First Night

GODRIC’S POV

Ata had spent some time looking at the tattoo on my arm. She’d gone back to look at the one around my neck too, her fingers tracing the pattern, her front teeth sinking into her lower lip. Does she have any markings?

“I don’t have any,” she spoke as if reading my mind. Pulling her hands from my neck and chest, Ata grabbed my hand again. “Come on, let me show you my toys!”

Ata led me to the table in the middle of the room, which was still covered with toys. She helped me into one of the seats, placing herself on the other. Our legs swung down, unable to reach the floor. A vast array of toys covered the table, made from wood, bone, ivory, and ceramic. Ata picked up an ivory reptile, like the one on the front of the boat I had been aboard. “Crocodile,” she spoke, offering the toy to me. Cautiously, I took it from her.

“Crocodile,” I repeated, earning a huge smile from her. Running my hands over the smooth material, I felt a little button. Pushing it, the lower jaw of the animal dropped open. Spooked, I quickly set the toy down on the table. Ata laughed, a pretty sound, and I watched as she picked up another toy.

This one was made of wood and was in the shape of a horse. As Ata pulled it along the table it rolled, little wheels lodged in its feet. “Horse,” she explained, holding the toy out to me. Again, I took it and examined it.

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“Horse,” I repeated.

We continued playing with her toys until sunset, only breaking when a woman came in with some food. The food had been tasty, and it had sated my hunger. I was able to name all of the animals by the time we finished playing. Ata had more toys than I had in the village. I’d had one toy, a little man carved from wood. My father had made it himself. I’d left it behind, though. The thought made me sad.

“Please don’t be sad, Godric,” Ata slipped off her chair, moving over to give me a hug. She understood me so well after such a short period of time, like she was magic. Our village elder had been magic. Did they have magic people in this land?

A knock at the door broke Ata and me apart, and one side of the double doors swung open to reveal a man carrying a spear. He looked different than the Roman men, and he was much younger too. He was probably in his late teens. His clothes were much more elaborate than any others I’d seen so far. “Princess, your mother and father have asked for your presence in the throne room. Bring your friend,” he addressed her in Egyptian, giving me a quick glance. I slipped from my chair, standing beside Ata.

“Khai,” Ata said to me, pointing at the young man. “He’s my guard,” she elaborated, gesturing to the spear.

This man guarded her, and his name was Khai?

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“This is Godric,” Ata spoke to the man, gesturing to me. I didn’t know this man, though Ata seemed to trust him. I moved back a little, hiding behind Ata. It wasn’t very warrior-like; to hide behind a woman, but this was Ata’s land and if this man were her protector then he wouldn’t hurt her. He could hurt me, though.

Khai gave me a small nod before he moved aside, standing tall by the door. Ata sighed and took my hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. More hand holding, just like mother and father used to.

Letting Ata lead, we left the safety of her bedroom. Khai fell into step behind us, the sound of his sandals on the marble floor echoing. Together we returned to the throne room. The members of my village were missing, as were most of the Roman men. Ata’s mother still sat on her throne, and her father had taken the seat next to her. Another man was in the room, though. He was tall, had long brown hair reaching his shoulders, and his dark hazel eyes scanned me the moment I walked in with Ata.

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Tightening my hold on her, I moved closer, pressing us together. I didn’t like this new man; he had a strangeness to him. “Ata, I hope you’ve had a lovely afternoon with your friend,” her mother addressed her.

“Yes Mama, Godric and I had lots of fun,” she squeezed my hand again, looking at me with a smile. I averted my gaze from the strange man to look at my new friend, offering her a timid smile in response.

“This is Appius, he shall be Godric’s Master,” Ata’s mother gestured to the man. My master? What was that?

Ata’s eyes widened as she shook her head. “But Mama…” She started to protest, only for the woman to hold up her hand; Ata fell silent.

“Do not argue with me, Ata. We have had this discussion. He cannot live here. Appius has assured me he will take good care of him,” she spoke, her tone authoritative.

Ata’s lower lip wobbled and she looked to her father. “Papa…”

Julius glanced at the woman. “Cleopatra, my love…”

“No.” Ata’s mother, Cleopatra, spoke. “I have made up my mind. Now, say goodnight to your friend Ata, he needs to go to his new home. He can come back in the morning and keep you company.”

Appius had remained silent the whole time, but now he stepped forward and approached us. “Godric, yes?” He addressed me. Biting the inside of my lip I nodded, squeezing Ata’s hand for comfort. “My name is Appius. You will be living with me. Let me take you back to my home.” The man, who I now knew as Appius, put his hand on my shoulder and tried to move me from Ata’s side.

“No!” I shouted in Egyptian, tightening my hold on Ata. “Friend!” I clung to her, not wanting to be parted. Was she sending me away? I hadn’t hurt her! I liked her. I’d played toys with her all afternoon.

“You’re still my friend, but you can’t sleep here,” Ata explained, sadness on her face. I didn’t like her being sad. “You can come back tomorrow,” She explained. I could come back? That was okay I guessed, but her room was really big; both of us could stay there.

“Come now Godric. You can return to see Ata in the morning,” the man’s grip on my shoulder tightened. I didn’t want to leave, though.

“I’ll walk with you,” Ata declared, walking with Appius and me to the door and out into the courtyard. The three of us walked in silence towards the palace exit. Ata kept her hold of my hand until we reached the exit. “You need to go and sleep. I’ll send Khai to get you in the morning,” Ata reluctantly let go of my hand, her shoulders drooping.

“Don’t be sad,” I soothed her, seeing the tears gathering in her eyes, mine matched. I didn’t want to be away from her.

“Godric,” Appius’ hand tightened further. “Goodnight Princess,” he said in farewell to Ata, turning and pulling me away from the palace. I craned my neck, watching as Ata stood still and watched us leave. She looked so sad.

“Ata is sad,” I murmured, more to myself than Appius.

“She’ll get over it,” he shrugged, leading me to the mini port on the island.

“Where are we going?” I asked as we boarded a small boat. A man pushed us from the port and started to row. I didn’t want to cross the water, which would put much more space between Ata and me.

“My house,” He responded curtly. We fell into silence as we moved further from the palace and Ata.

The silence allowed me to think. Ata hadn’t wanted me to leave, but her mother had forced me to go with this man. Did her mother not like me? I hadn’t said anything to her! I liked her daughter and we were friends! Didn’t that make me her friend too? “What is a Master?” I asked Appius, taking the opportunity to have some of the blanks filled in. Ata was a good teacher, I’d enjoyed learning about and playing with her toys, but this man was older so he was wiser.

“I’m your Master. I own you. You are my slave. You will work for your bed and food when the crops need tending to, and you will entertain the Princess when you are not required to tend to the crops,” he explained, sparing me a glance.

Slave? Was I a slave? Why didn’t I have chains around my wrists again?

“Crops?” I asked, noting he’d mentioned the word twice.

“Food.” He lifted a hand, pointing to the shore as we neared it. Fields and fields of wheat, barley, and vegetables were just visible in the moonlight. Would I have to collect all that? Would I have help?

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The boat came to a stop and Appius helped me off the vessel. Together we started walking through the town, winding around the buildings I’d seen on my arrival. We crossed a very wide road; numerous market stalls were being shut for the evening by their proprietors. All the buildings overwhelmed me, and they were set out in large blocks, several houses clustered together. It looked a lot more organised than my village.

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We took several twists and turns until we finally arrived at a large house. The house we stopped at was bigger than those around it and was made of bricks, with high walls. There was one archway in and out: Appius gave me a push through it. I didn’t want to go, a horrible feeling had settled in my gut. “Move, boy,” he barked, leading me towards the front door. To the left of the house was a large body of water, to the right were a low wall and a gate. I couldn’t see much behind the wall other than the silhouette of a low building.

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Entering the home, Appius followed behind me. We stood in a hallway, and to my left was a sitting area, a few chairs, chests, tables, and books were in there. There was also a fire with a metal pole in it. To my right was the kitchen, but there was little food visible. Did this man eat? Where did he store his food? The windows and doors of the house were covered with mats, probably to keep the flies, dust, and heat out. We’d had a similar set up in our village to keep animals and the rain out. The walls of the rooms were decorated with wall hangings made of leather and painted murals. The floor beneath my feet was shiny and cold like the floor in Ata’s house. “Keep going.” Appius gave me a push down the hallway. I was frightened to be alone with this man in his house. I didn’t know him! Ata had let me go with him, though, so surely she trusted him? If she trusted him, then I should too. Ata wouldn’t trust bad people.

Following his orders, I moved down the hallway. Appius pushed a reed mat out of the way to reveal a small bedroom. There was a little window that looked out over the back of the property. A straw mattress lay on the floor; a thin blanket was rolled up on it. Several reed baskets littered the floor, and one contained a different change of clothes and some shoes. It wasn’t much. It was a place to sleep, though; I’d be spending my days with Ata in her house.

“This is your room. Under the law of this land you are allowed to own personal items, so you may use the baskets to store them. I will also permit you to paint on the walls, but you must work for your paint. You will be in bed three hours after sunset, and you will rise with the sun. Once you are familiar with the route to and from the palace you will make the journey by yourself every day, and purchase your food from market stalls. I will provide you with a small allowance for this, as I am obligated to feed you. When harvest season is upon us, you will work the fields from sunrise to sunset, but as you are a child you cannot do too much hard labour yet,” Appius set out the rules. There were lots of them and some of the words I didn’t understand. How was I meant to remember them all? I would have to ask Ata what all the words meant. I would abide by the rules though so that I could keep seeing her. Perhaps she’d like to come and see my new room? She could help me paint the walls! Ata had told me all about the paintings on her walls this afternoon. I wanted to paint my walls with pictures of my people, and the symbols our village elder drew when using magic. Ata could paint some cats and flowers; she seemed to really like those.

“Thank you,” I offered. Though I was away from Ata, and this room wasn’t as nice as hers, it was still my own space.

“Now,” Appius’s heavy hand came to rest on my shoulder again. What was it with this man and his need to grab me all the time? He was very strong and his grip hurt a little. “You need a brand.” A brand? What’s a brand?

He led me from the room, back to the sitting area. “Shirt off,” he ordered, plucking at my shirt before turning to the fire. Was I to undress? Okay…

Removing my shirt, I folded it, placing it down on one of the chairs. Appius turned, making a pleased sound. “Come here,” he pointed to space before him. What was going on? Why was I without my shirt?

My hesitation must have angered him, and too quickly for me to comprehend he had grabbed me, pinning me to the floor face first. I yelped at the cold tiles hitting my bare skin and thrashed about. What was he doing? He was supposed to be nice! Had my hesitation angered him so much? “Stop fighting me, boy!” He yelled, immobilising me. Why was he holding me down? What was he doing? I wanted Ata!

I heard a crackle from the fire, but I couldn’t turn my head to see what was going on. I tried to wiggle free, but Appius’ heavy weight kept me in place. Salty tears started to gather in the corners of my eyes. What was going on?

Scorching heat and pain flooded my system and I screamed. My shoulder felt like it was on fire. It hurt more than my tattoos had. Inhaling, I caught the scent of burning flesh, and I cried out at the realisation that it was my own flesh burning. What had this man done to me?! Why had Ata let him take me away to hurt me!? The metal pole I’d spotted earlier clanged to the ground as I continued to scream. The pain was unbearable. Slowly the intense pain started to subside, but my shoulder felt like it was still on fire, and my skin was so sore. Tears were streaming down my face and my vision was blurry. I gathered my strength. I couldn’t stay here. This man was evil!

Appius’s weight moved off me and he left the room, the sound of water in the kitchen could be heard over the crackling of the fire. Sensing my opportunity, I rose to my feet and took off and ran out the front door. My shoulder was burning and my vision was blurry. I sobbed as I ran, not sure where I was going. Why had he burnt my shoulder? Why had he hurt me? I’d done as he’d asked. I’d been grateful for my room.

The sand gave way beneath my feet as I ran, the tears still falling as I found myself at the port. Before I could comprehend what I was doing I had jumped into the water and was swimming towards the palace. The cold water on my hot skin brought me some relief, as did the action of swimming. I had always felt at ease in the water like it was second nature for me to swim. It didn’t take long to swim to the shore of the palace, and I pulled myself up onto the sand. Out of the water, my shoulder ached. Reaching around, I touched my burnt skin. It stung, and I pulled my hand back quickly, traces of blood on my fingers as the wounds were still raw. The heat had cauterised it somewhat, but my swimming had opened it a little.

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There was only one way in and out of the palace, and two guards stood to watch. Looking around, I grabbed a small rock and threw it as hard as I could into the sea. It made a large splash as it landed in the water. The guards, concerned about the sound, ran to see what was going on. Slipping through the entrance, I looked around wildly. This was the only place I’d felt safe, I could hide here. Looking around, I spotted Ata’s balcony. My shoulder burned as I ran towards it. It was overlooking the water, and first I’d have to climb the side of the building. I’d climbed lots of trees in the forest around my village; this couldn’t be too different, right?

Grabbing the wall, I pulled myself up, hissing as my shoulder burned. Ouch. How do I make this pain go away? Finding foot and hand holds, I pulled myself up the wall. I used the last of my strength to climb over the balcony, landing with a thud on the floor. I cried out, grabbing my shoulder. The marble floor was cold on my back so eased the heat still radiating from it somewhat, but it still hurt. It hurt so much.

“Godric?” I heard Ata’s timid voice. She was standing in the doorway wearing a loose white nightdress.

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“Ata,” I choked out, trying and failing to hide my tears.

Ata sucked in a breath, dashing from her spot in the doorway and tumbling to her knees next to me. “Why’re you crying? What happened?” She asked, trying to help me sit up. Her hands reached around to grab my shoulder, trying to pull me up. The pressure of her hands on my burn made me cry out, and Ata pulled her hands back like she’d been burnt herself. “G-Godric?” She whispered her lower lip wobbling.

She took my hands, pulling me to a sitting position: I couldn’t stop her from moving behind me. A strangled sound escaped her lips as she saw my shoulder. “What happened?” She cried, salty tears starting to roll down her cheeks.

“Appius.” I twisted, wincing at the pain, as I tried to see her. I didn’t want to say anything mean about the man in case he hurt me again, but I couldn’t lie to Ata. Her arms wrapped around me and her head came to rest between my shoulder blades. She was careful not to touch my burn.

“He hurt you?” She cried, her body shaking with her sobs. A few more tears rolled down my cheeks. Ata hadn’t asked him to hurt me? She hadn’t known. I felt bad for thinking she knew. I should’ve known better. I wasn’t ashamed of my tears either. Back in my village, I had been laughed at for crying, and people told me I wouldn’t be a very good warrior. I tried to stop crying whenever they laughed, or I would leave to cry elsewhere. Ata didn’t laugh at my tears, though, but they did make her cry. I didn’t want her to cry.

Ata’s sobs slowed, but she still clung to me. The wind had picked up a little and I was starting to feel cold. I shivered. “We need to clean it,” she whispered, letting go of me. She stood, offering me her hands. Taking them I stood, letting Ata lead me into her bedroom. “Please sit,” she gestured to her bed. Her blankets and pillows were a mess; her doll lost amongst her bedding.

Sitting on the side of her bed, I waited as Ata crossed the room, coming back with a bowl. The room was lit by candlelight and moonlight, and I glanced out the window. What if he comes to get me?

“You’re safe here,” Ata assured me as she set the bowl down on the floor. “Water,” she explained, gesturing to the bowl before reaching out to tentatively touch the zigzags on my arm. Water. Oh no, I’m leaving a wet mark on her bed! My pants were sodden from my swim.

“It’s okay,” Ata soothed, looking around. What was she looking for? Without warning, she grabbed the bottom of her dress. Hooking it over the end of her bed she pulled, the fabric tore. I jumped, eyes wide as I watched her destroy her pretty dress. She pulled at the ripped fabric, tearing off a long strip from the bottom. Dunking it in the bowl of water, she twisted it in her hands to get rid of the excess.

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Sitting next to me, she lifted the damp fabric, moving it towards my shoulder. Oh, she’s going to clean it. But she ruined her pretty dress!

“Don’t worry about my dress, I can get another one,” Ata spoke as if reading my mind again. Was she a Goddess? I was starting to believe she was.

Gently, ever so gently, she cleaned my burn. She rinsed the cloth several times, the water turning a light shade of red from the small specks of my blood. “Why did he do this to you?” I heard her voice crack.

“He said it was a brand,” I explained. Ata stopped suddenly, drawing in a quick breath.

“Mama has talked about brands, I didn’t think they were this!” Her voice quivered as she dropped the cloth back into the bowl, her little hands covering her mouth. Her hands fell away and she leant forward, her lips pressing against the burn. It hurt a little, but it soothed me too. What is she doing? Mother and father only kissed on the lips. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m going to tell Mama off tomorrow. I didn’t want anyone to hurt you,” she babbled. The pain in my shoulder had subsided substantially, and now the skin felt tight.

“It’s okay,” I started to shrug but winced at the pain instead. Ata frowned and pulled another strip of fabric from her ruined dress. She tied it around my shoulder, covering my burn now that it was clean.

“You can stay here tonight, sleep next to me.” She smiled, her hands pushing my hair from my face once again. She liked to touch me, but Ata’s touches were soft and gentle, unlike Appius’s. I liked her touches.

“Your pants are wet.” She pointed to my pants, which I remembered had been soaking her bed with ocean water. Embarrassed, I went to stand. “No! Just take them off.” Ata grabbed at the tattered end of her dress. She pulled the fabric over her head, balling it up. She offered it to me “You can dry yourself with it.” I copied her, removing my sodden pants and underwear and leaving them in a pile on the floor. I was cold from the water, but the air was warm. Taking the balled-up fabric from her, I dried myself with it, placing it down on the ground with my clothes when I’d finished with it. Standing awkwardly, I wasn’t sure what to do now. Would I get in trouble for being here? Appius was mean. He had hurt me. He’d held me down. Would he hurt me for this?

“You’re safe here,” Ata repeated, climbing onto her bed and moving her blankets and doll. She patted the space next to her before blowing out the candle on her bedside table.

Climbing onto the bed, I lay on my good side, which just happened to be facing Ata, so we were laying facing each other. She pulled the blankets around us as I thanked her for all her care. I reached for her, needing to touch her. I needed the safe feeling she’d given me earlier. I wasn’t sure why I felt safe around her; I just knew it was so. I was still sad and angry about what had happened to me: I was confused as to why Appius had hurt my shoulder. I couldn’t see what he’d done to me, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to look.

Ata moved quickly, sliding over to curl up against me. She buried her face in my chest, her arms wrapping around me. Her nose was cold. It was cute. I’d never slept without my clothes on before. It was cold in my village and we needed all the warmth we could get, but it was hot in this sandy land so not as much clothing was required. “I’m sorry, Godric. I didn’t know he would hurt you. Please don’t be mad. Please don’t stop being my friend,” Ata mumbled against my chest. I hugged her to me as best I could with my sore shoulder. I could feel the wound sticking to the fabric Ata had tied around it. It wasn’t very nice or comfortable, but at least it was covered: Our village healer had told me to always cover wounds or they went bad.

“Always your friend,” I said quietly as I held her, her cold nose slowly warming up. Feeling safe, I closed my eyes. It had been a very long day, and I was scared about what would happen in the morning if I would be punished for running, but for the moment I was happy.

The sound of scraping woke me. I’d been sleeping on my front, and the cool breeze coming in from the balcony door soothed my sore shoulder. I sat up and looked around, wondering where I was for a moment until I saw Ata pulling a large trough to the centre of the room; it had been tucked into the corner. I watched curiously as she pulled, tugged and pushed until the trough was where she wanted it.

Next, she went to her balcony and I was surprised to see her picking up buckets filled with water: I watched as she poured all the water into the trough. Next, she grabbed a small basket from a table next to where the trough had been: I couldn’t see what was in the basket, though. Ata put it down and turned to face the bed: She jumped, her hand going to her chest. “You’re awake!” She exclaimed, smiling as her hand dropped. “I made you a bath.” She pointed to the trough, moving to the end of the bed. “Do you feel better?” She asked, standing on tiptoe to try and see over me as if she would be able to see my brand.

“I feel much better. Thank you for looking after me,” I offered, reaching around to touch the cloth over my wound. It was a little sticky, and I pulled a face.

Ata moved to stand in front of me, offering me her hands. “Let me help you into the bath. I’ll take the fabric off and put some medicine on it. My healer, Oeri, helped me.” I took her hands, letting her gently pull me from the bed. She’d put some clothes on, a pretty red dress with shoulder straps and little beads all over it. I looked down to the floor, looking for my pants and underwear from the night before, but they were missing. “I took them to be cleaned. I’ll get you some new ones,” Ata explained, walking with me to the trough. The sides of the trough were painted with symbols I didn’t understand but had seen back in the city during my walk to Appius’ house. She helped me sit, the warm water lapped around me.

Letting go of my hands, Ata reached for the little basket. From it, she produced a small jar, filled with little crystal looking objects. Leaning forward, I watched as she removed the lid and tipped some into her hands. “These are salts, they’re good for your skin. Mama uses them all the time for healing,” she explained, gently tipping her handful into the water. I watched as the water fizzed for a moment. The salts disappeared! I ran my hand through the water but couldn’t find them. How strange! Where had they gone?

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Ata put the lid back on the jar and returned it to the basket. Then she gently started to remove the fabric from my shoulder. I hissed: the fabric was stuck to my wound. Ouch! Hearing my distress, Ata scooped up some water in her hands and poured it over my shoulder. I hissed again. Ouch! “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I forgot that the salts aren’t good on wounds.” Ata rubbed my back in a soothing motion. I didn’t hold it against her and instead, I sank back into her touch. She waited a few moments, then started to remove the fabric again, and this time it wasn’t as painful. It was still sore, but not as bad. We remained in companionable silence until Ata had removed the fabric, which she threw to the ground. “Is it bad?” I asked, playing with the water. I didn’t want to know, not really.

Ata was quiet for a moment, “It’s not that bad,” she finally decided. She paused, though. Oh no, it’s bad!

“It’s okay! You can’t see it anyway, and your clothes will cover it.” Ata reassured me, but that didn’t stop my lower lip from trembling. The skin was very itchy. She moved back to my side, picking up a small, waxy looking block from the basket. “I don’t know if you had this where you used to live, but this is soap.” She dunked the block into the water and rubbed it in her hands. It made the surface of her hands slippery. She placed the block in the water and it sank. Taking my arm, she started to rub her hands over my skin. What is she doing? I wondered. We’d had similar blocks back in the village that we too used for washing, but they’d looked nothing like this one. Ours had been made from animal fat.

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“The soap removes all the germs on your skin,” she explained. I watched as she splashed some water over my arm. Germs? What were germs? Lifting my arm, I peered at it. Had that block actually done anything? I gave my arm a sniff and recoiled. It smelt sweet!

“I smell like a girl!”

Ata’s lower lip wobbled. “Is smelling like a girl bad?”

My eyes widened and I shook my head. “No! Girls smell good, you smell good!” I stumbled over my words a little, trying to backtrack. I didn’t want to offend her, but I seemed to do that a lot. Do all girls get upset this much? Girls are strange.

Ata’s lip stopped wobbling and she laughed. I scowled at her, earning me a little smile. “Thank you. You’ll smell really good too when I’m finished. You’ve picked up my language quickly.” I softened at her compliment. Mother had always said I was a fast learner. I’d started to think in Egyptian while on the boat, forcing myself to try and adapt to the language. Occasionally I would slip back into my native Gaulish, though. Egyptian was hard, and Latin was even worse.

“Our soap is made of clay and scented oils, so it cleans and makes you smell good.” She grabbed the soap from the bottom of the trough. I sat silently as Ata cleaned me. I felt like a child with her mothering me, but at the same time, she seemed to like looking after me. With her this close, I could really look at her. Her nose was small, and curved upward at the end. Her lashes were long and dark, but her eyes weren’t framed with kohl like her mother’s. She had a small smattering of freckles on her chubby cheeks, and she had the cutest wrinkles on her brow when she frowned in concentration. She still smelt like flowers, too.

Ata washed my other arm, her fingers moving over the writing. “What does this mean?” She asked curiously.

I shrugged my good shoulder. Truth be told, I didn’t really know. I’d only just been learning to read and write, but my village elder had said that the words were special.

Ata frowned, but continued to trace the marks for a moment before moving to clean my legs. She worked quietly, ensuring my body was thoroughly clean before she turned her attention to my hair. Leaning in, Ata sniffed. She recoiled quickly, contorting her face into a look of displeasure. “We need to wash your hair.” She declared, picking up the block of soap again. She rubbed it between her hands, making the surface slippery. This time I took the block from her, not letting her drop it back in the water. I turned the block in my hands, watching as the surface of my skin became slippery too. Her hands moved to my hair and she started to rub, her fingers gentle. “Your hair is very rough. What did you use to wash it?” She asked as she frowned.

I thought about the lime water we’d used in the village to clean our hair. The men had used it more than the ladies. I hadn’t really liked the smell, but my mother had said it was necessary. I wasn’t sure about the word for lime in Egyptian, but I thought hard about it. Ata was magic, she would know.

An indistinguishable noise left Ata as she finished rubbing my hair. Gently she tipped my head back and scooped up water with her hands, using it to wash away the soap. Looking sideways as she worked, it was then I noticed she was missing her harness from yesterday.

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“Where did it go?” I asked, lifting a hand to point to her chest. I didn’t want to touch her in case her pretty dress ended up wet. Ata finished washing my hair, pushing it from my face before she frowned, tipping her head sideways as she looked into my eyes. Her features softened a moment later.

“I only wear my harness when I have lessons on being a lady. It helps me sit tall, like Amun-Ra upon his throne,” she explained. Amun-who?

“Amun-Ra is one of our Gods. I’ll tell you about my Gods later. They’re very important. We have lots of stories.” She rubbed the block between her hands once more, this time moving towards my chest. I leant back a little, giving her more access. She cleaned my skin, her fingers tracing my tattoo. She seemed to like it a lot more than the others. I liked that she liked it.

The water was getting a little cold, but I didn’t want to complain, especially with Ata this close. I felt safe. Suddenly, Ata’s head turned to the door and I craned my neck, looking over my shoulder. What was she doing? I couldn’t hear anything.

It took only a moment before the door cracked open a little, though. My eyes widened. Had they found me? Was I going to be kicked out? Punished?

My fears were soothed as a small boy slipped into the room, closing the door behind him. He was about five, and he too carried a doll like Ata’s.

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“Nightmares?” Ata asked quietly, drying her hands on a little bit of cloth she picked up from the basket. Who was this boy and why was he here? Would he hurt Ata? I tried to turn in the trough to face the boy, so I could protect her if I needed to.

The little boy nodded and padded over. Ata opened her arms and he gave her a hug. Oh. She must like this boy. She probably likes him more than me. I sighed. It was silly to think I’d have Ata all to myself.

The boy’s eyes focused on me and dropped quickly to my brand. I turned my shoulder away from him, feeling ashamed.

“Godric,” Ata let go of the boy, offering me a smile. “This is my baby brother, Caesarion. Caesarion, this is my best friend, Godric.”

Oh! This boy is her brother.

“Hello,” The boy was polite, but he hid a little behind Ata.

“Hello Caesarion,” I tested out his name. Ata’s nod of encouragement as I pronounced it made me happy.

“What is he doing here?” Caesarion looked to Ata.

“He was hurt. Could you go and get him some new clothes, please? Tell Riei that Khai needs them,” she instructed. Her brother nodded, looking at me with apprehension. “Please don’t tell anyone he’s here?” She asked. Caesarion looked back at her and nodded, padding back out of the room as he made something called a promise. Who’s Riei?

“He makes my clothes. Caesarion is very little, he won’t hurt you.” Ata assured me, answering my question at the same time. She was magic, she had to be. I’d ask soon. Mother had told me it was rude to ask magic people if they were magic without knowing them very well first. I wanted to believe her when she said that Caesarion wouldn’t hurt me, but she’d said Appius wouldn’t hurt me and he had. Moving back to her little basket, she pulled out another jar, this time with a thick yellow substance in it. It smelt lovely!

“This is honey. Little insects make it. We can eat it, but it’s good for healing, too.” Ata scooped a dollop of the thick substance onto her finger. She held her finger out to me. Was I meant to?…

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Taking her hand, I slowly put her finger in my mouth, licking the substance off. It was thick and very sweet, and it stuck to the roof of my mouth. It was yummy! I slid Ata’s finger out of my mouth and licked my lips, running my tongue around my mouth to catch any remaining honey. “It’s good!” I complimented, smacking my lips together.

With a laugh, Ata scooped up some more, but this time she smeared it over my shoulder. The skin cooled and the itchiness stopped. Next, she pulled a piece of green and furry bread from the basket– yuck! She moved to put it on my shoulder and I pulled back. I didn’t want that on me! Hurt flashed in her eyes before she spoke. “The green stuff makes the germs die. I hurt my leg a little while ago, see,” she pulled up her dress to show me a mark on her shin. It was shiny and pink. “Oeri put this bread on it and it healed really quickly.” She’d taken care of me so far, and the pain had gone away with the honey.

Nodding, I let her put the bread on my shoulder, securing it with some fabric from the basket. I felt a little silly. If Ata said it would work, though…

Ata’s fingers found my hair again and she played with it, another frown on her face. If she keeps frowning this much, those little lines in her face will become permanent. “We need to cut it.” She decided, rising to her small height. Cut it? I lifted a hand, playing with my hair. It was a little long, matted in places, but otherwise, it was fine. What was the problem?

She looked through one of the chests on her floor and returned with a strange looking implement, a large object with a handle and a flat surface, and a comb. Ata set the large object and the comb down. I reached for the strange looking implement she had been holding and examined it. I put my fingers in the oblong hole which was at one end and held it a little closer to my eyes so I could see the smaller parts better. There were two bronze blades connected at the handles by a thin, flexible strip of curved bronze. The strip seemed to hold the blades in alignment. I moved my fingers, and the blades sprung apart. Startled, I moved back in the trough, the water splashing up the sides and out onto the marble floor. They looked sharp and dangerous!

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“Scissors,” Ata explained as she took them from me. With her free hand, she grabbed a small section of her hair, turning it so the ends were pointing upwards. Taking the strange implement, she opened it, placing a blade either side of her hair. She closed the blades with a snip. I watched as the end of her hair fell off. “See, they’re for cutting hair.” It didn’t look painful, so that had to be a bonus, right? Why would she want to cut her hair, though?

“It’s hot, so we cut our hair so we are cooler. Plus, hair is icky.” Ata made a face and knelt beside me. I grabbed her hair, examining where she’d cut it. It hadn’t hurt her, and it looked okay. Ata’s hair was cut, and her brothers’ hair had been short. Was short hair popular here?

I trusted Ata, so I nodded consent for her to use her scissors on my hair. She picked up one of the matted strands of my hair. With a snip, she cut it, catching the clump of hair. “See, no pain,” she assured me. I raised my hands up from the water and formed them into a bowl shape. Ata, pleased with my idea, continued to snip away at my hair, putting the cut pieces in my hands. It only took a few minutes before she was putting the things she called scissors down. She took the hair from my hands and placed them back in the basket for disposal.

Picking up the comb, she started to comb my hair. There were a few knots still, but she worked slowly, methodically. The scratch of the comb on my scalp was nice, and my shoulders slumped as I relaxed. I closed my eyes, focusing on the steady sound of her breathing and the feel of her near me. Father had combed Mother’s hair whenever he’d been home, and Mother had enjoyed it a lot. He’d said that he combed her hair because he liked her. Maybe Ata would let me comb her hair too?

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With all the knots gone, Ata swapped the comb for the large object with a handle. She turned it over and it flashed. Surprised, my eyes widened. “It’s a mirror, made of bronze. The sun shines on it. You can see things in it,” she said as she showed it to me. I watched as she tilted it, the sunshine skittering off the surface, throwing pretty light across the room. She held it up for me, tipping it so I could look into it. My eyes widened at the sight. I took in my appearance. I’d of course seen my reflection a few times in the lake near our village, and on my Father’s sword when he’d been showing it to me, but I could look closely now.

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My hair was shorter and looked a lot tidier. The cut wasn’t very even, but I didn’t say anything. Ata had tried, and I did feel a lot cooler with less hair. I still wasn’t sure about those scissors, though…

The doors to Ata’s room were flung open and I jumped, dropping the mirror into the trough. Ata was up off her feet and crossing the room. Her mother stood just inside her room, holding Caesarion by the shoulder: He had some clothes clutched to his chest. Cleopatra looked down at her daughter, her lips pressed in a firm line. She didn’t look happy. Oh no!

“Why was your brother asking Riei for clothes?” She demanded. Caesarion’s lower lip wobbled as he looked to Ata.

“I asked him to get some from Riei and say they were for Khai. Godric needs them.” Cleopatra’s gaze shifted to me and I squirmed under her scrutiny. Her eyes dropped to my brand.

“Appius spared no time in ensuring the boy was branded. Good.”

Ata’s hands balled into fists and I saw her posture change. She squared up to her mother. “You lied!” She accused, unfurling one hand to point a finger angrily at her mother. “You said he’d be well taken care of. Appius hurt him! You never said he would be branded, you never even told me what a brand was!” Ata continued to shout. Caesarion pried himself away from his mother, scurrying over to me.

“Ata, ladies do not shout,” she was reprimanded.

“Mother, ladies do not lie!” Ata’s jaw clenched.

I sucked in a breath. I’d never yelled back at my mother. You weren’t supposed to.

“Appius hurt him. I don’t want Godric living there anymore. If you make him do so I’ll…I’ll…I’ll tell Papa and he’ll take Caesarion, Godric, and I back to Rome!” Ata threw down her ultimatum. Oh no, they were fighting because of me!

“You dare to defy my orders, child?” Cleopatra lifted her hand to strike. Caesarion squealed as he watched. Eyes widening, I scrambled from the trough, grabbing the scissors from the floor and running to Ata. Pushing her behind me I threw a protective arm in front of her, rocking on the balls of the feet. Pointing the scissors at the woman I growled, bearing my teeth. She would not hurt my Ata!

Cleopatra froze, her hand still in the air, eyebrows raised and eyes wide as they met mine. I snarled, shuffling back, keeping Ata behind me. Ata grasped my arm, peering at her mother over my shoulder. If I could get her to the balcony she could escape to safety.

Cleopatra’s hand fell, her shoulders slumping. Looking at me with a mixture of surprise and curiosity, her head tipped sideways. What is she doing? I remained on the balls of my feet, ready to lunge if I needed to. I may have cried before, and warriors didn’t cry, but I would protect Ata, even from her own mother.

Her mother sighed, her features becoming sad. “Your father was right, he’s the one.” She acknowledged. The one what? Why were all these people talking in riddles around me!?

“The one what?” Ata asked as her grip on my arm tightened a little.

“You will find out when the time is right, my child.” Cleopatra sighed as she looked at me with such sadness in her eyes. It made me feel uneasy.

“Time, Mama? Why are you speaking in riddles?” Ata made to move past me but I gently pushed her back, signalling with my hand for her to stay behind me. I refused to let my guard down. Ata could still be hurt. I kept the scissors pointed at Cleopatra.

“I cannot say more. The seer who told your Father and me about The Moon and Stars did not say much at all. She was afraid of changing what must be and angering the Gods. All I can tell you is that he must go back to Appius,” Cleopatra sighed.

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“I want him here, with me,” Ata protested, her small weight leaning against me. I wanted to stay here too, to spend all my time with Ata. I didn’t want to go back to Appius!

“He can stay here for a few nights until his brand is healed. He must go back to Appius though. He has to.” Cleopatra kept her eyes on me as she spoke to Ata, her sadness still evident. I was frustrated. Cleopatra hadn’t given us any answers!

Cleopatra’s gaze moved to her daughter for a moment before she took in our posture, my arm protecting her child, scissors still in my hand. I was unashamed that I was still naked. Protecting Ata was my priority. Her eyes found mine once more, her sadness almost overpowering.

“Promise me you’ll keep her safe.”

Growling at the woman, I rocked on my feet. As if I’d ever let anything happen to Ata! “Always,” I spat back, not afraid to fight anyone who tried to hurt her, even her own mother. Why would her mother even think that I would let Ata be hurt? What a silly thought.

With a solemn nod, Cleopatra left, the doors swinging shut behind her. Once I was sure she was gone, I dropped the scissors. They clattered as they hit the floor but I turned, grabbing Ata. Running my hands over her I checked she wasn’t hurt before I hugged her tightly. Her mother had been about to hit her because of me. No!

“It’s okay. I’m okay. You protected me,” Ata soothed, hugging me back just as tightly. We stayed that way for a little while, wrapped in an embrace until the sound of little feet tapping broke us apart.

