There is a procedure that can be performed that will cap those teeth, so they fit in with the rest of his mouth.” Sookie knew otherwise. Her son was beginning to manifest his inheritance, and if she had any lingering doubts as to his parentage, the films in her hand took care of them.

That night Sookie talked with Fran on the phone about Rick’s upcoming birthday, and she told Fran about the other things, too.

“Just as well,” Fran told her. “I know you don’t get news where you are, but you should know Mr. Cataliades is coming with us this year. There’s trouble in Supe world. The truce between Stan Davis and Felipe de Castro is pretty well over. There will be one more meeting, a Summit, in Denver. They are going to try to negotiate their differences. If it fails, there’s talk of open war.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Sookie asked.

“I’ll let the attorney go into details, but there’s a search on to find you. De Castro is claiming that you are a vassal of his kingdom and Stan Davis is making noises about victors getting the spoils. It’s not pretty, but Desmond has a plan.”

That night, Sookie couldn’t sleep. For ten long, wonderful years she had hidden in Chester. People here knew her and they watched out for Rick. No one thought she was different, or at least different in a way that made her less. It was one of the things she loved about this place. The townspeople, and even the school people, took pride on being unique and it allowed she and Ricky to blend into the community.

Rick had the childhood Sookie always dreamed of, but she worried that their happy lives might be coming to an end.

 

eric_northman_by_pamaingel-d5zxero

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46 thoughts on “Chapter 6 – Gavotte

  1. An exceptional childhood in a wonderful place. What more could a mother want for her child (other than the presence of his father of course).
    Seems that Rick’s body is going to make keeping his parentage a secret very difficult. Especially now that two kings are searching for his mother.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Too true. You can run, but in the end you can never really hide. Life will have its way with you, and when you’re ready to handle it, it will unload with both barrels! Sookie was never meant for a quiet life. She’s done her best but it’s time to rejoin her destiny!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay! So happy that Ricky was able to have an idyllic childhood, free of vampires. Poor Sookie, the shock of realizing her dreams came true(having Eric’s child) comes with a high price, keeping the secret away from the outside world and Ricky himself.

    Enjoying the passage of time in this tale, since Eric is not an active part of Sookie & Ricky’s lives the yearning for a day-by- day plot is not there.

    My reading jones is filled(for the week at least:;)

    Joyce

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Things do have to wait for the right time! Should Sookie have come clean to Eric? Probably, although no good may have come of it. Of course, things will change for them, and the hints of it are here.
      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonder if Karin had anything to do with those 2 following Sookie?
    Sounds like a great childhood for Ricky in a wonderful small town. So glad Fran finally made Sookie see what other already knew! If Rick is anemic shouldn’t Sookie make some arrangements for him to drink some blood? Hope she is a bit more forthcoming with him in the chance that bloodlust developed as he is developing his fangs and strength. Awesome update.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good guess about Karin. I don’t go into it, but we know she had Sookie found and followed. Probably wasn’t the outcome she was thinking, but couldn’t imagine Karin would be too sorry about it. I wanted Ricky and Sookie to have that interlude that would allow him to become his own person. And of course Fran would be the one to break the ice and hit Sookie between the eyes with how blind she was allowing herself to be! There is a central theme to this story of the lies we tell ourselves, and this was just one example.
      Sookie does need to get honest with her son, and soon. Giving him vitamin supplements will never be enough!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the commentary here. The lies we tell ourselves. I will now be looking for this theme. Yes, I agree vitamins will not be enough. She needs to be honest with Ricky, it’s not far to him or Eric .

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so excited about this story. Every Sunday is such a treat. I am fascinated on the development of characters you invented and how they will move this story along. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it wonderful? I fell in love with this story after the first few paragraphs, knowing it was so far from the norm as stories of a child conceived by Sookie via Eric typically read, and if anyone was to do one justice, it could only be Natsgirl! I cannot give away thing, but I will tell you that your fascination will only deepen as the story moves on. Keep reading; for there is so much more to delight you and hold you in suspense! This is a story that will not just make your heart soar, but you may want to keep the tissues handy for both tears of sadness and great joy! 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Okay, okay… you were right! Let me say it again, because no one can ever hear it too often – your instincts were spot on and I am glad you encouraged me to keep going! Thank you, truly.

