The earth below merged into a blur as I raced against the turning of the planet. I couldn’t believe that in a short while I would see her again. After the months of forced subservience I felt as though I flew towards myself, as if I were coming home, if only for a transitory respite. My heart leapt with joy. It had been so long since I had felt anything remotely close to the lightness that enveloped me.
I neared her house and hesitated. When last we spoke Sookie had made it clear she wanted nothing to do with me. I was unused to the insecurity that flooded my being. I pushed these thoughts aside as I circled above her house. I could see movement in the backyard and swept around to land just beyond the tree line. The blowing wind covered any noise I made as I approached and I kept my shields in place so that my progeny would not sense me before I was ready.
Quickly I checked to see that Sookie was unharmed, my heart releasing a bit of worry that I had carried as I flew to her, but then I gawked at the crowd that had gathered. There were not only those that I expected, Pam, Karin, and Bill, but also Mr. Cataliades and Diantha seated watching rapt as Pam and Sookie circled one another. I saw the glint and flash of swords as they came together, the clashing echoed through the yard. I was frozen in place as I watched the beauty of the fight. Sookie moved with the same grace she showed when we had danced together and I saw that Pam had given her the katana that I had forged for her. She was stunning, the warrior princess I had always imagined. If I had breath she would have stolen it. I watched as they orbited around each other, enraptured. I knew that I should reveal myself, but their interplay held my attention and I was amazed that Sookie was holding her own against Pam.
When I could wait no longer I slowly emerged from the woods, not wanting to startle either of the ladies who were brandishing very sharp weapons. I stood there and time seemed to stretch out infinitely. Every second that passed as I gazed on my beautiful blond Valkyrie felt as if eternity held my body in stasis. The others saw me before either Pam or Sookie.
I listened as Mr. Cataliades called out quietly. “Sookie. Pam. You might want cease your sparring.” Neither of the ladies heard or acknowledged him but simply continued their circling. I knew the instant that Pam saw me. She stood motionless, her sword clasped in both hands and stopped mid-arch.
“Sookie, stop,” she said quietly.
“Come on Pam, I was doing so well. Is the big bad vampire afraid that the Fairy Princess might best her?” She paused looking at Pam’s stricken face, “What?” Her body swiveled in the direction of Pam’s eyes, trying to understand what had stopped her assault.
When her eyes finally focused on me, the katana slipped from her grasp and Pam moved quickly, catching it before it touched the ground. I could hear her intake of breath and the increasing beat of her heart. Could it be that she had missed me as much as I had her? God, she was gorgeous and her spirit flooded me with happiness, something I wasn’t sure I would ever feel again. The smile that spread across her sun-kissed face pieced together the jagged shards I carried of my heart.
Pam stopped her assault and stood stock still staring at my woods. I turned to see what had captured her attention. What I saw there knocked the wind out of me. He was here. In my backyard. Standing there every incredible inch my Viking warrior. Clad in a black t-shirt, jeans, and biker boots, his immense presence overwhelmed my senses. I blinked, disbelieving what my eyes saw. I couldn’t move my body fixed in place.
Pam moved across my lawn to embrace him. “Eric. What are you doing here? You didn’t kill the Queen without us did you?” She released him into Karin’s waiting arms. “Cuz we’ve done a bang-up job of planning your rescue. Sookie has become quite the fighter in your absence and would be very disappointed if she didn’t get to show off her new skills.” Eric only shook his head slightly, his eyes never leaving mine.
“It is quite dangerous for you to be here,” Mr. C said to him as he stood as shocked as the rest, Diantha standing slightly to his side. “If the Queen finds out…” but his voice trailed off with the realization that he was stating the obvious.
Bill hovered in the background, while everyone else had gathered around Eric, but he and I were both silent, simply gazing at the other. The group backed away, heading into the house to give us space. Bill was the last one to leave, glancing at me, an indecipherable look on his face before following the rest.
