Three Years Later
Eric shook his head while he gazed at the smoldering ruins of his once prestigious palace. Hatred and jealousy had all but destroyed the building, and Eric felt the heaviness of his age on his shoulders weighing him down. He had seen so much in his thousand-plus years and there were many things he would never forget, but he didn’t think he had ever seen a jealousy so fierce that it turned into a blinding hatred and had all but destroyed everything he had spent years building. His palace lay in ruins all because of the jealous actions of his sister.
Nora had caused this destruction, and she had done it in an attempt to kill his wife and child. His sister had tried to kill Sookie. Eric let out a trembling sigh as the truth of that statement settled upon him. He always knew Nora had an unhealthy fixation for him. Since she had re-entered his life she had been single-minded in her desire to stand by his side and rule His Kingdom together. It didn’t matter that he was Bonded to another woman. She didn’t care that he had turned, and then Pledged to His Bonded. She had dismissed everything before her, everything that said he wasn’t Hers, and never would be again as insignificant. She had overlooked his wife and belittled her station as His Bonded child and Queen all in her delusional beliefs that she was meant to be His Queen.
She had claimed more than once that Godric had made her for him, that their Maker had wanted them to be together, and that they should honor his wishes. She had readily believed that, and nothing anyone would say would dissuade her from those beliefs. Not even the news that Godric had met Sookie; that he alone had personally asked Sookie to look after Eric before he had met the sun could make Nora understand the errors of her comprehension. In her mind, she was supposed to have been Eric’s Queen, but even knowing how obsessed she was, Eric had never suspected she would do something so rash as to organize an attack on his palace.
Eric rubbed a hand over his face trying to wipe away his fatigue while he tried to make some sense of the mess. No matter which way he looked at it, he couldn’t. He couldn’t make sense of it, and he definitely couldn’t forgive it, forgive her. She tried to kill his wife! That was unforgivable in his eyes. He could and had forgiven Nora a great deal over the centuries, but not that, never that. The only reason he hadn’t killed his sister on the spot had been because she had failed and Sookie was still among the Undead, although his wife had been badly injured in the attack. She had suffered burns to over half of her body. It was only by the grace of the Gods that his wife was still with him. As long as he lived, Eric knew he would never forget the screams of pain that were wrenched from Sookie’s mouth as the fire ravaged her beautiful body. Her screams would haunt him forever and they were all because of his fucking sister!
Yet the attack wasn’t just his sister’s doing. No, she had help from a few different vampires, but it was one vampire in particular that interested Eric. The one who had helped her organize the attack, the one who had conspired to kill his wife… Bill Fucking Compton. Eric shook his head at the thought of the younger vampire. He had a harder time believing that Bill was complicit in a plot to kill Sookie than he did accepting Nora had attacked his palace. The Civil War vampire had never given up his foolish idea that Sookie would return to him, so discovering that he helped Nora plan the attack had been a hard pill to swallow.
However, it seemed that as much as Bill loved Sookie, power was the seductress he loved even more. Bill had been planning to use Sookie’s death to weaken Eric and reclaim the throne for his own gain. Eric reminded himself to give Roman a raise for uncovering that little bit of information! Not that it had been difficult for the former Head of The Authority once he had Bill strung up in silver. It had only taken an hour to break Bill… And he had even taken a thirty-minute break to fuck Pam. Between the combined care of Roman and Pam, Bill had sung like a canary, spilling everything. They had been rather disappointed at how easily Bill had broken, so to cheer themselves up they had tortured Bill some more for being such a weakling.
The former King was still among the Undead, but there was very little left to him. Roman and Pam were just waiting for Eric’s word to finish him, and Eric was waiting for Sookie to be healed enough. Bill would die sooner or later, but Eric wanted to give Sookie the chance for some closure. His wife knew Bill was going to meet the True Death, and she was more than fine with it. She had put up with his ridiculous attempts to save her, but there was no way she would ever tolerate his schemes to kill her Bonded, Maker, and husband. That was her limit. No one hurt Eric and walked away from it.
Bill’s fate was sealed. It was sealed the moment he had dreamed up his idiotic plan. It was Nora’s fate that troubled Eric. Like Bill, Nora had been captured during the attack, chained in silver, and was awaiting her sentence in one of Eric’s secondary residences. Eric knew what he had to do; there was really only one option, but knowing something and putting it into action were two entirely different things. Eric knew what Nora had done, he knew given the chance she would do it again, and he hated her for it. Yet, a part of him still loved her. She was his sister, the last link he had to Godric. He didn’t want to kill her, and a part of him rebelled at the mere thought, but leaving her alive was not an option. For as long as she was still among the Undead, Nora would be a danger to Sookie and, as much as he loved his sister, he would choose his wife and put her first always. He could live without Nora, it would hurt, but he could do it. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that he could never live without Sookie. She was His Everything. Life without her meant nothing to him.
