A/N: Oh my gosh! The last chapter! I'm not exactly sure what to say except thank you all so much for reading, reviewing, alerting and favoriting this story. I never thought anyone would even want to read it and it's the most successful story I've ever written. I just don't have the words to express my gratitude for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
So this chapter is actually two. I wrote the epilogue first, but my wonderful beta, Sheknitsnicely, (who always keeps me straight) told me I couldn't put all of us through all this and not have at least one happily ever after lemon- so I wrote the last chapter. I thought I would leave it at that but my dear friend Chipndalegal told me she wanted to see the epilogue too, so here you are a final chapter and an epilogue all rolled into one! I hope it's a satisfying wrap up. Thank you all so much again!
Disclaimer: I own nothing…
The sensation of soft lips peppering their way across his body was the first thing he felt as life returned to him. They danced across his skin, stopping to tease his mouth, to trace the shell of his ear. A sweet tongue joined them to taste the column of his neck, leaving a trail of wetness to his collar bone that made him groan in unexpected desire.
Next came the feeling of two small but determined hands running along his sides, fingers drawing patterns of sweet delight around his nipples and then wandering lower to loosen the bindings of his pants, the only clothing he still wore. As he lay there, his eyes still closed, he let the scent of his woman, the most intoxicating woman he had ever known, surround and envelope him as her soft body roused him in the most gratifying way. She was sunlight and jasmine and oranges and heaven itself and, as her small body pressed against his, as her delicate, questing fingers found their way into his now open pants, teasing, caressing and enticing his quickly hardening flesh, he felt himself lost to the pure power she had over him; lost to the love she commanded in him, lost to the life she now shared with him, lost to anything but Sookie and the need to express, in this way, the deep abiding wonder he felt that they still lived.
Opening his eyes he found her naked, her long, golden hair twisted to rest over one shoulder, hiding one breast even as she bared the other sweet swell to his gaze, her eyes focused solely on him as she sat astride him, her heated center pressing down on him, telling him in no uncertain terms what she desired. When she saw that he had risen, she smiled at him in a way that was almost worshipful.
"I have been watching you sleep. I have been trying to tell myself that I should be grieving for all that was lost last night, but try as I might, I cannot make my heart do anything but cry for joy that you are still alive." Her words were whispered, as though she worried he might scold her or think her reaction wrong. Vaulting up, so that she now sat on his lap as he embraced her, pressing her to him, crushing her body against his, he kissed her hair, her eyes, her nose and finally her lips, full and long.
"There will be time enough to remember our friends and to honor them. But for right now, we are alive, we are together and, for the first time, we are free to love each other. Love me Sookie. Give thanks with me that fate has found one good thing in all the bad." After that there were no words for a long time, only the joy of their bodies twining together and a happiness that seemed infinite in its depth.
With a cry of delighted surprise, he felt her push him back down to the pillows, her hands taking hold of his now open pants and ridding him of them. He looked up at her, so beautiful and half wild in her desire, and he felt his need for her become an unbearable thing.
As though sensing his quickly lessening control, she leaned down where she kneeled between his now naked legs and began to lick and suck a trail from the underside of his knee, up his thigh and to his stomach, stopping to kiss and caress the indentation of his muscles and to let her hands run through the sparse golden trail of hair that led down to juncture of his thighs.
Eric watched it all through slitted eyes, his hands losing their battle to remain still and, as she finally took mercy on him and let her tongue sweep out to tease the tip of his now dripping cock, tangling into her long hair, not forcing or directing, but merely stroking and petting, begging and thanking all at the same time.
Her eyes met his one last time: her aster gaze telegraphing her need to take him, her compulsion to feel him inside her in every way, to assure herself that this was not a dream, that they had survived and that nothing stood between them now.
Her eyes never left his as her head lowered and the sweet, warm heat of her mouth engulfed him. It drove away the thought of anything else but this. His ability to think receded as she moved her lips up and down his shaft, letting her tongue tease and torment his length as he felt her teeth gently nip at his head when she met it at the top of her strokes.
