Never End Finale

Epilogue

Epilogue: Final Goodbyes

“Um, excuse me?” a sweet voice called at the door, a brisk knock its precursor. “Hello? Is anybody home?”

“Can I help you?” the vampire opened the door curiously.

“Hi,” a beautiful creature in her mid-twenties beamed at the unsuspecting vampiress. Her blonde hair framed her face, her big blue eyes innocent and soft, “I heard you might be able to help me. My name’s Sookie Stackhouse, and I’m looking for my great aunt.”

Emily blinked in surprise at the eerily familiar face and then laughed, “Sookie Stackhouse, you say? Please, come in!”

“Emily,” Godric called from the study, already leaving it to see who was at the door, “who is it?”

“Sookie,” Emily laughed.

“Sookie? Is Eric not with her?” Godric peered around the corner and frowned at the young, living lady in his foyer.

“I heard there’s a woman named Emily Gahl here? She’s supposed to be the best of the best at finding lost people,” Sookie explained.

“That would be me,” Emily chuckled. “And you are looking for your great aunt?”

“Yeah, my Granddaddy’s sister,” Sookie nodded. “His name’s Jason Stackhouse. His sister has the same exact name as me. Sookie Stackhouse,” she explained.

“I see!” Godric laughed. “Why are you looking for her?”

Sookie bit her lip and cast her eyes down sadly, “My granddaddy had a stroke a couple of months ago,” she whispered. “He’s been unable to speak ever since, and can’t even get out of bed anymore.”

Emily frowned at the explanation and ushered the young Stackhouse into the sitting room. “So what is your desire with your great aunt?” she asked nervously.

“Well, my daddy and aunt Hadley used to tell me how much Granddaddy used to talk about his sister. How she was this really badass police officer, and how she got shot on the job and turned into a vampire. He told them how he had let his bad attitude push her away, and he never saw her again… Daddy said he knows Granddaddy really wants to apologize to his sister, but all he’s got is a P.O. box number that he doesn’t even know works anymore.”

“So you want to find your great aunt so your grandfather can apologize to her?” Godric asked.

“Well, sort of. He can’t talk or anything, but I think if I could just get her to see him, she’d just know… You know? Like, she’d see him all sick and just know he’s really, really sorry,” Sookie’s eyes began to water. “He’s the best granddaddy in the world, and he’s got this one terrible mistake he can’t take back! Doesn’t he deserve to take it back?” she sobbed helplessly.

“Shh, shh,” Emily crooned. “Don’t worry, little one. I’m certain Sookie wants that just as much as he does. It just so happens that you came to the perfect person to help you. I know exactly where your great aunt is.”

“R-really? You’re tha-that good?” Sookie hiccupped.

Emily chuckled and patted the young woman’s hand, “Well, I am, but it just so happens that your great aunt is married to my husband’s Child,” she pointed to Godric.

“Are you… Serious?” Sookie asked in surprise.

“Absolutely,” Emily nodded. “Where is your grandfather? Is he still in Louisiana?”

“He’s still in the old farmhouse he grew up in with his sister and Gran,” Sookie explained.

Godric smiled, “I will call Sookie right now and tell her to catch the first plane to Shreveport. You should do the same.”

Sookie rose and nodded, “Thank you. Oh! How much do I owe you? Even though this was an easy case, you still did what I was gonna hire you for.”

Emily laughed, “Oh, little Sookie, believe me. If our Sookie is finally going to see her brother again, you have more than paid for our services.”

{†}

“Hey, Gran,” the vampire folded her legs neatly before the headstone, having not sat before it in over fifty years. She placed a bouquet of roses before it. “It’s me, Sookie. I guess I don’t look any different than the last time I was here, but it’s been a long time. Hey! I actually remembered your flowers this time! Isn’t that a miracle? I’m sorry I pulled a Jimmy Hoffa on you, but I had to give Jason some space.”

Sookie sat like that a few minutes, talking candidly with her grandmother’s grave before rising and looking back at her Bonded bemusedly, “Sorry, it’s still so easy to talk to her.”

Eric smiled at her, “It is fine, Sookie. Do you want me to wait here with the girls while you see your brother?” he asked.

Nibbling her lip thoughtfully, Sookie asked, “Can you hang here unless you feel me pulling for you? I want some privacy, but depending on how this all goes….”

“I understand,” Eric nodded. “I will wait here for now.”

“Thanks.”

Eric watched her trek up the hill, and patted Junes’ and Mags’ heads reassuringly before looking back at Adele Stackhouse’s headstone. He wondered if Sookie had even noticed the small marker next to it.

~Sookie Stackhouse

May 24th, 1983-∞

Beloved Daughter, Granddaughter and Sister Forever~

Sookie tentatively reached out and knocked upon the door of her childhood home. There was an abrupt quiet within the house, and Sookie found herself holding her breath. Before she could lose her nerve and run back into the darkness, the door opened, and a big pair of old blue eyes were gazing at her.

“Oh my goodness! You look just like your picture!” a woman in her late seventies beamed. “Please, come in! I’m Katy Stackhouse, your sister-in-law!” she told Sookie excitedly.

Sookie found herself in a whirlwind of blue eyes and blond hair as several young adults and middle aged people flocked her.

“This is your niece Adele and her husband Mark, your nephew Corbett and his wife Tammy, your other niece Michelle and her husband Taylor. This is your great niece-”
Finding herself flooded with names and faces, Sookie found the whole thing moderately overwhelming. After discovering the Stackhouse family tree was alive and thriving, Sookie balked as she was confronted with a face very reminiscent of her own.

“And this is Sookie, Corbett’s oldest. He named her after you,” Katy beamed happily. “I guess you could say Jason was very intent on using family names.”

Nodding numbly, Sookie asked in a tentative voice, “Where is my brother?”

“Just down the hall in the master bedroom,” Katy told him. “Would you like me to take you to him?” she asked kindly.

“I-I remember the way,” Sookie choked, taking a hesitant step in the right direction.

When she arrived at her Gran’s door, no, her brother’s door, Sookie slowly opened it and looked at the old man laid out beneath layer of blankets. Weak and frail.

“H-hi, Jason,” Sookie whispered.

Dull blue eyes lulled in her direction before widening. ‘Sookie!’

“Yeah, it’s me. Your Granddaughter found some friends of mine and asked them to send for me.” Sookie came and sat beside his bed, feeling distantly and darkly familiar with the scenario. Her last times with Gran had been very much like this. “How are you feeling?”

‘Oh, you know, trapped in my own head.’ His lips quirked in an effort to smile sardonically. ‘It’s good to be heard again after the last couple months.’ His thoughts felt radically different than she remembered; many words missing, but replaced by pictures. Sookie knew it was a result of his stroke.

“You were always a big talker. This must be rough.”

‘Yeah, but it won’t be for much longer. I can feel it, y’know? Dying’s really nasty, huh?’

“It really is,” Sookie agreed, remembering her own abrupt demise.

‘Probably even shittier when your own brother says he wishes you were dead,’ he thought guiltily.

“Hey, now,” Sookie felt a tear leaking from her eye and tried to catch it before it could scar her face, “you were hurting! We both were.”

‘It’s not an excuse, Sooks.’ Jason’s head wobbled awkwardly as if he were trying to shake his head. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t tell them to keep you from coming. I didn’t want you to see me like this. You didn’t deserve to have to see another family member like this.’

“Oh, Jason, if I’d known you were like this, I woulda come myself!” she told him earnestly.

‘I know that. You never could abandon anybody. Not really. Only reason you came as close as you did with me was cause how I treated ya.’

“No, no, that wasn’t it,” Sookie insisted. “I left you like that because… Because I didn’t want to be your freak of a sister anymore. I didn’t want to make you choose me. I-I thought that if I left you alone, really left you alone, you could finally be normal. No more vampire disappointments, no more freaky weirdo sister to explain-”

‘Sookie, you shouldn’t’ve had to do that.’ Jason’s eyes began to leak with his own tears. ‘I was the freak. I was the disappointment. I pushed and pushed. That’s why I never wrote you. You deserved to have the last word. There wasn’t nothin’ I could say that could take back what I done.’ His head wobbled again sadly. ‘The last night you and I saw each other, you were right. You did deserve so much better than me.’

“You heard that?” Sookie whispered.

‘Course I heard ya. I just figured, you were making a family like you said in your letter, and I knew you couldn’t be happy trying to make me happy. I knew that if I kept you around, I’d never be the brother you deserved, so I just let you go.’

“I’d have come running back if you’d asked.”

‘That’s no way to live,’ Jason told her. ‘Listen, since I got you here… Those people out there really want to know you. I never told them about your gift or nothin’, so don’t worry. I just want you to know, I was never the family you deserved, but they are. Of all my fuck ups and all my stupid bullshit, I did manage to do something right. Katy was amazing to me… For me. She helped me raise kids that Gran would have been proud of. My kids raised kids that Gran would be proud of too. They’re all loving, sweet people, and they’re your people, Sooks. Love them like you wanted to love me, and I promise you, they will love you right the way I was too stupid to.’

“Jason,” Sookie sobbed, “I don’t… I can’t… What are you asking me?”

‘I’m asking you to be happy, baby sis. You don’t gotta stand over their shoulders or nothin’. They’re Stackhouses. They take care of themselves just fine. Still, I just wanted you to know that they’re ready and willing to have you.’

“Thank you, Jason,” Sookie smiled down at him, “but I’m going to say goodbye to all of you tonight. I will always come running when they really need me, but I can’t be too entwined with their lives. They may accept me, they might even have loved me if I gave them the chance, but this world is full of meetings and partings… I bowed off your stage fifty-some years ago, and I just now decided to make my encore. But the show has to end. Do you really want me to be back here in another fifty years, holding another family members’ hand while they die? No,” she shook her head sadly, “you are the true end of my human life. It’s time I finally have my happily never ending.”

Another quirk of his lips signaled that Jason wanted to smile, ‘Cool, Sooks, but before you go and say your final goodbyes, I just want you to know that your brother loves you, always has, and always will. I might be dead soon, but my love is never ending too.’

“I love you, Jason. Goodbye.”

‘Goodbye, Sis. And, hey! Take those photos on my table. You’re the only one they’ll mean anything to soon.’

Glancing at the two frames on the end table, Sookie picked them up, recognizing the pictures she had sent with the deed to the farmhouse. Taking them from the frame, Sookie placed them carefully in her purse, leaned over, and kissed her brother’s damp cheek.

With that, Sookie turned out of the room and down the hallway once more. Again she was bombarded by relatives, but she gently hushed them, “It was really a pleasure to meet all of you. I’m glad to see my brother was able to keep the Stackhouse name going on strong, but I have to go.”

“But we have so much to talk about!” Adele protested.

Sookie shook her head, “No, we don’t. This was for Jason, not any of you. He and I are finally at peace, and that’s all that I can give to this family. He can pass peacefully now. I wish you all the best, but I am not your blood. I’m vampire, and that is where my blood truly is tied.”

I can’t believe she’s so selfish!

What about what we want!?

I would have liked to know you…

Well, that sucks… I wanted a vampire family member.

“Goodbye. Be well,” Sookie turned from the group and blocked their thoughts until she was safely down the hill and at the cusp of the graveyard.

“Are you alright, Sookie?” Eric asked as she immediately nestled into his side.

“Yeah,” she took in a shuddering breath, “I just had to make sure no one came looking for me again on a whim. Jason was the final cut I needed to make and finally move on. I can’t have a relationship with any of them. I can’t love them and watch them die. It would break my heart.”

“I know, Dear One.” Eric kissed the top of her head. “You were remarkably composed the entire time,” he commented.

Sookie shrugged minutely. “I wondered how long it would take me to not hurt thinking of my family. I guess fifty years was about right…”

Eric gazed down at the top of her blonde head and sighed, “You still ache.”

“Yes,” she agreed.

Herding the dogs into the rental car, Eric and Sookie made their way back to Shreveport and the airfield. It would be nice to return to Chicago and forget their abrupt visit to Bon Temps, returning to their lives once again.

“You want to get back pretty bad, huh?” Sookie murmured as she watched the speedometer breeching 80 MPH with now signs of stopping there.

“I do,” Eric answered sharply.

“Are you angry?” Sookie asked.

“You can feel me,” he pointed out.

“You are angry. I just wish I knew what about,” Sookie explained.

Eric took a hand from the steering wheel to run through his hair with agitation. “Your brother has never been a favorite of mine,” he finally admitted.

“I know,” Sookie whispered with a nod. “He made his peace, though, and I have to admit I feel better getting to say a real goodbye to him.”

“And this guilt?” Eric tested.

Another half-hearted shrug lifted the younger vampire’s shoulders. “I feel bad leaving his family like that.”

“Because you want to be near them, or you feel obligated to be near them?” Eric asked.

“Obligated,” Sookie confessed.

Eric remained silent as they drove into Shreveport, and the electro-rail immediately forced his car to slow to the allotted speed limit. Soon they were pulling up to the airport and Eric removed the dogs and their crates from the back of the SUV. When the girls were stowed away and being placed on a long bed trolley, Sookie patted the tops as she walked alongside them.

When Eric left her to go to the Anubis airline for return tickets for Chicago, Sookie crouched down and gazed at her dogs. “Well, Girls, this is it. You’re all I got left from my human years,” she murmured to them.

Mags let out a sympathetic whimper as Junes grumbled and laid down on her belly. Sookie smiled at them amusedly until Eric was back at her side.

“Our flight leaves in two hours,” he announced, handing her the ticket. “Shall we stow the girls?”

Sookie nodded and took his hand. Anubis was surprisingly accommodating about traveling with pets. Of course, Sookie noted bemusedly, she was certain Eric could have always glamoured an unsuspecting agent into allowing the dogs to fly without all the appropriate documents.

“You were very quiet the entire flight,” Eric murmured as he pushed the trolley of dogs into the parking area of O’Hare airport back in Chicago.

“I had a lot to think about,” Sookie told him, wrapping her arm around his and resting her head on his shoulder.

“Yes,” he agreed with a scowl.

“About work, Darlin’, not Jason.” Sookie nudged him playfully. “The trip was so abrupt!”

Thankfully, not too much time would be lost; not as much as a vampire her age would lose, at least. Since her consumption of honey allowed her the ability to resist the sun, Ludwig had compiled several UV tests before the final experiment of solar exposure. Though her flesh did not smolder, it did cause a severe onset of the bleeds. Sookie became incredibly weakened by direct exposure to the sun, but the couple was jubilant to find that they could wander indoors without needing more than to draw the blinds. A few automated motors later, and the Bonded pair had the entire home to use at their leisure during the daytime hours. They did find that Eric was required to drink his Mate’s blood from time to time to maintain the same immunity.

“Emily will understand.” Eric kissed the top of her head before untangling his arm from hers and going about letting the dogs out of the crates to jump into the rear of the car. Quickly he folded the carriers and slid them into the back of the vehicle. “Are you making any progress?”

Sookie shrugged, “The Chicago P.D. is being rather tight lipped, but you know that’s never been a problem for me.” She gave him an amused wink as he came and opened her door for her.

“The case is still relatively new,” Eric pointed out. “The police probably want to solve it without your help this time.”
“Oh, they solve plenty of crimes without me,” Sookie waved her hand dismissively. “Of course, they always wait so long to call me in for my consulting that it gives way too much time for the trails to go cold,” She scowled at a particularly foul memory.

Earlier that year a child had gone missing. After three weeks, the Chicago P.D. had finally asked her for assistance. Sookie had found the child’s body in a neighbor’s basement the same day she was brought in on the case. He had been dead for twelve hours at that point, and the telepath had been enraged that if they had called her in sooner, the boy could have been recovered alive.

“Calm, Dear One,” Eric took her hand and kissed it soothingly before firing the vehicle to life and programming their destination into the self-navigation system. Sookie raised her eyebrows in surprise. “What?” He laughed.

“You’re not going to drive manually?” Sookie asked, flabbergasted. Eric hated auto-drive. He had despised the technology since its inception and even considered buying out companies that worked on the tech just to shut them down.

“It is boring with the electro-rails,” Eric grumbled petulantly. “They override the car’s computer system and prevent breaking the speed limit.”

“Oh, my poor darlin’! Sookie laughed, leaned over his seat, grasped his face and kissed him out of consolation. “How about we go to the Hoosier side tomorrow night? If we skip down South a way, there’s plenty of country roads not set up for the electro-rails yet.”

Eric sighed happily. “That would be marvelous, Sookie.”

Eased by his contentment, Sookie leaned her head on his shoulder as the city zoomed by their windows.

“You gotta admit,” she began conversationally, “you don’t really need to speed when traffic isn’t piling up because of accidents.”

“True,” Eric shrugged noncommittally. After a short silence, the older vampire asked quietly, “Are you happy, Sookie?”

“What do you mean?” She frowned at the question, uncomprehending.

“With this existence. Consulting for police departments. Assisting Emily with her missing persons time to time… Are you happy?”

Smiling, she stated coyly, “You can feel me.”

“Yes,” Eric sighed. “You are happy.”

“I finally found the balance, Eric,” Sookie told him. “I get to help people and utilize my gift. I get to have my girls. Most importantly, I have you. The real creator of the balance I needed. My real Happily Never Ending.”

Fin

Advertisements

Never End Ch. 29

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Dallas

“It feels wonderful receiving you, Eric and Sookie!” Godric beamed at the pair on his doorstep. “I have noticed a great strain on you these past few evenings,” he commented comfortingly to the vampiress.

“I said my final goodbyes to my former colleagues. It was an emotional parting,” Sookie told him.

Nodding in understanding, Godric ushered them inside where Emily stood with open arms. She was much more ‘hands on’ than the vampires Sookie was used to, and Emily embraced both her and Eric.

“I’m so glad to see you again. Pam told us all about what you two have been up to this past year,” she grinned. “And back in December, I felt the most amazing sensation of awe! Would it be inappropriate for me to ask what happened?” she asked excitedly.

“Oh,” Sookie laughed nervously, “I saw snow for the first time! The girls really enjoyed themselves playing in it! We had a snowball fight, so Mags and Junes were catching them in their mouths and making little snow dens. It was really fun!”

Emily laughed at the explanation. “That’s right! You were raised down south, weren’t you?”

“Yup,” Sookie nodded as Emily and Godric lead them to the sitting room.

“Where are your dogs?” Godric asked curiously.

“In the car. We just wanted to pop in before going to the Hotel Camilla,” Sookie told him.

“I thought you would stay with us?” Emily pouted.

“We have not made any definite decisions yet,” Eric explained. “We have not determined whether to stay in Dallas or if we wish to go further north.”

“I see,” Godric frowned. “Well, you should know that the FotS situation has gotten rather troublesome in Dallas. The Hotel Camilla has received bomb threats almost every month of this year. Four in total so far. I would insist that you stay with us rather than head to the hotel.”

Eric frowned, “Their activity has escalated?”

“So it would seem. I take it Europe has been calm this past year?” Godric inquired.

Eric shrugged, “For the most part. Turkey and the Middle East have been the most troublesome as far as anti-vampire activists go. Russia has had a couple moments here and there, but has mostly remained amicable. As far as Europe as a whole, I would not say they have shown anywhere near the animosity that the United States and Middle East have.”

