A/N: This is the last chapter of Left For Dead, and I hope you all will have found it worth the wait. There is a song for this one – 'Everything' by Lifehouse. Some of you have probably figured out my love for that band by now. This last chapter goes back to the Viking's POV – it seemed fitting for the end. More A/N at the end.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or stories from The Southern Vampire series. I can only hope that Ms. Harris does not mind me taking them out to play with.
Eric would never tire of watching her sleep. The way her golden hair splayed across the pillow, the quiet rise and fall of her breathing... the look of peace on her face. It amazed him that after everything they'd been through, all she had seen and experienced, that somehow she still maintained an aura of innocence. He used to fear the loss of it, that someday the weight of the world would finally seep into her soul, robbing her of that he held so precious. Yet, even now that whatever humanness she once possessed was gone, she was still his Sookie... his angel... his muse.
He tenderly brushed a stray wisp of hair from her cheek, caressing her skin as though she still maintained her human fragility. For she had, though to what extent, only time would tell. She'd been too excited and began testing her new found powers without restraint. He should have stopped her, but, if he were honest with himself, he too got carried away with the idea he could now possess her in ways he could only have fantasized about. Though he may no longer technically be vampire, those instincts and traits would always be dominant in him, just as she would always maintain her predominantly human ways. No doubt this was as the gods intended, for the way they balanced each other, was harmony personified and perfected.
When she pounced him with her new found speed and strength, he was pushed to the edge of his control, barely able to contain the lust that tore through him, his need to ravage her and own her body. Then... the fangs... and he was undone. To her credit and his defense, she went right over the edge of that cliff of control with him, nearly matching his ferocity as they bit and clawed and fucked like they were possessed by demons, right there in the desert under the blazing hot sun. It didn't occur to him that, though she had the ability to tap into the powers of any supe she wished, her shell... her body... was still human. The sound... the feel of her pelvic bones cracking, absolutely gutted him. And even though she was healed only moments later, which she said seemed to happen naturally, unlike the concentrated effort it took for her to grow the fangs or tap into heightened speed and strength, Eric knew then she would still always need to be protected from physical harm. There was no way to know what type of injuries would be too grievous for her healing ability to deal with, and it wasn't like there was any way to test.
In fact, he had no way of knowing what his own vulnerabilities might still be. If Sookie's body was still as fragile as a human's, then he had to assume his own was still prone to those of a vampire. Clearly the sun was no longer affecting him, but that could be some inherent new ability like Sookie's healing. He'd test silver soon enough, but stakes... beheading... those were things he obviously could not risk examining. One thing he did know was that his craving for blood, especially hers, had not diminished, though he would probably test his tolerance for food at some point.
She had become extremely fatigued after the exertion of both using her physical abilities and healing, and he'd done his own first testing of these new powers. He'd often been envious of the fae ability to simply 'pop' themselves from place to place, and once again, foolishly allowed himself to get distracted by the excitement that he now possessed the ability to do so. Considering all their new powers had been unleashed from their blood, it was particularly easy for him to achieve, requiring very little effort or concentration on his part. The problem was, that while it was simple for him to tap into the power he wanted, he failed to consider the actual mechanics of it. He hadn't accounted for the idea there was a step in between the desert where they were, and his hotel room in Venice where he intended to take them.
That step was the ether, the gateway to the realm of the fae. Eric knew this immediately when he was nearly dropped to his knees, Sookie's sleeping form still cradled in his arms, from the overpowering scent. Thankfully, though the smell still made him wild with lust, his higher reasoning centers seemed to remain in control. Eric managed to get them out and to the hotel without incident, but realized immediately how dangerous the situation could have been. Had they encountered any fae, particularly any loyal to Niall or even the prince himself, he couldn't even guess at what the result might have been. In a matter of mere hours he'd already seen what overconfidence in their new found power could result in, and he did not intend to repeat that mistake. This would be a slow and deliberate learning process, and he would make certain that it was done properly. To do otherwise would place himself and Sookie at unnecessary risk.
