Hey all! Here’s hoping this chapter finds you happy and well. A quick note. You will notice two separate spellings for Eric’s name. The way we know it and then the traditional Swedish spelling: Eiríkr. When Sookie or the Doctor talk to him it will be spelled our way, but when anyone from his time period does it will be written traditionally.
Also, I don’t own the Doctor, Sookie, Aude, or Eric (they belong to the BBC and Charlaine Harris), though with the exception of Eric’s father, who is actually the King of Sweden around the time that Eric would have been there, I made up the rest from my little brain. Some of Eric’s life is based off of what we learned in Dead and Gone, but since there wasn’t much information there so I embellished and added to the story Charlaine outlined.
As usual, enjoy and review because it makes me happy on the inside. I tried to stay as true to the period as I could, but I’m not an expert, so if there are any mistakes, you’ll have to forgive me!
The Feast of Sigrblot
I stepped out of the TARDIS onto a deserted beach. Looking around, the landscape astounded me. This was a land before the Industrial Revolution. The air smelled of a crisp clean scent unlike anything I’d ever encountered before. There was the aroma of wildflowers, pine, and the salt of the seawater. The tall pale yellow grass rippled softly in the cool breeze as it grew out of the sand dune that rose slightly to a plain dotted with stunted trees with gnarled branches. I lifted my eyes to the sky and thought that it couldn’t be real. The blue that spanned the horizon nearly knocked me over. It was azure at its pinnacle and cerulean where it touched the sea. It was a thousand shades that I couldn’t name. Overwhelmed, I stumbled back trying to shake the dizziness from my head.
“No smog, no chemicals, no jet trails marring the color. No cars, no highways, no exhaust fumes. Nothing to muck it all up. Incredible, isn’t it?” The Doctor asked.
“I don’t think that word does justice to this world.” There was nothing to break up the beauty.
He let me stand there for several minutes while I attempted to take it all in. “So are you going to stand there gobsmacked or would you like to go see your Viking?”
I gathered my wits. “Eric,” I breathed out. I couldn’t believe I was about to meet Eric as he was when he was human. I started walking before I knew I was moving.
His long brown woolen coat billowing out behind him, the Doctor simply smiled his enigmatic grin, shoved his hands in his pockets, and hurried to catch up. We had walked for a while when I smelled a campfire. I knew I was getting closer to him and a feeling of anticipation rushed over me.
They crossed into a field peppered with thousands of wildflowers. Off to the left I noticed standing stones that formed an oval with a large stone at its apex and a larger rectangular one that sat just outside the oval. At the base of the head stone the ground was burnt indicating that a fire had been there. Dry, wilted flowers lay scattered around the center and the grass was pressed down as if the site had been recently used. Wandering over, I felt the magic of the place as I pressed my hand to the stone at the pinnacle. It vibrated beneath my palm.
“What is this place?” I asked intrigued. “There’s something about it.”
“It’s a Viking stone ship graveyard. It is a burial ground and the stones form a symbolic ship that sends the dead into the afterlife with everything they might need.”
“It seems like there has been a funeral lately,” I remarked sitting in the center of the grouping.
The Doctor’s eyes held sadness. “Yes, life was very difficult during this time and in this land. There is no modern medicine. No antibiotics or any of the marvels that your time has come to take for granted. There wasn’t much to do when people fell ill except pray to Odin.”
“It’s like I can feel the spirits here, like magic inhabits the stones themselves.”
“It is more likely a combination of energies. The human body is made up of…”
I cut him off. “Shush Doctor.” He huffed at me, but stopped his overly scientific explanation. I fell silent offering a prayer for the departed soul. When I opened my eyes again the Doctor was staring at me as if captivated.
“What? Have I grown a second head?” Good lord the man could stare.
“No, it’s just not often that anyone shushes me. Or ever. Has anyone ever shushed me?” His eyes glazed over like he was flipping through a mental rolodex of memories. “No, I don’t think so. You intrigue me Sookie Stackhouse.”
“You aren’t the first to say that. I suppose when you live with vampires, werewolves, witches, and psychos you tend to lose some of your inhibitions.”
