Author: All About Eric PM
When vampires ruled the earth - a different Eric, a different Sookie, the same love. AU. Proud winner of 2013 Fangie Awards for Best Epic, Best Erotic, Best Villain & Best Action, plus 2nd place for Best OMG Sex Scene, Best Original Plot, Best Romance and Best AU & 3rd place for Best Story Written before 2012. Also Winner of 2012 Fangies for Best AU, Best Angst and Best Epic.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Eric & Sookie - Chapters: 75 - Words: 774,617 - Reviews: 8,535 - Favs: 1,432 - Follows: 1,364 - Updated: 05-19-12 - Published: 12-30-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6605355
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Happy New Year to all my readers.
Welcome to my new story. As usual, it's All About Eric.
These characters are not mine (I wish!) – they belong to the great Charlaine Harris and I humbly bow before her altar and offer this as a tribute to her genius.
This story has grown from an idea sent to me by ericsfae, and she has very kindly given me permission to play with it as I see fit; thank you so much, my dear, I hope you think I do it justice.
I'm not quite sure where this is going to end up yet – it will be interesting to see where it takes me, and I hope you will come along with me for the journey.
It's quite different from my other two attempts at fanfic. It's a bit more of a slow-burner, so please bear with me as there is quite a lot of scene-setting in the early chapters.
As usual, I would be grateful for reviews/comments/feedback to let me know if I'm working along the right lines.
That said, I hope you enjoy it.
I'll never forget the first time I saw the king.
I was seven years old, and standing against the side wall in the great hall of the palace, holding real tight to my grandmother's hand, waiting to be ID'd.
I'd only recently come to live with my Gran, who was a housekeeper in the palace, after my parents were killed in a flash flood. Jason, my older brother, had gone to live with Gran's brother. Jason didn't mind; he and Uncle Bartlett had always got on very well, and Gran felt that a boy really needed a male role model, and her own husband was long dead. I had my own reasons for being glad it was Jason and not me who'd ended up going to live in Monroe. I missed Jason, but knew he'd be fine; Uncle Bartlett's tastes didn't run that way. For as long as I can remember, I'd known how my great-uncle felt about me, even though he'd never said anything out loud. He'd never had to. His mind just had a nasty feel to it.
The group of adults around me shifted slightly, and I tried to peep under the arm of the guy in front of me, but I couldn't see much at all. I was more curious than anything. Even though the vampires had taken over America years ago, I'd very rarely seen one. My parents had always been very careful to keep me in at night, and our house was well off the beaten track outside an obscure town in Louisiana, and there was no real reason for the vamps ever to come calling. Sure, I'd seen them on TV, but in the flesh was sure to be way more interesting. Since my arrival two days ago, I'd been on the lookout for one, but Gran hadn't let me leave the room once dusk had fallen.
Just then the man in front of me moved sideways, and left me a clear view. There was a young man from our group walking forward into the middle of the great hall and into the brilliance of a single spotlight. He looked nervous but he knew what to do (we'd all been briefed very carefully) and first he bowed and then turned slowly in a circle, letting the whole court get a good look at him. There was a faint sound as all the vamps inhaled, registering his scent, as the Head of Personnel read out his name and his position on staff. With their near-perfect memories, he was now logged in the mind of every vampire present as off-limits. I knew vaguely that this was why I'd come to live with Gran; she had explained that even though there were lots and lots of vampires in the palace, I would be much safer here than almost anywhere else, because the king had decreed that vampires who worked, lived or visited in the palace were not to feed on anyone in Domestic Services; it was disruptive to morale and completely unnecessary; there were plenty of willing donors. This was why, every Tuesday night, any additions or alterations to the servant population had to be brought to what they all referred to as ID parade, and it was my turn tonight.