“Caesarion!” Ata pulled her brother to her chest, holding him close. “Did Mama hurt you?” She asked, stroking his face. Caesarion shook his head and forced a smile.

“She caught me. I said you asked me to get them. Didn’t mention Godric. I was good,” he implored. Ata believed him as she soothed him, thanking him for the clothes.

“Will you play toys with me soon?” He turned to look up at me. I thought I was only meant to play toys with Ata? Ata loved her little brother, he was important to her. If he was important to her, then he was important to me.

“Yes, that would be nice.” I smiled. Caesarion grinned, pressing a kiss to Ata’s cheek before he waved at me. He pulled the doors open, sliding out into the hallway before they closed.

“Here,” Ata picked up the clothes Caesarion had been carrying. She looked sad, “You can put these on.” I took the clothes from her, noting that her pretty dress was a little damp from my hug. I pulled on the clothes as Ata tidied away the trough and her little basket of items. The trough was difficult to move with the water weight, so I helped her push it across the room and back to the corner. “Riei will clean it away,” she explained, putting her comb on her table.

She was still sad, and I didn’t like that. Wracking my brain, I tried to think of something to make her happy. “Will you tell me a story, please?” I asked, remembering she had said she would.

Ata turned to face me but she still looked sad. She held her hand out to me and I took it. Feeling brave, especially as I’d done such a good job of protecting her, I kissed her cheek. Father had kissed Mother’s cheek all the time, and it’d made her happy. Ata let out a girlish squeal, her eyes lighting up. “What was that for?” She asked, her free hand coming up to touch her cheek where I’d just left the kiss.

“To make you happy. Father used to kiss mother’s cheek when she held his hand. Is that…is that not what happens here?” I faltered. Had I gotten it wrong again?

Ata shook her head, “I don’t know, I’ve only ever held Papa’s hand before, and Caesarion’s.” She frowned, but her features softened quickly. “I liked your kiss, thank you.” She smiled, showing off her baby teeth. She looked a bit happier, so that was good. At least I got that right.

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Ata led me out to the balcony and we sat together on the cool floor. Ata let my hand go as she sat tall, her hands resting in her lap. The sun was high in the sky now, and the air was nice and warm. “Did you see the half-man, half-animal statues at the front of the building?” She asked. I nodded, remembering how huge they were. “They are called Sphinx, they’re creatures with the body of a lion and the head of a man,” Ata explained. A lion? What was a lion? It was a question for later perhaps. “They guard important areas such as tombs and temples, and this palace,” Ata informed me and I nodded, urging her to continue.

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“There was once a Prince of Egypt called Thutmose, who was a son of Pharaoh Amenhotep, and the grandson of Thutmose III, who succeeded Queen Hatshepsut.” The names confused me; I had no idea who these people were. Thutmose was a name I recognised, though.

“I met Thutmose, on the boat! He worked in the kitchen!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t believe Thutmose was a Prince! If he were a Prince, why did he work the kitchen, and why didn’t he live here? I frowned in confusion.

“Babies are often named after important people. It makes them special.” Ata explained. “The Thutmose on the boat isn’t the one in this story, but he was gifted his name, which is special.”

That made sense. Names were important. To be named after a Prince had to be very lucky. “Who were you named after?” I asked, not at all familiar with the Egyptian royals.

Ata’s shoulders dropped and she looked sad again. Again, Godric! Stop saying things that make her sad! I grabbed her hands, locking our fingers together. She smiled a little. “I wasn’t named after anyone. I don’t have a special name.”

Why hadn’t Ata been given a special name? She was special! “I’ll give you a special name,” I decided, giving her hands a squeeze. Her smile widened. I glanced around the room, trying to find a drawing on the walls. I knew the word I wanted to use, but I didn’t know how to say it in her language. Ata watched me for a moment.

“What special name will you call me?” She asked quietly. Turning back to her I scowled.

“I don’t know the word in your language,” I explained.

“Describe it.”

I paused, thinking for a moment. “When you really, really like something, and it makes you all warm inside.” I tried to explain, not sure if I was getting the right feelings across. “When your heart is very happy,” I explained further, my words making Ata smile.

“I don’t know the word in Egyptian, I haven’t learnt that in my lessons yet, but I know the word for your feeling in Latin?” She offered. Nodding, I motioned for her to tell me. “Carissimus.”

“Car-iss-i-mus,” I sounded it out. Latin was difficult. I was finding Egyptian easier, but the word sounded nice and if it described my feelings then it was perfect. Ata’s smile widened as I pronounced it. She likes it!

“What will I call you, though?” Ata pondered, her fingers playing with mine. “I can’t have a special name without you having one too. What’s your language?”

“Gaulish,” I responded, trying to find a word that would match my word for Ata, but it was difficult.

Ata’s eyes met mine again and she tipped her head, a small frown on her brow as she concentrated. What was she concentrating on? She made this face a lot, especially around me.

“C…Cridio?” She spoke softly, uncertainty in her voice. She leant forward, placing her hand on my chest, right over my heart.

My eyes widened. How did Ata know Gaulish, especially the Gaulish word for heart?! That was it; she was magic, one hundred percent magic, probably a Goddess too.

“Cridio,” she spoke again, louder this time and with more conviction in her tone. Her fingers splayed, smoothing over the tattoo on my chest. I felt warmth envelop me.

I liked my new special name. I liked it very much.

First Meeting

GODRIC’S POV

The carts rattled down the dirt track, swaying as the wheels hit potholes and ruts. I hadn’t had much chance to count them, but I guessed there were over 50 carts in our procession. We’d been travelling for days now, the landscape around us changing. Gone were the lush forests of my homeland, and now the smell of the sea hung heavy in the air. Our destination was unknown, and that frightened me. I wanted my mother. I’m only nine so it’s not strange to still want my mother, is it?

Mother and I had been hiding in our home when the Roman men had attacked our village, burning our huts to the ground, stealing our jewels and riches, hurting our men and women. I’d tried to grab my mother, to cling to her so we wouldn’t be separated, but two men had pulled me away from her, another two men held her in place. I’d kicked at the dirt under my feet, struggled to get away, screaming my mother’s name. It had been futile. Tears had been streaming down her cheeks as she’d tried to fight off the men holding her, my name slipping from her lips as she called out to me through the screams and yells of my people as we were pulled from our home. Members of my village were thrown into cages on carts. The gold locket around mother’s neck, a gift from my father, swung around as she struggled. The men had dirtied her emerald green dress as they’d thrown her to the floor when they’d stormed our home. Mother hadn’t had the time to yell at me to seek shelter elsewhere, the men had been too quick.

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I was last in, thrown into a cage with several others from my village. I’d screamed for my mother too, but as the cart had started to move she’d grown further and further away, smaller and smaller until she’d disappeared over the hill. My village was miles away now, and I grasped at the metal bars containing me, unable to stop the tears from sliding down my cheeks. “Mother…” I whimpered, overcome with sadness.

A gentle hand on my shoulder had me turning my head to look at the man beside me. Segomaros was our village hunter and he returned from every hunt with plenty of meat. “It will be okay, Godric. I will look after you,” he tried to reassure me, offering me a small smile. I could see through it, though. We were locked in carts, unsure of where we were being taken. He couldn’t make such a promise.

The cart came to a sudden stop and two Roman men approached us. One lifted his spear, pointing it at us. “Back!” He barked in a language I didn’t understand. I’d always been quick to learn, and I’d taken to listening to my captors, but without a translation into Gaulish, it was hard to understand what they were saying. Thankfully, the sharp end of the spear was a universal language. Letting go of the metal bars I moved back, pressing myself against the other members of my village. Segomaros wrapped an arm around me, keeping me close.

The other Roman man unlatched the cage. “Out!” He barked at us in the language we were unfamiliar with. What did the men want? With a gesture of his hand, the Roman pointed to the sand to the side of him. They wanted us to leave the cage? I went to take a step forward but Segomaros pushed me back, going first instead. As his feet touched the soft ground the Roman man clasped two heavy bits of metal around Segomaros’ wrists, a long chain coming from it. The chain had more heavy links on it. Why was he chaining us?

The Roman gestured to me next. I swallowed, taking tentative steps forward. Impatient, the Roman reached in and grabbed me roughly. Squealing at his grasp, I was unprepared as he yanked me forward, toppling me on to the ground. “Careful, he’s just a boy!” Segomaros yelled at the Roman man in our language, only for the one with the spear to punch him in the ribs. Segomaros’ knees buckled as he hit the ground. Why were these men hurting us? We hadn’t done anything to them! I was struggling to understand.

The man with the spear went back to guarding the cage. Roughly grasping me, the other Roman hauled me to my feet. Grabbing my wrists, the Roman clasped the metal around them, and they snicked as they locked. Panicking, I tested them, tugging them and trying to shake them off. Why wouldn’t they come off?

Segomaros rose back to his feet slowly, the chains rattling as he stood. The process continued until every member of my village who had been in the cage was chained, all of us were chained together.

With a tug, the Roman started to lead us, and the sudden movement caused me to stumble. Regaining my footing, I scanned the area. The others in the cages were being chained too, and ahead of us in the harbour sat three huge wooden boats. Painted red, the boats were adorned with two red sails. Embroidered across the main sails were large golden eagles, with golden laurels surrounding the birds: The foresails were plain in comparison. Large wooden oars protruded from the sides of the vessels, and a reptile was carved into the wooden front of the ships.

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I’d lived on the coast, sailed a few times with my father, but our boats had never looked like this. Boats only meant one thing. We were leaving the land. Where were we going? What was going to happen when we got to our destination?

Lip trembling, I was pulled onto one of the ships, chains rattling loudly. A man stood on the deck of the ship, dark eyes hard as he watched us trudge on-board. His eyes met mine briefly and then his gaze dropped to the tattoo around my neck. My shirt was too tattered to hide it. His eyes widened. The village elder had given it to me a little over a year ago; he’d told me that the meaning would be revealed in the future. Why had the man looked at it? “The kid is too young to row,” he stopped our group, using the foreign language to address the Roman leading us. Both men turned to look at me. I shrank back, eyes widening. What were they saying? I hadn’t done anything!

The man who had been on deck was adorned in a fine red tunic, heavy leather body armour covering his chest and shoulders. He wore sandals and carried a dagger on a sturdy leather belt around his waist. A big red cape was attached to ornate golden buttons on his shoulders, and a golden laurel rested on his head: It matched the laurel on the sails. This was his boat, and these were his men.

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Another Roman stepped forward and grabbed me roughly, causing Segomaros to round on him. A spear was pointed at his chest, though, and I saw my family friend falter, eyes wide.

“Unchain him. He can work the galley,” the finely adorned man spoke in the language I was unfamiliar with. The Roman who had grabbed me produced a key from his pocket and used it to unlock the chains around my wrists. The metal fell free, clanking to the ground. Rubbing at the skin, it wasn’t long before the finely adorned man grabbed my wrist, pulling me from the line. He turned, dragging me down some steps and into the belly of the ship. What was he going to do with me? I hadn’t hurt anyone! Was he going to hurt me? I shuddered at the thought. All too soon, though, he paused, pushing a door open, which he shoved me through.

“New recruit. Make sure he’s fed,” he barked again in his language, pushing me towards the people in the room before he left, leaving me standing in a small galley with two older men who were preparing food.

“He’s just a child,” one spoke to the other and I glanced between them, infuriated that I couldn’t understand them. The language they used sounded different to the one the finely dressed man and the Romans used. Scowling in their direction, the other man spoke as I scanned the room quickly.

“He’ll have to do. Caesar would not be pleased if we complained.” the other man sighed.

The pair approached me and I lunged for the knife on the counter, grasping it with one hand and brandishing it at the pair, an angry growl sliding past my lips, lips curled up to show my teeth.

The two men stopped in their approach, throwing their hands up. Did they surrender so easily? My father had told me that men never surrender, so I tightened my grip on the blade, rocking on the balls of my feet, ready to strike if necessary.

“Menes,” one of the men spoke, turning his hand to point at himself.

“Thutmose,” The other man said, mirroring his friend’s actions by pointing to himself as well.

They repeated the words again, pointing to themselves as they spoke. Together they pointed at me. I scowled. What on earth were these strange men doing?

“Menes,” One repeated as he gestured to himself before pointing to his friend “Thutmose”, then he pointed to me.

Name! They were telling me their names. Why would they be asking for my name? Names were powerful; it was why my mother had chosen my name. It meant ‘power of God’ and it had pleased the Gods greatly: I’d survived childhood.

“Godric,” I pushed my name out, using my other hand to mimic their actions and point at myself.

The two men relaxed, small smiles on their lips. “Godric,” the one called Menes tested out my name, and I nodded as he pronounced it correctly.

“Menus,” I stumbled over his name in return, moving to point to him.

“Menes,” he corrected, and I repeated his name back.

Turning to the other man, I tested out his name, “Thutmosa.”

“Thutmose,” he also corrected me. I tried his name once more, this time getting it right.

I didn’t trust these men. They had told me their names though and, as names carried such weight, I carefully put the knife back down on the counter. The two men nodded, offered me smiles, and then returned to their work. I observed them for a moment or two, watching as they skillfully gutted fish and prepared vegetables. Menes stopped his actions to glance at me. Wiping his hands on his tunic, he pushed a pile of potatoes towards me. Was I supposed to eat them?

“Prepare, like this,” he spoke again in the unfamiliar language, lifting his knife and using it to peel the skin from the potato. Watching carefully, I glanced up as he finished. He gestured to the potatoes in front of me and then to the knife I had brandished only a few minutes’ prior.

They wanted me to remove the skin of the potatoes?

What strange people.

I lost track of time on the ship, days turned to weeks. I kept busy. In the daytime, I would prepare food for the finely adorned man and his friends. Menes and Thutmose taught me some of their language, pointing to objects they had at hand. Thutmose had a special book filled with pictures, and he would point to them while telling me the name. I learnt that the language they were speaking was Egyptian, that they were not Roman. I learnt that we were heading to a place called Egypt, and the finely dressed man and his men had been speaking in Latin.

In the evening I was free to join the others from my village in the hull of the ship. They’d been put to work rowing the mighty oars, and I made sure to take a small portion of fish to Segomaros. He’d eat it quickly so as not to draw suspicion, and he’d thank me with a shoulder thump shortly after. Though I enjoyed his friendship and the familiarity, I missed my mother terribly. Where was she now? Was she even alive? Some nights I would go to the kitchen to think about her, not wanting the others to see me upset. Father had been training me to be a warrior, and warriors didn’t cry.

Menes and Thutmose had given me some different clothes too, a shirt that was baggy and allowed me to cool down after cooking, a pair of loose pants that gave me more manoeuvrability, and some basic sandals. The chains weren’t put back on my wrists either.

As the third week neared an end Thutmose became uncharacteristically excited. “We are near Egypt,” Menes explained to me in Egyptian, gesturing out the small porthole in the galley. I stopped cutting up the fish to glance out of the opening, in the distance I could see the faint outline of land.

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“What happens when we arrive?” Their language still felt unfamiliar on my tongue and I tripped over my words a little. It was easier to listen than to speak.

“We rest, then return here for the next expedition. We don’t know what you will do. General Caesar may take you to the palace,” Thutmose explained.

The palace? What was a palace?

Two days later the ship arrived on the shores of Egypt. The Roman who had removed my chains at the start of the voyage met me on the deck. Without saying a word, he put the chains back on me, attaching my chain to a procession of about thirty people. I was the youngest by several years. Hadn’t I earned this man’s trust? Why was I back in chains?

Craning my neck, I caught sight of Menes and Thutmose standing at the top of the stairs to the galley. “We wish you well, Godric,” Menes spoke, both men dipping their heads. With a yank, I was pulled from the ship, forced to trudge behind my fellow villagers. As we disembarked I blinked in the harsh sunlight, unaccustomed to such warmth and the sunshine. My village had been cooler and usually damp.

We’d arrived in some sort of port, and across the port stood a tall building overlooking the ocean. Atop the building sat a furnace. Frowning at the strange structure, I swung my head to look in the other direction.

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Rows and rows of houses littered the landscape, the streets bustling with life. It was busier here than my village. Where had all these people come from? Turning back to face the direction we were travelling, I caught sight of the finely dressed men at the front of the procession, aboard a chestnut coloured horse. The people in the streets stopped what they were doing to watch him as he passed, their eyes skipping over the villagers and me.

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The sand beneath my feet was hot, its heat permeating through my basic sandals: My fellow villagers were barefoot. We walked along the shore for a short while before the Romans forced us onto a smaller boat. The finely dressed man left his horse with heavily armed Romans.

The boat pushed back from the shore, and several Roman men rowed it across a narrow strip of water towards an island. There, in the centre of the island, sat a huge building. It was massive, magnificent, built entirely of limestone by the looks of it. There were four huge half-man and half-animal statues leading the way to a staircase, two on either side of the path. They had been hand carved by the looks of it and the years of work that had so obviously gone into them made them even more beautiful. We trudged along the path towards the staircase, my eyes never lingering on one thing for too long. It was utterly beautiful here, everything was sandy coloured, certain features accented by bright colours, such as the winged woman that sat above the huge gated arch that led into the compound we were about to enter. During my training to be a warrior, my father had taught me the ways to defend my village and myself. The high limestone walls surrounding this place would prevent any attackers from entering, and it seemed like there were only one entrance and exit. I admired their defences.

The Palace

Walking through the large entrance gate, we trudged through a passageway carved into the thick limestone walls; markings and paintings on either side of the walkway piqued my curiosity. Drawings of what looked to be Gods and people, cattle and reeds filled the walls.

As we left the passageway, we entered an immense courtyard. The sides were covered, thick limestone columns supporting the heavy rock roof that provided some shade. Numerous other passageways were dotted around, leading to areas I had no clue about. The place was huge. I couldn’t stop myself from gawking at everything around me. We hadn’t had anything like this in our village.

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The floor beneath my feet was still sandy. The air was warm and the smell of the ocean filled my nostrils. I could feel the heat from the sun, the light breeze from the air caressing my skin, causing goose bumps to rise. I could hear the sound of birds squawking at one another, and of faint laughter.

Heading to the far end of the courtyard, I could see another huge archway carved into the limestone, the walls even higher to make a grand statement. There were several more carvings this time.

As a group we were led through the archway, entering into a medium sized, shady room. Sunlight was bursting in through the tall, slender window gaps on the left-hand side of the room, throwing light across the whole space, yet the low ceiling and marble flooring kept the room nice and cool. The walls were tiled, painted with beautiful scenes of the country I had found myself in, its Gods and its people.

On the right-hand side of the room stood three golden statues, two of which were life-size while the other was smaller, only reaching about halfway up the wall. They looked to be of the Gods, each holding a protective weapon. What captured my attention the most, though, was the raised platform on the far wall. Three steps led up to it and three chairs sat upon it. On either side of the steps were more golden statues, more Gods that had been hand crafted. Three painted pillars sat on either side of the raised platform, supporting the roof.It was a beautiful room, like nothing I’d ever seen before, and I found it hard to focus on one thing at a time. Was this what a palace looked like? What kind of people lived here?

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Palace

The latter was answered as I took in the woman sitting on the centre throne. She sat tall, her body slender, with pale limbs and jet-black hair, coupled with endless hazel eyes framed by black kohl, a crown resting upon her head. Was this her home? Her crown was far superior to the one worn by my village’s leader. Did she rule this land? Was this sandy metropolis hers?

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Pulled to a standstill, the Roman men arranged us in a line, presenting us for the woman on the throne. “My love, I bring you slaves from the continent for your consideration,” the finely dressed man spoke in Egyptian, stepping forward to bow to the woman on the throne. Slaves? What were slaves? We hadn’t had those in my village.

“Why have you brought along a boy, Julius?” The woman glanced along the row, directing her question at the finely dressed man. I took a moment to look at the people on either side of me, suddenly feeling very nervous. At least I knew his name now: Julius.

“The moon and the stars,” Julius answered, causing the woman to look at him sharply, her kohl-lined eyes widened slightly. The moon and stars Thutmose and Menes had taught me those words one night when I had pointed up to the dark sky, but what did I have to do with the moon and the stars?

A commotion outside drew attention away from me and I sighed in relief. Moments later a young girl, maybe a year older than me, skipped into the room, carrying a little doll in her hand. The Roman men parted, dipping their heads in respect as the girl finally came into view. She’s pretty. My breath caught in my throat. Mother had always been telling me about the girls in the village, teasing me whenever I mentioned spending time with them, asking which one I would like to marry. They had been pretty too, but not this pretty. I watched as she marched up to the woman on the throne, not at all afraid of her or the Roman men: I was enthralled.

The girl crossed her arms over her chest, tucking her doll under her arm. “I want a new friend, Mama, I have no one to play with!” The little girl stomped her right foot, pouting at the woman on the throne. The woman with the crown was her mother? That would make her a princess…oh. I sighed, disappointed. She would never want to be friends with me, though she too spoke Egyptian, my lessons aboard the boat proved useful in helping me understand what was going on.

“Princess, you can have one friend. You may choose from the group here,” Julius gestured to us. This man gave in so easily, and her mother hadn’t told her off! The power she held over them frightened me. She could ask them to hurt me, and they probably would. I didn’t want to be hurt. With her doll still tucked under her arm, the girl started to move towards us.

“Young ladies do not tuck toys under their arms, they set them down or ask someone else to hold them,” the woman on the throne said disapprovingly, staring pointedly at her daughter’s doll.

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The girl sighed and blushed slightly at the public reprimand, but she set her doll down on the arm of her mother’s throne and turned back to us. She started at the other end of the line and walked along it, her small feet padding softly on the marble. She was barefoot, a strange sight, I assumed, for someone who was related to the woman on the throne.

Since I was the youngest I closed my eyes and dropped my head, praying that she’d pick me, even though I was frightened of her. She would probably take the chains off me. She’d have to if I were to play with her and be her friend. The sound of her footsteps stopped, and I could hear her breathing. Cautiously, I opened my eyes and lifted my head, hiding part of my face behind my long hair. She was standing before me, her bright blue eyes wide and inviting, and her blonde hair was so shiny. A few girls in my village had blonde hair, but it wasn’t as nice looking as this girls. She smiled at me, her chubby cheeks flushed from the sunshine. Was I meant to smile back? Was I meant to say something? I couldn’t look away from her.

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One of her small hands stretched forward and I shrank back. Hurt flashed across her face for a fraction of a second before she slowly continued to reach forward. Her fingers met my chest, the new shirt I’d been given on the boat allowed the ink there to be visible. Carefully she traced the design, seemingly fascinated. Her hands were warm, and a feeling of safety swept over me. I didn’t know this girl, but now that she was before me I felt much safer. Her other hand came up, pushing my hair from my face in a gentle manner. Standing so close to her, I could admire her clothes. She wore a floor-length white dress, the material loose but clinched at her tiny waist. Her eyes weren’t framed by kohl like her mother’s, but across her body, she wore a golden harness, looped over her arms. The centre of the harness contained pretty purple and red gems. I’d never seen anything like it. Why was she wearing a harness? She couldn’t be a slave if her mother was the woman on the throne. Will I have to wear one of those?

Her eyes met mine and I was enchanted.

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“You have pretty markings and your eyes match mine, so you’re going to be my new friend. My name is Ata.” She enveloped me in a hug. I froze, my eyes widened. Why was she hugging me? I couldn’t return her gesture, even if I hadn’t been so terrified, due to the chains around my wrists.

Pulling back, Ata frowned. Her eyes fell to the chains around my wrists and horror painted itself on her face. “Papa! Remove them!” She whipped around, addressing Julius. Oh no, her father is the leader? What am I getting myself into? I panicked, my thoughts turning wild. She turned back to face me, sadness replacing her horror, her shoulders dropping. “Do you not want to be my friend?” She asked me quietly as Julius approached, a key in his hand.

The sadness on her face made me sad, and I moved forward a little, the chains tugging at my skin. Shaking my head I implored her with my eyes. “Friend,” I repeated the word. Menes and Thutmose had said they were my friends, and they had been kind to me. Friends were kind.

Her sadness disappeared, a smile lighting up her face once again. I sent up a prayer of thanks to any of my Gods who were listening. Julius handed Ata the key with an indulgent smile and she quickly took them off me, the metal clanging to the marble floor. She reached behind her to pass the key back to her father as I rubbed at my wrists. Once the key was out of her hands I pounced, pulling her towards me in a hug, returning her gesture. My actions spooked Julius, who took a step towards me, reaching for the dagger on his belt. The other Roman men had dropped their spears down, pointing them at me. I clung to her, burying my face in the crook of her neck. She smelt like the sunshine and the sea. If I concentrated really hard there was an underlying smell of flowers. The scent reminded me of my mother: Julius and the Roman men relaxed.

Her girlish giggle pierced my ears as she hugged me back. “The moon and stars,” the woman on the throne spoke to Julius, observing us with awe. What does that mean?

Julius cracked a smile, his features softening.

“He cannot live here, Ata. There are already too many people here who need caring for,” the woman on the throne commented, never once leaving her seat.

“But Mama…!” Ata objected, slowly turning to face her mother. I refused to let go. This girl had unchained me. She wanted to be my friend. She was nice.

“Ata,” Julius’ voice brokered no room for argument. His tone reminded me of my own father whenever I tried to push my luck.

“Yes Papa,” Ata conceded, sinking back into my embrace.

“Do not worry, daughter mine. I shall entrust his care to a close friend. He’ll be well looked after. Go, you should show your new friend around,” her mother dismissed us. Carefully Ata tried to end our hug, and I was reluctant to let her go. As if sensing this, she took my hand. I looked down at our joined hands. Is this what they do in this strange land? We never held hands in the village. Well, mother and father did, but only when father would return from battle and give mother a kiss. Does she want a kiss?

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With a gentle tug, Ata pulled me towards the door we had entered through. “Princess,” Julius called out, gesturing to the throne. With a bashful smile, Ata lets go of my hand, running across the marble to the throne, where she scooped up her doll. Pressing a kiss to her mothers’ cheek, she headed back to me. Stopping before her father, she raised her arms. He lifted her effortlessly, held her to his chest and pressed kisses to her forehead. He spoke too quietly for me to hear, but he cast a glance over Ata’s shoulder at me. Back down on the ground, Ata returned to me, her hand taking mine again.

She led me into the courtyard and we went through another passageway. We travelled some distance, the sounds of our feet on the marble the only noise. What do I say?

By the time I decided to speak we’d stopped outside of some large golden double doors. “Thank you,” I tried her language, using my basic lessons from my time on the ship.

“That’s okay. We’re going to have lots of fun together, just you wait and see!” She exclaimed happily. I was able to translate every other word, cobbling together what I thought she was saying. She seemed happy, though, and that was good enough for me.

She led me through the doors and into a large room. On the other side of the room was a large open space, leading out to a balcony. From the balcony, I could see the ocean, ships in the port, and the strange building that had a furnace on top. On the left-hand side of the room was a large bed, made of a wooden frame with linen stretched across it, an elaborately decorated footboard at the end. There were pictures of cats and flowers on it. Numerous blankets covered the bed and several pillows adorned it. A large wooden structure stood to the right of the room, elaborately decorated doors hiding the contents. Small golden treasure chests were scattered around, flowerpots filled with plants and several cat statues decorated the room. In the centre of the room in front of the balcony sat a curved wooden table and two golden chairs. Toys were scattered on the table.

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“This is my bedroom,” Ata explained, leading me to the balcony. “You can see all of the water here.” She sighed happily, turning her head up to the sunshine as we stood looking out over the port. I turned to look at her, mesmerised by the way the sunlight danced across her skin. “What’s your name?” She suddenly asked, dropping her head to look at me: Our hands were still joined.

Name. “Godric.” I pointed to myself with my free hand.

“A-T-A.” I sounded out her name, pointing to her.

“That’s right, I’m Ata.” She smiled. “It’s nice to meet you Godric, we’re going to be best friends, I can tell!” There was that word again…friend. This girl would be my friend. I liked that idea.

Smiling, I let go of her hand, moving the sleeve of my shirt to reveal the zigzag tattoo on my arm. “Water” I explained, pointing to the ocean before us and then to the marks on my arm.

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Ata’s eyes widened and she moved closer, leaning in to look attentively at my arm. “They mean water?” She asked. Nodding in clarification, I didn’t shy away this time as her hands moved to my arm, her fingers tracing the zigzags.

Her touch was gentle, inquisitive, and I liked her even more. I still felt lost in this strange land, but standing on the balcony with Ata I felt a little better. I still missed my mother, and I was frightened about all the changes in my life, but if Ata wanted to be friends I would be very happy with that, very happy indeed.

Ethereal Redemption Chapter 72

A/N WELL THEN. My initial aim to have this chapter out by Christmas was an epic fail.

I have a Beta though! Everyone say hi to Robin McAllister! This story is undergoing a serious clean-up and some chapters are being tweaked. Hopefully, once the story is finished in its entirety you’ll be able to go back and read the whole thing from the beginning and it’ll be perfect. In the meantime, chapters waiting to undergo the beta treatment will have a banner at the beginning. 

I also have a few one-shots and short stories in the pipeline, linked to Ethereal Redemption. I’m excited to share those with you in the future.

Here’s the second part of the previous chapter! After this, there’s one more chapter and the epilogue. I want to release the final chapter and the epilogue together so the wait for those might be a bit longer though…

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SOOKIE’S POV
I won’t just survive, oh, you will see me thrive
Can’t write my story, I’m beyond the archetype.
I won’t just conform, no matter how you shake my core
‘Cause my roots – they run deep, oh
Oh, ye of so little faith, don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in my veins, I know it, I know it
And I will not negotiate, I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
I will transform
When, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,” but still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident, when you think the final nail is in,
Think again. Don’t be surprised.
I will still rise.
~ Rise, Katy Perry

We danced so much that my feet started to feel like they were on fire. Eric had offered Hunter to Pam a while back, forcing Ari to move aside. Speaking of Ari, I hadn’t seen the Egyptian vampire in a while. Where on earth had he gone? Ata seemed not to mind her eldest being away, lost in dancing with Godric and her children. Eric’s gentle hand rested against my cheek as he pulled me from my thoughts. “Earth to Sookie.” My husband chuckled, stroking his thumb across my cheekbone. Finding my husband’s eyes I offered him a warm smile. “There you are.” He cooed, letting his hand drop to take mine. “It would appear that you have several people who want to speak with you.” Eric’s eyes drifted to our left, where Sam kept glancing in our direction while dancing with several residents of Bon Temps.

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“I’ll go and speak to him,” I whispered, knowing my husband would hear. Sam and I had settled a few of our problems this morning, but I had a feeling that Sam had more to say.

Eric’s grip on my hand tightened a little, before relaxing. “I know you’re more than capable, but if there are any problems please use our bond and call for me.”

Raising my free hand I cupped Eric’s cheek, smiling softly as he leant into my palm. “I will don’t worry.” I placed a chaste kiss to his lips before tearing myself away, crossing the room towards Sam.

Seeing my approach, Sam let go of Maxine Fortenberry’s hands, stepping away from her and ending their dance. With a smile and a few words, he left her, crossing to meet me halfway. Our singer was still crooning, a slower and much softer song than the ones before it. So as to not look strange on the dance floor, Sam offered me his hand. Together we start to dance, Sam’s hands resting just above my waist, my arms around the back of his neck. Our posture reminded me of prom. “You look beautiful, Sook.” He complimented, a fond smile on his features as he glanced at my dress up to my face, our eyes locking. I could feel a blush heating my features. I loved Sam, I had since the day he offered me a job at Merlotte’s, but I wasn’t IN love with Sam. So few people seem to understand that difference. Sam offered me a job when he opened up Merlotte’s, willing to take on ‘Crazy Sookie’ and never sneering at me or making rude comments behind my back, thinking I wouldn’t know. His kindness over the years made him the best employer and the most wonderful of friends.

“Thank you, Sam. I’m glad you’re here. It wouldn’t be the same without you here.” I told him sincerely, giving the nape of his neck a gentle rub. It didn’t feel strange to offer Sam affection especially as I was aware of his shapeshifter status, and his preference for changing into a sweet border collie.

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“Aw shucks Sook.” A blush crossed Sam’s features. “I know it might not seem like it but I’m happy for ya Sook, I truly am. I know I’ve said mean things about vampires and you might think I’ve been bein’ mean to you too, but I only want ya to be happy. I guess in some sense I thought I would make ya happy. “ A rueful smile graced his features, pulling at my heartstrings. In another life, Sam would’ve been the perfect boyfriend, with his loyalty and kindness. I could feel Eric pulling away from the conversation through our bond, gently closing it down to allow me some privacy for this conversation. I could feel too that he was no longer eavesdropping, respecting my need to speak with my friend. “After today, though, seeing all these vamps here for your special day, seeing how Northman’s face damn well lit up the moment you appeared at the top of the aisle, all the kind words they have for ya. Well, it makes it hard not to see how much they all love you, how much Northman loves you. I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t see how happy he makes you. Where you’re concerned, Northman and I see eye to eye. We both want you safe and happy. I see now that he’s the better man for the job. I respect that, and I’m glad he’s taking care of ya. Just promise me ya won’t shut me out of your life, please?”

I’d never expected such a confession from Sam, such a long speech about his feelings. It rendered me speechless for a moment; finally understanding the level of care and affection Sam had for me. My reaction was instinctual as I pulled Sam into a tight embrace, burying my face in the crook of his neck. In stark contrast to Eric’s coldness and winter scent, Sam was warm and smelt like summer with a sliver of earthy dog scent to him. “I’m never going to shut you out, Sam. When this whole town thought I was crazy and wouldn’t give me the time o’ day, you offered me a job and friendship, and you’ve watched out for ever since.” I whispered, tightening my hold on my old friend. I could feel the thudding of his heart against my chest, and though I respected his mind by not prying I could feel the contentment rolling off of him. “Thank you for taking care of me, for taking me in. Thank you for caring about me. You’re a good man, Sam Merlotte, and you’re going to make some wonderful woman so very happy one day.” I carried on in a whisper, moving my hand to the back of Sam’s head where I gently stroked his hair.

We stayed like that a while, silently embracing in the middle of the busy dance floor. Sam was the first to pull back, his kind brown eyes finding mine. Tears had gathered along his waterline, but he blinked furiously to push them back. “I guess with your new status comes a vacancy at my bar eh?” He tried to lighten the mood, keeping a gentle hold on me.

“I’m sorry Sam.” I apologised sincerely, knowing that I’d spent more time away from work as of late.

“It’s alright Sook, don’t worry about it. I’ll find myself another beautiful waitress.” He laughed, shaking his head. His face became serious for a moment, though. “There’s always gonna to be space for you there though Sook, should anything ever happen. You’re always welcome at Merlotte’s, even if it’s just for lunch.”

Leaning in, I gave Sam’s cheek a soft kiss. “Thank you, Sam.” My gaze lingered for a moment, ensuring Sam knew that I mean every word.

A blush swept across Sam’s cheek again at my kiss and he cleared his throat, bobbing his head towards the other side of the dance floor. “Go on, Sook, Northman looks lost without you. I also think Portia Bellefleur is eyeing him up…” He teased.

Giving Sam’s chest a gentle thump I shook my head. “You’re a menace Mr. Merlotte. I’ll come see you later.” I said goodbye, giving Sam’s arm one last squeeze before I crossed back to Eric. Ari was stood beside him, the pair of them deep in conversation. Stopping their conversation as I neared, a smug smile crossed Ari’s face before he disappeared off to find Pam.

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Frowning as I watched Ari go, Eric welcomed me back by sweeping me into his arms. “Everything okay, min kärlek?” His nostrils flared a little as he inhaled Sam’s scent all over me, but our bond cracked back open and told me that Eric wasn’t in any way jealous or angry. In fact, he seemed perfectly content.

“Hey, Sookie.” A soft voice from my left captured my attention. Turning in Eric’s arms as best as possible in my dress, I found the source of the voice.

Smiling softly, I offered my hands out to the woman before me. “Hey, Jess.” Her cold hands slipped into my warm ones and I give them a gentle squeeze. Eric, sensing that Jess wanted to speak with me, planted a kiss on my temple before extracting himself from me, crossing the room to speak with some of our other vampire guests. Jess was unusually quiet, chewing on her lower lip. “What’s up, sugar?”

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With a sigh the young vampire captured my gaze, freeing her abused lip from the clutches of her teeth. Sadness was painted on her face, a stark contrast to our surroundings. “I’m so sorry about Bill, Sook.” Jess dropped her voice to a low murmur, hoping to keep as many Supes as possible out of our conversation. “He had no right to hurt you. I didn’t even think he was capable of such mean things.” Jess continued, her eyes pleading with me to not be angry. Sensing the need to hold this conversation elsewhere, I pushed against my bond with Eric, letting him know where we were going. Eric’s acceptance and caution swept back through our connection. Stealing a quick glance around the room I pulled Jess along with me, weaving through the crowds of people until we were stood together on my back porch, leaning against the railing.