        Like

    2. Thank you! The first time I introduced an original character (Lydia in Swimming for the Light) I was so nervous. I didn’t want to mess with canon too much and I’d read stories where originals were done well, and others were they seemed so forced. I didn’t want to be jamming my own creature down readers’ throats. Now? Now I seem to create and place with wild abandon! Not sure it always works well, but it gives me some flexibility in story telling!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Man I’m jealous of their life. Not the hiding part but living how and where they are would be my dream. Rick has turned into quite the young man. I’m wondering if now Sookie will have to tell him that his father isn’t dead. She took that part better than I thought she would, not as much of a freak out as the more immature Sookie. Glad she finally sees it and it was better she found out before his fathers other traits started showing. Glad Deasmond is on her side and coming to see her.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sookie has not just grown up over these 10 years, but she’s accepted her faults and mistakes, and she’s matured emotionally. Like most mothers, she’s had to do that. Our children come first! Sookie has many people on her side, not just Supes, but Desmond is surely one who will always be there for her. He is her Godfather, after all. She has more support than she even realizes. She is a fortunate woman!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Having this time pass was a risk, but I don’t believe people can change faults that are deep-seated over night. It takes big shifts, and I agree – what is a bigger shift in your life than raising a child? They make you see things through new eyes. They humble you and help you strip life down to what’s really important. They are miracles in every way!

        Like

    2. Me too! There are towns in New England that have components of Chester, though I haven’t found one that incorporates all of them! If I did, I’d move there!! Rick is a handful, but what would you expect? Lots of wild genes and some deep-seated insecurity because like most children, he knows there’s some mystery surrounding him, but he can’t tell what it is and no one will tell him.
      Now, Sookie needs to decide when and how she comes clean with her son. With some traits showing up, she’s kidding herself if she thinks this is just going to be something she can ignore!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a gift Fran has been to Sookie and Ricky! I’m so happy that Sookie and Ricky have found a home and acceptance in Chester. Sookie was able to give her boy the life she always wanted. Thank goodness Fran forced Sookie to remove the blinders from her eyes and realize that Ricky is Eric’s son. Now that Rick is coming into some of his gifts and with the news that Mr. C. is bringing, it will be time for Sookie to come to terms with the reality of things. I’m anxious for Eric’s reaction in learning about his son.

    Wonderful writing, as always! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sookie is so fortunate, just as the folks in her life are fortunate to have her and Rick. They make a wonderful family, don’t they? Fran is great for giving Sookie those doses of reality when she truly needs them, and oh my! She certainly needs them now, doesn’t she? Isn’t it wonderful that she was able to provide Rick with the childhood she never had, that he was able to grow up surrounded by people & family who love and accept just for who he is? That has to be one of the sweetest things of all, right? What mother doesn’t want better for their child? As for Eric’s reaction, we shall see… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. So, Sookie did get her time with ‘normal’ after all, just not the way she thought of it back in Bon Temps. This way was probably better! But there are realities she’s been avoiding, and coming to terms with Rick’s parentage is just the beginning. She’s still in denial in some ways, though. She knows for years, and doesn’t come clean with her son. She has all the right intentions, but lets him think his father is human dead. Not nice… not really! It is time for her to deal with reality now, and how she does that and the realizations it brings about in herself helps in what follows.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad she finally took the blinders off! It’s killing me, I can’t wait for Eric to see his son. Another great chapter, but I wouldn’t expect anything else. All of your stories are wonderful;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Don’t underestimate a mother’s instincts to protect her child, even when it’s not necessarily the right thing to do! Sookie has trust issues with a certain vampire… just saying!

