Dislcaimer: True Blood characters and universe are properties of Alan Ball. Charlaine Harris owns the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Neither condone or are responsible for the following. No money is being made from this.

EXTRA SPOILER WARNING: I have been watching all the Season 3 teaser clips - several things will feature in this story.

Notes: Spoilers for Season 1 and 2 of True Blood plus Spoilers for season 3. Definite spoilers for Books 1 - 3 of the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Possible ones for Books 4 – 10.

Thanks to harmony_bites for the beta!

Chapter 7

"You look like shit," Pam said as she lounged against Eric's desk. She was inspecting her perfect nails, and her heavy lidded languor was starting to get on his nerves.

"Don't you have something better to do?" he said with a pointed look.

"If I did, I wouldn't be here, would I?" she said.

Eric slammed his hands against his desk and stood up. He began to pace up and down his office, while Pam watched him with a raised eyebrow. He stopped and turned towards her. "I should never have sent Sookie to Jackson with that animal."

Pam shrugged. "Short of chaining her up in the basement, I don't see how you could have stopped her. Besides, Alcide can handle himself - she will be safe."

"It's not her safety I'm worried about." For some reason, Alcide and Sookie alone together bugged him a hell of a lot more than Bill ever did.

"Ah. I did see how she looked at the Were. He is the epitome of classic virility. I would do him myself, but I wouldn't want to get my nails dirty." Pam smiled, her fangs peeking through. "But Eric, surely Sookie's virtue is Bill's concern - not yours."

"Yes, Pam, I want her to save herself for Bill Compton," Eric said with a scowl.

"Really, this little obsession of yours with Sookie Stackhouse is starting to become a bore." She yawned.

Eric gave his second in command a blistering look. "I am not obsessed. She is... different. She intrigues me - I want to find out what she is. And I also want to have sex with her,"-he shrugged-"and Compton's possessiveness merely serves to make it more of a challenge."

"Oh, please," Pam said, rolling her eyes. "Bill is no match for you."

Eric grinned. "Thank you, Pam. I trust that you are not simply practicing familial loyalty when you say that."

"However," Pam said, ignoring his comment, "Sookie's obsession with Bill is even more annoying than your obsession with her." Pam walked forward in mincing steps and sighed melodramatically. "Oh Beel," she said with an affected voice, "you are mah hero. I love you, Beel!"

"I agree, it is sickening. But she has had his blood." The thought made him grimace. One day, soon, my blood will wipe out all trace of Bill Compton.

"The blood only accentuates what is already there," Pam said. "There must be some underlying attraction - although god only knows why."

"It was his silence that drew her to him, initially."

"Really? Bill is a man of few words - positively dour if you ask me - some women might find that attractive although Sookie does not strike me as that type."

"No, I mean, his telepathic silence. He was the first vampire she ever met. She had a lifetime of not being able to shut others out of her head, and then he comes along and he's a closed book to her. It must have been quite a moment."

Pam nodded. "I suppose. If she'd been a little more adventurous, it might even have been you, first, or me," her fangs showed as she grinned, "but she never ventured into the bar until Bill brought her here. I certainly would have remembered her if she had. She has this compelling aura about her..."

"If I had known of her existence, you can be sure that Compton would not have been allowed anywhere near her. I believe his motives to be less than honest."

With a raised eyebrow, Pam leaned forward. "Oh, do tell. I love a good piece of gossip."

"When I was visiting the Queen, I discovered that one of Sophie-Anne's consorts is a human woman by the name of Hadley Hale. She appeared to take an interest in Sookie and Bill's relationship. I was able to corner her and glamor her without the Queen's knowledge. Apparently, Ms. Hale is Sookie's cousin."

Pam whistled. "I can see where this is going: Ms. Hale informs the Queen that she has a cousin with a unique ability, and the Queen dispatches one of her minions to investigate. It must have pretty handy that Bill Compton already had a built in excuse to visit Bon Temps."

"It doesn't explain everything, but yes, I believe that is what happened. What is more, I believe that Bill was given the job of binding Sookie to him, and thus to Sophie-Anne." Eric shook his head. "They have shared blood, and he has convinced her that she is in love with him. A silly human emotion, but enough to keep Sookie tied to him."

"Are they blood bound?" Pam asked.

