**A/N: Eric finally let me finish this story. I hope you enjoy.**
Looking back upon it all now as he gazed down at his beloved Sookie, Eric realized he should have seen it coming. However, he had been so caught up in the plans he’d made and in ensuring that all the different pieces fell together just right that he had failed to pay attention to anything outside of his immediate sphere.
He stroked his hand down the sweet curve of her waist as she rested on her side snuggled into his chest. Her sweet fairy scent was still strong from their latest romantic session, and he still couldn’t get enough of her.
Her body…her heart…her laugh…her smile…the joy in her eyes that only he could give her..
He would never get enough of her and that suited him fine.
As he brought what she called a “comforter” up to, sadly, cover her magnificent ass and delightfully ticklish back, he thought back to earlier in the evening.
So very much had changed, and while his vampire brain certainly had no trouble in absorbing everything, still…
When one’s every dream comes true in the space of one year, much less during one night, it is definitely worth revisiting the beloved and glorious memories.
The night had begun just as planned. While he wouldn’t exactly admit it, he had been a bit more nervous than he’d have liked, but all in all he knew he’d hidden it well.
And then he had seen his Sookie.
All dressed up in the cranberry red dress he’d given her over a year ago and just as he suspected, Sookie was stunning. Even with the heels raising her height a bit, she was still his ‘pocket princess’ and he dearly longed to be able to hide her away in that proverbial pocket, tucked away safe and sound forever.
While her lovely eyes sparkling with good humor, love, and anticipation did not surprise him, the glimpses of mischief and a different sort of anticipation should have. Alas his gaze remained captured by the love in her eyes to the exclusion of all else.
During the past year or so he had grown accustomed to her more enhanced fairy scent, but he should have noticed that it was somewhat stronger, and perhaps very subtly different from what he now considered the norm. Instead he had simply enjoyed her delicious scent without pausing to wonder about anything other than his damned good fortune in finally having her by his side.
Before she left the house, he should have wondered why she had decided to bring a purse with her since she was technically going back home to the Palace anyway, but since women always did seem to love toting their kitchen sinks with them he had paid it no mind. Even when he had handed it to her after she exited the limo, the unexpected heft of the purse should have at least sparked his curiosity, but he had been too excited about her coming surprises to give it much thought.
Her reaction to the solarium/observatory was all he could have wanted and more. Rarely did he have a chance to spoil her in the way he truly desired, so when he did create an opportunity to do so, he went as far above and beyond as he could.
She was his life now, and it was his pleasure, honor, and duty to spoil her as much and as often as he could get away with. He was King Eric Northman, therefore he could get away with a lot…and it helped that she was much more gracious when accepting gifts from him these nights.
The chef had outdone himself in creating their dinner that night, but Eric would have to have him recreate his own courses sometime since his attention had been solely focused on the stars in his love’s eyes. For all he knew he could have been shoveling semi-frozen sheep’s blood slush into his mouth as he watched his Sookie’s fascinated gaze as she looked all around her new space. The honest and slightly overwhelmed appreciation on her face had warmed his old heart.
Later, once they had finished their meal enhanced with sporadic conversation and frequent happy laughter, and his vampire ears had heard the music below starting up precisely on time, he had reviewed with Sookie the security enhancements for the space. Her safety was and always would be of primary importance to Eric. Nothing was too much, too good, too expensive, or to complicated.
When he had led her back over to what she called “the escape hatch” so they could descend to the next level, in retrospect it should have struck him as odd that she had rushed over to the small table near the solarium’s glass door to retrieve her purse before they left. It wasn’t as if anyone would dare touch one of her possessions without permission, much less steal it. Instead, he was thinking ahead to the rest of the night’s activities and crossing his mental fingers that all would proceed as hoped.
He had delighted in taking her into his arms, holding her body tucked closely into his own with her enticing scent wafting headily to his nose, so that he could float them both down through the opening to the floor below.
As they had stood in what appeared to be a forgotten if suspiciously well-arranged storeroom, arranged as such to provide an extra layer of security below the solarium, his only thought had been that he needed to kiss his beloved right that instant.
And so he had.
It would be the last time they would be alone until near morning, and for long, heated moments he had taken advantage of their solitude to kiss his lover senseless.
At last Eric had leaned back and surveyed his handiwork. With flushed cheeks glowing and stars shining in her lovely eyes, his Sookie was as lovely, as perfect, as enticing and addictive as he had ever before seen her.
He gave silent thanks for having a perfect photographic memory when he chose. While he subdued a rising case of nerves, he led them to the door on the far side of the ‘storage’ room.