“Eric,” I began at the same time that he whispered, “Sookie.” I could hear the question in his voice. There was so much more than the matter of space between us. I was terrified to move forward. We stood, not ten feet from each other, both afraid to take the first step that would bring us back together. Silence fell once again and nearly swallowed us. For once he didn’t hide behind his trademark stoicism and I watched as thousands of emotions flickered through his eyes, rippling through the space that separated us.
“I’m so sorry, I was such a fool,” the words spilled out of me. “I’ve missed you so much. Can you ever forgive me?” The grin that broke through his features shattered my immobility and I found myself racing across those last few feet. His body moved towards mine with the same urgency and we met in the middle. His arms went around me and his lips found mine. I hadn’t realized until his body was once again pressed against me how lost I had been without him. He was my home.
Sookie stood mere feet from me. I could have reached her in an instant, but I wasn’t sure she would welcome my touch. We had not spoken since she asked me to let her go when she lay wounded in the hospital. I studied her face, memorizing every beautiful inch not knowing what kind of reception to expect. I embraced both of my progeny, but could not take my gaze from the love of my undead life. I wanted to rush to her, wanted to sweep her into my arms, but I held back. The others spoke to me, but I heard nothing of their words and they thankfully left us, filing into Sookie’s farmhouse.
I heard her call my name as I spoke hers and then silence fell again. What was she thinking? This was one of the few times that I truly wished she could read my mind and see the regret that was written over my memories. We had both made so many mistakes and I was unsure if we could overcome them. And then her voice reached me and I heard her asking my forgiveness and I couldn’t wait even one more second before claiming her luscious lips with my own.
Her kiss broke through the walls I had erected. She was sweeter than anything I remembered. Her mouth was urgent in its need and I matched her intensity. I was lost to the sensation as I wrapped my arms tighter around her smaller frame and her hands rose up to entwine in my hair that she had pulled loose from the leather thong that held it. They were a balm, soothing the wounded soul I didn’t realize I kept buried beneath the fire of vengeance that stirred in me. Would that I could fly away with her, keeping her safe and loved with my body and soul. Which was, of course, when reality surfaced and I had to disentangle myself from her. I pushed her away, my hands gentle on her shoulders and reluctant to release her.
I stepped back, one of the hardest things I had done in my very long undead life and asked the question that could shatter my heart irreparably. “Sookie, what about Sam? As much as I have dreamt of our reunion, I will not be the man…” my voice trailed off, unable to say the words. I was a man of honor and would not steal her from another. Though I had offered to bring Sookie to my side in Oklahoma, I only did so knowing she would refuse and that it would push her further from me, where she would remain unharmed.
A momentary flash of hurt crossed her face before she replied. “There is so much we need to talk about, but please know, that Sam and I are no longer together. I realized that I was not truly in love with him,” she paused glancing at me, “and that it was unfair of me to continue the relationship. When I thought you had betrayed me I sought comfort in the ease of Sam, but I searched my heart and discovered that the love I felt for him was only friendship.”
She glanced at me unsure and my love for the woman standing before me broke free its bindings and surged through my veins, infiltrating every inch of my being. I pulled her back into my arms and breathed in her scent, letting it envelop me. Right now I just needed her near me. There would be time for the conversations that we needed to have, but right now I was simply content to feel her heart beat against my chest, knowing she was safe here with me.
My heart thumped uncertainly when Eric pushed me away. The insecurities I had felt during our time together resurfaced and it was difficult not to break down. I had waited so long to have him back in my life and I worried that what was broken between us might never be mended. It was only when he asked about Sam that I realize how much had changed since he had been taken to Oklahoma. I wanted to quickly set his mind at ease. I knew that there was so much we needed to talk about, but right now I needed to revel in his presence, to feel his strong arms wrap around me. I needed the feeling of safety I had never truly acknowledged that I felt when I was with him.
I explained as succinctly as I could the discoveries I had made since we had been separated. I felt his love as he gathered me into his arms once again.
