A/N: I do not own any characters or the world of True Blood, but I do like to play in it.
Here we are; the final chapter! I hope you enjoy it, there were a lot of loose threads to tie up.
"With all due respect ma'am, don't underestimate me," Sookie replied evenly, extending her gift, she pushed into the Queen's head even deeper, taking control of her mind and body as she'd done with Rob that day back in her living room. Holding rigidly tight to her actions, she forced Sophie-Anne to take a step backwards, and then another, her movements jerky, like a marionette with invisible strings. The queen's face was placid but there was terror behind her eyes at being completely at Sookie's mercy.
Sookie placed her thoughts directly in Sophie-Anne's mind, not wanting anyone to overhear this part of the conversation with all the sharp ears around. *Now I don't want this to get ugly, especially with this being my day and all, so I'm gonna let you go. But before I do, I want to make sure there's an understanding between us. You can ask for my help when you need it, and I might take a job when it's convenient for me, but I won't jump when you call, you get me?* She felt more than heard the queen's assent. *I want you to think real hard about this. My help some of the time is better than none of the time, right? If you're thinking about coming after me, I'll show you what else I can do. And if you're thinking you might get lucky and take me out when I'm not lookin', just remember I'm the apple of Eric's eye and he won't take kindly to anyone taking away his new bride. If he finds out it was you behind any plot against me, something tells me you won't like what he does next.* It was a vague threat at best, but Sookie was operating on instinct, trying to cover all the bases in this new game. Once again, she felt the queen's submission, and after holding her for another few seconds to make her point, she let go, withdrawing completely.
"You feeling alright your majesty?" Sookie asked with a careful smile, half expecting some kind of attack despite her warnings.
Sophie-Anne blinked, flexing her arms and legs as if convincing herself that she was back in control of her body again. "My, wasn't that interesting," she drawled with a brittle smile. "You'll excuse me, wont you?" Keeping her eyes on the telepath, she left her side, disappearing from view into the crowd.
Not quite sure if it had been good or bad to lay everything out on the table like that, Sookie tried not to worry about it. Surely it had to be a good thing to show Sophie-Anne that she couldn't be pushed around? At least that's what she tried to tell herself as she threaded through the crowd to find Eric.
Eric was easy enough to find, his height and golden hair marking him like a beacon in the festive room even without their bond. For a moment Sookie just took the time to appreciate the fact that this magnificent specimen of man was well and truly hers now, with little else anyone could say about it. What would have happened if there had been no Bill and she'd just surrendered to his charms the first time she'd met him? Would things have turned out the same way? Or would she never have even run into a vampire outta Shreveport if not for Bill Compton? For that alone she was almost willing to forgive her former lover the betrayal that had brought her into this world. She had been expecting Bill to show up at some point, but so far there was no sign of him. Maybe he really had taken the message to heart and intended to stay away from her like she wanted? Maybe he had no idea she was even getting hitched that weekend? Looking around the room at the swell of people, both dead and living, that was hard to believe.
As she reached Eric's side, she gave him her usual smile, speaking in a voice pitched low for his ears only. "We might have a teency weency little problem."
"Why am I not surprised?" He pressed a kiss to her hair.
"Maybe we should go talk some place a little more private?" With all the Supes in the room, they might as well have their conversation broadcast over the loudspeakers.
"If we slip away our guests will assume we couldn't wait for the honeymoon." Eric gave her a roguish grin. "I have no problem with that assumption."
Sookie nodded, something like that was the least of her problems. Taking his arm, she looked for a convenient exit and Eric guided her through the crowd. Just then Quinn blocked their way, announcing it was time to open the gifts. Sookie's smile became strained, but she kept it there out of force of habit. Looking around, Sophie-Anne was nowhere to be seen. Was that a good thing, or a bad thing? As Eric led her to the chairs set up like thrones at the head of the room, she slipped into his mind, speaking there as she had to the Queen. *Don't freak out none, but I've gotta talk to you*
"Interesting," he said aloud, opening up their first gift, he held up a sealed urn that looked like it maybe held remains of some sort inside. Yuck.
*You don't got to talk out loud, I should be able to hear you fine from in here* she advised him.
*What is it that could not wait? Should I look for an easy exit?* Eric continued to open gifts, murmuring the appropriate thanks and pleasantries so that Sookie had only to smile and nod at his side.
