It was stupid; she realizes a few minutes too late, to ever think a simple apology could somehow fix things.

And yes, that's all she really meant to do. To say she was sorry for what she had done even though she still feels it was deserved. Not so much a selfless act, but a hope that word of it would trickle down to him, that he would forgive her and they could just be together again.

No sense in thinking that now.

She slipped, okay? That's all it is. She didn't learn her lesson the first time, but she's still young isn't she? It wasn't malicious or premeditated, honestly, she wanted to say her piece and be on her way.

It's not her fault the old bat was so bitter. It's not her fault that the first thing the woman did upon sight of her was rattle off all the reasons she was glad her neck now bore the scars of a vampire bite, because her pride and joy now saw what a blood sucking whore she really was.

It's not her fault the woman didn't stop, didn't realize she wasn't safe inside her house due to Hoyt's previous invitation. It's not her fault Mama Fortenberry actually flashed a cross at her as if it would do something.

God there's so much blood…

The anger simply overtook her, the small amount of restraint she possessed gone in a second, rage escaping in a flash of fangs.

The beast inside finally free for the first time, guttural screams escaping her throat in a sound she never thought she could produce, not just feeding but eviscerating.

Curled up against the counter, the body not two feet away, shivering as a single tear of remorse trickles down her cheek.

She doesn't know what to do.

Fingers smeared with red and slipping all over the buttons, she only calls him because he's the first person listed in her contacts.

/\/\/\

Next day, feet cold and muddy standing on the swamp bank, trying not to look as Bill secures the body with rope and an old boat anchor.

He'd screamed and yelled, of course, old fashioned phrases of how a lady is supposed to act, and despite her modern upbringing this was not it. She honestly thought he might have thrown up walking into that kitchen, catching sight of her still on the floor nearly soaked from head to toe, the body's eyes staring blankly upward.

Watching what he did afterward, how quickly and efficiently he cleaned up the blood, wiped away any evidence of either of them being there, she wondered just how many bodies he'd had to be rid of in his time.

Bill has always been shit for teaching her how to be a vampire, but something in the way he softly explained everything he was doing, how it might seem a bit overindulgent but completely necessary. Strange that the first time he ever seemed comfortable in being her maker is when he's incredibly disappointed in her.

"Grab her feet," he says suddenly, pulling her attention away from the sounds of the swamp.

If she had a choice she'd never touch the body again, but she doesn't, part of her punishment required participation in the disposal. Even with undead strength the woman still weighs a ton. She almost laughs but manages to hide it with a cough even though Bill looks skeptical that is what she's doing.

The water is like ice, slowly crawling up her leg as she wades slowly in, pulling the body along as far out as she can in the hopes that the alligators will get it before some dumb redneck accidentally discovers it fishing or something.

She's not even out of the water two seconds before Bill nods his head for her to look, turning back to the stagnant water she sees the outline to two black shapes slowly make their way to the still sinking husk.

Shivering even though she isn't cold, regret pooling in the pit of her stomach like a nasty flu, she can see Bill awkwardly try to reach for her out of the corner of her eye.

Eventually he lets his hand drop back to his side and she's glad for it.

This daddy/daughter bonding experience is already awkward enough.

/\/\/\

A week later she's sitting in Sheriff Dearborn's office listening to Hoyt answer a million questions about possible scenarios of what could have happened to his mother.

Bad enough only a day or so after the incident Hoyt came round to see her, flowers in hand, apologizing for acting the way he did. Bad enough she accepted that apology without a second thought even though she knew what she had done was far worse than a simple bite.

Bad enough she's actually just sitting there, keeping her mouth shut despite her heart slowly cracking, listening to him wonder what could have happened.

The sheriff eyes her warily, and she doesn't even have to glamour him to know his suspicions fall immediately with her. With all the undead things running around, especially after all the black-eyed madness, she can't say she's surprised.

Hoyt leaves out the fact that, only a few days ago, she'd bitten his mother in a fit of anger. If he'd thought to mention it she doubts this questionnaire would be so casual. Still listening as he explains that his mama had her issues, her faults, but he can't imagine anyone who would want to hurt her.

No, she can't imagine that either, not unless they were a monster. Shifting her feet nervously, suddenly feeling like there's a big neon sign floating above her head flashing: she did it!

A small gasp escapes before she can catch it, and immediately two pairs of eyes are looking in her direction.

"Something to contribute Miss Hamby?" The sheriff asks.

God she's being a total idiot about this whole situation, for even attempting to be with Hoyt after what she-don't think about it.

Looking back and forth between them, she tries to do the smart thing.

She lies.

/\/\/\

A month later he's slowly starting to accept that's he's never going to see his mama again. The phone calls stop being made in such abundance, and he hasn't made any new flyers in the last few days.

Instead he just sits at the kitchen table with an untouched bologna sandwich and glass of milk in front of him, staring out the window. He spots her standing in the doorway from the corner of his eye, turns to her with a small smile, and pats his leg eager for her to join him. She doesn't want to go in, eyes darting to the spot where mama took her last breath, but he pats again and won't take no for an answer.

Settling herself in his lap, arms around his neck, he sighs and presses himself closer, cheek against her chest. He says sorry for being so down lately, the fact that he actually feels the need to apologize for being depressed about his mother disappearing causes an uncomfortable twinge inside.

Part of her still can't believe someone so good could come from so much hate, wonders how much goodness would be left if he knew Mama Fortenberry isn't missing, but gator food at the bottom of a swamp.

She doubts there'd be anything close to sorry coming from him then.

Gently stroking his hair, he mumbles something against her skin, something she didn't think they were close to yet.