The Head of Personnel gave the man in the spotlight a stainless steel bracelet with a blue enamel insert, which was another safety feature; again it meant 'don't touch', and any vampire who hadn't been present at the ID parade would still recognise and respect the bracelet. Wearing it was not compulsory, but anyone who didn't had only themselves to blame. Gran always wore hers, but the insert was yellow, indicating she was senior staff. The young man bowed again and moved out of the light and another man stepped forward and so it went on. And on. And on. I was soon bored. I checked the minds of the people round me, but nobody was thinking anything interesting; at least, not interesting to a seven-year-old. Then I looked to my left, and suddenly I was interested.
There was a stage, a bit like the one in the assembly hall at my old school, only it was made of stone, it had three broad steps leading up to it, and it was hung with black banners, each of which had either a stylised golden feather or a huge gold sword embroidered on it, point down. At the top of the steps was a throne, gold with red velvet cushions. There was a real sword leaning up against the arm of the throne, nearly as big as the ones on the banners, and seated on the throne itself was the king.
There were other vampires on the stage, and humans too, but the king was the one who drew my eye. He seemed quite relaxed, sitting with one ankle resting on the other knee, his elbows on the carved arms of his throne, and his fingers steepled underneath his chin as he fixed his gaze on the humans who came and went in the spotlight below him. There was a gold ring with a huge ruby on one finger, and it caught the light of the torches as he shifted slightly in his seat.
I was fascinated. He didn't look like anyone I'd ever met, at home or at school or at church. He was beautiful. He was dressed in black, and he looked quite young for a grown-up – about the same age as my Daddy, but he didn't look anything like my Daddy. I'd thought his crown would be a lot fancier, but it was just a plain gold circle on his blond hair, which was really long; I'd never seen hair like that on a man before. It came well below his shoulders. It was almost exactly the same colour as the crown, and just as shiny. His bright blue eyes were fixed on the young woman currently standing in the spotlight, but there was not much expression on the pale face. I thought he looked bored, too, just like me.
Then I noticed something odd. He was glowing. It wasn't really all that noticeable, but I was sure of it. The only bits of his skin I could see were his face and neck and some of his chest in the V of his shirt, and his hands, but it was all glowing, like the stick-on stars on the ceiling of my bedroom back at home. I looked round, and all the other vampires in the room were glowing too! I could see faces and arms and other bits where their clothes didn't cover them up (some of them weren't wearing very many clothes – I was surprised they weren't cold). Oh, this was so cool! I didn't know that vampires glowed in the dark! I tugged at my grandmother's hand.
"Gran, why are they glowing?"
Gran leaned down and hushed me, but I wasn't to be put off that easily.
"But Gran, why?"
"Why what, honeybun?" My grandmother's voice was low, but my voice had the high, carrying quality that all children seem to possess, particularly when they're saying something potentially embarrassing.
"Why do they glow like that?"
"All the vampires!"
"Hush now, Sookie, they're not glowing."
"Yes they are! Look! I can see them! Can't you see them, Gran? Can't you see them glowing?"
The people around me were starting to shift uneasily, and my grandmother had a worried look on her face. She picked me up and began to move further back into the group of humans, but it was too late. Vampire heads were turning towards us at the sound of my insistent questioning.
Then the king looked in our direction.
Instantly the whole group of humans froze. No-one moved a muscle as we were scanned by that inhuman, ice-blue gaze. I could feel my grandmother's arms trembling slightly, and I squirmed as they became uncomfortably tight. I couldn't breathe properly.
"Gran, let go, you're hurting me!"
I heard a sharp intake of breath from my grandmother, and looked round to see the king's gaze lingering on us. His hands were now resting loosely on the arms of his throne, and as I looked, he crooked one finger.
Immediately, my grandmother stepped forward, carrying me with her. She walked forward until she was standing in the spotlight, the Head of Personnel glaring at her for embarrassing him like this. He couldn't say anything, though, in the royal presence.
Then the king spoke.
"Put the child down." The voice was as cold as the eyes.
Gran lowered me to the floor and curtseyed before she turned me to face the king, her hands resting protectively on my shoulders.
I heard Gran take a deep breath, but she didn't dare protest. I felt her hands loosen their grip and suddenly I was alone in the spotlight.