Letting out a sigh, Eric took one last look at the smoking ruins of his former palace before taking to the air and heading toward his secondary residence. He knew what he had to do. Delaying it wouldn’t make it any easier. It would hurt no matter what. Eric took the time on his flight to Shreveport to make his peace with Godric. He wasn’t sure what His Maker would have done if he had still been there. Would he have allowed Eric to carry out his sentence on Nora? Would he have interfered and stayed Eric’s hand? Eric was actually grateful that Godric wasn’t there in a way. He knew if he had been and interfered, trying to stop Eric? Eric wouldn’t have forgiven him. He wouldn’t have been able to forgive Godric from stopping him in his attempt to obtain justice for his wife.
I hope you will forgive me for what I am about to do, Godric, Eric thought when he landed just inside the secondary compound. He nodded to the guards as he stalked through the compound and made his way to the cells located beneath the house. There was a promise of death in his eyes and the guards wisely scrambled out of his way. No one wanted to get in the way of The Viking!
As he neared the cells, Eric felt a heavy sensation settle over his chest. He knew he could still turn around and walk away if he chose, and a part of him did want that, but a larger part, the part that could still feel His Bonded, child, and wife’s pain wanted to tear apart the person responsible, even if that person was his sister. Tapping in the code for the cell, Eric closed his hand over the handle and hesitated for a second. This was it; the end of the line.
Everything ends, even the Immortal… With that thought in mind, Eric twisted the handle, pushed the door open, and stepped inside the cell.
Sookie shook under the mass of Eric’s emotions. She could feel everything he felt; his pain, his anger, his disgust, and even his love. She knew he had gone to deal with Nora and her heart broke for her husband. She hated that he was being forced to destroy his last link to Godric due to the selfish, foolish actions of his own sister. In that moment Sookie hated the brunette vampire who had caused them so much trouble.
In the past, Sookie had always regarded Nora with indifference. She knew what the other woman wanted, what she thought was Hers and instead of being angry or throwing a tantrum, Sookie just hadn’t cared. She never felt threatened by Nora, not physically nor by her designs on her husband. Sookie trusted Eric more than anyone and she knew he would never do anything to betray her trust. As much as Nora would have liked to believe otherwise, she was a non-issue in Eric and Sookie’s relationship.
However, right then Sookie hated her. She hated that Nora was so consumed by a love that was never hers that she had nearly destroyed almost everything around her. Sookie hated that the centuries-old vampire had forced Eric’s hand, and now he would have to send her to her True Death. Sookie hated the pain that her husband was feeling because she knew it was due to Nora. Eric’s pain was Nora’s fault and that was something Sookie would never forgive.
Her own pain didn’t matter. Sookie didn’t care that her body was slowly healing from nearly being burnt to death. She could deal with that. She was recuperating, not quite as fast as she would have liked, but she was getting better. Eric’s blood had gone a long way into healing her, and now only the worst of her burns remained. Unfortunately for Sookie, those burns were the ones that hurt the most. She had suffered burns to over fifty percent of her body and the skin on her legs had been completely charred away. It was only by the grace of God she survived… Or more accurately, the grace of Pam. Her vampire sister had saved her life by putting the fire that ravaged her body out, suffering her own severe burns while she did.
Sookie ground her teeth when she felt a wave of sorrow slam into the bond. “OK, that’s it!” she said to herself. She wouldn’t sit around and let Eric suffer. She had to do something. She had to go to him. Taking a deep, but unneeded breath, Sookie braced herself for the pain she knew was about to come while she forced herself to her feet. Blood tears sprang to her eyes as nearly-crippling pain ran throughout her body. There wasn’t one part of her that didn’t hurt, but she didn’t care. Eric needed her. She would be damned if she’d let that need go unanswered.
Shuffling her way to the small cabinet that contained a fridge, Sookie grabbed a couple of bags filled with donor blood and reheated them. She pushed the pain back as much as she could while she waited for the blood to heat. It felt like it took forever for the microwave to ding! Grabbing the bags, Sookie sank her fangs into one drinking it quickly before moving onto the other. By the time she was finished, she had managed to block the pain enough that she could move around a little more freely. She knew it would be weeks, if not months, before she would be zipping around at vampire speed again, but she finally had enough strength to get to Eric, and that was all she cared about.
Sookie was only two feet out of her room when she felt another void approaching her quickly. She barely had time to react before Pam was in front of her, staring at her with a bemused expression on her face.