When with her own fairy-enhanced hearing she eventually noticed the music rising from the lower floor and commented on it, he had replied with feigned nonchalance that there was a Valentine’s Ball behind below held in her honor, and would she like to attend with him?
Her delighted laughter had filled the empty corridor into which they had just stepped, and as they walked toward the stairwell, he happily imagined the sound resonating in that space forevermore.
Taking his opportunities as he found them, he had then gathered her into another close embrace to float them down the stairwell. With her arms about his wide shoulders and her nose buried in the crook of his neck as she inhaled his clean, masculine scent, his broad palms ached to cup themselves around her bottom but he knew that if he did so neither his hands nor his body would stop until well after the sun’s rising. Too much had been at stake at that point to risk letting his libido fly.
Once they reached the first floor and before he opened the door to reveal the noisily crowded hallway beyond, he had settled her to her feet. As it had already been a while since she’d left her former home, he enquired as to whether she needed the facilities or if she would rather go directly into the ballroom. When she replied that yes, she would like to powder her nose, he had nodded but had also briefly wondered when she had started using powdered substances on her perfectly sweet little nose.
Once outside the women’s facilities just out of sight of the main hallway leading to the ballroom, he should have noticed the calculating look on her beautiful face when, just before entering, she had looked around as if searching for someone. One of her maids had dutifully come forth as would be expected, and he had thought no more of it since he was then quietly confirming with one of his Lieutenants that his orders had been carried out properly.
After taking longer than expected, his beautiful Sookie emerged from the facilities looking slightly refreshed. She also seemed quite pleased with herself even though there were no powdered substances in view. He saw the maid scurrying off with the purse in her hands, but concluded that the satisfaction on his lover’s face was due to simply being glad to be rid of that oddly heavy burden.
They rounded the corner onto the main hallway and as they walked toward a massive set of closed doors, the assembled staff, classically-attired in new uniforms and lining the walls to each side, bowed or curtsied as expected as the Royal Couple passed by arm in arm.
Eric and Sookie paused upon reaching the gilded doors leading to the ballroom, and could hear when the music and the voices hushed in anticipation. After a series of three loud knocks were given by what appeared to be a newly liveried footman, the doors were then thrust open to reveal the scene inside the room.
He would always remember Sookie’s gasp of amazement as she beheld the unexpected beauty of the long, rectangular room she had never even known existed.
A series of large gold and crystal chandeliers running the length of the room’s high ceiling daintily yet brilliantly lit the room from on high while the warm champagne colored walls held their own bright gold and crystal sconces. Ornate crown molding added to the majestic splendor. The dark gleaming hardwood floor almost glowed from expert polishing, perfectly reflecting the shining lights. Elegant candelabras gracing tables in small alcoves visible through marbled archways set back into the walls added to the elegantly enchanting effect.
Flowing garlands and large bouquets of freshly interwoven red and white flowers, perhaps reminiscent of the design on a dress worn long ago, graced the walls and followed along the arches, their heady fragrance mingling with the beeswax and free flowing champagne.
Vampires, Weres, Demons and Humans respectfully lined each side of the main dancing area, the gentlemen debonair in their tuxedos and the ladies resplendent in their finery. En mass they silently bowed or curtsied, then rose as an expectant hush seemed to hold the evening’s guests in thrall.
Everything conspired to lead the eye to the back of the room. On a dais erected in front of set of dark red silk drapes sat a wide darkly ornate table, and behind it stood a black-robed figure with his hands folded into his wide sleeves.
Each end of the table held a heavy, elaborately engraved candlestick, beautiful in the subtle gleam of their ancient gold dreamily reflecting their candles’ softly flickering flames. Between the candlesticks rested a bejeweled golden chalice, also large, heavy, and unquestionably ancient.
Eric had watched as Sookie’s delighted gaze danced around the room, and he cherished her second gasp when she spotted the robed officiant. Her eyes opened even wider as she took in the rest of the scene before her. He was so focused on memorizing the shock and realization on her face that he missed the almost subconscious movement of her hand as she touched the side of her skirt.
His blood buzzing in nervous excitement yet his heart filling with a strange peace, Eric led Sookie to the middle of the room in full sight of all the guests, and immediately lowered to bended knee before her. Gasps from the witnesses echoed throughout the cavernous room.
A Vampire King knelt before no one.
He had known even then that he would always remember the words he finally used to fulfill the heartfelt promise made so long ago, the promise he at last was able to keep.