*I hope it's not as bad as all that. I kinda had to show Sophie-Anne what's up with my new skills so she wouldn't turn me into her slavegirl* Sookie felt the laugher in his mind and an accompanying image of her dressed in something like the Princess Leia get up from that Star Wars movie.
*An interesting concept. Why was this necessary?*
*Because she found out that I could read her thoughts. Accidentally* she added hastily.
A single brow was raised by Eric before he turned to unwrap the next gift. *I couldn't help it! So I had to show her not to mess with me. I either scared her into leaving me alone or we're gonna have a problem with her.*
*Don't worry, Beloved. I have lots of practice in handling Sophie-Anne. She is easily managed. Is that all or is there some other tragedy that awaits us?* there was a twinkle in his eye as he smiled down at her.
*Never can tell…*
The gifts opened, the party turned less structured again and they parted to each dance with various delegates at the Gathering. While Sookie sometimes felt tongue tied in front of such personages, she was a good dancer, as were most vampires, so there was less to feel nervous about as they squired her about the dance floor. When she was returned to the front of the hall, she found Seraphine waiting there, an expectant look on her face.
"Hey Seraphine. Are you having a nice time?" Sookie smiled, feeling much more comfortable with the vampire lady now.
"Yes, it's a lovely affair," Seraphine leaned close to kiss the air beside each of Sookie's cheeks. "I have something for you."
Sookie accepted the slim envelope with surprise. "That's real sweet of you; I wasn't expecting anything more than the gifts your King gave us." Which had turned out to be a bracelet with a big fat jeweled bug on it. Sookie had smiled and nodded her thanks unsure what to say even after Eric had assured her it was a kingly gift. His was a matching bracelet with an even bigger bug. Ick.
"This is from me, personally."
"Well thank you," Sookie looked into the envelope, pulling out a thin sheaf of papers with interest. "Certificate of Title," she read aloud. "What is this?"
"It's an estate I acquired in New Orleans some time ago," Seraphine replied with a smile.
"An estate?" Her eyes goggled. "And you're giving it to me? You don't want it anymore?" The idea was mind boggling, why on earth would she give her such an extravagant gift?
"I find I have little need of it and I thought you might enjoy having a private place of your own to stay should you be summoned to the capital in the future." New Orleans wasn't the state capitol as far as maps went, but it was the capital of the vampire community and the Queen's base of operations. It would definitely be nice to have a place to stay in the city without having to be in the Queen's back pocket.
"I don't know what to say… it's too much."
"Not at all," Seraphine laid a cool hand on her arm. "That's not to say it's a palatial estate by any means, there are rooms that haven't been used in years, but it should serve you well enough."
"Thank you so much," Sookie impulsively hugged her, surprised at how easily the other woman responded to the show of affection. "You're welcome to come and stay there anytime of course."
"Thank you for that," her eyes brightened, and Sookie wondered if that's what she'd been hoping to hear. "Now I must excuse myself, I see someone I need to talk to."
"Of course, thanks again." No sooner had Sookie turned away when she caught sight of someone else who she never expected to see in such a crowd. "Sam!" Restraining the urge to give her old friend a big hug since things had been so strained between them, she settled for giving him a welcoming smile as he approached; another envelope in hand. Maybe she should start up a collection…
"I came to wish you well," Sam leaned in to place a chaste kiss on her cheek and she caught a wave of hopeful regret coming off of him.
"I'm glad you came," Sookie nodded, turning over the envelope in her hands. "What's this?" Her eyes widened as she caught sight of all the numbers on the check inside. "I can't take this…"
"No you earned it," He held his hands up, refusing to take it back. "That and more for taking care of things while I was out. You're the reason I had a bar to come back to and I didn't thank you proper..."
"Or at all," she interrupted.
"Or at all," he agreed, looking contrite.
"Well I didn't do it for the money," she tucked the check back into the envelope and held it up for him to take.
"No take it. Please." There was a look in his eyes that reminded her of when that lovable old mutt used to put his head in her lap, his eyes big and pleading. How was she supposed to say no to that?
"Look I know it's none of my business but what the hell crawled up your butt back there?" It hadn't been the Sam she'd come to know and love all these years.
Sam chuckled over her choice of words and it was good to see him smile like that again. "I was going through some rough times."
"Yeah, no shit."
"I thought I'd done something… so bad I couldn't live with it. Couldn't live with myself," His brows knit together in pain and she caught the distress roiling off of him. "I just… couldn't be me in my life anymore."