Godric nodded in understanding, “Every year it seems the extremes fluctuate that much further. We have had an influx of donors at the hotel, but also much more retaliation from the Fellowship of the Sun.”

“I see. Well, we will still need to stop by the hotel momentarily. I had some documents forwarded there for Sookie.”

“Sookie,” Godric smiled, “I heard your legal name is now Susannah Northman?”

Sookie bowed her head, “On paper, yes. I’m still going by Sookie, but… I guess you could say I wanted a fresh start when I returned to the US.”

“Is the documentation you mentioned related to your name change?” Emily asked curiously.

“No, Trent took care of my name change when the department filed my Certificate of Vampirism last year. He and I talked a lot about me becoming a vampire before Chlebowski shot me. When Eric was forced to turn me, Ben informed the Captain about my wishes,” she explained. “The documents at the hotel are about real estate.”

“Oh, well, please hurry back. I’d love for all of us to catch up!” Emily beamed happily.

“Feel free to bring the dogs inside. They can stay-” Godric began, but stopped at the look on Eric’s face. “What is it?”

“You have not heard about the dogs?” Eric asked in surprise.

Godric frowned once more, “No…? Are they unwell?”

“It’s a long story,” Sookie grimaced. “We’ll tell you about it when we get back.”

“I see. I look forward to it,” Godric’s smile returned, but was guarded.

Hand in hand, Sookie and Eric left the home to return to the rental car where Mags and Junes were impatiently waiting. They drove to the hotel in companionable silence and when they arrived, Eric went into the lobby to retrieve the documents and cancel their reservations. Sookie took the opportunity to stand on the sidewalk and take in the night sites of downtown Dallas.

It was beautiful with its tall buildings and bright lights. The scents in the air were dusty and warm, making a welcoming sensation build in the pit of her stomach. A new, but desirable scent came to her nostrils as she examined the flavors of the city. She could taste blood in the air and her body compulsively was drawn to it. Having only taken two steps in its direction, Sookie forced her body to stop, and she reached out with her telepathy.

‘Ow, damn it! This lure better bring a fanger by or I’m gonna be pissed that Terry made me the fucking bait! Let him be a fucking cutting board for a change!’ Sookie growled at the musings and remained rooted in place.

“Ready, Dear One?” Eric asked, arriving at where she was frozen.

“There’s a FotS in that alley. He cut himself trying to lure a vamp,” Sookie explained.

Growling himself, Eric stomped toward the alley, Sookie in tow. When they arrived, the telepath only had a split second to react as a silver net came lunging toward them. Unaffected by the metal, Sookie took its impact as Eric sprung at the attacker. An explosion distracted Sookie from untangling herself from the trap, and she looked at the mouth of the passage as a campfire glow illuminated the street.

As Sookie clambered to her feet, Mags and Junes in their ‘Beast Forms’ appeared beside her. Junes only paused a moment to assess Sookie’s condition before jumping into action. Eric jerked out of the way as Mags let out an ear shattering howl and the FotS attacker froze.

As the assailant became stone, June’s massive jaws enveloped him and he was gone in an instant as though he had never existed in the alley.

“Well, I suppose I will not have to hide a body now,” Eric grumbled, his bloodlust left unsatisfied by Junes’ interception. “You know, Fenrir, I was perfectly capable of handling that myself.”

Junes let out a disinterested huff as if to say, ‘So what?’

“Girls, get back into your Shepherd shapes. The police will be here any minute!” Sookie sighed as the dogs began to shrink. “God, I hope the security cameras didn’t see them change!”

“Sookie,” Eric looked at her in surprise, “Cameras and human eyes cannot see Garm and Fenrir. They are ethereal creatures. They can only be seen in the Shepherd forms.”

“A-are you serious?” she asked in surprise.

“Why do you think I never objected to them running with us in that form?” Eric laughed.

Sookie blanched at never questioning his lax attitude, “I figured you just knew they’d have time to change back without being noticed.”

Eric shook his head, “No. When they are in their true form, they are inter-dimensional creatures of the Void. Only supernaturals can see them in their true shape.”

“Cameras can’t?”

“No, they will merely cast an indistinguishable shadow on the film.”

“Oh, well, that’s a relief,” Sookie let out an anxious exhale.

“Come, Dear One, we must be leaving now,” Eric took her hand and lead her along with the dogs down the alleyway. “We will return to Godric’s.”

Sookie nodded and looked around nervously as Eric hailed a taxi. The cab driver grumbled as the Shepherds jumped into his taxi as well as the two vampires, but he drove out of downtown at Eric’s command.

“Eric,” Sookie hissed too quietly for the driver to hear, “should we be leaving like this? If my instinct is right, it was our car that just exploded back there! Should we really be leaving the site of a bombing?”

“It was our car that was bombed. That diversion was meant to keep us away from our vehicle long enough for a bomb to be planted by a secondary FotS member. The bait was only meant to silver us and run away. We would have gone back to our car to flee and then been blown up,” Eric confirmed.

“Why did it go off? Shouldn’t it have been ignition triggered?” Sookie demanded. “Or was it on a timer?”

“The bomb exploded when Mags and Junes took their Beast Forms,” Eric explained in a hushed voice.

“Why are we running away?” Sookie asked again. “It won’t take long for them to pull footage and trace back the rental car to your name! The police will be at our door by tomorrow evening if not just before dawn today!”

“The Camilla would not release the footage to the human police. It will be given to Godric.”

“So we’re safe?”

“That is a rather optimistic view,” Eric admitted.

Sookie groaned and leaned her head against the back of her seat. “Well, this was a marvelous way to come back to the US.”

“Yes,” Eric growled under his breath. “And why did Godric not know of Mags and Junes?”

“I bet I know the answer to that one,” Sookie whispered.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, and when Godric forwards the attempt on my existence to the Council, I’m betting we’re going to have a visit from Diedre.”

“Really?” Eric looked at her in surprise.

Looking at her Bonded, Sookie blanched guiltily, “A lot is making sense, Darlin’. Call Godric. Tell him not to contact anyone about the Camilla bombing. Not another soul.”

Eric whipped out his phone and dialed his Maker, praying that he managed to do so in time.
“Master,” Eric began quickly, “you are going to receive footage from the Camilla if you have not already. I beg that you do nothing with the information until Sookie and I arrive back at your home.”

Eric, I have already received a text, but have not gotten any footage yet. It is on its way by courier as we speak. What has happened?”

“Nothing I can discuss over the phone. Please, wait until Sookie and I arrive and we will explain everything.”

I shall do as you request. Hurry back.”

“Yes, Master.” Eric hung up his phone and let out a sigh of relief. “You heard?”

“I did,” Sookie nodded. “Thank goodness Godric is not an alarmist.”

“Yes,” he agreed and mimicked her posture by leaning his head back into the seat. “Will you share your theory with me before we arrive?”

In the same imperceptibly low voice, Sookie spilled her suspicions, “The International Council didn’t tell the Continental Councils anything about Mags and Junes. You, me, and the International Council are the only ones who know anything. Endymion told me that he and the Pantheon can’t make decisions for humans or vampires. He could only tell the highest ranking officials and that was it. This only means two things. The International Council is keeping us under wraps for our safety, or fear of us.

We have two inter-dimensional hell beasts at our disposal. We could rule the world if we wanted, and the International Council is keeping their hand breasted until they see which way we lean. If Diedre finds out I was almost killed tonight, she’s gonna try and convince me to go underground like the Magister did. Well, not as aggressively, but she’s gonna make a huge push for it.”

Eric nodded in understanding, blown away by Sookie’s observations. After a moment of processing her theories, the Viking laughed, “Your detective’s mind is far more impressive than I ever thought! You make connections so swiftly that even I am left disoriented by them!”

“We can’t let Godric release that I could have been killed tonight,” Sookie insisted.

“I agree.”

“So what do we do?” Sookie asked.

“We will find an area that is not abundantly inhabited by activists like the FotS and go about our existences as normally as possible,” Eric shrugged. “If that is not a possibility, we will merely fly under the radar.”

“How so?” she pressed.

“Ventures such as Fangtasia will need to be forgone. I will resume my usual manner of conducting business under false aliases, maintaining a human façade. With my ability to remain aware during most of the day, I can conference call and hold video meetings.” Squeezing her hand, he continued, “As long as you maintain honey in your nourishment, you are able to remain aware large chunks of the day as well. We can pose as a married human couple.”

“So, we’re just going to pretend not to be vampires?” Sookie asked.

“We are.”

Sookie slumped against her seat, “That feels like we’re going to be in hiding….”

“In a sense we will,” Eric confessed. “But, to be honest, your personality might find it far more enjoyable.”

“What about yours?” Sookie insisted.

Eric smiled at her and brought her hand to his lips to kiss. “I have you. That is all I need for happiness.”

Sookie shook her head, “You’re a warrior as much as I’m a cop at heart, Eric. You can put the Viking in suburbia, but you can’t put suburbia in the Viking.”

“Then every decade or so, we will give our raping and pillaging a go. How does that sound?” Eric teased.

“I’ll have to cuff you.”

“Sounds delightful.”

The remaining drive to Godric’s home was made in amused silence, Sookie’s head leaned on Eric’s shoulder and the dogs sprawled lazily across both their laps. As they pulled up to the driveway, Eric handed over the fare and glamoured the driver for good measure.

Once they all clambered out of the cab, the door to the house opened as Emily and Godric stood waiting anxiously for them.

“Are you all right? Why do I smell explosives?” Godric demanded.

The four entered the house and adjourned in the sitting room.

“Our rental car was blown up,” Sookie told them. “We’re all perfectly fine though,” she assured.

“Blown up!?” Emily cried.

“A FotS member lured us from the car while a second planted the bomb,” Eric explained. “The bomb went off before we could return to the car. Judging by some of the stench, I would say the FotS securing the bomb was caught in the blast.”

“I see,” Godric sat heavily on the loveseat, Emily folding naturally into his side. “I am glad that you are all well. Even the dogs!”

“That is something we must discuss,” Eric reminded.
“Yes, you did say you had something to explain about them,” Godric remembered.

“Our first night in Öland, we received a visit from the Voice of the Pantheon,” Eric began the tale. Godric and Emily sat in rapt fascination while the identities of Garm and Fenrir were revealed. By the end of the accounting, Godric was leaning forward with wide, disbelieving eyes.

“That is remarkable!” Godric shook his head as if trying to wake himself from a bizarre dream.

“Quite,” Eric agreed.

“Now, why did you wish to prevent me from contacting the Council about the matter of your car being bombed?” Godric demanded calmly.

“Sookie made a rather impressive observation. You see, the International Council knows about Garm and Fenrir, but they did not make Sookie’s status public. She believes that Diedre is waiting to see if remaining exposed to the public is safe, or if we have any plans to abuse our resources. If Diedre finds that it is unsafe in any way, she might attempt to lock Sookie away as the Magister had tried,” Eric explained.

Godric’s lips twitched minutely into a stunned grimace, “A rather impressive observation, indeed.”

“What are you two going to do now?” Emily asked worriedly.

“We are considering taking ourselves out of the public eye, and committing to the pretense of being human,” Eric told them. “Maybe if the activist agendas calm down in a few decades we will resume our vampire roles, but for now, a human existence is more practical.”

“You are probably right,” Godric sighed sadly. “I am sorry about all of these pressures, Sookie,” he apologized to the young vampire. “You have had far greater hurdles to overcome than any vampire so young has ever needed. I have to admit though, you have done so gracefully.”

“Thank you, Sir,” she barked naturally.

“Godric, please,” the Master of the Bloodline smiled kindly, attempting to sooth her tendency to revert to a police officer.

“Thank you, Godric,” Sookie reiterated in her official law enforcement tone.

“Where do you think you will go?” Godric asked after shaking his head amusedly when his attempts to relax her failed.

“I am thinking Minnesota. The two-natured packs up there are quite cordial, and I think Sookie will enjoy some of the relationships she could nurture with them. Also, she and the girls really did enjoy the winter seasons and snow while we were in Sweden,” Eric laughed.

“Will you at least stay for a little while?” Emily begged.

Smiling indulgently at his Maker’s Bonded, Eric nodded. “I still need to purchase us a home, and Sookie and I have not really discussed where we were going after Dallas. We may find that another state or city is more to our interest. Until we have acquired a new home, we will stay here as long as we are not imposing.”

“My Child is never an imposition,” Godric assured.

“Thank you, Master,” Eric inclined his head gratefully. “If you will excuse us, Sookie has some paperwork to do, and requires my assistance. Afterwards, would you all like to go for a drink?”
“Yes,” Godric nodded. “I must wait for the courier and review the materials so that I can give my Area a statement. I also need to leave a message with the Anubis airline that any vampires coming to Dallas be informed that vehicles have been bombed at the Camilla and hyper-diligence is warranted.”

“Of course,” Eric nodded. Rising from the seat he and Sookie had occupied, Eric lead his Bonded through the house to the guest room they would be using. There was a small desk that Sookie sat at while Eric hovered over her shoulder, pointing and explaining the paperwork he extracted from his breast pocket. “You are certain about this?” Eric asked as she handed back the document.

“I was certain when we signed and notarized it last night,” Sookie smiled up at him sadly.

“You are breaking my heart with that look, Dear One,” Eric moaned.

“Sorry, but even though it’s what I want, it hurts,” she admitted, batting at an unwanted, red tear. “Can you give me a minute? I want to write a letter along with this, and I think I need some privacy to do that.”

Kissing the top of her head, Eric murmured into her hair, “I understand.” With that, he left the room, and Sookie stared nervously at the stationary sitting on the far corner of the desk. A heavy sigh whooshed past her lips and she finally reached for the pen and paper.

{†}

Jason Stackhouse flipped through his mail casually, groaning at the mounting bills that he prepared to drop onto the table by the front door. Instead, his hands froze curiously on a thick envelope that appeared more personal than financial. Frowning, he flung the bills on the table and opened the strange letter.

The first page inside the envelope was a rather official document emblazoned with the words “Caddo Perish Deed Transfer.” Jason’s eyes widened in surprise, skimming the document and nearly dropping it to the floor in his shock. Carefully he placed the deed on the table and looked back in the envelope. There was another folded paper inside and as he opened it, two smaller pieces tumbled to the ground, but he ignored them when he saw his sister’s familiar handwriting on the page.

~Jason,

I’ve wrote this letter a million times in my head these past seven months. I’ve wrote it nearly a hundred times this evening, and I still don’t have the right words.

I know how you’ll find this gesture of signing Gran’s house over to you. You’re probably thinking this is my way of getting the last word, or some sort of pity or apology, but you would be wrong. I’m leaving you a P.O. address in the event that you ever did want to contact me, even if it’s in the form of sending this deed back to me in shreds.

The truth is, I don’t want the last word, but you won’t know how to find me. That’s a selfish thing on my part, and I’m sorry. I just can’t cry anymore over you. You hurt me deeply on so many levels, but most of all you hurt me by how helpless I am at loving you. I can’t stop. As much as I tell myself it would be easier to hate you how you hate me, I can’t stop loving you. You’re my big brother, whether I’m alive, dead, or something in between. I’ll always love my brother.

Still, I can’t ever go back to the farmhouse. There’s no Gran there. There’s no you there. It’s not my home without my family. So, I’m making a new one, and I hope that you are too. We both have so much love in us, Jason. You and I never were able to love each other right, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love others the right way.

I don’t want apologies, and I don’t want to apologize any more. So, if you are at peace, then I am at peace, and we should just continue our lives as we have. I hope that you keep our family home. It needs a Stackhouse to take care of it.

I guess that’s all. Please keep these mementos as a tribute to better, happier times.

I will always love you. No matter what.

Love, your baby sister,

Sookie

~

Jason slid to the floor and picked up the pair of pages that had fallen. Flipping them over, he gazed at the captured memories. Their mother holding Sookie, their father with his hands on Jason’s shoulders, and their Gran leaning her head against Daddy’s arm. He looked at the second picture of Sookie’s high school graduation, him and Gran so proud of the youngest Stackhouse graduating with honors.

The oldest Stackhouse remembered the accusations he had thrown at his sister that night, thinking that she had cheated her way into an Honor’s Chord with her telepathy. He had known better, but he had been so envious of her. Gran had been so proud, much prouder than of Jason’s football record.

I didn’t deserve you!” Jason howled at the pictures as big tears rolled down his reddening cheeks. “I didn’t deserve to be your big brother!” he sobbed, clutching the photos hard. “I promise. I promise. I promise!”

On to The Finale

Never End Ch. 28

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Eight: December

“This is absolutely the coolest thing since I became a vampire,” Sookie marveled as she managed to remain aware the entire length of Sweden’s shortened winter day.

Eric chuckled at her enthusiasm, leaning in to kiss the top of her head. “Yes, ever since you have begun mixing honey into your bottled blood, you have managed to resist succumbing to the sun. It is very impressive for a vampire so young, even a Bonded one, to remain aware that long.”

Sookie merely grinned back at him happily, wrapping her arms around his neck, “So, does that mean your ‘hands off’ policy is lifted now that the sun’s set?”

“After a few hours, perhaps,” Eric teased her, running his thumb across her bottom lip. “I want to make sure you are not feeling weakened first. Perhaps after you have some human blood.”

“Then let’s go into town and get a donor,” she whined. “I want to go running with the girls and find out what that noise was all freakin’ day!”

“Noise?” Eric asked curiously.

“That falling rice sound,” she elaborated.

“Falling rice…? OH!” Eric laughed, having tuned out the familiar noise, “Sookie! That was snow!”

“It snowed!?” she demanded, jumping from bed, half dressed, and out the door. Mags and Junes were hard pressed to keep up with her. Eric laughed as he quickly followed his Mate out the door, marveling at her curiosity and disbelief at witnessing her first snow fall. She looked like an angel in the glittering confetti of ice, her cool hand reaching out, and letting it accumulate the small flakes.

Mags and Junes were excitedly rolling in the thin blanket of accumulation, both growling playfully and snapping their teeth at one another.

Leaning against the house, Eric laughed and watched the three of them. Sookie had ceased her captivated snowflake collecting and was now on her knees, scooping up fistfuls of snow before flopping onto her back, spreading her arms and legs energetically.

With a quick bound, she leaped from the ground and examined the angelic imprint she had left, pointing at it and grinning childishly.

“Look! My first snow angel!” she beamed.

Eric chuckled and came to her side, wrapping his arm around her waist, “If you get dressed now, we can get you a donor, and then have a nice run with the dogs in the snow.”

Before he could blink, Sookie was out of his arms and back again, completely dressed. She tugged at his wrist, urging him toward the car. “Be good, Girls,” she called before Eric shut her door and went to the driver’s side.

“You seem more preoccupied with getting back home than finding a meal,” Eric laughed as he drove.

Sookie shrugged, “You know, if you weren’t so insistent on making me feed off people all the time, I’d just drink TrueBlood with honey and call it a day.”

“And if you found yourself in a situation where you needed to feed and you could not acquire TrueBlood?” he asked with raised eyebrows. “Do you know if you could stay under control in that scenario?”