“Sookie, I thought I might never feel you again. I had resigned myself to losing you, but try as I might I could not forget my love for you despite how hard I tried.” My heart filled with the words he whispered down to me and I knew then that no matter what we would work though the problems that had plagued us. For the first time I missed the blood bond, wishing that I could feel his emotions swirling inside me, and that in return he could feel the love that swelled through every inch of my being.
He placed his hands at the sides of my face and pulled my eyes upwards to meet his. “Sookie, I need to know…” he paused, his words caught in his throat, “I need to know if this is real for you. I know there are things we need to speak of, but I will not be able to relinquish you again. I need to know that you accept my vampire nature with all of my highhanded and possessive nature, though I will endeavor to control it and be more forthcoming with you. I will never ask you to become a vampire, but I need to know that you will not run away again. This is who I am and though I can regulate my darker nature, if you cannot handle the truth of this, please tell me now. I know that you cannot guarantee anything, but I want a real chance with you. A chance to prove that everything I feel for you is honest, that you truly are the love of my undead life.”
I felt the truth of his words, the open emotion that swirled in his eyes. I knew that we had a long road ahead of us. I knew that it would not be easy, but I also knew that I could never let him go again. I felt a surge of jealousy at the thought that he might find solace elsewhere if I were unable to give him the chance that he asked me for.
“Eric Northman, we have both made mistakes, but if you think I will allow anyone else the chance to love you, you are sorely mistaken. You are mine.”
I saw the thousand-year-old Viking surge to life behind his expression, flashes of his possessive vampire nature, and the pride he felt at my words. His lips once again crushed against mine, claiming me as I claimed him in return. Our hands clutched at one another, frantically grasping at what had been so long denied. I reveled in his searing kiss, my breath coming quickly as I wished that we were alone and able to explore every inch of each other’s bodies. One of his hands gathered my hair as I bent my head back and exposed my throat to his elongated fangs. They scraped against my skin and I wanted nothing more than to allow him to drink freely from me, but I knew that there were things that must take precedence over our desires. If we were to go any further we would not be able to stop.
“Sookie.” His voice came, heavy with longing. “As much as I want you…”
I finished the thought he started. “I know my love, there are things we must attend to. How much longer do we have you for?” I didn’t want to relinquish him back to the Queen, but I knew I must.
“Only a few more hours. I have a new ally on the inside, but I do not fully trust him. He believes that I will be gone until tomorrow evening, but I return tonight to ensure that all is as he says. I will not risk your safety.” He leaned forward, his forehead touching mine. “As much as I wish I could simply stay here with you, we need to go inside. There is much I need to tell you.”
He pulled back and I placed my hand in his, intertwining our fingers and still relishing the feel of him next to me. We walked into the house together and found everyone gathered in my living room. They looked to us, understanding written on their faces.
Pam broke the silence first. “Well, as glad as I am that the two of you kissed and made up, I’m quite sure there are things that need to be discussed.”
I laughed heartily at the vampire who had become one of my best friends over the last few months. “Oh Pam, ever the snarky pragmatist, but you are right. We haven’t much time and far too much to discuss.”
I looked from Pam to Sookie and back again. Win had told me a little about what had happened here in my absence, but I felt sincerely happy that it appeared that Pam and Sookie had become true friends. The ease at which my child joked with her relieved a weight that I did not know I carried with me.
I settled myself in the empty chair and pulled Sookie into my lap, unable to relinquish the sensation of her body against mine. I didn’t have much time left here, but I would not allow us to separate for even the smallest fraction of it.
Something flickered across Compton’s features as Sookie fitted herself against me. He rose and said, “If you will excuse me, I unfortunately have things to attend to. Pam, I trust you will pass along any information that is gathered from Eric’s visit?” She nodded as a smirk and a flicker of anger played across her lips. “Thank you. Eric, I will see you again soon. I look forward to the coming battle and to your return to your rightful place here.”
He left without further ado and I looked to Pam for explanation. Her words were tinged with bitterness. “It appears that despite my sister’s apparent growing attachment to Bill, he has unresolved issues when it comes to our Fairy Princess.” She glared in the direction that he had just exited and she allowed a quick sideways glance at Karin, who sat stoic on the couch.
