A/N – This is the final chapter of As Long As We Both Shall Live. I'm sure you all guessed what would happen in this chapter, despite my evil cliffie. After all, I gave it away with the title! Thanks so much for coming along for the ride. Dawn
I was holding on to Eric for dear life – if he needed air to breathe I would have cut off his supply my arms were so tight around his neck.
I looked into his twinkling eyes, "How did you…?"
"Tori and Pam."
Every surface of our bedroom was covered with red roses in beautiful vases. One dozen here, two dozen there – I couldn't count them all! Surrounding each vase, and scattered all over the furniture and the floors in little glass votive holders were hundreds of candles, all flickering in welcome to us. The room was warm and fragrant. The room was love.
Eric set me down and got down on one knee.
Oh my God is he going to – is this really happening…
He reached into his pocket.
I love this vampire I adore him
"Sookie Stackhouse, my bonded, my beloved……"
My tears were flowing.
"I have lived for over one thousand years and never knew true joy until I knew you. You have brought me to life. By allowing me to love you, you have showed to me the infinite possibilities for my existence here. You have allowed me to become whole. You have allowed me to become present, after hiding for so long. The fates brought us together – it was no accident. Would you honor me by agreeing to be my wife?"
He opened the velvet box and offered it to me. I was so surprised and overwhelmed. I had never felt such bliss.
"Eric I am so in love with you. You say I brought you to life, but I didn't know what life was until you. And now I know I only want to live my life with you, every day, for as long as we both shall live. Of course I will be your wife."
He stood up, put the ring on my left hand and pulled me into the deepest kiss we had ever shared. Of course I was crying because, well is my name Sookie Stackhouse? (not for long), but I was surprised to see the crimson pools welling up in Eric's eyes. There is so much more to this man/vampire/viking god than I thought at first. I was the luckiest woman on the face of the earth (or in any magical realm).
For the rest of this enchanting night we pledged our bodies to each other………
With all of the excitement of our engagement (and its private celebration), I slept the entire day and Eric and I woke together at dusk. I was dying to get to Fangtasia to show my ring to Pam and Tori and thank them for creating the beautiful setting for Eric's proposal. So we both hurried with our shower (and you KNOW we recreated the first memorable one) and dressed and were on our way.
They felt us coming so they were in the back hall waiting – not exactly with baited breath but with fangs half extended from their own excitement. They grabbed my hand to OOOH and AAAH over the ring. It WAS gorgeous – would you expect anything else from His Royal Sheriffness? The ring had five stones set in platinum – there was a huge, (two carats at least) Princess cut diamond set in the center, with four smaller (maybe a half carat each) Princess cut diamonds set two on each side of the center one. I also saw my wedding rings in the box and I LOVED them. Oh my god they were so gorgeous. There were two of them – one for each side of the engagement ring. They were platinum eternity bands with small princess cut diamonds and rubies alternating. I hoped I'd be able to pull off a ring that beautiful.
Tori and Pam each grabbed one of my arms and pulled me away from Eric – I looked at him over my shoulder with apologetic eyes – he had a grin on his face and that raised eyebrow. ADORABLE! Did I mention how much I love him? OK well, anyway, they pulled me out of Eric's office and over to the back booth in the bar so they could show me everything they'd been assembling for our wedding discussion. They told me Eric had given them carte blanche – whatever we all decided would be fine with him. I could hardly get a word in edgewise – they had everything planned. They would be talking to themselves over my head, arguing with each other about the appropriateness of this or the reasonableness of that. Once in a while they would throw a question at me (gee, thanks for asking) such as, what color scheme did I want, or what kind of flowers. I was smiling and laughing at them so much my face started to hurt. When they had exhausted themselves, I realized what a fantastic job they'd done, and aside from informing them about the few things that really did matter to me (I insisted on selecting my own dress), I decided that I wouldn't change a thing and would just let them run with it.
So we all decided that Tori, Pam and Amelia would be my bridesmaids and the wedding was going to be a candlelight ceremony at midnight. Exactly where, I would discuss with Eric. The wedding had to be on a Friday, since this was Freya's day and I was, after all, marrying a Viking. So we planned for June 26th.
Pam told me she made a private appointment for me for tomorrow (tomorrow???) at eight PM at the finest wedding boutique in Shreveport, and of course she would be taking me.
There were other details to be decided, like as I said the ceremony and reception venues, and how we would handle some traditions. I was leaning to walking myself down the aisle in spite of my reconciliation with Jason and my budding relationship with Niall. From the very beginning with Eric, my 'theme' had been one of fierce independence. I wasn't really comfortable with anyone 'giving me away'. I was offering myself to Eric, to be his bonded, his soul-mate, his wife. No one else needed to be involved in that.
Eric and I also discussed a couple of really key things. Would he have groomsmen? Eric did not have buddies. He was the Sheriff of Area 5 and all of his acquaintances were his subjects. There was only one who he was actually comfortable with, in spite of everything. And that was Bill. If it had not been for me, I know they would have been very close friends. Even though he had on more than one occasion threatened to send Bill to his final death (that was just the vampire way), Eric actually liked and respected Bill. He trusted Bill. And he often told me that, although he thought Bill had been foolish regarding me, he was grateful to him, because it was Bill's mistakes that eventually turned me to Eric. So in a way, he was most responsible for bringing us together.
I suggested to Eric that, if he was comfortable with it, he should consider asking Bill to stand beside him at our wedding. I thought Bill would be OK with this – he always wanted what was best for me and over time he had come to believe that was Eric.