There were plans to make, and still many answers that needed to be discovered, but these were things he excelled at. All the power in the universe meant nothing if one did not have the mind to back it up. Arrogance and underestimation of one's enemies had felled plenty with power, but they would not be the Viking's Achilles' heel. He'd survived this long by avoiding such things, and now it seemed more important than ever. Just as Avel had warned, war was on the horizon. Eric had felt it more with each passing year, like a distant hum that drew closer. Like water set to fire, the steam and pressure had been building, every great warrior knew the vibrations of it... it was palpable in the air. Apate had been the first bubble to break the surface tension, and soon it would all boil over.
He fully intended to gather all those who'd been so instrumental in getting them to this point. Though he had no specific plans as of yet, he knew in his gut they were all part of this. The gods had brought each one of them into their lives for a reason, and he would not dismiss them as coincidental or random. They had all gone so far above and beyond... their loyalty came from a place deeper than political obligation. Though he never could have anticipated it or thought it possible, the strange band of supes and humans... their odd little cabal... at the core, they were real friends.
Eric chuckled inwardly, shaking his head with a rueful smile. What a sap he'd become... thanks to the beautiful blond lying so peacefully beside him. His fingertips played softly through those tresses, watching the way it shimmered in the faint moonlight from the open balcony. She was so damned beautiful.
A tiny murmur escaped her lips as she began to stir, and he moved from where he sat at the edge of the bed, crouching down beside it so that he could watch her eyes open. He loved the flutter of her lashes as she woke from peaceful slumber, so different from the split second of dead sleep to wide awake that vampires experienced. He wondered for a moment if he might now experience such human sleep again, as there would be no more daytime stupor.
As her eyes came to focus on his, that angelic smile spread across her lips, her little fingers reaching out to touch his cheek. He covered her hand, pressing his face to her palm, placing a soft kiss on her skin. "Did you have a good sleep, Dear One?"
"Mmmhmm," she cooed softly, still in a dreamy state that made him smile, thankful she did not seem to have any residual pain from her earlier injuries.
He leaned in to place a kiss on her forehead, trailing his lips softly along her brow, closing his eyes as she whispered his name, beckoning him to her. It was rare her voice took that timbre, but he lived for the moments when it happened. The first time he'd heard it was the night he'd taken her from the hospital, desperate to somehow soothe the pain away from all that had happened that New Year's night. The ache he'd experienced as he tried to bring her comfort... let her know she was safe... it was then that he knew how utterly wrecked he was over her. All the things he'd done, the risks he'd taken... all for her. When she took his blood that night, then offered her own to him... drinking of each other in unison... it was bliss like he'd never known.
He'd thought she would hate him after what Felipe had done... what he hadn't been able to stop. Eric couldn't meet her gaze even after she'd so willingly renewed their bond, feeling... terror... over what he might see in her eyes. He'd convinced himself that light he loved would no longer be there, expecting she might have been broken past the point of return.
Then she asked him to look at her, and he knew instantly there was nothing to fear. The lilt of her voice... the gentleness of it... was brimming with love. She hadn't been broken... he had, in all the ways he longed to be, but never believed were possible. He was brought in from the storm, and nothing would ever be the same.
Now she beckoned to him with the same voice, in the same way she had that night. Perhaps all she had endured was finally setting in, perhaps she was just desperate to reclaim her own anchor in the storm... but for whatever reason, she needed him, and he was finally able to give her the safe haven to let go. This need he could fill.
He slid next to her, enfolding her in his arms, cradling her into a tender embrace. Her sobs were silent and gentle, and he held her through them, pouring his love into every soft caress of her hair. "Let go, Dear One. I have you." He murmured the familiar words, knowing how they comforted her in the past.
Her fingers curled softly into his chest hair, triggering a low rumble from inside him, and he languidly ran his hand from her hair down the smooth skin of her back. She trembled slightly in his arms, making him ache for her all the more. It had been so long since he'd been able to just make love to her... no distractions... no impending doom... no uncontrollable lust. She needed the feeling of security only he could give her... and so did he.