He considered. “I imagine that is so,” he responded, the wonder evident in his voice.
I laughed at his shock. I was about to tell him that scientific technobabble didn’t impress me when I noticed a man walking towards us. Standing quickly, i dusted myself off, and walked out of the circle of stones. If this was a graveyard I didn’t want to seem disrespectful. The man strode across the field, tall and proud, his blond hair golden in the mid-afternoon sun. When he got closer I knew my face had taken on a look of wonder. The Doctor seemed about to ask me what I saw.
I answered his unspoken question. “It’s him,” I barely whispered so in awe of his presence. He whipped around and his face broke out in a wide grin.
The Doctor started across the field while I stayed rooted in place. “Hello there! I’m the Doctor and this is…” He glanced behind and noticed that I hadn’t moved. He waved me over, breaking my trance. “This is my cousin Sookie.” I laughed that he had made me his cousin, but then again a man and a woman traveling alone would probably be frowned upon. I realized I had the chance to listen to his thoughts for the first time and couldn’t resist. So beautiful, like the Goddess Freya come to walk the Earth. I sighed and my heartbeat sped up. I decided to quickly put back up my mental blocks. I wanted to experience this world without the aid of my telepathy, if I could resist. With romantic thoughts like the one I’d heard it would be difficult. Still, there was no danger so it wasn’t imperative to use my gift and I could always change my mind again later.
I made my way over to him not wanting to miss a minute of the time I could spend with Eric. My eyes roamed over him, glorious in the sunshine. It occurred to me that it was the first time I had ever seen him in the daytime. I memorized every detail of the way he looked in that moment. His cheekbones and jawline still seemed to be carved from granite, his lips utterly kissable, and his shoulders broad and glistening in the light from a slight sweat that covered him, yet there was a softness that emanated from within. He hadn’t yet been hardened by a thousand years of survival. Sadness seemed to surround him though, and I yearned to wrap my arms around his waist and comfort him. I realized that I’d been just staring at him and my eyes skittered to the side.
“Greetings, I am Eiríkr Eldr Sigrsæli, son of the Victorious King. What brings you to these lands?” It was odd hearing him speak English despite the fact that I knew the TARDIS was translating for us. His voice was deep and rich with a thick accent that made me want to melt right then and there.
Did his eyes seem bluer in the sunshine I wondered silently? I was unable to speak and was glad of the Doctor’s gift of gab.
“My cousin was visiting with my family after her husband died last fall. I am escorting her back to her family in Alby.”
A flicker of understanding passed across Eric’s features. “You still have very far to travel then. You must come back to my home, visit and join us for the beginning of the feast of Sigrblot, and tomorrow you may begin your journey again.” He seemed to be checking me out though I couldn’t be sure if that was just wishful thinking on my part. I really wanted him to like me for some reason despite the fact that the Doctor and I couldn’t stay long.
“Splendid,” the Doctor exclaimed. He whispered to me that the feast was in celebration of the beginning of the growing season.
Eric smiled, not his vampire smile that meant you had displeased him, or his flirtatious smirk that meant he was imagining me naked, but an actual smile that bathed you in warmth and made you want to linger there. “Give me a moment and I will accompany you, I come to pay my respects.” I glanced back over my shoulder to the standing stones. So there had been a funeral there recently and somehow it had affected Eric.
When he had stepped away, I whispered to the Doctor, “A widow? You made me a widow?”
“Sookie, we needed a cover story and since women in this day and age marry in their early teens, it seemed for the best. You would rather I had made you unmarried? That would have raised questions I feel certain that you would not want to answer.” He raised an inquisitive eyebrow in my direction.
What was it with handsome men and their eyebrows, I asked myself. Of course I realized that he was right. “Okay. I see your point.”
Having had his moment of peace, Eric rejoined us. “Shall we?”