It took only moments before Sookie began to moan, the taste of him, as ever, driving her into a frenzy, making her need more: more of his body, more of his heart, more of his soul. They had joined together in so many ways and yet, it was never enough. When she felt him begin to swell in her mouth, the sure sign that he was reaching his pleasure, she pulled back. For one long moment, Sookie stared at him, thinking Eric's face had never been as divinely beautiful as it was in this moment as he reached, almost sightlessly, for the release she had nearly given him. He was so lost in their pleasure that he was blind and deaf to anything but attaining the peak they both so desperately desired. Finally, she took mercy on him…on herself, and moved up to sit astride him.
Their eyes met again and their gazes locked as she took hold of him and brought their bodies together, the soft, wet heat of her still tight sex enveloping him as they cried out in unison. Bringing his hands up to grasp her own, Eric watched in stunned bliss as his beautiful Fairy began to ride him, moving up and down on his aching member and bringing them to an ecstasy he had feared they might never share again.
Holding her hands and her gaze, he began to move underneath her, meeting her body halfway as it rose and fell over his own and, when their joint release was nearly upon them, he squeezed their clasped hands and made the one request he had wanted to make more than any other since the moment he had laid eyes on her. He asked for the one desire he had never let himself give voice to before, but that he had dreamed of almost as much as he had dreamed of being inside her.
"Sookie, bite me, please. Take my blood." He groaned, his hands dropping hers and taking her waist, helping her move up and down on him, his body again moving to sit up so that his fangs could nestle themselves in her sweet, soft flesh.
There was no answer to his question, but as Eric pulled her close, his nose buried in her hair and his mouth seeking out the perfect place to strike, he felt it: the dull, unutterably exquisite pain of her blunt, little teeth breaking his skin. It was all he could do to close the circle between them and drink from her as well before they both fell over the edge, their bodies pumping into each other, their minds lost in mutual pleasure.
As they clung to each other in the aftermath, he half sitting and half lying on the bed, his back against the heavy, ornate wooden head board, and she still astride him, her breasts crushed against his torso, her head nestled securely on the hard plains of his chest, right over his unbeating heart, he tried to find the words to express to her all that he felt inside.
He knew that the shock would soon wear off for both of them and they would be left to face the aftermath of what had happened. He knew that there were still so many things that might go wrong. Ireland seemed safe and yet, if the Humans could strike at Upsala, they could strike anywhere. He knew that, simply because they had survived once, it did not mean that they would be so lucky again. These things made him wary. They roused in him the need to protect and to shelter her, to hide her away so that the world could not touch them. But, more than anything, they roused in him the need to find every last bit of joy in the world and to hold it close; to live in that joy with Sookie and make every moment they might have left count for something.
They would morn their friends. They would honor their deaths and remember their lives: these things were not a question. Yet as they lay there, calm and sated, he knew that his happiness required that he ask one more thing of her, and he hoped that her happiness would require her to agree.
"Marry me." He whispered into her hair as he leaned down ever so slightly and kissed her golden head. Sookie moved not a bit, but he felt her hands squeeze him where they rested on his upper arms. Her voice was soft but sure as she answered him.
"Yes." It was one word, but it made his heart swell and he thought his happiness might actually make it beat again. The blood she had taken from him whispered that she too was happy, surprised perhaps that he had asked it so suddenly, but happy nonetheless; happy and deeply in love.
The breeze off the ocean was clear and cool as they assembled on the moonlit beach. The nobles of Niall's court created a ring of people, each with a brightly colored lantern in their hand, Ceiridwyn holding the small bundle of her new baby boy, the last Prince of the Fae, securely in her arms and Niall standing at the point where the ocean met the sand.
