A/N: Aaah, you guys are the best! Thanks so much for all your review love for the last chapter and this story in general. I'm just so touched that you all embraced this fic the way you did.
So here is the epilogue... See you all at the other end.
Charlaine Harris owns the rights to these characters. Jeaniene Frost also deserves a mention.
Seven months later...
"Eric!" I gasped as he gripped my hips from behind, thrusting into me, hard, for a final time.
Eric groaned with his release as my own shuddered through me, leaving me breathless and panting. I exhaled deeply as I came down from my high, smoothing my palms across the cool marble, trying to recover my heart-rate before I combusted, or worse, started to sweat.
"That was... mmm..." I couldn't find the words.
"...quick and dirty, and exactly what we both needed," Eric finished for me.
He rubbed a little blood into the bite marks on my shoulder, placing gentle kisses across my back before finally withdrawing. He wandered over to the sink, wetting a washcloth to clean us both up.
I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror as I smoothed down my ivory silk chemise. The light caught the huge pear-shaped diamond of my engagement ring, dancing across the mirror as I moved my hand. I grimaced. "You say that now, but Pam's gonna lose her shit when she sees what you've done to my hair..."
Eric raised an eyebrow in amusement. "You look beautiful, as always. Anyway, she should count herself lucky that I didn't wait until you were in your dress."
I rolled my eyes. "And I think we might have just broke about a dozen wedding conventions... no seeing the bride... no sex before marriage... I mean literally before."
Eric chuckled. "Sookie, you're a part-Fae princess about to marry a thousand-year old vampire king. All the North American vampire heads of state and half the world's Fae nobility are waiting for us downstairs. I'm not really sure that the usual conventions apply to us... In any case, it felt to me like you needed to relax a little..."
I grabbed his hand, my eyes locking with his in the mirror. "You're right. To hell with convention... At least I have my 'something old', I suppose, " I teased.
He gave me a self-satisfied smirk before pulling me into his arms. "And thanks to you Lover, my balls are no longer 'something blue'."
There was a sudden knock at the door and Pam's voice carried through. "You two better not be doing what I fucking think you are doing," she warned, voice irate.
I rolled my eyes, stepping back from Eric's embrace. "Great."
Eric kissed me on the top of my head and then strolled casually to the bathroom door, opening it wide, still naked from the waist down. "If you fucking think that we were fucking, Pamela, then you are correct. Gold star to you." I felt a jolt of surprise through the bond, followed by a sudden flash of amusement. "Oh, hello Amelia."
Oh my God. Pam was bad enough. I felt myself run scarlet as Amelia's appraisal of the situation, and particularly of my future husband's endowments, filtered into my thoughts.
Amelia's voice caught a little in her throat. "We've come to help Sookie get dressed," she rasped, a little flustered.
"I'm coming Amelia," I said, shaking my head and taking a deep breath before trying to regain control over the situation. With one last look in the mirror, I made my way out into the bedroom area. Pam and Amelia were there, already dressed in their complimenting pale silver evening gowns.
"Oh wow, you guys look amazing!" I beamed.
Pam and Amelia both shrugged nonchalantly, as if doubting there could ever be any other possibility.
It was time to focus; I was getting married today after all. "Eric, go get dressed. I'll see you in half an hour." I regarded him, unable to stifle my grin as he pulled his jeans up. "I'll be the one in the wedding dress."
His whole face lit up as his expression mirrored mine. "I can't wait, Lover."
Pam clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, rolling her eyes exaggeratedly. "Somebody put a stake in me..." she groaned.
"Don't tempt me, Pam," I muttered under my breath, making my way over to the walk-in closet that housed my dress.
"Sookie Stackhouse!" she cried out, shrill as a fishwife. "What the fuck have you done to your hair?"
"This is it, Sook," Amelia enthused, giving me a careful hug. "You ready?"
I took a deep breath and nodded, trying to ignore the knots in my stomach. "I'm ready."
Claudine gave me a calm smile of encouragement and then turned to enter the great hall. I marvelled at how ethereal and statuesque she looked in her pale silver off-the-shoulder gown, just two months after giving birth. My fairy cousin calmly glided down the aisle before taking a seat next to Colman and baby Claude, who seemed to be sleeping peacefully in his father's arms, undisturbed by the furore.
Amelia was next, placing a quick peck on my cheek before making to follow Claudine.
Finally it was my turn. I looked over to Dermot and he took my hand. "Your parents would be incredibly proud of you today, Sookie."