Eric looked up into his beloved’s shocked face, sparkling tears already gathering in her eyes, and took her trembling hands in his.
“Sookie, I once promised you that I would bring you to my side, that I would share everything I have with you, and that every vampire who owes me fealty would honor you. Tonight, I ask you to allow me to fulfill that promise. I ask that you join me at my side, that you allow me to share all that I have with you, and that you allow every vampire who owes me fealty to honor you.”
Awe briefly crossed her face as she remembered those phrases spoken in another era, and he gave her a reassuring smile when he felt the enormous tangle of emotions surging through their bond. The heady mixture of love, astonishment, yearning, adoration, nervousness, and respect matched his own. He blinked away rising tears, and continued.
“Sookie Stackhouse Brigant, will you rule by my side as my Lover, my Wife, and my Queen?”
She nodded, too overcome by joy, joy he had given her, to more than whisper that soul-saving “yes” heard by all Vampires and most Weres in attendance.
Just as he was about to rise and take her into his arms before escorting her to the table, her hand softly cupping his cheek stopped him. Her face, bathed in the beauty of shocked elation, seemed to beam down at him as if lit from within. She traced her thumb over his cheek, then tipped his chin up the barest fraction.
A solitary tear ran down her face, and when she finally spoke, it was with a voice strong and clear.
“Eric Northman, warrior, lover, king. You humble me with the strength of your love and courage. You fill my days with hope and my nights with everything that’s good in the world. I have nearly forever to live, and if you would have me, I would share that life with you.”
She then proceeded to shock him to his ancient core. All the tiny signs and slips he had missed…
His Sookie reached into a hidden pocket of her cranberry red dress and withdrew an object wrapped in black silk.
In a surprising display of respect for ancient vampire traditions, with both hands she reverently offered the wrapped bundle for him to accept, her eyes betraying the merest hint of painful uncertainty.
Heart leaping to his throat as the weight of her offering hit home, Eric placed his upturned palms under her hands, helping to support the weighted bundle as he raised questioning, hopeful eyes to meet the hopeful warmth in her own.
His Sookie valued her privacy, and the bravery it had taken for her to do this – that she had wanted to do this at all – staggered him. That vaguest hint of insecurity, however, held a sad sting. Of course he would accept – how could there have ever been any doubt.
He flooded their bond with acceptance.
Relieved, Sookie smiled adoringly down into his eyes, the lights from the chandelier above creating almost a halo effect with her blonde hair. She nodded toward the bundle, which Eric then openly accepted with a heart nearly overwhelmed with indescribable elation. It seemed the past was coming full circle and, in doing so, freeing them both of painful memories while satisfying unfulfilled promises.
To his stunned gaze, he unwrapped what could only be an immeasurably precious fairy dagger. The attending audience gasped when with an exultant motion he unsheathed the blade from its ornately bejeweled scabbard.
His face solemn while his blood sang with fierce joy, pride, and victory, Eric gazed at the blade for a moment, then, with movements slow and purposeful, he reverently raised the precious metal to his lips. He kissed it, then rose to his full height before handing the dagger handle-first back to his tearfully beaming Sookie.
Tears streaming down her face from both his acceptance and the almost overwhelming surges of immeasurable love, fierce pride, and deep admiration flooding the bond, she gladly accepted and kissed the blade in the same spot Eric’s lips had touched.
Before she could return the blade to him and unknowingly proclaim herself to all witnesses as lower in stature than him, Eric placed his free hand around her waist and slowly walked her over to the table. Upon their arrival, with his arm still around her waist, he gestured for Sookie to place the dagger on the table, and placed the empty sheath and black silk cloth beside it.
Eric turned to face the robed officiant and exchanged a reverent nod with the silent figure. He could feel Sookie’s surprise when the High Priest, the vampire version of a holy man, in turn nodded to her, but sent her his pride when she gracefully returned the obvious sign of respect.
The eager silence in the large room was deafening. All present had been told to expect a ‘simple’ coronation of their new Queen, but the plans had changed considerably when Sookie had Pledged and been Pledged to him by the Knife. He was curious as to how this representative of the Ancient Pythoness would incorporate the new situation.
He didn’t have too wait long.
“Vampires have always ruled vampires. This fact has remained unchanged since the rising of the first undead. None but a vampire may rule other vampires. The time has now come to amend this tradition,” the solemn voice proclaimed to the ends of the room.
“Upon accepting the Crown, the rising Monarch sheds blood in taking The Oath to protect, command, and control their new Kingdom. When two shall rule as one, the two shall bleed as one. This shall not change.”