Slowly, they walked the length of the beach to the exact spot where she had first seen him, where she had found him in what seemed as though it had been another life. The crowd of Fairies parted for them as they stopped before Niall, Eric with the jeweled knife in his hands and Sookie holding a tiny, ornately carved box, and kneeling in the cooling sand. Looking down on the couple before him, the High King held up his hands and began reciting the words, in his native tongue, that had bound his people together in love for millennia.
Niall looked now between his granddaughter and her chosen one, and felt as though something momentous was happening. The world was again in upheaval: the Humans rooting the supernatural from within their midst, one race dying out after another; and yet here on this beach, in his beloved home, his granddaughter, a mostly Human Fairy Princess, joined in love with a Vampire.
It was a strange ending to all the war and all the death and all the pain that had been their lives for centuries now and yet, for it all to end this way gave him a kind of hope that there was more in the world than hate and murder and that love could sprout and flourish under even the most unexpected circumstances. He had never wanted to see Saoirse with a Vampire. The mere thought of it would have been absurd, preposterous, even offensive to him not so long ago, and yet he felt again that little twist in his stomach, the same one that he had felt the night he'd allowed Ceannaideach to convince him of the necessity of sending her to Halbjorn. That small feeling deep inside him that whispered that he was now no longer in control of destiny but merely a messenger of a pre-ordained fate.
As the lilting words of ceremony fell from his lips, he saw his beloved child smile into the face of her love and watched as he smiled back. He could not deny that their golden beauty was unparalleled, each complimenting and completing the other as they knelt in their matching garments of gold and ivory silk. She would be safe with him, he had already proven himself in that regard, and she would be loved by him; for an old man who had lost so many and so much there was nothing more that he could ask for, nothing that would bring him greater peace.
As the last words were spoken, Eric lifted the knife he held, which Saoirse had entrusted Niall to give to him that very night as soon as the sun fell, and gave it to her. Niall watched as she accepted it and kissed its tip before slicing her finger and then his own with it. As each tasted the single drop of each other's blood, they bound themselves to each other in the way of Eric's people, and when she handed him the small box, a symbol of a Fairy's eternal devotion, entrusted with one wish that could only be used by the giver's beloved, they joined in the way of Niall's people. As the sound of the astonishingly genuine cheers of the crowd before them signaled the end of the ceremony, Niall dashed the single tear that slipped from his eye and watched as his granddaughter and her Vampire sealed their union with a gentle kiss.
The Coronia Ocean Liner on the Atlantic between London and New York City
Sookie stood on the prow of the boat, looking over at the beautiful blue ocean waves as the boat sliced between them, cutting a path in the waning afternoon sunlight. Her excitement, at being carried once again on the crystal waves of water made her feel heady, as though she'd indulged in too much good wine. It seemed, no matter how many times she sailed or what she sailed on, the beauty of the ocean and the peace of the silent waves never failed to enthrall and invigorate her.
She admitted wholeheartedly that this journey, aboard this modern metal behemoth, was very different from her very first ocean voyage aboard Halbjorn's wooden long boat: far more comfortable, far safer no doubt and yet no matter how many years passed, the vividness of that memory never faded.
In so many ways that voyage across the bright blue waves, so filled with conflicted emotions and even a good deal of fear, had been the beginning of her life; the beginning of a journey that even now, six hundred and forty-three years later, continued.
She wondered again what New York would be like, and hoped that Eric would enjoy it even if he had only agreed to settle there because, stoic, hardened warrior that he was, he couldn't bear to disappoint two pairs of lovely, pleading blue eyes. He was probably right that they were indulging Pam overly much by acquiescing to her repeated requests to live there for a spell before moving on, but really, by the time Pam came to them Eric had already spent over half a millennium spoiling Sookie rotten, he was simply badly out of practice at saying no to the women in his life.
In truth though, they all three of them agreed that it was no longer safe to stay in Europe. The Humans were again making war, and this time it looked as though they might light the whole world on fire with the bright heat of their hatred for each other, instead of just one city in the middle of the frozen northern snow.