The king leaned forward and as I looked into his eyes I knew what he reminded me of. I'd been to the zoo with my parents not long ago, and there had been this big old lion in one enclosure, lying in the shade. As it had looked lazily around, it had caught my eye and it had kind of zero-ed in on me. It was pretty scary. I'd met its unblinking gaze for a few minutes, not sure what it was going to do, and then eventually it had turned its head and resumed gazing at the horizon. The vampire now studying me made me think of that lion; would he attack me or would he ignore me? He had a kind of stillness that I felt could get real dangerous real fast, just like that lion.
I felt something sort of itching in my head and I reached up and scratched at my blonde curls. There was a sort of breathing hush in the room. The itching got worse and I shook my head to try and clear it and then looked back at the king. His eyes narrowed. Then he spoke again.
"What is your name, child?"
Well, that was easy enough.
"I'm Sookie. Sookie Stackhouse, and I'm seven years old."
"Why are you here tonight, Sookie Stackhouse?" There was a movement behind me and my grandmother spoke up.
"She's my granddaughter your majesty, she's…" her voice tailed away as the king shifted his focus from me to Gran. I could tell she was real nervous.
"You will be silent." Then he looked at me again. He didn't blink much. I thought maybe he was playing a game with me, staring me down, the way Jason used to, seeing who'd look away first. I liked that game.
"I asked why you are here tonight."
"I've come to live with my Gran. My mommy and daddy got drownded and I've got nowhere else to live."
"Your…Gran." The word seemed unfamiliar to him. "Adele Stackhouse is your grandmother?" My first encounter with the vampire memory, but at the time I wasn't surprised that he knew her name. I thought everyone knew my Gran, and so I was just surprised that he needed to ask. I figured maybe he wasn't that bright.
I nodded. "Yes, she's my Gran. I already told you that once."
There was a faint gasp from the other humans and the Were guards in the room. Looking back on it, I can see that they were horrified at my answering back. Didn't I know who I was talking to? Child or not, there was such a thing as a self-preservation instinct, and I appeared to lack it.
The king continued to stare unblinkingly at me. He seemed to be considering his response.
"You can see us glowing." It was more of a statement than a question.
"Yeah, it's real pretty."
"Pretty?" That startled him; an eyebrow raised half an inch – a fairly big reaction on the part of a vampire.
"Uh-huh, it's like the fireflies round my house. My daddy always said they were fairies, but I knew they was just fireflies really. Daddy used to make up lots of stories about fairies."
Again a pause. Then the king sat back, and glanced at my grandmother. I could tell her thoughts were a mixture of pride that her grand-daughter was brave enough not to be intimidated by a vampire king, and concern that her grand-daughter was stupid enough not to be intimidated by a vampire king.
Then I got a shock. I tried to tune in to the king's thoughts and was very surprised to find I couldn't hear him. I tried again but there was just a kind of blank in my head. I turned round and looked at my Grandmother and said,
"Gran, I can't hear him!"
She was completely thrown by this strange statement.
"What? I mean, pardon?" she said, staring at me, so I pointed straight at the king and said,
"Him! I can't hear him!"
This time there was a shocked murmur in the room. The vampires were all completely silent and still, focussed on the me as I stood in the spotlight, but the humans were all muttering among themselves. Apparently I was not only rude enough to sass the king, but then I turned my back on him and now I was pointing at him as if he were some kind of freak show! They couldn't remember the last time something like this had happened! All eyes went to the motionless figure on the dais to see how he would react to this triple insult, and gradually silence fell again.
When it was complete, the king leaned forward again and studied me. He appeared to reach a decision, and looked at my grandmother.
"The child should be in bed. Take her away. And teach her some manners." I felt Gran's mental sigh of relief. He had accepted my presence in the palace.
"Yes, your majesty," said Gran. "Thank you, sir." She curtseyed again, quickly picked me up and backed away from the spotlight, hurrying out of the far door. Once she was well away from the hall she put me down and leaned against the wall. She was shaking with the release from tension, but I knew that she was filled with questions.
"What's wrong, Gran?"
"Nothing, sweetie." My grandmother paused, and then said, "do they really glow?"
