35.

A/N: BTW, I wrote the ending to this story before season 4 started. I thought about changing it a bit to fit Marnie, but decided against it.

Thank you so much for joining me on this ride. It's been SO much fun to write and interact with you. There is another True Blood story in the hopper, though I can't give any kind of honest timeframe that I will start posting it. It could be tomorrow, it could be a few months. The working title is "Dead Serious."

ERIC

"Sheriff, you have a visitor," Pam drawled in her bored way as she entered my office with another woman.

Hallow had changed since I last saw her. She had trimmed down her figure; her brown hair didn't look so lifeless and her face no longer looked so gaunt. It appeared she had some work done. Extortion was profitable.

"Sheriff Northman," her drawl was nowhere near as charming as Sookie's. "It's been too long since we've last seen each other."

"Or not long enough, depending on your opinion," I replied with absolutely no hint of welcome or happiness to see her.

"You're looking delicious, as usual." She sounded lustful and Pam rolled her eyes.

"And you look…expensive." It was the best I could do. She certainly looked better than she had the last time I saw her, but she was still no relief to sore eyes. While I could still appreciate physical beauty, it no longer held a sexual appeal to me. Every other woman quiet literally paled in comparison to Sookie. I was, of course, drawn to the scent of Hallow's blood. I could not deny the nature of that beast, but I would have no need to feed from her, and I admit that I had once long ago. Why have a hot dog when you could have caviar?

"A vast and enjoyable improvement over how I was before." She began to wander the room and Pam stood sentry by my desk. Pam didn't trust witches either. The idiot amateurs didn't bother us so much as the more powerful ones like Hallow; ones who thought they were entitled to things they were not; ones that used bullying techniques to try to get what they wanted.

"What do you want, Hallow?" I asked.

"My, my," she cooed. "Your manners haven't improved."

"I'm a busy man."

"So I hear."

I arched a brow at her. So she heard? So she heard what? I had been so busy and absorbed lately that I didn't have my ear to the ground as I normally did. I would have Bobby rectify that. It was time to put my finger back on the pulse of the supernatural community. Sookie's protection depended on my being fully away of other supe factions' activities and whereabouts. Hallow's presence in the area really shouldn't have taken me by surprise.

I waved my hand for her to get on with whatever it was that she wanted to talk about. I had perfected showing utter boredom over the centuries and I did so now. It made people fucking crazy.

"I have a business proposition for you," she announced.

"I'm not interested," I immediately dismissed and Pam chuckled.

"You haven't even heard what it is yet," Hallow sneered.

"Because I don't care what it is," I replied. I sat back in my chair and crossed my feet on my desk. "I'm a wealthy and prosperous man, Hallow, and I have all the partners I need." I gestured to Pam, who followed my lead in showing her disinterest by checking the polish on her nails, then gave them a careless buff on her leather skirt. Pam could look bored and bitchy.

"Witches are extortionists," I continued. "And I'm not in the sucker business."

"Witches provide protection, Eric." Hallow dropped the volume of her voice and the threat was clear. "For a small percentage of the business profits, I can provide charms, spells and enchantments that even the strongest, most talented witch couldn't break. Imagine knowing whether or not every person walking through your door was being truthful." I rolled my eyes. I already had that. "I can set up invisible rooms your vampire customers could bring humans to to feed off of without being caught by the authorities. They'd never even be seen in a raid." Intriguing, but not worth it. I already had strict penalties where that was concerned. "I provide these services for others. I can do the same and more for you."

"And just how much do you think those little magic tricks are worth?" Pam asked.

"Thirty-five percent," Hallow answered.

Ha! Never.

"No thank you. I have effective security," I dismissed rising from my chair. Pam stepped back prepared to show Hallow the door.

"The price is negotiable," Hallow said.

"I don't need your services, Hallow, I won't pay any monetary price for them."

"Six nights," she countered.

"Excuse me?"

"Six nights with you, and maybe a weekly visit, and I'll provide the service for free."

"And you would do what exactly in these six nights?" Pam asked.

Hallow grinned slowly at Pam and then returned her leer back to me. Suddenly, I felt the need to take a shower and then immediately make love to Sookie for hours. Yes, even I could be skeeved out by someone. I had standards.

"Eric is a notorious lover."

"You won't be finding out first hand."

"Since when are you so picky?" Hallow hissed.

Since I fell in love, but I wasn't about to tell this bitch that.

"I'm not interested, witch; not now not ever."

She looked very pissed and offended. I didn't care. My blood came alive and I knew Sookie had woken up and probably saw the whole nasty business transpire. I felt her flight up the stairs. Well, this should be interesting.

SOOKIE

I woke with a gasp. The dream was too clear to be anything but a dream. I looked around the room and knew immediately I was downstairs by myself. I flew out of bed and rummaged around, pulling random clothes on.

