“I’m all so happy you could make it out,” Sookie started before a hand stilled over her own, halting her speech. She looked in confusion at the man who sat at the head of the table. Preston was a nice enough guy, who was a great help around the house ever since she had grown into her condition but he could be quite the overbearing fairy. Just like the man who had put him into her life, her great grandfather Niall. Sookie knew he had secretly hoped the two would hit it off and produce a multitude of faelings but despite their close living arrangement no such sparks had flown.
Speaking of the devil himself, with a dramatic flourish of a lightshow and a discerning ‘pop’ the fairy prince arrived with two startled figures hidden in the accompanying smoke. One held a carefully selected white floral arrangement studded with honeysuckle while the other toted their latest in the lines of New Blood.
“What’s going on?” Sookie asked as she took in the trio of unannounced guests.
“Sookie,” Preston started. “Your friends and family are all gathered here today because they love and care for you. This is why we want you to seek treatment for your condition. We cannot allow you to continue on as you are.”
Her hands immediately flew to her swollen belly and anger stained the corners of her eyes, where hot tears gathered. “What is this some kind of intervention? One which I conveniently catered,” she glowered.
“That’s exactly what this is Sookie dear,” Niall said with a heavy heart as he took in the state of his beloved great granddaughter. “We waited as long as we could for you to enjoy this evening but Mr Northman and Ms de Beaufort have other obligations.”
“Why are they even here?” she demanded angrily as the tears continued to spill.
“Because no matter what I’ll always continue to love you Sookie,” Eric said reciting the words he had carefully memorised for the evening. “And whether you want me in your life or not, I want to see you at your best. This is not you at your best. I’ll never stop caring or moving everything and everyone in this world to make that happen.”
“Well this is a real nice way of showing it, ambushing me like this,” Sookie sneered. “You may want to see me but I have no need to see you. Just go away.”
Niall let out a heavy sigh. “Perhaps you should wait inside with Dr Ludwig,” he offered to the Viking and his progeny. With deep hurt legible all over his face Eric gave a curt nod and retreated indoors with Pam and the previously unseen doctor on his heels.
Every single member at the table spoke their peace to her, their worry and their wishes for her future. She sat silently taking it all in but after the fourth person had expressed how unhealthy this situation was Sookie had enough. She wasn’t hearing anything new, their minds had been screaming it at her for years now. “I need to pee,” she announced. Granted the mass in her belly exerted enough pressure on her bladder to make it a believable statement as her condition had given her and the toilet more face time than she cared to admit, but in this instance it was a blatant lie. She wanted to get away from the judgement of her family and friends. She recognized it came from a place of love but she wasn’t feeling it as such.
Sookie set to retreat to her bathroom upstairs but she heard noises coming from above and what she thought was Pam and the doctor engaging in some sort of small talk. She opened up the heavy doors to the cubby instead and carefully descended down into the small room that had offered her some solace over the past years.
“Eric,” she said startled as her upheaved emotional state had left her unguarded in recognizing who surrounded her. He seemed equally caught off guard holding the red quilt in his hands with which she had once rescued him from the burning sun which now seemed a lifetime ago.
“I’ll leave,” he offered quickly carrying the same pained face as before.
“No it’s okay,” she sighed taking a seat on the small bed and patting the empty space beside her. “I could use the silence your ancient void offers.”
He complied and sat beside her, not uttering a word while she allowed herself to get lost inside the calm his presence offered her. The tears that had been rising in anger fell down her face in sadness instead as the carefully crafted hold of her emotional state crumbled to parts. Tentatively Eric placed his expansive arm around her and without thought she latched onto the offered embrace and sobbed into his chest.
“Why can’t everyone let me be,” she sniffled as he tenderly soothed her.
“They’re rightly worried for you,” he whispered to the crown of her head. “I worry for you.”
“Eric, I can’t let this out. I can’t unleash this on the world,” Sookie continued to whimper while placing her hand over the hard mass in her stomach. “I have to carry this darkness till it dies with me.”
“Is that what you think this is?” he questioned placing his own hand over hers feeling the resistance that lay there. “Do you remember what I said to you when we were here together when I had no memories? That I couldn’t bear it if I were to snuff out the light that’s inside of you. There’s one thing I can’t bear even more Sookie, and that’s to watch you do it yourself.”
“Bill said he saw it in a vision Eric. You and I both known that the visions he had after ingesting Lilith’s blood all came true. Bill believed I would carry a child of darkness from him,” Sookie defended. “He died so this wouldn’t happen. I can’t allow this to be born.”