“He was always quite controlling.” I started off gently, knowing that Bill was a father figure for Jess. I wasn’t about to be cruel to him regardless of how much he deserved it, and the bastard wholly deserved it, in front of the one person in the world who still loved him. “I didn’t see it at first, though. I thought that was how all vampires were. His blood in me did nothing to help either, it gave him more control over me.”

A small smile crossed Jess’s lips as she looks out over the other guests. “He was controlling with me too. I probably deserved it, though; I was a little unruly initially. You should’ve seen some of the stuff I tried to wear out of the house…”

I snorted, remembering the awful mini skirts and fishnets Jess had tried to wear on occasion. “You didn’t deserve it, sweetie, no one deserves to be controlled. What he did is inexcusable.” I answered quietly, reminding myself of how much better off I am now.

“I’m still so sorry Sook. He had all these plans and I never once picked up on them. I wish I had, I might’ve been able to stop him from hurting you. You’ve always been kind to me, even when I was freshly turned. What happened doesn’t change how much I care about you. I was taken away from my mom, but you were able to fill that role while I was still learning how to be a vampire.” Jess carried on, standing beside me as she too looked towards the other guests.

“Thank you, Jess, I’m glad I could offer you some comfort when you were turned.” I took Jess’s cool hand in my own, giving it a gentle squeeze.

We were silent for a short while before Jess spoke again, this time with confidence to her voice. “It wasn’t your fault, none of it was. Bill made his bed. My momma used to say that if you live by the sword then you die by the sword. You survived Sook and now look at you. You’ve got this big new family now and you’ve gone and married the scary Sheriff.” Jess teased, bumping her shoulder against mine. I couldn’t stop my soft smile at the mention of Eric. “I want to return all the favours you’ve ever done for me Sook. So if you ever need anything I’m more than happy to help. I’m here to listen too, to as much or as little as you want to share when you’re ready.”

Touched by Jess’s kind offer, I pulled the baby vamp into a hug. Initiating a hug didn’t seem to trigger any sort of flashbacks, much to my relief. “I’m glad you’re married to Eric. During my first few days as a vampire, he and Pam took care of me, and they were never cruel. I see the way he looks at you too, and it’s so much different than the way Bill looked at you. I’m so happy for you Sook.” Jess quietly confessed, being careful not to crush me with her immense strength as we embraced.

Pulling back from the young vampire I saw her wipe the blood tears from her eyes before they could fall. Raising a hand I placed it against her cheek, smiling as she leant into my touch and closed her eyes. She reminded me of a small boat, thrown out into the rough sea. “Thank you, sweetheart.” I gave her cheek a light stroke. “I’m more than happy for you to spend the rest of eternity in Bill’s home. You can do whatever you like to the place and decorate it however you want. I’ll be keeping the house in my name though for your safety, and if you want any strange vampires over then please run them past me first. I know you can take care of yourself, and that being a vampire means you have all these abilities, but your years as a vampire are limited and that makes you more susceptible to being hurt by older vampires. I don’t want to see you hurt.” I explained to her, watching as her eyes snapped open. Jess was quiet for a while and though I refused to snoop I could almost feel her mind working overtime. A familiar mind was slowly approaching us, having broken off from the rest of the wedding party.

“I’m done with it.” She declared. “I’m done with strange vampires and acting like a child. I don’t have a Maker anymore and though that means I can do whatever I want, I want to start acting like a grown up. I know I’m trapped in this teenage body forever but I gotta grow up now.” She paused for a moment, contemplation on her face. “I think I might try and reconcile with Hoyt. I know I can’t give him children, or spend the day with him, but he does make me happy and I think I can make him happy too.”

Offering Jess a reassuring smile I glanced out towards the familiar mind, the moonlight capturing their face. “You should ask him yourself.” Jess turned, following my gaze to see Hoyt approaching us.

“What if he says no?” Jess whispered, sadness crossing her features.

“Then if you truly feel like he’s your soulmate you work at it, together. But if it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant be.” I offered her a final piece of advice before I dropped a kiss on her temple, moving back down the porch steps and across my lawn to Hoyt. His eyes were focused upon Jess. “Have courage, and be kind,” I advised him, giving his shoulder a gentle squeeze as I passed, returning to the marquee.

Eric was there to greet me, a smile on his lips as he took my hand. “Seems the baby vamp and your brothers friend are getting on well?” He quirked an eyebrow, glancing over in the direction I had just come from.

“I’ve told Jess that I’m keeping Bill’s house, but I’m happy for her to spend eternity in it if she wishes. I think she’s going to try and work things out with Hoyt.” I explained, glancing over my shoulder at the figures on my back porch.

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“Good, it’ll offer her some stability,” Eric responded, sweeping my hair back from my face.

“Sook.” A male voice called from behind Eric. An unpleasant frown appeared on Eric’s face, his lips pursing together to form an irritated expression. Alcide appeared from behind Eric, dressed in a smart shirt and black jeans. “Northman.” Alcide greeted my husband.

“Herveaux,” Eric responded, schooling his features and shifting his gaze to Alcide.

Alcide’s gaze was focused on me, ignoring my husband. “Sook, you got a minute?”

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Deliberating my options I offered Alcide a quick nod, feeling Eric’s annoyance flair through our bond. “I’ve got this, don’t worry,” I reassured him.

“If he tries anything, min kärlek…” Eric’s voice rumbled through my mind.

Raising a hand I let it rest against my husband’s silent chest, offering him a soft smile. “I’ll slap him silly and send him running with his tail between his legs, trust me.”

“Of that, I have no doubt.” Eric returned my smile, swooping down to press a kiss to my lips. Though I appreciated his kisses, a part of me knew this one was all for show, for staking his claim. I couldn’t find it in me to be mad about it, though; at their core vampires and werewolves were possessive creatures.

“Play nice with my wife, Herveaux,” Eric warned before disappearing off to join our other guests. Watching him as he left, I spotted Ata keeping an eye on me from across the room. Blinking slowly I drop my head in a small nod, assuring her that I was fine. Pleased with my actions, Ata turned her attention back to Godric.

Waiting until Eric was out of sight, Alcide stretched out his arms to pull me in for a hug. Throwing my hands up I stop him in his tracks. “Sorry.” I apologised, offering him a smile in the hopes of placating him.

My words only seemed to cause Alcide to frown. “What happened when you were away, Sook? You get in trouble again? Something changed I can tell, and rejecting my hugs?” The werewolf pushed out his bottom lip.

Guessing from my earlier embraces that initiating a hug didn’t cause my flashbacks to rear their ugly heads, I offered my outstretched arms to Alcide. “When am I not in trouble? Lots of things happened while I was away. Hugs are fine, so long as I initiate them and you don’t squeeze so damn hard.” I braced myself, letting Alcide muzzle his way between my arms, wrapping his own around me. His hold was loose enough that I didn’t feel trapped, and it felt nice to hug my friend. Letting my eyes close as I enjoyed the embrace, feeling Eric lightly tug at our bond. Taking the opportunity to tease my Viking I tightened my hold on Alcide a little more.

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“Lover…” I felt Eric warn, though I could feel that he wasn’t angry.

Hiding my smile in Alcide’s shoulder, I give my bond with Eric a playful tug before I let go of the werewolf, letting my arms swing back down to my sides. Alcide didn’t leave them there for long, though, grabbing them and bringing them between us. “You look beautiful Sook. Hell, you always do. More so today, though.” Though my walls were up, the physical contact with Alcide was enough to allow me a brief glimpse into his feelings and thoughts. The blue tinge to his emotions informed me that he was sad. “Northman is a lucky bastard to have you. If you ever want out, though, you let me know okay? I’ll protect you.” Earnest brown eyes found mine, and I knew he meant well.

“Thank you, Alcide. You don’t have to worry, though; I know that I’ll never want to leave Eric.” I assured him. His offer was sweet but he needed to know that I would never leave Eric. Sure he and I would fight, and the high-handed vampire would drive me crazy at times, but I was absolutely positive that we’d overcome every obstacle together.

Sighing in a mixture of sadness and defeat, Alcide conceded with a nod. “In that case, it’s probably wise for me to tell you that I’ve become the Shreveport pack master.”

Eyes widening I squeezed Alcide’s hands. “That’s so great! Congratulations.”

Looking a little bashful, Alcide shrugged his broad shoulders. “I didn’t really want the job, but Marcus killed Sam’s brother, kidnapped his own daughter, and then tried to run off with Debbie. Carson took his place after his death but that bastard was addicted to V, wanted to get the whole pack on it. He had to go too. Job kind of fell in my lap then.” As he explained the circumstances leading up to his new role I couldn’t help but feel sad that I’d missed out on so much while away.

“You’ll be a great pack master Alcide, I’m sure of it,” I assured him, giving his hands another squeeze. “Perhaps we can all work together now, with Eric and I ruling Louisiana we could do with some strong ties to other Supes.”

Alcide’s eyes widened. “You’re becoming the Queen? Sook, that’s a dangerous job, you could end up hurt…”

“You’re preaching to the choir, but it can’t be helped. I learnt a lot in my time away, trust me when I say I’m better at defending myself than I use to be. Eric and I need all the allies we can get, think you’d be up for that?”

Alcide seemed to mull over my proposition for a moment before he nodded. “You might be on to something there Sook, and if means we get to still see one another then I’m happy to oblige. I’m sure the rest of the pack will be happy to help wherever possible.”

Pleased to have formed at least one alliance, I pulled Alcide into another hug. “You’re a great guy Alcide, thank you.” Letting him go he gave me one final nod, giving my hands a final squeeze before he returned to the rest of the wedding guests.

“Mrs Northman.” I didn’t hear my name being called, too lost in the thoughts of everything I’d missed while away. “Sookie.” My name whispered in my ear made me jump, Eric’s tall frame pressed to my back.

Startled, I turned to face my husband. “Stop spooking me, Mr. Northman.” I admonished him, gently thumping his chest with my fist.

A grin was plastered on Eric’s face, his arms wrapped around me, pulling me against him. “It’s nearing 3 am min kärlek, I think our guests are ready to depart. The Ancient One has arrived to officiate our coronation too.”

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Resting my head against his chest, I enjoyed the silent moment with my husband, his large hands played with my hair. “I guess we should say goodnight to everyone then, and it’s far beyond Hunter’s bedtime.” I broke the comfortable silence, tipping my head back to look up at Eric.

Still stroking my hair, Eric stole a kiss before speaking. “I believe Jason has volunteered to put Hunter to bed, min älskling. We need to say goodnight to the other non-vampire guests, though.”

Untangling myself from Eric, I took his hand in mine and together we returned to the marquee. Our non-vampire guests, who were unable to present for our coronation, were slowly pulling on their jackets and coats, grabbing their handbags and saying goodbye to one another. Eric and I took up positions at the exit, passing our thanks to our guests as they departed. Eric left it for me to accept kisses, though he did accept handshakes from the men. Eventually, only our vampire guests and our family were left.

“C’mon then little man, time for bed.” Jason had Hunter in his arms, balancing him on his hip as he approached us. Rubbing at his eyes, I could see Hunter fighting to stay awake. Spotting me, Hunter started to squirm in Jason’s grip, stretching his arms out towards me. Taking him from my brother I held him close, smiling as he buried his face in my neck.

“Hi, Mommy.” He mumbled, wrapping his little arms around my neck.

“Hi baby, did you have fun?” I rubbed his back as Eric came to stand closer, placing his own large hand on Hunter’s back too.

Nodding, Hunter turned his head so he could see Eric and I. “I did Mommy. Auntie Ata danced with me, which made Uncle Godric pout, and Pammy got me some cake.” He removed his arms from around my neck, this time reaching out towards Eric.

Taking our son, Eric held him close to his chest. “I hope Pammy didn’t give you too much cake, min son.”

Shaking his head, Hunter looked up at Eric. “She didn’t Daddy, don’t worry. She said if she did you’d take away her shoe pri-vi-le-ges” Hunter sounded out the word, smiling as he got it right.

“That I would. It’s bedtime for you now, though, min son.” Eric rubbed Hunter’s back, offering our son a gentle smile as Hunter tried to stifle a yawn. My heart felt full seeing them interact, seeing how affectionate Eric was with Hunter. While the sight warmed me it also saddened me. Eric would never get to hold his biological child. I knew that wouldn’t stop him from loving Hunter with every fibre of his being, though, but it saddened me all the same.

As if sensing my sadness, though unsure of the cause, Hunter turned to me. “You look pretty Mommy.” He offered with a small smile, his little eyes half closed in exhaustion.

“Mommy does look pretty,” Eric repeated, his eyes catching mine, softening with affection as he caught my trail of thought.

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“Thank you, Hunter.” I pressed a kiss to his temple, Eric mirroring my actions before Jason swooped in and took Hunter from him.

“Goodnight Hunter,” I called out after him, waving as Jason carried him inside the house.

“Night Mommy, night Daddy!” Hunter called back over Jason’s shoulder before he disappeared inside. With only vampire guests and our nest in attendance now I took a deep breath. I’d been present for Ata and Godric’s coronation and had spent several hours talking through the coronation with Ata, so I was feeling somewhat prepared.

“It’ll be fine lover, trust me,” Eric reassured me. The third bond had made understanding one another so much easier. Taking my hand, Eric leads me a small area cordoned off, just around the side of the main marque. I could hear Ata, Godric, Pam, and Ari rearranging furniture, setting the area up for our coronation. Our vampire guests were busy in their own conversations, filling the time before they would be made to sit through the ceremony.

“Once I’m ready I’ll come back for you, I promise,” Eric vowed, dropping a kiss on my head before he disappeared back into the house. Unlike our wedding earlier in the evening there was no need for us to dress separately, but Eric had been adamant that we changed into our robes away from one another, then come together before walking up to the alter.



ERIC’S POV
Once I was eleven years old, my daddy told me,
“Go get yourself a wife or you’ll be lonely.”
Once I was eleven years old.
I always had that dream, like my daddy before me
So I started writing songs, I started writing stories
Something about that glory just always seemed to bore me
‘Cause only those I really love will ever really know me.
Once I was twenty years old, my story got told
Before the morning sun, when life was lonely.
Once I was twenty years old.
I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure,
‘Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major.
I got my boys with me, at least those in favour,
And if we don’t meet before I leave, I hope I’ll see you later
~ 7 Years, Lukas Graham

Sookie and I had spoken at length about our coronation. After witnessing Ata and Godric’s we were certain in what we wanted. As America had no monarchy, my Sookie had asked for our coronation to resemble the coronations of my home country, she’d even asked for it to include elements from coronations during my human life. Her thoughtfulness continued to surprise me. I’d tried to explain to her about coronations in my human life, but many elements were difficult to transfer to the modern day. One element that I was adamant on was that Sookie and I prepared separately, and then came together again at the end of the aisle before we were taken to our thrones. It was a feature of coronations in my home country today, and it was something I wanted to uphold.

I took a moment to prepare the front bedroom for later, using my vampire speed to my advantage. I then changed quickly, pulling on cream linen pants, forgoing underwear, and the matching shirt. In my pocket, I placed a length of purple silk for later. Sliding on a leather vest I tightened a thick brown leather belt around my waist. Given the history of our ceremony, I hadn’t wanted to wear a suit.

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Knowing it would take my Sookie a little longer to change, even with Ata helping her, I took the opportunity to think about what was about to happen. Back when I had been human, in order to be accepted as a candidate for the royal office, a man had to be a patrilineal member of the royal lineage whose divine origin marked him off from the rest of the population; he also had to be without physical or mental blemish. With Godric sworn in as King of Faery, I had my vampire royal lineage. My human lineage meant little when ruling over the vampires, they did not care that I was the son of a Chieftain, or that my father wore a crown. Royal descent alone was not sufficient back when I’d been human, though. It needed to be reinforced by the acclamation of free men. It was for this reason I had asked the Ancient One to ask those present if they were willing to accept Sookie and me as their King and Queen. The Ancient One had smiled fondly at me and indulged my request.

Glancing through the window I could see into the marque, and The Ancient One was busy preparing the space. Back when I had been human, a fire was carried around the borders of the site and a lawman blessed the public court as a sacred place and sacred institution where profane activities of daily life, such as fighting, were forbidden. This consecration marked off the events at the site from the time and space of normal activity. It made the event special and otherworldly. The Ancient One was walking through the space, a wooden torch in her left hand as she blessed the area. As she finished, she handed the torch to one of her handmaidens, entrusting it into their care.

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Taking that as my cue, I vamped from the house to stand at the end of the aisle, at the entrance to the marque. Sookie emerged from around the corner to join me. She looked beautiful, exquisite, dressed in a floor-length grey dress, layers of delicate lace swirling in endless patterns. The dress was off-shoulder, small cap sleeves covering the tops of Sookie’s arms. She wore no jewellery other than her wedding and engagement bands, and her makeup was simple, her hair free and loose. My Sookie could wear a garbage sack and she would still be beautiful.

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Raking my eyes appreciatively over her body, a blush swept across my lover’s face, turning her skin a little pink and flushing down her exposed throat. “Beautiful, just beautiful.” I complimented. Before Sookie could say anything else The Ancient One was before us, holding out her old hands for us to take. While Sookie took her left, I took her right. With a gentle squeeze of our hands, she moved her sightless gaze between us, offering us both a smile before she let go of our hands.

Turning her gaze to me first, she spoke so our guests could hear her. “Blessed be he who cometh in the Name of the Lord. Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our King and his government, to all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the state wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.”Turning to face our guests, The Ancient One spoke once more. “Please rise.” Our guests, the vampires of Louisiana, all rose from their seats. Sookie and I had spoken over the phone with The Ancient One on several occasions, and she’d talked us through the ceremony at Sookie’s request.

Turning to face our guests, The Ancient One spoke once more. “Please rise.” Our guests, the vampires of Louisiana, all rose from their seats. Sookie and I had spoken over the phone with The Ancient One on several occasions, and she’d talked us through the ceremony at Sookie’s request.

Walking ahead of me, The Ancient One led me to a throne at the end of the aisle, ensuring I was seated before turning back to walk down the aisle towards Sookie. Approaching my love, The Ancient One stopped before her. “Blessed is she who cometh in the Name of the Lord. Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the state wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.”

Leading Sookie down the aisle, The Ancient One waited while Sookie took the throne next to me. With my lover seated, The Ancient One turned to the crowd. “Those who have gathered here this evening, if the prospect of Eric and Susanna Northman being King and Queen of your great state pleases you, may you lift your left hand and declare your allegiance.”

Our family were the first to raise their left hands, and every other vampire present followed their lead. “The people of this state have unanimously agreed to the appointment of Eric and Susanna Northman as their monarchs. You may be seated.” Our guests finally took their seats, falling silent once more.

The Ancient One turned to one of her handmaidens, who presented her with a thick leather book – the Book of the Vampyr. Allegedly other than either testament of the ‘Holy Bible’, the Book of the Vampyr chronicles the creation of the universe, all life in it, the demise of Lilith, and the beginnings of The Authority. Despite its prominence and central role in our society, many vampires, myself included, dismiss its authenticity and accuracy. However, the symbolism of the book is considered important. Three more handmaidens stood to one side, one holding the cloak I would be shrouded in, one holding my family sword, and the last had my family crown, resting on a red silk pillow. Seeing my family crown on the pillow I swallowed, pushing my love for my wife through our bond, touched at her surprise for me. We’d planned to have matching crowns, but my love had switched mine out for my family crown. Gods, I love her.

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Sookie’s warm love came back through our bond. Not wanting to delay proceedings, I moved forward to kneel before the throne, facing our audience. As The Ancient One presented the Book of the Vampyr to me, I placed three of my fingers on the leather cover. “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the vampire of Louisiana and any of your possessions and other territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?” The Ancient One asked me.

“I solemnly promise so to do,” I vowed.

“Will you use your power to cause law and justice, including mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?” The Ancient One questioned.

“I will. The things I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.”

“Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.” The Ancient One cracked a small smile as she finished.

With my oath complete The Ancient One swapped the Book of the Vampyr for the cloak her handmaiden had been holding. The cloak was the same as the one used to shroud Godric at his coronation – red and gold, a short trail and a fur-lined edge. Placing the cloak around my body, The Ancient One fastened it shut with a fang brooch I’d had made – Bill’s fang to be exact. The information wasn’t common knowledge but for me, it was a symbol, a symbol that I had defeated the enemy and won.

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Lifting her left arm The Ancient One dropped fang, piercing her wrist. With her right hand, she scooped some of her blood onto her pointer and middle fingers. Bringing her fingers down to me she anointed my forehead and temples. Lifting my arms I flipped them so my wrists were facing upwards, The Ancient One anointing them too. “The Almighty everlasting God pours out His Holy Spirit into your soul and mind, plans and undertakings, by whose gift may you so rule land and kingdom as to redound to the honour and glory of God, maintain justice and equity and be for the good of the land and people.”

Rising to my feet I moved back to my throne, sliding back onto the seat. The handmaiden looking after my family crown stepped forward. Taking it from her, The Ancient One moved to stand behind my throne. Carefully she lowered my family crown until it came to rest upon my head. “God the Almighty who of His divine providence hath raised you to this royal dignity, grant you to unlock treasures of wisdom and truth for your people, to lock out error, vices and sloth from your kingdom and to provide for the industrious prosperity and increase, relief and comfort for the suffering and afflicted.” She spoke clearly, another handmaiden presenting her with my family sword. The Ancient One moved to stand before me, offering me my unsheathed sword. “Now Eric Northman has been crowned king over the lands of Louisiana. May his reign be long and prosperous.”

One of the handmaidens approached us, offering The Ancient one the Book of the Vampyr once again. This time my Sookie moved to kneel before her throne, and when presented with the book she too placed three fingers upon it. I could see the tension in her shoulders as our guests all focused on her. “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the vampire of Louisiana and any of your possessions and other territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?” The Ancient One asked her.

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“I solemnly promise so to do.” she vowed.

“Will you use your power to cause law and justice, including mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?” The Ancient One questioned.

“I will. The things I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.” Sookie’s voice was strong and sure, and with a gentle push of pride through our bond her shoulders dropped, easing her tension.

“Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.” The Ancient One finished. Though the move was subtle I watched as she ran one of her wrinkled fingers over the back of Sookie’s hand in a reassuring gesture as she took the book away, giving it back to her handmaiden.

Three more handmaidens moved forward, one carrying Sookie’s cloak, one carrying her crown, and the other carrying a small item on a red pillow, the item concealed beneath a red cloth. Frowning lightly at the hidden object, Sookie eased my curiosity with her reassurance, though her mirth and excitement tinged her reassurance.

Taking the cloak from her handmaiden, The Ancient One placed it around my wife. Sookie’s cloak was the same as the one used to shroud Ata at her coronation, therefore making it the same as mine. Placing the cloak around Sookie’s body, The Ancient One fastened it shut with a brooch engraved with the rune Inguz. Sookie and I had initially thought about her having a brooch in the shape of the sun, but she’d insisted on having something linked to my heritage. It had been an easy choice to make given the meaning. Inguz is named after the Norse hero-god Ing, who came from across the sea to unite his people of Viking Jutland, and returned whence he came leaving peace and harmony. Inguz, therefore, symbolises peace, unity, harmony, agreement, togetherness, and undying love between romantic partners. Inguz is also associated with a strong affectionate family, and a safe, secure hearth and home. It also symbolises protection and contains the idea of a beacon, a light shining in the darkness. The meaning of the rune was perfect for us, for our family.

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Lifting her left arm once more, The Ancient One dropped fang, piercing her wrist. With her right hand, she scooped some of her blood onto her pointer and middle fingers. Bringing her fingers down to Sookie she anointed her forehead and temples. Mimicking my actions from earlier, Sook lifted her arms, flipping them so her wrists were upwards, letting The Ancient One anoint them too. “The Almighty everlasting God pours out His Holy Spirit into your soul and mind, plans and undertakings, by whose gift may you so rule land and kingdom as to redound to the honour and glory of God, maintain justice and equity and be for the good of the land and people.”

Feeling Sookie’s slight panic as she realised she would have to stand by herself while wearing a pair of heels, I leant forward and offered her my hand. Graciously taking it, my loves gratitude flowed through our bond as she stood. Maintaining my hold on her until she sat back on her throne, a light blush sweeping across her features, I reluctantly let her hand go.

The handmaiden looking after Sookie’s crown stepped forward. The Ancient One picked up a small pair of leather gloves from the pillow first, sliding them on to her old hands. We’d had Sookie’s crown made out of silver, not only for its beauty but for protection and to serve as a reminder that the crown was hers alone. Lifting it from the pillow, The Ancient One moved to stand behind Sookie’s throne.

Carefully she lowered the crown until it came to rest upon Sookie’s head. Her crown was a simple band, decorated with ornate flowers and engraved with the runes of my people. “God the Almighty who of His divine providence hath raised you to this royal dignity, grant you to unlock treasures of wisdom and truth for your people, to lock out error, vices and sloth from your kingdom and to provide for the industrious prosperity and increase, relief and comfort for the suffering and afflicted.” The Ancient One’s voice rang out around the marque.The handmaiden holding the red pillow and concealed item stepped forward, offering the item on the pillow to Sookie. My wife took it, keeping it hidden under the cloth. My curiosity peaked as Sookie’s excitement became tinged with nervousness. The Ancient One turned to face the crowd. “Now Susanna Northman has been crowned queen over the lands of Louisiana. May her reign be long and prosperous.”

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The handmaiden holding the red pillow and concealed item stepped forward, offering the item on the pillow to Sookie. My wife took it, keeping it hidden under the cloth. My curiosity peaked as Sookie’s excitement became tinged with nervousness. The Ancient One turned to face the crowd. “Now Susanna Northman has been crowned queen over the lands of Louisiana. May her reign be long and prosperous.”

The Ancient One moved aside, gesturing with her right hand for Sookie to take the floor. Rising to her small stature, my wife moved to stand before me, the hidden object held in the palms of her hands. My confusion through our bond made a smile cross my love’s lips and she gracefully sank down into a kneeling position, removing the red cloth from the item in her hands as she went.

The pledging knife.

Vampire Pledging Knife

Stunned at my loves gesture, especially considering our marriage through human customs was more than enough for her, I leant forward, stretching a hand out to brush a loose strand of honey blonde hair from her face. I wanted to be tied to this beautiful faery in every way possible. The fact that she knew this would bind us ever tighter; make us an unbreakable force in the eyes of all those under our reign, made my chest tighten. My love slowly lifted her palms, offering the knife to me. The golden handle was the colour of sand, decorated with rich blue sapphire stripes and ornate detail. The blade was flat and made of bronze, dulled from the years, the vampire symbol forged into the blade.

Capturing my gaze my Sookie spoke, her voice sure and strong, her love pouring through our bond. “I can’t bring you the stars or sail you across the seven seas. I can’t reach out and grab you the moon. I have little to my name, and my name means little. But I can love you until the end of time with no regrets, no limits, and no fear. I want us to feel the freedom to express our needs and our hurts without ever having to raise the tone of our voices. I want us to fight for our love and never consider being apart as the answer to the problem. I want to grow with you, deep into the autumn of our lives. I want to tell you that being with you is simply the best way for me to spend my life. And I want you to know that I love you today…and for all of my tomorrows. The 100 years of this pledge would never be enough, so, if you’ll have me, I instead pledge eternity to you.”

My beautiful Sookie was pledging her eternity to me. She had already given me things I would never have had without her – family, companionship, love, and a home. They were things money would never be able to buy. The overwhelming love through our bond as my beloved offered me the blade, offered me her eternity, was astounding. Just when I believed I couldn’t love her anymore, she proved me wrong. If I were to take this from her she would be mine completely, no one in the whole of the vampire world would be able to take her from me without the penalty of the true death. She would be my wife by vampire custom. The emotions she had unlocked within me were hard to contain, but I pushed back the blood tears that threatened to fall with her declaration of love. Instead, I forced all of my love, my affection, my care, for the beautiful woman before me through our bond, letting her know without a doubt that I loved her back just as fiercely.

“Eternity sounds perfect, mitt hjärta” I assured her softly, feeling her happiness soak our bond. Taking the knife from her I lifted it to my lips, pressing them against the flat surface of the blade, accepting her pledge.

Keeping hold of the knife with one hand, I offered the other to my Sookie. Without a second thought she took it, the most beautiful smile I’d seen in my 1000 years painted on her lips. Pulling her to me I captured her lips with my own, offering her a gentle kiss.

“Susanna and Eric are now pledged by the knife, for all of eternity. An extremely rare bond has been forged here tonight. They are now married according to vampire custom.” I heard The Ancient One announce to the crowd, primarily for the benefit of the younger vampires, as I pulled back from my wife to stroke her face, absently noting that one of the handmaidens had gingerly taken the knife from me, placing it back on the red pillow.

Sookie took the throne next to me, holding my hand. It wasn’t common practice for vampires to applaud, instead, my family left their seats, approaching Sookie and I. My Maker came to us first, drop to one knee, dipping his head. Ata followed, taking the space to his right. Pam kneeled to his left, dipping her head too. Ari, Khai, Riei, Oeri, and Egor soon joined them, all showing their respect for our new positions and us. Our guests rose to their feet before dropping to their knees too. Sookie and I would have to remain seated for a short while, all the vampires present would need to swear fealty. We would have to hold court soon and summon all of the vampires in the state so they could swear fealty too. We would also have to assign Sheriffs to the various areas. There was a lot to be done.

Looking towards my love, I gave our bond a gentle prod. I wanted her to speak next. Though not a vampire, her title held weight. “You may rise,” Sookie spoke clearly, addressing the vampires and faery gathered before us. Our guests stood, our family offering us their smiles before they moved back to their seats. One by one the vampires of Louisiana moved forward, kneeling before Sookie and me to pledge their fealty. This could take some time…

It took another hour for all of the vampires present from Louisiana to pledge their allegiance. I had taken great pleasure in watching Jessica swear fealty to Sookie and I. Though it wasn’t the poor girl’s fault that Bill had been her Maker, it still made me feel smug that his offspring was now under my rule.

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Ever the gracious host, Sookie had taken some time to say goodbye to our guests. Vampires were not known for niceties, but they seemed to make an exception for my wife. The Ancient One departed with her handmaidens, wishing us well, a soft smile on her lips as she hugged my wife and Ata. Our family were the only ones left in the marque and Ari turned to us with a smirk. “You two should get going. We can take care of this, you have other things to take care of…” he gave me a pointed look, and I felt my wife’s momentary confusion.

Knowing he’d fulfilled my earlier request, I wished everyone goodnight, ushering Sookie out of the marque and towards the house as she continued to call out her goodnights over her shoulder.

I had contemplated taking Sookie to the cubby for the remaining of our evening, but our family was in need of the light-tight space more. Able to walk in the sunshine, I wanted to relish the opportunity to be exposed to it. Holding Sookie’s hand, I lead her up the stairs. Jason had since returned to his own home, leaving Hunter tucked up safely in the back bedroom. Pausing outside his door, Sookie and I took a moment to peek inside, checking he was okay. Satisfied that he was fine and that he was fast asleep, I led my wife to the front bedroom. Stopping outside the door I released her hand, producing the silk fabric I’d concealed in my pocket earlier in the evening. Taking a moment to admire my wife, I couldn’t stop my smile. Dressed in her coronation robe, her crown on her head, and my ring on her finger. Magnificent.

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“Do you trust me, lover?” I whispered, giving her cheek a gentle stroke with the hand not holding the silk.

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“With my life.” She responded, not missing a beat. I could see some trepidation in her eyes and through our bond as she took in the silk.

“As a blindfold, lover. I will not restrain you, ever.” I promised her, letting her feel my honesty through our bond. Sookie’s shoulders dropped as she relaxed. “I’m going to monitor our bond closely, but if at any point you want to stop please do not hesitate to tell me. This is all about you. We’ll use the traffic lights – green if you’re happy, yellow if you’re uncomfortable, and red if you wish for me to stop.” I spoke, letting her feel my unabashed love for her through our bond.

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Sookie and I had been somewhat vanilla in our lovemaking up until this point, and though I would happily spend the rest of eternity with vanilla sex if that were all Sookie wanted, I was hoping to introduce her to something a little more colourful. Her mistreatment in Russell’s basement was still fresh, though, so I’d been careful in my choice of activities. No restraints whatsoever.

My wife mulled over my offer for a moment, I could feel her indecisiveness. If it were too much for her I had no doubt she would tell me. Finally, her emotions settled and she nodded, offering me her consent. “You must promise me, lover, that you will use the system. If you’re uncomfortable or wish to stop I will not be upset or angry, not in the slightest.” I reassured her, maintaining eye contact, needing my wife to see that I truly meant what I was saying.

Sookie took a deep breath in, exhaling slowly, her eyes never leaving mine. “I promise.” She vowed, the sincerity of her words seeping into our bond.

Content with her words, and being careful not to touch the silver crown on her head, I doubled over the length of silk, tying it around her eyes so she couldn’t see. There was a little room in it, not enough for it to slip down, but enough slack that if she wanted she could remove it herself. Holding both of her hands I pushed reassurance through our bond, backing into the bedroom door to open it, leading my wife into the room. The door softly swung shut behind us, clicking closed. Leading Sookie to a space in the centre of the room, I again reassured her through our bond, marvelling at its solid strength.

“I’m not leaving the room, but I’ll be back. Wait here, please.” I asked her softly, letting go of her hands. I’d prepared the room earlier but now I grabbed the candle lighter I’d set aside, using it to light the dozens of candles I’d scattered around the room. I kept an iPod in my Corvette and I’d spent some time creating a new playlist on it, filled with songs I thought my wife would like. Plugging it into the small speaker Pam had given me the other night I hit play, letting the soft, somewhat quiet music fill the air. It had taken some research to come up with a suitably romantic atmosphere. The romance was new to me, but my wife deserved it. Pam had sniggered when I had asked her for advice, pointing me in the direction of Dear Abby. Apparently, women liked sweet smelling candles and soft music when being wooed, and for some reason, they enjoyed rose petals scattered around the room and across the bed. Personally, I couldn’t see the attraction, but if it would please my wife…

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Hopefully, I’d covered everything.

Sookie was calm through our bond, her head tilting ever so slightly as the music started, her nostrils flaring as the wax of the candles started to slowly melt, releasing a sweet scent. Her arms had dropped to her side, and I took a moment to admire my love. She was magnificent, beautiful, strong, and all mine.

“Eric…” my wife spoke softly, one hand stretching out before her in a feeble attempt to locate me. Her impatience through our bond made me smile.

“Patience is a virtue, lover.” Her head snapped in my direction as I spoke, her hand falling back to her side. The sweetest of smiles crossed her lips.

Moving to stand before her, I reached for the brooch holding her cloak shut. Removing it, I placed it down on the chest of drawers to my left, sparing a glance to the rune engraved in it and taking a moment to reflect on its meaning. It was fitting. Sliding my hands under the cloak I pushed it from Sookie’s shoulder, letting it fall and pool at her feet. My wife stood in her beautiful grey dress and crown, a small pair of grey heels on her feet. Appreciating the view, I knelt down, stroking her left ankle. Lifting her left foot, my wife placed a hand on my shoulder to steady her. Unclasping her shoe, I slipped it from her foot. Repeating the action with her right foot, I placed her shoes aside, letting my hands roam across Sookie’s supple body as I stood up.

Monitoring our bond closely, I gave it an encouraging stroke. Using it as her cue, Sookie’s hands moved towards me tentatively, having to rely on her other senses to find me. Her small hands found my chest and crept upwards, curious fingers finding the fang brooch holding my own cloak together. Removing the brooch, my wife offered it back to me. Taking it from her, I placed it on the drawers with her own. My wife’s hands continued upwards at a slow pace until she was cupping my face, her thumbs stroking my cheekbones. I allowed myself to close my eyes, leaning into her touch. For a moment we stayed that way, silently enjoying one another.

My wife grew impatient, though, and her hands withdrew, returning to my cloak. With a gentle push, it fell from my shoulders, hitting the floor with a soft thud. Nimble fingers found the leather belt around my waist and with mirth in our bond my wife gave the fabric a gentle tug. A rumble of laughter escaped me and a beautiful smile crossed my love’s lips. Hands trailing down, my Sookie used me as a guide to kneel. Though she couldn’t see me she tipped her head back slightly, looking up at me. My wife, on her knees before me, blindfolded. My fangs ached. My linen pants were suddenly very tight. Son of a…

Teeth nibbling on her lower lip in a kittenish gesture, Sookie returned to her task, making short work of removing my shoes. She placed them aside, wavering for a moment in uncertainty as to where to put them now she couldn’t see. Pushing reassurance through our bond I helped her stand. Letting go of her, I moved to stand behind her. Pressing myself to her back, I let her feel exactly what she was doing to me. The gasp that fled her lips was beautiful, and I hoped to pull more of the sound from her. Careful of her silver crown, I nuzzled her neck, peppering the skin with kisses. Her whole body quivered. Grasping the zip of her dress I slid it down, revealing the tanned skin of her back. Slipping the fabric from her arms I leant back enough to allow it to fall, letting it join her cloak on the floor. Left in her underwear and crown, I licked my lips. My love flushed a light shade of pink at my lust. “What’s your colour?” I pressed myself against her again.