Karin spoke briefly. “It matters not, he was a mere convenience.” I could tell she was lying, but allowed her the protection of her feelings. We needed all the allies that we could muster, but if we survived the coming fight, I would have words with Compton. I didn’t take lightly to his treatment of my child.
I took charge of the impromptu meeting. “To begin, Mr. Cataliades, it is good to see you here. I assume that you were called because of the recent attack against Sookie?” My body stiffened with the knowledge that I hadn’t been here to protect her and it must have shown on my face because Pam interjected before he could begin.
“Yes and your Princess subdued her attacker on her own. You should have seen her Eric, she was glorious. You would have been proud.” Pam said, her face echoing the pride that surged in me.
Sookie turned a bit to face me and she must have seen the pride written there because her smile echoed mine. “I did, and then I had the pleasure of smiting him with my fireball.”
Before curiosity could get the best of me the demon lawyer continued the explanation that Pam and Sookie had started. “Yes, it appears that the Cluviel Dor had some unforeseen effects on Sookie, upping her fairy heritage as it were, one of the benefits being that she now wields the power of fire. There are others as well. Sookie? It is your tale to tell.” He looked to her to continue.
“Well, there’s the firepower and increased mental shielding. I’m also stronger, faster, and have improved healing power. It is also helping me in my fighting and I’m picking up skills quicker than I would have before. There is also this, which is easier to show you than explain. Actually no one else has seen this power yet either, though they know about it. I’ve been practicing in the daytime before Pam comes over for our nightly sparring sessions.”
I raised an eyebrow, wondering what other surprise awaited me. She stood and closed her eyes, slowed her breathing, and I watched shocked as she grew taller and thinner, her hair turning a deep auburn and her skin lightening to a pale shade of moonlight. The room sat stunned at this revelation. They might have known about it, but it didn’t lessen the impact. When she spoke again it wasn’t with the lilting lightly southern accent that I was used to, but a deeply seductive drawl.
She looked me square in the eye. They had changed from their usual brilliant blue to a deep emerald green. “What do you think my handsome Viking? Surprised yet?” She returned her body to its original form.
“I like you better as you, but this new power will come in handy.” I said, still stunned at the revelation. She nodded and settled herself back between my legs.
Mr. Cataliades spoke again. “So there is that. We have discovered the name of the vampire who sent Jim, Sookie’s attacker, to her. His name is Harrison. From the research done we know that he is of Freyda’s line, but unfortunately there is no proof, so I am not sure if that will allow me to get you out of the contract. Without the testimony of someone besides those who are loyal to you, there is nothing much I can do.”
“Yes, I am aware of this. Harrison actually approached me earlier this evening, offering to aid me against Freyda. He is the one who revealed the attack against Sookie and why I am here now. I am not fully sure that I can trust him, but he could be a valuable asset. It is actually why I will be returning to Texas tonight. He has given me until tomorrow with Sookie, but I am prepared to catch him unawares hoping that it will reveal if what he tells me is the truth. It appears that Freyda killed a human he loved long ago. He is in Dallas to collect Sam’s mother Bernie and the group she was gathering to rescue Barry. The Queen wants them taken back to her compound and imprisoned.”
Sookie stiffened in my arms. “Are you sure that they are safe?”
“No, I am not. I am sorry, but there was no way to avoid them being taken back to the Queen. Harrison is just doing what I was supposed to. I lead him to believe that I revealed the full extent of our plans, but I did not. He is not aware of any of you, nor of my allies in Oklahoma. He thinks that I intend to take her out on my own. I asked that during the party, he free the shifters. It was a risk, but one that places no one but me in danger.”
“Oh fuck no, Eric. It is too much.” Pam nearly leapt up. “What have you done?”
“Nothing that puts anyone at risk besides me. She wouldn’t kill me before the party. Her position is precarious at best. As of right now, she thinks that she is swaying me to her side, giving me presents and allowing me short bursts of freedom.” I spit out the words derisively.