“Which is exactly why I don’t make a fuss about finding a donor,” Sookie pointed out. “Besides, the mood does strike me on occasion.”

“Yes, and those occasions are quite entertaining,” Eric agreed.

Sookie shook her head, “I don’t think so.”

Eric cocked his head curiously before understanding came to him, and he groaned, “I am sorry that I have had to begin taking donors again.”

His Bonded sighed and looked down at her hands in her lap, “I get it,” she murmured. “I just wish I could still nourish you. I don’t like seeing anyone else in your arms.”

“I have only taken male donors,” he pointed out.
“Darlin’, you’re too gorgeous for that to really help,” Sookie laughed hollowly. “You think more than a few of those men didn’t enjoy being where they were any less than a woman would?”

“Ah, well, I cannot help that,” he laughed. “But you should certainly know that I do not wish them to be under my fangs.”

“I know,” she pouted.

“Perhaps you should not listen to my meals,” he suggested softly.

“I know,” she pouted harder. “I can’t help it, though. You’re vulnerable that close to them.”

“I could glamour them beforehand,” he added. “They would be completely complacent and blank.”

“Could you?” she asked.

“I will,” He nodded reassuringly.
“Thanks,” She let out a relieved sigh.

“Anything for you, My Bonded.”

{†}

Eric laughed as Sookie was playing once more in the snow with Mags and Junes. The trio were currently entertaining themselves with Sookie lobbing snowballs at the pair of dogs. Eric merely watched contentedly, leaned against the side of a tree. They were getting further and further away, but Eric could still see them, though their noises were becoming more difficult to discern.

“How are they doing?” a familiar voice asked nearby, and Eric turned to see Endymion approaching.

“Checking in?” Eric asked tensely.

Endymion shrugged his wide shoulders, coming to stand beside the vampire. “I just wish to know if your Bonded is happy.”

Eric raised his eyebrows at that, “Because?”

A secret smile curled the Voice’s mouth, and he answered, “She is very important to me.”

“Because she is your hero?”

“Oh, you heard that, huh?” Endymion laughed, scratching his cheek embarrassedly.

“You are not as formal as I remember,” Eric commented.

“It is the company,” the Voice replied.

Eric looked at the demigod and frowned, “What is it about her? Are you in love with my Bonded?” he demanded.

“I love her dearly, but not romantically,” Endymion confessed. “My heart belongs to Selene.”

“The Greek Goddess of the Moon, yes?”

“That would be our Selene,” Endymion laughed.

“Our?”
“Mine and the other Endymions. As I said, we are not all the same person. The original Voice of the Pantheon is the original Endymion. As dimensions began expanding, multiplying, there was a need for a Voice of the Pantheon to be present in each dimension rather than the deities overlooking all dimensions simultaneously. In comparison to most of the Endymions, I am extremely young,” the Voice explained.

“How does it feel sharing your lover with others?” Eric asked.

Endymion lifted his shoulder disinterestedly. “When she is with me, she is with only me. That is what matters.”

“Then what is your love for my Sookie?” Eric asked again.

“As I said, she was my hero in the dimension I was originally born to. In the dimensions I oversee, I always keep her future on the forefront of my priorities. I received quite a bit of flack over it when I first started out, but given my success record in my dimensions, those criticisms have waned considerably, especially now that Fenrir and Garm are no longer a threat.”

Eric watched his Bonded playing in the snow, barely visible now, and kept his eyes trained on her as he asked, “What are some of the roles you have made her play?”

“I know what you really want to know,” Endymion teased. “You want to know if she ever has you in those other dimensions.”

“Does she?” Eric looked at him with something akin to hope in his eyes.

“Yes,” Endymion nodded with a playful grin. “I have seen her in other dimension. Ones of which I am not the Voice. Every single one of them, she could not be a hero. You make her very strong, Eric. You make her a hero… And she makes you one too.”

Eric snorted at that, “Me, a hero? Perhaps a war hero!”

“No, you are her hero,” Endymion shook his head. “Even in this dimension, you were her hero. Without you, she could not have been the immortal she needed to be. She could not have remained the retainer of Fenrir and Garm.”

“It is good to know my ability to give immortality-”

“Don’t pretend that was the answer,” Endymion laughed. “There are several dimensions where Sookie does not become vampire. Plenty of dimensions where she is still an immortal without vampirism.”

“How is that possible?” Eric stared in shock.

“Ah, well, I have said too much,” Endymion grimaced. “It is never good to divulge too much information about other dimensions. It brews longing and envy. Not to mention, if any events were to intersect, it can cause errors in timeline.”

“You are a very frustrating creature,” Eric grumbled.

“I learned from the best on how to irritate you,” Endymion laughed. “Dimension to dimension, that is something that never changes. You absolutely loathe being left wanting on information. Perhaps, in the future, you will learn more, but for now you are just meant to be happy and enjoy eternity with the Guardian of the Cosmos.”

“That is a rather impressive title for her,” Eric chuckled.

“Believe me, it is not only me who calls her that. She has earned praise from the Pantheon and the other Endymions as well. It has also given me a green light for a future correction I will need her assistance in that was originally deemed unsuitable for her.”

“I do not like that you use her like this,” Eric growled.

“I know, but she does.”

“You are talking of your home dimension again?”

“I am,” he nodded.

“Does she love you in that world?” he demanded.

“I really hope so,” he laughed before shaking his head. “There is something else you really wished to ask me, though, wasn’t there?”

Eric paused a moment before asking the question that had plagued him for months, “Do you know how it was the Magister believed he could submit her to the Council without grievous repercussions?”

“Of course,” Endymion laughed. “It was rather simple, actually.”

“Please, enlighten me,” Eric growled impatiently.

“Leverage,” He shrugged. “As simple as that. If Jorge not only managed to leverage a useful procurement such as Sookie, but also subdued the Viking in one fell swoop, he knew the Council would overlook the means in which he accomplished it. He would have gotten exactly what he wished. He would have been given a spot on the South American Council of Vampires, and Sookie would have become the new Magister of North America with you as her retainer and executor. It would have been over the course of several decades before this was all transitioned, but Jorge’s promotion would have been secured… Unfortunately for Jorge, he made a great miscalculation.”

“Which was?”

“Sookie, of course!” Endymion laughed. “He thought she would panic like any newborn and slip up. Instead, she gave nothing away. No confirmations, no hesitations, no fear. Yes, this Sookie is probably the strongest of them all when it comes to her game-play. She is very adept at policing herself and gathering all the facts before reacting.”

“More so than your Sookie?” Eric snapped.

“By far. My Sookie, who is actually very much your Sookie, is not so well practiced at such things. My Sookie is more fiery. Brave, definitely, but far more bullheaded.”

“I cannot imagine a Sookie more stubborn than mine,” Eric chuckled.

“Believe me,” Endymion rolled his eyes, “I have seen her far more stubborn. You should have seen her when…” he trailed off and shook his head, as if realizing he had almost over shared. “You know, it is far too easy to fall into conversation with you, Eric. Of course, you do this to me in my origin dimension often. Ever since I became the Voice, you have tried wheedling information from me.”

“Was I successful?” Eric chuckled curiously.

“At first,” Endymion admitted begrudgingly. “Thankfully, by the time my assigned dimensions reached a point where they were influential in my Eric’s universe, I had learned not to be baited by him any longer.”

“I do not find being called your anything to be appealing,” Eric told him.

“I suppose this version of you would not,” was Endymion’s laughing reply before clapping his hands in a gesture of finality. “Well, I can see that Sookie is doing very well, and seems quite happy. I am glad. Now, I cannot dawdle long here. I must return to my duties.”

“I hope to bait you some more in the future,” Eric waved as the Voice began to depart.

“I look forward to it.”

With that, Endymion was gone in a bright flash and a chiming of soft bells.

“Hey!” Sookie came bounding toward him, giving Eric only a split second to open his arms and catch her as she lunged into him. “Hehe, that’s my Viking!” she purred happily.

“You seemed to have had quite a bit of fun out here!” Eric laughed, kissing her crown. “Are you ready to head home?”

“Yeah,” She nodded. “The girls are getting bored, and I think it’s a bit cold for us. My body’s feeling slow,” she admitted.

Eric took a short moment to evaluate his own joints and found that they felt moderately sluggish as well. “A keen observation, Dear One. Let us head back.”

Hand in hand with a pair of beastly black dogs in their wake, Sookie and Eric traveled on foot back to their concealed home. As they stepped inside, Eric went to the den and began a fire. The extra heat would quickly evaporate the stiffness of the cold, and the crackling sound within the hearth had a rather appealing aesthetic for him. He had longed to make love to her in front of a roaring fire…

“I’m going to do some cleaning while the fire gets going,” Sookie announced bouncily as she found the MP3 player he had bought her and quickly popped in her earbuds. She had taken to listening to music wearing them, trying to fine tune her ability to hear different frequencies. It was a surprising exercise she had undertaken. Most vampires did not see the benefit of such a practice, but he had already witnessed that she was becoming very adept at not catching Mags or Junes under her feet because she could hear them moving around her. Her usual practice was listening to ambient noise; traffic, nature, crushing waves, and one time he had even heard jackhammers thundering from those headphones.

Tonight, however, she was listening to actual music as she floated about the house, dusting and sweeping. She moved at a rather human pace, finding the task of cleaning therapeutic rather than a labor with which she wished to be done. Admittedly, Eric had never existed in such a clean home before she came into his world. He was not a slob by any means, but aside from the weekly cleaning lady he usually kept on staff, his home was usually not in any short supply of small debris. Now Sookie came into the picture and everything shined all the time. Perhaps it was just that she was there, not the cleaning. His existence had seemed to shine all the time since she became his, so why would his home not take on the same?

Eric watched amusedly as Sookie bobbed into the room, a spoonful of honey tucked into her cheek. Her bottom swiveled with the beat of a song as she came through with a dusting cloth. She plucked every single knickknack from the shelf, dusted, waxed, and buffed it, and then cleaned each of the decorations before replacing them to their homes. He watched her shoulders shimmy and the way it caused her breasts to sway.

Who knew domestication could be so arousing?

Continuing his observation for a moment longer, Eric rose from his vantage point and came past her to kiss the side of her cheek which was already tilted toward him invitingly. Eric merely laughed, patted her rear, and went to the bedroom to retrieve his laptop. Perhaps she would enjoy the added challenge of sound canceling headphones for her exercise.

As he returned to the den, Eric felt a strange shift in the Bond. He looked at his Mate with alarm as she stood lax, still holding a porcelain figure in her limp hand, eyes staring ahead. Sadness, Regret, Worry flooded the Bond, and Eric looked where she was staring, tasted the air in the room, and listened intently for a disturbance. Nothing was out of place, nothing that could cause this extreme of a fluctuation to her mood.

Listening again, Eric heard a deep, rasping voice from her headphones. The lyrics made his body tense and he was quickly at her side.

“Sookie,” Eric pulled the headphones from her ears and spun his Bonded around, “it is only a song.”

“I-I know,” she stammered before laughing. “I just…” She laughed nervously again. “I guess I never realized this song was my anthem before I met you. And then I thought about how I did let you have it all, all my screwed up problems, and I did hurt you with my pain.”

Smiling, Eric brushed an errant strand of hair from her face and traced his thumb over her bottom lip. “You never let me down,” he pointed out.

“That’s what makes me worried,” she admitted guiltily. “Eternity is a long time, Darlin’. Who’s to say I won’t?”

“You never could,” he assured her. “As long as you exist, it is not possible. Even if by some tragedy I did lose you, Fenrir would end my suffering instantly.”

“Oh, that’s comforting,” Sookie rolled her eyes and laughed with a bit more spirit.

“As I said, it is only a song,” he reminded.

“I know,” she sighed. “I really like this song though. It makes me a little melancholy, but it also reminds me that it’s not my theme song anymore.” With a tentative shrug, Sookie stood on her toes and kissed the underside of Eric’s jaw. “Sorry I worried you there.”

Tilting his head down, Eric nuzzled against her ear, “I suppose your first few years as a vampire will have me on edge. You adapt in such startling ways that it disarms me at times.”

“How so?” she laughed.

Taking her iPod from her pocket and finally turning it off, Eric placed the device on the entryway table and took Sookie’s hand in his. Leading her toward the fireplace, he sprawled before it and pulled Sookie into his lap. “How do you surprise me?” he began thoughtfully. “Let me see… You are the most self-contained creature I have ever met. Whenever you feel anything strongly, it floors me. I wait for the day when you do not hide from yourself any longer. You are also very astute in fine tuning your new abilities. From languages, to hearing, to speed and agility, customs, interactions and building secure relationships. Frøkn is completely curled around your little finger, and you have only met him a handful of times in these past months. You are so adept at commanding the respect of those around you that your age takes in no consideration.” With a sigh, Eric shook his head with disbelief.

“It’s easy to earn respect of those around you when you respect others,” Sookie shrugged as if that one comment could wipe away his assessment entirely. “Besides, good manners play a huge role in that.”

“So quick to devalue your accomplishments,” Eric laughed, pressing his forehead to hers. “You are the most blind detective when you are the subject of scrutiny. That is another time I long for, one where you accept all of the wonderful things that you are.”

“I hope it never comes,” Sookie told him.

“Why is that?” Eric asked curiously, playing with a strand of her hair absentmindedly.

“Eric,” Sookie gazed at him seriously, “I don’t want to be full of myself. I don’t want to be overcome with a sense of entitlement. I have a duty to every universe. If my humility prevents me from taking advantage of that, then I’d rather devalue all of the things that you marvel at… Being imperfectly, blissfully happy. That is all I want. The only perfection I need is your love. I have that, I will always have that.”

“Yes, you will,” he agreed, smiling.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Sookie?” He nuzzled her ear.

Take our clothes off.”

On to Chapter Twenty-Nine

Never End Ch. 27

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Home

“Shh, shh,” Sookie soothed Mags and Junes as they lay on their sides trembling. “It’s all right, girls, I’m right here.”

“Endymion said they would not be in pain,” Eric reminded gently, sitting on the floor beside her in their Öland residence and placing his hand on her hip in a comforting manner.

The pair of dogs had held on admirably while Sookie had carefully set their crates in the middle of the living room and encouraged them to come out to her. Both collapsed onto the floor once they exited the cages, and Sookie immediately curled onto the floor, pulling Mags to her chest and Junes behind the curves of her knees.

“That doesn’t mean they aren’t scared,” Sookie crooned, reaching behind her to stroke Junes’ head. “When I was bleeding out in the police station, I wasn’t in pain. I knew I wasn’t going to really die, but I was still so afraid. It’s not an easy thing, no matter if you won’t be gone for good.”

“It was so long ago for me that I suppose I had forgotten. To be honest, when you were on the floor at the station, I was so terrified that you would not give me your consent I was too preoccupied to feel your own trepidations,” Eric confessed.

“I was very scared,” Sookie tried to explain. “Now? I think I’m finally coming back down. Being so afraid as long as I have, to the degree I have… This is nice. I want to keep feeling this way.”

“After Endymion announces our circumstances to the International Council, I can assure you that you will never feel safer,” Eric smiled down at her, squeezing her hip in his hand.

“You think? What if there’s someone out there who’s suicidal and wants to watch the world burn? What if a human who doesn’t know any better, comes at me with a stake?” Sookie continued.

“First off, no vampire who is suicidal wishes to take the universe with them. Vampires are masters of their own universe, and those who choose to meet the sun are usually quite…serene.”

“If you say so,” Sookie sighed. “Honestly, I don’t care if I have to watch my back every night for eternity. I was prepared already to do that as a cop, and I’m prepared to do that as Mags’ and Junes’ redeemer. Haha!” Sookie shook her head amused. “Who would have thought my dogs would give me such purpose! To think, it has nothing to do with my telepathy!”
“To think,” Eric added, “it had everything to do with all that love I saw inside of you, just looking for an aim.”

“I guess I really was a Bullet of Destiny. I was aimed toward Mags and Junes, and you. Three individuals I would love unconditionally who would help me protect the whole world, the whole universe!

“You are every bit the marvel I knew you were,” Eric agreed.

Their conversation was ended when Sookie felt her dogs go rigid, and one final, strained exhale rattled each body. Junes’ final breath came as a pitiful whine, causing Sookie to brush away a crimson tear. The four of them remained on the floor in complete silence until the stillness grew so overwhelming that Sookie began to breathe just to hear something.

Suddenly Eric grabbed Sookie by the waist, and pulled her away from her dogs in a movement so abrupt that it left the young vampire disoriented. As her eyes adjusted to her new position across the room, the bodies of her dogs began to expand. Sookie gasped in surprise as her beautiful shepherds seemed to explode into mammoth beasts, both the size of Clydesdale horses.

Mags was the first to spring to her feet, causing the shelves of the house to rattle. Next, Junes was clamoring up on her long, thick legs. Both were now entirely black, their eyes red as flames while they seemed to shyly look toward Sookie. There was hesitation in their body language, as though they were waiting to see if the love of their lives might run from them in fear.

Sookie darted to the large beasts, pressing her face into Junes’ broad chest and stroking the thick matt of black fur before giving the same loving embrace to Mags.

“You’re both still my girls,” Sookie told them sweetly. “You’ll always be my girls… Even though you seem to be boys now!” she laughed through her tears.

As she petted and soothed the dogs, she felt them diminish in size until they were once again the familiar colors and shapes of her beloved German Shepherds. It was not until they were returned to the size more familiar that Sookie noticed the destroyed carcasses beneath their feet. Sookie cringed away reflexively.
“W-what are those?” Sookie gasped.

Eric looked at the pelts that Mags and Junes stood upon and grimaced, “Ah, those would be the remains of your dogs’ mortal bodies. They are practically husks though, no blood, no entrails, just the bones, skin, and fur.”

Sookie shuddered at the sight, but then reasoned they were no different than taxidermy animals. Still, she begged Eric to quickly dispose of the remains for they unsettled her deeply. Kissing the top of her head, Eric made swift work of removing the carcasses and burying them in the back yard. When he returned, he found Sookie happily talking to Mags and Junes once more.

“So, just to get this straight, which of you is Garm?” Sookie asked. Mags let out a tiny howl that made Sookie grin. “That would make you Fenrir, right, Junes?” Sookie teased while scratching the other dog’s ear. Junes let out a low boom. “All right, I just wanted to be sure! You are very strong, handsome boys in your real forms,” she complimented, making the dogs spin happy circles. “So other than the whole “ending the world” thing, are there other things you can do?”

“Sookie,” Eric interrupted worriedly, “Fenrir is incredibly strong. Perhaps you should ask him to leave the house before displaying his power?”

“I don’t doubt that. Junes was always the tank of the two,” Sookie laughed. “You aren’t afraid of my dogs now, are you, Eric?” she teased.

“It would be arrogant of me to not respect their capabilities,” Eric offered, making his Bonded laugh even more.

“Wow, they are, like, super warm now! I’m gonna love having you snuggling me on cold winter nights.”

“We are going to need a bigger bed,” Eric chuckled.

“They can fit in this shape just fine,” Sookie told him.

“I suppose that is true,” Eric strode across the room to greet the dogs anew. “You two are not going to become territorial of her now, are you?”