“Green,” Sookie responded, not needing to think about it. Dipping my head down I peppered more kisses across her neck and the top of her left shoulder. Unhooking her bra, I threw the offending item aside. Cupping her ample breasts in my hands, my wife leant back against my chest, a breathy moan slipping past her lips. Rolling her dusky nipples between my thumb and forefinger, I continued to lave her neck with kisses, stopping every now and then to suck lightly at the skin and bite gently, hoping to leave a small mark. The air was heavy with the scent of the burning candles and my wife’s arousal. Feeling her lust rising through our bond I smiled. Taking away her sight had forced her to rely more on her other senses, heightening them.

Satisfied that Sookie was suitably riled up I reluctantly removed my hands from her skin, her whimper making me laugh lowly. Standing before her once more I took her hands in mine, placing them on my chest. Taking the hint, her hands move downwards and she removed my soft leather belt and vest. Fingers still shaky from my ministrations, Sookie popped open each of the buttons on my shirt, taking her time to run her fingers over my skin before she divested me of the garment. Not wanting to lose my pants just yet, I took her hands in my own.

Quietly I lead her to the bed, the soft sound of music filling the air still. With the gentlest of pushes, my love sat on the bed. Her hands resting beside her as she sucked in a breath, her fingers stroked the fabric she was sat on. I smiled, watching as my wife ran her fingers through the soft furs spread over the bed, occasionally catching on a rose petal. Tipping her head back a little, my wife looked up at me. Though her eyes were hidden behind the silk blindfold, I couldn’t help but feel like she was seeing right through it – seeing right through me. “Eric…” She breathed, our bond flooded with her love and surprise at my gesture. Dipping down I captured her face with my hands, pressing my lips to hers in a deep kiss.

“Jag älskar dig.” I reminded her, pulling back to stroke her cheek.

“Jag älskar dig också” my wife returned, and the sound of her speaking in my language had me scooping her up, depositing her in the middle of the bed, the soft furs and petals surrounding her as she sprawled out. She looked divine, clad in only her panties and her crown, resting on a bed of furs and flowers. If I had to breathe, she would take my breath away.

Standing at the end of the bed I took my time to admire her. I started at her feet, eyes raking up her long, tan legs, the white of her panties such a beautiful contrast to the warm colour of her skin. From there I continued upwards, the curvature of her wide hips, her flat stomach, up to her ample chest, nipples raised from my attention and her arousal. Her hands – hands that have held me, defended me, loved me, carried me – grasped at the fur, fingers ruffling then flattening the soft material. Her neck exposed, begging for me. I wanted to bite and feed and claim, but this night was about my wife, about her pleasure. There would be time for biting and feeding later. My loves face, eyes shielded with silk, looked so open and trusting, her jaw relaxed and her lips parted, begging for my kiss. Golden hair fanned around her like a halo, her silver crown adorning her. So beautiful.

I’d been silent for a little too long, it seemed, though Sookie could still feel me through our bond. “Eric…” She called out gently, our bond spiking a little with her worry.

“I’m here, min älskling,” I reassured her, gently taking her left ankle in my hand. Sookie visibly relaxed, our bond calming. Using my free hand I removed my father’s crown, leaning over to place it on the chest of drawers. Returning my attention to Sookie I leant over her, grasping the elastic of her panties. Giving them a gentle tug, my lover flexed her hips, giving me the opportunity to slide the offending fabric down her tanned limbs. Pleased she couldn’t see me, I surreptitiously sniffed the fabric but failed to hide my barrelling lust at her most intimate scent. Using the fabric in my hand, I carefully lifted my loves crown from her head, setting on the bedside table. I didn’t want her to hurt herself on it.

Casting the fabric aside, I lifted her left leg, pressing a kiss to the inside of her ankle. My actions caused her to laugh, a musical sound I would never tire of. Slowly I peppered kisses up the inside of her leg, laving the skin with my tongue in places and nipping with my blunt teeth in others. My wife alternated between breathy moans, sighs, and gasps, to light laughter when I found a particularly ticklish spot. Moving up the bed with my actions, I reached her core. Swapping over, I mirrored my actions on her right leg until I was back at her centre; her legs spread either side of me.

Sookie was shaking, our bond alive with her lust. My pants were far too tight, but the needs of my wife trumped my own. Hands caressing the inside of her thighs, I dipped down, allowing myself to lie between her parted legs. Peppering more kisses to the soft, smooth skin I found there, I dropped fang. Letting the flat front edge scrape across my lover’s skin, Sookie’s hands were soon in my hair. “Bite, please.” She panted, strung out. Already so needy, and I hadn’t even reached the good part yet.

“Not yet, lover. Later.” I rumbled against her skin, sliding my fangs back. The tinge of disappointment in our bond was soon gone when I turned my attention to her core. Her hands scratched lightly at my scalp, turning into gentle tugs, as she grew impatient. She would have to wait a little while longer, though, there was no way on earth I was going to rush this. Though the light in the room was low, the candles being the only source, I took in the sight before me. My wife’s sex, glistening with her arousal, flushed the same dusky pink as her nipples.

My right hand parted her folds, giving me complete access to her, while my left crept up to hold her hip, my thumb rubbing circles on her hipbone. With her hands in my hair, my wife led me to her core. The scent of her arousal was heady and again my fangs ached, but my years of restraint enabled me to focus on my wife’s needs. Flicking my tongue out I lapped at her core, catching her clitoris. Sookie’s thighs quivered, her hands tightening in my hair as she tugged me closer, a sweet moan sliding from her lips. Pleasantly satisfied, I went to town.

Licking, sucking, and kissing the soft flesh of my wife’s sex, Sookie’s moans were the sweetest sound. Removing my hand from her hip I took a moment to dampen my index and middle fingers, before pressing them into my love, my tongue gliding along the silken flesh at her entrance. Sookie thrashed, nails digging into my scalp as a low, long moan escaped her. One of her hands left my head and she grabbed at her breasts, rolling and pinching her nipples. The sight, looking up her body from my position between her luscious thighs, nearly had me coming undone. Our bond was filled with her lust and love, her wanton need, and I had to rein in my own lust to stave off my release. I crooked my fingers, finding her sweet spot. The taste of my wife intensified as she hurtled closer towards her release.

Dropping fang once more, I pressed the flat front of them against my lover’s skin, either side of her clitoris. Licking the sensitive bundle, I continued to rub against the sweet spot inside of my Sookie, and, with a quick suck, Sookie’s hand left her breast to cover her mouth, her scream of my name muffled as she came. Taking the opportunity I sank my fangs in, prolonging my loves climax and enabling me to taste both her blood and release at the same time. After two quick pulls, I healed the puncture wounds, pulling up my fangs as I removed my fingers from her. I licked my fingers clean as Sookie came down from her high, her body glistening with a light sheen of sweat, her chest heaving as she caught her breath. Unable to resist, I gave the sensitive bundle of nerves between her thighs a gentle tap, and Sookie’s whole body shook with aftershocks.

Spent, my wife’s hand fell from her mouth and she reached out for me lazily. I was disappointed to have not been able to hear my love scream out my name with her release, but with Hunter sleeping down the hallway I figured my wife was conscious of her noises. It was a novel concept. In my human day’s whole families slept in one room, and children understood the sounds coming from their parents some nights. How times have changed. Perhaps Amelia would be able to soundproof our bedroom? Northman, you really are full of good ideas.

Licking my lips clean, not wanting to waste the taste of her, I leant back first; scooping up the item Ari had so kindly retrieved for me. Placing the Stetson on my head I momentarily felt silly, the emotion piquing Sookie’s interest. Hoping to soon satisfy her curiosity I leant over her body to kiss her, my weight settling on her.

She went rigid, our bond spiking as she panicked. “Yellow.” She managed to choke out. Using my speed I was up and off of her, kneeling between her thighs, my hands resting on her ankles, stroking the soft skin there.

Her breathing was laboured as she tried to fight off her impending panic attack. “It’s just me, min älskling. I’m here.” I soothed, mentally berating myself for allowing my full weight to rest on her and pin her in place. “If you want to stop, let me know.” I reminded her, not at all angry. Her breathing a little more under control, my wife shook her head.

“N-no, I want to carry on. You owe me another orgasm, maybe even two.” Her determination was almost palpable and I was immensely proud of her. With time her panic attacks may reduce, the memory of the basement would fade to the background, and she would once again link my steady weight above her to pleasure, not to that bastard and his abuse. For now, though, the memories were still a little too fresh. My wife needed love and understanding, and I was prepared now more than ever to offer her that. Finding her hands, I linked our fingers, locking them together.

“Will you sit up for me, lover?” I asked gently as she calmed.

Sookie sat up slowly, using me as a counterweight. The slight sheen of sweat on her skin had cooled a little and she shivered. Grasping at one of the furs I pulled it from the bed, wrapping it around her shoulders. Though a shame to hide even an inch of her naked skin, her comfort was my priority. Besides, seeing my woman wrapped in animal furs stirred a deep longing in me.

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“I’m going to remove your blindfold now, open your eyes slowly so you can adjust to the light,” I instructed, not missing her disappointment as I untangled our hands and went for the blindfold. “We’ll play with this again lover, I promise you.”

“Can I use it on you?” My wife didn’t miss a beat, no shyness to her tone, but a kittenish smile on her pouty lips as her hands found my chest, stroking fondly. The thought of my Sookie having her way with me while I was powerless to see her and her actions had me throbbing in my pants. No other would ever get to deprive me of any of my senses.

“Hmmm,” I rumbled, working the knot in the silk loose, Sookie’s head having dropped to allow me better access. “I like that idea very much, lover.” The silk fell from her eyes and I placed it on the bed beside us. Blinking slowly as she adjusted to the light, I watched as Sookie’s eyes focused. I watched as she raked her eyes up, starting at my tented pants, across my abdomen, up my chest, and finally to meet my eyes. Her double-take as she noticed the item on my head would’ve been comical if it weren’t for the barrelling lust that would have no doubt knocking me flat on my butt if I’d been standing. Pupils dilating, Sookie licked her lips, the smell of her arousal hitting the air. Gotcha…

“Eric, why are you wearing a Stetson?” My wife asked slowly, her eye moving from the hat back to meet my gaze before she took in the whole ensemble.

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“I heard that a very naughty faery has a thing for cowboys. Apparently, you should save a horse and ride a cowboy.” I hoped I’d gotten it right. The forums online and the lyrics of that one annoying Big & Rich song suggested that was the right thing to say.

Sookie’s eyes closed as she held back a laugh, her mirth mingling with her lust in our bond. Shit, maybe that wasn’t right?

“Eric,” my wife started, her eyes slowly opening as her smile disappeared, her expression suddenly very serious and her mirth had gone from our bond. “Lay on your back. Now.” Well well, faery Sookie was coming out to play. I liked when she came out.

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Obeying my wife, I swapped our positions, placing my love at the foot of the bed as I reclined, watching her kneel between my legs. The fur that had been around her shoulders was now in her hands. “Lift your hips” Sookie instructed me. Doing as I was told, she slid the fur underneath me. With the fur back in place, I dropped my hips. “Now these, my dear husband, look mighty tight.” Sookie played with the string holding my pants up.

“Perhaps you should do something about that then, lover.” I challenged.

Wagging a finger at me, Sookie shook her head. “Good cowboys don’t sass their wives unless they wish to lose special privileges now, do they?” I kept my mouth shut, enjoying this bold and in control side of my wife. “Good boy.” Sookie purred, leaning up to offer me a kiss. Hungrily accepting her offer, Sookie pulled back too quickly for my liking, and she laughed lightly as my disappointment coloured our bond.

“Patience is a virtue, my dear husband.” Sookie threw my earlier words back at me as she started to tug down my pants, my hips flexing to help her along. Finally divested of the material, Sookie’s gaze travelled up my body. Starting at my feet she worked upwards, small hands caressing my skin as she went. Her eyes raked over my throbbing member, deep red from lack of attention. I was reminded of how anxious I was to sheath myself in her glorious body. With my wife able to openly stare and take her fill, I felt oddly exposed. Vulnerable. Licking her lips in a gesture I was sure was subconscious; my wife continued her appraising sweep upwards, eyes softening as we met one another’s gaze.

“How did I get so lucky?” She mused quietly. Dipping her head down quickly, before I had a chance to respond and argue that I was the lucky one, my wife gave my member one long lick from base to tip, her mouth sealing over the end to give me two gentle sucks. Hands flying into her hair I groaned at the sensation of finally having those perfectly pouty lips wrapped around me. Urging her on, I growled in frustration as my wife pulled back, instead she dropped a wet kiss to the tip.

“I need you in me, now.” She demanded, rising to straddle my waist.

“Fuck yeah.” I was totally onboard with the idea. Grasping Sookie’s hips I lifted her, letting her lower herself onto my throbbing member. She sank down slowly, stopping every now and then to roll her hips, knees resting either side of me. It was sweet torture. Her warm, wet heat enveloped me and it took every ounce of my 1000-years of restraint not to rush her and take control myself.

Finally seated flush, my wife gave an experimental roll of her hips. Hissing at the sweet friction, Sookie’s moan of pleasure mingled with my own. Hands still holding her hips, I let her lead. Though not prompted, I bent my knees slightly to ensure that my wife wouldn’t fall backwards and to give her something to rest upon should she grow tired. From my position I admired my wife’s beautiful form – her bountiful chest right in my line of sight, her head thrown back as small mewls escaped her, her hips rolling as she chased pleasure. In an unexpected move, Sookie squeezed her internal muscles, applying sweet pressure to me. Rumbling, I let go of her hips with my right hand, reaching up to grasp at her breasts. Sookie’s hand came to rest on my chest as she gasped, pitching forward, giving herself some leverage and providing me with better access.

This time, rather than rolling her hips, Sookie lifted herself from me, leaving just the tip of me inside her. In a smooth motion, she sank back down, muscles fluttering around me. I groaned at the sensation and a wicked smile crossed Sookie’s lips. She set a rhythm, rising and falling, her hands grasping for purchase on my chest, blunt nail dragging against my skin to leave red marks that soon disappeared. Head tipping forward, her eyes closed as she sank her teeth into her lower lip. “Don’t close your eyes. Look at me, lover.” I murmured, watching as my Sookie followed my request, lifting her head, eyelids sliding back, her beautiful blue eyes finding mine. Perfect. My right hand continued to fondle her breasts, fingers tweaking her nipples to elicit breathy moans and sighs. She picked up the pace, rolling her hips every so often, keeping our gazes locked. Something about eye contact really flicked my Bic. The sinful movements of her body had me on edge quickly. Releasing my left hand from her hips, I slipped it between us, finding the bundle of nerves at the apex of her legs. I could feel her approaching her climax, her muscles fluttering around me, her heightened pleasure in our bond, which only served to push me ever closer to the edge. Rubbing and rolling the sensitive bundle between her thighs, Sookie’s moan rang through the air. Such a sweet sound.

Right hand sliding from her breasts, I tangled it in her hair, pulling her down for a rough kiss. Her tongue fought for dominance with mine. Sliding her lips from mine, my wife scattered kisses along my jawline, stopping to nip at the skin occasionally. Her lips found my ear, her internal muscles rippling as she gently squeezed, her pace slowing. The addictive sensation of her tight, wet heat constricting around me was unbearable. Gods, she’s perfect. I wanted, no needed, her to quicken her pace just a little, to let me come. I was like a violin, and my wife knew exactly how to play me. Voice whisper soft, Sookie spoke, “I’ll give you what you want Eric, all you have to do is beg for it.”

Beg…I’d begged for very little in my long life. My pride usually stopped me from doing so. Sookie had other ideas, though.

“Sookie, please.” I started, my right hand moving from her hair to grapple at her back. Pulling her impossibly closer, my left hand continued to work her. Sookie’s breath hitched, a low grumble slipped from her lips.

“Eric,” she warned lowly. “Say pretty please.” Throwing my head back in frustration I growled. I need to come, damn it!

“And I’ll let you, as soon as you ask nicely.” My wife purred, scraping her blunt teeth across my earlobe. Too lost to care about her answering my mental plea, I grabbed her butt, kneading the firm flesh. Fuck pride. I need to come. Now.

“My beautiful wife, pretty please. I need it. I’ll do anything. Let me come. Please.” I gave in, begging my wife for release. The things she does to me.

Satisfied, she silenced me with a deep kiss. Her tongue curled up and pushed at the sensitive spot just behind my front teeth, causing me to drop fang. My bonded ran her tongue over the flat front of them, lifting her hips and sinking herself down on me again. Her lips trailed back to my ear as one of her hands rested on my chest, glowing a soft red. The pleasure in me built as the glow intensified, hurtling me towards the edge. My wife spoke softly, breathy moans sending shivers down my spine. “Come for me, please come for me, fill me up. I need it.”

My release hit me like a freight train. Roaring out at the unexpected rush of intense pleasure, I pressed my hips upwards, forcing myself as deep as possible into my wife. Shuddering as I came, I gave Sookie a fiery kiss. As my shudders subsided her muscles tightened and with a muffled scream she climaxed. The immense pleasure in our bond, the heat and wetness surrounding my throbbing member, and the erotic sensation of my wife’s tongue against the sensitive front of my fangs pushed me over the edge again. Shaking with the strength of my orgasm I panted, a very human gesture. Sookie’s walls stopped fluttering, our fiery kiss turned soft and slow. My love had to pull away for a moment to catch her breath, and I took the opportunity to run my hands over her body, to stroke her hair. Where had this dominant, demanding Sookie come from? I was in awe. It was hot, hotter than I’d imagined. I couldn’t even find it in me to be ashamed for begging. My wife’s little trick with her fae powers was something wholly worth exploring further. Intense was the only word I could find to describe the feeling of being on the receiving end of it.

“If that’s the sort of reaction I get, I should wear a Stetson more often.” I mused aloud. A hint of Sookie’s embarrassment trickled into our bond as she moved to rest against my chest, slipping me free in the process. “Hmmm, lover, no need to be embarrassed,” I reassured her, stroking any part of her bare body I could get my hands on. “We all have things that excite us, it’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

Propping herself up so she could see me better, Sookie tipped her head in curiosity. There was no embarrassment in our bond now; she felt no shame for her dominant behaviour. Good. “What excites you?” She asked.

There was too much choice. The thought of Sookie pleasuring herself while I watched, the thought of spanking her butt until it was red with my handprint, of taking her from behind, taking her while she was dressed in that little virgin white sundress, marking her with my release…the list was endless. I finally settled on one, though, one that hopefully wouldn’t be too much for her as we were only just beginning to explore a more colourful sex life. “The thought of you spread out in front of my fireplace at home, the flickering light from the flames dancing over your naked body as you lay spread out on a bed of furs, pleasuring yourself. It stirs something primal in me.” I confessed, not at all ashamed.

I felt intrigue from my bonded, and I watched as she mulled over my words. “I’d let you watch. No touching me or yourself, though.” She offered, moving her left hand to stroke at my chest, her right hand still propping her up. Surprised at her answer I rumbled with pleasure, the thought of my wife spread out on furs, her hand between her thighs, as she drove herself to climax while I watched, was perfect, absolutely perfect.

“You’ll have to wait until we’re settled in our new home, though. Think you can wait that long?” Sookie teased as I stroked her back, stopping every now and then to gently squeeze her butt.

“Oh lover, the wait will be worth it.” I leered, earning myself a sweet kiss and my wife’s laughter.

Sookie’s hand moved from my chest to cover her mouth as she yawned. No longer subject to the pull of the sun, I tipped my head to glance at the small clock on the bedside table. 7 am already?

“Get comfy, lover.” I cooed, slowly prying myself from Sookie long enough to blow out what little remained of the candles, turning off my iPod. Moving to the curtains I pushed them back slightly, letting a sliver of light in, illuminating the bed. I would get to watch my wife sleep in the sunshine. Smiling, I returned to the bed, moving the furs aside to help Sookie crawl under the sheets. Joining her, I lay on my back. My bonded moved, resting her head on my chest, her body pressed tightly to my side. Wrapping my left arm around her I held her close, relishing in the heat of her body and the smell of sex in the air. Taking her left hand with my right, I lifted it to my lips, pressing a kiss to her ring finger, right above the space where her wedding and engagement bands sat.

“I love you, my wife.” I couldn’t get enough of calling her by her new title, pride swelled within me as I remembered her pledging to me.

“I love you, my husband,” Sookie mumbled sleep quickly overtaking her. I lay in silence for a while, watching as the sun rose, spreading more light across the bed. The rays no longer harmed me, and I relished in seeing my wife in the sunshine. During my state of amnesia, I’d been worried I would never see her in the sunshine again. How wrong I’d been.

Eric in the lake

Sighing with contentment I closed my eyes, figuring some rest was needed. Claude had told us yesterday that he planned to stop by this evening with Niall’s will, and then Sookie and I would leave for our honeymoon. Ata and Godric had picked our destination and had relished in keeping it a secret from us.Happier than I’d even been before, I played back the events of the night one last time before I let sleep pull me under.

Happier than I’d ever been before, I played back the events of the night one last time before I let sleep pull me under.

Mini Update!

Hey all,

Good news! I’m nearly done with the next chapter of Ethereal Redemption for y’all! I’m about 3/4 of the way through the chapter, and all that’s left to write is some lemons 😉

 
In the meantime, I thought I’d let y’all know that my dear beta Robin has been working really hard and Ethereal Redemption is currently beta’d up to (and including) chapter 17. YAY!
 
I’ve also added a page of ‘additional reading’ for those who may be baffled by all of my historical/mythological content, or if anyone wants to read up on any of it a little more.
 
You’ll also be pleased to know that, after bouncing ideas around with Robin, I have a whole host of Ethereal Redemption spin-off short stories and one-shots planned once the main story is finished. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see as a spin-off one-shot or short story though then feel free to drop me a message using the ‘Contact Me’ form letting me know!

Thanks for your continued love and support.

~ Midnight Opheliac

Important Update!

Hi everyone,

I know I haven’t posted in a few months but things have been progressing well here behind the scenes.

First of all, I’d like y’all to give a super warm welcome to my new beta, Robin!

You can find her wordpress here: https://tj6james6.wordpress.com/

Check her out and the other stories she beta’s. I’m so grateful to have her onboard as I finish up Ethereal Redemption. She’s been working super hard recently on getting my first few chapters cleaned up. They were written 5+ years ago and since then I like to think I’ve come along a bit with my writing, but there’s still a lot I need to learn and plenty of mistakes for her to clean up!

Robin has been pivotal in crafting new ideas for the story and has been an awesome sounding board. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing before she came along! Together we’ve come up with some amazing surprises for these last few chapters – I hope you’re all going to enjoy them.

In the meantime, Ethereal Redemption is going to be a bit more of a ‘work in progress’ than usual as I update old chapters with beta’d versions and tweak a few elements of the story to better reflect the surprises we have in store.

Don’t worry, I’m still working on the next chapter for y’all. I’m about halfway through it. I can’t say for sure when it’ll be ready for posting but I can promise you that it’s coming!

I hope these improvements make Ethereal Redemption a story you’ll never want to put down.

Thank you for your continued support.

~ Midnight Opheliac

 

Ethereal Redemption Chapter 71

A/N Wow. I haven’t written anything new for this story in well over two/three years, so I apologise if I’m rusty as hell! I’ve lost all of my True Blood love, especially given how shockingly horrible the final season was and how awful the final book was, though I’ll always love Eric and Godric.

I graduated university this summer and my life is all over the place. I’m hoping my lack of job means I can get on and finish this story so I can finally put it to bed. In all honesty my passion for writing this long story has gone. Once this story is finished I’m probably going to stick with one-shots.

I’m amazed that I’ve remembered how to post chapters on wordpress in all honesty…man its been so long.

Anyway, this chapter was so long that I’ve had to split it in two. This is Part 1, and I hope to have Part 2 up within a month. After that I’ll only have one more left to go, and then an epilogue. I’m not going to post the final chapter and the epilogue until I have both of them completed as I want y’all to be able to read both at the same time. I’m aiming to have those out at Christmas as a little gift, and I feel it would be fitting to finish this story as the year comes to an end.

For those who are still reading this and have stuck around after all this time, thank you for your loyalty ❤

betad_midnightopheliac


SOOKIE’S POV
Spring is here, the sky is blue, whoa-oh-oh
Birds all sing as if they knew
Today’s the day we’ll say “I do”
And we’ll never be lonely anymore because we’re
Because goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married
Gee, I really love you
And we’re gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel of love
~ Chapel of Love, Dixie Cups

It felt strange leaving Vegas after spending so long there. It had become like a second home to Eric and I. Our whole nest had piled on to a plane bound for Louisiana, our luggage packed away in the hold, royal robes and wedding dresses pressed to perfection and stowed in the wardrobes on-board. Ata and Godric had curled up together on a seat, Pam and Ari to their left, Khai and Isabelle on the sofa opposite, and Eric had claimed the remaining part of the sofa for us. The rest of our nest had sat themselves on beanbags chairs scattered across the floor, all built to hold 6’+ men. Ata’s plane was just as nice as Niall’s.

Ata's Plane

There had been no wedding plans to go over, nothing to finalise, and nothing to take my mind off the fact that I would soon be walking down the aisle. The thought that I would soon have another band on my finger and a husband by my side was somewhat terrifying, yet at the same time utterly exciting. Eric and Pam had taken so much joy in planning everything, and I hadn’t had the heart to tell Eric no when he offered to take some of the workload on so that I wouldn’t have to worry and could simply enjoy all the events leading up to the night.

We’d arrived back into Bon Temps late, and it had only taken a few minutes for me to remember that the cubby in my house wasn’t big enough for everyone. The vampires in our nest hashed out the details between them as to who would sleep where. Eric and Godric were currently resting in my cubby even though they could play in the sun. My garden was a hive of activity and I didn’t want anyone outside of our family finding out about my husbands sunlight immunity. The rest of our nest was resting in the basement at Bill’s house. A letter amongst the pile of post that had accumulated while I was away contained the deed to Bill’s house, and the simply ‘C’ on a scrap of paper attached to it had made me smile. Claude thought of everything. I’d given invitations to enter to the rest of our nest after we’d dealt with a distraught Jessica, who’d felt Bill’s death and had spent the last few weeks walking around in a fog, unsure what to do without a maker, resting in the ground as she was unable to enter the house. I was sceptical in giving her an invite, in case she sought retribution for Bill’s death, but she seemed relieved he was gone. I took the liberty of locking her in one of the silver cells by herself once she’d fallen in to her day rest.

Sad Jess

The sun was high in the sky now, throwing light over my garden. Eric had called in some gardeners a few days earlier if my perfectly mowed lawn and trimmed trees were anything to go by. Damn high-handed vampire. People were milling around, setting up gazebos, tables, a dance floor, a flower arch, pews, and an aisle runner. Tara and Lafayette were down in the kitchen organizing the catering staff, no doubt sneaking mouthfuls of food whenever they could. Jason was out helping the people set up, using his years on the road crew to his advantage as he effortlessly lifted pews and arranged them in poker straight lines. Hunter was taking a nap in Gran’s old room, the excitement of the past few days tiring him out.

“Cousin…” Ata’s soft voice broke me out of my concentration. Turning away from my bedroom window to face her I offered her a warm smile. My cousin had spent the morning exploring my home and the land attached to it, fascinated with the history of my house and the people who had lived here through the years. I would be sad to no longer live here once Eric and I chose a royal home, but if another family were to be able to build a life and memories in this house, well, that was wonderful in my opinion. “There’s a dog here to see you.” Ata gestured behind her and down the stairs with a tip of her head, blonde locks falling into her face and obscuring her from view for a moment, but I didn’t miss her nose crinkle.

“His name’s Sam.” I pointed out, not needing my telepathy to work out whom my cousin was talking about. I could see the edge of Sam’s truck parked around the side of my house.

Sam's Truck

“I know, and he’s very fond of you.” My cousin teased with a salacious grin and wink before she took off down the stairs, laughter filling my house. Shaking my head at my cousin’s antics I headed downstairs, greeted with the sight of Sam stood in my entrance hall dressed in his usual snug Levi’s and plaid shirt.

Sam Merlotte

“Sook!” Sam’s gravelly voice filled me with nostalgia, along with his bright smile. No one had wanted to hire ‘Crazy Sookie’ when I’d deemed myself old enough to work and help Gran out with the bills. Sam had arrived in town only a few months earlier and had opened the bar, and though he was aware of the locals calling me ‘Crazy Sookie’ he still hired me and defended me from their cruel taunts whenever it was needed. I owed him so much, and I felt horrible for having taken so much time off over the past few years, and for having to leave entirely now that I would be ruling beside Eric. I would make sure he received plenty of support from Eric and I.

Before I had time to respond, Sam was pulling me into his arms, crushing me in his embrace, his hands sitting low on my back. My face was smushed into his vast chest and I found myself suddenly unable to breathe. Flashes of Bill moved before my eyes, his heavy weight pinning me in place, stopping me from moving away from him as he hurt me, violated me. I could hear my heart thudding loudly in my chest, sweat gathering on my body as I tried desperately to get air into my lungs. Screwing my eyes shut I felt dizzy, screaming as I pushed against Sam’s broad chest, my stomach churning.

I never felt the breeze of air whooshing past me, or the strong arms pulling me out of Sam’s grip, but the cool hands gently holding my cheeks and the concern seeping through my bond with Eric was enough to pull me from the memories momentarily, giving me the chance to find the bright eyes of the man I would soon be marrying. “Min kärlek, I’m here, you’re safe. He’s not here anymore. You’re safe.” Eric soothed me, brushing his thumbs along my cheekbones, wiping away the tears that had fallen during my struggle. He gave me enough space to breathe, our only skin-to-skin contact being his hands on my face.

Eric Comforts Sookie

“The hell you doin’ out in the sunshine, Northman? Why ain’t you burnin’ up?” I heard Sam bark in the background, but I couldn’t bring myself to look away from Eric.

“Later, Merlotte.” Came Eric’s short and sharp response, his eyes never leaving mine as gentle soothing noises tumbling from his lips, the last of my tears wiped away by his large thumbs. The memories had been so vivid, so detailed, and all consuming. They wouldn’t be leaving me for quite some time.

“I wish you could glamour them away.” I confessed quietly, spotting Ata out of my peripheral as she dragged a confused and concerned Sam away, crafting a detailed lie as to why I had reacted in such a manner.

Eric’s features softened, a small forced smile crossing his lips. “If I could then I would in one of your heartbeats, my Sookie.” He lent forward, pressing a gentle kiss to my forehead. “He is gone now though, and he’ll never hurt you again. I’m here now, as it Hunter, Pam, Ata, Godric, Ari…the whole family. No one will lay a hand on you ever again.” Eric spoke with such conviction, such belief that I would be safe now. I wanted to believe him but with my abilities, regardless of how much I mastered them and how many vampires I surrounded myself with, someone would always covet me. I couldn’t say I believed him though I wished with all my heart that I could, and my emotions must have flittered across our bond as Eric’s features fell slightly. “You don’t believe me.” His voice was soft, resigned.

Lifting my hands I wrapped them gently around his wrists, leaning into his large palms as he cradled my face. “Pam said it herself. With what I am I need to be somebody’s, or I won’t be at all. Yes you have a claim on me, and I couldn’t ask for a better man to love and protect me. I trust you to keep me safe but de Castro parted us, Edgington too. Whose to say no one else ever will?”

Eric swallowed, letting out a soft sigh. “They can try my Sookie, and they will, but I am awake in the day now too. With our new positions we’ll have heightened security also, much better than what I could get on my own as a Sheriff. We’ll take every precaution but you’ll still be free to go wherever you want, whenever you want. I won’t keep you in a gilded cage like he did.”

I opened my mouth to speak but a small tug on the side of my shirt had me looking down to my little boy, whose big eyes were upturned towards me. “Why was you frightened mommy? Daddy and I are here.”

Hunter

Stooping down I scooped Hunter up, propping him on my hip as Eric leant further into my space, sliding one arm around my waist and the other around Hunter’s back, bringing us together in what resembled a group hug. “It was just a bad memory, sweetie.” I soothed as Eric dropped a kiss to both of our foreheads.

“You know what I do to make the bad memories go away?” Hunter asked as he settled against me, letting his head rest against my shoulder, his cold button nose worming its way to the crook of my neck.

“What do you do, liten krigare?” Eric’s fingers stroked over my back, soothing me as he ensured our bond was filled with nothing but his love.

Hunter grinned, the bright smile lighting up his whole face. “I think of the first time I met mommy, when I realized I wasn’t alone with all my special gifts.” Hunter tipped his head back to look up at me properly. “You’re not alone either mommy. Daddy and I will make sure no one hurts you and that you’re never lonely or sad, ‘kay?”

Sookie and Hunter

Pressing a kiss to Hunter’s temple, I moved his head back to the crook of my neck. “Thank you sweetheart.” Eric’s eyes met mine, a promise in them that Hunter’s words were true.

Ata flitted into my peripheral, rocking on the balls of her feet. Behind her stood Godric, concern etched on his features before it vanished as he turned his head to look out of the back windows. “I don’t want to break up this moment, but there’s an angry dog on the back porch.” Ata grimaced, tipping her head back in a vague gesture towards Sam and his red, snarly thoughts.

With a sigh I let Eric take Hunter from me, watching as my fiancé carried our son on his hip towards the cubby. Godric dropped a chaste kiss to the corner of my cousin’s lips before he too returned the cubby. “I shall stay with you, Sook.” Ata offered her comfort, using our bond to push her relaxation through. My shoulders slumped under her calming influence, the tension from my panic attack all but forgotten for now at least. With a deep breath I took Ata’s hand in my own and headed out on to the back porch.

“The hell was that ‘bout Sook?” Sam was in my face the moment I stepped outside. With a dainty step forward Ata had Sam stepping back a little, giving me some space. Jason looked up from where he’d been arranging pews, giving me a look promising that he had my back should Sam step out of line.

I took a moment to look at Sam, to appreciate that this man had looked after me when no one else had, that he’d given me a job when no one would hire ‘Crazy Sookie Stackhouse’ and had made sure that no rednecks had harassed me while I was working. He’d given me so much time off over the past few years as my life had spiraled out of control. It was time to take that control back though. “Things happened while I was away, Sam.” I started gently, flexing my fingers enough to slowly let go of Ata’s hand. I needed her with me, but it was time I stopped holding people’s hands and instead dealt with things myself. “I was hurt, a lot, in the worst ways you can think of. I had a flashback when you hugged me a little too tight.” I didn’t bother apologizing. I had nothing to be sorry for, as the actions against me hadn’t been my choice; I was unable to stop them. Yes I was a victim but that didn’t make me weak or sorry.

Sam’s eyes widened a little, a paleness creeping over his features. “Y-You mean?…” he stammered, looking to Ata for confirmation.

Sam Merlotte

“Yes. Eric is helping me with it though, as is Ata.” I offered my cousin a smile, pushing love through our connection. Ata’s love came back in gentle waves, slowly enveloping me.

“That’s another thing, Northman in the damn sun?” Sam pushed a hand through his hair, starting to pace along my porch. “What’s with all the chairs and tables, the wedding arch and food?” He carried on, turning sharply to point a finger at Ata. “You gettin’ married?”

Raising her left hand, the corner of Ata’s lips quirked up in amusement. “Sorry, already tied the knot.”

Belle Engagement and Wedding Rings

Confusion passed over Sam’s face. “But, then…Sook? You gotta be jokin’, right?” Sam’s eyes swiveled to me, a mixture of horror and concern etched on his features.

Lifting my own left hand I flashed Sam the beautiful diamond on my finger. “Eric can spend time in the sunshine because of me, and this evening we’re going to get married.” I stopped Sam before he could tell me how much of a bad idea marrying Eric would be. “He’s done nothing but look after me and love me, he saved me from Bill and, when Eric takes over as King of Louisiana, I’m going to rule beside him.” I left no room for argument. “You’re more than welcome to join us this evening for the ceremony and party, but if you’re going to tell me it’s a bad idea and be a Negative Nancy then you know where the door is.”