“And where do you think you’re going?” Pam asked, crossing her arms over her chest and eyeing her sister. A smile tugged at the elder vampire’s lips when she noticed the innocent look on Sookie’s face. If someone would have told Pam ten years ago that not only would she accept Sookie in Eric’s life, but also that she would come to love the telepath herself, she probably would have ripped their hearts out! She had hated Sookie back then believing she was taking Her Maker away from her; however, once she realized that wasn’t the case and let go of her hatred, Pam had seen for herself just what Eric saw in her. Sookie was loyal to a fault, fearless, and so much fun to have around! Pam could honestly say that not only was Sookie her sister, she was also her best friend. “You’re supposed to be resting.”
“I was, and then I got tired of it,” Sookie replied with a half-shrug. “Lying around in a bed all night is only fun if Eric is with me. Besides, I can’t stay cooped up in there all night while Eric is going through Hell. I know what Dr. Ludwig said,” Sookie added quickly when she saw Pam open her mouth to reply. The horrid little goblin had ordered bed rest for Sookie while she recovered, and, for the most part, Sookie had listened to her. She had spent a week in her and Eric’s new room doing nothing but resting. She spent the first two nights in downtime, only coming out of it long enough to feed. For once Sookie had done as ordered, but no more. She couldn’t hide away in her room and recover when Eric needed her. She would face the pain and the horrified looks of many of the people’s faces at the new compound when they got their first look at her badly burned appearance. She didn’t care about her appearance; all she cared about was getting to Eric. “I will come back to my room as soon as possible, but I’m not leaving Eric to deal with Nora on his own… Or rather, I won’t let him deal with his pain on his own,” she amended. She knew Eric had to deal with Nora on his own. As much as she would have liked to have been with him, it wasn’t something she could do. For better or worse, Eric needed to deal with Nora on his own. He needed to be the one to end her, not just because he was her King, but also because he was the Head of her line. Nora needed to go to her death knowing it was not only by Eric’s hand, but with the knowledge it was his choice. He was her judge, jury, and executioner. “He needs me.”
Pam frowned as she listened to Sookie. She couldn’t deny the fact that Eric was hurting. Pam might not have liked Nora, but she knew Eric loved her. It might not have been the kind of love Nora wanted, but the sentiment was still there. Nora’s death would bring him tremendous pain. In the past, Pam would have scoffed at the thought that not only could Eric hurt, but that he would need anyone except her. Now those days were gone. Pam was no longer blinded by her own selfish beliefs. She knew that Sookie was telling the truth, Eric did need her. No one else would be able to bring him the comfort his child, Bonded, and Pledged could. Eric needed Sookie! “Fine,” she agreed somewhat reluctantly. She might have accepted that Eric needed Sookie, but that didn’t mean she was happy that Sookie would be disobeying Doctor’s orders and suffering for it. “Eric does need you, but there is no way you’re walking through this compound to him and causing yourself more pain…” Before Sookie had a chance to reply, Pam stepped closer to her and scooped her up in her arms. She held her bridal style, careful not to add any undue pressure on her burns. “I will take you to Eric.”
Sookie couldn’t help but laugh while Pam carried her through the compound. Her vampire sister was being extra careful, making sure Sookie wasn’t jostled in any way. In that moment, Sookie had never been more grateful to have Pam’s friendship. She was closer to Pam than she ever was to Tara, confiding in Pam in ways she never had to her former best friend. Sookie took a minute to compose herself while Pam carried her into the area that housed the cells, and then put her down. “Thank you, Pam,” she said while she leaned against the wall.
Pam eyed Sookie checking to make sure she wasn’t overdoing it. She knew, despite the brave blonde’s words, that Sookie was still in great pain. Pam hadn’t suffered a third of the burns Sookie had during the attack, but those had still been incredibly painful while they healed. “You’re welcome,” she replied once she was satisfied that Sookie wasn’t going to fall over in pain. “As soon as it’s all over you’re going straight back to bed,” she added, her tone firm.
“I promise,” Sookie said with a tight smile. “I won’t even argue. I just need to be here now for Eric.”
Pam nodded in understanding. She was well aware if the situation was reversed, Eric would have done the same. Her Maker would have cut off his right arm if it meant sparing Sookie pain. It might have taken her time, but Pam finally understood what it meant to love someone unconditionally. She finally understood what it meant to be in love. As much as she tried to deny it, and then fight it, Pam had fallen in love with Roman. She had been fighting her feelings for years. The two of them had grown closer when Eric and Sookie had gone away so Eric could turn Sookie. Pam and Roman had been left to run Louisiana in Eric’s absence. It had been quite the surprise to Pam, finding out just how difficult running the state was, and it made her realize Eric had been right to appoint Roman as his second instead of her. She hadn’t been equipped to handle that kind of responsibility. However, with Roman’s guidance and teaching she was coming into her own and learning how to run an Area. Pam had fought her developing feelings at first, refusing to give into them, but once she had, she had never been happier. She finally understood why Eric could never give up Sookie.