She tried not to think about those dark days as much as possible, but sometimes, when she was alone, and especially since the threat of war had reared its head once again across Europe, she found herself reliving those memories. The names of her friends, so many centuries dead and gone, whispered through her mind and she spared a moment to think of her love for each one of them, before opening her eyes once more and reclaiming her peace of mind by remembering everything that had happened since.
She remembered how her fear and grief had still swirled around her when Niall had brought them from the woods just outside of Upsala to his haven in Ireland, the home of her childhood. The weight of so much loss had nearly broken her that day as she thought of her friends who had perished only hours ago and of her King, who had taken his existence right in front of her and she wondered what would to happen next.
They did not have long to wait before the truth of the magnitude of what had happened became known. Upsala had not been an isolated incident, but a part of a larger coordinated attack. All over the world, the Christian faithful had turned on the creatures that their religion taught were the Devil's own children among them and many…so many had died.
Sa'ida had survived, but only because she had been traveling in the vast emptiness between Spain and England when it had happened, making her way slowly to Halbjorn's court for the sudden, unexpected meeting with him and Antonious. And it was to her that the remaining Vampires had looked for guidance, for hope and for the possibility of vengeance. Her command had been unmistakable though. The first order of this new reality was survival. She had charged the remaining Vampires to go underground and into hiding. They were to make themselves as shadows in the night, blending in with the Humans as much as possible and never speaking of what they were.
At first it had seemed a futile exercise, but eventually, as with all other things, the Humans forgot. The great rebirth of the enlightenment and the advent of rational thought and science proclaimed that Vampires, witches, Werewolves and Fairies were nothing more than superstitious fantasy. The creatures they had attempted to extinguish, believing them a dreaded threat, had become nothing more than myth and legend and, eventually, the Humans began again to turn on themselves, creating more needless conflicts over religion, race and creed as they convinced themselves that they were the highest beings on this earth.
She and Eric had stayed in Ireland for only a few weeks, Eric allowing her the chance to truly visit with Niall and her other family, but eventually Niall's duties as High King had called him back to Faery. He had left Ceiridwyn as regent of his earthly realm and she ruled in his name and watched over her precious son, the sole surviving Prince of his people and future King. But eventually Niall had made a decision that changed everything. Fearing that the Humans might turn on the Fairies next, and knowing that his people could not withstand another war, Niall had called them back to their realm. She still saw both her Grandfather and her cousins as often as possible, and she cherished those moments greatly, though sometimes they were few and far between.
When Niall left for Faery, she and Eric, now truly husband and wife, as they had been in their hearts already for so long, decided to make their first and oldest dream come true. They journeyed from Ireland to the coast of Norway, to Stavanger. It had become a great medieval city in the centuries since Eric's death and it looked nothing like it did when he was Human, but he still loved it and found solace in the earth of his homeland.
They settled in a small farmhouse in the woods not far from the city and lived a quiet life for over fifty years. It was one of the most beautiful times she could ever remember in her life. There was nothing but the two of them, living and loving each other, enjoying being completely free of any responsibilities save adoring one another.
There they had cemented their final bond, joining together in blood, under the stars and before the vastness of the northern ocean, as they had in love and in life force, becoming as nearly one as two beings could ever be. And it was this bond that she probed now, smiling as she felt the first stirrings of life returning to Eric's body as the sun touched the gentle waves.
They still traveled there often, and nowhere else on Earth felt so much like home, but eventually Eric felt it best that they move on. Staying hidden meant never really being able to stay in one place for very long. Indeed, they had never stayed in any other place as long as they'd stayed that first time in Stavanger. They moved frequently after that, every five to ten years.
It was on their third trip to England that they encountered Pam. They'd been strolling through the streets of London after having had dinner with Wallace at one of the louder pubs in the city when they'd come across a young woman being attacked by five men. She had snuck out in the middle of the night to see a lover and had been accosted by the men on her way home, her fine dress and proud bearing leading them to believe that she might have something worth stealing on her person.