      Like

  8. I meant to tell you when it happened, but I love the name Ricky . It’s my hubby’s name. I think it’s perfect for this story.
    I’m glad Fran was able to help Sookie through out . Helping her get back to Frans house and then move. I’m so glad that she called Sookie out on Ricky ‘ s father . I’m very curious how Eric will find out. I think Mr. C WILL help help again. This story is so good .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So pleased you like it! I kicked around a number of names. If she really believed the child was Sam’s (which she did), but she was determined to be single/independent and raise this baby on her own… what would she name him? She’s sentimental, so something for family. The baby’s first name is Corbett, after her father. Of course, she never calls him this. Sookie barely remembers her father, he died when she was so young! She ‘sneaks’ Eric in as a second name. She probably thinks she’s being slick, but she can’t just call him Eric! Everyone would know too much about her then, and she might have to admit things to herself… so she calls him Ricky, using only the second syllable. Of course, it doesn’t fool Fran for one second, but Fran is too good a soul to rub Sookie’s face in it, so Ricky, then Rick, sticks.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m sorry that this quiet and perfect life has to end for Sookie and her son Rick…She
    will dragged into vampire politicis again!
    Hopefully Mr C. will be a confident friend at her side.
    Rick needs to visit Dr. Ludwig ASAP… Sookie has to know what other changes Rick is going to have and how to behave when they happen.
    Will Eric meet Rick soon?
    And if so, will he be capable to know Rick is his only by smelling his blood within the boy?
    Did Karin send those Vampires to follow Sookie or was it maybe De Castro?
    Loving this story much…can’t waiy for next Sunday.
    Jackie69

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good guess about Karin. Yes, those were her minions. She couldn’t have foreseen that the trailing would lead to Sookie bolting from the city, but all things considered, she wouldn’t have been unhappy about it! Mr. C will continue to help her. He is her godfather and will do what he can. Sookie does need to start coming to terms with things and stop thinking that just because she’ found a good hiding place that the world can be shut out. Clearly it can’t and wheels will start turning that she won’t be able to stop.

      Like

  10. You do a really good job of setting up for the story, filling in details and introducing characters without dragging it out so much it becomes boring. If this were a completed story, I’d be settling into my chair with delight, licking my lips in anticipation… not so much when it’s a serial and GOK when the next chapter will be out. But, such is the life of a fan fiction reader. Our lot is a lonely one… Have pity on us and write fast…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear what you’re saying! Just so you know, I write well ahead, so you can count on a chapter every Sunday. Unless I’m traveling, I tend to push in the morning and sometimes I push on this site Saturday night ahead just because it’s a fair amount of work and takes time to get it out to all the sites where I publish.
      So happy you’re enjoying. I like getting to the story too. Part of my edit process is asking whether each part/scene contributes to the story. If it’s just filler, or doesn’t help sketch out the character in some way, it gets struck out. Nothing worse for me than having to wade through paragraphs of decoration to find the nugget of meat!

      Have a good one…

      Like

  11. I’m worried about the anemia, with Sookie being part fairy and Eric being a Vampire, and Rick(y)’s puberty on the horizon I really think Dr. Ludwig should be called and soon. Hopefully Mr. C. will be able to talk Sookie into calling her and I know he will have a great plan to help her out. Loving this story but I must admit I’m wanting some Eric. Looking forward to next Sunday and hope muse is happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The anemia is a warning sign, and Sookie really should have called Doctor Ludwig a long time ago, in my humble opinion, but that’s not the story! Although she knows her son’s heritage now, there’s still some level of denial going on, and there are some harsh realties that she needs to confront so she can be in best position to help her son. She’ll get there, and soon. As for Eric… be patient. Soon.