It was about twenty minutes later when Pam heard Eric moving toward the cell door that she knew it was done. As much as she wanted to stay and make sure her Maker was OK, she knew Eric would only want Sookie at that moment. In the past she might have been jealous, but not now. Now she knew it wasn’t a slight against her. He would need her as well, but it was Sookie’s comfort he needed, Sookie’s love. “I will be in there,” Pam said, pointing toward the door to Bill’s cell. She knew Roman was in there and she felt like blowing off a bit of steam. She gave Sookie a small smile before vamping into the room before Eric walked out of Nora’s cell.
Pushing herself off the wall, Sookie grit her teeth at the pain and waited for Eric to come out. She had been feeling his emotions all night, and she wanted nothing more than to take it all away and make him feel better. She said nothing when the door to the cell opened and Eric stepped out.
Blood tears streaked Eric’s face and the knowledge of what he had just done was pulling him down. Never in his wildest imagination did he ever think he would have to end his own sister, but he had. Nora’s blood was on his hands, yet, despite how much pain it brought him, he knew he had done the right thing. Nora had been unashamed, and not shown a single ounce of remorse. She had been proud of her actions, foolishly expecting Eric to be proud as well. The only thing she had been sorry about was that she hadn’t succeeded. The news that Sookie was still alive had been the only thing to garner a reaction from her. As he had stared at her, Eric knew given the chance she would have tried again, and it was that knowledge that had him taking off her head. Eric let out a shuddering sigh as he closed the cell door. He would deal with Nora’s remains later. Right then all he needed was Sookie… the Sookie who was standing several feet away from him! Crossing the short distance between them, Eric dropped to his knees in front of her and wrapped his arms around her waist while he buried his face against her stomach. He took comfort in her embrace as he mourned for his sister.
“I’m here, Eric,” Sookie whispered while she threaded her hands in his blond hair and held his head to her. She let him express his grief in any way he needed as she held him, giving him her strength.
Eric marvelled at the strength of his wife while he cried against her. He knew she was hurting, he could feel her pain, and yet she was pushing that aside to comfort him. She really was the strongest person he knew, and he couldn’t have loved her more. Nora’s death had hurt him, but it hadn’t broken him. Nothing but losing Sookie could ever do that. Pulling himself together, Eric rose to his feet and wrapped Sookie in his arms, whispering words of love in her ear. “Thank you for being here, Lover,” he said as he pulled back and dropped a kiss on her head.
Sookie smiled up at Eric, love shining in her eyes. “For better or for worse, Eric, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. I’m sorry you’re hurting over Nora’s death, and I do wish there could’ve been another way…”
“It had to be this way,” Eric replied, cutting her off. “She was too far gone to be saved. She wasn’t always like that, and I do not know what happened to change her, but she couldn’t be saved. I am only sorry she managed to cause you pain.”
“I’ll heal,” Sookie said rolling it off her shoulders. “Besides, it wasn’t just Nora who was responsible for what happened to me…” Sookie trailed off when she thought about what she was about to say. She had never wanted anyone to die for her or because of her, but sometimes that was the lesser of two evils. Bill had shown time and time again that he had an unhealthy fixation on her, and didn’t care about hurting people in order to get to her. He had caused so much trouble because he couldn’t accept the truth that she didn’t love him or want to be with him. Sookie had foolishly ignored him in the past, but no more. It was time to deal with him once and for all. “It’s time to end this, Eric. Bill needs to pay for his part. It’s time he meets the True Death.”
There was a look of surprise in Eric’s eyes when he stared down at Sookie. He hadn’t been expecting her to say that. He knew she was aware that Bill had to die and was OK with it, but he hadn’t expected her to be the one to call for his death. “Are you sure you want to do this now?”
“Yes,” Sookie replied. She didn’t have to think it over; she knew it was the right thing to do. Bill had to die. Sookie needed to heal, both physically and emotionally, and she would never be able to do that while the shadow of Bill was hanging over her head. “Kill him now, Eric.”
“Do you want me to take you back to our room first?” Eric asked, eyeing her carefully, looking for signs of fatigue. He knew she was in pain, he could feel it. He had been taking quite a lot of it from the moment she was hurt. He could never let her suffer that alone.