The officiant withdrew from the depths of his robe a slim ceremonial knife, obviously ancient yet not as ornate as the fairy dagger, which he placed to one side of the gilded chalice. He then raised his head, his face still hidden in the shadows of the hood, and spoke directly to Eric and Sookie.
“The Rules of a Bonded Pledging require the giving and the sharing of essential Blood. This shall not change.”
The tall figure moved the fairy dagger to the other side of the chalice, and for a long moment stood silently gazing at the items on the table.
“I decree that a cut from each shall seal The Bonded Pledge, and a cut from each shall seal The Oath. The blood from four cuts shall flow into the same receptacle. It shall be done.”
With his decree made, the High Priest stepped back and motioned for Eric and Sookie to proceed.
Eric turned to Sookie and took her face into his large hands. He leaned his forehead against hers for a second as he absorbed as much of her rising trepidation as he could. This was the only portion of the evening that had caused him any doubt. The thought of causing any pain whatsoever to his beloved, much less the thought of spilling her blood on purpose, went against ever fiber of his being, yet on this night he would do both.
Through the bond he sent a wave of remorse for the pain to come, then he sent an intoxicating blend of courage, primal satisfaction that she was now his, and a heady dose of the lust thundering through his blood. The thought of their blood mingling in the chalice, their joined blood on her lips as she drank, their joined blood flowing across his tongue as he, too, drank…
He placed a lingering kiss to her forehead then quickly escorted her around the table to face the witnesses as the High Priest moved to the side to officially observe the proceedings. As Eric and Sookie now belonged solely to each other, it would be a direct violation of vampire law for him to draw either person’s blood unless expressly asked by both to do so.
Once in place, with quick and efficient movements Eric rolled up the sleeves on his left arm, picked up the fairy dagger and almost casually cut a long, shallow slit across his palm. He held his hand over the chalice allowed the wound to bleed until it closed naturally.
Externally unemotional yet internally torn between seething at causing Sookie pain and roaring with the victory of “MINE”, he calmly extended his hand for hers. He wasn’t positive he was allowed to perform this act on her behalf, but fuck it – he was King and he was her Bonded and now Pledged. Damn if he was going to make her have to cut herself.
With extraordinary efficiency and speed, he had her bleeding palm held over the cup before the pain could even register, and when a comparable amount of her blood had joined with his, he pricked his finger and sealed her wound.
Eric, Sookie, and the High Priest all heard the quiet sizzling that occurred when their blood had met on the dagger’s blade, now resting on the black silk cloth.
The robed figure bowed to the chalice.
Next Eric repeated the ceremony with the smaller ceremonial knife, which also sizzled when the two bloods joined to become one. It now rested beside the fairy dagger as well.
The robed figure once again bowed to the chalice, then stepped farther away.
Eric turned to Sookie and took her hands in his. This was her last chance to change her mind, and he needed to allow her that option – the final choice must be hers. He could do no less for the love of his existence, for the light that graced his night-darkened soul.
After searching her eyes for an endless moment, he raised a brow in question. She smiled adoringly into the intense blue of his eyes, then the minx…stifled a giggle?
His heart soared. Trust his Sookie to have to stifle a giggle, of all things, during the most important Ceremony of their combined lives.
With a laugh of his own, Eric released tension he hadn’t even been aware that he carried.
SHE SAID YES!
With laughter still dancing in his now lighter-blue eyes, he placed their joined hands around the large chalice, and lifted the ornamental cup for her to take the first sip.
To his everlasting shock, she didn’t take a small ritualistic sip as expected. Eyes locked with his, she instead claimed half the contents in one large swallow, then, hands still joined, offered the remainder to him. While maintaining that eye contact, he then drained the chalice, and together they placed it back on the table.
“It is done,” solemnly pronounced the resonant voice of the robed figure.
On cue and causing a gasp from the crowd, the dark red curtains behind Eric and Sookie parted to reveal two thrones placed side-by-side. They were identical in every way…except for width. One was obviously built for a large, powerful, broad-shouldered King – the other, for a smaller but equally powerful, in her own right, Queen.
The King’s throne displayed a swath of old fur draped across the back, and his father’s crown rested in the seat, the ancient gold gleaming softly.
Beside the Queen’s throne stood a pedestal holding a dark red silk pillow, and atop that pillow rested a beloved Queen’s crown, filled with sparkling diamonds and rubies and as strongly delicate as the best Dae jewelers could create.