Sookie's Engagement Ring

Sam was silent for what felt like hours but was in fact only minutes. Dozens of emotions flickered across his face, the likes of which I noticed Ata cataloging. Finally, with a heavy sigh, Sam nodded. “If you’re happy Sook, then I’m happy for you. If you’d have me I’d love to join in with the ceremony and party.” Glancing down at his attire, Sam gave a rueful chuckle. “Think I might need to go home and change though, these jeans ain’t suitable weddin’ attire.” Sam picked at his tattered jeans, looking up with a cheeky grin.

Sam Merlotte

Unable to hide my smile, I gave my old friend a playful roll of my eyes, the tension from earlier broken. Sam’s thoughts were no longer red and snarly. Instead they were blue for the sadness he felt, believing that he wouldn’t see me again once Eric and I were married, a thought I would have to change. They were also brown, representing the heaviness he seemed to feel at the realization that I had chosen the man I wanted to be with, and that it wasn’t him. I wanted to reassure him that he would find someone, and that someone would love him back just as fiercely, but that would give away the fact I’d been snooping. I’d learnt long ago to never give that away. “Go home and change Sam. Y’all better come back here in half hour or so!” I shooed my old friend away, walking him out to his truck and watching as he drove down my driveway and out on to the main road, the sun slipping behind the horizon as his truck disappeared from view.

“You handled that well, cousin.” Ata complimented, having moved silently to stand at my side. Blowing out a breath I hadn’t realised I’d been holding, I gave a gentle shrug.

“He’s gonna have to get used to Eric and I being together. Might as well start now.” Turning I headed back indoors, knowing it was time to start getting ready. Everything in the garden had been set up, the smells coming from my kitchen confirming that the food was ready, and Pam’s impatient tapping of her heels was enough of a clue that I was about to be smothered in beauty products and trussed up like a doll.

“Play nice with my soon-to-be wife, Pam.” Eric warned playfully as he scooped me up from behind, spinning me around once, twice, before he gently put me down, dropping a passionate kiss to my lips. Hunter had been encased in Godric’s arms, but the moment Eric’s lips left mine he was scrabbling out of Godric’s hold and over to us, demanding that Eric lift him up so he could give me a kiss too. With a laugh I accepted Hunter’s chaste kiss to my cheek.

“Now that this mush fest is over, can I dress the bride?” Pam drawled, arms folded neatly over her chest, perfectly plucked eyebrow quirked in a mixture of amusement and annoyance. With a small snort Ata left Godric’s side, moving to stand beside Pam.

Pam

“Go on. The next time I see you will be at the alter.” Eric swatted my behind, pushing me gently towards Pam with a bright grin before he disappeared off with Godric and Hunter just as Pam’s cold hand grabbed my wrist, dragging me up the stairs to my room.

Pam was a demon with make-up and a hairbrush. She fluffed my hair, stroked make-up across my face, and held my face at all sorts of angles while she curled my hair into loose beach waves. With a soft rose gold on my lids, Pam framed my eyes with black liner. After much debate we settled on simply putting mascara on my natural lashes, and not using any fake ones. “But fake ones will truly make your make-up flawless” Pam argued.

Sookie Wedding Makeup

“But Eric prefers me natural. Plus, I don’t want them falling off halfway through the night, and we all know I’m going to cry at some point and ruin them.” I pointed out. Pam’s face hardened at my words.

“You better not cry, Princess. I’ve created a masterpiece on your face and you better not ruin it!” She growled with little heat behind her words. Forgetting about my ability to cry at the drop of a hat, Pam scooped up my tiara, nestling it amongst the beach waves she’d artfully curled my hair into before settling my floral veil over the top, pushed back from my face for the moment. I was still dressed in a nightgown, my wedding dress hanging from a coat hanger placed over my wardrobe door, my little silver shoes sitting beside them.

Sookie Wedding Hair

“Something old.” Ata declared, carrying with her a dainty box as she entered the room with Tara. Both of them were dressed in beautiful cream gowns that fell to the floor, sweeping over one shoulder and embellished with silver gems. They both looked gorgeous.

Sookie Bridesmaids

Exchanging hugs with them, I took the box from Ata. “From the 1600’s.” She explained with a wink as I removed the lid. Inside layers of soft white tissue sat a heart shaped silver necklace, a flower and swirls having been created inside the heart. A diamond sat in the middle of the flower, bright and clear.

Something Old

The twinkling lights in my back garden would make the diamonds glitter and sparkle, showing off its true glory. “It’s beautiful, thank you.” I removed it gently from the layers of tissue paper, about to offer it to Pam before I remembered that it was silver. Instead Tara took it from me, clasping it around my neck before she moved a few waves of my hair over my shoulders.

“Somethin’ blue, Sooks.” She placed a small bag on my lap, grinning mischievously. The bag was plain blue, tied with a dainty white ribbon. With a curious frown I plucked at the ribbon, watching as the satin untied. Dipping my hand in my fingers found a box, and gently I pulled it out. The beautiful duck-egg blue would have been an immediate giveaway, if not for the ‘Tiffany & Co.’ neatly stamped on it, half hidden under another white satin ribbon.

Tiffany Box

“Oh Tara, ya shouldn’t have!” I turned to my best friend, trying my hardest not to cry. Tiffany may have been easily affordable to the likes of Pam and Eric, but for Tara and I who had spent our lives as waitresses and shop assistants, such a gift was very expensive.

“Ya deserve it Sooks. You were the only one who looked out for me as a kid ‘cept Lafayette, but we’re blood so he was probably obligated or somethin’. ‘Sides, how often is it that ya best friend gets married?” With a tip of her head she gestured to the box. “Go on, open it.”

With shaky hands I returned my attention to the little blue box. Whatever was inside wouldn’t be as expensive as the gifts I’d received from Eric and Pam over the past few months and years, but this was far more special because it was from Tara. She’d saved up for it, lovingly chosen it with me in mind. Undoing the ribbon I removed the lid, finding a duck-egg blue velvet pouch inside. Opening the pouch I tipped the contents onto my free hand. A beautiful silver bead bracelet slipped out, sliding onto my palm. Attached to the bracelet sat a mini double-sided heart tag in sterling silver with Tiffany Blue enamel on one side and the Return to Tiffany design on the other. “Tara, it’s so pretty! Thank you so much!” I tried not to cry, scrambling to my feet to pull my best friend into a hug, crushing her to me. Tara’s laugh echoed in my ear before she kissed my temple.

Something Blue

“I’m glad ya like it.” She whispered, giving me one final squeeze before she pulled back, taking the bracelet from me and attaching it to my wrist.

“It’s very pretty, Tara.” Pam offered a compliment, giving me a moment of confusion. Pam and Tara weren’t on good terms, but maybe Pam was trying to extend her own version of an olive branch?

Tara’s face lit up, happy that her purchase had passed the inspection of the usually aloof and snobbish Pam who had an eye for luxury goods. “I saw it and thought of ya, Sook. The heart reminded me of how kind ya are, and the blue reminded me of the sky when we use to hang out in the yard as kids and Jason would bring us ice-cream while ya Gran planted her flowers.” I pulled Tara into another hug, crushing her to me before I felt one of Pam’s cold hands on my lower back.

“You’re going to suffocate her, Sookie.” She gave her patented eye roll, eliciting a chuckle from Ata. Pulling back from Tara I wiped my eyes gently, ensuring that I didn’t smudge my make-up, offering Tara a truly grateful smile.

Pam held her hand out to me next, a bag swinging from her forefinger. “I went for something blue too, but I think Tara’s gift beats mine.” She gave a delicate shrug of her slender shoulders. It didn’t take a genius to work out what small, lace item would be inside the bag, but I indulged Pam with a quirked lip as I untied the little blue ribbon holding the bag closed. Reaching in I grabbed at the lace item inside, bringing it out into the light and sight of all those in the room. The lace garter was a baby blue, thin and pretty, with a large blue bow on the front, two pearls sitting in the centre of the knot.

Something Blue

Ata’s laughter filled the room as I rolled my eyes at the blue garment in my hand. “You’re terrible, Pam.” I chastised playfully, grinning at my vampire friend, who couldn’t help but grin back.

“You wouldn’t have me any other way.” She pointed out, reaching for the garter. “Need a hand putting it on?” She waggled her eyebrows, looking me up and down. Tara’s eyes widened, glancing between Ata and I as if unsure as to whether this was normal or acceptable behaviour given that I would be marrying Pam’s Maker.

Tara Thornton

“Go on then, I know you’re dying to.” I relented, letting Pam have this one little lesbian moment before I was a married woman. Lifting my right leg I placed my foot flat on the chair I’d been sat on moments before, brushing my gown aside to reveal my leg. With a salacious grin Pam lifted my foot, sliding the garter along my calf, over my knee, and a little up my thigh. If her hands lingered somewhat longer than necessary I wasn’t going to point it out to her, and if she played with the garter and arranged it on my leg several times I wasn’t going to ruin her fun and bat her hands away either.

Removing her hands and grinning up at me, Pam took a small step back. “There, perfect.” She purred, watching as I put my foot down, sliding my gown back over my leg. Tara still appeared a little shocked but Ata was trying her hardest to hide her smile and contain her laugh. A sharp rap at the door broke the moment.

“Sook?” Jason’s voice floated through the wood. “Eric sent me over with a box that’s far too girly to be on my person Think ya could open the door?”

Ata had the door open within moments, gesturing for Jason to enter as she scoured the hallway to make sure Eric wasn’t around to peek in and see me before I was ready. Jason was already dressed, wearing a smart suit that had been perfectly tailored. “You look just like daddy.” I blurted out, unable to stop myself. Jason paused for a moment before a grin broke out across his face, showing off his teeth. He took a moment to look me over, and though I wasn’t even in my wedding dress yet I could see Jason fighting back tears.

“You look beautiful Sook, just like Mama.” He breathed. I had him wrapped in a cuddle seconds later, his arms tightening around me to the point where it was borderline painful. I wasn’t going to complain, as it’d been a long time since Jason had hugged me so tightly. Letting me go, he held me at arms length for a moment before he plucked a small box out of his pocket. “Eric asked me to give ya this, said something about ‘something new.’” He handed it over; shuffling a little as his other hand disappeared in his pants pocket.

The little white box was reasonably flat, a large pink bow wrapped around it with a little heart charm attached. Taking the box from Jason I removed the pink bow, handing it to Ata. I would keep it and place it inside the scrapbook I was going to start to commemorate the day.

Eric's Present

Soft white silk lined the inside of the box, and nestled in the middle of the silk sat a pair of beautiful yellow diamond earrings, perfectly matching the band on my ring finger. Inhaling sharply at the beauty of the earrings, I cracked open my bond with Eric, pushing through all the love I could muster. Eric’s amusement and love flowed back to me before I gently closed our connection, not wanting to clue him in on anything else. Placing the box down on the dresser I removed the delicate earrings, sliding the posts through my lobes.

Sookie's Earrings

“They look lovely on ya, Sook.” Tara complimented, moving to lift my hair out of the way so she could have a closer look.

Jason shuffled a little as Tara let my hair fall back to frame my face, the yellow diamonds catching the artificial light in the room, glittering a little through my waves of hair. “Got ya something too, Sook.” He declared, removing a little box from his pants pocket. “Found it after the maenad attack. I know you need something borrowed, but I’m sure she’d want you to keep it anyway.” The box was black, tied with a white ribbon.

Something Borrowed

Approaching Jason I took the outstretched box, returning to my seat in front of the vanity. If Jason had managed to salvage this from the maenad attack then it was clearly important. Pulling the ribbon open I lifted the lid from the box, and amongst the soft white tissue lining the inside of the box sat Gran’s favourite hair pin. Made of silver, the pin was adorned with countless flowers crafted out of silver, precious gems, and pearls. Gran had worn it the day that she’d married Grandpa Earl.

Something Borrowed

Lifting it from the box with one hand I used the other to try and move my hair into a position where the pin would easily slide in and be visible. Tara’s sharp slap on my hand and her fingers prying the pin from me made me return my hands to the black box. “Oh Jase! Where did you find it?” I asked as Tara fiddled with my hair, twisting strands and gathering sections before she secured it all in place with Grans pin.

Scuffing a shoe lightly along the floor, my brother gave a shrug of his shoulders. “Maenad didn’t bother with the attic, found it up there in box o’ Grans stuff. No idea why she’d store it up there, though. Too pretty t’ be kept in a box.”

Up on my feet and across the room to Jason I took both his hands in mine, placing a light kiss to his cheek. “Thank you Jase. It’s beautiful.”

A bashful grin spread across Jason’s lips and with another shrug of his shoulders he spoke. “Ain’t nothing Sook. I’m sure Gran woulda wanted ya to have it.” A sharp knock at the door captured our attention.

“Jason, my man, the scary vamp is callin’ for yo ass.” Lafayette declared through the closed door. A smirk curved at Pam’s lips as Ata and Tara chuckled together. Jason made a move to pull away, mouth opening as if to excuse himself, but I refused to let his hands go. Cracking my bond open with Eric I asked him for a moment of patience. Contentment seeped in to our bond as my vampire waited patiently.

“You’re really going to help my soon-to-be husband out when I need you here to perform the most important job?” I raised an eyebrow at my brother as Pam picked up my dress from the hanger, removing the protective cover from over it. Confusion crossed over Jason’s features and for a moment I was reminded of a little lost puppy. “Would you walk me down the aisle, Jase?” I’d planned all along for Jason to walk me down the aisle. Daddy wasn’t around any more to give my hand to my husband, and Jason was the man of the family now. I wanted my big brother to give me away.

Multiple emotions passed over Jason’s face – confusion, shock, excitement, and happiness – before finally a grin emerged. “Ya want me to hand you over?”

Jason Stackhouse

Giving the backs of Jason’s hands a gentle rub with my thumbs, I reassured him. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to walk me down that aisle.”

Jason drew me in, crushing me against his chest. Compared to my bone-crunching hug with Sam earlier, I felt much more at ease. Jason was my brother and he would never hurt me. “I’ll do it, Sook. Someone’s gotta make sure ya don’t trip over in them shoes.” Jason tried to downplay the moment as he pulled back, but the bright grin on his face, the crinkles at the corner of his eyes, the moisture gathering in them, and the slight rocking motion as he moved on to the balls of his feet told me everything I needed to know. Eric’s satisfaction as he slowly closed off our bond again helped broaden my own grin.

“Time to get in to your dress, Princess.” Pam lifted my dress on its hanger with one finger.

Jason stammered for a moment, letting go of my hands. “I’ll just go and wait outside the door…” he mumbled, disappearing outside before any of us could offer a response.

The entire time that Jason had been with us, and throughout our little gift exchange, one of the photographers Eric and I had hired had been snapping photos.

Ata and Tara moved to help. Tara stood before me, hands out expectantly. “Gown off, Sook.” She grinned, making a grabbing motion. Our photographer put her camera down for a moment and politely turned around to allow me to change. Ata helped Pam remove the hanger from my dress, the pair of them carrying it over to me. Shucking the gown off I passed it over to Tara, not at all bothered by the fact I was stood in some lacy white underwear, a blue garter, and little else.

Gathering the fabric Ata and Pam slid the dress over my head, being careful to avoid my head. The lack of straps meant my bra had to be strapless, and it took a bit of rearranging to not only get my girls in to a comfortable position, but to also get them in to a position where they looked good in my dress.

“She’s all covered up now, sweetcheeks.” Pam purred at the photographer, who blushed a light shade of pink before returning to her work. Jason, having heard Pam’s declaration, re-entered the room. He paused for a moment, looking at me slowly from head to toe.

Sookie Dress 3

“Why’d you have to grow up, Sook?” He asked a little sadly, his lower lip sticking out in a small pout.

Offering my older brother a warm smile I held out a hand to him, which he immediately took. “I’ll always be your little sister.” I reminded him, to which he nodded in agreement.

Grabbing my shoes, Ata knelt down before me, helping me slide them on. Pam fiddled with my hair, putting the final touches to it as Tara smoothed out the train of my dress.

Sookie's Shoes

“I think we’re done.” Ata declared, rising to her feet with an excited clap of her hands. “Ready to get married?”

With a deep breath I gave a nod, cracking my bond open with Eric a little to check it. Judging from our connection he was already making his way down the aisle to the alter. Jason gave my hand a squeeze, pulling me away from my bonded. I kept our connection open this time, but set it to a low level. I wanted to feel everything Eric was experiencing, but at the same time I didn’t want his emotions to overload mine.

“I’ll clear the way.” Pam declared, taking her bridesmaid role very seriously. Grabbing her bouquet of flowers she swept out of the room, gliding down the staircase of my home and out in to the garden. Through the slightly cracked open window I could hear her ushering the last few guests to their seats.

Tara handed me my bouquet of flowers, keeping hold of the smaller arrangements for herself and Ata. I’d changed my mind last minute with my flowers and had instead picked bouquets of beautiful purple and white roses, small sprigs of baby’s breath scattered amongst them. I’d swapped to purple, the colour of royalty, so that I could reuse the bouquets during my coronation.

Wedding Bouquet

Ata placed my veil over my face before she moved behind me, holding the train of my dress. Jason offered me the crook of his arm. Lafayette had already taken his seat after having scattered petals down the aisle. Not knowing any young girls I’d been unable to find a flower girl, but Lafayette had been more than happy to fill the role.

Lafayette

With our arms linked, Jason and I started the walk down the staircase. Ata had a firm hold on the train of my dress to stop any potential tripping, and Tara walked behind her with the bouquets. Heading towards the backdoor, Jason gave a nod towards the conductor, who in turn nodded in the direction of the Reverend.

“All rise for the Bride” The Reverend asked of the guests.

The orchestra struck up, the trumpets and the violins starting together in perfect harmony. After mulling it over for a while I’d picked The Prince of Denmark’s March as my theme for my journey down the aisle. There hadn’t been a Prince of Sweden’s March or else I would have chosen it to honour my soon-to-be husband.

With a deep breath Jason led us through the door. Eric turned to watch as I walked down the aisle and it took all of my willpower to not run towards him. Dressed in a beautiful black tuxedo, a single white rose sat on his lapel to match my bouquet. Though our bond sat at a low level the love from him was all encompassing, and it left me with a warm feeling inside. The moon was high in the sky, throwing its eerie light down on the small congregation of people who had gathered to watch me marry Eric. The slight sun exposure had turned my soon-to-be husbands complex a shade darker, no longer making him look so pale. The sky was filled with thousands of twinkling stars, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew my soon-to-be husband wasn’t capable of it I would have thought he’d hung them there on purpose, just for this evening.

Godric stood just to Eric’s side, a hand resting on the shoulder of Hunter, who had again been given the important job as ring bearer. In his small hands he held the pillow on which our wedding bands sat.

Wedding Ring Pillow

My garden had been transformed. With perfectly manicured lawns and trees, I was finally able to fully appreciate the extent of my garden. Several rows of pews sat in poker straight lines, adorned by all of our guests. On the end of every other pew sat a large round bouquet of purple flowers. An aisle runner made of white fabric led the way down to the alter, and Lafayette had sprinkled the purple petals all along each side, securing our guests in their pews with sashes of white silk laced with purple ribbon.

Aisle

Our wedding arch, which managed to contain my soon-to-be husband’s huge height, was made of pure white roses. Loose petals had been scattered around the base of the arch and just under it, creating the illusion that the soft, delicate petals had drifted to the ground.

Wedding Arch

Every step I took closer to Eric was a reminder of how far I’d come over the past few years. Not too long ago I’d been the social outcast, the girl everyone thought was crazy. I’d had vampires fight over me, humans ostracize me, been taken and tortured, but now I was finally getting a shot at a happy ending. Marriage had been a dream, but Eric was making it a reality. At first I may have been a simple curiosity to him, but he’d grown to love me even as I’d grown to love him. There’d been slaps and secrets, high-handed moves and a bout of amnesia, but we’d come through it all together. We’d fight and bicker, say hurtful things to each other and get on one another’s nerves in the eternity to come, but I knew Eric would always come back to me, and I would always go back to him. After all, when he’d been running around with no memories my home had been the first he had sought out, and it was my arms that he’d found comfort in. I was never a believer of destiny, often cursing it for giving me my abilities, but the man standing not too far away from me was more than enough of a reward for the years of aggravation I’d had before him.

Having most of the town turn out to watch ‘Crazy Sookie’ get married was a thrill. These were people who, though they had smiled at my face, had said mean things about me behind my back. I was proving them wrong now, proving to them that ‘Crazy Sookie’ wasn’t so crazy after all, and was capable of being loved. Most of all though I was showing myself that I was capable of being loved, that I deserved such love.

One of our photographers had followed me out of the house, snapping photos of guests as I’d walked down the aisle. I took a second to put out my mental feelers, capturing the inner voices of those who’d gathered. Arlene and Terry were sat together, along with Arlene’s kids. Holly and Andy were sat together, Holly’s boys sitting beside them. Hoyt and Jessica were together, Sam and Luna with little Emma. Portia and Maxine had arrived together, with Lettie Mae and Kenya taking the last two seats on the human side of the congregation.

There were several faces I didn’t recognise over on the Supernatural side of our makeshift church, but amongst them I could spot Ari, Khai, Oeri, Riei, Agmund, Pallas, and Bubba. Our other photographer was positioned at the alter, capturing photos of Eric and I.

Taking the last few steps towards Eric, silence fell as the orchestra finished their song. Ata smoothed out the train of my dress before Tara handed her the small bouquet of flowers and the two of them moved to stand at the side. It was the soft tendrils of Lafayette’s mind that made me swing my eyes to him for a brief moment. “My Sookie! Look at you, so beautiful.” Gran’s voice broke through the other mental voices around me. Eyes widening, I placed a hand on Eric’s letting him hear what was going on.

“They’re all here, Sook. Your Momma and Daddy, and Gran.” Lafayette reassured me, offering a strong smile. A grin broke out across my face before I turned back to Eric, feeling his pride and love pulsing through our bond.

“You may take a seat.” The Reverend spoke to the room. On queue everyone sat. Eric and I had spent a while sending emails back and forth with the Reverend, and after hearing Ata and Godric’s opening speech we’d asked them if we could borrow some of it. They’d been more than happy to share their words with us. “I welcome you this beautiful evening to the marriage ceremony of Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse. They stand before you today to declare their commitment to each other in front of their family and friends, and to celebrate with you on this wonderful occasion. Many of you have given them much happiness, love, warmth, and guidance through the various stages of their lives. Thank you for joining them. We realize that some of you have travelled a great distance to be here this evening.  Your presence is invaluable, and Eric and Sookie wanted me to express their gratitude for you all being here.  We would also like to acknowledge those who could not be here today as they are certainly missed but will never be forgotten.”

Returning my gaze to Lafayette he opened up his mind for me again. “We love you, sweetheart.” Momma and Daddy spoke at the same time.

Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse

With a watery smile I turned back to Eric, but not before Pam shot me a death glare, gesturing to my eyes and the impending tears. I gave our connection a shove, which Pam playfully gave back.

After a moment of silence the Reverend spoke again. “The words spoken here today are sacred, although these words are not what joins these two. Indeed, it is not I who is joining these two today at all, nor is it this ceremony. We are not here to mark the start of a relationship; we are here to recognize a bond that already exists. Eric and Sookie have joined themselves together, and we have gathered so that we may bear witness to the oneness that has grown between them. Here, they will affirm this oneness and this dedication formally and publicly, as they have already affirmed it to each other. As they now exist as one in their own eyes; so may they exist this way in yours. This union has already occurred in the giving and receiving of their love and in the myriad of ways in which they have entwined their lives together. We are here to witness their statement of love and commitment. This is an act as ancient as the human race, and as new as each morning, for it speaks of the past and of the future, of the life of the individual and the existence of the community. Marriage is a going forth, a giving up of one way in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone, risking what they are for what they might be. Eric and Sookie come now to declare their love and solemnize their commitment. Today we celebrate their faith in the continuance of that growth as they come to be united in marriage.”

The Reverend gave us a moment to reflect on his words before he continued. “We live in a world of joy and fear, and search for meaning and strength in the seeming disorder. Love is the eternal force of life. Love is the force that allows us to face fear and uncertainty with courage. The giving of yourself in love is difficult, for you must learn to give of your love without total submission of yourself. Therefore, in your giving, give your joy, your sadness, your interest, your understanding, your knowledge – all expressions that make up life. But in this giving remember to preserve yourself – your integrity, your individuality. This is the challenge of love within marriage. Sookie and Eric have not arrived at this place alone. That being said, who presents Sookie in this marriage to this man?” The Reverend continued on.

Jason stepped up with a proud puff of his chest. “I do, as freely as Momma and Daddy presented her to me.” He’d been the one to help Momma give birth to me on the dining room table when he’d been a young boy. There was a slight waver of emotion to Jason’s voice as he presented me to Eric. Removing my arm from the crook of Jason’s, my brother lifted up my veil, sweeping it back behind me so that I could gaze upon Eric without a barrier between us. Taking my hand, Jason gave it to Eric. “You take care of my baby sister, ‘kay?” He gave our joined hands a squeeze, to which Eric gave a sharp nod. Jason was well aware, after Eric had bought my house and restored it to its former glory, that my Viking vampire would do anything and everything for me.

As Jason took his seat with the rest of the wedding party, the Reverend spoke again. “A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life. Eric often spoke of how long his nights were, how boring life was becoming after over 1000 years roaming this earth, until the night dear Sookie walked in to his little slice of Shreveport. His life hasn’t been dull for one moment since.” I offered Eric a shy smile, dipping my head a little at the sound of his chuckle. It was true that I’d caused quite a lot of chaos since the moment I’d walked in to Fangtasia only a few short years ago, but what I’d walked out with had been a hell of a lot more than I ever thought I’d have.

Fangtasia

“Sweet Sookie, the charming woman who never thought she would get to have her happily ever after. Well, my child, I believe you’re getting it now. For so long you have worried about being alone, worried about being an outcast, but you never were, and now you never will be. Eric shall stand by your side for the rest of time, just like you shall stand beside him.” The Reverend offered me a warm smile. I’d spoken to him briefly about how lonely I’d felt growing up, with only Tara and Lafayette for friends. Now I had Eric, and with him a whole host of new family members.

“May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say “I love you”, and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another. Keeping all of this in mind, Eric, do you take Sookie to be your wife from this day forward? To live together and to comfort her in times of need? Do you promise to build a life filled with love and laughter, sharing all that is to come?” The Reverend asked my vampire.

With our cracked bond I could feel Eric’s love for me build, sweeping me up in its warmth as he offered me a blinding smile. “Sookie, I consider it an honour and a privilege to be the one you have chosen as your life mate. I promise to be a true and faithful husband, to love you respect you and be honest with you always. I promise to be supportive of your goals and as you grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, I will be by your side rooting for you all the way. Never be afraid to confide in me. I promise to be a good listener and a safe confidant. You are always welcome in my innermost world, and I promise to share my goals and ideas with you. As we grow together throughout our marriage, there are no limitations on the possibilities of our relationship and I hope we never realize just how high our high can be. I believe in you, Sookie, and I will be there for you always.” His thumb rubbed over the back of my hand, his cool skin contrasting my warmth. Lifting his eyes from mine to the Reverends, he slowly moved them back to me, letting me look in to those pools of blue. “I do.”

“Eric, I will love you forever; whatever happens. I take you as you are, loving who you are now, and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me, through all our years and all that life may bring us.” I gave Eric’s hand a light squeeze, pushing back the tears I could feel gathering in my eyes, not because I was worried about Pam’s wrath, but because I’d never considered myself a pretty crier. “I do.”

It was the Reverend’s turn now. “Eric and Sookie, keeping these vows in mind, please keep a hold of each other’s hands and remember these words:

These are the hands of your best friend, strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes – tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. In the hundreds of years to come, these are the hands that will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.” Smoothing my thumbs over the back of Eric’s large and cool hands, I took a moment to appreciate the simple gesture of being able to hold such an incredible mans hands. I’d seen these hands gesture for me to approach, seen them rip people apart, seen them build things, tear things down, caress my skin, and wipe away my tears.

“Eric and Sookie will now exchange rings to symbolise the promise of fidelity. Rings are derived from humble beginnings of imperfect metal to create something striking where there was once nothing at all.  It is customarily worn on the ring finger, as it is the only finger with a vein running directly to the heart. The wearing of the rings is a visible, outward sign that they have committed themselves to each other.” Hunter’s grin was blinding as he moved towards us to hand us our rings, sitting neatly on the little pillow he was carrying.

Wedding Ring Pillow

“Eric, please take Sookie’s hand and repeat these words. I give you this ring, as a symbol of our marriage, for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come. Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day and know that my love is present, even when I am not.” The Reverend instructed as Hunter handed Eric the slimmer ring he had freed from the pillow. My wedding band was much narrower than Eric’s. Such a large man needed a large band.

Taking it, Eric lifted my left hand, letting the other gently drop to my side. Lifting his eyes to mine, I watched as the swirl of emotions crossed over his features, matching those flowing through our eternal bond. “I give you this ring, as a symbol of our marriage, for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come. Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day and know that my love is present, even when I am not.” He repeated the Reverend’s words, slipping the band of cool metal onto my finger.

“Sookie, please take Eric’s hand and repeat these words. I give you this ring, as a symbol of our marriage, for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come. Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day and know that my love is present, even when I am not.” The Reverend instructed me.

Hunter offered me the thicker ring that had been stowed on his pillow and I gently took it from him, lifting Eric’s left hand up. “I give you this ring, as a symbol of our marriage, for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come. Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day and know that my love is present, even when I am not.” I slipped the band onto his finger, letting it rest near his knuckles, where it would stay forever.

The Reverend took a moment’s pause before he started again. “May these vows be forever cherished. May this marriage be full of laughter and every day a day in paradise. May they be a sign of compassion, and a seal of happiness here and hereafter. Never forget the joy of this day. Finally, may you always have enough and may enough always be more than you hoped for. By the power vested in me by the State of Louisiana, I declare that you are husband and wife. Eric, you may kiss your bride.”

A greedy grin crossed over my husband’s features before he swept me up, leaning me backwards, holding me in his strong arms as he planted the mother of all kisses on me. The opening of Natalie Cole’s This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) started to play throughout my garden, but I was too distracted by the feel of Eric’s cool lips on mine. He kept the kiss chaste, given the company, but the sly squeeze of my butt as he helped me back upright was a promise of what was to come. Our guests were up on their feet once Eric had me upright, their applause standing out against the song Eric and I had picked. Though I’d wanted to follow in Ata’s footsteps with confetti, I’d initially forgone it in order to save my lawn. Ata had taken it upon herself to throw a box of biodegradable rice confetti at me, which had sealed the deal, and had red mark on my forehead.

Eric’s hand never left mine as we headed down the aisle. I could feel the cool metal of his wedding ring against my skin and it filled me with inexplicable joy. His hold on me was strong, as was the sea of confetti thrown our way by the human side of the congregation. Bubba, Khai, and Agmund had joined in and were having far too much fun smothering us in the white wisps of paper.

Reaching the end of the aisle Eric led me back inside my home just as the music started to fade out. We’d asked the Reverend to give us a moment alone, to gather our thoughts and feelings before we would have to join the rest of our friends and family for the reception.


ERIC’S POV
There’s just no rhyme or reason, only the sense of completion,
And in your eyes, I see the missing pieces I’m searching for,
I think I’ve found my way home.
I know that it might sound more than a little crazy,
But I believe I knew I loved you before I met you,
I think I dreamed you in to life.
I knew I loved you before I met you,
I have been waiting all my life.
~ I Knew I Loved You, Savage Garden

Sookie was mine. Finally mine, in every sense of the word. Marriage had never appealed to me once Godric had turned me. With all of eternity before me I didn’t feel the need to take a companion and I’d been nowhere near strong enough to look after them. Now though, with my age and power along with the new title I was to receive later on this evening, I would be able to keep Sookie as safe as possible and ensure the rest of eternity would see her showered with the love and affection she deserved. Walking down the aisle, Sookie had looked nothing short of radiant.

“You have no idea how much I want to take you now, my wife. You’re so beautiful.” I told her, knowing she would feel the truth to my words.

A pretty smile lit up her face, brighter than I ever thought it could be. “I want you too, so much. We have guests though, my husband. As soon as they have retired we are free to do as we please.” She spoke softly, reverently.

“Come, my wife. We have photographs we need to be in.” I gestured to our side, and my love turned, smiling bashfully at Elizabeth as she clicked away. I held her hand tightly as we moved together, as a team, out into the grounds of my beloved’s home. Our family and friends would join us soon for group photographs. I smiled at our joined hands, our wedding bands matching. With our third bond, our pledge and now our human marriage, there would be no one that would be able to part us.

It took a short while for all of our photographs to be taken. Our family had grown much larger than I had ever anticipated, and with multiple combinations of guests, family, Sookie, and I we ended up taking over 30 different photo variations. Through the bond Sookie and I shared I could feel her starting to tire, and we still had dinner and dancing to complete. As Elizabeth took the last photo I swept my love up off her feet, carrying her bridal style down to the table we had claimed for ourselves for the reception.

Jason and the workmen had put together a beautiful reception area in my loves garden. From the many trees hung strings upon strings of golden fairy lights, throwing warm light over the long rows of tables and chairs. The tables were dressed with soft brown cloths, the tableware set out perfectly with the silver cutlery having been replaced with stainless steel for our vampire guests. Bouquets of white hydrangeas adorned the center of the tables; lush green leaves contrasting with the crisp white. My love had insisted on candles, so scattered amongst the dishes and plants were pillar candles encased in glass lanterns. Nametags placed in a little vase with a sprig of small flowers ensured our guests took their assigned seats. A grand piano and a silver microphone sat off to one side, right next to the makeshift dance floor.

Wedding Reception

Wedding Flowers

Wedding Nametags

As our guests started to take their seats I stopped to stare at Sookie, at my wife, as she sat at the top table, her few friends and family having come together for this evening. So lost in my thoughts and admiration of my love, our family bond informed me of Ata’s impending arrival more than her footsteps or nearing heartbeat did. Turning to greet her I was met with the sight of Hunter perched on my mothers hip.

“Daddy!” A large smile broke out across Hunter’s lips as he reached for me, squirming against Ata. With a melodic laugh Ata passed Hunter over to me, my little boy wrapping me up in a tight hug. “Momma” Hunter turned, opening his arms to Sookie. She swept him up from my grip, cradling him close. “Do I get to sit up here with you?” Hunter murmured as he nuzzled closer to my beloved. Ata’s hand came to rest at the nape of my neck, a warm and reassuring presence as she gave the short hairs there a gentle rub.

Hunter

Raising her left hand, Sookie gestured to the empty seat to her left, her new wedding band catching the glow from the fairy lights above us. Another nametag sat on the table to my wife’s left, this time with Hunter’s name on it. “You get to sit right up here with us little man.” Sookie explained, causing Hunter giggle.

Ata dropped a small kiss to my temple, blowing another in Sookie’s direction. “I’ll catch up with you in a while, don’t think you’re getting away without a speech. I know my husband has something planned.” A mischievous smile crossed her features as she moved back to the family table, taking her seat beside my Maker.

“Momma, how come I don’t get to sit next to Dad?” Hunter asked, finally having squirmed out of Sookie’s hold and on to the empty chair next to her.

“Would you like to sit next to your daddy?” Sookie asked, flattening a stray strand of Hunter’s hair that had decided to be rebellious and stick up.

Pushing out his bottom lip, Hunter gazed up at us both. “I want to sit next to both of you.”

Withholding my laugh, I let my amusement flow through my bond with my wife. “You can sit between us if you’d like, Hunter.” I offered, knowing my wife would have no qualms in letting our boy sit there. Eagerly nodding his head, Hunter slid off of his chair, allowing my love to switch seats with him before I lifted him up, placing him down between us.

“We need to swap our nametags now Momma” our boy pointed out, reaching across for his own as he swapped it with Sookie’s.

“Better now?” Sookie cooed, running a hand across Hunter’s hair once more.

“Much” Hunter declared, wiggling back in the seat so he was at no risk of sliding off.

With my wife and son happy, I turned my attention back to the room. Sookie and I had thought long and hard about seating arrangements. There were vampires, humans, faeries, shifters, werewolves, and endless other creatures in attendance. Where possible we had tried to keep the shifters and wolves together, the faeries together, and mixed the humans with the vampires. There was no need for humans to figure out there were other supernatural creatures in the world just yet.

As our guests finished taking their seats a hush fell over the room, prompting my Maker to rise to his feet. Gently clearing his throat, he spoke. “Ladies and Gentleman, I’d like to take a moment to thank you for attending my Childe’s wedding. Your presence here for this wonderful occasion is most appreciated. Now before I embarrass my Childe and his new wife, I’d like to start by saying that my wife Ata has approved this speech, so if you consider any of the material inappropriate, it’s her fault.” A low rumble of laughter spread through the room, my Maker pushing mirth through our family bond, and my mother responding with the bonds version of an eye roll.