Eric shook his head. "Not yet. I would know it. In Dallas I tricked her into drinking a little of my blood. They have exchanged several times and they are certainly linked, but Compton's blood is not strong enough to solidify the bond. I do not intend for that to ever happen."

"Indeed. If they were bound, you would have lost her already. She would belong irrevocably to Bill and therefore to Sophie-Anne. But what of the proposal? I don't understand why Compton would even bother."

Eric said, "I do believe that the marriage proposal was Compton's way of binding her to him at least superficially. I am guessing something must have spooked him to ask Sookie to marry him, otherwise he simply would have taken time to complete the blood bond."

"Perhaps Bill really does love her, as he says," Pam said with a grimace. "Or, it got his back up that Sookie's got your blood in her, now, so he decided to make this ineffectual statement of ownership. As if any vampire would care about human laws."

Eric gave Pam a sharp look. "Perhaps you're onto something there. That is just it. I do believe that Compton sincerely does love her. It may have started as an assignment but she means more to him now." He strode over to his desk, and dropped into his chair. Stretching out, he put his feet up on the desk, and crossed his long legs at the ankles. "It makes a twisted kind of sense. Since vampires have come out,s we have essentially agreed to comply with human laws. There are many among us who are very concerned with how we appear in that light. Compton was looking for refuge for him and Sookie under those laws because he knows that if anyone did anything to flout them, it would be a publicity nightmare."

"Why does he think that you would give a flying fuck about that? Even bad publicity would be excellent for us." Pam said.

Eric's mouth stretched into a wicked grin. "Oh no - Bill is not concerned about me. He's worried about someone in a greater position of power - someone who has a lot more to lose. Someone," he said as his grin widened, "who can't afford any type of scrutiny right now. He believes he can't run to me, so how else would he protect Sookie?"

Pam mouthed an 'Oh' just as there was a timid rap at the door. It opened a crack, and Ginger's head popped around the corner. She was more pale than usual.

"Master," she said, trembling, "Chow sent me to tell you. He said we have a guest - a royal guest. His wants you to get out there right now."

"Well, well," Eric said to Pam. "Speak of the Devil. We should probably go and see what she wants."

Pam shook her head and followed Eric as he strode out of the office. "This can't be good."

The bar was empty of patrons as it was still about an hour before opening time, and the staff had followed their instincts and taken themselves off to perform tasks that did not require them to be in the vicinity of Sophie-Ann LeClerq and her entourage. Eric wondered if they had decided that tonight was a good time to do inventory down in the basement. None of the humans in his employ knew who she was, but Sophie-Ann radiated enough power and menace that even the rats were probably taking refuge elsewhere. He made a mental note to tell Chow to cancel the appointment with the exterminator.

Chow was standing behind the bar looking stoic as usual. Eric nodded at him as he strode into the room.

The Queen stood in the center of the bar with her hands on her hips, and a look of distaste on her face. Her guards had been posted at every exit and Eric knew there would be more outside.

"Ah, Eric," she said, "so this is where you've been holing yourself up for the last couple of years. How very... quaint."

"It is not much, your majesty, but we are able to make a decent profit." The effort to be polite made his skin crawl.

"Whatever. I didn't come here to chit chat. The Magister is on his way - he'll be here in about ten minutes or so." She whirled to face Eric. "You'd better make sure you get your facts correct when he questions you."

Eric blinked slowly. He could feel Pam sidle up next to him, and Chow wasn't far behind. None of the others were here yet, but he'd make sure someone got text messages out to warn them not to enter. The bar would be closed tonight. "What facts are those, your Majesty?"

Sophie-Anne smiled, but her expression was colder than ice. "Don't play games with me. We know how you really make your money, Northman. Your little scheme to sell vampire blood has been discovered. If it were just me, I might be willing to let you off with a rap on the knuckles and a small fine. The Magister, however, will have different ideas." She walked over to Eric and ran her fingers across the smooth skin of his bicep. "Let's just say that he is extremely pissed off."

Her cold touch made his insides turn. Some people considered her a great beauty. Eric thought she was a psychopath, but, that was merely her way of dealing with the monotonous march of years. He returned her smile with as much warmth as she had given him. "I am most humbly contrite, my Queen. I will take full responsibility for my little transgression."

"And perhaps while you're at it, you could figure out how the Magister could have possibly found out about your illegal activities before I knew anything about them. I was highly embarrassed to learn about it directly from him." Her hand curled around his arm, and her nails bit into his flesh.