Mags leaned her head into Eric’s side, letting out a low groan while Junes slid to the floor to lay down.
“I think they know perfectly well how much I love you. They won’t get in the way,” Sookie assured him.

Nodding in agreement, Eric gestured to the house. “There were some calls you wished to make once we arrived. Would you like to do that now?” he asked.

“Oh! Trent!” Sookie rushed toward the phone and picked it up, dialing from memory after adding the necessary digits Eric provided earlier that week to call outside the country.

When the call picked up, a confused, “Hello?” graced her ears.

“Trent? It’s Sookie! I have so much to-”

Sookie? What the hell? Where have you been? Whose phone is this?” Trent asked, surprised after not recognizing the number or area code.

“I’m in Sweden! This is Eric’s house phone in Öland,” she explained quickly.

Sweden!? What are you doing there?”

“It’s a super long story that I can’t really get into. I’m spending my first year as a vamp here.”

Safety measure?” Trent guessed.

“Sort of,” Sookie sighed. “Like I said, it’s a very long story.”

Hey, I’m off work. I got time,” Trent laughed.

“I didn’t wake you up, did I?” Sookie wondered.

The Were laughed, “It’s only seven P.M. here, Sooks.”

Sookie looked at her Bonded worriedly, but he nodded his agreement that she could share their edited story. “I was attacked by the Magister. He was threatening me and threatening to expose my quirks. He glamoured Jason into telling him all about me. Eric and I left to flee to Sweden, but not before the Magister tried to kidnap me at the airfield. Eric killed him, and then we had to run away.”

There was a long silence over the phone before Trent rasped gravely, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Believe me, I could not make up such a story,” Sookie whispered back. “We haven’t been exiled or anything! The vampire King of Sweden has already conferenced with the European Council and the International vampire rep. We’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing, but the stress of it all has Eric wanting to keep me in one place for a while. He thinks another big move so soon would be a bad idea, so we decided to stay here for a year.”

That sucks, Sookie,” Trent moaned. “We all already miss you at the Department. I know you can’t come back to work your first year, but we all really wanted to see you before then.”

“I know. Me too,” Sookie told him earnestly. “I’ll call a ton, I promise.”

It’s not the same,” Trent protested. “Still, it’s about time you did something right for you, and if this is what you need, then I’ll suck it up and deal. You better call at least once a month.”

“I promise.”

Good… So, tell me. How is it being a vampire?”

Sookie spoke to her best friend about her experiences up until that point. She gushed over the speed and strength, but admitted that everything felt remarkably alien. Touches, sounds, smells, but mostly her own body was a labyrinth of riddles.

Hehe, it sounds like that first year of yours is gonna be all ’bout figuring out the new responses. Just be careful not to raise too much hell!”

Sookie laughed right along with him and they talked about a slew of trivial, friendly things. Trent informed her of the cases on which her division was currently working. He went on and on about Murphy secretly glancing at her desk and quietly missing her. Then he went on to explain how Kleinman had gone as far as putting Sookie’s service photo on her desk in her absence.

It felt good to still have this connection with her old cadet buddy. Despite being thrust halfway across the world, she felt as though a part of her was still alive in Louisiana. People missed her. People wanted her back in their lives. Vampirism had not changed that. Being the clinical, cold, professional Detective Stackhouse had not kept others from caring for her, no matter how hard she tried to convince herself that she had been alone all those years.

“I have to get going, Trent,” Sookie told him, her voice thick with emotion as she realized that even before Eric she had been loved. Feeling the breaking of her heart with the realization that it would be a year before she might see any of their faces again only confirmed to Sookie that she had loved them all too.

All right, Sooks. Talk to you soon.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, “real soon.”

With that, she hung up the phone and looked at her Bonded. He was smiling his indulgent I-told-you-so smile.

“What?” she snapped, flicking at an unbidden tear.

Eric shook his head amusedly, “You thought yourself incapable of love this whole time.” He actually laughed at that statement. “My silly, oblivious Bonded. No one has ever underestimated anyone as much as you underestimate yourself.”

“Oh,” Sookie sauntered toward him, her eyes narrowed playfully at the accusation, “and you just had me all figured out from the very beginning?”

“I definitely would not say that,” he snickered. “It is just much easier to see someone in denial than for the person to see how they deny themselves.”

“People actually care about me,” Sookie lost her playfulness and stared pensively at Eric’s chest.
“People love you, Sookie. Trent as a brother, Kleinman as a daughter, and your entire precinct loves you. If you could have realized how they looked at you after that Nina Sanchez incident-”

“It was pity, Eric,” she protested.

“It was heartbreak,” he argued back. “They did not pity you for having to take a life. Their hearts were breaking to see you trying to keep up that impervious façade of yours. No matter how much distance you tried to put between yourself and them, you are a very loveable woman, the cool, sharp detective who never had a mean word for anyone. Perhaps they could not understand the depths of which you strived to do your job, but they could see it. They could respect it.”

Sookie gazed across the room while she considered her Bonded’s explanation. She thought back, trying to recall the thoughts of her colleagues at the time, but it was impossible. Fear of the images in their heads and the mental condolences had only urged Sookie to push them away. She had not wanted sympathy, nor some artificial regret. The woman had only wanted the opportunity to know her own mind in those moments without the interference of any outside interpretation. That was the part of telepathy that many would never comprehend the frustration, the part that came with not knowing or understanding your own mind.

“I can’t say for sure if that’s true,” Sookie admitted after a moment. “I needed to know how I felt at the time, and I did the best I could to keep others’ thoughts out. It’s no simple thing, coming to grips with the fact you’ve killed someone, and then having to also deal with how others may feel about it.”

“Their thoughts might have been probable source of comfort for you,” Eric replied.
Sookie shook her head, “I didn’t want their comfort or assurances. I just wanted to fall to pieces, and then decide how I felt.”

Staring pensively at her hands after her Bonded made his point, it was so much easier to deny his claim, so much easier to live in the delusion where she was unwanted and unloved before him. If she did not, then what had been the purpose of her isolation? Why had she denied herself so many things in life? Why had she put herself through so much pain?

Looking at Mags and Junes, Sookie wondered if she could have given the pair of them all of the love that had subdued the rage of Garm and Fenrir if she had not been so reliant upon them. Would she have been able to show them all of her devotion if she had been out with her division getting drinks every other night?

Next she contemplated her Bonded and considered the likelihood that he could have been everything she wanted and needed if she had not stubbornly resisted the love and considerations of those around her prior to his arrival in her life.

Eric tilted his head as Sookie was suddenly overcome with amusement. “What is it, Sookie?” he asked when a small smile tugged at her mouth, and she ruefully shook her head.

“Oh, nothing,” she laughed. “I just realized how funny life is. I don’t know how many of my decisions pulled me down this path we’re on. What I did that mattered, and what I did that just lead to me torturing myself. All I know is it doesn’t matter. I’ve jumped those hurdles. They’re in the past, and now I have my Bonded and my girls forever. No matter what I had to go through in the past, or have to deal with along the way, I just realized how blessed I was…” She began laughing almost hysterically. “I’ve been beating my fists against a wall all these years, and the bricks just tumbled at my feet so suddenly that I almost fell on my face!”

Placing his hands on Sookie’s shoulders, Eric smiled down at her gently as he reined in the hysteria with which his Bonded was beginning to bubble over. However, he was particularly encouraging of a meltdown that was so positively provoked. She needed laughter at a time such as this, and as long as he could keep her emotions from overwhelming him, he felt as though he should encourage it.

“Those final walls are finally tumbling down, Dear One. I cannot begin to tell you how happy that makes me,” Eric murmured into her hair.

“It’s a relief to me,” Sookie let out a long breath as if to dispel any lingering venom in her body from previous anguish.

Eric smiled widely, “You know what I always found the most impressive about you, Sookie?” He reached out to play with a tendril of her hair framing her face. “Despite everything you heard, you never allowed others to make up your mind for you.”

“I don’t know,” she told him playfully, “I think you managed to make some decisions for me.”

Eric cocked his head to the side as he traced her cheekbone with his thumb, “No, I merely gave you the information you needed to make your own decision.”

Smiling at his words, Sookie nodded in agreement, “I think you’re right.”

Her Bonded shook his head with a laugh, “Sookie, believe me, no one has ever made you do anything you did not want… With the exception of Sophie-Anne, but if we are fair, she gave you very few options.”

Nodding sadly, Sookie was inclined to agree. Smiling up at him, Sookie asked joyously, “Want to go out with the girls and see what happens when they cut loose?”

“Admittedly, that is disconcerting, to think of those two “cutting loose”,” he laughed.

“Oh, you know what I mean. Speed, strength. Not destruction!” Sookie giggled.

“All right,” Eric agreed with a grin. “Let us see what their capabilities are.”

{†}

“I can barely keep up!” Sookie moaned, staring at the back end of Junes as Eric chuckled alongside her. “She used to be the slow-poke!”

“They seem to only be warming up,” he agreed as they wove through the woodlands.

Mags was nearly a quarter mile ahead of them, putting more and more distance between the trailing trio.

“Mags, slow up!” Sookie called, relieved to see the dark hindquarters growing nearer.

“Sookie, watch it!” Eric snapped as his Bonded nearly ran headlong into a tree. Before the vampiress could react, Junes threw her shoulder into the large Scots Pine. The timber shattered at the force with which it was struck and was flung several yards away. Eric’s arms were wrapped around Sookie protectively, but not a single piece of wooden shrapnel imbedded within him.

When the vampire pair looked up, Junes was in her Fenrir form, and shaking out the deadly debris. The wooden shards fell to the ground with a gentle clatter like distant rain.

“She did that so fast, I didn’t even see her change shapes!” Sookie gasped.

“Most impressive,” Eric kept his watchful gaze on the potential hazard of an impromptu staking.

“Mags, come back!” Sookie called to her other dog, surprised to see the large beast already returning with a slow trot. “Oh, she changed too!”

“So I see,” Eric mumbled. “We should head back. We have been at this for hours. The summers here give us short evenings.”

“You’re right,” Sookie pouted as Eric began leading them through the woods at a much slower speed than they had previously traveled.

“I cannot believe how easily she took out that tree,” Eric commented. “That was a mature pine nearly six feet thick and she shattered it so casually!”

“What would have happened if I hit it?”

“I was not about to let you do that,” Eric chuckled. “But if I had, the damage would have been catastrophic for you at such a young age. You would have taken several evenings to heal, assuming that the impression you made did not manage to stake you.”

“I’m more impressed that Junes shielded the shards like that,” Sookie told him.

“Yes, that was quite impressive,” he agreed.

When they arrived at the house, Eric drew Sookie into the living room and curled her against his chest on the couch. Mags and Junes, once more in their Shepherd forms, flopped lazily on the floor next to the sofa.

“Are you ready for your Swedish lessons before daybreak?”

“Oh, sure,” Sookie settled into position with her back against his chest. “I hope I’m a good student. I’ve never really been good at foreign languages. I took French in high school, but I was terrible at it,” she confessed bashfully.

“You have forever to get it right,” Eric chuckled. “Besides, if it comes down to it, you always have me for a translator.”

“Mmm, sexy translator,” she purred, wiggling back against him.

“Hey now,” Eric gave her side a firm pat, “lessons now. Play later.”

Grumbling to herself, Sookie settled down as Eric began teaching her the basics of his native tongue. She had to admit that listening to him speak in his calm, deep timbre was anything but conducive to absorbing what it was she was meant to learn. Every so often his hands would come to her mouth and squish her lips together to form a word, or gently contract around and guide her throat to create a particular sound to take the “twang” out of her articulation.

“You sound like an American,” Eric laughed.

“Imagine that!” Sookie gasped in feigned disbelief. “And stop strangling me already. I know I don’t gotta breathe, but that’s getting annoying.”

“You need to speak more from the back of your throat, not your nose,” Eric tried to explain. “Try not to sling your jaw when you speak in Swedish. It is giving you a strange lilt.”

“Teck.”

“Tack.”

“Talk.”

“Tack.”

“Tawk?”

Eric laughed, leaning his forehead to the back of her scalp. “I cannot tell if you are teasing me or not.”

“I can tell I’m not saying it right,” Sookie whined, “but I can’t get my mouth to make that noise right.”

“Which noise?”

“Tawk.”

“It is a ‘thanks’, Sookie. Not a noise.”

“I know what it is,” she glowered impatiently. “But my mouth can’t say it right.”

“All right,” he relented. “how about varsågod?”

“Yeah, Darlin’, I couldn’t get one syllable words out proper, and you think I can say that?”

“Try,” he encouraged.

“Varser cod.”

“Gah, there is a Gah, Sookie. Not a ‘K’.”

“Varser God.”

“Varsågod,” he repeated to refresh her memory.

“Varse God,” Sookie answered with frustration.

“All right, all right. You are getting angry now. Say your favorite phrase instead.”

Loving amusement trilled through the Bond when she stated as cleanly as she could, “Jag älskare dig.”

Very good,” he crooned in her ear, incapable of grimacing at her accent when he heard those words from her. “I love you too.”

“Can we take a break?” Sookie asked hopefully.

“It has only been an hour or so,” Eric protested.

“An hour or so with an easily distracted, Bonded baby vampire,” Sookie groaned, arching back against him. “This is too much focus for too long.”

“Oh, is that it?” Eric taunted, running his hand up and down her hip. “It has nothing to do with this yearning lust you have been practically shoving into the Bond since shortly after we began?”

“Please?” she tilted her head to try and catch his gaze, fluttering her eyelashes flirtatiously.

“Well, the sun will be rising soon,” he considered thoughtfully. “And we do need to christen our new bed, yes?”

“Yay!” Sookie turned swiftly in his arms and crushed her mouth to his, smothering his laughter.

Eric’s arms immediately snaked around her waist as he began to sit up. When he stood, Sookie’s legs constricted over his hips and the older vampire carried her to their bedroom. As he dropped her onto their bed, he grinned down at the woman and asked, “How do you want it, Sookie?”

“Hmm?”

“Fast or slow? Hard or Gentle?”

Sookie gaped at him a moment as she absorbed his question. She was a vampire now, and there was a distinct possibility that she had never even challenged his capacity for ‘fast and hard’ as a mortal. The curiosity aroused her, and she knew Eric could feel it.

“There is definitely an option that is turning you on. Now which will it be?” he teased as his frame began to drape over hers.

“Fast and hard,” Sookie panted beneath him.

Eric growled hungrily at her request, but he wasted no time at responding. Violently, he tore open her shirt and pushed her skirt up past her hips. Sookie gasped at the ferociousness and suddenness of his actions as she was quickly flipped onto her stomach. In the same movement, Eric’s hand collided with her backside.

“Ah, Eric,” Sookie whined at the pleasant sting of his slap. Her knees instinctively drew to her chest, putting her bottom in the air for his considerations.

“Brace your arms behind your knees, Sookie,” Eric instructed even as he pulled her arms to lock into position so that she was prostrating herself before him. Her fingers locked together before pinning her arms between her thighs and calves. “That is perfect,” he purred. “Stay just like that and you will not lose any impact.”

“You put me in a damn crash landing position,” Sookie pointed out.

“Which is exactly what you asked for,” he assured as he took step behind her. “And I thank you for that. Your bottom is glorious to behold.” His hand caressed the globe before giving it another playful swat with his hand. Before she could cease wriggling from the little pain, she felt his length intruding on her walls.

“Oh!” she cried out at the abrupt invasion. There was no opportunity to recover as he was gone just as swiftly as he arrived. Over and over, a constant state of infinitesimal pressure and relief, every stroke was varied just enough to make a different experience. Sookie could feel one of his hands clutching the space between her neck and shoulder, preventing her from escaping the impact behind her. However, though the speed was impressive, the collisions were underwhelming. She began to wonder where was the ‘hard’ part of her request.

“Really? You are bored?” Eric laughed. “I suppose you might not be able to appreciate this speed just yet. It is most likely feeling like continuous pressure to you. Unless I do this,” his free hand tilted her hips upward until her back arched, forcing her shoulders and neck against the mattress. The effect was instantaneous as Sookie let out a strangled cry, unlocked her hands to clutch at the bedding and her left leg jerked free and kicked him in the thigh. Even as he laughed at her response, Sookie was still garbling around pleasurable sobs. “Not so boring now, am I?” Eric taunted as he curled his chest around her back and bit her ear. “Are you going to get back into ‘crash position’, or are you done with ‘hard and fast’?” Eric asked teasingly as her body continued to flex and twitch beneath him.

“I-I ca-can’t,” she ground out as his shaft continued its torturous assault on a sensitized pressure point inside of her. “I-I-I-”

“What can you not do, Sookie?” Eric asked as he purposely flexed inside of her and earned an entirely new, guttural sound from her lips. “Oh, is this how I need to teach you to make noises in the back of your throat? That was very good! Now say ‘thank you’.”

“TACK!” Sookie cried.

“Very good!” he laughed amusedly. “Now get that left leg back where it needs to be and lock your fingers behind your knees.”

“Eric,” she whimpered as her body convulsed with electrical jolts of pleasure while he continued to torture that part inside of her only he ever managed to find. She could not make her joints move at her will, instead they only came to life in response to his movements. Coiled, compressed, wound, that was how she felt in the moment. Her actions were no longer her own, and she feared the release. “Eric, I-I. STOP!”

His movements ceased immediately as he withdrew. Carefully he turned her over onto her back and looked at her worriedly. “Are you all right?” he demanded, looking her over anxiously as she continued to shake on their bed. “Did I scare you? Was that too much?” he berated letting his dominant side loose on her so strongly, but it had been a long time since he had last challenged his speed and strength sexually.

“Yes,” Sookie nodded jerkily as her body trembled. At his heartbroken expression, she immediately tried to explain, “No, no! No, you didn’t scare me. I scared myself. Yes, it was too much, but I mean the pleasure, not the aggression. I like you aggressive in the bedroom,” she found her body calming as she could finally articulate her feelings. “I don’t know what that was, but it was like being on the verge of an orgasm that wouldn’t come, and you can just tell it won’t. All that energy, it just. It was too much, and it wouldn’t let go. I was scared to let it go.”

“Like when we first began our intimacy?” Eric tried to understand.

“No, I was scared to cum in the beginning because I was shy. This has nothing to do with shy. I felt like I was going to explode, but in the vampire incinerating kind of way, not the orgasmic bliss way. The only times I’ve felt that energy was when I was in turmoil, and I guess, getting that feeling like I would explode like that made me panic.”

“I see,” Eric nodded. “Are you feeling better now?” he asked.

Sookie nodded shakily, “Yeah, I just got overloaded.”

“Shall we save ‘hard and fast’ for when you are more accustomed to your vampire emotions and responses?” Eric suggested.

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. I’m pretty sure if I blew up again it wouldn’t hurt you any cause it didn’t harm you at all at the airfield, but it still makes me nervous.”

“I understand,” he assured her. “Do you want to continue slow and gentle, or do you want to relax until dawn?”

“Can we just finish each other off orally? I think I really just need an orgasm to burn off some of whatever this is,” she admitted. Eric chuckled and leaned in to kiss her crown before drawing her hips to the end of the bed. “Er, actually, can I do you first? I think I need to just calm down a little bit more.”