He gestured that we should follow him and I couldn’t help but sneak a look at his butt. It really was fantastic and the belt that was slung low over his hips, holding a long knife in place, only accented it more and drew my eyes downward to his long muscled legs that were only partially concealed by a coarse brown fabric tunic. Then it occurred to me what he wouldn’t be wearing underneath and when Eric looked back over his shoulder at me, I blushed fiercely having been caught ogling his incredible physique. His lips turned up in a teasing grin and I rushed to walk beside the Doctor trying not to stare, or at least not be caught staring again.
It wasn’t long before we came upon a long wooden house with women who I assumed were preparing for the feast while the children played at their feet. They stopped what they were doing when they saw us approach and three little children came running up to Eric. The women gathered together chattering to each other at the appearance of two strangers.
“Da!” Three young voices chorused as they ran over to greet Eric. None of them could be older than five and the little girl reached her arms up to her father in a silent plea for him to pick her up. Eric was a father and it made him all the more handsome. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him and I kept trying to sneak glances when I didn’t think he was looking.
He hugged his beautiful blonde daughter tightly, her tiny arms wrapping around his neck. “Linnaea, my precious girl.” He snuggled her against his chest and kissed her on the forehead before moving her to his hip and ruffling the blonde mop of hair of one of his sons who hid slightly behind his legs while the other stood on his other side, proud and trying to be taller next to his father. I scanned the chattering women wondering which one was Eric’s wife. I’d never considered that he might have had a family before he was turned. He had always seemed so solitary to me.
My train of thought was interrupted by one of his children. “I’m Eiríkr, and I’m the oldest. It’s my job to protect my brother and sister. Who are you?” He eyed the Doctor and I with a child’s imitated suspicion.
I knelt down to speak to him on his level, easing his worry. “I’m Sookie and this is my cousin the Doctor. We are traveling and your father invited us to join you for the celebration this evening.” His face eased a bit into a more childlike curiosity. “So you are Eiríkr and you’re the oldest. Would you like to introduce me to your family?”
He nodded seriously. Pointing to his father’s arms he said, “That’s my little sister Linnie.” She beamed down at me her tiny head resting against her father’s shoulder. “And that’s my little brother Alex,” he said as he went to throw his arm around his brother and bring him forward.
“Well it’s very nice to meet you all.” A shadow fell over me and I stood ending up face to face with an older woman with grey hair held back by a leather tie and a terrifying look in her eye.
“That’s my grandmamma. She just looks scary.” Little Eiríkr said without fear sidling up to her and slipping his hand into hers. “Would you like to come and watch me fight? I am going to be as strong and brave as my Da when I grow up.” My Eric gazed down with the pride evident in his eyes.
Eric took over for his son and introduced us. “This is the Doctor and his cousin Sookie, they will be joining us this evening. Doctor, Sookie, this is my mother Dahlia.”
The old woman eyed me up and down, but before I could reply she beckoned me saying, “You are too skinny. Come. You must be tired from walking. We will feed you and you can sit for a while and rest.” She grasped my hand and began tugging me along.
I laughed thinking that she was just like my Gran’s friends, always trying to feed me. “Well it looks like I will have to watch you fight a little later.” I smiled genuinely at the child who looked like a tiny copy of his father. I felt a pang of sadness knowing that he would never see his children grow up since Eric looked identical to the man I knew, but I buried the thought. I didn’t want to ruin this visit with things I couldn’t change.
The Doctor warned me that it was very important that I not reveal anything that might affect his future. I argued with him for a bit about it, but once he pointed out that I could royally screw up the timeline and potentially never end up knowing Eric at all, I quickly agreed. I looked back at the Doctor who indicated that I should go with the woman. I figured he wanted to get to know Eric and it was only fitting that I should spend time with the women despite how much I didn’t want to leave human Eric’s side. The Doctor waved as I was dragged along and I smiled as Eric’s eyes followed me.