"So what happened to turn you around again?"
"I found out the asshole was alive and kicking the entire time. Holed up in a dive in Monroe licking his wounds," he chewed the words out like he was eating something nasty.
Sookie stared at him blankly. "You lost me."
"It doesn't matter, not anymore. What matters is I drove you away. I figure you're one of the best friends I got in this world, maybe the best one I ever had and I fucked it up."
"Oh Sam," she wrapped her arms around him in a hug. "I'm still your friend. Lord everybody deserves to fuck up every now and again. It's part of being human." Not that he was strictly human, but he got the point.
"I'm sorry all the same," he hugged her back. Eric would complain later about the smell of dog, but she didn't care. "It looks like I've up and lost you now though, haven't I?"
"I'm still your friend Sam."
"But you're not coming back to Bon Temps are you?"
Sookie shook her head. "No, not for the foreseeable future. It doesn't mean I'll never come back to visit, Jason is still there and I've got the house but I've moved on. My place is with Eric now." A new chapter of her life was beginning.
"If he ever makes you unhappy…"
"Yeah I know, get in line," she gave him a lopsided smile. Seeing Sam there, Sookie couldn't help but think of Alcide, but he was nowhere to be found either. There weren't too many Weres present anyway, so she could understand him not being on the guest list, especially given Eric's feelings on the guy.
It was a night for goodbyes.
Rob approached her sometime later to ask for a dance and let her know that since her position was safe and Debbie taken care of, he was returning with Seraphine to her homeland. Reeling from the news of his departure and not wanting to ask what Debbie being "taken care of" meant, Sookie lost the rhythm of the song, standing there stock still on the dance floor.
"You're leavin?" Somehow she couldn't imagine her life without him in it; she'd gotten used to him being there whenever she turned around. But in a good way, not in a stalker way.
"You don't need me around to keep you safe. You don't need anyone around to keep you safe anymore." He touched her cheek. "I know you'll be just fine."
"It ain't just about keeping me safe, Rob… are you sure this is what you want?" As far as she knew he didn't even particularly like Seraphine, even if she was growing on her a bit.
There was the slightest amount of hesitation before he answered. "Yeah. I think it's best if I go out in the world again for a bit, see some new things and Seraphine definitely knows how to show a bloke a good time."
"You really like her?"
"Her and me, we understand each other, we're not under any illusions. That's enough for me for now."
Tempted to get in and take a peek of his thoughts, Sookie decided it would be better to just respect his wishes and she just nodded sadly.
"I'll be back to visit before you know it. Might could bring Rayne with me sometime as well, she's been asking after you."
"I'd love that," Sookie smiled, remembering his sister. "When do you think you might be back this way again?"
"Not too long, maybe a few years unless Eric calls for me sooner."
That seemed like a long time to her but he was talking about it like it was just a drop in the bucket of time. "So that's it then, you're off to see the world?
"Another corner of it, yeah. Unless you fancy running off with me?" He grinned; the wink telling her he was just teasing.
Sookie snorted at that, finding her smile. "And if Eric calls you'll what, just drop everything and come?"
"It's been that way for a long, long time. I remember once, there was a war on and I was with the BEF at Dunkirk and Eric showed up in the dead of night. I shot him once myself until I recognized him for who he was. What he was doing in that SS uniform…" he shook his head.
"Gosh, what war was that?"
"The big one, World War II."
"How old are you?" She gasped, her head canting to one side. Sure she knew there was more to his family than meets the eye but that would make him… older than her Grandpa.
"Old enough to know a good thing when I see it." He chucked her under the chin. "I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness Sookie. I'll see you again some day."
Sookie watched him melt into the crowd, more bothered than she would have liked at the thought of him really leaving for a few years or more. Later she would ask Eric just how old he was, and if he had anything to do with it. But for now, she wanted another drink.
Grabbing a flute of champagne, Sookie paused with the glass halfway to her lips when she spotted Bill standing at the edge of the gathering. Even after everything he'd put her through, she couldn't deny the tug at her heart at seeing her first love standing there. But just as quickly, the memories and lies flooded in, hardening her heart to him. Was he there to cause trouble or wish her well? Either option was unappealing. Slowly and deliberately, Sookie turned her back on him; there was nothing left to say. Draining her glass, she set it aside and took another. When she turned around again, there was no sign of him.
