Disclaimer: The Sookie Stackhouse Series is the creation of Charlaine Harris. Don't sue me Charlaine! I love your books.
A/N- This elaborates on Chapter 3 of "The Gamble" and was requested by someone dear to me.
In the hours before, I did not waver. After Niall departed I held the platinum ring in my hand staring at it as if it held all the power of the literary One Ring. It certainly had the power to help me to live my life more freely. I regarded it solemnly. There was probably no going back as it was already, but this ring, and its enchantment, were irrevocable.
Not a single moment's hesitation.
I put the ring back in its velvet box along with mine, placed the box in my purse and began the business of making myself beautiful to marry my vampire.
Of course I wore white, since it was the bride-like thing to do. A simple dress linen dress, cut just below the knee, paired with a short white linen jacket, since it was still a bit cold. I remembered that the first time I'd met Eric, I'd been dressed in white. That night in Fangtasia Bill Compton, my then beau, had said I looked like a candle in a coal mine. It seemed almost inconceivable that my life had changed as much as it had in two years time. I decided to forgo the pantyhose and slipped into my white linen shoes, to see how I looked. The three inch heels made me look taller and slimmer even though I was in white. My tan had faded but my coloring was still fine against the soft white linen. My hair was loose. I thought of putting it up, but couldn't decide. Slipping out of the shoes, I went back to the bathroom to experiment and to finish my makeup.
Eric rose moments later, shortly after 5 pm. He came into the bathroom and stood behind me with his arms around me, and silently stared at our reflections. My eyes met his in the reflection and then I felt him pressing against me and sighed, closing my eyes.
"I like it loose," he said. "But if you want it up, that's fine, too. You look beautiful my Lover. Always."
I took off my jacket and then I put my hair up in a French twist. It looked more appropriate with the dress, and for the occasion.
Eric chose a beautifully tailored black suit paired with a deep blue silk shirt that I had always liked. I looked at his reflection as he brushed through his hair and was filled with this swell of love for him. We locked eyes with each other again and I felt this resonating sense through the bond that he was unguardedly happy.
It was still only 5:55 pm and the appointment was for 7:00 pm. We sat on the couch, listening to music on KVKI. I leaned against Eric slightly turned with my back against his chest and my head against his cheek, his arm around me. We didn't need to speak and I felt like I was just floating in his arms. As I listened to Adele singing "Make You Feel My Love" with my eyes closed, I was wrapped in a feeling of warmth.
At 6:30 pm, after confirming with Pam, who would meet us there, we left the house holding hands, to drive to the Caddo Parish Courthouse. I held Eric's hand when he wasn't shifting gears. As we drove, I thought about Jason, to whom I hadn't spoken since early February. Part of me felt bad that I wasn't telling him, but we were just so far from a place where I felt I could. I felt I would never be able to get Jason to understand how I felt about Eric. And there was Sam, who I knew would worry about my choice, and who had had serious worries about all the choices I'd made to get myself to this one. I felt odd about not telling him. He had sensed something was up with me. Yesterday at work, he'd asked me what was going on, after taking my break sitting outside in the chill air to call Claudine. "Oh, nothing much," I'd said. "Just talking to Claudine." My feelings were too deep to explain it to him. I was tired of having to explain things. Then there was Bill… I thought about how to tell Bill. I'd gotten Eric to promise me that, this time, he would let me tell Bill. He had already been pointed enough lording it over Bill that I was now his. It would take me a while to get to that place where I could tell him, I thought. I would be sad to hurt him.
Pam was waiting on the steps of the Courthouse's night entry door, dressed in a really beautiful mauve Chanel-style suit. She looked at us with both warmth and perplexity in her eyes. Ah, Pam. I realized she really found our relationship incomprehensible. She hugged me, however, and told me I looked beautiful.
We were greeted at the night entry door by a tall and slender older woman, who introduced herself as Mrs. Randall, the Clerk's Office Marriage Licensing assistant. Mrs. Randall smiled at us and in a few seconds of nosey intrusion, I'd garnered the fact that she was a practicing witch, and that supe intermarriage intrigued her. She guided us through a few corridors toward their office. The man who would conduct our ceremony, Mr. Callen, awaited us and I was surprised to find he was nothing more than a simple human man with a mind far more liberal than that which I was used to encountering in the Bible Belt. Mr. Callen extended his hand to shake mine, and impressively only nodded politely at Eric and Pam. This man knew his vampire manners. He seemed genuinely pleased to be performing his job.
As the three of us signed the register, Eric glanced around and asked me if I was sure Claudine was coming.
"She'll be here. When we go inside, she'll pop in. But I'm telling you if either you so much as looks at her the wrong way, I'm walking out. Are we clear?"
Eric glanced at Pam sternly. She gave a sharp nod.
We filled out all the myriad forms for the license and selected the style of service and paid our $26 plus the extra fee to eliminate the normal waiting period. Eric had positively glowed when I'd asked him to bring his ceremonial knife. We hadn't talked about the potential for a blood bond in the service until shortly before we left the house. I told him that for me, it was important for both of us to put that other bond, made in Rhodes, behind us. In a way, perhaps Andre had done us a favor because the bond had brought us closer in the end. But it had not been by my choice. Now it would be.
I glanced at Eric's drivers license curiously, realizing I'd really never thought about how a vampire proves who they are and all their other issues with identification. Getting a passport must be interesting, I thought.