I finally stopped looking over my shoulder at him when I almost tripped and I simply let Dahlia bring me into the circle of women. She introduced me around and sat me on a wooden bench around an outdoor fire upon which a spit was roasting some kind of an animal that might have been a sheep. The women surrounded me, their preparations forgotten. Eric’s mother hurried into the longhouse behind me and came back out bearing a worn wooden bowl filled with a brown stew that didn’t look in the least appetizing, but smelled fantastic, a thick crusty piece of bread, and a wooden mug filled with some kind of sweetened drink that I imagined was mead though I had never tried any before. The women bombarded me with questions, most of which I couldn’t answer, so I picked out the ones that I could using the story that the Doctor had concocted for us. They pressed me for details about my husband and life in my village, but I was luckily saved from too much talking when Dahlia shooed them away to continue the cooking for the evening. Eric had informed us that all of the neighboring farmers would come with their families to partake of the food and friendship. It had been a long hard winter.
“You are interested in my son.” Dahlia’s gaze captured mine and I wasn’t sure how to respond. How did women act in this time period? “Do not deny it, I can see by the way you look at him. He is handsome, no?”
I swallowed a mouthful of stew that had gone tasteless in my mouth. My eyes found Eric standing off to the side while the Doctor talked his ear off. I felt a thump in my heart and my breath hitched when he seemed to know I was looking at him and his eyes met mine. All I could do was nod to the woman and smile.
“He is a brave warrior, a good and noble man. He would be with the other men now if not for the loss of his wife, Aude.”
The funeral at the standing stones must have been for his wife. “How sad. Did he love her very much?”
“She was his brother’s wife, when he died it was Eiríkr’s responsibility to marry her. He cared for her, as he should, but now he will marry a young woman from a neighboring village. She is very beautiful and will give him many more sons. The alliance will be good for his father the King.”
I knew what she was doing. She was letting me know that Eric was already spoken for and that I was not to interfere. Little did she know that there was no way I could marry Eric even if I wanted it. As interesting as this trip through his life would be, I had no intention of giving up hot baths or microwave popcorn.
Instead of confronting her, I nodded and changed the subject. “Tell me about him.”
She looked shocked that I had given in so easily, but she began to tell me stories of him. “He was a handful as a child, always running off and getting into trouble. I was forever chasing after him. As he grew older he became more solitary and he would walk to the shore, just standing and staring at the water as the waves lapped at his bare feet. He was anxious to grow into a man, to take to the sea like his father and elder brother. He practiced with his sword from the time he was strong enough to hold it. Many women desired him, but being honorable he stood by his duty to his family.”
“He was always gentle with his sister and protected her fiercely. When they were younger she would sit with her head in his lap and he would tell her stories of a beautiful princess who would have everything her heart desired. She, he insisted, would marry for love. He advocated for her with his father when she wanted to marry a handsome farmer from nearby that she met at the Midsummer’s festival. Nothing made him happier than to give his sister to a man who obviously loved her no matter how poor he was. They are very happy and have a large family. At heart my son is a romantic, but it is not for him. He knows what is required since he is to inherit his father’s kingdom.” She sighed as if it made her sad that he could not find a love that he desired, but it was Eric’s pragmatism that I heard in the words she spoke. To her love must seem like a frivolous emotion.
Suddenly she laughed heartily, a dry but contagious sound. “I remember when he was around his tenth year and he watched as his father and brother left again for the sea. He was determined that he would show that he was a man and could provide for his family. He left to wander and was gone for a day and night. It wasn’t unusual for him to take off, but I had started to worry that something had befell him until he walked back into the village, mud-caked and drenched to the bone. He had three of the tiniest fish you ever saw and came back proclaiming that he had provided us a feast. I would have laughed at him if he had not been so serious. I praised him and roasted the three little fish over a fire with potatoes, onions, and cabbage. He told everyone the story and how it made him a man.”
I laughed along with her and hearing us, the Doctor and Eric ambled over.
“Mother, what is so funny? You aren’t telling stories again are you?” He was blushing. My big strong Viking was blushing.
“She was telling me what a great provider you were for the family when you were growing up,” I informed him. I couldn’t help it, I burst into laughter again.
“Oh mother,” he chided her, embarrassed.
“What Eiríkr? I didn’t tell her that as a child you refused to wear clothing and would run streaking around the village.” She winked at me. She might not want me to marry her son, but since we had evidently cleared up that little problem, she seemed to like me well enough.