Ata

Pausing for a moment before continuing, my Maker gave our Maker-Childe bond a little ping. “Today I feel like a double agent. I am, after all, both Eric’s best man and his father. A best man often likes to recall the most embarrassing moments from the groom’s past and expose some of his darkest secrets. A father on the other hand would naturally go to great lengths in order to preserve the good name of his son. And I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that. After all, Sookie did agree to marry him. A few weeks ago I had a little chat with Sookie about marriage and how her life is going to change. I spoke about the hours in front of the kitchen sink, the washing of socks, life as an unpaid secretary, social organizer, cook, etc. No need to thank me now son, but for the first couple of months Sookie said she’d be willing to help you out.” My Maker shot a grin up to Sookie and I at the top table, a little bit of playful indignation seeping in to our family bond from my wife.

“What about the bride then, ladies and gentlemen? How wonderful she looks today. Eric has scrubbed up quite nicely too – it’s amazing what a flannel and a bar of soap can do. But it’s a bit rude of him to have copied my outfit eh?” My Maker looked down at his own outfit before glancing over to me. Our tailor had ensured we were matching for the evening so that it would be fairly obvious that we were Maker and Childe. Our guests sniggered. “Wasn’t the wedding ceremony beautiful? The highlight, of course, was Sookie floating magically down the aisle. I’m sure we were all thinking exactly the same thing: How did HE get HER?”

All of our guests laughed loudly, including the vampires who so very rarely showed emotion. My wife’s laugh was soft, hidden behind her hand as she tried to subdue it, a rosy glow to her cheeks. Hunter grinned wildly, looking up at me. In a show of submission I raised both my hands, shooting my Maker a smile. Perhaps now the character assassination would end?

“Sookie and I first met under horrible circumstances. I was ready to meet the sun, knowing my Childe was prepared to take on the world without my help.” My Maker’s voice took on a somber tone as he looked up towards my beloved. “However, this sweet, beautiful young lady reminded me that there is always something to live for, and she convinced me to come down from the roof, to not meet the sun. The following months were full of discovery and ultimately led to a reunion with my sweetheart, the very woman I had loved in my human years.” Godric turned his head to look down at Ata, who took his hand in her own, giving it a soft squeeze. “It quickly became clear to me, up on that roof, that here was a woman of many attributes – beauty, brains, wisdom and, fortunately for Eric, a disarming love for dumb animals. No offence to any guests in attendance.”

Our tables filled with shifters and werewolves cracked smiles at the joke, knowing there was no real malice behind it. The somber mood had been broken. I couldn’t stop myself from being highly amused at the dig towards Merlotte and Herveaux. “Play nice, I’m yours ya big dummy” Sookie chastised me, pinging our bond to make her point. Reaching in front of Hunter for my wife’s hand, Sookie took my large paw in her small one. Hunter joined in, placing one of his tiny hands on my wrist, and the other on Sookie’s wrist.

“When she agreed to marry Eric, it totally proved to me that old adage – opposites really do attract. Light and dark, day and night, beautiful and beastly…” Godric chuckled along with our guests. “I promise I’ll stop soon but Sookie, in agreeing to marry Eric, has reinforced what I’ve always thought and lived by. That stalking, harassment and general unpleasantness will eventually pay off. But that’s the vampire way, so in some respects I’ve taught him well.” More laughter came from our guests. “I never really dived in to how Sookie and Eric met, but I’ve heard that it involved a throne, a red dress, and the cops. Don’t ask.” Sniggers came from our vampire guests while the humans looked scandalised.

“When you see Eric and Sookie together, you see what I can only describe as harmony. Their shared love of country music, Agatha Christie, and each other marks only the beginning of what I know will be a life-long love affair. If you haven’t had a chance to spend time with them, I really recommend it. Just give them a call anytime. Invite yourself over. Better yet, just show up. They won’t mind – right guys?” My Maker asked. I groaned as Sookie laughed, our guests turning their attention and smiles up to us.

“Eric and Sookie, what a beautiful couple you make. I look at you two and I see such promise and hope. There are those who say that the single life is the only way to go. They think the single life is more glamorous and a lot more fun than being married. But, let me tell you now that I’m married myself, I can only assure you that the so-called glitz and glamour is all flash and no substance. As you leave the single life behind and begin the beautiful journey called “marriage” you will discover what the rewards of life truly are.”

“I know I’ve joked a lot in this speech about Eric, but let it be known that I’m proud of my Childe and all he has achieved. I’m proud of the vampire, and the man, he has become. I couldn’t have asked for a better prodigy. So, before we all enjoy our meal, I would like to propose a toast.” Godric reached for his glass, as did our guests. Sookie and I reached for ours, filled with champagne and champagne infused blood respectively.

“There is nothing more noble or admirable than watching two incredible people come together as one in the unity of marriage. As your friends and family, we delight in your marriage and offer our encouragement and support. A toast to a long life filled with adventure, love, and cherished moments.”

“Cheers!” Our guests echoed, all raising their glasses.

Toast

That seemed to be the queue for the caterers, who flocked out of nowhere to start presenting guests with the starters. Godric took his seat again while Sookie and I took a sip of our drinks. Not having the opportunity to go up and thank my Maker for his kind words I instead pushed my gratitude, love, and affection for him through our bond. The warmth and love I received in return made me pause for a moment, savouring it, before I was presented with my meal. The menu had been one of the hardest decisions for the occasion, having to cater to a wide variety of tastes.

Most of the focus had been on our faerie and human guests, knowing that our vampire company wouldn’t mind what they were eating so long as it was blood. The shifters and werewolves could also eat similar meals to the humans. For the starter we offered our guests one of three choices, either seafood salad, fresh figs draped with prosciutto di Parma, or Tuscan garden salad. Our vampire guests were given the options of either blood-orange soup or watermelon blood soup.

Seafood salad

Figs

Tuscan Garden Salad

My wife had opted for the fresh figs, and was busy scooping bits of fig in to Hunter’s mouth, our boy chewing away happily. A quick chat to the caterers, and a blood draw from Sookie in the morning, ensured that I was only eating what my love had given me.

Knowing there were lots of vampires in the room, all able to hear even the slightest little murmur, I took to our bond. “Min kärlek, how are your shields holding up with all of these guests?” I asked my wife, continuing to eat as if there was nothing going on.

My beautiful Sookie continued on with her own actions as she responded, showing Hunter how to scoop out the insides of the figs before eating the skin. “They’re holding up strong Eric, I think the rest of our family are bolstering it for me. Hunter’s mind is completely sealed off too. Last thing we want is him becoming confused about the were and shifter minds in the room.”

Smiling to myself as I continued with my meal, I kept an eye on my wife and son. “How are you feeling, my sweet?” I asked, pushing love through our strong bond. Sookie paused for a moment, swaying a little in her seat at the onslaught of my feelings.

Putting down the spoon she had been using to feed Hunter now that both their plates were clean, Sookie turned towards me. Leaning across our son she placed one of her small hands against my cheek, stroking my cheekbone softly. Turning a little to meet her gaze, I put my own spoon down, now finished with my meal, and covered her hand with my own. “I couldn’t be happier Eric. I have everything in the world that I could ever want.”

For a moment we were lost in our own little world. My little faery letting me know just how happy she was made me want to puff my chest out in pride. I’d been able to provide everything she needed and wanted.

“You two are making me sick, and vampires can’t even throw up.” Pamela’s thoughts invaded our minds, breaking Sookie and I out of our moment. Both of us turned to look at my insolent Childe, who was sat at the table closest to ours, an eyebrow raised at us. Ari was trying his hardest to hide his smile behind his napkin as he wiped his mouth. However, Ata and Godric had other ideas. My mother was batting her eyelashes like some lovestruck fool at us, while my father was pushing his enjoyment at our very public affection through the bond.

Pam

“You’re lucky I love you, idiots.” I shut down their responses with a smile, blocking the bond temporarily so that I didn’t have to deal with their immaturity, no matter how endearing it was.

The caterers were quick to clean up, bringing out the main meal. Again we had focused primarily on the humans, faeries, were’s, and shifters. Two options had been offered this time, salmon with all the trimmings or baby rack of lamb with all the trimmings. Sookie and Hunter had opted for the lamb, avoiding the salmon as it came with a lemon dressing.

Salmon

Lamb

For our vampire guests we offered them the choice of either apricot blood soup or pumpkin blood soup. I’d opted for the pumpkin blood soup, again using Sookie’s blood to replace the donor blood our guests were being served.

Our main course was consumed with minimal distraction. Sookie and I kept our bond open, not needing words to express how we were feeling. Our guests chattered amongst themselves, most of them discussing the things they had been up to recently, and the plans they had for the future. Many of the creatures in attendance hadn’t had the chance to catch up in a while. When our plates were empty the dishes were taken away and replaced with dessert dishes. Sookie and I had decided on a light dessert, knowing that invariably most of our guests would enjoy the beautiful cake that had been prepared for us. We’d left the design of the cake in the capable hands of Ata and Pam.

Sookie and I had settled on chocolate fondue and dipping items for dessert. The chocolate fountains were placed in the centre of each table, and multiple dishes were scattered around filled with goodies. Tall glasses filled with metal skewers were also placed on each table, metal having been favoured over wood due to our vampire guests. Marshmallows, rice crispy treats, peanut brittle, sponge cake, strawberries, bananas, apple segments, chocolate cookies, shortbread, graham crackers, cheesecake bites, waffles, and donuts were all on offer for dunking. For our vampires guests we offered them a choice of either blood parfait or blood sorbet in a variety of different flavours.

With our fondue fountain sitting on our table, my wife tucked in. Placing marshmallows and strawberries on Hunter’s plate, Sookie dipped them lightly in the chocolate. “More chocolate Momma” Hunter begged.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Sookie’s laugh was soft, “I’m sorry Hunter, but you can’t have too much chocolate because it’s bad for you.” My wife explained, giving Hunter’s cheek a gentle pinch.

“Daddy?” Hunter turned his big eyes up to me, sticking his lower lip out in a pout that would make Pam proud.

Lifting my gaze from my son to my wife, Sookie raised an eyebrow in challenge at me. Knowing when to pick my battles, I dropped my eyes back to my sons. “Oh no little man, your Momma is in charge today.” I gave Hunter’s hair a ruffle, smoothing it back down immediately after.

For a moment Hunter was silent, his lower lip still pushed out. Realising this was a battle he too wouldn’t win; he pulled his lower lip back in, shrugging his little shoulders before turning back to his chocolate covered marshmallows and strawberries. “Okay then.” His response was cheerful as he tucked in to the strawberry, managing to smear some chocolate across his lips.

With a soft chuckle I reached for an apple segment, skewing it before placing it briefly under the chocolate streaming down the fountain. Ensuring no chocolate would fall off; I offered the skewer to my wife. “Open up dear.” Sookie’s amusement was palpable through our bond, and my love didn’t object as she opened her mouth, letting me pop the small apple segment doused in chocolate in to her mouth. Returning to skewer a strawberry this time, I went to repeat my action, asking Sookie once more to open her mouth. However, this time I offered her the skewer and the moment she went to close her mouth I pulled it back, smearing the chocolate on her mouth and the end of her nose.

Our bond filled with shock as Sookie took a moment to comprehend what I’d done. Hunter, sensing something had occurred, turned to look at Sookie. “MOMMA! You have chocolate on your nose!” Our little boy laughed loudly, attracting the attention of all of our guests who cracked smiles and laughs at the sight of Sookie with chocolate on her nose. With our guests turning back to their own meals, it took everything in me to stem the flow of my amusement through our bond, but I was unable to hide my grin.

My wife took a moment to compose herself before dropping her voice down an octave. “Oh it’s on Mr. Northman.”

My grin changed to a leer as I wiggled the skewer in front of Sookie. “You promise Mrs. Northman?”

Without missing a beat my wife took the skewer from me, maintaining eye contact as she put the skewer in her mouth, sliding off the strawberry with her tongue, making sure to suck the end of the skewer as she finished. Placing the empty skewer down on her plate, my wife never took her eyes off of mine. A low growl slipped from my throat before I could stop it.

“When is it time to get rid of our guests?” I reached across the gap between us, taking a loose strand of Sookie’s golden hair between my fingers, twirling it.

“We still need to have cake, and dance, and I need to throw my bouquet, all before you remove this scrap of lace I have around my thigh.” My wife responded, her dainty hand wrapping around my wrist. Too lost in my Sookie I wasn’t paying attention to little Hunter, stuck between the two of us, looking between us with a confused expression as he tried and failed to gain access to our thoughts.

“A scrap of lace you say? I don’t think I particularly want our guests to see your thighs as I remove it from you.” The thought of the guests in attendance, especially Merlotte and Herveaux, getting to see the scrap of blue lace on my Sookie’s thigh was out of the question.

Sookie sighed, shaking her head a little. “Oh no you don’t Eric, it’s tradition.”

Pursing my lips I tried to come up with a suitable compromise. After all, marriages were about give and take right? “What if I fulfill one of your little fantasies?” I bargained.

Sookie paused for a moment, tipping her head a little in thought. “What fantasy would that be, Eric?”

Letting go of my wife’s hair I lent back in my chair, watching her expression carefully. “If I recall correctly, it had something to do with a Stetson…”

Sookie’s eyes widened comically, her cheeks burning red instantly, her heartbeat kicking up a notch. The combination of all three had our supernatural guests turning their attention back to us; ignoring their now empty plates. “Damn you Eric.”

Sookie

Letting a chuckle escape me, I thanked the waitress as she took away our plates. “What were you and Momma talking about, Daddy?” Hunter quizzed, turning his gaze up to me.

“Don’t worry about it son, your Momma and I just had to reach an agreement on something.” I grabbed a napkin, giving Hunter’s chocolate covered face a quick wipe.

Probing my bonds with our family, I picked up on Ari’s bond. “Brother, I know it’s a lot to ask but when we finally open the floor up for people to dance, could you run a quick errand for me please?”

Ari continued his verbal conversation with Pam, but managed to multi-task and respond to me. “Sure, what do you need?”

Knowing it was an unusual request had been part of why I had picked Ari to go and collect the item for me. Pam would no doubt ask me 20 questions and then proceed to tease me about it for centuries. “A Stetson.”

Ari’s confusion seeped through our bond. “A Stetson? You know what, I’m not even going to ask. I’ll get one later and place it in your bedroom.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it. Oh, and please don’t tell Pam.”

“You’ll have to ensure she’s distracted then when I go to get it, and have a suitable excuse lined up as to why I’ve disappeared. She’ll want to come with me otherwise.” Ari made a valid point.

“I’ll think of something, don’t worry. Thank you, Ari.” I pulled back from our bond as the tables were finally cleared. It was then Jason rose to his feet, clearing his throat before asking for everyone’s attention. The chatter that had been working its way through the crowd during dessert died down. I had contemplated giving my own speech but ultimately decided against it, letting Jason deliver a speech instead. My Maker had given one so it was only fair for a member of Sookie’s family to give one too.

“Ladies, Gentlemen, and anyone who may have sneaked in for a free meal, my name is Jason and I’m the brother of the bride. Our Momma and Daddy passed away a long time ago, now Sook is all I have and I’m all she’s got, well, until now I guess. I hope I can do this little speech some justice. I’m sure our Daddy woulda been better than me at this.” Jason’s self-depreciating joke had Sookie a little sad, but her overwhelming love for her brother was blinding.

Sookie and Jason

“I would firstly like ta thank everyone for coming today, we have guests who ‘ave travelled in from far and wide, including places like England and Australia. I think its shows how much y’all want to be here today to celebrate Sookie and Eric’s wedding. Its been a wonderful day and even though the sun set hours ago and time is marchin’ on, we have the whole night ahead of us. Which brings us nicely on to the time that every bride fears, what is he going to talk about? Is he going to tell about the time when…?! Well as you instructed Sook, I won’t mention any o’ them times, especially not that time ya ate a whole pecan pie Gran had made and were violently sick for days, even though its cost me 99% of my first draft o’ this speech.” Jason continued, grinning at Sookie, her embarrassment flooding our bond, her face flushing once more as our guests laughed.

“At this moment in time I’m full o’ admiration and pride fo’ the commitment they’ve both made t’day and one day hope to follow in the example they’ve set. That said, I think y’all agree that Eric matches Sook very well and since I’ve known him, I’ve come t’ realise just how special he is to her; and anyone can see that they’re made for each other.” Sookie’s embarrassment faded, replaced by fondness for her sibling. Jason and I may not have seen eye-to-eye originally, but he was a good guy, only wanting what was best for his sister. Yes he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, but his heart was in the right place and that counted for a lot, especially where my wife was concerned.

“Eric, I would like t’ welcome you in to the family, even though you have been part of it for a good while now. I get the feelin’ somehow that you kind of barged your way in, not really givin’ us a choice, but we love ya for it anyway. I think ya have been with Sook long enough to know what you’re lettin’ yourself in fo’, so to be honest I haven’t got any sympathy for you.” Jason turned his attention from Sookie to me, grinning in my direction. I offered my new brother-in-law a smile in return, laughing a little at his jibe. Sookie was certainly a handful, and trouble seemed to follow her everywhere, but I wouldn’t change that for the world.

“I’ll break my promise on the ‘no stories’ policy just once by reminiscing back to the early 90’s when Sook and I were in the car going to school. I ‘ave a very vivid memory of a game we played ‘bout who Sook might marry and the surnames that would be a humorous addition to Sook’s name. Most of them were Christmas themed like Bush, Tree, Day, Wood, or even my personal favourite Sookie Wookie. Little did we know that all those years later I would be standing here making this speech, introducing our very own Sookie Northman. I still prefer Sookie Wookie, sorry Sook.” Jason’s grin hadn’t left his face the whole time, and Sookie’s blush was still visible as she cringed over the memory of her childhood games with Jason. Our guests were vocal in their enjoyment over the little story, laughter filling the air around us.

“My little Sookie Wookie” I teased my wife.

Sookie shot me what Pam lovingly refers to as ‘bitch face.’ “Oh you wait, I’m sure Pam will have some embarrassing nicknames of yours for me to use.” If it were possible for vampires to pale, I would’ve. Pamela wouldn’t dare, would she?…

“I raise my glass t’ honour my sister on this, her wedding day. It’s hard to find the right words to express my feelings. She’s a wonderful sister, and I’m sure she will make as fine a wife. You’re looking beautiful today, though as your brother I think that ya look beautiful every day.” Jason’s features softened, the warmth in his expression almost palpable. Sookie looked close to tears, using her hands to cover part of her face so she could covertly wipe away any stray tears. Jason turned back to the audience to carry on his speech.

Sookie crying

“Sookie and Eric have obviously worked real hard organising everything for t’day but their hard work has definitely paid off. I’m sure everyone here agrees that the ceremony was wonderful. Although in the run-up to today Sookie and Eric did have a bit of an issue with the seating plan and who to put where. So as brother of the bride, I offered to step in an’ help work somethin’ out. I decided t’ use the wedding present list, the biggest items nearest the front table, and work back from there. So if they can hear me over in the back there, thanks Lucy and George for the box of biro’s…” Laughter rumbled through the room, and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing too. Lucy and George were residents of Bon Temps, regulars at Merlotte’s. They of course hadn’t bought us Biro’s, and it was apparent all of the audience understood this, especially Lucy and George who laughed along.

“On a more serious note it seems like the done thing to offer some guidance on marriage, so I found somethin’ with a more pragmatic message – ‘ Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.’ Another one that I really liked, though somewhat less constructive, was the observation that when a man holds a woman’s hand before marriage it is love; after marriage, it’s in self-defence.” Another roar of laughter filled the air, Sookie’s slight indignation endearing as she batted at my arm, hoping to stop my own laughter at the jibe aimed at her.

“With that in mind, I know that Eric has chosen well and I believe that Sookie has too and I wish them well for a long, happy and prosperous future together. I can’t stress enough how proud I am today, and how good it is t’ have y’all here. Once again, I hope you all have a wonderful evening.”

Jason turned now to face Sookie and I, and it seemed natural in that moment to reach for Sookie’s hand with little Hunter wedged between us. “I would like t’ thank ya both for the honour of giving this speech, it has been a great night and I, like everyone here is privileged t’ share it with you. Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding an’ raise your glasses for the happy couple before they take to the floor for the first dance. Here’s to the future, for all that you look forward to together. The new Mr. and Mrs. Northman.” Jason reached for his glass as the rest of our guests did, and together they toasted us.

Toast

“Mr. and Mrs. Northman, the floor is yours.” Jason finished, taking his seat once again at the family table. Ata and Khai lent across, offering their congratulations to Jason for such a lovely speech. I would thank him for it later.

“Shall we?” I gestured towards the floor, knowing how much my Sookie liked to dance. Nodding her head, I helped her up out of her seat. Pam appeared at our sides, scooping Hunter up so that she could look after him while we danced.


SOOKIE’S POV
There’s been so many things that’s held us down,
But now it looks like things are finally comin’ around.
I know we’ve got a long, long way to go,
And where we’ll end up I don’t know.
But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back,
We’re putting ourselves together,
We’re polishing up our act.
~ Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now, McFadden & Whitehead

When I was a little girl I had imagined my wedding countless times. I’d thought about who would be there, what I’d wear, what ring I’d have on my finger, and, most importantly, who I would marry. The dreams of 10-year-old Sookie were so vastly different from the reality I was now facing. At 10 I would never have guessed that I would be marrying a vampire in a ceremony attended by a vast array of supernatural creatures, knowing finally that I was Fae.

Pam took Hunter from Eric and I as we made our way to the floor, hand in hand. I had left our song choice up to Eric, knowing he had a broader range of musical taste, and because I had no doubts that he would whine if I picked a country song.

A gentleman in a suit appeared and took a seat at the piano to the side of the floor. With him was a woman dressed in a floor length cream gown, her dark hair pinned up and held in place with cream flowers. She stood before the microphone as her piano playing partner cracked his fingers, slowly starting the opening notes of our song.

Singer

With a soft twirl Eric brought me closer, wrapping his right arm around my lower waist. Lifting my left arm, I hooked it around the back of his neck, our remaining hands coming together beside us, fingers interlocked.

Wedding Dance

After a few notes the woman began to sing, and together Eric and I started to dance together.

“When the rain is blowing in your face,
And the whole world is on your case,
I could offer you a warm embrace,
To make you feel my love.
When the evening shadows and the stars appear,
And there is no one there to dry your tears,
I could hold you for a million years,
To make you feel my love.”

Letting go of me ever so slightly Eric gave me a twirl, the skirt of my dress billowing out to create a beautiful white fan.

Wedding Dance

Bringing me back to his chest after my twirl, this time we settled in to a more intimate hold. Eric’s hands rested on my lower back while my own looped around his neck, bringing his nose close to my throat.

Wedding Dance

“I know you haven’t made your mind up yet,
But I will never do you wrong,
I’ve known it from the moment that we met,
No doubt in my mind where you belong.
I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue,
And I’d go crawling down the avenue.
No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do,
To make you feel my love.”

Our bond was wide open, no more secrets and no more holding back. In it I could feel all of the love that Eric had for me. It was almost overwhelming that someone could love me so much, and that I could love them so much in return. It had always been Gran, Jason, and I. Of course there had been Tara and Lafayette, but never anyone else that I could say that I loved, especially in a romantic sense. I was Crazy Sookie to everyone in town, and that made falling in love even harder. Eric though, he never treated me like an idiot, never made me feel crazy for my differences, or made me question myself. He was sure of himself and sure of me, and that was enough to bolster my confidence. With everything that had happened in my life, with all of the new information I’d been given, with all of the pain and suffering and triumph, it was time for me to be happy, to be loved.

Lifting his head ever so slightly, Eric let out a content sigh. As a vampire he had no need to breathe but I would catch him doing so sometimes, more often than not when I was resting against his chest. The motion of him breathing was soothing. “Jag älskar dig” he whispered, feather-soft.

No longer needing to pull the translation for my response from Eric’s mind, I smiled, letting my eyes close to focus on the feeling of him so close. “Jag älskar dig med.”

The woman continued to sing, lulling Eric and I in to a slow dance. So lost in my dance with Eric I forgot all about the eyes on us, and Elizabeth prowling with her camera.

“The storms are raging on the rolling sea,
And on the highway of regret.
The winds of change are blowing wild and free,
You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.
Nothing that I wouldn’t do.
Go to the ends of the Earth for you,
To make you feel my love,
To make you feel my love.”

In a sweeping gesture Eric tipped me back as the last few notes floated through the warm evening air, his strong arms keeping me from falling flat on my back. Dipping down with me, he planted a tender kiss on my lips. As he pulled back the sweetest of smiles crossed his features, blue eyes focused on my brown ones. “Evighet.”

Wedding Dance

Our moment was broken only by the sound of raucous applause. Our guests were up on their feet, applauding our first dance. I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as Eric gave me another twirl, showing me off to our audience. Turning to face our singer and pianist I started to applaud for them, our wedding guests following. The woman singing had a beautiful voice and our pianist was highly skilled. They deserved a round of applause too. A blush swept across the singers cheeks as she took in her standing ovation. Giving it a moment for the applause to die down, our singer spoke. “Thank you, and congratulations to the bride and groom. I heard a rumour that it was time for a sweet treat.” She addressed the audience.

The caterers suddenly appeared, wheeling a huge white cart adorned with vines of delicate flowers matching our centrepieces. On the cart sat our cake, vast and beautiful. Our vampire guests had been accommodated for with a cake substitute, but all our other guests were welcome to some real cake. Our singer started up again as Eric led me over to the cake.

“Sugarpie honeybunch,
You know that I love you.
I can’t help myself,
I love you and nobody else.
In and out my life,
You come and you go,
Leaving just your picture behind,
And I kissed it a thousand times.
When you snap your fingers,
Or wink your eye,
I come a running to you.
I’m tied to you, baby,
And there’s nothing I can do.
Ooh, sugar.”

Our cake was beautiful, almost too pretty to cut up and share with our guests. It was five tiers, decorated in beautiful white icing. The bottom tier had been layered with icing in a draping effect, a large flower sitting at the front. The next two tiers up were embossed with intricate lace patterns. The fourth tier matched the first, another large flower on the front. Our final tier was a mixture of the two, a plain white icing embossed with a large flower on each side. The cake was topped off with more sugar flowers, wire branches holding daintier sugar flowers poked out from the top. “The smallest possible piece for me, min älskling. I do not want to get sick.” Eric’s thoughts fluttered in to my mind. He was adamant on trying a piece of our wedding cake, but due to his vampirism human food would make him ill. The smallest of pieces shouldn’t have too much of an effect on him.

Wedding Cake

“Sugarpie honeybunch,
I’m weaker than a man should be.
I can’t help myself;
I’m a fool in love you see.
Wanna tell you I don’t love you,
Tell you that we’re through,
And I’ve tried,
But every time I see your face,
I get all choked up inside.
When I call your name, girl,
It starts the flame burning in my heart,
Tearin’ it all apart.
No matter how I try,
My love I cannot hide.”

Eric and I came to a stop behind our cake, facing our guests. Next to our cake on the cart sat a long black velvet box, a little golden ribbon covered one of the ends. Together we removed the bow, lifting the lid to reveal our cake knife and server. I hadn’t been able to find Gran’s wedding set, or Momma and Daddy’s, so Eric and I had decided to buy our own set. Opting for platinum meant the handles were a considerable weight. Fleur-de-lis adorned the top and bottom of the handle, polished to a bright shine. The blade of the knife was simple, kept that way to ensure a clean cut. The server was large enough that our guests wouldn’t be subjected to a tiny piece of cake either. Reaching for the knife first, I wrapped my right hand around the handle. Eric swamped my smaller hand with his large paw, wrapping his fingers over mine.

Cake Knife Box

Cake Knife Set

“Sugarpie honeybunch,
You now that I’m weak for you.
I can’t help myself,
I love you and nobody else.
Sugarpie honeybunch,
I’ll do anything you ask me to.
I can’t help myself,
I want you and nobody else.
Sugarpie honeybunch,
You know that I love you,
I can’t help myself.”

With two swift cuts we removed a slice from the top tier of the cake, oblivious to the flashing of Elizabeth’s camera as she documented the moment. Moving the slice of cake to a plate, Eric and I both broke off a small chunk – I made sure to break off a piece considerably smaller. Simultaneously we offered each other the piece in our hands. Eric took his tiny piece of cake and, preparing for my own piece, I went to open my mouth to meet Eric’s fingers. However, a fast flick of his wrist had cake and icing decorating the end of my nose.

“ERIC!” the squeal slipped out before I could stop it. The bright white icing of our cake was clinging to the end of my nose in a giant dollop. The laughter of our guests reverberated through the air as I stood, mouth agape, in disbelief at my husband’s actions.

The roar of laughter coming from Eric, the easy grin on his features, and the happy crinkles at the corner of his eyes was enough to sooth my initial outrage.

Eric

Distracted, I had just enough time to swipe some icing from the cake, splattering it on his face in return.

Eric’s laughter stopped, disbelief clouding his features as he gawped at me. For a moment we stared at one another, before both erupting in to laughter, much to the delight of our guests.

My sides were aching by the time I managed to stop laughing, Eric having moved closer to rest our foreheads together. Leaning down he licked the icing from my nose, giving me a quick kiss so I could take it from him. I didn’t want to risk him ingesting any more and being sick. Pulling back, I raised my left hand as I wiped away the splattered icing from his face, popping my fingers in my mouth to suck them clean. Eric’s eyes darkened.

“Slow down there Casanova.” I teased, earning another laugh from my husband. It was a sound I would never grow tired of.

A little tug on my dress captured my attention and I looked down to see Hunter stood next to me, my wedding bouquet in his hands. “Hunter!” I cooed, picking my boy up.

“Auntie Pam said you have to throw this.” He explained, presenting the flowers to me. Eric reached for the cake, offering a piece to our son. He took it without question, ramming the whole piece in to his mouth to chew on happily.

“Well if Auntie Pam says it must be done.” I played along, passing Hunter over to Eric in exchange for my bouquet. The guests who had gathered to watch as we cut the cake dispersed, leaving only the ladies behind. The rest of our family stood by the side of the dance floor watching on.

Our singer took to the microphone once more. “Ladies, I want a clean fight okay?” Laughter rippled through the room. Taking note of those stood in the crowd I turned my back on them, clutching my bouquet in both hands.

Giving me a moment, our singer then spoke. “Drumroll please!” Our guests started banging on the tables. “On the count of three…one, two, three!” With a clean swing behind me I tossed the bouquet over my head. Turning quickly to see who would catch it, a hand with pink nails shot up above the crowd, snatching the bouquet from the air.

As the crowd parted we were finally able to see who’d caught the flowers.

“Lafayette!” I laughed, watching as a flirty smile crossed his features.

Lafayette

“Oh hooker, you know I ain’t gonna miss out on no opportunity to find me a man!” Lafayette wafted the bouquet. Our family laughed, along with our human guests. Our other guests who were not familiar with Lafayette didn’t seem to understand what was so funny.

“Ladies and Gentleman, the floor is now open.” Our singer broke through the moment as our pianist started playing again, our singers soft voice ringing out.

Eric appeared at my side, Hunter clamouring for a cuddle. Lifting him from Eric’s grip, I let him sit on my hip. His small arms wrapped around my neck, anchoring himself in place. Eric’s outstretched hand entered my field of vision. “Shall we dance?”

With my son still resting on my hip I took my husband’s hand, letting him lead us to the middle of the dance floor, packed with our friends and family. We’d have to say goodbye to them soon and prepare for our coronation, but for now it was time to let loose.

Ethereal Redemption Chapter 70

A/N Turns out this is the last chapter I have that’s already been written, and it was simply in need of some tweaking and cleaning up. This means I’ll have to start writing again! Gonna dedicate an hour or so every night to the next chapter, and hopefully I’ll have it up soon!

I used the English coronation system for Ata and Godric, and Pam and Ari. I’m gonna use the old Swedish system for Eric and Sookie though 😉

betad_midnightopheliac


GODRIC’S POV
There’s a place that I go that nobody knows, where the rivers flow, and I call it home
And there’s no more lies and the darkness is light, and nobody cries, there are only butterflies
Take me away, a secret place, a sweet escape
Take me away; take me away, to better days
Take me away, a hiding place
The sun is on my side take me for a ride
I smile up to the sky; I know I’ll be alright
~ Pocketful of Sunshine, Natasha Bedingfield

The sunlight doesn’t stop me any longer; it doesn’t pull me into day-rest, forcing me away from my wife. My wife. When Ata and I had first ventured into our new home together, after I’d swept her up off her feet and carried her across the threshold, we’d spent a few minutes gapping at the mountains of wedding presents in the living room. We’d spent several minutes after that looking around our home together, enjoying all of the little personal touches our sons had put in the place for us. The final stop on our tour had been our bedroom, and the moment the door was closed we were on each other.

My wife was now sprawled across me, her head on my silent chest, an arm wrapped around me. She was lost in slumber, steady warm breaths fanning over my chest. We’d spent the remainder of the night and well into the morning sating ourselves with the pleasure of each other’s bodies. My wife, with her 2/3 human sides, needed her rest, while I did not. I’d slept for a few hours beside my wife though, just to feel the effects of restfulness.

Turning my head I gazed out of the window of our little home, watching the birds building their nests in the trees, the clouds moving across the sky. The fingers on my left hand found my Ata’s golden tresses, and I caressed them softly. The fingers on my right hand found the wooden pendant around my neck, rubbing over the smooth, carved surface. It was the only item of clothing I had on besides my wedding ring, and the bands around Ata’s fingers were the only things she wore. Making love to my wife while she wore only the bands I had bought her had stirred such primal urges in me.

Round Wooden Pendant

Belle Engagement and Wedding Rings
With a sound much like that of a kitten mewing, the bond with my love flourished back into life as she woke slowly, stretching her lithe body. Bright blue eyes found mine, bathed in the mid-morning light. With her messy, golden locks and carefree smile, she reminded me so much of her younger self, back when we’d been together in Egypt. “Good morning, my love.” I spoke softly, sweeping her hair from her face. “Did you rest well?” I asked, though I already knew the answer to my question. I’d felt how deep her sleep had been through our bond, and could feel her ease and comfort right now.

“Better than well, I feel great.” My Ata nuzzled my chest, sinking into my embrace for a moment. “Did you sleep too?”

Nodding, though I knew my wife couldn’t see the action, I replied. “ Yes, but only for a few hours. I don’t need as much sleep these days.”

A smile wove its way onto my loves lips. “I’m just glad you don’t get the bleeds. No matter how beautiful you are, everyone looks ugly when they’re bleeding.” My wife chuckled, and I couldn’t help but smile at the sound of it.

“We have a mountain of presents to open from our guests.” I reminded her after we’d spent a few moments in silence, simply enjoying each other’s company. Giving my chest a gentle pat, Ata slipped out of bed, stretching upwards to wake her sleepy muscles. I was treated to the view of her naked, curvaceous and stretched out, with her pert rear tempting me. Leaning over I swatted her bottom playfully, not putting much force into the action. Only on occasion had I mixed some pain with pleasure in the past, and that had been with whores that Eric and I had fed from. Pain only factored in when they were willing, and voiced that they were okay with it. Pain would never enter into my relationship with Ata though. I wouldn’t be able to stomach it, even if it did lead to pleasure for her. Playful bottom swipes were something I could see both of us enjoying though.

Ata Laughing
My wife giggled as my hand connected with her butt and she squealed happily before she darted to the chest of drawers where new clothes for her were stored. Our sons had outdone themselves with our home, but our bedroom was my favourite room in our home by far. The floors were wooden and the windows were framed with translucent curtains, thicker drapes framing the windows for the days when we wanted to blot out the sunshine. A floral rug, that looked vintage, was spread in the middle of the room and the end of our bed lay partly on it. Our sons had picked out a sledge bed for us, made of the same wood as my pendant, from my home in modern Belgium. It sat against the back wall of our bedroom, right in the middle. Along the right wall of our bedroom sat a huge wooden dresser, made of the same wood as the bed, and it was composed of 12 different sized drawers. Our sons, who’d packed the drawers with brand new clothes and underwear for us, had given Ata and I half each. There was another set of drawers in the room, once again made from the same wood, but this one was tall and narrow, set back in the alcove in the right hand corner of the room. It was compromised of 11 drawers, split between us with the bottom one housing Ata’s nightgowns, just in case she felt cold one night. On top of the drawers sat a few beautiful boxes, printed with vintage scenes of Paris and Milan. Photographs of our family were dotted around the room, with one of Ata and I standing on the bedside on Ata’s side of the bed. I had another photo of us on my side. The walls were a light cream colour and the ceiling white. It was simple, cozy, and completely us.