She'd tried to fight back and had actually wounded one of the men, when another had pulled a gun on her and shot. They'd come upon the scene too late to stop her from being injured, but not for Eric to swiftly and completely end the lives of the men who'd done it.
He might not have cared for Humanity, but he was a warrior born and bred, and attacking someone weaker and unarmed was something that he never failed to find disgusting. When the men had been taken care of, he'd returned to find Sookie cradling the girl in her arms. He'd tried to pull her away or convince her to let him take the girl to the hospital, but they both knew that she wouldn't last that long. The pleading look in Sookie's eyes had been unmistakable. Something about this young woman called to her, reminded her of another head strong girl who'd fled her home for love, and Eric had been unable to refuse her.
When she'd arisen three nights later, it was clear that Pam had been born to live this un-life. She was keen, intelligent and ferocious, a predator through and through, and yet she and Sookie had almost instantly formed a true and strong friendship, as unlikely as it might have seemed. And though, at first, he'd only done it to please his wife, Eric had grown to love Pam immensely too.
Sookie laughed to herself, remembering, when she suddenly felt the air around her come alive and her heart swell as though it were about to burst with happiness. Two strong arms came around her, encircling her waist and pulling her back against a long, hard torso.
"You are wistful tonight." He whispered to her, his nose brushing aside the curls of her hair so that his lips could nip and suck at the ever beguiling curve of her neck. Sookie's arms came up as well, one on top of his hands at her waist and the other behind her, under the curtain of his own hair, to rest at the nape of his neck.
"Just thinking about…everything!" She said, laughing slightly, her whole world seeming even brighter now that he was again close.
"You aren't getting bored with it all are you?" He asked. His tone was light, teasing even but he could not hide the slight tinge of fret he felt from her. She knew that he sometimes worried that her Human body was simply not made to endure the churn of the centuries. Tightening her grip on him, she nuzzled back into him.
"With you here, how could I ever get bored? You make every night more wonderful than the last." She felt his relief flooding through them both.
"And you make every single night as beautiful as the first." He replied, laying more gentle kisses on her neck.
"Do you think you'll like New York?" She asked, looking out over the water, watching the moon take on the full glory of its brightness. She felt Eric shrug.
"I believe you will like it. I know Pam will. As long as you both are happy then so am I. It will be a new adventure for all of us. Pam will soon be ready to go off on her own and when she does we will go anywhere you like. Do you have any preferences?" He asked light heartedly.
"I think I'm tired of being cold." She laughed lightly. "Why don't we go somewhere warm for a change? New Orleans is supposed to be beautiful. What would you think about Louisiana?" She could almost hear him thinking hard.
"If that is what you wish." He answered, something in him liking the idea already. "Come, Pam is waiting for us, we need to go eat." He said, a little too gleefully as he turned her around and laid a soft but passionate kiss on the lips he still could never drink his fill of.
Sookie nodded, one corner of her mouth going up in a half smirk. Indeed it was time for them to eat. Or at least it was time for her to eat and for Eric to sit beside her with a plate filled with food and a glass brimming full of wine and create the illusion that he also was eating, while he actually spent the time giving her longing looks and sending lust through their bond, telling her how very much he would enjoy his own meal once she had finished hers.
"Promise me you'll go easy on our waiter tonight. If you play with them much more they'll refuse to serve us!" She said as they began to walk the deck towards the dining room. Eric only laughed. He knew that she was both amused and sometimes deeply irritated by the game he'd taken to playing.
He'd long gotten used to Human food and watching Humans eat, but he still found great fun in ordering the most unique and distasteful things on any menu and then sending it back, sometimes four or five times during a meal, with one imagined complaint after another. It passed the time and made it seem less noticeable that he simply wasn't eating, but it was also a great deal of fun to annoy the wait staff.
"I make no promises, lover. They are apparently serving tongue of calf tonight. I can smell it from out here." Sookie only snorted, hoping that she wouldn't die of either starvation or embarrassment before they had even begun their new American adventure.