He turned his back to us, picking up a long stick and stirring the fire. “A man provides for his family, mother,” he replied without heat. I could hear the smile in his voice even though he was facing away from us. “He takes care of those that are his. Isn’t that right Doctor?”
“Oh right! Absolutely. That is the way it should be.” He sat next to me, stretching his trouser clad legs out in front of him, and threw his arm casually around my shoulder. “Eric here has been telling me of his adventures. Of the sea and the dangers of that he faces. Even since he’s stayed here while the rest are off having grand adventures, he’s told me about the attacks that only occur at night. Isn’t that right Eric?” I realized that there must be vampires in the area and I wondered how soon he would be turned.
He seemed proud of his ability to protect his family, but at the same he chastised the Doctor. “Do not worry the women. I can take care of my own; they have no need to fear.”
I wanted him to turn around and look at me again. “Oh I have no doubt that you are one of the fiercest warriors this land has ever seen. The women here have nothing to fear, do they?”
He spun around, his eyes blazing with intensity, and though I could see he was flattered, he denied himself my praise. “No, my father is the most ferocious warrior. That is why they call him Eiríkr the Victorious. He has never lost a battle and all in the land fear him. One day I hope to be as great as him.”
“Oh of that there is no doubt.” The Doctor said smiling slyly at me. I nudged him with my elbow in the ribs. “Would you mind showing us around Eric? I must admit I’m curious to see the rest of your lands.”
“I would be honored to unless Sookie would rather rest while you and I walk?” He turned his stunning blues eyes once again to lock with mine.
“Oh no,” I responded quickly taking the hand he offered me. As interesting as his mother was, I didn’t travel back in time to talk to her. “Do you think the children would like to join us?”
He called the kids and they bounded over to join us on our walk. Eric showed us all of the neighboring homesteads and the different fields. He told us of his childhood spent wandering around the beautiful land that surrounded them. The boys raced ahead while Linnie slipped her small hand in mine and walked by my side, stopping every so often to pick flowers. I caught Eric sneaking glimpses at the two of us and it brought a joy to my soul. Despite the differences he was the man I knew from my time. I was shocked that I could see the vampire in the man he was and the man in the vampire he became. He bragged about his sons and how they would be noble warriors when they grew up and how he would teach little Eiríkr to wield a sword soon. He had already carved him a wooden one, which I noticed that his oldest boy was carrying even now. He wore it strapped around his waist just like Eric did his own and when he became bored with chasing his younger brother he fell in step with his father, imitating his stride.
Late in the afternoon, Alex clambered up on the Doctor who swung him onto his back and told the most ridiculous stories about the places he had seen. His verbal barrage and funny way of speaking entertained them, and we were back at the longhouse before I noticed that our walk was at an end. He pulled little Eiríkr, who could barely keep his eyes open, down off his shoulders and handed him to one of the women, who gestured that I should bring the sleeping Linnaea into the house. We laid them out on the beds where they snuggled down under the grey woolen blankets.
“I’m Arwen,” the pretty, curvy, brunette said quietly as we slipped back outside. I noticed that her build was very similar to my own as were many of the women I had seen.
“Sookie. I’m pleased to meet you.”
She hesitated a bit and I wondered what she wanted to say. I waited patiently for her to begin, but I wasn’t prepared for what she told me. “He hasn’t smiled since his wife’s death. He is happier today than he has been since it happened. You have given him back a spark of life.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. Eric had always had such a joy de vivre, so I couldn’t imagine him not having that. True he didn’t smile much, but I thought that was due more to the Sheriff side of him needing to maintain control and order.
“Has it been hard on him?” I asked as delicately as I could.
“She died bearing his child and there was nothing he could do. He is such a protective warrior that I think it hurt him that he could not protect her from that.”
“Then it is good that he will marry again soon. Eric should not carry that kind of sadness.” She glanced at me confused and I realized that I had talked of him as if I knew him, which, of course, I did, but I couldn’t let her know that. “I mean, a man should not be alone. He should have a woman to care for him.”