“You will definitely not hear me object to that!” Eric flopped onto the bed beside her and tangled his hand into Sookie’s hair as she drifted down his waist to wrap her mouth around his cock.

Eric groaned when her tongue snaked down his length and he gave her locks in his hand an encouraging tug. He could practically feel her lips form into a smirk around him and it caused his hips to flex warningly.

“No need to be so smug, Sookie,” Eric rumbled. “You should know by now that you have the devil’s tongue.”

“It’s still nice to be reminded that my thousand-year-old Viking likes my mouth the best,” she taunted, and then trailed her tongue down toward his balls.

“Everything about you, I like the best,” Eric replied breathlessly, earning an approving hum from his Mate as she manipulated his sack with her mouth. “Gods, that feels good!”

Her stroke was firm and slow, making Eric’s hips twitch impatiently beneath her. It was not long before his moans and twitches proved to Sookie how going down on her Bonded was anything but calming. Slowly, she let one of her hands leave his thigh to travel down her belly.

“Oh no,” Eric jerked into a seated position and took her hand. “There will not be any of that!” he gave her hand a squeeze. “That is for me.” Somehow Sookie managed a pout with her lips wrapped around his cock, and it made Eric laugh. “Just to make sure you are not tempted again, I will keep a hold on these,” He took both of her wrists into his hand and let the other fist once more in her hair.

Arms and hair held above her head, Sookie was at the mercy of his hips as he began to thrust into her mouth. Though she had been getting better at taking more of his length into her throat over time, she was surprised that as a vampire she could now take the entirety of him.

Her throat flexed rhythmically with his thrusts, able to enjoy his dominance freely without the panic of oxygen deprivation. It was even more arousing without her eyes watering from strain, or the distraction of her labored gasps for air.

“Just like that, Sookie,” Eric snarled in a primal way as her tongue danced feverishly over his sex. Shortly after, she could feel his cock pulsing in her throat and another growl rumbled from his chest as he came. “Ready for yours now?” he asked tauntingly as he released her hair and wrists.

Sookie looked up at him, catching remnants of his release from the corner of her mouth and licking it clean. With a kittenish stretch, she crawled into his lap and giggled when he rolled her beneath him.

He did not leave her waiting for any preamble as he drifted down the length of her body. He could feel how aroused she was and knew that she needed no further attention than what he would give to her center.

Splitting her legs open, Eric ran his tongue up her gash, but was stunned when he flickered her clit and Sookie buckled beneath him with an ecstatic cry.

Looking up at her in surprise, the older vampire witnessed her writhing with orgasm and bucking her hips toward the sky as her pearl skin glowed with heat. Her thigh felt alive with warmth, her scent was alluringly delicious, and she was still convulsing with the force of her orgasm.

Tempted by her wildness and aroma, Eric bit into her thigh and was rewarded with thick, syrupy sweetness. He wanted to nurse her wound like a babe latched to a breast. She was frantic with the recycling of her pleasure, and Eric was finding it difficult to disengage from the injury he had inflicted. Somewhere, he found the willpower to withdraw, but his tongue continued lapping at the puncture even after it had healed.

Running his hands up and down her body as she recovered from her bliss, Eric reveled in her warmth. She felt alive with the heat she was emitting, but her body was still as the grave now.

“Are you all right, My Sookie?” Eric asked after a moment.

“Uh huh,” she mumbled incoherently.

“Can you please stand up? I want to see you move a bit. You look dead.”

“I am dead,” she grunted.

“You know what I mean,” he playfully patted her thigh. “Please, I want to be sure that you are well.”

Sluggishly, Sookie clambered off the bed and slouched around the room dazed.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Tired. I haven’t felt tired like this since you turned me,” she admitted.

“Put on a nightgown. I am going to call Ludwig,” Eric told her as he found a pair of track pants for himself before grabbing his phone.

Sookie nodded numbly as she found one of his shirts and pulled it awkwardly over her head.

“Ludwig, I think you should step in. We have had a new occurrence,” Eric murmured into his phone before hanging up.

POP

“I know I said I wouldn’t charge you where it concerned her, but you have to keep in mind I am a doctor. Not an on-call, private physician. I have other patients,” Ludwig snapped as she flung her black doctor’s bag on the bed. “Oh my,” she gawked at Sookie. “What happened?”

“A very powerful orgasm,” Eric folded his arms over his chest contemplatively. “Feel her skin. She is warmer than a human!”

Ludwig pressed her hand against Sookie’s forehead and nodded, “Yes, very warm! Did anything else happen other than heating up?”

“She mentioned she felt a similar sensation to when she uses Fairy Light. We took a short break from our activities, but when we continued, her arousal-”

“Please, Eric, this is super embarrassing,” Sookie moaned.

“I am a doctor, Baby Vampire,” Ludwig reminded. “When it comes to you, I need to know everything.”

Sookie moaned and flopped on the bed next to Ludwig’s bag.

“As I was saying, her arousal when we continued was quite intense. I barely touched her and she orgasmed, and then her skin heated up drastically. She smelled irresistible. I bit her, and her blood was delectable. It did not offer me any nourishment, but I found it difficult to stop drinking,” Eric concluded.

“Did it intoxicate you at all?” Ludwig asked, feeling Sookie’s skin again and noting that it was cooling down.

“No, but like I said, it was very difficult to disengage.”

Ludwig shrugged, “Sounds like a basic power surge. Strong emotions can cause those. Did she put off Fairy Light?”

“She did not,” he told her.

“She is already coming back down to room temperature. Are you tired, Little Vampire?”

“Very,” Sookie mumbled into a pillow.

“Are you thirsty?”

“Now that you mention it, I’m very thirsty,” she confessed.

“Hmm,” Ludwig grabbed her bag and rifled through it. Extracting a bottle of blood, she stopped before offering it to Sookie. “Have you tried mixing in honey yet?”

“No. This is our first night undisturbed since you made the suggestion,” Eric admitted.

Nodding in understanding, Ludwig reached back in the bag and found bottle of honey that she added to the blood and shook it. Finally, she gave Sookie the bottle and the young vampire guzzled it like ambrosia. “Good?” Ludwig chuckled.

“So good!” Sookie chugged until the bottle was drained, and she was poking her tongue inside to capture more sweetened drops. “Can I have another?” she begged, making the doctor laugh and mix another.

Sookie drained it similar to the first. “Is this TrueBlood?” she asked.

“No, that is regular human blood. I bottled some so that you could try it with honey.”

“Thank you,” Sookie upturned the bottle, trying to coax the final dregs into her mouth.

“You are very welcome.” Turning to Eric, she added, “Make sure she does not regurgitate it and I will return tomorrow evening to check in on her.”

“Yes, Doctor,” Eric nodded.

With that, Ludwig vanished from the room and Sookie sighed with relief. Seeing so much of the little doctor put the vampire on edge.

“So, when a vamp regurgitates, is there any warning it’s gonna happen? I’d hate to make a mess,” Sookie mumbled.

“Your stomach will contract in intervals for about five to ten minutes before expelling its contents. It is not all that uncomfortable, but it is noticeable. If you are dead for the day when your body tries to reject it, then you will make a mess. There is nothing to do about it,” Eric shrugged. “Although,” he frowned now and double checked his watch before tasting the air, “the sun has already broken the horizon. You should be unconscious right now.”

“For real?” Sookie tilted her head before trying her own hand at tasting the rising sun. “I don’t even feel nervous like I usually do just before dawn!”

“Hmm, I wonder if it is the honey or that release you had?” Eric brought her to bed, but kept from climbing in beside her when he heard Mags and Junes pawing and whining at the door. “All right, all right!” he grumbled, going over and letting the pair sneak in. Both dogs quickly jumped on the bed and ensconced Sookie. “Excuse me,” Eric came to her side and shoved Junes out of the way, “this is my spot.”

Junes grumbled to herself and sprawled instead across Sookie’s legs as Mags pressed tightly into Sookie’s side opposite Eric.

“Jealous?” Sookie teased as she wrapped herself around Eric.

“They may be hell beasts, but this is still my spot,” he snarked.

“Always,” she assured him, kissing his chest.

Running his fingers through her hair, Eric let the silence of the room linger. The events of the past week were running through his head, and he allowed the quiet to continue as he broke down all of the impossibilities that had transpired.

After a while, Sookie could not take the silence in conjunction with Eric’s mood. “What are you thinking?” she finally asked.

“About the Magister.”

“And?”

Eric shook his head, “I cannot believe that he tried to do what he did! How could he possibly consider he could get away with manipulating you like that? Even if he had managed to scare you into admitting what you were, once you were presented to the Council and Ancient Pythoness, it would be known that he had procured you under false pretenses. The Ancient Pythoness would have known Jorge had meddled in the safety and harmony of a Bonded couple. Not to mention, when they found the stress he had subjected a newborn to…?”

“I don’t understand why the Ancient Pythoness wasn’t at the trial,” Sookie admitted. “I mean, Frøkn stated plainly that under our circumstances there was no reason for her not to be there.”

“Oh, that is simple enough,” Eric replied. “Sophie-Anne apparently pissed off the Council and she was going to be put to death regardless. Therefore, there was no need for the Ancient Pythoness to attend. The trial was just for show. No doubt, if we had failed to make our case, Jorge had his own accusations against her that could be proven.”

“Then why stress us out?” Sookie demanded. “And why didn’t I hear that in his mind?”

Eric shrugged, “Quite possibly he was too entertained by the trial to think about the outcome. As for why he put pressure on us, he rather enjoyed the discomfort he was putting us through. Jorge was quite the sadist. An opportunity to push the buttons of a Bonded couple does not come often and he was taking full advantage of that. I wonder if he was hoping that we would fail to prove our claim so that he might put us to death as well. He would have relished in that. I am certain he would have killed you first and made me wait a time for my own death just to see ‘The Viking’ shrieking in agony.”

Sookie shivered, “That’s terrible.”

“Quite,” he agreed darkly.

“So does that mean we called his bluff and that attempt at the tarmac was just a last, desperate resort?” Sookie asked.

“More than likely… Still, as I said, the Council would have known what he had done once you were presented to them. His plan was very flawed.”

“Is that strange for vampires?” Sookie asked. “To go ahead with such imperfect plans that could lead to their true death?”

“Some are more impulsive than others,” Eric frowned. “Jorge is not one I would have considered ‘impulsive’.”

“I wonder if we’ll ever know why he did it,” Sookie sighed, nuzzling into his chest.

“Regardless, we have a very full immortality to look forward to. We have already been cleared of any and all wrongdoing in North America. After a couple decades, the European Council will lift their visiting restrictions and the world will be our oyster once more.”

“I’d really like to return to Louisiana after my first year,” Sookie confessed. “I want to see Trent and my division and say proper goodbyes.”
Eric’s eyebrows raised, “Goodbyes?”

Smiling sadly, Sookie whispered, “You were right about shrugging off my mortal coil. I’m going to give Jason our Gran’s house and say goodbye to the Shreveport P.D. Maybe we could go live in Dallas with Godric and Emily. I need to make a new family, an immortal one, and I can’t do that if I don’t start making steps toward letting them know me properly.”

“I see….”

“You’re surprised,” she commented.

“A bit, but I am very happy to hear you are already preparing to try. If anyone had a reason to cling, it would be you, and I would have respected that.”

“It’s better for everyone if they can just bury me,” Sookie murmured. “At least I can let them say proper goodbyes.”

“I suppose.”

“You disagree.”

Smiling, Eric replied, “No one is better off not having you in their life, Sookie.”

On to Chapter Twenty-Eight

Never End Ch. 26

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Six: The Devourer

Eric Northman!”

Sookie stood shyly behind her Bonded as an impressive stature of a man greeted them in the main entrance of a rather regal estate. His golden beard and broad face were surprisingly kind for a vampire.

“Frøkn,” Eric grinned back as he and the King bowed their heads to one another, “Detta är min lagerförråd, Sookie (This is My Bonded, Sookie.).”

“En sådan vacker varelse (Such a beautiful creature.),” Frøkn gave her a quick appraisal. “Jag kunde se henne som önskvärt att andra, utan att gå så långt för att du var tvungen att fly från Nordamerika? Att jag har svårt att förstå (I could see her as being desirable to others, but to go to such lengths that you had to flee North America? That I have difficulty understanding.),” he admitted.

“Vi hade ytterligare svårigheter på vår avresa. Jag måste informera er om att vi var accosted på asfalten. Jag var tvungen att döda Jorge San Diego. Han försökte ta henne från mig, rätt där på planet (We had further difficulties at our departure. I must inform you that we were accosted at the tarmac. I was forced to kill Jorge San Diego. He attempted to take her from me, right there at the plane!)!”

“Du kan inte mena allvar (You cannot be serious!)!” Frøkn frowned disapprovingly. “För vilket ändamål (For what purpose?)!?”

“Jag har inte den vagaste begreppen (I do not have the vaguest idea.),” Feeling Discomfort in the Bond, Eric remembered how easily he had fallen into his native tongue and glanced ruefully at Sookie. “I am sorry, Dear One. Old habits. Sookie, this is Frøkn, the Vampire King of Sweden.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sir,” Sookie forced her voice to sound clear and steady.

“The pleasure is all mine, Northman’s Mate,” Frøkn inclined his head to her. “Your accent is very charming.”

“Yours is amazing! You speak English better than I do,” she jested timidly.

Frøkn and Eric both laughed at her joke, her Bonded stroking her hair reflexively. “I hope that we can all get better acquainted tomorrow evening, but seeing as it is nearly five in the morning, I would appreciate a chance to get my Bonded settled in for the day,” he suggested.
“Yes, of course,” Frøkn nodded, understanding. “Please, any room you would feel the most comfortable in, feel free to take shelter. Stay as long as you need.”

“We will be leaving at the end of the week for Öland.”

“Ah, I remember, you have an estate there, yes?” Frøkn asked.

“Yes. It is mostly equipped for our stay, but a few renovations need to be made before our arrival. Would you be so kind as to direct me to a good contractor?”

“Certainly,” the King nodded. “I will have his information prepared for you this evening.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Sookie piped in.

“There is also the matter of Sookie’s dogs,” Eric added hesitantly.

“If you would like, the room on the east end of the third floor has a suite. I can have the day crew handle the needs of your pets while you are at rest. The lightproof chamber is secure against entry during the day, so you will be perfectly safe,” Frøkn assured.

“You are most kind,” Eric nodded.

“Please, rest and relax in my home for as long as you desire. It will be good to catch up again, right, Northman?” he laughed.

“Yes. Thank you,” Eric nodded and turned toward the door just as Mags and Junes came bounding into the foyer. “Ah, these are her dogs, Mags and Junes,” he gestured to the animals. The pair skidded to a halt at Sookie’s side and immediately sat down though their eyes and ears flicked to and fro, taking in the sounds and sights of the new room. Their noses twitched with new scents, but they seemed more excited rather than scared.

“Beautiful animals,” Frøkn nodded with a chuckle. “Well behaved, too, it would seem.”

“Quite,” Eric agreed. “We shall take that suite you mentioned. Until tomorrow evening.”

Departing the entryway with an assistant carrying their luggage while simultaneously showing them to their room, Sookie took Eric’s hand in hers. She squeezed it nervously while they walked up the stairs, Mags and Junes trailing behind them.

When they were alone, bags on the ground and dogs jumping onto furniture, Sookie let out a long sigh. “That was nerve wracking,” she laughed, a little baffled.

“You were charming as ever,” Eric pulled her toward the bedroom.

“I was practically a shadow,” Sookie contested.

“You did not portray your unease at all,” Eric assured. “You were lovely and sweet while still being humorous. As I said, you were charming, despite being quiet.”

“I guess,” Sookie accepted.

“Being sociable does not mean you need to be pressed for speech,” Eric reminded her. “Sometimes being social is about listening and you have always been good at that.”

She rolled her eyes before barking on a short laugh, “Yeah, I really never had a choice on that one.” Glancing at the clock, Sookie sighed, “The sun will be rising soon. We should probably finish getting settled in.”

“Ah, first I would like to call upon Dr. Ludwig. After the incident at the airport, I would feel much better if she looked you over,” Eric suggested apologetically.

Sookie groaned, but nodded in consent, “Fine. If it will make you feel better.”

“It will,” he kissed her forehead before going to the phone on the bedside table and making the call, “Dr. Ludwig, this is North-… Yes… Yes, we did… There were events occurring. I had to get Sookie out of the States… Yes… Yes, something happened at our departure. I have something for you to review. I will give it to you after you have looked over Sookie… Yes… Thank you,” he hung up the phone and turned to his Mate. “She will arrive shortly.”

*POP*

“Apparently very shortly,” Eric chuckled, turning his head toward the door and waiting for Ludwig to come into the bedroom. When she did not appear immediately, the Viking frowned and took Sookie’s hand, leading her into the common room of their suite. “Doctor?” he called curiously, spotting the small creature standing before the couch, frozen. “Is something wrong?” he asked at the shocked and terrified expression on her face.

“These dogs,” Ludwig whispered. “They are yours?”

“Sookie’s,” Eric answered. “Why?”

The doctor shook her head quickly, and turned her attention to Sookie and Eric, “Nothing, none of my business, I suppose. Let me look your Mate over,” she suggested.

Sookie came to the couch, sitting between Mags and Junes who promptly put their heads in her lap. Ludwig cringed slightly, but shook off her discomfort so that she could begin the examination.

“Your temperature has gone up slightly,” Ludwig sighed. “That is interesting. You said something about reviewing some sort of material?”

Eric extracted the small disc sleeve from his jacket pocket and handed it to the doctor. “This is only meant to be viewed by your eyes. I do not want any copies made, and I wish to have it returned to me by tomorrow night,” he explained before handing over the disc.

“Of course it is only for my eyes,” Ludwig snapped before snatching the disc from his fingertips. “I will look it over immediately and it will be returned as you have requested. As for this one,” she jerked her head at Sookie, “she is in perfect form. Other than a slight increase in her warmth, I sense no particular wear. Would you like me to take a blood sample to examine alongside this document?”

“Please,” Sookie requested. “I would rather walk the line of caution and redundancy than miss anything.”

“Smart girl,” Ludwig crowed approvingly, digging into her black medical bag and taking out a syringe. Sookie did not bother offering a limb. Ludwig merely jabbed her, pulled the plunger, and then forced the red fluid into a vial. “Very good. I will have a report for you first thing tomorrow evening.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Sookie smiled appreciatively.

“You two get settled,” Ludwig suggested. “These past evenings have been far too stressful for a Youngling like yourself. It’s a miracle you have not gone rampaging yet.”

“Please don’t say “yet,” Sookie laughed nervously. “You make me feel like it could happen.”

Ludwig’s eyes turned stony, “It could very easily happen if you are put under much more strain. I would say that your composure is rather miraculous under these circumstances.”

Sookie’s eyebrows rose and replied almost shrilly, “What do you mean? I’m fine!”

Looking to Eric, Ludwig raised her eyebrows and tilted her head at the young vampiress questioningly.

“She actually is fairing extremely well, all things considered, especially after the events that transpired last night,” he nodded toward the disc he had handed Ludwig. “I dare say that this is the most level she has been since her rising, perhaps even before that.”