When we went into a wood paneled interior room to set up, I saw Claudine appear out of the corner of my eye in the doorway to the outer office. She smiled at me then turned back into the room and signed the register. Then she came in and sat down in the second row of chairs, slightly across from where we stood, with a good view of me. She looked beautiful and was dressed in a lovely, but most business-like for her, emerald green dress. She smiled, with a tinge of melancholy, I thought, at me. Mr. Callen nodded to her, seemingly not at all startled by her sudden arrival.
Eric opened a velvet bag and laid out a cloth, the gold knife and a small crystal goblet, which would hold our blood. He instructed the clerk that he preferred to cut our wrists himself. I placed the rings on the cloth. And then… we began.
After a brief statement as to the purpose of our ceremony, Mr. Callen read through a slightly modified version of the standard civil marriage service and invited us to make our bond.
Eric gently took my left wrist into his hand and pressing his thumb down over my veins made a swift cut with the razor sharp blade below that, and allowed my blood to flow slowly into the goblet after putting down the blade. I looked away, willing myself to be steady in my high heels. I noticed that Pam, who stood near Eric, tried not to look at the goblet but her nostrils flared at the scent of the blood. Claudine leaned forward onto a chair in front of her, watching intently, as if taking notes. After allowing a reasonable amount of blood into the goblet Eric placed a saliva slick finger over the cut. Just enough to stop the bleeding as we agreed. He then picked up the knife and deftly made a similar cut into his left wrist. As he mixed his blood with mine in the goblet, my thoughts swirled in my mind remembering that other time, in Rhodes. Alone, crying in a stairwell, looking at what felt like a train wreck in my life. A lifetime away…
Eric handed me the goblet looking at me with eyes that seemed to glow, and held my free hand in his. I drank, looking deeply into Eric's eyes, and felt as if all my memories of Rhodes were washed free of those feelings of fear, sorrow, helplessness and anger. I felt instead a sense of calm, presence and warmth flood through my veins. My heart felt as if some internal shift, into a stronger, better place had occurred. My hand was steady as I handed the goblet to Eric, my eyes never wavering in their gaze at his as he too drank. I felt a deep swell of peace and stillness followed by an almost electric burst of joy that broke like a wave over us.
The exchange of rings was the final part of the ceremony. We made our vows, for better for worse, forsaking all others as long as we lived. Eric's cool hand held mine as he slipped my ring gently onto my left hand. On this day, at this hour, I wove my own magic. With focused will and intent, I felt as if I had walked into a cloud of mist or fog. Then I picked up his ring, and glanced into his eyes. He looked at me as if his breath would have been taken away had he breathed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Claudine shift, then lean forward as if straining to see something more clearly. Then she rose slightly.
As I placed Eric's ring on his finger, the cool mist surrounding me condensed into a stream of energy within me. Glowing brightly it flowed from me, into the platinum ring, as if it was rejoining it. A small gasp came from Claudine's direction. I smiled as I looked into Eric's glowing sapphire blue eyes. He glanced down at his hand, looking puzzled. He suddenly looked back to my face in some sense of deep understanding and whispered,
"What have you done…?"
After we kissed, Mr. Callen and Mrs. Randall congratulated us heartily, saying what a lovely couple we made. Pam was all smiles. I glanced over at Claudine, who stood at her safe distance, tears streaming down her face.
After hugging Pam, I went to Claudine, who gathered me in her arms and then stepped back and held my face in her hands. The tears did not stop in their flow.
"Sookie…" she tried to say but could not find the words. She looked profoundly sad.
"It's all right, Claudine. I'm so happy. And I'm so happy you would come for me. It really means so much to me. I am so lucky to have you. You are family and I'm blessed to have you in my life."
I glanced back over at Eric and Pam, and then back at her shining face. I brushed away some of her tears. "You should go home and rest Claudine. Give Claude my love."
She nodded silently, and right there in from of Mr. Callen and Mrs. Randall, popped. They seemed curious, but not perturbed.
I walked back over toward Eric and Pam and Pam inhaled and then moaned softly.
"Oh, Sookie, you…" but then she glanced at Eric, and thought better of it. I knew the scent of fairy and fairy tears was probably not going to make me easy to be around.
Mrs. Randall looked at me and asked boldly "Was your friend Ms. Crane really a fairy?"
"Yes," I smiled.
Eric took my hand and after thanking them, we walked quietly out of the building. Once outside, Pam congratulated me and said she'd hug me later. She walked gracefully away toward her car.
Stepping down a step lower than the one I was standing upon, Eric looked at me wordlessly for a full minute. He leaned forward and kissed me until I shivered. He took my hand again, we walked back to the car and simply drove home.
The last candle was burning low, flickering, as the last of its wax was consumed. I watched its glow and the reflections it threw onto the ceiling. My body was deeply fatigued but tingled still with pleasure.
Eric lay tangled in the sheets, his hand holding mine, fingers interlaced, his head next to mine.
"Why?" he said softly.
I paused before replying. How to put it all into words. So much in my heart, so much in his. My whole conversation with Niall played through my mind on fast forward. My thoughts and fears over two and a half months of living this new life. There was simply no way to explain it in simple terms, was there? I turned on my side and pulled his arm over me, rolling him so that we spooned together. I sighed in the comfort of his arms.
"Because I'm yours, Eric. I'm yours."