Eric didn't feel the pain, but the blood that she drew was humiliating. However, he needed to keep his cool - Sophie-Anne could order a massacre if she chose. Even though he was strong, and he had Pam and Chow to back him up, he would still be outnumbered. Their deaths would be pointless. "Your Majesty, I believe that Bill Compton is the traitor. He has recently disappeared. He had some knowledge of the scheme, but was not aware of the extent of it. I have set in motion plans to recover him as I believe him to have been kidnapped."

"You were supposed to have taken care of Compton personally," Sophie-Anne said with a hiss. Her composure was slipping, and her eyes held a slightly wild look.

"Compton was snatched before I had a chance to get to him. I will get him back for you, my Queen."

"Let him rot! He's no longer important. And after the Magister is through with you, Northman, we'll see what use I have left for you."

Eric didn't flinch at her biting words. He knew he was as expendable to the Queen as her bodyguards and human consorts were. After hurricane Katrina, her finances had been in serious jeopardy. Her venture into the V trade was just another in a long line of schemes to recover her situation. Eric had done whatever it was she commanded of him in this regard, because he knew that the rulers of the surrounding kingdoms were gathering around Louisiana like vultures around a fresh corpse. If something wasn't done soon to solidify Sophie-Anne's power base, she would be ousted before she could blink. Not that he cared about her, personally, but as they say: better the devil you know. And he had been plotting against her for a while, now, so it would be a shame to have to start from scratch with someone new. He gave her a short bow. "Of course, my Queen. If I may offer a suggestion - I shall send my second in command, Pam, to wrap up any loose ends with Mr. Compton. I believe that his human, Sookie Stackhouse, has taken it upon herself to find him."

His words had their desired effect. He could see the small muscle under Sophie-Anne's eye begin to twitch. She dropped her hand from his arm as if it had burned her. She turned to focus her stare on Pam. "You are her maker, are you not?"

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"Pam will stay here and take the Magister's punishment. You will find Sookie Stackhouse and clean up Compton's mess." Her mouth curved into a smile. "And when you are done, Northman, you will bring Sookie to meet me. Bill never did."

Eric shot a look at Pam and was about to protest, but Pam shook her head. She stepped forward, and bowed deeply to the Queen. "Your Majesty, it would be my honor to take whatever punishment my master has incurred."

Sophie-Anne nodded. "You might even enjoy it." She turned to Eric. "You'd better take a back way out of here. I wouldn't want the Magister to accidentally bump into you before you left."

Things were moving along too quickly for his liking. He turned to Pam and gave her a look that he hoped conveyed what he was thinking. She needed to avoid any reference to Sophie-Anne's involvement, and she certainly needed to keep her mouth shut about where he was headed. And of course, she absolutely could not mention Sookie Stackhouse. He had already made that mistake once. But also, he wanted to run his hand through her hair, and tell her how proud he was of her and how much he depended on her. She would only roll her eyes and make some sarcastic comment if he did. He didn't really need to tell her - she knew it anyway.

Instead he turned to the Queen and inclined his head. Then, he strode out of the bar through the back and into the staff parking lot. The air was crisp and slightly cool, the night sky up above was clear - the earlier rain clouds had long since dissipated with only the fine film of damp that covered the tarmac remaining as evidence that they had existed. The stars were dulled by the bright orb of the moon in the sky. Eric looked up at the moon - it was swollen and obese, proud in its fullness.

"Fuck!"

He had forgotten about the damn moon. Tonight was the second night of the full moon - the moon triumphant, as the Weres called it. It was when the moon's power was at its most aggressive. Somehow he had allowed Sookie to wander into a werewolf trap on this night of all nights. Eric shot into the air without a second thought. At his speed, he would reach Jackson in no time at all, and hopefully intercept Sookie before she could follow through with the plan to infiltrate the supe bar full of Weres. He really didn't give a shit about Bill Compton now that the information he wanted to protect had been leaked, but Sookie was another matter. He had to remove her from the situation, and then deal with Compton once and for all.

As the air rushing by him was heated by his motion, Eric wondered what he would do with Sookie once Compton was out of the picture. The Queen wanted to meet her, of course, but suddenly he decided that the Queen could go fuck herself. If there was one thing that Bill had got right, it was to keep Sookie away from Sophie-Anne LeClerq. Eric vowed to himself that he would do the same.