“No,” Sookie said with a shake of her head. “I’m not hiding from this. Bill always tried to shelter me from these kinds of things. He thought of me as a delicate little flower. Well, I want to show him how wrong he was. I’m not made out of china. I won’t break seeing the dark side of our world. I’m a Northman…”
Eric smiled at her words and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. He always knew she wasn’t a delicate flower who needed to be shielded. He saw her strength, her courage, and her heart. He saw her for who she was and not what he wanted her to be. That had been one of Bill’s biggest problems. The Civil war vampire hadn’t recognized the strength or anything else in Sookie. She was just a pretty, shiny, tasty toy he wanted to keep on a shelf.
Wrapping his arm around her waist, Eric steadied Sookie while he guided her toward Bill’s cell. He knew his wife well enough to know she wouldn’t allow him to carry her in the cell like he wanted. She may have been in pain, but she would walk into the cell and face Bill one last time with her head held high and on her own two feet. She would show Bill how wrong he had been and that she was strong. So while he wouldn’t carry her, Eric would lend her his strength and stand at her side.
Sookie pushed the pain down and held her head up high as Eric opened the cell door and guided her inside. There wasn’t an ounce of sorrow in her when she gazed at pitiful-looking Bill hanging in the middle of the room. He had brought the entire thing on himself so she wouldn’t waste any energy pitying him. Sookie nodded to Roman as she moved further into the cell and stopped directly in front of Bill.
“So…Sookie,” Bill croaked out as he lifted his head and looked at the woman who was meant to be His. He let out a sigh of relief while he stared at her through his one good eye. He knew she still loved him, her coming to save him was all the proof he needed. “Sweetheart, you know I’d never do anything to hurt you. I love you…”
Eric growled at the term of endearment and couldn’t believe Bill still had the nerve to tell Sookie, his wife, that he loved her. The worthless cretin had conspired to have her killed just so he could regain the throne of Louisiana!
“… I don’t know what they have told you, but, Sweetheart, you have to know they’re lying,” Bill continued, convinced he could get Sookie on his side. Eric might have brainwashed her into being with him, but, deep down inside, Bill knew it was him she still longed to be with, him she still loved. “You can see what kind of monsters they are,” he added with a whine, giving it all he had. He had been tortured for nights by Roman and Pam, suffering unspeakable horrors, and he wasn’t above using them for his own advantage. He might have helped Nora plot to kill Sookie and helped her carry out her plan, but Sookie would never believe that. She would believe him when he said Eric was setting him up. Nora was Eric’s sister after all, and she was the one caught red-handed, so it would be easy for him to discredit Eric. “Help me, Sweetheart…”
“I’ll help you, Bill,” Sookie replied, her tone calm. She couldn’t believe she had ever fallen for his bullshit. He was the lowest of the low. She could tell he was planning on blaming it all on Nora and, by association, Eric. He would blame Eric for his own despicable actions. She was ashamed to say she ever loved him. “I’ll even set you free…” Sookie fought the urge to slap him when she saw the smug look spread across his face. “Just not in the way you think,” she added when she took a step back and let Eric move into her place. “Goodbye, Bill…”
“No!” Bill screamed when he realized what she was saying. She couldn’t be serious. That wasn’t supposed to happen. “Sook…” Her name died on his lips when he felt a sharp stake pierce his chest and splinter in his heart. Bills eyes widened in shock before he exploded into a pile of blood and guts.
Sookie glanced quickly at Bill’s remains before reaching for Eric and wrapping her arms around him. She wouldn’t waste any tears on Bill. He made his choice a long time ago and he deserved everything he got.
Eric didn’t even try to hide his joy at staking Bill. If killing Nora had been painful, killing Bill had been cathartic. For far too long Bill had thought himself above the rules that governed their race. He had thought himself better than those around him and worse yet in Eric’s eyes, he had brought nothing but pain to Sookie. Bill had hurt Sookie over and over again, and done so while claiming he loved her. Eric would have liked nothing more than to have spent weeks or even months torturing the little weasel of a vampire, making him pay for every tear Sookie had shed due to him. However, as much as he would have liked to have done that, Eric knew Bill wasn’t worth it. The time it would take him to extract every ounce of payback from Bill would have been time he was away from Sookie. Bill had already cost them too much time, and Eric wasn’t going to let him cost them any more. It was time to let go of the past and embrace the future, a future he would spend with Sookie.
Wrapping his arms around Sookie, Eric lifted her into them. She still needed to heal and he had a kingdom to rebuild, but he knew everything would be fine as long as they had each other. “Let’s go home.”