Ata and Godric's Bedroom
Ata pulled on a silk nightgown, forgoing underwear. “Come on! Your wife is hungry and wants to open her wedding presents!” A pillow landed on my face and I let out a mock groan of pain. Toying with my wife, I remained motionless, pretending like her pillow-smack had knocked me out. I even managed to calm our bond down enough so she wouldn’t become suspicious.

Her mischief through our bond alerted me that something was up, and I heard her pad out of the room and down the stairs, the steps creaking a little underfoot. It wasn’t until I heard, and felt, that she was in the dining room that she called out. “Oh would you look at that! The dining table is just the right height for me to bend over and polish it! I can even reach the other side when I stretch over!”

Pillow long forgotten, I vamped from the room and down the stairs, stumbling over the last step in my haste.

Wife. Table. Bent over.


SOOKIE’S POV
You’re so fine and you’re mine, make me strong, yeah you make me bold
Oh your love thawed out, yeah
Your love thawed out what was scared and cold
Like a virgin, touched for the very first time
Like a virgin, when your heart beats next to mine
You’re so fine and you’re mine, I’ll be yours ’till the end of time
‘Cause you made me feel, yeah, you made me feel like I’ve nothing to hide
~ Like a Virgin, Madonna

Ata’s wedding was beautiful, and Eric’s speech had been the highlight of my evening. He was so good at everything, but I found it hard to be angry with that. He was mine after all. When the party died down I stifled a yawn, but my vampire, forever a gentleman, swept me up off my feet and carried me all the way back to our room.

Eric placed me down on the bed and I fell backwards, letting myself sink into the soft sheets. Bending down, my bonded started to unfasten my shoes. “In a few days you’ll be my wife.” The smugness in Eric’s tone was undeniable, but I simply rolled my eyes at him with a smile. There was no way to batter down his ego, or his highhandedness, and in all honesty I didn’t want to. It was part of him, part of what made me love him.

“And you’ll be my husband.” I threw the claim back at him, not afraid to give what I got anymore. As my shoes clattered to the floor, Eric lifted his head, electric blue eyes finding mine.

“That I will be.” My bonded grinned before he used his vamp speed to clamber over me, effectively pinning me to the bed. His grin softened his features so much, made him look so boyish and cute. Eric would have a conniption if he heard me call him cute.

A sly grin crossed his lips. “I did hear you.” He whispered, his lips coming down on mine. Stupid new shared telepathy. My bonded chuckled at my internal pouting, peeling his lips from my own for a moment. “You are beautiful, my lover.” Eric’s fingers moved to play with the fabric of my bridesmaid gown. I blushed at his compliment. No matter how many times he complimented me I still felt a little embarrassed. The only person to have sincerely complimented me in my life, before Eric, had been Gran.

Grans Headstone
There was no protest from me as Eric moved the straps of my dress down, wiggling the fabric aside to free my bra-clad breasts. In a flourish he had my dress off completely, using his vampire speed to have it draped over the back of the nearby dressing chair, his body back over mine before I even had time to blink. “Hmmm, I approve.” My vampire purred, taking in my white lingerie. Although it was not my wedding, Ata had insisted that I wear pretty underwear beneath my dress. I had to admit that wearing the lacy panties and bra I currently had on, especially with the way Eric’s eyes were devouring my body, made me feel sexy.

Eric’s lips descended on mine once more. My hands grasped at the button of his slacks, which I deftly opened. Carefully I undid his zipper, knowing my vampire often went commando. He didn’t disappoint. Kicking off his shoes, Eric shimmied out of his slacks, throwing them over the side of the bed. His hands were all over my body, and though they were cool to the touch, the path they wandered left me feeling like I was on fire. Hands grasping at Eric’s lapels, I removed his jacket, unbuttoning his shirt before that too went over the side of the bed. My Viking was now naked above me. His hands dipped into my bra, pushing the fabric aside, his lips capturing one dusky, rose nub.

Eric Over Sookie

My back arched of its own accord, my hands tangling in my vampire’s golden mane. His tongue laved over my nipples. He licked, suckled and even gently bit down on my tender flesh, but he always soothed his bites with the brush of his tongue. We’d become more adventurous in our sex life recently – well, I’d become more adventurous. My vampire had tried pretty much everything in his 1000 years, and was using that experience and knowledge whenever we became intimate. Bill had been very ‘vanilla’ with our sex life. Eric was everything but vanilla.

Eric’s arms wrapped around me and he turned us quickly, removing my panties and bra in the process, as only a man with 1000 years experience could. At first I had been intimidated by his experience, but his confidence whenever we had sex rubbed off onto me, and I felt perfectly free to just let myself go in his presence. Eric was sat cross-legged, one of his arms reaching behind him to support him, the other was wrapped around me, his hand grabbing onto my exposed ass. I was resting over Eric on my knees, one leg either side of him. Eric’s lust was feeding my own, and already I knew I would be able to accept him easily. It helped that all it took for my Viking to become aroused was the sight of me naked. In a slow motion I lowered myself down onto him, my arms wrapped around his neck, bringing his head close to my chest. The position allowed me to drop kisses to his forehead, and his closed eyes, while letting him continue to lick and kiss my breasts. The position let me determine the speed and depth of Eric’s penetration, and while I loved having this sort of control, I knew I was only granted it because Eric loved me and trusted me. Vampires were not known to give up any control.

Lifting myself up, I sat back down on Eric’s member, eliciting a low growl from my bonded. There was no way I would be able to keep up with Eric’s vampire speed, but I gave as good as I got when my vampire moved his hips, thrusting them upwards. Rising and falling, I kept up with Eric, scattering kisses all over any part of him I could reach, my hands lost in his golden hair. His lips, tongue and teeth never left my skin, his ability to go without breathing coming in useful. He nipped, suckled, laved and kissed my skin, scattering his affection over my collarbones, my throat and my breasts. The delicious coil started to build up inside of me and I rocked against Eric with abandon, throwing my head back. I couldn’t stop myself from panting, muttering Eric’s name like a prayer as he focused his attention on my throat. It was with a click that I heard his fangs drop, and seconds later they were buried in my offered throat. The pleasure from his fangs sinking into my skin, like a knife through warm butter, and the firm, strong thrust of his hips, sent me caterwauling over the edge with little warning. The old Sookie would have been mortified to be making such sounds, especially in someone else’s home, but the new Sookie, the one more in-tune with her faery side, just didn’t give a damn. I was enjoying my vampire, as he was enjoying me. That was all that mattered.

I came down from my high as Eric removed his fangs from my neck, licking and sealing the puncture marks, never breaking pace. With grace that only 1000 years of experience could grant someone he flipped us, moving us down the bed, remaining deep inside of me. I felt the edge of the bed as Eric slid off, standing to his full, glorious height. He pulled me down flush, lifting my legs to place them over his shoulders, his large hands grasping at my butt. My hands sought out the sheets, clutching at the crumpled fabric. With a minor adjustment Eric found the exact spot I knew he was after, and my screams only confirmed it. One of his hands left my butt and came to rest upon my lower belly, his large hand hiding my light dusting of blonde hair from sight. The angle he held his hand at allowed for his thumb to rub against my clit, hard and fast. The extra pressure on both areas added to the stimulus of his member hitting my sensitive little spot over and over again. With a scream that Ginger would have been proud of, I fell over the edge once more, the coil inside of me snapping.

Through our bond I could feel Eric approaching his own release, though he was staving it off to try and give me more pleasure. It touched me how much of a considerate lover he was. The tendons in his neck were strained, his beautiful face contorted with pleasure, his golden mane ruffled and tangled while the fingernails on his hand on my butt were digging in, creating the most delicious pain. Though lost in my own pleasure, I took a moment to really look at my vampire, my Viking, my Eric. He was without his mask, his façade, right here with me. It would have been so easy for me to think of him as amnesia Eric, because in this moment he reminded me so much of him. This was the real Eric though, with all of his memories and experiences. I may have loved amnesia Eric, but I was in love with Eric as a whole. He was right though. Amnesia Eric was still there, but only I ever got to see him. He was both the soft, cuddly, romantic man and the fierce, protective, vampire Viking God.

My musings were stolen from me as Eric parted my legs wide, his hands moving to grip my calves and keep them apart. With a rough shove Eric ended up deeper inside of me than I thought possible. I’d taken all of him inside of me; something that I’d managed to garner from the fangbangers he’d been with in the past was no easy feat. I was a little smug about that. Of course the deeper angle threw me over the edge once more, and with a roar that even the fiercest of lions would never be able to match, my Eric let himself climax, emptying himself into me. His chest heaved with unnecessary breath as he fell forward, his hands resting either side of my head to stop him from crushing me. I welcomed his weight though, the way his forehead came down to mine, how his eyes closed as he inhaled deeply. His cool body soothed my warm one, and his tepid release snuffed out the burning inside my womb.

“Jag älskar dig.” (I love you) My vampire murmured, dropping kisses all over my face. I giggled like a school girl as his lips ghosted over my face.

“Jag älskar dig och jag kommer alltid att.” (I love you and I always will) I breathed once my giggles had subsided. The warm, almost mushy feelings from my bond with Eric made me smile. His eyelids slid back, revealing the beautiful blue eyes that had ensnared me the moment I had first looked in them. My bonded’s smile was beautiful, boyish and carefree. Cradling his face in my hands, I scattered kisses across his cheeks and his lips.

Eric's Eye Roll
“It is going to take some getting used to, hearing you speak my language.” Eric dropped his contractions as he spoke, and I smiled at that simple fact. When he was overtaken with strong emotions such as anger, lust, or love, my vampire forgot he had the ability to shorten his words.

“Well get use to it, oh mighty vampire King.” I teased, popping Eric on the shoulder gently. With a growl that turned me on more than frightened me, Eric had my hands pinned above my head, his comforting weight holding me in place.

“Careful faery princess, or I may have to cuff you to this bed.” Eric’s tone was low, seductive.

Cuffs
Deciding faery Sookie and her sauciness was due a long-awaited return; I batted my eyelashes coyly at my vampire. “Oh you can tie me up alright, my fierce warrior, but only if you promise to tear my clothes off of my body, pull my hair, bite my neck and fuck me hard.” I stroked Eric’s ego a little with my warrior comment, enjoying the way his pupils darkened.

Shock and surprise surged through our bond as Eric’s eyes widened. Quickly they were replaced with hunger and lust though, and his devilishly handsome smirk crossed his perfectly pouty lips. “Well, that was saucy.” He dropped his tone, purring his words as he nuzzled against my ear, his cool breath fanning over my heated skin.

“Oh I got skills you can’t even dream of, cowboy.” I plucked a phrase from one of Eric’s night dream memories. I felt a little odd rummaging through his thoughts, but we were bonded, we were fated, destined, whatever you wanted to call it. I had free access to Eric’s thoughts and memories, and he had free access to mine. Not that I had many in comparison.

The surprise from Eric was amusing, the way his eyes widened a little and his lips parted slightly, but then I felt his amusement and his understanding that I’d stolen that little line from his head. “I used to think you had no sense of humour.” My Viking let go of my hands, moving one of his large ones to prop himself up by my side, still half over me, his semi-erect member slipping out of me. His other hand moved to my throat, tracing down, over my collarbone. I got a flash of déjà vu. My Viking wanted to play this game?

“I used to think you were made of cold, hard stone, and empty inside.” I flexed my hips just a little, pressing against his already rapidly hardening length, putting emphasis on ‘hard.’

“And now?” Eric dutifully played along. I could feel him pulling the memory of my first blood induced dream from me, trying to watch it before I remembered it all so that he would know his lines right away. The hand that had been tracing over my throat and collarbones now trailed over my exposed shoulder.

“You’re a big faker.” I grinned, giving his chest a light prod. “You’re deep, you feel. There’s love in you.” I could see the corner of Eric’s lips quirking upwards.

Eric and Sookie
Dropping the tone of his voice, my bonded purred his response. “Only for Sookie.” Eric’s lips crashed onto mine and quickly he sat up, crossing his legs and pulling me onto his lap. Wrapping my legs around his waist, I sat in the little nook he’d created for me, my butt fitting just right. Lifting me slightly, my vampire slid inside of me, bringing me down until he was buried to the hilt. The moan that slipped through my lips was mirrored with his own sounds of appreciation. Eric’s lips found mine again, demanding entry with the swipe of his tongue across my lower lip. I gave it to him, just like I would give him anything else he wanted. I was powerless to say no to this man, my man, and I knew he was powerless to say no to me too. His large hands, strong and slightly callused from wielding swords in his human days, gripped my hips. Together we found a rhythm that suited us both, and his hands began to wander, touching any and all of my exposed skin that he could reach.

“Min Sookie.” Eric spoke reverently, his lips leaving mine to trail blazing kisses down my throat and across my collarbones, his eyes closed as he enjoyed the pleasure.

Eric and Sookie
“Min Eiríkr.” I stole the Old Norse version of Eric’s name, the snick of his fangs descending and his guttural growl showed his approval.

“Say it again.” He rasped, his hands returning to my hips, helping me rise and fall upon him at a slightly quicker pace. Shifting slightly, Eric’s hips moved, and the new angle caused me to cry out with pleasure, that tightening sensation in my lower stomach already established.

“Min Eiríkr.” I repeated breathlessly, rising and falling faster, throwing my head back with an unladylike grunt. I could feel Eric fighting off his release, trying to keep us going longer. I was nearing completion though, and Eric’s hand snaking around to rub furiously over my hypersensitive nub did nothing to quell my impending release.

“Once more.” He demanded, laving kisses over my breasts, which were the perfect height for him to attend to.

Coherent sentences were something I was struggling with. My release was so close, and I so desperately wanted to topple over the edge. “Min Eiríkr.” I gasped out just as Eric gave my little nub one final, firm swipe. Screaming out his name, in English this time, I found my release, my whole body shaking with the strength of it. I had no time to compose myself before Eric found his moment too, creating a sound somewhere between a howl and a roar. His fangs sank deep into my left breast, his tongue able to lave over my nipple as he sucked from the wounds he created while he gave his hips several more thrusts, emptying himself inside of me. I was caught off guard by another release, seconds later, brought on by the feel of him feeding and the intense pleasure that crashed through our bond from him.

Although I was tired, and in desperate need of a shower to rid myself of the sweat covering my body, I cradled Eric’s head, keeping him closer to my breast, allowing him to feed as much as he wanted to. I didn’t have to worry about losing a little too much blood anymore – Eric would always give me his blood to replace it now our third bond was in place.

My vampire fed for another minute or so, his pulls slow and lazy, a deep purring sound reverberating from his chest. I took the time to run my fingers lightly through his hair and down his shoulders, reflecting on how much my life had changed in the past few years.

I could see now that my life in Bon Temps, surrounded by the small-minded people who only thought cruel things of me, was not something I wanted. I didn’t want to live in Gran’s house again, at least not permanently. I would love that house forever, and I would keep it for just as long, but it was a reminder of the person I used to be – the shy, naïve little girl who fell for pretty words and tried to please everyone, when no one tried to please her.

Sookie Merlotte's Uniform
Eric removed his fangs from my breast, licking the wounds shut before he pricked his tongue on his fangs, rubbing some blood over the area to stop any scars. “You’re thinking hard, lover.” He commented, pulling back to look up at me. His skin now held a healthy pink tint to it, and I smiled at how happy he looked. It reminded me of the time Arlene had gone on holiday to Texas and had tanned. She’d looked so healthy upon her return, like she was glowing. Of course all vampires held a slight glow to them that other supernaturals could see, but Eric’s glow was deeper than that.

“I don’t want to live in Bon Temps anymore. I don’t want to live in Gran’s house anymore. I think I might rent it out to someone with a large family. They can make some memories of their own there.” I decided aloud, feeling confident in my choice. Eric and I hadn’t spoken about living together, and I didn’t assume we would. I would rent my own flat if needs be.

“You could live with me?” Eric offered, moving us so we were snuggled down under the duvet, his soft member slipping out of me as we changed position. “I would enjoy waking to you all the time, smelling you on our sheets, washing our clothes together.” He slung an arm over my waist, pulling me flush against him. Snuggling into his chest, I took a moment to smell him. It was an oddly vampiric thing for me to be doing, but there was no denying he carried a scent.

“Like the ocean in winter.” I mumbled into his chest, only seeing now how right his night dream had been. Eric chuckled at my comment, running his fingers through my slightly sweaty, matted hair. “I wouldn’t want to invade your space.” I liked his offer, I loved it in fact, but I had no doubt Eric had lived alone for so long that it would be difficult for him to live with anyone.

“I want you in my space.” He whispered, dropping a kiss to the top of my head.

Smiling against his broad chest, I dropped a kiss to his skin, right where his heart lay. “Then it’s settled. When we get back to Louisiana I’ll move in with you, wherever you want to live.”

Eric let out a sigh, a very human like gesture. It seemed we were starting to trade characteristics. “Our main residence will unfortunately have to be a large home, one that can accommodate guests. Think Russell’s mansion, but less tacky, a little smaller and with fewer men.” My bonded growled his disapproval of having men around.

Feeling cheeky, I let my teeth sink into my lower lip before I pouted against his chest. “Oh, but I thought I could have a pool boy or maybe even a personal trainer to keep me company in the day.” I whined, channeling my best Housewives of Orange County voice. Gran and I had stayed up to watch the program each week, if only to see how the other half lived. They all seemed to date and marry younger men…I didn’t quite follow that example!

Pool Boy
Eric’s armed tightened around me, and a little growl slipped from between his lips. He’d gotten over the need to roar ‘Sookie is MINE!’ to everyone, but he was still territorial. I guess it came with the vampirism. “There will be no young men running around our home, unless they are confirmed to be gay. Your friend Lafayette, for example.” He gritted out. Feeling a little bad for pushing him, I craned my neck up and pressed a kiss to the underside of his chin.

“I’m joking. Sheath your broadsword Viking, no one needs to be decapitated.” I teased, giving his sides a playful tickle. I made sure to hit one of the ticklish spots on his side, which I’d accidentally discovered during his time as Amnesia Eric. He guffawed loudly but attacked me with tickles too.

I laughed for a long time, trying to escape Eric’s large hands and his infectious smile as he laughed at my giggles. At the point where I thought I was going to pee myself I grabbed one of the white pillows, waving it above me in surrender. My vampire gave me a moment to tend to my human needs in the bathroom, spread out on his back in the middle of the bed, still laughing.

Returning to our bed, I straddled him, shuffling down until I was flat on top of him. Resting my head against his chest, I wrapped my arms around him as best I could, Eric’s arms coming around me to hold me to him.

“When we get back home, we’ll go house shopping.” He declared, running his fingers up and down my back, drawing little patterns. I knew Eric had money, lots of it in fact, but I was still upset about the fact I could contribute little to the funds for our new home. “What is mine is yours, min kära. You are my bonded, and in a few days you will be my wife. Is it not customary for the husband to provide for his woman?” He answered my worries – stupid blood bond and mental connection.

I took a moment to formulate my answer, not wanting to sound ungrateful or cause an argument. “I just don’t feel like I contribute much to our relationship, Eric. I want to be able to buy a house with you, not you buy it for us.”

Eric laughed quietly, his chest rising and falling rapidly beneath my head. “Oh my sweet Sookie, that is where you are wrong. You have given me your unconditional love, and that is worth much more than any number of houses, or diamonds, or whatever else we may buy together.” I tipped my head back to look up at him, finding his bright blue eyes locked on my face.

“Buying this home for us will make me happy, because we’ll choose it together and decorate it however we like. I want it to feel like home to you, min kära, just like your Grandmother’s house felt like home to you for so many years. If you wish to contribute then we’ll work something out, be it a small percentage of whatever rent you gain from the lease of your Grandmother’s property or any money you earn with your gift should you wish to utilise it in such a manner. Know this though,” his hands came up to cup my face, giving me no option but to gaze into his endless eyes, “money is no problem for me, and it won’t be a problem for you any longer. I know you are independent and want to earn your own money, and that just makes me love you even more, if that’s possible. You deserve a home though, you deserve the very best in life, and I will go to hell and back to make sure you get it.” The sincerity in his voice, the passion and love in his eyes, his conviction that I deserved everything through our bond was enough to have tears welling up in my eyes. “I hate it when you cry, even when they are happy tears.” He gave a small, rueful laugh.

“Were all Vikings as sappy as you?” I teased, earning myself a snap of fangs and a playful growl.

“I am not ‘sappy’, lover. Snappy maybe.” He made a show of snapping his fangs up, and then down one more, before he playfully chomped his teeth together in a biting motion.

“So long as I’m the only one being snapped at.” I nuzzled into Eric’s chest, smiling as I felt his approval through our bond. My eyelids were starting to feel heavy and sleep was trying to claim me. Another clicking sound alerted me to the fact my vampire was no longer flashing fang.

“I’ll be your pool boy if you really want one.” Eric compromised, running his fingers through my hair once more to get rid of the tangles.

“Mhmm. I’d prefer all 6’4 of your Scandinavian yumminess over some Cajun any day.” I muttered. The sound of Eric’s deep, rumbling laughter was the last thing I heard as I fell into slumber.


PAM’S POV
Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
When you hold me I’m alive, we’re like diamonds in the sky
I knew that we’d become one right away, oh, right away
At first sight I felt the energy of sunrays, I saw the life inside your eyes
~ Diamonds, Rihanna

Tonight is the night. Tonight I’ll be crowned and be a Queen. Tonight I will be pledged to Ari and be his wife for at least 100 years, a bond that no one can sever. Ata and Godric’s wedding slowed down once they’d left to fuck until sunrise, and the guests had all disappeared off to their respective hotel rooms to relax before dawn. I was left with the rest of our nest to clean up the mess left behind. Of course humans could have been hired to clean up, but they were slow and wouldn’t have done such a good job. I always did a good job.

Ari and I had retired for the day together, dying in each other’s arms. It was sappy, like that horrendous romance movie The Notebook that Eric had ordered me to watch twenty times in a row, even in the day so I’d been forced to fight the pull of the sun. It had been my punishment once when I’d overstepped my mark in teasing him about Sookie during her yearlong adventure in Faery. Suffice to say I stopped teasing the shit out of him then. Not that vampires shit anyway.

Day death was a strange experience. One moment we were fine, and the next we were out of it, falling into death as the sun started to make its way through the sky. Waking was pretty much the same. The moment the sun dipped below the horizon our eyes snapped open and we were mobile once again, the last thing we could remember was curling up in our beds for the day. It was instant, and felt like no time had passed at all. It was why the older vampires mostly grew tired of their existence. Everything seemed continuous, monotonous.

It was Ari’s chocolate eyes that I woke to, staring intently at me. I could feel his happiness through our bond, his affection and his anticipation for our coronation and pledging. Seeing as neither of us were human there was no need to be joined in a human wedding ceremony, a pledging was the vampire version of marriage. Ari had spoken to Eric during Ata and Godric’s wedding, what about I had no idea, but I’d felt my Maker’s approval and support. That was all that mattered to me. If Eric was happy, then I was happy. Now, if Ari was happy too, then I was even happier.

“Good evening, my Queen.” Ari teased in his Egyptian lilt, tracing his fingers over my exposed shoulder in a gesture very similar to the way Eric had caressed me when we’d been intimate with one another during my first few years as a vampire.

“My King.” I purred, playing along. Ari took some loose tendrils of my hair, twirling them around his fingers.

“I guess we should get ready. Mother and father should be arriving any moment for us to all celebrate Christmas, and then we must dress for our coronation and pledging.” My soon-to-be husband sighed, clearly disliking the idea of getting out of our comfortable bed just as much as me.

Leaning over, I pressed a firm kiss to Ari’s lips, not needing to worry about bad breath. Only humans suffered from such an atrocious thing. “The sooner we get out of this bed, the sooner we’ll be back in it.” I suggested, trailing a perfectly manicured nail lightly down the center of Ari’s chest, through his smattering of brown chest hair. When I’d first been interested in men, before women had captured my attention for a few decades, I’d always liked manly men – chest hair and deep voices, strong muscles and big hands. Ari ticked every box.

A smile danced across Ari’s lips, one of his hands darting out to catch mine, the other moving to grip my hip gently. “Hm, I like how you think.” He pulled me up on top of him, letting me feel just how much he liked my thought process.

Daring to play with fire, I gave my hips a quick roll, grinding down on my Egyptian before I vamped away from him and into the closet, laughing at his frustration through our bond. He was pouting like a teacup human, bless him.

Clipping my bra on and slipping into the matching panties, I donned my Juicy Couture baby pink velour tracksuit. Eric and I enjoyed dressing down when not at Fangtasia. The humans expected us to wear black leather and every other uncomfortable fabric under the moon. I preferred softer fabric and pastels, and Eric enjoyed his tracksuits and flip-flops. Pulling on the matching pants I added a pair of flat pink, leopard print Jeffery Campbells. Eric had bought my tracksuit for me, not only because he thought the colour was very me, but because there was a crown on the back with the word ‘Glamorous’ printed in gold. My Maker knew me so well.

Jacket

Sweatpants

Shoes

Returning to the bedroom, I sashayed to the bathroom to sort out my hair and make-up. Ari left our bed, going to the wardrobe to dress himself. With my vampire speed I had my hair perfectly coifed and my make-up flawless in a matter of seconds. Ari was waiting by the bedroom door for me, and together we made our way to the living room. I could feel everyone in our nest present.

“We were wondering when you would join us.” Egor teased from his spot on one of the sofas, a little twinkle in his eyes. If it had been any of my other soon-to-be brothers-in-law I would have sassed them, but seeing Egor regaining a little part of himself after his brother’s demise was too good to ruin. I was turning into an emotional bitch.

“Ari needed tending to.” I decided to aim my barb at my bonded. One of his large hands came down firmly on my butt, and I squealed with shock, whirling around to face my companion. He was wearing a fangy grin, but it was Eric’s booming laughter that had me turning back around to face our nest. Folding my arms over my chest I rested my weight on one leg, cocking an eyebrow at my chortling Maker. “Something funny?”

Eric ceased his laughter, letting his trademark smirk settle onto his lips. He was sat on the opposite sofa to Egor, an arm thrown around Sookie who was settled in his side. Ata and Godric were sharing a sofa with Egor, cuddled up together. Bubba had taken the other spot on the sofa with Eric and Sookie. The rest of our nest had opted to sit on huge, colourful cushions on the floor. Floors weren’t uncomfortable for us vampires, not as they were for humans anyway. We didn’t have to worry about pins and needles or any of the other ailments humans could get from prolonged sitting, such as a bad back. Godric’s mother, along with Julius, Cleopatra and Caesarion were all sat on the barstools in the kitchen. I felt a little bad that we didn’t have anything for them, but we’d had little notice of their impending visits. They seemed content to simply watch us though.

Hunter was perched on Eric’s lap, vibrating with excitement over the fact that it was Christmas evening. I had no doubt the young boy had been up much earlier, but that Sookie had made him wait to open presents. My suspicions were confirmed when he turned to look at her. “Can we open presents now?” He beamed, looking over to the Christmas tree that had appeared during the day. It was decorated with an array of beautiful baubles and tinsel, and topped with a figurine of a fairy, much to my amusement. Sookie and Hunter had been busy. There were plenty of presents under the tree, all wrapped in a variety of colours. Eric and I hadn’t celebrated Christmas together in years. For me it was a human tradition, something I didn’t need nor want to do, but of course it was a bit more important for Eric given his heritage. We gave one another gifts throughout the year, so found Christmas a bit pointless. With our family though, especially the mostly human members, I would make an effort to enjoy the day for them. It didn’t hurt that it meant more presents for me now…

Christmas Tree

“I wanna go first!” Hunter exclaimed, shooting off of Eric’s lap and towards the tree. I could only smile at his enthusiasm as I took a seat on another colourful pillow on the floor. Ari picked up his own pillow, placing it behind mine so he could sit behind and hold me. I would have gagged, if my gag reflex worked, only a few weeks ago at such a sweet gesture.

Hunter scrambled for a present, checking the tags as he went along. “I think we should all get a present each.” Sookie suggested in a motherly tone. We were on a timeline and if we all opened our presents one at a time we’d be late for the coronations.

Ata and Sookie, sharing a nod, both left the sofas and came to kneel before the tree. Together they rummaged through the presents, picking out ones for each of us to open first. “Can I open the long one first, sis?” Jason spoke up from his pillow, gesturing towards a long box shaped item that had been wrapped.

“Course Jase.” Sookie smiled brightly, handing the present over to him. Hunter picked up a medium sized square box. Ata handed me a small box, and gave Ari one of a similar size. The first presents were distributed, and we all sat back down together. I picked up the tag on my gift, noting that it was from Ata and Godric. With Ari’s arms around me he was forced to look over my shoulder at his gift, and I noted too that his present was marked up from them.

Hunter looked around, seeking permission. With a nod from Sookie he was tearing into the paper with abandon. Shaking his head and laughing, Eric started to unwrap the box Ata had handed him – the present from me. Everyone tore into their respective presents, including myself.

When all of my paper was gone I was faced with a box that looked suspiciously like it housed jewelry. Grinning, I popped the lid open. An amethyst and grey diamond pendant necklace was encased in the box, surrounded by plush velvet. The amethyst was huge and prism shaped, the grey diamonds forming spikes around the entire edge of the stone. It hung on a white gold chain and was utterly beautiful, if not a little deadly looking thanks to the spikes.

Pam's Present
“It reminded us of you.” Ata smiled from me on the sofa. Unable to stop myself, not that I wanted to, I offered her a warm smile in response.

“It’s gorgeous, thank you.” I slipped it from the box, passing it over my head so it fell around my neck, the prism resting against my breastbone. Ata was clutching a box in her hand, and I knew she’d yet to open it. With another smile at me she returned to her own present, and I turned my attention to Ari’s.

He too had a black jewelry box, but when he popped the lid he was greeted with silver cufflinks in the shape of a crown. “A show of your status, and a little bit of a weapon should anyone try to grab you.” Godric explained as my bonded grinned up at him and Ata. He would need to wear gloves to put the cufflinks on, but anyone would be a fool to try and touch him while he was wearing them. It was the perfect way for him to carry an extra defense mechanism with him.

Ari's Present
“Thank you, father, mother.” He thanked them both, lifting the box a little higher so I could get a better look at the contents. The cufflinks were beautiful and looked to be hand crafted, the attention to detail incredible.

“SO COOL!” Hunter squealed from his perch near the tree as he revealed an iPad. Eric had informed me on the present he and Sookie were buying Hunter so we could coordinate. My Maker had already loaded the iPad up with the basics, including some educational apps at Sookie’s insistence, in order to further the boys’ poor education. Eric and Sookie, and thus Hunter, would probably travel quite a bit with their new titles, and it would give Hunter something to play with on flights or on car journeys. It helped that he could use it to Skype Sookie and Eric whenever they went somewhere he couldn’t accompany them to, such as the yearly vampire summits.

Grinning like the cat that got the cream, Hunter was up off of his butt, scooting over to Sookie and Eric. Keeping a tight hold of his new piece of tech he embraced Sookie first, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you momma.” He scrambled over to Eric, throwing his little arms around him. Eric wrapped him up in his embrace, holding him to his chest. “Thank you daddy.” He mumbled into Eric’s chest. My Maker released his hold on the boy, who shuffled around so he was sat on his lap facing us all. His little hands went to his iPad and he started to play with it, having a look at all the apps that were on it.

“It’s no problem my son, anything for you.” Eric dropped a kiss to the top of his head, ruffling his bangs a little. Eric cracked open his present from Ari and I. With a gentle tug he had the black case open, and then proceeded to grin happily. “Thank you brother, daughter.” He removed the black Persol Steve McQueen Special Edition 714 Sunglasses Ari and I had bought him. They were a limited run, with only 10,000 ever made. With his new adventures in the sunshine he would need to protect his eyes from any damage. After 1000 years of darkness they would be more susceptible to the light. It also hid the red under his eyes from his vampiric state, and they were fucking badass. In a fluid motion he slipped them over his eyes, offering a lopsided grin. Hunter turned around, looking up at his father. Lifting his iPad he snapped a photo and Eric indulged him, even though he wasn’t too keen on having his photo taken. We’d had to confiscate or crush so many phones at Fangtasia because of his aversion to photographs.

Eric's Present

Turning my attention to Ata, I watched as she produced a black jewellery box too. Lifting the lid, her little gasp captured the attention of everyone in the room. From inside she produced a pair of Harry Winston white gold and diamond earrings, the ones that matched her engagement ring and necklace. “You’ve spoilt me rotten.” Ata turned to Godric, capturing his lips for a tender kiss before she swept her hair back, slipping the dangling earrings through her piercings. She was already wearing her engagement ring and the matching necklace. Now she had the full set.

Ata's Earrings

“You deserve everything.” Godric dropped a kiss to her temple, holding him to her. “I was going to save them for our honeymoon, but I couldn’t wait.” He chuckled.

Sookie opened her presents from Eric and Hunter, one of which was an envelope. I knew what was in it as Eric had asked me to contact Desmond Cataliades the demon lawyer, and organise everything. Sookie produced the piece of paper from inside, smiling at the deed to her Grandmothers home. I never understood the sentiment behind a house, but it was important to Sookie and therefore important to all those in our family. “Thank you Eric. This house has been in my family since the 1800’s. One of my great-great granddaddy’s, Jonas Stackhouse, built it himself.” She explained, earning a nod of pride from Ena. I had no doubt Mrs. Nervii had built her own home with her husband too, back when she had been a young woman.

Sookie opened the little box that had been somewhat badly wrapped. It stood to reason that Hunter had wrapped it, which I found endearing rather than nauseating, as I would have done not so long ago. Removing the lid on the golden box inside, Sookie plucked out a car key from inside. “What did you do?” She asked quietly, eyes-wide as she looked to Hunter and Eric, who were both sported identical boyish grins.

“Your little 1980 Honda Civic is on its last legs, momma.” Hunter pointed out, obviously having been told what to say by Eric, who ruffled his hair in approval. “Daddy and I got you an armoured, bulletproof Range Rover Supercharged. Daddy says you end up in a lot of trouble all the time and that you need it to keep the bad men away, and a mangy mutt called Alcide?” Hunter turned to look at Eric to see if he’d gotten his rehearsed words right. I couldn’t stop myself from bursting into a fit of laughter at the expression on Sookie’s face – she was torn between being angry at Eric’s highhandedness and mortified at how Eric was already influencing Hunter. Eric’s booming laughter mixed with mine and he grinned at Sookie, who was sporting a serious pout.

Sookie's Present

Eric sobered quickly though. “I couldn’t stand it if something happened to you or Hunter. At least this way you’ll both be that little bit safer if you go out without me.” He explained, appealing to Sookie’s practical side. She pouted for a moment longer before she smiled, warm and grateful.

“Thank you Eric, Hunter.” She lent over, giving Hunter a kiss on his nose before she planted a kiss to Eric’s lips, being careful to keep it chaste due to present company. I had no doubt Eric would ask her to show him just how thankful she was later on, behind a closed door.

Godric opened his present next; it was rather large and bulky. A light frown crossed his face as he tried to work it out while he was unwrapping it. When the paper fell away though his jaw dropped a little. Sketched and painted, framed in a beautiful golden frame, was an image of a village. The huts were built high, clad in yellow mud with straw roofs. Trees surrounded the village and there seemed to be an animal pen of sort’s fairy central to the village. In the bottom left hand corner of the painting was a small message – ‘For my husband. There’s no place quite like home. With millenniums of love, A xx’

Godric's Present
“You drew this?” Godric asked shakily, taking in the painting once more. It clicked in my mind then that this was his village, his home. Ata stole a glance to Ena, who smiled at her before she turned her attention to her son.

“Ata paid a visit to a Amelia, and I was able to converse with her through the young lady. She asked me what to get you. I recommended that she make something herself. The next day she returned and asked me to show her our village.” Ena explained, tapping her head to clarify what she meant by being shown, even though we all knew of Ata, Hunter, and Sookie’s abilities.

My GrandSire was quick to stand before Ata, pulling her up to press a passionate kiss to her lips. I could see their kiss becoming a little more fevered and, knowing we were on a timeline and they had an audience, I cleared my throat to break them apart. It worked, and they parted, sharing a private smile.

We opened all of our other presents, enjoying one another’s company and laughing, smiling and thanking one another over our gifts. Jason’s long present had been a new hunting rifle from Eric and Sookie. Hunter received a huge accessory kit for his iPad from Ari and I, while Ata and Godric bought him $150 Apple voucher with the provision that Eric and Sookie promised to monitor his app and music purchases. Egor had loved the travel bag I’d bought him for his upcoming adventures around the world. I’d even received a hug from the other Viking vampire, earning a light-hearted growl from Ari. The boys had ended up wrestling one another playfully on the floor. Men, regardless of whether they were 2000, 1000 or 10, were still children at heart. I’d rolled my eyes and smiled at their antics, as had most of our nest.