As his hand continued down her body, he slowly guided her leg across his hip, gripping gently beneath her thigh. He met her gaze as she tilted her chin up, her eyes still brimming with tears, and he slowly brought his hand from her leg to cup her cheek. The smolder in his own eyes was tempered with tenderness, trying to reassure her that he was here with her, and that they would not be parted again.
"Eric..." her voice broke again. "Nothing is over."
He smiled softly, tucking her hair behind her ear. "It will never be over, Dear One. We have eternity together now. Give yourself the gift of letting everything else go in this moment... and just be here... right now... with me."
He watched her eyes close and her chest rise with a slow, deep breath, seeing the tension leave her body. In that moment he captured her lips with his, engulfing her whole being into the warmth of his arms, drawing any fear and worry from her mind with his kiss. She moaned softly as his mouth moved tenderly against hers, yet fully possessed her with the strength of his commitment to forever be her protector... her lover... her own.
As his other arm slipped beneath her waist he rolled them, knowing how the feel of his weight atop her made her feel all the more encompassed in his love. She arched gently beneath him as his lips trailed along her jawline, feathering kisses down to her neck, and bringing her luscious flesh between his lips, sucking and nibbling at the spot below her ear. How he craved those soft moans this spot always elicited, basking in every one that escaped her throat.
Her hands roamed his back as her small frame clung to him, her legs hitched tightly around his waist. His gaze returned to her, his face hovering just above hers so he could feel her shallow breaths dance along his lips. He held her eyes captive, just holding still in this moment before he would consume her, letting the pictures of it paint a new canvas in his memory. His need to watch her watching him had always been a primal force running through him, not merely the fetish she might have thought it to be. It was that light... the way her eyes glistened whenever he, and only he, looked at her... really looked at her. He'd seen it that first night at Fangtasia, and it had drawn him in, drawn him to her. It was how he knew she would be his. That light belonged to him alone.
The strange, shivering sensation he experienced only with her ran through him as he slowly and gently pressed himself inside her, holding still for a few moments as he buried himself in her depths, placing another kiss upon her perfect lips. She was sheltered beneath him, trembling with ragged breaths, tears softly spilling across her temples. Again she whispered his name, causing him to give that small, extra push to drive himself deeper. Never would he cease to be in awe of the power she held over him... the way she made him shudder and ache with need for her... the all-consuming love that possessed him. With her... in her... he was alive.
Just as she had uttered his name, hers now spilled from his lips as he began to move within her. He would not rush... he would not ride her like an animal in heat. Every stroke was intense... deep... driven from that place in his soul that only she could touch. He possessed her as she consumed him, and their moans bordered on the cries of one choked by the weight of intense passion and emotion. His arms held fast around her as hers clung to him, their eyes never breaking from the other's. The light in hers grew as they neared the edge of their release, enveloping him in the peace of her, guiding his way to salvation... until they went tense in each other's embrace, releasing into the bliss and ecstasy of a love for the ages... a love that knew no bounds... pure and eternal.
That night, he fell asleep in her arms...
...and Eric Northman... dreamed.
I have decided I will be doing the third installment for this series (it has always been set up to be a trilogy since the beginning of Dead to Rights). However, do not expect it soon. I need a break in the worst way, and I also would like to indulge some ideas I have for lighter (i.e. non-warped) fics and shorts. I have purposely not left LfD in a cliffie (and there was great rejoicing) so that you all aren't tormented waiting for it to come out. I have no time estimate on when it will.
For those of you who still have questions about this story, I will be hopping into the Left For Dead 101 thread and willing to answer them, so please, ask them there so that others might get similar questions answered without me having to do so multiple times. The link is: w w w . fanfiction . net / topic / 55534 / 12500271 / 1 / (remove all spaces).
There simply aren't enough words for me to express my gratitude for the outpouring of support and love I've received for this story. I am still truly in shock at how many people liked my warped and twisted brain, and I wish I could send every one of you a case of Twix bars. Special thanks to Rachalann, Boadicea, Gallathea, Morgaine, and all the ladies/gents of the LTAE thread on the TB Wiki for keeping me sane and continuing on. And to all of you who reviewed, PM'd, and wrote comments on my thread – you are the inspiration that keeps me from giving up.
~ Love to all of you, Malanna