“Strange,” Ludwig whispered to herself. “Well, I will be going now. I will return at first dark.”

“Thank you,” Eric nodded to her, and the small doctor vanished immediately.

“Am I really capable of going on a stress-induced rampage?” Sookie asked quietly.

“You? I doubt it, Dear One,” Eric laughed. “If that were to happen, it would have happened at the Shreveport terminal.”

“I suppose,” Sookie remembered the anger and fear that had consumed her when she saw her dogs’ crates rolling across the airfield. “In a way, it sorta did,” she realized with a gasp. “Eric! That thing I did to Jorge! What if that is how I rampage? What if I just burned it out of me in that one move-”

“Shh,” Eric hushed her, “we cannot speak of those things here.”

“I thought we were safe?” she whispered.

“We are, but anything to do with…your uniqueness is better only discussed in the privacy of our own home,” he explained.

“Walls have ears,” she whispered.

“And keyholes have eyes,” he agreed.

“Okay, should we get ready for bed?” she asked.

Smiling at the suggestion, Eric nodded, “Yes, that sounds perfect.”

“How long until dawn?” she asked.

“It will be very, very soon,” he told her, pushing Sookie toward their bed and securing the door behind them. “Only another ten minutes or so.”

“Dang, that’s early!” Sookie frowned.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Just wait until December. The sun sets before three in the afternoon and does not rise again until nearly nine in the morning!” he laughed as he began to disrobe. Sookie followed suit and they crawled, naked, into bed.

“Ooh, that sounds like fun!” Sookie laughed as she curled into his side.

“It will be,” he agreed, but laughed to himself when he felt Sookie succumb to the sun before he had finished his remark.

{†}

“Good evening,” Eric purred as Sookie arose abruptly, fully awake and raring to go.

“Evening,” she grinned up at him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

“You seem in spectacular spirit,” he noted playfully as she tugged his lips towards her own.

“You bet I am,” Her legs wound around his waist as her mouth captured his.

Eric groaned as Sookie’s tongue tangled with his own and he pressed his hips tightly against her. Her pelvis rocked gently in response.

“Why does it feel as if I have not had you in so long?” Eric mumbled against her mouth as his hand reached down to stroke between her folds. “Gods, Sookie, you have only just risen and you are already wet for me!” His fingertips gently rubbed her clit causing her to arch beneath him.

“Oh, please!” she gasped at the attention he was giving her, holding him tighter with her arms and legs. Soon he was drawing back, and then slipping his length inside of her until their hips were pressed tightly together.

Sookie wriggled beneath him when he did not begin thrusting, aching delightfully at being forced to wait. Instead of focusing on moving his hips, Eric occupied his attention on her breasts. With just the right tug on her nipple, he could feel her walls contract around him. A firm suckle earned a sharp buck beneath him.

Tracing his tongue up her breast, he nibbled her collar bone, continuing toward her throat where he let his fangs pierce her skin. Her blood trickled into his mouth and Eric moaned with delight. Even as a vampire, her blood was delicious though it offered no nourishment. His Mate shuddered enthusiastically beneath him, and he felt her walls thrum wildly.

“That made you cum?” he laughed gleefully.

“I always cum when you bite me!” she protested weakly.

“I suppose I never noticed,” he said. “I usually saved that for the end when you were mortal.”

“I like it when you save it for the end,” she told him cheekily. “It makes the orgasm go on longer.”

“Ah, now that I did notice,” he chuckled, finally beginning to move his hips. “What if I bit you again? Would you cum?”

“I don’t know,” she confessed, gasping as his strokes became short and quick. “I would have been too worn out as a human to find out.”

“But you are no longer human,” he pointed out. “Shall we test this theory?” he teased before encasing the other side of her throat in his mouth and spearing it.

Once again she contracted violently around him in a rhythmic pulse. “Oh, that is nice!” he groaned. “I could just bite you over and over, never even thrusting. Your sex would pump me all on its own.”

Sookie whimpered at the thought, and when her clenching began to slow, Eric bit her breast and repeated the cycle all over again. Her left breast, her right shoulder, her left shoulder, then, finally directly over her nipple. The intensity that orgasm brought flung Eric into oblivion and he roared into her ear as her body dragged him over the edge with her.

“Oh, Sookie,” he tugged her earlobe with his blunt teeth, “your body is marvelous!”

Another mewl was all she could offer in reply until the contraction subsided, and she could finally wiggle out from beneath him, “Don’t do that too often, Eric,” she pleaded. “It was amazing, but I like it better when I work up to a release.”

Eric grinned at her comment, “Another time, would you like me to make you wait?”

“How do you mean?” she asked him curiously.

“What if I fucked you for hours, Sookie, and you only were allowed to cum once?” he explained.

“Let’s try for one hour, and see if I don’t beat the hell out of you for it,” she stuck her tongue out at him playfully.

“Sounds promising,” he chuckled. “Shower?”

“Shower,” she agreed, climbing out of bed and following him to the en suite. He ravaged her again between shampoo and conditioning, and then a third time after he had finished washing her body. Once they were clean, he threw Sookie back onto the bed and straddled her waist. “Oh, you’re not going to get me all dirty again, are you?” She batted her eyelashes at him coyly.

“The thought crossed my mind,” he taunted, reaching down to squeeze her breasts.

*POP*

“Oh, I take it I am early,” Ludwig frowned at the naked vampires and their positions.

Sookie looked to her left to see the small creature standing at the foot of their bed, then back to Eric straddling her with his semi-hard cock resting on her sternum. “Oh my God!” Sookie shouted in embarrassment as she tugged a sheet over her and Eric.

“I suppose I should have called to remind you, but you did say first dark,” Ludwig snickered.

“Please, please just let me get dressed!” Sookie begged.

“Oh, it’s nothing I haven’t seen, baby vampire,” Ludwig waved off the young vampire’s distress.

“Yeah, well, right now it’s humiliating to me,” Sookie grouched. “I still have this terrible human necessity to keep my intimacy private.”

“Of course, of course,” Ludwig rolled her eyes. “Well, considering the matter you wished me to look into cannot be discussed, I have written up a report for your review. I have a copy of that report in the event you wish to burn this one after you have examined it. Here is your material and the paperwork. Call if you need anything else.”

With that, Ludwig vanished, and Sookie flung her arm over her eyes in frustration before letting out a small bark of a laugh, “Well, it was good while it lasted.”

When Eric did not reply, Sookie uncovered her eyes and found him with the open folder in his hands while he remained sitting astride her. Confusion was ringing through the Bond, but Sookie was relieved to find no Concern or Anxiety.
“Everything okay?” Sookie asked.

“Read for yourself,” Eric handed her the document.

~My opinions after studying and evaluating the materials submitted have lead me to the theory that somehow Ms. Stackhouse is still capable of utilizing the Fae ability known as “Fairy Light.” This is particularly noteworthy due to the fact that “Fairy Light” is a concentration of energy that emits the same rays that cause vampires to combust in the presence of the sun. Seeing that neither Sookie Stackhouse nor Eric Northman were negatively affected by this energy causes further inquiry to their inability to be harmed by the sun. Seeing as Ms. Stackhouse remains incapable of rising during the daylight hours, further tests cannot be conducted in regard to possible immunities. I would like the opportunity to consult with an outside source regarding a possible testing platform. Please call me after you have made your decision. The consultation will remain between the four of us, and I assure the utmost discretion will be maintained.~

“I know we can’t really discuss this, but what do you think about the very last part?” Sookie asked.

Eric shook his head, “On one hand, I am certain she would keep this matter confidential and whomever this second party is would not be someone she would expect to breach the confidentiality. On the other hand, the notion of bringing in someone else, even on consultation for this, is disconcerting.”

“Agreed,” Sookie nodded. “Still, if she thinks this person could benefit the situation…?”

“It will not be decided until we are in Öland,” Eric stated firmly.

“Okay, we’ll just leave it there for now,” Sookie knew that Eric was feeling strained though masking it much better than her.

{†}

“So, young one,” Frøkn addressed Sookie, “I understand that you are only several evenings old now. How are you finding your new existence?”

Sookie reclined into the arm Eric had draped over her shoulder, “Honestly, it’s been real overwhelming.” The king nodded gravely at her admission. “My transition wasn’t exactly what you would call a smooth one.”

“This was not planned? How unlike you, Northman!” Frøkn laughed.

Shimmying in her seat uncomfortably, Sookie confessed, “I was mortally wounded on the job. Eric was forced to turn me.”

Eyebrows rising in interest, Frøkn asked, “What was your occupation?”

“I was a police detective with the Shreveport P.D.”

“Intriguing! My condolences for your loss,” he offered.

“Thank you. Like I said, it was very unexpected. Eric and I had planned to wait a year or two before bringing me over. I probably would have tried to put it off even longer. I was sort of dependent on my job. You could say it was more of a calling than an occupation.”

“Those who serve their community are usually inclined to agree with you,” the king nodded in understanding. “Your sacrifices are admirable, I dare say, much more strenuous than vampire law enforcement. Your Mate was a vampire Sheriff, as I am sure you know. Nonetheless, even with his age and reputation, he would not have nearly the amount of complications that I would assume crossed your path. For most situations, he has the privileges to investigate, pass judgement, and punish at his leisure.”

Eric laughed, “You make it sound like I was performing executions on a nightly basis!”

“A century or so ago, I might have implied just that,” Frøkn jibed. “However, from the time when his Maker bonded, Northman has mellowed significantly. As they say, happiness for one, happiness for all.”

“Yes, basking in Godric and Emily’s relationship did have a rather soothing effect on me,” Eric admitted begrudgingly. “Still, the happiness that Sookie has brought me is far, far greater.”

“You are so lucky,” Frøkn bemoaned, “to have found your Mate so young! I am nearly thrice your age and have not yet had the privilege.”

“Perhaps if you left your estate more than once a month?” Eric suggested in faux innocence.

Frøkn laughed at the suggestion, “Perhaps you are correct. I have reigned over Sweden a very long time now. However, the leisure it brings me is quite luxurious. You see,” he turned back to Sookie, “many vampires flock here in the winter months due to the lengthy nights. Still, though the temperatures can become quite frigid, it is imperative that we maintain constant public acceptance. We are quite dependent on a capacity to stay warm enough not to freeze to the spot and be trapped by the rising sun. Visitors adhere to a very strict guideline near the Arctic Circle to bask in the many advantages. That means that the Nordic countries have some of the most well-behaved vampires in the world. Well, Northern Canada, too, I suppose,” he chuckled.

“You do seem far less severe than the vampires I’m used to,” Sookie offered. “You are very personable.”

“Oh, well, United States vampires have become a rather painful thorn in Europe’s side. No offense.”

“None taken,” Sookie assured.

“You see, a great deal of the vampires in the States are having a similar issue as those in China. Those countries are just too large for one vampire to reign over, and the necessity for several kings and queens in a single country causes great strain on the chain of command. Since the States are one country, they may only send a single representative to the International Summit. That causes a great animosity between all of those regents! There is the added problem that vampires old enough and experienced enough to reign do not wish to deal with the headaches your humans cause. Those… Oh, what are they called? Foots?”

“FoTS? The Fellowship of the Sun?” Sookie supplied.

“Yes! Them!” Frøkn nodded. “I hear they give the States’ vampires severe issues.”

“Definitely,” Sookie agreed. “I helped with a raid on one of their armories two years ago. They were developing silver shrapnel bullets.”

“Deplorable,” Frøkn shook his head sadly. “You must understand, Sookie, there are many of us who have grown old enough to realize that being a vampire does not make us privileged. I know you probably find that hard to believe, given the environment in which you were introduced to the culture, but it is true. Godric and Russel Edgington are probably the only two on that continent old enough to have come to that realization. Oh, there is Eshe. She is still part of the North American Council, yes?”

“Yes, but she is in Canada,” Eric replied.

“Eshe?” Sookie asked.

“Diedra Thorn,” Eric told her.

“Oh, that’s right! I forgot all about that name change,” Frøkn chuckled. “I will actually be conference calling her with the European Council shortly. Would you two like to sit in?” he offered.

“That would be appreciated. We will not interject unless instructed, of course,” Eric assured.

“I appreciate that,” Frøkn nodded.

“Do you mind if I slip away before that conference and call this contractor you have found for me, Frøkn?” Eric asked

“Of course not, go right ahead. Here,” he lobbed his phone to Eric. “Why don’t you and your Mate wander a while? I will send someone for you before beginning the conference.”

“Thank you,” Eric rose with Sookie and they stepped out of the sitting room. “That is a relief,” he sighed once they were alone and out of earshot.

“What is?”

“Frøkn did not try to keep you alone with him. He practically pushed you out the door with me.”

“What does that mean?” Sookie whispered.

“It is a silent way of saying he does not wish to give me any reason to doubt him. A comforting gesture, to be honest. He respects the hardships we have gone through and is going to great lengths to assure us he will not laden us with further injustices.”

“I’m glad you have a friend here,” Sookie smiled though it did not reach her eyes.

“Yes,” he agreed.

Eric quickly made the call to the contractor Frøkn had retained for him, and was relieved to find that the necessities that required immediate action could be accomplished in a single evening. They would be able to leave for Öldan the next night.

“What did you need?” Sookie asked.

“General walkthrough,” Eric shrugged, “and a lightproof check on our resting chamber. Everything else we can take care of ourselves. I just want to be sure that the security system is still operational, the locks are still resilient, and our resting chamber secure so we are not trapped there during the day. I can perform my own grounds check after we arrive and then take care of other things as needed.”

“Mr. Northman,” a cool, professional voice called from down the hallway. A platinum blonde woman approached them in quick, human stride, “His Majesty is ready to begin the call upon your arrival in his study. If you will follow me?”

“I remember the way,” Eric nodded in a respectful, but dismissing manner.

Leading Sookie through the estate, Eric opened a large, wooden door that stretched out into a huge library. Frøkn was seated at his desk and two red, wing-back chairs flanked the massive bureau’s corners. The vampire king gestured to the chairs, and both of them sat as Frøkn dialed a series of numbers.

“This is King Frøkn of Sweden. Is the European Council ready?”

Yes, Sir,” a clipped male voice replied. “I have Ms. Thorn on the line as well. They are ready to begin when you are.”

“I am prepared.”

Frøkn, this is Diedra. I understand that you are currently hosting Eric Northman and his newborn Mate?”

“I am,” Frøkn answered. “Might I say that their narrative on what brought them to my door is a troubling one.”

Could you please elaborate?” Diedra requested.

“It seems that your Magister, Jorge San Diego, willfully separated Ms. Stackhouse from her Bonded, threatened her, then proceeded to try to manipulate her into becoming a direct subject of the North American Council.”

I see,” Diedra sounded annoyed. “I assure you that his actions were not condoned nor requested by our Council. After the trial of the Louisiana Queen, Sophie-Anne Leclerq, Jorge informed us that he had discovered a vampire we could find extremely useful. He did not elaborate on the matter, nor did he tell us whom the vampire was. I can only now assume it was Ms. Stackhouse. Of course, we would never have accepted her as a direct subject unless she came to us with some sort of extraordinary gift, and of her own free will and power.”

“Extraordinary gift?” Frøkn raised his eyebrows at the couple curiously.

As I said, the subject was not elaborated on. He wished to present the vampire in question to us directly.”

Diedra, this is European Council Member Brauer,” a new male voice piped in, “Are we to understand that your continent’s Magister acted upon his own power to separate a freshly-risen newborn from her Bonded Mate?”

So it would seem,” Diedra replied shamefully. “I guarantee that we will look into this situation once Jorge returns to us.”

“That does not seem likely to happen. When Northman and his Mate were fleeing the States, Jorge arrived at the airport, accosted Ms. Stackhouse, and then tried to physically remove her from the airfield. Northman was forced to destroy him. Since the Council’s standing on the situation was still unknown to them, they fled,” Frøkn supplied.

Brauer’s voice blasted over the phone, “You are harboring the murderer of a Magister!?”

“I am hosting a vampire that rightfully protected his Mate!” Frøkn roared back. “This Child was only a single night old, and was forced to attend an extremely stressful trial that should have been handled by the Ancient Pythoness! She was then physically, emotionally, and psychologically threatened by a vampire she believed to be her Mate’s superior, only to be violently confronted the following evening! We have never put that sort of pressure or anxiety on a newborn! She could have rampaged under that sort of pressure, and then where would we all be?”

They should be deported back to the States!” a new female voice declared.

Why are you allowing this American problem to come to our lands, Frøkn!?” Brauer demanded.

That is enough,” Diedra silenced the uproar. “I will clear things up on my end. I do not see Northman’s actions as a threat, but a direct response to protect his Mate. Please inform him, and Ms. Stackhouse, that they have nothing to fear returning to the States, and that no action will be taken against them or their Bloodline. We do not request extradition. If the European Council finds it prudent to send them back, they will be welcomed.”

Frøkn looked to Eric curiously, tilting his head toward the phone as if to ask if the younger male wished to speak. Nodding, Eric rose.
“Northman has something to say,” Frøkn announced.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the Councils,” Eric began smoothly, “Sookie and I appreciate the offer Diedra has given us. However, we wish to remain here in Sweden for a time. Over the course of the past week, I fear that my Mate has indeed felt a great strain, and I believe remaining here is in her best interest. We would deeply value the opportunity to merely exist in comfort and ease for a few years while Sookie adjusts to her new existence.”

As long as you remain in Sweden, I do not object to you remaining in the European Council’s realm,” Brauer finally offered after a moment of silence.

I concur,” the female voice added, joined by several other begrudging agreements.

This is settled then,” Diedra sighed. “Northman, I hope you will return to us again soon, someday. North America has suffered a great loss this evening. I promise, upon your return, you will know that you were greatly missed.”

“Thank you, Diedra. I hope to hear from you again soon.”

As the call ended, Sookie slumped into her chair.

“Your poor Mate,” Frøkn sighed. “She looks positively destroyed!”

“Believe me, Sir, you don’t even know how bad this can get,” Sookie gestured to herself.

“Here,” Frøkn leaned forward to his call button, “let me call a donor for you.”

“Thanks,” Sookie softly, but graciously replied.

“Does she have a preference yet?” Frøkn asked of Sookie’s Mate.

“AB negative if you have it available, but she is not picky,” Eric chuckled.

“Anything for you?”

“I am still strong from her turning,” Eric assured.

“Of course,” Frøkn pressed a button on the paging system before saying, “Theresa, please bring that new donor to my study for Ms. Stackhouse.”

Yes, Sire,” a voice that sounded much like the platinum blonde who had summoned them to the conference call replied.

Moments later, a leggy brunette with blonde highlights strutted into the study on nail thin heels. Sookie squirmed nervously in her presence. The way her tight, short skirt barely fell past the curve of her bottom and the way her bodice sent her breasts reaching for the skies, all while looking bored and complacent, set Sookie on edge. It was not in Sookie’s nature to prance around half-naked for the world to gawk at, and she was intimidated by women who did.

“Hur kan jag tjänst du, Sire (How may I service you, Sire?)?” the donor purred.

“Den unga som behöver en förfriskning (The young one needs a refreshment.),” he gestured to Sookie, making her eyes widen.