“Hep-V is not just a degenerative disease to our bodies Sookie, it addles the mind. I was rash and careless in my actions, anything that brought the end closer. I wasn’t me. Bill wasn’t himself.”
“But Bill…” she started.
“Bill always assumed much. We talked extensively you know, before he died. About you. He believed you were only attracted to our darkness and we could only ever be attracted to your light because we are vampire and you are fae. I let him believe that even though I know a different truth, but why argue with the dying? They were the conclusions of a man who resided in darkness himself, his only escape had to be associated to the light but he knew nothing of my attraction to you. However, I know Bill would not want this for you either Sookie, you’re following down that same dark path.”
“So if it wasn’t my light, what was the attraction to you?” Sookie asked as her curiosity peaked while she hoped the question would deflect his continued scrutiny of her. She had suffered through enough of it already this night.
“You weren’t scared of me for starts. You stood your ground and even if I had the inclination to submit you through my glamour I would never be able to. You’re a challenge, you keep me on my toes, question my actions and make me pause to think. You offer something no one else ever can or could.”
“To be my equal,” he spoke in a soft tone so even it hid the reverence of the declaration.
“Yes,” Eric said with a sympathetic smile as he brushed away the damp strands of hair that had stuck to her drying tear tracks. “You fight the right cause at every turn and because of it I will stand by you no matter what. This is not a baby of darkness that you have been willfully keeping inside of you for four years. If there was anyone stubborn enough to do it by sheer will then it would be you but it’s a benign tumor that manifested in your grief for Bill. He traumatized you by asking you to end his life Sookie, I don’t want to see it take your life too. It’s taken too much from you already. And if we’re all wrong and it is a baby of darkness we’ll fight it like we always do. Look who surrounds you, vampires and weres with impressive strengths, the almighty prince of the fae realm and even witches too. If you can’t beat this, the ones around you will happily fight in your steed. Don’t continue to fight this alone. Please let Dr Ludwig operate on you.”
“Ok,” she whispered. Sookie wasn’t quite sure what had made her agree so easily where resistance had resided for so long. Perhaps it was because he asked, rather than told her what to do like everyone else had tonight. “Will you be there? I know you have other places to be.” She was apologetic in her tone and it only confirmed to Eric that the real Sookie Stackhouse was still hiding and just needed a gentle coaxing to come out.
“Say the word Sookie and I’ll be there every step of the way,” Eric offered. Pam would be less than pleased by his disregard of their growing company but they both knew Sookie Stackhouse would always be the wild card that would clear the deck for everything else. “You should know by now I will never say no to anything you wish. My heart is as stubborn as you. It will never stop loving you.”
“Do you think…” Sookie started to ask but nerves caught the remaining words in her throat.
“Just ask Sookie, you’ve never been scared to ask something of me before.”
“Do you think we could start over again? When the bab… the tumor is gone?” she tested carefully. “My heart seems to be equally stubborn as yours. I’ve tried, God I’ve tried but it won’t cease to stop beating that extra beat for you.”
“I never thought I would ever encounter a more striking vision than of you entering into Fangtasia in that white dress that fateful night but I see it now Sookie,” Eric declared as the excitement grew inside of him to what she was offering him. Offering them. “I wish I had a breath to lose in this moment because there’s nothing more beautiful to witness than the light returning to your eyes.”
“Eric I look a mess,” she sniffed with embarrassment.
“A fine mess,” he conceded. “A mess I would give anything to be a part of again.”
“Do you mean it?”
“What would I gain by offering you anything but the truth Sookie? I know what it is to lose you. It didn’t bring me to darkness but it did bring me pain,” Eric confessed with wounded eyes, the vulnerability of his words mirrored in those impossibly blue depths. “But I’ll happily take that pain again and again over seeing you in it Sookie. But no, I don’t want to start over again with you.”
Eric didn’t think he could hurt more than in that moment, as the light that had just carefully resurfaced inside of her threatened to wane again. “You misunderstand,” he supplemented quickly. “I want to continue what we started. What we started here when you took me into your home when I did not have a thought of who I was. Even then all I wanted was to be with you.”
“Only you,” Sookie finished with the memory of the sentence he had spoken to her then. When they had been living contentedly side by side. Bill’s final wish for Sookie was to live a normal life with children and a husband, a family of her own, because that had once defined his happiness as a human. Unlike Eric he had fallen into darkness with the loss of it and lashed out the pain of it to others. With a sense of dread Sookie realized she had acted the same way this night and perhaps even longer than that. Against Eric of all people who had always simply stood by in support of her, even in detriment to himself.