I entered the security code at the door and then burst out into the hallway. The vault door was a little more difficult to open and it felt like it took forever. There were…guests … downstairs in the basement and they called out to me as I ran by. Their terrified and desolate thoughts crammed briefly into my head before I blocked them out and continued to run upstairs.

I bounded into Eric's office like a woman possessed. I briefly thought that I probably should start knocking first; that there were probably things that went on in his office that I either didn't want to know about or were possibly unsafe for me. Then again, Eric can always feel me coming, so he could prepare for my abrupt entrances.

Pam was in the room with another woman I didn't know, but recognized from my dream. Tensions were very high. I could feel Eric's anger; it was pulsing off of him. He was angry, offended and underneath, slightly nervous. That made me nervous.

I moved to Eric's side, squeezed his hand quickly and then let it drop. I knew better than to make it appear as if he actually needed me for anything in front of other humans – or other supes for that matter. I knew better than to show anyone at all that I was a weakness for him.

"Sookie, my love," Eric said pleasantly, not taking his eyes off his visitor. "How much did you see?"

"Six nights with you," I said tightly and turned to Eric's 'guest.'

"Hallow, this is my wife, Sookie," Eric introduced. "She takes exception to me having sex with someone else…even if I wanted to slum it with someone like you."

The so-called Hallow arched an eyebrow at me. I was being sized up and clearly found lacking.

"Well, well, well, I meet the Sheriff's precious human pet at last. The whole territory is buzzing about you. All anyone can talk about is how completely ensnared Sheriff Northman is; spellbound by something about you no one can quite put their finger on." Hallow paced slowly back and forth before me, looking me over, thoughtfully, competitively.

"She doesn't intend to leave here, Eric, until she gets her way," I said. Hallow's eyes widened, then narrowed quickly.

"She won't," Eric assured. "I won't be bribed."

"What are you?" Hallow asked me directly.

"Not someone you should fuck with," I replied with more confidence than I felt.

"Oh really?" Hallow asked sweetly. She muttered something and Eric screamed and fell to his knees, clutching his head. Pam and I rushed to his side.

"Eric!" I shouted frantically trying to pry his hands off where they felt welded to his head. "Honey, what's wrong?"

"Well, that's awfully sweet," Hallow chuckled.

Pam was able to pull his hands away. He raised his head and looked into my eyes. I gasped and pulled back involuntarily. His eyes were alarmingly empty. Normally, they were so full of life. They were calculating, planning, laughing, doing something. His gaze darted around the room and he jumped on his heels and crouched.

"What did you do to him?" Pam hissed, rounding on the witch.

"I said there would be hell to pay," Hallow shrugged. "I do not make empty threats."

"Fix my maker."

"No."

"Fix my maker, now." Pam's voice was frighteningly low and even. She took a step toward the witch and Hallow threw up her hand. Pam seemed to run into an invisible wall.

"Not so fierce now, are you?" Hallow chided.

"Eric," I whispered, running a hand down his cheek. I felt the tears fall out of my eyes. He looked scared and vulnerable. He didn't know what was going on. I wasn't even sure if he was in there.

How dare that bitch.

How dare this skanky little magician come in here and threaten those that I love. How dare she come in here and make her haughty demands that she had no right making in the first place and then throw her little temper tantrum when she didn't get her way.

The more Eric stared at me through pleading and frightened eyes, the more pissed off I got. I pushed to my feet and rounded on Hallow.

"Put him back the way he was," I demanded.

"Exactly the way he was?" She asked sweetly. "You don't want him maybe less arrogant or a little more subservient? Seems to me he could use it."

"I want him exactly the way he was. I want him back right now, bitch."

Pam looked impressed with how aggressive I was. Hallow looked surprised herself. She certainly wasn't expecting any trouble from me that was for damn sure.

Hallow was human and I could read her thoughts. She had no intention of turning Eric back until she got her deal. She was a bully, but she was unsure of me. She could sense something different about me, but didn't know what it was. She was both curious and apprehensive to find out.

I took a deep breath and raised my hand to her, palm facing forward. I had no idea what was going to happen when I attempted this. Right now, I was seeing red. She attacked the man I loved and he was not that man right now. Now, Eric's no innocent in life, but he'd done nothing to provoke this witch's ire.

"Here's what's going to happen," I said quietly as Hallow looked from my eyes to my flat palm. "You're going to put Eric back the way he was, then you are going to run very far away from here and never return. Do that and you can live."

"You're threatening me?" Hallow laughed. "And what are you going to do? We've all heard of Eric's little Southern Belle, precious and delicate human pet. Are you going to slap me?"

Eric rose to his feet behind me. He leaned one palm on the desk and pressed the other to his forehead. I could feel his distress, confusion and sheer panic through the bond. The more agitated he got, the more irate I got. That had to be throwing him for quite the loop right now.

My breathing picked up. I wasn't sure what I was about to do, but suddenly, Fintan popped into the room and stood just to my side. Everyone, but oddly enough me, was stunned. Hallow certainly didn't know what to make of it. I never took my eyes off of her.