He strikes a chord opposite of his intent, the guilt so sudden and fierce, she collapses against his shoulder. All this time he never once asked her, never even suspected her involvement. He doubted her before and promised to never do it again.

Cooing softly against her, hand rubbing her back, he kisses her cheek and says it again.

Of course he mistakes the tears for ones of joy.

/\/\/\

Six months later, at an engagement part for Terry and Arlene, she and Hoyt are dancing as wild and carefree as the rest of the drunken crown across the dirt lot of Merlotte's, her laughter turns to a shriek as he picks her up and twirls.

Most people hardly even look at them sideways, the town more accepting of them as a couple because vampires helped rid the town of Maryanne.

Sookie and Bill are both here despite the fact that they haven't spoken in weeks. She knows her maker is terribly depressed by this, just as she knows better than to ask about it.

Sam is nursing a beer in a solitary corner, and though they've never really interacted, he still nods a greeting when he catches her looking.

Later, when things have calmed down, the music slower and alcohol not flowing as freely she and Hoyt share a table where he slowly sips a beer, and she a bottle of Tru Blood. He's a couple steps past sober when he starts giving her a look, stands up suddenly and offers a hand.

He takes her to a little dock hidden behind Sam's trailer, and for a second she can't move at the sight of the water.

"Oh don't worry," he says. "There's no gators in there."

She nods like that is what she's really worried about, not the memory of a bound body slowly sinking down. It feels like an old movie, standing under the single light, all shadows and smiles as he moves closer. He loves her, yes she, and words like always and forever take a different meaning when she's involved.

Next thing she knows, he's getting down on one knee, and she isn't saying no.

/\/\/\

A year later she's standing in Bill's living room with bloodstained cheeks, asking through clenched teeth that he release her.

The underlying fact that she doesn't belong here, she never belonged here, an easy excuse to use as a point of argument. At first he's taken aback, confusion etched across his face, her demand so sudden and swift he's not sure how to answer.

"Is this because of your betrothal?" He wonders aloud. "You and Hoyt, are you not…?"

Yes that.

Oh, how she blew that.

Some strange sudden surge of honesty caused her to confess. The idea that she didn't want to start their life together based on a lie, when the lie had been working perfectly well, seems so stupid and childish now. She honestly thought he loved her enough, understood her enough, to be able to let something like the murder of his mother fall to the wayside.

God the look on his face, anger and hurt all twisted up, the disbelief that she could lie so endlessly and so well right to his face. Her lame rebuttal that she didn't-never-wanted to, that she loved him so much she just…

The conversation didn't carry on much further.

It's over, she tells Bill, with no chance of reprieve.

She doesn't want to stick around to see what the procedure might be for a confessed vampire killing, even if it's part of their nature no matter how hard one may try to mainstream.

Bill has no choice but to grant her request, trying his best to be understanding because he knows full well what it's like to want to break free from a maker. It's odd that he tries to be sweet about it, to say that he's finally used to having her around even if it had never been comfortable for either of them.

She hugs him briefly, says thank you, and walks out the door.

Wanting to put as many miles between her and Bon Temps as she can before the sun rises, eye catching the moon above, the endless blanket of stars, and she runs as fast as she can feeling the nights freedom truly for the first time.

/\/\/\

Part of her just feels the need to be here.

Even if she hasn't laid eyes on him in nearly thirty years (just the once, curious, but happy to see that he had a family, happy to see he was content), and hasn't actually spoken to him for almost fifty.

A large picture perched on an easel greets her in the doorway of the church, that warm half-smile of his never changing despite the gray hair and age lines. Placing a hand on it as she passes, taking a seat in the very last row, her eyes scan the pews nearly three-quarters full.

No surprise at all he would leave behind so many friends.

Hair tied up and hidden beneath a hat, trying her best to be inconspicuous, because she really has no false back story should one of the other attendees get curious about the young redhead sitting in the back.

The first person to speak is the son, Jack if she recalls, talking about how hard working his daddy was, how kind, and how everyone loved him.

She remembers loving that about him, his endless defense of their relationship, refusing to let anyone badmouth her because of what she was. How he was like that with practically everyone, always willing to listen before judging, and even feeling a little guilty for judging at all.

Listening on with a sad smile of remembrance, as various family and friends share stories that never would have existed, had she stuck around. About ready to leave when the last speaker makes her way up to the podium, a twenty-something girl with auburn hair that nearly matches her own, keeps her seated.

"I think you all know the story I'm going to tell," she starts, the audience chuckling in chorus. "Mom had been expecting another boy when I showed up. None of that knowing in advance for her, so I guess it must have been kind of a surprise when I come out lacking something."

Another round of muted laughter.

"She didn't have a girl's name ready. I guess she was just so sure she knew what was coming that she didn't bother, and couldn't really think of one she liked right there on the spot. I guess the rest of you were no help either because none of the suggestions stuck. But grandpa had one instantly, the way mom always tells it, he took one look at my small tuft of red hair and Jessica just came out of his mouth."

The shock of the girls words hit her chest with such force, had her heart been capable of beating, it would have stopped right there.

"I guess she must have liked it well enough because all of you have been calling me that ever since."

Quick to dab at her eyes with a handkerchief before anyone could take notice of the color, disbelief swirling in her stomach that after what she had done, all the time passed, he could still think of her fondly enough to allow one of his kin to take her name.

"So thank you grandpa," the girl goes on. "For my name, for being that crazy old night owl we'd catch out on the porch at two in the morning. For always being there when we needed you."

Unable to hold it back any longer, she gets up quickly, making a beeline for the door.

A lone piece of white linen, stained sporadically with drops of red, rests alone atop the pew.