She had been living a fraudulent version of Bill’s dream in her eternal ‘pregnancy’ with her live-in aid. Sookie was anything but happy, she was honest with herself enough to recognize that. Only in that moment did she realize she had already lived something as close to normal in that brief moment of time with Eric. That was happiness. The first love of her life had felt betrayed at its discovery but by pardoning Eric and sparing his life, in a sense Bill had given them his blessing. She hated to admit it to herself but she had needed it then, to give in to Eric, to overcome her objections of the temporary state of his mind. To give herself to him fully in the way she had, in a way she never had with anyone else. Sookie needed the reminder of it now, of the commitment that they had endeavored on in this very room as they willingly exchanged blood and became ‘one’. “Sounds like a marriage.”
“I’ve had a ring ready and waiting for you for a long time,” Eric said as he started to pull the chain from his neck where the wedding bands of his parents union had hung since the night they were cruelly taken from his life.
“No,” Sookie whispered, preventing the movement of his hand and with great difficulty dropped down on one knee. “It should be my question to ask.”
“Why?” The confusion hung heavily on Eric’s face as his thoughts were solely occupied with helping Sookie out of her painful stance.
“Because you’ll never say no to me,” she replied and for the first time in years her smile reached her eyes as one of equal glee graced his face. “I’ll never lose with you Eric. You won’t let me. So I ask you Eric Northman, will you be mine? To have and to hold?”
He gave her the only answer he had promised to give while carefully helping her up onto her legs again, “Yes. In sickness and in health. Forever and always.”
“Yours,” she finished before a bruising kiss overtook them both. He held her carefully, still fearful to hurt Sookie in her fragile condition though rationally he knew she was made of the toughest stock but being cautious with her had brought them this far. “How about now?”
Eric regarded her with confusion till she offered in explanation, “Everyone we care about is here, so why not now? Dr Ludwig tells me the risk that I’ll die during the procedure is small but if I do, I want everyone to know that my heart never stopped beating that extra beat for you.”
“Why not now,” he answered without the implied question mark at the end.
The guests of Sookie’s Thanksgiving feast had expected many tears and high strung emotions with their final plea for Sookie to seek the treatment she needed to be healthy again, to stop her from continuing on to a possibly early grave. What they hadn’t expected was to be shedding tears of joy as Jason walked his sister down the makeshift aisle in the white dress she had once worn to her first night at Fangtasia, Eric’s flowers functioning as her bridal bouquet. Thankfully the dress had enough give to cover the distention of her stomach that would soon be gone. That knowledge had given many a reason to shed more tears of relief.
Lafayette stood in place of Tara as ‘maid’ of honor and Pam stood beside Eric as the woman of his dreams found her way back to him once more. Sam officiated the ceremony, where simple vows and a few drops of blood in a chalice were exchanged. A kiss sealed their fate for eternity as Niall recited an ancient fairy blessing.
“Do you think this is what Bill would have wanted for me?” Sookie asked Jessica when she came up to congratulate her.
“I don’t think so,” Jessica said honestly as she looked over amused at the sight of Hoyt dancing with the tiny doctor. “But that doesn’t matter Sookie because this is what you want. A marriage doesn’t equal happiness but you can find it there. Hoyt and I figured that out soon enough, Bill thought we were made for the ages but we are better friends than we are lovers. Bill wasn’t an omniscient being simply because he drank the blood of Lilith once. If he was, he would have pushed you in Eric’s way. Everyone here can see that the love you two have continued to hold for each other is what we all hope to achieve someday. Bill would have wanted that for you but his mind was too clouded to see you already found it once.”
“Thank you,” Sookie sobbed into the redheaded vampire’s thick locks while hugging her tightly as best she could, finding comfort and relief in Jessica’s wise words. She still carried the physical weight of her plaguing guilt but the words spoken to her tonight by Eric and Bill’s child had lifted the far heavier burden she had been carrying around since Bill’s death. When they disengaged, Eric whisked her away for the one dance they would move to that night.
“Is this everything you dreamed of since you were a little girl?” the groom asked as he ran his finger over the gold wedding band his mother once wore.
“I never dreamed of this Eric,” his wife admitted. “Everyone else had dreams of my happiness but I never did. I was happy to settle for ‘normal’ in whatever shape or form because I had no idea what I wanted, what would be afforded to me. But now I refuse to settle anymore, I know what I want.”
“I just want to be with you. Only you.”
“Well that makes two of us then,” he said with a playful smirk.
“No, we were never two,” Sookie denied. “We were always meant to be one.”