Riei received numerous beauty related items, for his fashion-savvy and appearance-conscious self. Oeri was treated to two full vials of Ata’s unsuppressed blood – a thank you for every time he had given her his own blood to heal her. Khai received a new tailored suit and we all coordinated to get him things to go with it, ready for his role as King of Mississippi. We each received a variety of gifts from one another, and I think I laughed and smiled more in the hour we spent sat together than I had in my 100 years as a vampire. Godric had even gone out to buy a few gifts for Julius, Cleopatra, and Caesarion, ensuring they weren’t left out. It was a testament to how well suited they were that Ata had planned ahead and bought a present for Ena. No one was left out.

The clock on the mantle struck 10pm and with our coronations starting at midnight we all parted ways to prepare. Ari took my hand, leading me back to our bedroom. “I know you’re going to be given items to wear during the ceremony, but I wanted to treat you.” He explained, leading me into our walk-in wardrobe. Although we vampires had perfect night vision, he flicked the light on for dramatics anyway. The whole space was lit up, and in the middle of the room, on a satin hanger, was the prettiest gown I had ever seen. Growing up in Victorian England had meant an awful lot of gowns, but none were as beautiful as the one Ari had bought me for our coronation.

The dress was multiple shades of purple, composed of multiple layers and fabrics. There was tulle and silk, satin and lace. The bottom of the dress, from my hips downwards, was made of layers of tulle over a satin slip, and the bottom of the dress just brushed the floor. The bodice was made of dark purple silk and lace, which looked like liquid, and it was adorned with hundreds of beautiful gems, which were scattered across the tulle of the dress in little patches and swirls. The silk of the bodice was long on one side though, flowing down and over the tulle in ripples of fabric. The dress was strapless and fitted, and I had no doubts that my Egyptian had bought the perfect size. Beside the dress, on the floor, sat a gorgeous pair of light purple, peep-toe Louboutin heels. “You spoil me so much. Thank you.” I leaned over, pressing my lips to Ari’s. He readily accepted my kiss, but I was forced to break it before we got too carried away, much to our mutual disappointment.

Pam's Dress

Pam's Shoes

I took my time doing my hair and make-up, going at a humans pace to savour every second. I curled my hair into loose curls before I spritzed them with hairspray and then I gently brushed them out a little, creating a wavy effect, to match the ripples of my dress. I kept my make-up light, opting for a simple powder, blusher, lipstick and then mascara combo. Once my make-up was complete, I slipped on a pair of neutral panties and the matching bra. Grabbing my dress, I removed it from the hanger, sliding it over my head. It fitted like a glove. Gliding my matching heels on, I fluffed my hair a little, pouting in the mirror before I decided I was perfect enough for my audience.

Leaving the confines of the wardrobe, I was greeted with the sight of Ari, already dressed in his suit, his tie the exact same shade of purple as my dress. “We match.” I pointed out the obvious, gesturing to my bonded’s tie.

“That was intentional.” He offered me a smug smile before he held out the crook of his arm. “Shall we?”

Nodding, I linked his arm. I’d never attended a vampire coronation before, but I’d seen videos of Queen Victoria’s coronation when I’d been human. It couldn’t be too different, right?

Ata had cleared out her basement for our coronations. Ari had told me that she often held meetings there with other supernaturals. Our coronations would have limited impact on the human world, unless we passed laws concerning them, and we wanted to keep humans as far away from our politics as possible. The coronations were being held in the basement for that very reason. No one would even imagine that it would be happening right below their feet, and there was a lower risk of someone stumbling upon our gathering and having to be glamoured into forgetting everything they witnessed.

We took the elevator down, riding all the way to the basement. As the doors slid back we were greeted with a screen, behind which Ata and Godric stood. Ari and I joined them, and Ari took Ata’s hand, giving it a quick squeeze. The Egyptian faery was dressed in a floor length golden gown and I recognised it immediately as one of the dresses that had been purchased during our shopping spree when Godric had been tasked with finding Ata her dress for the Sheriff’s Ball. Over her dress she wore a beautiful red and gold robe, the trail fanning out behind her and the fur-lined edge was pinned together with a brooch in the shape of Isis’ wings, a ruby sitting in the centre. Godric also had the same robe on, however his was fastened with a fang – Marc’s fang, to be exact. It served as a warning to all of those who would dare to try and harm them.

Golden Dress Front

Ata's Robe

Ata's Brooch

Godric's Brooch
“Nervous?” My GrandSire asked me. Shaking my head, I kept myself from smiling at his concern. I needed to act like a Queen, and look like one. In the supernatural world, the bitchier I was, and looked, the better. Fewer people would fuck with me that way. It helped that I had a 2000-year-old, 220lb vampire on my arm.

I could hear, and smell, all the other guests for the evening’s events. Judging by the slight scraping of chairs, and the rough plans I’d spotted on Ari’s desk one evening, our guests were sat in rows, and we walk down a red-carpeted aisle towards the dais at the far end, where four thrones had been placed, including the two that Ata already owned – hers and Godric’s.

Ari and I would be crowned after Ata and Godric. It was only fair that they get to go first. The organ that had been placed in the basement especially for the occasion struck up. My GrandSire took Ata’s hand in his own and together they walked towards their thrones. The guests were all up on their feet as they headed down the aisle and wouldn’t be allowed to sit until Ata and Godric sat. I could admit they looked good together, and would be a wonderful king and queen. Together they turned to face the congregation of Supes and sat upon their thrones. As the organ cut out the guests all took their seats. The Ancient Pythoness was proceeding over the coronations, another event that the old vampiress was rolled out for.

Though vampire, The Ancient Pythoness walked at a slow yet steady speed. She started in the east of the basement, which had been decorated with the royal fae colours of gold and purple. They would be changed over to silver and purple for Ari and I when it was our turn. “Are you willing to pay homage to your new ruler?” The Ancient Pythoness asked, having no need to raise her voice. She had all the authority in the room. The fae were the only ones able to answer the question, as Ata and Godric would be their rulers on their plane. Those present, who had all been given potions by Amelia to mask their scents, all remained silent. The Ancient Pythoness, pleased, moved on to the south of the basement, then the west and finally the north of the building, asking the same question every time she stopped. Everyone had remained silent. Returning to the dais, The Ancient Pythoness was handed a leather-bound book by one of her handmaidens. Taking it in her hands, she offered it out to Ata and Godric. Together they placed their hands on the surface of the book, the leather having been embossed with ornate detail and a whimsical willow tree in the centre.

Book
“Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of Faery and any of your possessions and other territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?” The usual coronation speech was adjusted to accommodate Ata and Godric’s new roles.

“I solemnly promise so to do.” They spoke in unison.

“Will you use your power to cause law and justice, including mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?” The Ancient Pythoness asked.

“We will.” Ata and Godric responded together, the room deathly silent, much to my somewhat childish amusement, as they spoke their oath.

“Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in Faery the Faerum Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Shrine of Faery, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in Faery? And will you preserve unto the Nobles and other Royals of Faery, and to the Shrines there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?” It was interesting to hear The Ancient Pythoness adjust the usual coronation speech to match the current situation. I’d not been aware of the fae religion, Faerum, but I would not voice my curiosity. Eric would have a field day tormenting me about it.

“All this we promise to do. The things that we have here before promised, we will perform, and keep. So help us God.” Godric and Ata finished together. The Ancient Pythoness gave Ata and Godric the bible.

The Ancient Pythoness cracked a small smile as she finished the oath. “Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God”

Ata and Godric rose to their feet, Ata’s hands clutching at the bible of her people. Godric moved before her, unpinning her cloak. Taking it from her, Ata in turn unpinned Godric’s cloak, removing it from him too. Holding each other’s cloaks, they took their seats once more. Ata and Godric had asked Khai, Riei, Oeri and Egor to be the four holding up the canopy over their heads to conceal them from everyone else as they were anointed. Though we couldn’t see what was happening, every Supe could hear it.


ATA’S POV
She keeps Moët et Chandon in her pretty cabinet
‘Let them eat cake,’ she says just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy for Kruschev and Kennedy, at anytime an invitation you can’t decline
Caviar and cigarettes, well versed in etiquette
Extraordinarily nice, she’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, guillotine, dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind, anytime
Recommended at the price, insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?
~ Killer Queen, Queen

I’d been nervous for our coronation. When I’d had my coronation in Egypt, over 2000 years ago, it hadn’t been such a grand event. Of course my people had gathered to watch the procession through the streets, and for the moment I’d had a crown placed upon my head, but I’d only gone through with it to carry on my mothers legacy. This time I was being coroneted because I wanted to be, because I would get to rule with the love of my life by my side. I’d chosen the golden dress Godric had bought me when he’d been searching for my Sheriff’s Ball dress as my coronation gown. It was simple and flattering, and the colour reminded me of the blazing sunshine back home. I’d sat silent, tall, while Pallas had gone around the room asking all fae present if they agreed with my being their monarch. Godric and I had gone over the basic oath we would have to take when we’d finally paused long enough from our sexual escapades for me to eat something. We’d known that it would be changed a little for our coronation, as we would be ruling over the fae, not the vampires. I had a feeling my husband would still have some sway over the vampires anyway. His age would guarantee that.

With my cloak removed and our sons holding the canopy over us to allow us some privacy, my husband and I ditched our clothing, stripping down to our underwear. Kneeling before Pallas, my old friend poured some light fruit oil onto her fingers from the ampulla I had gifted her many years ago. With her cold, wrinkled fingers she swiped the oil across my hands, head and heart. She did the same to Godric and we both felt the moment the oil seeped into our skin. Mab, as a way to keep faeries in Faery, had modified the light fruit, however this was the pure, fresh fruit. The light fruit contained sunlight, and was tied ever so slightly to the fae realm, embedded in its history and beginning. Godric and I would be able to leave Faery whenever we wanted and spend time in the human realm, but we would always feel a pull to return back to Faery.

Light Fruit

Eric had joined us under the canopy, along with Sookie, and my dear cousin helped dress me in the colobium sindonis – a simple, sleeveless, white linen shift. Sookie picked up the Supertunica next and helped me slip it on. Eric helped Godric get his on. We’d had to pin Godric’s robe a little, as it was made for someone of Eric’s stature instead, and it would be let down again as we made our way to Louisiana. I’d teased my husband for a good thirty minutes about how small he was, but of course he’d felt the need to remind me, for hours, that his height was the only thing short about him. Biting my lower lip, I stopped myself from thinking about my husband and our antics earlier on in the day. The smile tugging at the corner of his lips made a blush sweep across my cheeks, the pale pink contrasting with the rich golden silk of the Supertunica now covering me.

Supertunica
With a flourish the canopy was removed, and our sons carried it away. Eric and Sookie slinked back into the crowd, my son taking Hunter’s hand. He’d been under the watchful gaze of Isabel while Eric and Sookie had been helping Godric and I. Godric and I didn’t sit upon our thrones immediately, instead we re-robed one another. Pallas handed me the Sovereign’s Orb, offering the emerald and gold Sovereign’s Sceptre to my husband. The Orb was a religious artefact of my people, symbolising the never ending sphere of our lives and, encrusted with some of the most beautiful stones that Faery had to offer, was a reminder of our wealth and power. It also represented my role as the defender of our people. The sceptre my husband had been presented with showed the power of Faery, and that he was now in control of it. He would lead our armies, train them and look after them; he would come up with battle plans and decide which enemies to take on and which not too. He was the commander, in charge of keeping our realm safe.

Orb

Sceptre
Pallas gave a small nod of her head and I took to my throne, sitting myself comfortably atop the plush velvet seat. Godric took the seat next to me, sitting down with grace, his hands clutching at the blade he had been presented with as I balanced the beautiful orb in my left hand, letting my light flow from my right to remind all those present that though I was small and delicate looking, I was just as lethal as my husband.

Pallas moved behind us and with steady hands that I didn’t think she possessed, as her age had not fared her well, she placed the fae crown upon my head. “By the power vested in me, I crown thee Queen Ata Caesar-Nervii of Faery.” She moved quickly to take the other crown, placing it atop Godric’s head. “By the power vested in me, I crown thee King Godric Caesar-Nervii of Faery.” Pallas declared us Queen and King, moving to stand behind us, but between our thrones. One of her hands came down lightly on my shoulder and she gave it a gentle, comforting squeeze. “You may swear fealty to your Queen and King.” She ordered. Every guest in the room dropped to one knee and dipped their head, include those who were not fae and were therefore not required to swear fealty to us. I guessed my husband and I inspired loyalty in all of those around us regardless.

Gazing out at the sea of people knelt before us I listened in on each of them as they all voiced their fealty, ratting out any who had ulterior motives. I was pleased to find that everyone in the room was loyal, and would follow Godric and I to the ends of the earth if needs be. My years of kindness and fairness were paying off, and my husband’s years of fairness and battle strength were giving him a political boost too. It was a strange sensation; to be looking over a group of people all knelt before me. The last time this had happened had been 2000 years ago, when my mother had died and the crown had been passed on to me. Back then it had felt more like a burden than a blessing, and I had known that it wouldn’t have ended the way I had wanted it to unless I took matters into my own hands. It was why I had chosen to fake my own passing. That wouldn’t happen this time though. I was ruling over my own people, even though I had been ruling over my own people back then too, but amongst the fae I was just like them, not some rare little gem with a quirky ability like I had been in my human years. I also happened to have a King, a man I loved with all of my heart and soul, and that was not something many could say in the supernatural world. Marriage for love was uncommon, with political power and wealth being the main motivators. It was a sad truth.

“You may all rise.” I spoke with strength and authority, with the tone of voice my mother had trained me to use throughout all of my teenage years, right until her death. Every supernatural in the room rose from their position on one knee. With the eyes of everyone on my husband and I, I gave my first royal decree. “I thank you all for swearing your fealty here today. Though not required from those in this room who are not fae, I am touched that you are loyal to my husband and I regardless. As my first act as Queen of Faery, let it be known that from this moment forward any who dare to harm any of my line, be them by blood or by marriage, intentionally or accidentally, will feel the full weight of the fae law brought down upon them. It is my understanding that you are all aware that ones life is a suitable punishment for the more serious of offences. I do not say this to cause alarm, and nor do I like starting my rule with a threat, but I was taught from a very young age that family comes first. Those of you who have sworn fealties to me today are now my family, and therefore my protection is extended to you in return. Should you ever find yourself in need of assistance I will make it my duty to offer whatever resources I can reasonably offer to aid you. Though it may go against what some of you gathered here have been brought up to think, I do believe we can all co-exist peacefully. I mean, I married a vampire for goodness sake…” I tipped my head to my husband and offered him a warm smile, pushing my love through our bond as our audience chuckled at my little icebreaker.

Turning my attention back to those gathered before us, I watched the crowd in silence for a moment as they pulled their laughter under control. “As you have sworn loyalty to me, I vow to protect the worlds we live in as best I can, to aid as many of you as possible as often as needed and to stand tall in the face of adversity, to be your guide through these troubling times. The humans of this world are still apprehensive of vampires, and it will be a long time before the rest of us in this room reveal ourselves, but when the time is right I will be the first to step forward and tell the world exactly what I am, and who I am. There is no shame in showing our true natures and embracing them, regardless of how the humans respond. If needs be we will concur those who oppose us and repress us. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me. I only hope that every one of you will stand by my side when the need arises.”

The room erupted into applause and, feeling like my message had gone through loud and clear, I rose from my throne. Pallas had two of her handmaiden’s come and collect the orb and the sceptre from my husband and I. They stepped down before us, leading the way out of the room and towards the elevator that would take Godric and I back to the penthouse, where we could change before we boarded the plane for Louisiana with the rest of our nest. As Godric and I stepped down from the dais, the fae in the crowd moved to the sides of the aisle and together raised their hands, using their light to create a beautiful tunnel for us to pass under. At the same time they broke into song, singing the traditional song of our people. “Faery, the land I call my home. From the green clear summers, from blossoming light fruit trees, magnificent her mountains and seas. Faery, Faery, you’re noble, proud, and brave. Faery, Faery, forever will your banner wave!” I was a little emotional, there was no point in denying it, but I felt my sons, and my husband, sending their strength through our bonds, and it was enough to get me to the end of the aisle and behind the privacy screen that had been installed there.

Sliding behind the screen, daddy swept me up into his arms as best he could in my multiple layers of clothing. Ena was behind the screen too, and she clamped her arms around Godric, holding him to her tightly. “You’ve made me so proud.” My mother’s hands grasped my face as daddy put me down, and mother dropped a kiss to my forehead. Caesarion grasped at my hands, holding them tightly and rubbing his fingers over my left palm. When we had been children he had rubbed my hands a lot, hoping that the contact would drown out the bad thoughts with his good ones. I’d once mentioned to him that physical contact made me hear someone clearer, and drowned out the rest, and Caesarion had simply decided to help me one day when everyone’s thoughts had been so loud that I was getting a headache. He’d continued to help me out in such a way right up until our fight when mother had died.

Ena was fussing over Godric, smothering him in kisses, ruffling his hair that wasn’t hidden under his crown. We swapped parents for a minute and my mother and daddy showered their love over Godric. Ena took my hands in hers and pulled us together, wrapping me up in her embrace. “Thank you for looking after my son, Ata, and thank you for taking him as your husband and not only giving him that title, but the title of King too. I could not have wished for more for my boy.” Ena whispered as she held me tightly. I could hear the sound of the orchestra starting up for Ari and Pam’s coronation. Pam had demanded to have new robes made for her, and Ari had obliged. She had him wrapped around her little finger.

“I would do anything for him, Ena. I would give him anything he wants, if only to see him smile.” I responded honestly, pulling back from our embrace to once again hold my mother in laws hands. A pair of cool arms wrapped themselves around my middle, and a strong chest pressed against my back.

“It’s a good job that you make me smile then, and that I get to keep you forever.” My husband teased, giving me a gentle squeeze as he dropped a kiss to my neck. I stopped my shiver, fearing it was inappropriate to be getting turned on by my husband when his mother was stood right in front of me.

“Good. I’m happy you finally found each other, my son.” Ena offered Godric a warm smile, full of her love and care for him. “Please do not rush off once Ari and Pamela have been coroneted. I have important news to share with you.” Ena’s comment was directed at my husband, and he instinctively clung to me a little harder, a small trickle of uncertainty slithering through our bond. I remembered Pallas’ words, how she’d said that the news Ena would give Godric would change everything. I had to admit that I was a little worried about the news Ena would be sharing, but I trusted my husband enough to know he wouldn’t push me away regarding whatever news was to be broken to him. With one last kiss to each of us, Ena drifted back off to the crowd of people who were gathering now to witness Ari and Pam’s coronation.

Pam had been a pain in the ass for Ari, but he’d tolerated her every demand because he knew how important this would be for her. I’d tried to tell him that he should put his foot down or he’ll soon have a diva on his hands for the rest of eternity. Naturally he didn’t listen, not until Pam threw a fit over the off-white tablecloths in their new home, when she said that she demanded pure white tablecloths and not ‘grey tinged scraps of shit.’ I laughed at my eldest son as he admitted to having made a monster. Mother is always right.

Slipping out of most of the heavy, uncomfortable clothing, I handed them over to one of my assistants so they could pack them away for the trip to Louisiana. Sookie and Eric would need the clothes for their own coronations. Two seats had been reserved at the front of the room for Godric and I, and we quickly took them before Pam could turn on us and growled.

As Pam wandered up the aisle with Ari beside her, towards Pallas and their thrones, which had been changed over from the ones Godric and I had used, I felt a sense of peace pass through my eldest. It passed through all of my sons. It had been a long, hard road to get to this point, but we were now being rewarded for all our hard work and effort, for surviving all the abuse and tolerating the idiots. Family had always been important to me, and it always would be. Knowing my family were good though, that they were at peace with their new lives and the lack of dangers at the present moment, made me feel a little redundant. I’d done my duty as a mother, and now my sons were free in the world to do as they pleased, when they pleased. They didn’t need to stick around and fight my battles anymore, they didn’t need to stay and help me run our businesses. After 2000 years of service, I was ready to let go of my boys and let them have eternity doing as they wished. Maybe I would even release them, so they would forever be free of any and all ties.

“NO!” The strength of the protest that assaulted my mind made me sway in my seat for a moment, and as I lifted my eyes I took stock of my boys, all of who were looking at me wide-eyed in panic. Even Ari was looking at me from the corner of his eye as he headed up the aisle towards the dais. I couldn’t stop my small smile. Even after 2000 years by my side, they didn’t want to be released.

Sending them all the love I could muster, I watched somewhat teary-eyed, as only a mother could, as Ari spoke his vows and had a crown placed upon his head. I watched as he took Pam as his Queen and as they exchanged blood in front of an audience in order to bind their marriage. My little family was made up of guards and fashionista’s, aristocrats and slaves, princesses and warriors, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Pam and Ari left the dais in the same fashion Godric and I had after all the vampires of Nevada had sworn fealty to them. Even our family had gotten down on our knees to give them our loyalty, even though they would always have it regardless.

Pam was grinning like the cat that had been given the cream as she approached our family, a crown now adorning her head. “We’ve created a monster.” Eric commented just loud enough for our nest, including Pam and Ari, to hear. Our laughter was uncontrollable, spurred on further when Pam pouted and turned to Ari to stand up for her.

“As my husband you should defend my honour!” She pulled the husband card with Ari, and even though she had my eldest wrapped around her little finger for the most part, he simply chuckled.

Pam Smiling and Laughing
A teasing smile crossed his lips, a look I knew very well. “My beautiful wife,” he played the card right back at her, “I would happily defend your honour…if you had any to begin with.” Pam’s jaw dropped and she gaped like a fish while my family and I laughed at her expression. Things would never be boring between Ari and Pam, they both gave as good as they got.

It was during our laughter that I caught Ena’s eyes through the crowd. She tipped her head sideways a little, silently asking to speak to Godric and I. Taking my husband’s hand with my own, I excused us from our nest.

“Did I forget to mention that I love the fact you’re dragging me away from our family with a clear purpose, one I can only hope involves ending with us naked.” My husband’s hand broke free from mine and landed on my butt. I rolled my eyes at my husband’s sexual appetite.

“As much as I love you, both clothed and naked, I don’t think your mother would approve.” I took a moment to feel smug about my comment as his smile fell, his eyes moving to look at his mother as we drew closer. Ena had her eyes planted firmly on us, and I could plainly see her observing our interactions, seeing if we were so genuine when we weren’t in the spotlight. I could understand her concern. Godric was her son, and she wanted to make sure he was doing the right thing and was tied to the right woman. I couldn’t blame her for it. I’d been the same with Ari and Pam, and Khai with Isabelle.

We stopped before Ena and she took my husband’s free hand with her own, holding it tightly. “Do you have somewhere private where the three of us could talk, please?” She directed her question to me and I could see the worry in her expressive eyes. My love had inherited his mother’s little tell.

Ena
“My office is just upstairs.” I offered, knowing that my room was swept for bugs every day and the soundproof walls would stop anyone from listening in. Godric’s anxiety through our bond peaked, and I pushed reassurance towards him. Whatever his mother was going to tell us, I would stand by his side. Ena nodded her head and, still holding onto my husband’s hand, started to lead us towards the elevator that would take us up to the main floor of my hotel. I’d chosen to have my office amongst the hotel offices and rooms, so as to not reveal intimate details of my home to any supernatural guests.

The elevator ride up was silent, and the silence continued as I led the three of us to my office. Placing my thumb onto the keypad I was granted access. It was a little security measure that Ari had insisted upon when we’d been building the room. Deciding to keep this meeting as informal as possible I took a seat on one of the sofas, gesturing for Ena and Godric to do the same. Ena took the sofa opposite me, but my husband sat down at my side, his hands grabbing onto my wrist with his worry. I tried to soothe him through our bond, but his worry was almost crippling. I could only guess he’d never seen his mother act like this before. I knew important news was coming, Pallas had told me so, but I wasn’t aware what news that would be.

“My beautiful boy.” Ena started, unable to suppress her smile as she offered out a hand to Godric. Removing one of his hands from my wrist, he took his mothers outstretched one. “You remember how I told you that I had other children, with the man Ata’s father was kind enough to introduce me to?” Godric had half-siblings? That was news. My husband nodded once, showing he was following. “Well they had children, and their children had children, and they had children, and so on.” Ena cracked a smile. She couldn’t quite remember how many generations had passed in over 2000 years.

“I don’t think I understand.” My husband interrupted, frowning a little.

“Our bloodline is still around today. There is one member of our family left, and you’ve already met him.” Ena dropped the proverbial bomb. I was shocked and surprised, as was my husband. Curiosity burned through our connection and his frown deepened.

“You mean that there is another Nervii walking the earth?” My husband tried to wrap his head around it.

“Not a Nervii, as our family name was lost so long ago, but there is another of our bloodline around, yes. He lives in England.” Ena’s lips curved upwards as my husband’s eyes bugged.

“Mr. Williamson?” I frowned as my husband scooted closer to the edge of his seat. Who was Mr. Williamson?

Elderly Gentleman
Ena nodded happily, her smile widening a little. “The very one.”

Feeling I was missing out on something vitally important as my husband fell back against the sofa, clearly at a loss for words over the new information, I voiced my question. “Who’s Mr. Williamson?” I looked between my love and his mother.

Godric was silent for a moment and Ena simply looked at him, letting him take the reigns. “Mr. Williamson was a man I met in England on my travels. He was in possession of your sketchbook and crown. He had no family left and was selling off his collection. I asked him how much for both and he said he didn’t want a dime; all he wanted was to know why I got so emotional over the pieces. I told him about you I’m afraid, my darling.” Godric’s head tipped sideways as he spoke to me, and I could see that he was worried about my reaction to the fact he spoke of me to a human.

There was no harm in this elderly man knowing though. If he had been in possession of some of my belongings then he had clearly held a vested interest in my people and my home country. He was my husband’s last descendant too. Perhaps it was already time to share my story with the world?

“It doesn’t bother me, uiro. We should make a visit and go and see him?” I suggested. I knew my husband well enough to know he would want to spend more time with the elderly man now, even if his age meant his remaining time was limited. “We could meet him while on our honeymoon.” I offered. I still wasn’t 100% sure on our honeymoon destination, but I knew it was in Europe. I’d managed to get that much out of Sookie.

My husband looked at me with surprise, the emotion crossing our bond. I was a little hurt that he was surprised at my offer. “He’s your family. You should see him.” I covered up my slight hurt with a smile.

My husband knew me well enough to know I was hiding my hurt. His hands grabbed mine swiftly and he pulled me over so I was straddling his lap, my back to Ena. I felt a little awkward being in such an intimate position with her in the room, but Godric didn’t seem to care. His hands came up to cradle my face, our eyes locked together. “I can feel your hurt, my darling.” He pointed out, admonishing me softly.

Sighing, I placed one of my hands over his. “I was hurt that you seemed so surprised that I would suggest you see your relative.” I figured that if we started as we meant to go on in our marriage, telling one another the truth all the time, then we couldn’t go wrong.

“I apologize, my love. I just didn’t think you would want to visit someone else on our honeymoon.” He stroked my cheek and I lent into his touch.

“You said it yourself. This is our honeymoon. We’ll go and visit him. I’m curious as to what dirty secrets of mine you told him.” I teased, smiling at my husband as he gave me a lopsided grin.

Leaning forward, Godric pressed a gentle kiss to my lips. “Minx.” I pulled free and sat back beside him on the couch, but not before I dropped a little kiss to the end of his nose.

Ena gave me a warm smile and a gentle nod, her mind telling me that she was pleased I was so understanding, and happy that Godric would get to be reunited with a member of their family when she could not.

“I’ll write him a letter asking if we can visit.” My husband decided aloud. He reached for one of my hands and took it in his cool one, rubbing his thumb over the back.

“You can tell him anything and everything, my son. He won’t tell a soul.” Ena promised. I wasn’t sure as to how she thought she could vouch for him if she’d never met him, but I would trust her judgment.

A knock at the office door captured our attention. From the bonds I had with our family I knew they were all on the other side of the door, along with my mother, father and baby brother. With the room being soundproof there was no way our family would here us calling them in, so I gave my bonds with Ari and Eric a sharp tug, informing them they could enter. My sons understood and moments later the door swung open and everyone piled into the room, arranging themselves into comfortable positions on whatever furniture they could sit on or lean against.

“We have to leave now, my little warrior.” My father stated sadly, his eyes holding mine. It felt like my heart was being ripped in two, not just with my pain but also with Godric’s. I would get to see my parents when we crossed to Faery after our honeymoon, but he may never see his mother again. Ari led my sons into a low bow, dipping their heads towards my parents, baby brother, and Ena. With their respects paid, and farewells said, my sons all left the room, taking with them their respective partners. It was my family and Godric’s left in the room, though this wasn’t the first time our families had met.

“I wish I could stay longer.” Ena sighed, keeping her eyes on Godric.

I could feel my husband’s pain at the thought of loosing his mother once again. He had only just got her back. “I can leave and say goodbye to my family elsewhere, if you’d like?” I offered my bonded mentally.

His head snapped in my direction, his hand tightening around mine almost painfully. I could see the storm of emotions in his expressive eyes; feel the torrent of emotions sweeping him away. “Stay. Please.” He rasped aloud, giving away the fact we could communicate telepathically. I offered my husband a strong smile though, giving him my love and strength through our connection. I’d stay by his side for however long he’d have me. Ena watched our interaction before she rose to her feet. Godric and I followed and I let go of my husband’s hand, assuming she would want to embrace him. Ena surprised me however when she pulled me into her chest first.

Tucked under the chin of my mother-in-law, she started to whisper to me. “All the love you have showered upon my son, all the things you have given him, all the things you will give him, those are what I thank you for the most. When I couldn’t look after my beautiful boy, you did.” Ena pulled back from our embrace, her hands resting either side of my face, cradling my head. “You are a wonderful woman, a fine wife, and an exceptional mother. I am proud to call you my daughter.” My lower lip wobbled a little. I was speechless thanks to Ena’s kindness. She dropped a kiss to my forehead before she moved on to Godric, pulling him to her chest and tucking him against her in a manner similar to the way she had embraced me.

I moved over to my side of the family, wanting to give Godric and Ena privacy to say their goodbyes.


GODRIC’S POV
I’m sitting here , I’m thinking back to a time when I was young
My memory is clear as day, I’m listening to the dishes clink
You were downstairs, you would sing songs of praise
And all the times we laughed with you, and all the times that you stayed true to us
Now we’ll say
I said I thank you; I’ll always thank you, more than you would know, than I could ever show
And I love you; I’ll always love you
There’s nothing I won’t do to say these words to you
~ Thank You Mom, Good Charlotte

Tucked against my mother’s chest, I felt like a little boy once again. I was no longer the 2000-year-old vampire trapped in a teenager’s body. Mother’s small hands stroked my head, her arms wrapped around me to keep me against her. “Shh my little one.” Her words elicited a strangled sob from me. I was never weak, never without my strength, but this was the woman who had brought me into the world, who had taught me everything, the woman I had believed I’d never see again.

Godric and Ena
“I won’t get to see you again, will I.” It came out as more of a statement than a question, and I hated myself for it.

Mother’s lips landed on the top of my head and I felt her smile. “One day you might. Who knows what the future will bring? I can only see so far ahead.” Mother’s voice was soft, just as it had been when she had soothed me as a child. She pulled back a little, forcing me to look up at her. “In the near future you may feel betrayed. Don’t. You won’t have been. Accept what you’ve been given, cherish it.” I frowned lightly at her words but she smoothed my frown lines away with her forgiving hands. “I love you, my messy boy.” Mother cracked a weak smile. I could see the tears lining her eyes as she wiped away the red droplets that had already started rolling down my cheeks.

“I love you too, mother.” I told her fervently. I tightened my grip on her a little though, already feeling the pain of losing her though she was still stood before me. “Please don’t go.” I couldn’t stop myself from begging one last time.

By now mother was crying herself, though she kept her sobs silent. “I have to, my son. You are loved here. You have more family here. Your wife and your children need you. I am so very proud of you and all you have achieved. I won’t be far from you, ever.” Mother held me against her once more; dropping kisses to the top of my head and my forehead. I didn’t want to let her go. No matter how old I was, or would be, I’d always want my mother around.

My mother offered her hand sideways and I turned to watch as Ata placed her hand on my mothers. Mother gently tugged my wife over, taking one of my hands with her other one and then placing my hand with Ata’s. “You have each other. Be good to one another and enjoy what is coming your way.” Mother lent down to press a kiss to Ata’s forehead before she did the same to me, her lips lingering a little longer. “I love you, my beautiful boy.”

Mother took a step back, standing to admire Ata and I together. “I love you too, mother.” I reiterated with just as much emotion as before. With the softest of smiles, dressed in the beautiful gown that Ata had bought for her, my mother blew me one last kiss. Making a catching motion with my free hand I pressed my hand to my cheek, as if I were pressing her kiss there. Glowing golden light started at her feet, slowly working its way up her body, wrapping her up in its warmth. Although a gesture I hadn’t indulged in since I’d been a little boy, I blew a kiss back to her. Mother caught it just in time, pressing the hand she had used to catch it with to her cheek just as the golden light encompassed her completely. With a swooshing sound my mother was gone, the area she had been stood in completely empty. I lunged forward a little, as if I would magically find her.

It hurt. I hurt. My mother was gone once again, and I had no idea when I would ever see her again. I stood for a long moment, still and silent, letting the red tears roll down my cheeks, staring at the spot my mother had just stood in. Warm heat wrapped around me as my wife pulled me into her side, cocooning me in her arms. She didn’t say anything for a long time, simply offering me both her physical and emotional strength. “I love you.” My wife finally spoke, whispering her affections in my ear as she pressed a kiss to my temple. “She’s still with you.” One of her dainty hands moved over my still heart. I couldn’t help but feel a little lost without my mother anymore, even if she had only been back in my life for 24 hours or so. A slight breeze passed through the room at that moment, caressing the skin on my arms with a feather-lite touch.

Smiling at the strange occurrence, for all the windows were shut and I knew my wife’s windows wouldn’t be draughty, I turned my head towards my beloved. “I know she is.” I placed my hand over Ata’s on my chest. “I love you too.”

My wife gave me a reassuring smile before she pulled back; keeping our hands clasped together, and led us over to her side of our family. It would take me a little while to get used to being without my mother again, but if the light breeze I felt was any indication, then she most certainly wasn’t gone.

“You two enjoy your honeymoon together. We’ll be in Faery when you return.” Cleopatra gave Ata a kiss on the forehead and then gave me one. My wife let go of my hand long enough to stoop down and embrace her baby brother, before they each gave one another nose kisses. My wife rose back up to her full height as I stooped down to embrace my little brother-in-law. Julius was the next to say his farewells for now. We would all see one another again once Ata and I returned from our honeymoon in just over three weeks time. We were going away for two weeks, and I’d planned the whole trip with some help from my sons and Sookie.

“Accept the gift that’s coming your way, don’t fight it.” Julius murmured in my ear as he pulled me into a manly hug. Frowning at his words, which somewhat mirrored my mothers, I pondered his comment as he said his goodbyes to my wife, kissing her on her cheeks and her nose, telling her to be good and, even though I was now family, once again asking me to look after Ata. Promising to take care of my wife, though she was perfectly able to take care of herself, I held Ata’s hand once more as she waved goodbye to her parents, the golden light that had engulfed my mother consuming them too, before they too vanished into thin air.

Ata and I stood in silence for a while, letting our emotions comfort one another as our hands held each other strong. I was still confused by the words of wisdom from my mother and my father-in-law, but my wife seemed oblivious to their comments. Was she not meant to know?

The rapping of knuckles against the door broke me out of my thoughts and I mimicked Ata’s earlier action, giving my bonds with Ari and Eric a gentle tug. Our family poured back into the room and my wife snapped out of her thoughts. “The plane is all ready to go.” Egor offered with a grin, clearly excited to get out of Nevada for a while.

“Hmm yes, lets go.” My wife plastered on a smile, ushering our family out of the room. I didn’t miss her look of longing as she closed the office door behind her, the door clicking as it closed, locking behind us. I probably held the same look of longing. That room would be my place of solace until my mother and I could be reunited, whenever that would be.


A/N Okay, so I know there has been a LOT of Ata and Godric these past few chapters, but you’re about to get your Eric/Sookie fix for the next few to balance it out, I promise ^_^

Can’t say when I’m next going to update as I don’t want to make promises that I might break, but I know what needs to be written so I should be able to write a lot more, we’ll see!

R&R, spread the lurveeee, and you’ll get more naked Viking in return 😉 Virtual high fives for anyone who can name the Karma Sutra positions I used for his little romp with Sook, tehe :3

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