Fintan gently took my outstretched wrist between his fingers and lowered it an inch or so. "Directly for the heart, child," he directed softly. Hallow's eyes widened.

"Holy shit, a full-blooded fucking fairy," Pam whispered. Hallow looked a lot more alarmed now.

"You're supposed to be extinct." Hallow said sounding a little nervous now.

"We're not," Fintan said. "Not only have you upset my granddaughter, but you seemed to have directly harmed her mate. Hush now, we're having a training exercise." Hallow didn't know what to make of that. I was almost amused by how flippantly Fintan tossed around the fact that I wanted to kill this woman. The need to protect Eric was bubbling up in me and reaching the boiling point.

"You must put everything you have into it. She's attacked your mate, Sookie."

"Can you fix him?" I asked, breathing heavily. I was fighting the anger so I wouldn't give it to Eric, but this pent up energy had to go somewhere. Fintan glanced back at Eric. He muttered something and then looked back at Hallow.

"Sookie?" Eric's voice sounded confused and quiet.

"You're an amateur," Fintan mocked Hallow.

"He's alright?" I asked. I let my guard down a moment, and looked to Fintan. He immediately righted my form and I looked back to Hallow.

"Eric?" I asked unsure.

"I am alright, lover." He didn't sound it though. He sounded…tired. He felt tired.

"Bullshit," I growled through my teeth.

"Remember, my love, you can't take back what you are about to do; and no one will think you're weak if you don't kill her," he said. He was still speaking quietly and leaning up against the desk. I realized he didn't feel tired, he felt weak and Eric wasn't weak. Eric was larger and stronger than life.

"Damn you," I whispered to Hallow. I could feel my resolve slipping. She knew it too because she suddenly started laughing and straightened up.

"I will do it if you don't," Fintan said. He ran his palm down my hair. Hallow looked a little crazed now. "Either way, she will die here tonight."

"You're not worthy," she spat at me. "How long is a little country bumpkin like you going to hold one such as Eric? He is notorious and you are nobody. I am clearly better suited. I, at least, am not afraid to kill for him."

She raised her hand to me right as Fintan whispered, "We love differently," in my ear. I realized then that she intended to kill me now and do God knew what to Eric and everything seemed to fall into place. All I knew in that moment was that I wasn't going to allow her to succeed and I put everything I had into my hand.

A bright and wild flash exploded from my fingers. The room lit up like nothing I've ever seen before. Pam and Eric screamed. I think I did, but I can't remember if that was me or Hallow. She flew backwards into the filing cabinets and landed with shocked and wide, lifeless eyes. Her chest was scorched.

"God dammit, that was bright," Pam said next to me. "I blistered."

"A full fairy's light is ten times brighter than the sun," Fintan explained. "The contact with me gave you an extra boost, my child."

I stared at Hallow. She was dead and I killed her because I needed her dead. I knew she wanted to kill me. I heard it in her head. But still, I could have thrown her back and Pam could have killed her, right?

My chest felt tight and my vision began to blur as my eyes filled up with tears. I turned toward my grandfather and began to cry into his shoulder. "We love differently, child," he said again quietly. "For what it's worth, I am proud of you." That was actually worth a lot.

He gently turned me around and guided me to Eric, who was sagging against the desk. Eric wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly. I heard the popping sound behind me and knew that Fintan left.

I looked up at Pam. Her skin was red and blistered. "I'm sorry, Pam. Was that from me? Are you alright?"

"I'll get blood," she said. "It looks like I took the brunt of it. Eric doesn't look the worse for the wear. I'll have to remember to think twice before pissing you off, Sookie. That was much worse than the last time you hit me."

I smiled a bit through my tears and then nuzzled my face more into Eric's chest. Pam left the office and closed the door.

"You need blood, I can feel it. What did that bitch do to you, Eric?"

"I don't know, but I wasn't there. It was pretty terrifying."

"Are you sure you're not hurt from the light?" I pulled back to study him. He looked alright.

"No, it looks like Pam got the worst of it. I'll have to remember to take cover though the next time you're going to do that." He smirked a bit.

"I don't know if I ever want to do that again," I whispered.

"You will if you're threatened, lover. You defended us and you proved yourself capable of it. We were vulnerable and you rose to the challenge. I am very proud of you, and more than a little scared of you, too."

That did earn a chuckle out of me.

It was a strange feeling, taking a life, even in self-defense. But Eric was right, I would do it again and I might not hesitate like I did tonight. If Fintan hadn't come, I don't know if I could have done it. I'd like to think I could, but hindsight is 20/20. As unsettled as I was about taking a life, I was happy that what I loved most was safe because I made it so. Eric had killed to save me in the past and tonight, I returned the favor.

We turned out to be a good team, Eric and I; a very unlikely team, but a good one. And though I couldn't know how long I would have with him in this life, I was sure we'd make the most of the time.

~THE END~