“Naturligtvis, Sire (Of course, Sire.),” the offering turned sharply on her needle heels and strolled toward Sookie, who clutched the cushions on either side of her hips for dear life. The way the woman leered at her made Sookie uncomfortable, and the telepath feared she was just about to receive a lap kitten.

“Hon behöver inte tillägg (She does not need the add-ons!)!” Eric snapped at the donor. “Erbjuda din hals och vara borta (Offer your neck and be gone!)!”

Startled by Eric’s command, the donor immediately dissolved her seductive saunter and instead sat neatly at Sookie’s side with her back to the vampire.

“D-does she need to be glamoured or something?” Sookie murmured tentatively.

“No, she is a professional donor. She does not need to be glamoured,” Eric explained.

“Oh, okay,” Carefully, Sookie drew the woman’s hair from her neck and nervously looked toward Frøkn before tentatively tracing her tongue along the donor’s throat. At the sensation of a pulse against her tongue, Sookie’s fangs descended like micro lances to pierce the thin membrane of skin that held her nourishment.

“Ah!” the donor moaned pleasurably, causing Sookie to growl in annoyance.

“Håll tyst!” Sookie snarled against the woman’s throat, making Eric’s eyebrows rise at her sudden Swedish fluency, even with the awkward articulation of a full mouth. Frøkn looked equally surprised. Nevertheless, Sookie ignored their curious looks and continued to feed. Despite the frustrations this donor was giving her, Sookie had to admit she tasted delicious.

“Sookie,” Eric warned, “that is enough.”

“But,” she raised her eyes to Eric’s, and he gasped, and then let out a chuckle.

“Enough for now,” Eric encouraged her to disengage the artery, which she did woefully. “Look at those eyes,” he whispered as he shoved the human out of the way and traced his Bonded’s bloodstained lips with his thumb before kissing her deeply. Sookie’s eyes were wide and dilated until she shut them to surrender to her love’s lips on her own. After the meal had scrambled out of the study, Eric pulled away to gaze once more into Sookie’s ebony eclipsed irises, “She was rather tasty.”

“Best one I’ve had so far,” Sookie agreed.

“I do have a knack for keeping good vintages,” Frøkn laughed, clapping his hands as if to change the topic. “Well, seeing as you two will be heading to Öland tomorrow evening, perhaps you would like to take your newborn Mate on a tour of Stockholm tonight? If she is still ravenous, there is Vampyr Krog on Strandvågen. Amusingly enough, they do allow dogs there if you would like to take your four-legged companions. The waterfront is quite lovely, even at night. There is also a large park near there though the dogs would have to stay leashed.”

“Thank you, that sounds exactly like what Sookie and her dogs need right now,” Eric smiled gratefully. “We will see you in a few hours.”

Returning to their room to gather Mags and Junes, Eric asked, “When did you start learning Swedish, Dear One?”
“Oh, I’ve just picked some stuff up here and there listening to you two speak,” she pointed subtly to her head.

“I see,” Eric laughed. “Well, I was quite impressed.”

“I got it right, right? I was telling her to shut up?” Sookie checked.

“You told her to be quiet, but with the sternness of your voice, your irritation was on point. Besides, that form is much better for you to use under those circumstances with the King present.”

“Cool,” Sookie nodded as she took Mags and Junes’ leashes and lead the dogs back out of the room. “Huh, they’re hardly even limping now. I thought they’d be wrecked for weeks after what happened the other night.”

“As did I,” Eric frowned as well. Instead of exploring the topic further, he asked, “Would you rather walk to the wharf or drive?”

“Is it too far for the dogs?”

“Not at all.”

“Then I think we should walk. We could always catch a cab back if they’re too tired to make it home, right?” Sookie suggested.

“That is fine,” he agreed and took her free hand in his as they strolled through the lamplights.

When they arrived at the waterfront, Sookie loosely held the leashes of her dogs as she leaned casually against the rail. She watched the waters shift beneath them and watched the images ripple against the sides of illuminated vessels.

“It’s really beautiful,” Sookie remarked. “I feel really at ease here, and the girls seem to be comfortable too.”

“That they do,” Eric replied, wrapping an arm over her shoulders and pulling her against his side. “The scenery is that much more lovely with you here.”

“You big flirt,” Sookie nudged her shoulder into his ribs, making him laugh.

A beautiful melody of wind chimes sounded nearby, and what seemed like a silent firework flashed in the peripheral of Sookie’s vision. When Eric’s posture tensed momentarily before relaxing, Sookie’s calm broke and she began scenting the air worriedly. The flavor that burst upon her tongue calmed her nerves, but she could not understand why.

“What is it?” Sookie whispered.

“We seem to have a visitor,” Eric answered quietly.

“Good evening,” a warm voice greeted from behind them, and the pair turned to see a slight, but tall figure approaching them from the park. Sookie took in the stranger’s appearance with a critical eye. A powder blue, button down with slate gray slacks, his shoulder-length brown hair fell in ringlets around his beautiful face. He was charmingly handsome, she reluctantly admitted to herself.

“Endymion,” Eric greeted gruffly with a nod.
Sookie’s back straightened anxiously when she remembered the conversation before leaving to catch their plane.

“A-are you here to mediate?” Sookie stammered nervously.

Smiling, the Voice of the Pantheon shook his head, “No, my presence here has nothing to do with the Magister, your heritage, nor your gift. Well, not this one, at least,” he tapped his head.

“You know about that?” Sookie squeaked.

Endymion laughed at her worry, “Of course I do, Mrs. Northman!”

“Oh, I like that so much better than being called “baby vamp” and “youngling”!” Sookie laughed contently, realizing that he had a slight, lilt to his speech.

“I thought you would,” Endymion grinned at her impishly, and Sookie could not help but think of him as a mischievous teen rather than a divine being. “My appearance before you this evening actually has to do with those two,” he pointed at Mags and Junes.

“Excuse me?” Sookie looked at her dogs, and swiftly knelt to wrap her arms around them protectively. “Just what do you want with my girls?”

“The other evening the Magister caused them to sustain brutal damage, which is forcing me to come before you much earlier than I had planned,” Endymion began. “Shall we go sit in the park comfortably? This explanation might take a while, and I would prefer to have as little an audience as possible.”

Sookie looked to her Bonded for direction, and Eric merely nodded his head in the line of sight to the park. Turning sharply on his heel, Endymion began the procession, going deep into the darkness where no public lamp post could illuminate them. Once they were seated on a park bench, Mags and Junes with a muzzle on each of Sookie’s knees, Endymion began once more.

“To explain my interest in your dogs, I must first explain how they came to be in your care and why. To do that, I must tell you something about The Voice of the Pantheon. You see, there are many Voices between the endless amounts of dimensions for this universe. Many different Endymions if that helps you understand. I protect several of these dimensions, you see, and I have one of the best records for thriving worlds,” Endymion smiled ruefully, as if he were actually embarrassed that he might be bragging. “I have two dimensions with a prosperous Elfyria, one of which is extremely successful. To the point, even, that many other dimensions that I am not in charge of can draw off of its magical energy.”

“That sounds pretty impressive, even to me, and I don’t hardly understand it at all!” Sookie chuckled.

Endymion smiled at her good humor before continuing, “You see, no two dimensions are identical, but the ones I have been charged with are quite parallel with only minute differences between them. I was placed in charge of these dimensions because they have a remarkable symmetry to the world in which I was originally born.”

Eric was staring at the Voice with rapt fascination, centuries of curiosities being put to rest.

“Now that you have a vague understanding of my responsibilities, it is time to explain my interest in Mags and Junes. Your Bonded will recognize some of the myth I am about to speak, and I am certain he will be more than surprised by what I say. I ask that you please let me explain and not interrupt,” he beseeched of both of them, sighing in relief when they nodded. “There is a Norse legend about two mythological hounds, Garm and Fenrir.” Sookie did not miss Eric’s posture going rigid. “Garm, the hound that guards Hel, and Fenrir, the devourer of the Cosmos. Part of the legend is that Garm’s bay will call all of the souls of Earth to the Underworld, and Fenrir will then devour the Cosmos,” The telepath’s eyes widened in disbelief that such creatures that could bring forth the apocalypse actually existed, but she kept her mouth sealed as she had promised.

“Garm and Fenrir have so far destroyed twenty-six dimensions in the past three thousand years. This may not seem like much in that context, but when you consider the catastrophic loss as a whole, it is heartrending. For a Voice to lose one of his dimensions, it is the loss of billions of his children in one fell swoop. There is no consoling it. I have known of Voices to be present at the time their world was consumed just so they could end their existences with their children and not know that pain.”

A red tear dripped from Sookie’s eye, and she tried discretely to brush it away.
“You are sweet to mourn for them,” Endymion smiled. “Ten years ago, Garm and Fenrir were planning to reincarnate within another dimension. You see, what makes them so special is, like the Pantheon, they only have one manifestation. That might be why people feel God does not listen,” he shook his head regretfully. “The Pantheon is watching over so many people in so many dimensions, that they cannot help everyone who calls to them…” with a sobering clearing of his throat, Endymion got back on topic. “Those ten years ago, I begged Garm and Fenrir to wait just another three years to be reborn. In exchange, I would direct them to a dimension that they would finally have an entirely new experience in. This one.”

Sookie’s jaw slung open at that, and she clutched Eric’s hand worriedly. ‘Great, I finally start getting my life together, and now the world’s literally going to end!’

Endymion snorted at what Sookie assumed was her expression, “I have always chosen a hero to overcome the dark possibilities of my dimensions. Whenever possible, that hero has always been you, Sookie.”

Me!?” Sookie could not resist her yelp. “Why me!? I’m just- just,” she floundered for a word to describe her miniscule existence, but she could not find one.

“To be considered a viable hero, the subject must overcome a series of trials,” Endymion looked at his palms. “In each world I have called upon you, you have overcome so, so much. Overwhelmed, overpowered, insecure, terrified. You still came through for me with grace. You have never let me down, Sookie.” Looking now at Mags and Junes, Endymion added, “That was why I knew in this world, you would be the only one that could stop Garm and Fenrir from devouring any more dimensions.”

“Mags and Junes… They’re… Are they…?”

“The manifestations of Garm and Fenrir? Yes. Why they chose to be born as females, I do not know,” he laughed to himself. “Perhaps they wanted a change of pace?”

“But… They’re just German shepherds!” she protested weakly, tensing when Eric squeezed her hand.

“Right now, yes. Garm and Fenrir need to be born just like anyone else, but when the lifespan of their vessel expires, they will become the full realizations of their true selves. I have performed similar rebirths for Angels.”

“Why did you let them be reborn at all?” Sookie asked.

“They are stronger than me. They do not need my permission, just as the Pantheon does not need my permission to take human vessels around the block for a few decades. Everyone needs a vacation, Sookie,” Endymion shrugged.

“So, you’re saying, when the shepherd part of Mags and Junes dies, our world is going to end?” Sookie asked tightly.

“No.”

“But you just…”

“I said that they will take their full manifestation. Thankfully, I was very, very right about this version of you,” Endymion grinned at her. “You see, you loved Garm and Fenrir so much as Mags and Junes, and treated them so well that they don’t want to stop being Mags and Junes. They want to love you forever, Sookie. When their mortal bodies expire, they want to stay the image of your shepherds. It is their vow that as long as this world has you in it, they will not end it. Seeing as they can only exist in one dimension at a time and that you are immortal, this means no more dimensions will ever be devoured again.”

Eric looked between the two dogs that were staring up at Sookie with tentative stillness. Suddenly, he realized why Endymion was telling them this now of all times. The Magister’s attack had been enough to kill Sookie’s dogs. The host vessels were too damaged, and soon Garm and Fenrir would erupt from their dormancy.

Gazing at his Bonded, he felt a burst of love and happiness, and it stunned him into the same stillness that Mags and Junes were experiencing.

“I get to keep my girls!?” Sookie sobbed happily as she buried her face between the two dogs’ heads. “I get to keep you forever!?” she asked around chest rattling cries. “You’re not leaving me… You’re not leaving!”

“Shh, shh,” Eric tried to calm her back down from her hysterics, though this ecstatic joy was far more welcome than her distress of the past few weeks had been. His hand was stroking her back soothingly as he took in the importance of his Bonded’s existence.

“You’re staying with me forever, babies,” Sookie continued, oblivious of Eric’s attempts to quiet her. “I love you so much! We’ll make the whole dead for the day thing work-”

“Ah, well,” Endymion stopped her there, “that will not exactly be an issue. Once they are fully manifested, they will not have the requirements of normal dogs. They will not need to be fed, or let out to evacuate themselves. After they have completed their transition, they will probably prefer to guard you while you are at rest.”

“Um,” Sookie held the dogs’ heads to her breasts, covering their ears, “are they sentient?”

Endymion laughed, “To a degree. They maintain memories, they can be reasoned with to an extent, but for the most part, you should just think of them as dogs. Garm and Fenrir were not bad animals, they were just feared. They had powers that no human or supernatural could comprehend, and they were shunned from love and affection. Even as puppies, no one wanted them. In all of their incarnations, they have never had an owner. They were abandoned and grew into feral dogs. When their hosts’ bodies shut down, they were filled with anger at the worlds they were born into, and they destroyed those worlds. Like any other creature, all Garm and Fenrir wanted was to be loved. They know as well as you do what a treasure love is, how covetable.”

“Who couldn’t love these faces!” Sookie crooned at her dogs and kissed their noses.

“No one but you,” Endymion assured. “The second you adopted them, you changed their whole existence. Their first scrap of affection to the first love of their lives. No matter what dimension I call upon you, Sookie, you never let me down.”
Rising from the bench, Endymion smiled down at the four he was walking away from, “I do not know how much longer their vessels can remain, but I suspect it will not be much longer. With hope, they can manage to hold on until you arrive in Öland tomorrow evening. I want you to know that even though they might cry out as their host bodies die, Mags and Junes are in no pain. All right?”

“Thanks, Endymion,” Sookie smiled up at him, her eyes red with more unshed tears. “You gave me a very great gift.”

“It is you who is giving a gift to this entire dimension, and all the dimensions. No more Cosmos will ever be devoured by these two so long as you exist in this world. I will be addressing the International Council on the matter and explain the miracle you have given all of us,” With that, the Voice turned to leave, but paused when Sookie called out to him one last time.
“Endymion!” Sookie rose from the bench, reaching for the Voice. “Why do you always pick me? Not that I’m complaining or anything. I only have to experience this stuff once, personally, but why is it always me?”

Smiling shyly, the Voice murmured, “Because you were my hero long before I ever became the Voice of the Pantheon.”

On to Chapter Twenty-Seven

Never End Ch. 25

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Five: Effulgent Evacuation

Quickly, Sookie,” Eric urged once they returned home. The woman went straight to the bedroom and began throwing together bags and suitcases while Eric went to the phone. With lightning speed, he was dialing, giving his clock glances, hoping that if his home was bugged, it was close enough to dawn that translations would not be ready until the following evening when they would already be boarding their international flight. The phone rang, and Eric was forced to punch a series of keys before speaking, “Två flyger till Stockholm Sverige från Shreveport, Louisiana, USA (Two flying to Stockholm Sweden from Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.). Vampyr flyg (Vampire flight.). Två stora hörntänder medföljer (Two large canines accompanying.),” he ordered. “Snarast möjligt bekvämlighet när det är mörkt (Soonest possible convenience after dark),” He paused a moment and replied, “Cash.”

Scrawling out the departure gate and time, he glanced at his Bonded. She was moving at top speed as their entire closet was emptied into their luggage. Her anxiety was ringing shrilly through their Bond.

Hanging up the phone, Eric stopped Sookie in her tracks, “There is no need for this worry, Dear One. We will be fine. I will stay aware until it is dark in our destination.”

Can this really happen so quickly?” she asked desperately.

For someone of my means, yes.”

And the dogs won’t cause any trouble?” she pressed.

No.”

Eric, I’m-”

Please, do not say you are sorry again,” Eric leaned his forehead against hers.

I’m… Regretful?”

Eric sighed, and then laughed lightly. “Let us walk the dogs one last time before dawn.”

Sookie nodded at his suggestion, and finished dumping one more bundle of clothing into a nearby duffle.

Mags and Junes barked shrilly when the pair emerged from the room, both sensing a disturbance looming over their heads. Sookie leaned down and hugged the dogs to her sides, kissing the tops of their heads. “It’s okay, Girls,” she soothed. “We’ll all be fine.”

Junes gave a loud bark at the comforting tone of their mistress’s words, nuzzling her muzzle under Sookie’s chin while Mags whimpered into her chest. The four of them went outside then, and Sookie let out a deep breath.

I’ve never been out of Louisiana, let alone the country,” she commented softly.

It will be all right,” Eric assured her. “You will have me to teach you the language and customs. You will learn quickly with that sharp mind of yours.”

I’ll have you. You could have just stopped at that,” she said.

Eric smiled and kissed the top of her head while the dogs ran around the yard. When they were ready to come back inside, Sookie filled their bowl with water, and allowed Eric to usher her back into their room. “Is there anything else I should pack other than clothes?” Sookie asked.

No, Sookie. There is nothing here that I need. What about you? Is there anything you need? Knick-knacks? Mementos?”

Sookie frowned as she thought about this before zipping out of the room and into the guest room where all of her belongings from her old apartment were still crammed. She rustled through several boxes before finding two picture frames.

There they all stood in one. Her mother holding her, her father with his hands on Jason’s shoulders, and Gran standing with her head leaning against her father’s arm. In the second photo, she stood with her high school diploma, Jason giving a rueful grin into the camera, and Gran looking at her with so much pride, she looked ready to burst. Jason had been so kind to her that day, marveling at her final GPA, and the honor chord she was adorned with for such high marks. That evening had not been so splendid as Jason had eventually lulled out of his awe, and instead began accusing her of cheating for her grades.

Still, in the moment the picture had been taken, Jason had been proud of her, too, probably for the last time she could remember. More than likely for the last time she would ever know.

{†}

Ja, situationen är det ödesdigra (Yes, the situation is that dire.),” Eric confirmed as he lay in bed, stroking Sookie’s hair as she remained indisposed for the daylight hours. “Min lagerförråd har hotats av nordamerikanska rådet och Magister. De försöker manipulera henne genom rädsla, och hon är bara tre nätter gamla! Jag förstår inte varför de försummar så många protokoll, men jag inte vill stå bredvid och ta reda på! Vi behöver asyl (My Bonded has been threatened by the North American Council and Magister. They are trying to manipulate her through fear, and she is only three-nights-old! I do not understand why they are neglecting so many protocols, but I do not wish to stand by and find out! We need asylum.),” He paused as he listened to the response from Sweden’s Vampire King. “Ja, vi har en flygning strax efter första dark. Vi bör anländer i Stockholm omkring fyra hundra timmar (Yes, we have a flight shortly after first dark. We should be arriving in Stockholm around four hundred hours.),” Sighing, Eric nodded, “Vi är din skuld, ers höghet. Tack (We are in your debt, Your Highness. Thank you.).”

Hanging up the phone, Eric rubbed his thumb against Sookie’s cheek before sliding down the bed and curling up alongside her. Shutting his eyes, he succumbed to death.