She smiled and agreed. “Ah yes, that is true, but he does not love her. She is his father and mother’s choice for him. A selfish child, she will not soothe his heart. She thinks only of being on his arm when Eiríkr takes over as King.”
There was a sharp stab of something that took a minute for me to recognize, it was jealousy. Not that I wanted him to be alone, but I wanted him to be with someone who would recognize him for the love he could give. For a split second I considered the idea that I could stay in the past with him, bearing his children, but then I remembered that he would at some point be killed and turned into a vampire. My heart broke thinking of what his future held and the fact that I couldn’t do anything to stop it. The Eric that I had spent the afternoon with deserved to be happy. He was a good man and a loving father.
“I think you should stay here,” she said, breaking me out of my contemplations. “You have no husband and I see the way you look at him.”
“How I wish I could Arwen, but I don’t belong here.” It made me sad to say, but it was the truth.
“Why? He would be a good husband to you. He is strong and a brave warrior. You’re not too old could yet give him many fine children. I saw you with them today. You would be a good mother.” She looked at me confused.
He reminded me so much of Eric when he had amnesia and I wished…well as my Gran would say, if wishes were horses. “It’s complicated. I need to return to my family. It’s where I belong.” Truthfully the only family I had left was Jason, but then there was Tara and Sam, my life in Bon Temps and the Eric I knew back in my time: the highhanded and utterly sexy man who frustrated me to no end. I couldn’t leave him behind, even if I didn’t know what was going on between the two of us. “It’s complicated,” I sighed again.
She nodded sadly and we both walked out to join the growing group of people who had gathered for the feast. A long wooden table was laid with all sorts of fish and vegetables, potatoes and meat, and decorated with wildflowers that must have been picked from the surrounding fields. The sun was just setting and I caught sight of Eric standing separate and watching over everyone. He pulled himself out of his solitude and mingled among the happy throng that ate and drank, talked and laughed with abandon. He joined in, but still seemed to hold himself apart. The Doctor and I were bombarded with questions about our lives and where we were from, which I mostly told the truth, minus you know, the whole being from a thousand years in the future part. But I told them of my Gran and my friends, of my brother and how much trouble he always seemed able to get into. Several times I caught Eric looking in my direction and I wondered if I should let down my shields and listen, but decided not to. He only talked to me a few times throughout the night, needing to see to the enjoyment of his guests, but it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might. I was simply happy to be able to experience even this small glimpse of his life.
Later in the night everyone sat down around the fire and started telling stories. It was amazing to listen to them and the adventures they dreamt up in this time before TV and books and radio. Eric paced around behind everyone as if nervously debating with himself and it was endearing seeing this unsure side of him. After what felt to me like forever, he finally seemed to come to a decision, and slipped down to sit next to me on the ground, placing his hand next to mine. I felt like a teenage girl on a first date. I did let my shields slip for just an instant then and heard him wonder “Does she like me?” I smiled, unused to this shy Eric, and a warm feeling grew in my belly sitting beside him, bathed in firelight. Slowly his fingers moved so that they were entwined with mine and I felt a burst of joy ripple through me. His thumb traced circles on my palm sending shivers to the core of me. I listened enraptured when Eric leaned forward and joined in the storytelling.
His voice was captivating as he told of Thor and his mighty hammer, Mjollnir, and his battle against the Midgard Serpent that he will defeat on the day of Ragnarok, the end of the Cosmos. I knew a little of the story from high school, but it was fascinating hearing it told among people who believed in the myth. Those that were listening were just as enraptured as I was. He took my hand again when he finished and I let my held fall to his shoulder as we sat together listening as another voice took over. The Doctor seemed just as enchanted by everything that was happening and even joined in with wild tales of Time Lords and a magnificent battle against their greatest foe. I noticed the crowd beginning to thin, couples slipping off into the night, families taking their children home to tuck them in to dream of wild gods and thunder.
Eric bent over, whispering in my ear, and asking shyly, “Would you walk with me Sookie? There is a place that I would like to show you.”
I turned to face him and knew that there was nothing I wanted more in this world than to walk by his side, hand in hand under an ancient moon.