      Like

  12. Well I am glad that Sookie has finally come to the belief that Eric Northman is Ricky’s Father. It was a long time coming. Ricky’s childhood was just about perfect. I think that Sookie and Rick will need that foundation for what is to come. I hate De Castro and Davis for thinking they can own Sookie. She is not a vampire and never swore any oath of loyalty to either of them. She cannot be owned. She was never part of the power structure. She was the bonded of Sherriff Northman and now is not. I hope that Desmond will have some tricks up his sleeve to keep her safe in the turmoil to come. Someone has to let Eric know that he has a child. A biological child. I think when he comes around to see the truth of it he will step up. There is nothing in the contract with Freyda that would keep him from protecting his child. This Freyda may have something against Sookie because she had Eric’s heart at one time but I do not think that she would try to keep him away from his son. At least I hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The question of Freyda is a tricky one. We know she would have killed Sookie all those years ago because she could see the reality – Eric loved her and Sookie loved him too. It was only Sookie’s quick thinking that send Freyda out the door and saved Sookie’s life. Would a vampire queen (any woman with means and no respect for human life) really see the child of that rival in a favorable light? I suspect Eric would be intrigued, maybe delighted, at this development. Freyda would see a constant reminder that her husband loved someone else more – enough to give her (and him) something she never could. I don’t think it would go well regardless of how much she may wish Eric’s favor at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Dang, looks like Sookie is gonna have to let Eric know about his son at some point. If he has fangs and has to drink blood, someone is going to blab to the wrong people. I wonder if Eric and Freyda have become good enough friends that she will allow contact. He isn’t going to get his sone without Sookie. Maybe Felipe de Castro and Stan will kill each other off. I seem to remember that Karin wanted Sookie followed to keep up with her and make sure she didn’t contact Eric. I also think she will have to tell Rick the truth about his parentage. Of course, he will want to meet his father when he finds out. Can’t blame him. At least, she had some years of normalcy in a beautiful place. Excellent story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a tangled web. They’ve lived an idyllic, pleasant life, but you can’t keep real life at bay forever. Rick is going to need to address his heritage, and if it includes vampire traits (and it does), where better to do that than among vampires? Who else could best help him to learn what he will need to know to survive? Sookie is going to have to come to grips with that, so in some ways, the troubles are a favor, although she probably doesn’t see that now.

      Like

  14. I love this story so much! You are so talented at weaving a tale and setting everything up. I also liked the time jump. You don’t drag things out, it’s always moving forward. Rick is turning out to be full of surprises! Fangs! I wonder if Sookie will have them capped. I guess if his parentage is to remain secret she’s going to have to. Wouldn’t do for his fangs to be running out on the playground!
    I’m addicted to this, can’t wait until next week!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Even in a town as accepting of them as Chester, something like fangs is going to cause questions. Maybe if he was a baby, but I can’t see Sookie taking him to the dentist at his age, and with his history of independence without discussing it with him first, and that means she’s going to have to tell him more about himself and his heritage than she has to date!

      Like

  15. I love this tale you are weaving! It feels wrong that Eric has missed out on Ricky’s childhood, but as you said, I don’t think the idyllic life Ricky and Sookie have had would have been possible with Eric in the picture. I wonder about Rick and his powers. Does he have more than he lets his overprotective mother see? Can’t wait for the visit from Mr. C and another turn in the action!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmmm, a dare devil kid and a bit of a chip on his shoulder hiding things from his mother? Yeah, I’d say that’s a safe bet! Not big things, but if Sookie doesn’t come clean you can see how a kid like Rick would start down a path that won’t serve either of them well. He is rebellious by nature, and stubborn – the recipe of a good kid who could easily go bad.
      A father’s firm hand and good advice would be helpful, but that would mean coming clean about more than Sookie has to date.

      Like

  16. Finally, Sookie now realizes what everyone else has always known – Eric is Ricky’s dad. Now someone just needs to tell Eric. He should know so that he can do what’s needed to protect his son. He thinks he’s done right by Sookie as much as possible by setting up things with the contract and leaving her to the normal life she wanted. He’s going to be disappointed he missed out on his son’s early years, but time passes differently for vampires, so he still has plenty of time to get to know him. Hopefully things are moving in that direction soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bear in mind, for Eric, his idea of a father’s role with children was formed over a thousand years ago. Progeny are different, and while he calls them daughters, he doesn’t really treat them as he did his human children. It will cause some confusion when he finally does meet his son. You bring up a good point, and one I think about in writing this Eric. He really believes he’s done right by Sookie. He believes he has sacrificed for her, and he has. He doesn’t have her perspective. He only knows that she didn’t love him enough to do what was needed to be with him, but he loved her too much to simply abandon her.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh wow, ten years! I’m glad they were a good ten years and I’m glad she knows Ricky is Eric’s son now. I’m hoping that her life is not about to turn to sh*t! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is always some element of drama and danger in my stories… otherwise, where would the story be? Sookie did get her ‘normal’ time raising her son, and that will pay off for them both, although she might have spent a little more time figuring out how to show him the vampire side of his heritage too…

      Liked by 1 person

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