When the pair arose a few hours before true dark, they quickly finished packing what they could. Sookie fretted over Mags and Junes, going as far as to leave the safety of their bedroom to open the hallway door enough that the girls could sneak into the bedroom with them, much to Eric’s disapproval.

I’m sorry, I want them nearby,” Sookie admitted.

If it were not safe, I would not have let you do it,” Eric answered.

So, how does this whole thing work?” Sookie asked as she began petting and scratching her four-legged companions.

We will drive to the tarmac in Shreveport, the dogs and our luggage will be loaded. I have chartered a private plane. We will board like normal passengers. When the sun begins to rise, we will go below the cabin deck to where the dogs will be, and slip into a two sleeper travel coffin. If my calculations are correct, we will have several hours of darkness left when we arrive in Stockholm. I will remain aware as long as I can during the day so we are not caught off guard. There is a layover in Frankfurt, but that is only while we refuel for Stockholm, no more than an hour or two. A two-natured concierge will take care of our passports-”

What about Mags and Junes’ passports!?” Sookie realized.

I made arrangements for that as well, Sookie, while you were dead for the day.”

Oh,” she let out a relieved sigh.

Do not worry, Dear One. I have thought of everything for this evacuation. Once we are in the air, we are safe.”

I wish you could just fly us there,” she pouted.

Even if I could just have our belongings shipped overseas, I unfortunately could not make it in a single evening,” Eric wished that, too.

Sookie nodded as she returned to bed, grinning as Mags and Junes followed her to cuddle between the couple. Eric’s arm wrapped around Sookie’s shoulder and drew her closer to his side so that he could kiss the side of her head. The anxiety in the Bond was causing him to ache with his own distress at being unable to comfort her.

I will never let anything happen to you, Sookie,” Eric tried again to reassure her.

It’s not that,” Sookie whispered. “I never wanted to have to leave,” she told him.

You wished to stay in Shreveport for the rest of eternity?” Eric joked.

No, just… I didn’t want to have to leave so soon. There are so many things I thought I would get to learn before having to learn more,” She took a steadying breath before continuing, “So much has changed so quickly. Darlin’, you came into my life like a bolt of lightning! You’ve been keeping tabs on me for so long, it probably doesn’t seem as quick to you, but for me? Three Months, Eric. Three months ago, I didn’t even know you existed. Three months ago, the only ones who knew about what I am were me, Jason, and Gran. Now, it feels like the whole world knows. I feel like there’s been this spotlight shining on me, and I’ve always tried to stay far, far away from that.”

Eric buried his hands in her hair, tangling the soft strands around his fingers. He had no words to offer her. Even for him, their flirting, courtship, and Bonding had been swift. He had wanted years to prepare her for this and had only managed to scrounge a handful of months.

This was not what I wanted for you,” Eric told her, “but you have overcome so much, Sookie. You are even stronger than I thought possible. You told me in the beginning that you fought against running from me and what I was making you feel. However, the only regret I have for this whole situation is the despair it has brought you along the way. I do not regret the discomforts or even the fears you have been forced to endure. Those are parts of any creature’s existence, but this… What you have had to endure the past three evenings is unfair. There have been plenty of vampires with special gifts in our long history, but I have never witnessed the complete disregard you were shown last night. Even if you were not Bonded, you should not have been approached like that! It is a sign of disrespect toward you and me both to have you threatened in such a way. Had you only been a Child and not my Bonded, the Magister’s actions would still have been quite taboo.”

Have you spoken to the Council and stuff?”

I have,” Eric nodded. “I will also be calling the North American Council once we are at our destination. I want to confirm whether or not the Magister’s play was ordained by them. If it was, the European and North American Councils will be at great odds with one another… An outside mediator might be called upon,” he added.

Who would that be?” Sookie asked curiously.

Eric grimaced, “The Pantheon. Particularly Endymion.”

Who’s he… or she?”

He is the Voice of the Pantheon, which is the collective of Gods and Goddesses. Usually, he only comes to Earth for brief visits with Selene when she takes on a human body with whom he will reconnect.”

Uh?”

I suppose you could call it a Divine Booty Call, but they are very much in love. However, since Selene is not a physical being, she must obtain a mortal vessel.”

Is Endymion a physical being?”

Yes, though he sometimes possess normal humans for brief periods of time. He pops in from time to time, but I have not seen him on Earth in several centuries. Of course, the odds of me being in the same place as him are very unlikely.”

So, he’s like the Ancient Pythoness? Only popping in for special events?” she teased.

Not so much,” Eric laughed, thankful to have distracted her. “Since he has a physical body, he is capable of influencing things happening on Earth more directly. Suppose that there was a prophecy that needed to be fulfilled, and two individuals needed to meet. If the chances of that happening were not favorable, Endymion could enter the human realm and force the odds into better favor.”

Sounds like a cheater.”

A bit, he can be quite mischievous at times. He is also the only being other than the Black Cervine Clan that is allowed to enter the Void of Time and Space.”

Oooh, that sounds Fated! Tell me about that!” Sookie giggled.

Grinning at her enthusiasm, Eric explained, “Well, the Black Clan is a special creature that can survive in the Void. The Void is a realm where one can travel, not only through time, but into parallel dimensions.”

Like an alternate universe?” Sookie asked.

Yes. There must be a universe, unlike this one, where Elfyria is still thriving and strong, you see. If there were not, then there would be no magical creatures. The land of the Fae is very important because it is the root of all magics. Vampires, two-natured, witches, fairies, all of us would cease to exist if there were not a dimension that had a strong and lustrous Elfyria.”

Would a world without magic be so bad?” Sookie asked.

Oh yes, Dear One. A world without magic is a world without life. Even the most mundane things are magical, but overshadowed by mythical creatures such as us. Energy is magic, Sookie. We can try and explain and deconstruct what it is made up of, but only more and more questions arise when we try. That is the magic of energy and life; that there are always more questions. More to explore, more to wonder. It is the ceaseless cycle and pursuit of knowledge. It is the strength of the spirit. It is the opening of a heart. A woman who feared being hurt, but still offered so much love? That was magic,” he whispered as his thumb traced her plump bottom lip. “The sun has now set, and we must depart. Are you ready?”

As I’ll ever be,” she offered.

All right, I will start loading up the car. You finish getting whatever it is you need for the girls,” Eric instructed before quickly rising, dressing, and grabbing the handles of their luggage in his large hands.

Sookie made quick work of packing up her dogs’ supplies. Food, toys, bowls, it all went into a large, unoccupied duffle bag. When she arrived at the Escalade, Sookie was astounded to see two large carrier crates in the back, and all of their luggage smashed into the seats between the front and trunk. With ease, Eric lifted each dog into their own crate and closed them. Mags whined at the unfamiliar transportation, accustomed to traveling directly behind Sookie. Junes merely let out a suffering sigh and flopped onto the plastic floor.

The pair of vampires quickly jumped into the front seats and Sookie gripped her Bonded’s hand as he tore off into the night to the airport. Their drive was a swift one, and Sookie almost felt disoriented by the speed in which they were moving toward the private tarmac.

Is that the plane?” Sookie pointed to the sleek, Anubis emblazoned aircraft.

Yes,” Eric nodded as he came to a stop.

That was all he said before slipping out of the car and assisting the luggage handlers with quickly moving their baggage from the vehicle to the plane’s hull. Sookie effortlessly pulled the kennels from the trunk and set them down, petting and scratching at her dogs through the thin bars.

It’s okay, girls,” she murmured. “Tomorrow, we’ll all start getting used to the new “normal.”

Sookie gasped in horror as the cages were suddenly flung across the black surface of the tarmac, and her fingers that had been lovingly caressing her dogs were instantly broken as a series of yelps and cries rented the air.

YOU CANNOT LEAVE!” a voice boomed above her. ‘They will kill me if they realize what I have done!’ the Magister’s thoughts penetrated Sookie’s mind as he grabbed her by the wrist.

Mags and Junes were crying and yelping several feet away in their overturned carriers, her fingers were throbbing as they healed, blind fear and rage were emanating from the wounded and emotionally injured baby vampire.

HOW DARE YOU!” Sookie screamed not from the pain from Jorge’s grip, but his actions against her canine companions.

Before she could stop it, before she could realize the terrifyingly familiar sensation pulsing inside of her, Sookie exploded with righteous fury just as she had nearly a week before in the homicide division of Shreveport P.D. She watched in stunned silence while her skin radiated with pure, white light, and the Magister’s jaw slackened as his hand, arm, and chest turned to ash. Then that slackened jaw dislodged, fell to the ground as if it were charred wood, and finally, his entire frame crumbled into a pile of nearly unrecognizable ash.

Sookie!” Eric was at her side, fearlessly placing his hands on her shoulders until the glow subsided, and she stood trembling. “Are you all right?” he inquired cautiously, spinning her around to face him. A breeze picked up, blowing the scorched remains of Jorge across the tarmac.

The girls!” Sookie grasped consciousness and ran for the cages as several stunned airline employees looked on in paralyzing fear.

Unable to risk the escape of witnesses, Eric quickly went back to the handlers and glamoured them. Next, he found a security guard who was running over to their plane, forcing him to retrieve the security footage of the incident and bring it to him. After their safety was guaranteed, Eric returned to Sookie’s side as she opened the kennels and inspected her dogs.

They’re fine!” Sookie gasped in relief once she had the dogs out walking, and they showed only the slightest hints of sprains and bruises. “Oh, my girls!” she sobbed into their coats.

Sookie, we do not have time for this,” Eric urged her to put the dogs back in their kennels before loading them into the hull.

What did I do? What just happened?” Sookie asked fearfully.

I do not know, but it does not cause me any injury it would seem,” Eric answered her, accepting the disc the security guard dazedly placed in his hand. “We will give this to Ludwig to see if she can offer any explanation.”

The most Sookie could offer was a sensationless nod of her head, letting Eric lead her onto the plane.

Please, scan the crew,” Eric instructed.

Another numb nod of her head followed his directive, and Sookie peered into the minds of their pilots and attendants.

They’re good. Scared though, they know something happened outside-”

Eric was gone and glamouring the crew for only moments, but by the time he returned to his Bonded, she was trembling all over.

You are safe, Sookie,” Eric told her. “I cannot believe I was so stupid to put that much distance between the two of us while still in North America!”

Who’s Diedra Thorn?”

Eric’s face turned to hers, his eyebrows raised, “Diedra? She is a representative of the North American Vampire Council, and the vampire representative of the International Council of Supernaturals. Why?”

When the Magister grabbed my arm, he was thinking of her.” Eric growled at her remark. “No, no! Not like they were in cahoots, but… Envy? He wanted a spot on a continental council and he wanted to get it the same way Diedra did.”

Eric frowned at that, “Diedra was given that spot for submitting the Ancient Pythoness to the use of the International Councils.”

The Magister wanted me to be his Ancient Pythoness, his bargaining chip for a seat on a council,” Sookie realized.

The plane began to shudder then as the engines roared to life, and Sookie held her breath. Aside from Eric’s abrupt aviation the previous night, the telepath had never flown before.

The relationship between the Ancient Pythoness and Diedra is a very long, very trusting one. They had been friends for a millennium or so before they struck such a deal,” Eric told her. Sookie’s hand grasped his as she felt the plane begin to move. “Scared of flying?”

Er,” Sookie looked out the window nervously, “not sure. Apprehensive of the unknown?” she offered.

Eric smiled at her reassuringly, “It will be fine. As soon as we leave the ground, we will be safe to make new plans.”

Even though I just killed the Magister?” Sookie hissed.

There is no evidence of that,” Eric shrugged, then sighed in relief. “I have the only footage, and there are no witnesses. Thank goodness there were not any Weres on duty! Even if it were proved, I do have evidence that you were assaulted. Still, considering the means of how you dispatched him, I would prefer not to be forced to disclose it to anyone.”

So, I still haven’t done anything bad?” Sookie asked with bated breath.

You had every right to protect yourself. If I had been closer, I would have murdered him myself.”

Regret thrummed through the Bond, and Sookie leaned her head on Eric’s shoulder, “Well, we could think of it this way… No one’s gonna get the drop on your Bonded. She’ll torch ’em.”

Eric laughed, “Yes, that is comforting.”

With that, the plane left the ground and Sookie held her breath again. Soon, she felt the disorientation of being scent-deprived and reminded herself to breathe, doing as Eric had suggested and tasted the air. It was perfumed with deodorizers and disinfectants. She did not like the flavors at all.

Would either of you like a drink?” a flight attendant asked once the plane reached cruising altitude. Sookie frowned at the question. “We have types O negative, AB positive, and AB negative available. Once we are flying over international waters, a donor will be available to you,” she explained.

Have I ever had AB negative?” Sookie asked her Bonded curiously.

No. I believe you have mostly had the O’s, and that first one you drank was a B positive. Your donors have all been AB negative though. Curious. It is not an overly common type, but you seem to make a beeline for them,” he chuckled.

Can I try an AB negative, please?” Sookie asked the attendant.

Of course, Miss,” she nodded, returning to the small galley at the end of the aisle.

A few moments later, a warm bottle was in her hand, and Sookie sipped it tentatively, “Hmm, even for synthetic, I like this one the best.”

I will keep that in mind,” Eric nodded as the seatbelt light turned off and he quickly pulled Sookie into his lap. “I hope you are not offended that I wish you to be so close in public…?”

It’s fine. I sort of wanted to crawl onto you this whole time,” she admitted hesitantly. “Although, the two donors over there are annoying me. I want to bite the guy.”

Excuse me?” Eric’s eyebrows rose.

Not in a sexy or hungry way, in a “go to hell” way. I don’t like the way he’s thinking about me.”

How is he thinking of you?” Eric asked.

He wants me to pick him. He thinks he’ll get me in the bathroom cause his blood has gotten so many compliments from vamps. He’s not AB neg, is he?” she asked forlornly.

No. A positive.”

Thank goodness. There’s no temptation for me then,” she laughed.

Neither of the donors is AB negative,” Eric offered. “The girl is O positive.”

Maybe I’ll just stick with the TrueBlood. After the incident on the tarmac, I don’t know if I could keep control if I fed on a human. I’m still angry. He could have killed my girls,” Sookie scowled.

I am amazed he did not,” Eric agreed. “With the force he used to flip those crates, it should have shattered them and the girls along with them.”

Eric,” Sookie frowned thoughtfully, “what does V do to dogs or other animals?”


“I have always heard that it is normal blood to animals. For the two-natured, their animal instincts are heightened in human form, and they are more powerful in their animal form,” he explained. “Why?”

Well,” Sookie grimaced, “with all the crying I’ve been doing lately, the girls have licked up my tears more than a couple times.”

I see,” Eric frowned. “You think they survived the blitz because they have consumed your blood.”

The thought crossed my mind,” she confessed.

It would be an interesting question to raise to Ludwig… We will summon her once we are settled in at the estate.”

We’re staying with the King of Sweden?” Sookie asked in surprise.

Only for a short time,” Eric replied. “Perhaps three days or so. Then we will continue on to my property in Öland.”

Where’s that?”

An island just off the mainland. It is comfortably populated.”

Cool.”

Their conversations switched between light and extensive throughout the evening. Eric distracted his Bonded with more tales of mythology and magic when he felt her anxiety beginning to rise, but mostly soothed her with his presence and touch. When it was time to retreat to the hull, Sookie took her time preparing for death by talking to Mags and Junes some more.

Are these their passports?” Sookie asked, pointing to the pamphlets on top of the cage.

Yes,” Eric nodded.

They look pretty official.”

They are,” Eric agreed. “I had the forms expedited last night and they were delivered this afternoon. I grabbed them from the front door drop box before loading up the car.”

Dang, Northman, you work scary fast when you want something!” Sookie whistled as she finished saying “goodnight” to her dogs and came to the two body sleeper coffin that Eric was holding open. He insisted she go to rest on the hinged side so that he could operate the locks easier when it was time to rise. “Fine by me,” she easily relented, “I haven’t had the chance to build a preference for things like that,” she laughed. “Although I’m used to sleeping on your right side,” she confessed.

You will not even notice,” Eric laughed while kissing her forehead and then her lips. Satisfied from his kisses, Sookie slipped into the coffin and wrapped her arms around Eric’s waist when he joined her. Closing the lid and setting the locks, Eric held Sookie firmly against his side, “Comfortable?” he asked.

Snug as a bug,” Sookie confirmed, nuzzling her face into his ribs. “I’m kind of relieved to be dying for the day.”

Oh?”

The anticipation is getting the better of me. I’m worried and excited all at the same time. It’s like going to bed on Christmas Eve when you’re a kid, scared you won’t get that one thing you really wanted, but excited that you might.”

I see,” he laughed. “Well, by the time you rise, we will only be airborne a few hours longer before reaching our final destination.”

Good to-” Sookie succumbed mid-sentence to the sun, and Eric chuckled to himself as he settled in for several hours with nothing to preoccupy himself.

Rather than going into “down time,” as Sookie jokingly referred to it, Eric chose to reflect on the peculiar survival of Mags and Junes. Eric had witnessed the force with which Jorge had smashed into the cages, the dents and cracks alone testifying to the brutality, and the vampire could not fathom how both dogs had lived with so little damage. If they had been broken and bleeding, but still alive, Eric might have believed that possible. However, only a few tender muscles and a sprained paw?

Eric shook his head in disbelief. Either his Bonded’s luck had finally shifted for the better, or vampire tears had somehow made the canines strong enough to walk away from the attack. Still, the latter possibility seemed impossible. There had been plenty of tests and experiments over the centuries about the effects of vampire blood on animals. The only creature aside from humans that had any reaction were mosquitos, and all vampire blood did to the annoying insects was kill them instantly.

Shaking his head ruefully at Sookie’s good fortune, Eric took her hand in his and began playing with her fingers pensively. He was grateful. Despite knowing that Mags and Junes would be gone forever in a short time, he was glad that Sookie had not experienced them being torn from her so violently and so soon. She needed more time with them. His Bonded had been perfectly honest at Fangtasia the other night. Whether or not it was true, Mags and Junes had saved her mind, perhaps even her life. Without their stalwart support, she might have broken long before Eric had come into the picture. If she had not become the true shell she thought herself to be, she might have not been as receptive to him when he finally entered her world.

I wish I could make them stay with you forever, Dear One,’ he thought sadly.

Gladly he would keep the dogs around forever for Sookie. Their existences would not be a burden upon him, knowing how Sookie loved them. Trent had been quite accurate in classifying Mags and Junes as Sookie’s daughters. She loved them like a mother, worried for them to an extreme that she put their comfort at the forefront of her mind. Sookie was prepared to go through the pain of loss once again, just so her face would be the last one they knew when it was time for them to leave this world.

Eric laughed to himself as he realized that the two dogs had managed to worm their way into his own heart. Not just for the appreciation he felt for their loyalty to Sookie, but the pleasant enjoyment of their company. As if they could read the room, Mags and Junes knew when it was time to play and be carefree, or merely lounge quietly like furniture and allow the mood to be warm and content.

‘I suppose I would not mind keeping you forever either.’

On to Chapter Twenty-Six