Sookie glared at me. “How dare you put yourself at risk.” Her anger flowed out of her. “What happens if you’re wrong and with his betrayal she decides to kill you? What then? We had a plan.”
“I realize the risk, but I do not think she will act before Halloween. She needs me at her side to give her an aura of strength. Do not worry Sookie, I will not allow her to kill me. Have you not learned of my devious nature in all the time you’ve known me?” She looked unconvinced. “If he betrays me I will simply turn it around on him, playing it as if I was drawing out a traitor in her midst, which is exactly what I’d be doing. He doesn’t actually know if I saw you. I could have simply flown away to draw away his suspicion.” I wrapped my arms around her trying my best to comfort her.
“I will never forgive you if you die on me.” She did her best to level an icy stare at me.
It was obvious that she had been spending time with Pam. I stifled the laugh that threatened to surface and simply nodded gravely to her. “I cross my heart dearest. I will not lose you again so soon after our reconciliation.”
She crossed her arms over that beautifully ample chest. “Okay, I guess. You are quite devious when you want to be.” I saw a smirk edge from behind the glare.
Karin decided to chime in. “Besides we are all revved up for battle and will be highly disappointed if you deny us.” Pam nodded her agreement.
“IthasbeentoolongsinceIhavespilledthebloodofmyenem ies.” Diantha said in her run-together manner of speech.
Mr. Cataliades and I broke into laughter at the same time. When he gathered himself together again he proceeded. “It appears that you have allied the women all to bloodlust and vengeance. If I can do nothing as a lawyer, I look forward to the coming battle if for no other reason than to see them all in the magnificence of combat.”
All three of them smiled in anticipation. We all discussed the plan further, with them filling me in on the details that Win was not aware of. I looked around the allies that had gathered in my defense and I felt the strength that flowed from them. I didn’t have much time left, I needed to return to Texas with enough time to get to Harrison and discern his true motives, as much as I could. There was still the possibility that he would slip by me, but I hadn’t survived for a thousand years by luck alone.
I stood, nodding at the lawyer and his niece. I embraced Pam and Karin, ensuring them once again that I would stay safe until I saw them again. Sookie came up behind me, slipping her hand once again into mine, walking outside with me to say our goodbyes in private.
“There is one last effect of the Cluviel Dor that I have not revealed to you. I wanted to wait until we were alone. If you had not come here tonight, it would have part of the larger conversation that we still need to have.” She stopped, gathering my other hand in hers as well. “But I want to give you yet another reason to survive until we come to rescue you. It seems that I have also inherited the longevity of the Fae. I do not know how long I have, but it will be centuries at the very least.” She glanced shyly up at me.
This was more than I ever expected. I had resigned myself to only having her with me for the short span of her human life, determined that I would meet the sun when she finally left me, knowing that my life would be wretchedly hollow after she died.
“I cannot express to you how happy this makes me Sookie.” I could see the conflict in her eyes though. “I know how hard this must be and I wish that we could talk more about this, if only so that I could reassure you that your life will never be empty ever again. I promise you this.”
I kissed her again. Passionately, pouring every ounce of love that I felt for her into it. I memorized it in case the worst happened and we did not survive. I wanted no doubt left in her mind that I loved her with every fiber of my being. When I finally broke our link I saw tears streaming down her cheeks and I kissed them away.
She gathered her incredible strength and said, “I know the dangers we face in the days ahead and I will not let you leave me without knowing that I love you. I never stopped loving you despite everything that came between us.” She folded herself into my body and I held her close, relishing the feel of her pressed against my chest. I didn’t want to let her go, but I knew I needed to.
“I must go now lover, but know I will be counting the minutes until I can hold you again. You are my Warrior Princess and the next time we see each other it will be in battle. We will vanquish the enemies who seek to keep us apart. I look forward to seeing everything you have learned and I am incredibly glad that Pam gave you the katana I had made for you. It is a weapon worthy of you.” I kissed her softly one last time and reluctantly released her. Before I took to the sky I gazed down at her one last time. “I love you Sookie.”