"Yes," I said. "Couldn't you see them?"
"I guess my eyes are getting old," she said, taking my hand and heading for the servants' wing.
As we went down in the service elevator, I could hear my Gran's mind trying to decide whether to ask another question or not. There was a word I didn't know.
"You were wondering if the king had tried to glamour me. What's glamour?"
My grandmother stared at me in consternation.
"How did you know I was wondering that, Sookie?"
"You said it in your head."
"In my head?"
"Uh-huh. People are always saying stuff in their heads. Daddy said it wasn't polite to listen – like reading their diaries or something, but I can't always shut it out, and anyway, I figured you wouldn't mind."
We had reached our quarters by now, and Gran unlocked the door. Because she was a senior member of staff she had a very nice little suite – a bedroom, a living room, a tiny kitchenette and her own shower room. A lot of the other live-in servants had to share facilities, but she had privacy, and enough room to accommodate a small grand-daughter.
Now she locked the door behind us and sank onto the couch, pulling me to stand in front of her.
"Now, tell me honestly, sweetie. Don't worry, I'm not cross, just tell me the truth. Can you always hear what people are…saying in their heads?"
"Okay, honey; tell me, what am I thinking right now?"
I took my grandmother's hand in my little ones. "It's easier if I'm touching you," I said.
I became serious for a moment, listening carefully, then I said, "you're thinking about someone called Fintan and wondering if he's why I can hear you. Who's Fintan, and why does he make you sad?"
I was surprised at my Grandmother's reaction. She sat back on the couch staring for a minute, and then she leaned forward and hugged me to her, rocking me in her arms as she did so.
"Fintan was someone I…used to know, a long time ago. He was a very special person, and I think you are a very special person too. You remind me of him. One day, when you're older, I will tell you all about him. Now tell me, sweetheart, did you…feel anything when the king was looking at you?"
I shook my head. "No, just an itch."
"Yeah, like inside my head? I wanted to scratch it but I couldn't reach it, but then it went away."
"I see." My grandmother was about to say something else, but there was a knock on the door. When she opened it, one of the people from Personnel was there. He held out his hand, and there was a tiny bracelet. "The king sent this for your grand-daughter."
"Oh, my, I'd forgotten all about that. Thank you so much for taking the trouble," said Gran. She'd completely neglected to collect an ID bracelet for me in the strange scene that had just passed, and I could tell she was grateful that someone had remembered. She was also slightly surprised that they had found one small enough so quickly; there weren't that many children among the resident staff. She closed the door after he'd gone and looked thoughtful for a few minutes and then she went to her dresser and got out a tin of cookies. she gave me one, and said, "that's for being a brave girl this evening. You did very well not to be scared, but another time, sweetie, if you meet the king – not that you're likely to – just remember it's rude to turn your back on him."
"Why?" It didn't seem a real bad thing to me.
"It's just not something you do to royalty. They don't like it. And don't point either; not at anyone. It's not ladylike."
"Oh. Okay." Even in two days, I was beginning to pick up that this was something that mattered a lot to my Gran.
I nibbled on my cookie while my Gran bustled around getting my things ready for bed, and then she helped me clean my teeth and heard my prayers and then tucked me into the big comfy bed to go to sleep. She stroked my hair and smiled warmly at me, trying to think happy thoughts so as not to alarm me. I wasn't alarmed; I couldn't see why I should be.
"Sookie, sweetie, have you told many people that you can hear what they're thinking?"
"Well, back in Bon Temps I told my schoolfriends but they just laughed at me and called me names. They called me Crazy Sookie Stackhouse, and said I was making it all up."
"Well, I think now you're here with me, it will be best if we don't tell anyone at all about it. It'll be our secret; just you and me, and then no-one will call you nasty names. Okay?"
"Okay Gran." That seemed like a good idea to me.
"Promise me, poppet?"
"Goodnight then, sweetheart."
My grandmother switched off the light and pulled the door to, but I lay awake for a long time, thinking about the beautiful, shining man on the golden throne, and when I did finally fall asleep he was in my dreams.