The men discussed it and actually came together in a kind of brotherhood – Eric slapping Bill on the back and both of them grinning like boys. He rounded out the groomsmen with Sam and Jason. Eric knew they were very dear to me, and they had both proven their loyalty - Sam on a number of occasions and Jason recently.
After Eric told me who would be standing up with him, (and after my astonishment passed), I thought in wonderment about how weddings were often unions in more than just the obvious way.
The next evening Pam picked me up and took me to the wedding boutique. It was exhausting. I tried on about thirty dresses and none of them felt right. Dress number thirty-one came out of the plastic zipper bag and I loved it – I prayed it would look right on me. This dress was the image of what was in my mind as the perfect dress – ivory, strapless, empire waist, slim silhouette with a bit of a train. Tiny pearls were sewn all over the bodice, and scattered on the skirt were pearls and crystal beads. Pearl buttons closed up the back. I bought it! I bought matching shoes – they were peep toe with a two and a half inch heel and had some beading similar to the dress. I already knew I did not want a veil – I wanted to wear a delicate wreath of ivy, stephanotis and pink flowers which the florist was going to make up for me.
We decided that the bridesmaids would wear the same color - forest green, but each of them would select their own style of dress that they would feel most comfortable in.
My dress would be here in six weeks, and that would give me time for a couple of fittings – so we were in good shape. Done and done.
When Eric got home from Fangtasia, I told him how successful we had been without giving him any details. And then I asked him to sit down with me so we could make the most important decision – where to have the wedding.
"I know your church and your God are important to you, Lover. Would you like to have the wedding in your church?"
"Oh Eric I've thought about that a lot the last couple of days. I know Pastor Steve would welcome us. But what I keep envisioning for our vows is - this is going to surprise you I think - the forest. It's all I can think of – like, nature is my church. Gran raised me as a Christian, and I am. Oh my gosh I'm going to get all choked up if I keep talking about this, but I want you to understand because this is part of me….."
"Sookie, I do understand what you've said and it makes sense, but I want to hear all of your thoughts."
"OK, well, I was raised as a Christian. I carry all of the teachings from when I was a girl – I carry them in my heart. But I am also finding a growing affinity for the forest and this is where I want to be married. I think Pastor Steve would come out to Merlotte's. Sam has a beautiful cleared area among the trees – we could set up chairs and have the whole thing lit with candles.
Eric took my hands and kissed them. "Perfect. I'll arrange it with Sam. And we can have a reception for our guests in his facility right there."
"That's what I was thinking too. And I want this to be really small and intimate – no politics. Can you get away with that? Can we just have this be our closest friends?"
"Actually that's what I want too. How do you feel about having an intimate wedding, but then perhaps after the honeymoon we can have a reception at Fangtasia and we'll invite all of our political colleagues to that?"
"That'll work!! Wow – this was easy. I've heard so many horror stories about couples breaking up because of the stress of wedding planning but this is great. Hey – did you say honeymoon?"
He winked at me. "You'll see."
Everything was arranged and taken care of and I had nothing to do but get dressed for the most important day of my life. The actual wedding was going to start at 11:30 so it would still be Friday by the time we became vampire and wife. I started shaking at about 10:00. Pam Tori and Amelia helped me with everything. My hair was down in soft waves with the flower wreath as a headpiece. When I was ready I looked for their approval. Tori told me I looked like a goddess. Amelia said, "Oh my God Sookie you're the most beautiful bride I've ever seen." Pam winked at me, "Sookie, my Master will be pleased."
My bridesmaids preceded me down the aisle, which was a green runner with pink rose petals strewn across – it looked like I was walking through a field of flowers. Pam had hired a string quartet and a soprano vocalist – the lyrics to the song she sang gave me chills –
I have loved you
With an everlasting love
I have called you
And you are mine…….
Eric stood, at the end of the aisle, waiting for me. He wore an ivory tux and shirt open at the neck – no tie. Perfect!!!
As soon as I reached him he took my hands, leaned in to kiss my cheek and told me how beautiful I was.
Pastor Steve greeted everyone, and made a few remarks. He talked about how God had a plan for all of us, that God brought Eric and I together that our union was divinely blessed by The One Who Sees.
Eric and I were sitting off to the side of the room – I was in his lap. We were just enjoying watching everyone having a good time at our wedding. Sam had strung Italian lights up high around the perimeter of the room – it was so romantic. Pam was dancing with Jason. Bill was dancing with Mrs. Fortenberry. She'd be on cloud nine for weeks.
Eric told me he was taking me to Australia for our honeymoon. It's winter down there now, and the nights are much longer than the days. He's always thinking.
I saw Niall walking over to us and I stood up to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"My child, you have brought so much joy to those who love you, it is only fitting that at last you are receiving the joy you deserve." He turned to Eric, "I know your love for Sookie is immeasurable – that is what allows me to entrust her to you. I know you will cherish and honor her as long as you both shall live."
Eric gave Niall a very small bow out of respect, "I do, and I will."
Niall gave us a gift and said, "There is a second gift that will be delivered to you." He winked and popped out.
Eric and I opened the box – it was our own heritage book! It was bound in white leather, and the hand tooling on the cover was an exact replica of our Shreveport home, nestled in the middle of our wooded lot. The gold leaf monogram read:
E N S
Eric and I opened it – it hadn't really registered that the very first name on the first page was Michael. I wondered if that meant what I thought it meant?
More questions for Niall. Later.
We flipped to the last page and saw again the Niall Brigant family. Niall. Fintan. Yup they were all there. Sookie, Eric. At the same time, accompanied by a pounding heart from me and joyful astonishment coming to me from Eric across the bond, we both noticed the addition, below our names.