"Turning to drink already? We'll make a Viking of you yet," Eric's voice came low and intimate at her ear, his hand snaking possessively around her waist. Sookie leaned back into his comforting form, feeling safe and cherished.
"Should I be drinking some kind of ale out of a horn then? Cause this crystal glass seems kinda prissy for a Viking," she smiled up at him.
Eric roared with laughter, plucking the delicate flute from her fingers and tossing it negligently aside to smash into the wall. "That, I can arrange," he grinned, pulling her into his arms. "Time to leave the party." Without another word, he zoomed them out of the room moving fast as anything, not stopping until he had her back in the honeymoon suite.
Carrying her over the threshold with his hands roving over the soft satiny dress, Sookie warned him to be careful. "Let me change outta this rig, I don't want you to split it into pieces."
"Be quick about it then, wife," he smacked her behind with the flat of his hand playfully.
"Hold your horses, husband," she tossed back at him. "Good things come to those who wait. And just wait till you see what Pam picked out for me for my trousseau." It was a frothy concoction of lace and satin that was more air than anything else, and Sookie had to gulp when she saw it on herself in the mirror for the first time. It definitely didn't leave much to the imagination. She might have to get Pam to tell her where she bought it, so she could buy another one after Eric ruined this one.
She could feel Eric's desire from the other room through their bond, like a pent up beast waiting to be unleashed, but he was remarkably contained when she stepped out of the bathroom. "Let me guess, I look good enough to eat?" She gave him a crooked smile at catching his expression.
"Good enough to savor all the rest of my days," he replied, taking her into his arms. "But I have yet to give you my wedding gift."
"You've already given me so much," she started to protest.
"Those are mere trinkets to show the world my regard for you. This is for your bridal price."
"Bridal price… you make it sound like you bought and paid for me," Sookie scoffed, but she wasn't really mad about it. She knew Eric didn't think of her like a slave or a possession, not really.
"It is the way things were done in my day. I would give your father a parcel of land or a string of goats commensurate with your worth. As I can not give anything to your father, I made a gift to your brother to help him with his… dependants. The stretch of land adjoining his property now belongs to him to do with as he sees fit."
She knew he meant the people of Hotshot that Jason had pretty much adopted into his care. "Aw that's real sweet of you Eric; I know it'll come in handy for him with so many mouths to feed."
"And for you my love, a gift of land that is far more personal to me." Eric walked her backwards towards the bed as he spoke, her feet barely touching the ground.
More property? She was gonna end up owning half of the state if this kept up. "I'm beginning to see what vampires like to give as gifts now. Maybe for Christmas I can buy you a moat to go around your house," she teased. "Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I do have my Gran's house and Seraphine just gave me a place in New Orleans, and I already live with you, so unless you're trying to tell me something about maintaining my own separate residence…"
"This is not a local gift; it is my most prized of holdings. This is a parcel of land in the place where I was born. It still stands, though it bears little resemblance to the home I knew."
He was giving her his birthright? Sookie couldn't think of a more meaningful gift on their wedding day. "Oh Eric… I'd love to see where you were born. When can we go?" She could tell he was pleased with her interest from the way his eyes shone with excitement.
"We can leave as soon as the Gathering is over. I've made arrangements with Pam to handle club business until we return from our honeymoon."
Sookie took his face between her hands, gazing up into his face adoringly. "I only wish I could give you something as good in return."
"You've brought life back to me; I don't think you can comprehend what that means to someone as old as I."
There was something she could give him, but Sookie wasn't sure she was ready to open that can of worms. Not yet. "You are so good to me."
"I take care of what's mine." In one swift movement, Eric rolled her back onto the bed, his mouth taking hers with a demanding growl of need.
Sookie loved that sound of absolute possession in his voice when he called her his. But two could play at that game. She loved him just as fiercely and she wasn't afraid to show it, not anymore. "Eric, there's just one thing," she gasped as his lips grazed over the pulse at her throat.
"What's that, Beloved?" He murmured against her skin.
"You are Mine." Sookie put every bit of possession in the word, just as he did, sending a wave of desire to him through their bond.
Eric's fangs came out with a satisfying snick that let her know he'd felt that desire all the way down to his toes and returned it just as intensely. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
A/N: Of course there are always more stories to tell, but this one in particular has come to its close. Thanks everyone for sticking through this with me, even when you disagreed with how things went down, I had a great time spinning this little reality.
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