I gave him a sad smile as I linked my arm through his. I tried to blink back the tears that were threatening, using the tip of my finger to right myself without smudging my mascara. "Pfft. I'm only getting married Uncle Dermot…"
He shook his head, giving me a serious look. "It's so much more than that child…"
I smiled at him as he placed his hand over mine protectively. "Yes. I feel that this is the beginning of something new, like I can finally start my life. I tooke Eric to see them yesterday, their graves I mean. I wanted him with me when finally said goodbye."
He nodded, leaning over and giving me a gentle kiss on the cheek. "It is a new start for us all…" He looked pensive for a second and I could tell he was thinking of Niall. A moment later he was bright and alert again. "Come now, no more of this wistful nonsense. Let's get you to your vampire."
I leaned my head against his shoulder for a second. We'd spent a fair amount of time with each other over the last few months and it felt right that he should be the one to give me away, from a personal point of view as well as a political one. I realised that I already felt much more comfortable with him, less formal at least, than I had with Niall.
"Thank you for doing this," I whispered as the music from the hall, alerted us that it was time.
He clasped my hand in his, leading me towards the huge oak doors. "It's my absolute honour to do it."
I peered into the hall and could make out Eric at the back of the room, standing proudly next to Pam. He lifted his head as I entered, watching me intently as I approached him, feelings of love and lust spiralling through the bond in equal measures.
I had imagined that I would be more nervous as I walked down the aisle but, as Dermot and I made our way to through the hall, I was actually able to relax. I looked around me, smiling widely at my guests, enjoying the swishing noise my dress made as I moved. It was amazing to see so many fairies and vampires standing peaceably in the same room. Of course, part of it was due to Octavia's masking spell, but really it was the result of the efforts of Eric and I in putting together the peace accord after Niall's death. I knew it would take time to totally eradicate the feelings of fear and mistrust I could sense coming from some of the individuals in the room but Dermot was right; there was a lot to be proud of today.
I saw so many familiar faces: Sam and his new girlfriend, Octavia and Louis, Tray, who was seated up next to Amelia making me wonder briefly if that was on again, and then my eyes caught Jason's. My brother flashed me a huge smile as I made my way to the front. I held my hand out to him as I sauntered past and he grabbed it giving me a soft squeeze of encouragment. Pam stepped towards me as I approached the front, leaving her maker to kiss me gently on the cheek before taking her seat.
And then finally there was only Eric.
His hair was tied back neatly, the front secured in an intricate braid, and he looked so handsome in his pale grey suit. I felt my libido rise exponentially as I drank him in and he smirked at me as I approached. For a second, I was reminded of the first time I saw him, his eyes meeting mine across that crowded Shreveport bar.
"I can assure you the feeling is very much mutual," he whispered into my ear, as he leaned in to kiss me on my cheek, and, despite all we'd been through together, I still felt myself flush at his words.
The wedding ceremony featured a combination of human, vampire and fairy elements. Dermot had given us the rings as a wedding gift; matching bands of intertwining platinum and pale Fae gold. They apparently contained some kind of protective magic, although, in signature Fae style, Dermot had been fairly vague on the details. Eric had also presented me with a jewel-encrusted ceremonial knife. Apparently vampire monarchs commonly wed by exchange of the knife, although Eric had made it clear that our union was going to last far longer than the generally stipulated one hundred years.
When I promised to love Eric until final death do us part, I knew with my heart, my mind and everything in between that I meant it. When I first met him, I'd been intent on killing him, punishing him for the sins of others, but now I knew without doubt that I loved him unwaveringly and unconditionally. As I stood next to him, repeating the words he had just said to me, I'd never been more certain of anything in my life.
When our vows were over Eric smiled at me for a moment and then everyone around us seemed to melt away as he leaned into me, his soft lips at first brushing tenderly across mine until he pulled me into him, deepening our kiss. I felt such intense love, such incredible happiness swirling through the bond, that I lost myself in the sensation, letting it overwhelm and consume me.
"I will love you forever," he murmured intimately, finally breaking the kiss and sweeping his lips across my forehead with gentle reverence.
I nodded, my words a breathless whisper as I took his hand in mine. "Always."
After the ceremony had finished, Eric and I sat down to sign the register with Pam and Jason as our witnesses. We were then joined by Dermot, now High Prince of the Fae, and Felipe de Castro, vampire King of Nevada, who was representing all the American vampire monarchs, as they signed the Treaty of New Orleans, effectively ending over two hundred years of vampire-fairy insurrection.
It had been Felipe that Eric had first approached after Niall's death in order to broker a peace between the vampires and the Fae, and the King of Nevada had been instrumental in finalising the peace process and bringing some of the more intransigent rulers around.
Felipe had long been on the fringes of Stan Davis' pro-peace faction and, while he had maintained an uneasy truce with Sophie-Anne while she was alive, he saw the pragmatism in peace now that she was gone. His only stipulations had been that Eric assumed the throne of Louisiana, which he had been considering in any case, and that the private wedding we had planned be replaced by an inclusive affair, a symbol of union between our two species. It was a smart move and we were prepared to do it to get the peace we both wanted. We could wait until the honeymoon for time alone.
Felipe bowed exaggeratedly before me, his Spanish-style cape billowing out to one side, before taking my hand and ghosting a kiss over my knuckles. He was a handsome man, with caramel skin and dark expressive eyes, but there was also something a little ridiculous about him and I had to suppress a laugh at his flamboyance.
"You look truly ravishing, my dear, on this historic day." Felipe's accent was still heavy although Eric had told me he'd been in the states for well over a century. I briefly wondered how much of it was theatrics.
"Thank you, your majesty." I dipped into a slight curtsy, glancing at Eric a little uncertainly, not entirely sure what the proper protocol was for a Fae-princess-cum-vampire-queen. Eric wrapped his arm around me, rubbing my stomach reassuringly with the outside of his thumb, and I leaned into him.
Felipe dipped his hand into his pocket and withdrew a small red velvet box. "May I present you with a small wedding gift on behalf of the Kingdom of Nevada."
I took the box from Felipe, thanking him graciously, and popping it open to inspect the contents inside. It was a beautiful charm bracelet, with a number of trinkets already attached. My fingers glanced over a heart-shaped ruby the size of my thumb nail, a smaller diamond, a tiny gold moon and, wait, were they fangs? Real, actual fangs extracted at the root?
Remembering the manners I had had instilled in me as a child, I forced a smile for Felipe, trying to hide my consternation at the impropriety of mutilation as a wedding gift. "It's, er, beautiful," I breezed, trying to contain my gasp, but unable to stop myself from touching the fangs.
I noticed the corner of Eric's mouth tuck up in amusement at my reaction.
"The individual who made the donation is no longer with us, I'm afraid," Felipe beamed, clearly delighted with his own witticism. "That's the second part of your gift."
I felt myself feeling a little dizzy. I'd been married to a vampire less than half an hour and had already been given teeth and homicide as a wedding present. I looked quizzically at my husband.
"Sigebert," he confirmed with tight smile.
"He'd taken refuge in Amarillo," Felipe explained. "When I took over the Kingdom of Texas, the Sheriff of Area 3 was more than happy to hand him over. We questioned him, of course. I understand he had quite a fixation on getting his revenge on the both of you…"
I couldn't hold back a shudder that time. Eric pulled me into his side, sensing my unease.
"Thank you, Felipe," he replied impassively. "We had expended a great deal of time and effort trying to track him down."
Felipe made a dismissive gesture with his hand. "Yes, well, who would be able to refuse anything to the supernatural world's golden couple?" He bowed again, dramatically, taking his leave with a flourish of black silk.
Eric and I exchanged glances and I managed to stifle a laugh until Felipe was well out of vampire-hearing range. "He couldn't just have bought us a toaster or something?" I asked, examining the bracelet with a frown.
Eric nuzzled into my neck, his cool breath tickling my skin. "Sigebert's dead. That's what matters." He stood up straight, quirking his eyebrow at me. "In any case, who knew my vampire-hunting wife had such delicate sensibilities?"
I laughed. "Hardly. I mean I like a good staking as much as the next girl but, really? I'm suddenly feling a little wary about approaching the gift table in case I find a pair of disemboweled children from the Queen of Quebec or something."
Eric smirked. "We should be fine. I'm fairly sure Elena hasn't disembowled anyone under the age of eighteen for at least a century or so..."
I went to slap his arm but he grabbed my hand, pulling me into him, silencing me with his kiss. As he ran his hands over the bare skin of my back and arms, every cell in my body screamed out my passion for him. I loved him and I knew I would love him forever.
Finally, I pulled back, unable to stop myself rolling my eyes at him. "God damn vampires," I chuckled.
He smiled, kissing me gently on the tip of my nose. "Fucking fairies."
A/N: So, what do you think? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
When I planned this story out, I had it ending on a Sigebert-related cliffie but in the end I just couldn't do it to you all! In truth, it feels much better finishing it this way, so I hope you enjoyed it.
If you want to see how I envisaged Sookie's dress by the way have a look here: http:/ellecouturedesigns(dot)files(dot)wordpress(dot)com/2010/04/vera-wang-s2010-ruffled-dress1(dot)jpg
Finally, some of you were kind enough in your reviews to ask if I'm writing anything else. I've actually been working on an AH story, which I will start posting soon. It's Sookie and Eric (of course) and set during the Second World War. If that idea floats your boat, then please do put me on author alert...
Thanks so much for reading everybody.