The King gazed tenderly at his beloved Queen’s shocked expression as she stared at the pair of thrones placed so closely together that barely an inch separated the cushioned deep red silk of their arms. The same deep red silk cushioning graced the seats of both thrones, added at Eric’s insistence solely for the comfort of Her Majestie’s ‘convenience’.
Letting her look her fill, Eric turned to wrap the spent blades in the black cloth and handed them along with the chalice over to the High Priest for temporary safekeeping as two assistants unobtrusively removed the table. The three items, along with the sheath for the fairy blade, would permanently reside in his chambers.
Both now smiling as if the weight of worlds had been lifted from their collective shoulders, Eric led his Bonded and Pledged Bride and Queen to her new throne.
When they reached the ornately carved and decorated seats, Sookie turned and made as if to kneel.
“No!” Eric’s voice, loudly commanding, rang out as he grabbed her shoulders to stop her. Gasps were heard from witnesses at the force behind his command. “Never shall you kneel before me. Never.”
He glared intently into her eyes.
“You are my light and my love. You are the laughter in my soul and the fire in my blood. You are my equal in all things, Sookie. Never bow or kneel before me.”
A line of red blurred his vision.
Sensing how very deeply he had been affected by her intention, Sookie apparently sought to relieve the tension of the situation in her own pricelessly unique way.
“Then no more kneeling in front of me, either, buddy,” she whispered for his ears only. Her slim finger poked at his chest in emphasis as she blinked back her own tears and held back her wobbly smile as best she could.
Eric threw back his head and roared with laughter for a very long minute, then soundly kissed the light of his nights. Applause from the gathered witnesses cheerfully resounded from the walls.
For Eric and Sookie, and for all attendees, the solemnity of the occasion was now forgotten.
In short order he had his Queen crowned and on her own throne by his side. He couldn’t quite believe his good fortune or how smoothly the night had progressed, and in truth he was still reeling over the surprise Pledging.
That was something he would never have expected from her.
As he adjusted his father’s crown, he realized that in some ways his Sookie had changed even more than he had, and while he despised the catalyst for such change, he knew they were far better matched now than ever before. Nonetheless, he made a mental note to, at some point in the near future, discuss with her that brief moment of uncertainty he’d seen in her eyes. Never should she have even the slightest of doubts as to the depth of his love for her.
Tonight, however, was for celebrating their union in all ways, and later he intended to celebrate a few of them more than once.
Sitting hand in hand on their thrones as they watched the dancers begin swirling around on the ballroom floor in perfect time with the live string quartet, he thought back to his Fangtasia nights and all that had passed since then. So much had changed, and yet here he sat with his beloved by his side.
All truly was possible.
He raised her wrist to his nose and inhaled, then kissed the back of her hand. Now accustomed to his more vampiric ways, Sookie just smiled and shook her head. He had to admit that she was handling the other part of his Valentine’s Night surprise quite well, but then, she had given him one hell of a surprise, too.
During the official Ceremonies, the ballroom – Eric smirked when overhearing it designated as “The Royal Ballroom” – had previously held only relevant witnesses and what few servants may have been required, but now that the official part was over, uniformed servers attentively yet unobtrusively presented trays of hors d’oeuvres and flutes of champagne while others quietly took orders for other…preferred drinks.
Doting palace personnel were allowed welcome if unofficial entry, and enjoyed quiet participation in the festivities. It was, after all, not every night that a beloved new Queen was crowned.
After watching the first set danced “in honor of the King and his new Queen”, with debonair élan Eric escorted his Sookie to the floor. As expected, everyone edged to the sides as they made room for the Royal Couple’s first official tour of the dance floor.
Eric gladly indulged her love of dancing for an exhilarating hour or so, gliding, twirling, and dipping his beautifully glowing fairy hybrid to song after song after song. Eventually her intoxicating scent made his fangs throb too hard to ignore…not to mention how the swaying of her body against his had caused other parts of him throb painfully as well.
The King had had enough pageantry.
So, when he received an answering burst of lust in response to his own sent in query – and with scant regard to any guest – he swiftly placed their crowns into Sookie’s capable hands and swept his lover up into his arms, then left the room with all due haste.
The soft, low laughter coming from the warm, curvy woman in his arms spurred him onward while her sweet, maddening lips trailing biting kisses along his throat made him seriously consider taking her against half a dozen walls before he finally reached their chambers.
Their crowns were deposited safely onto the nearest flat surface, but he would have to buy her a dozen cranberry red gowns to replace the one soon scattered in tattered pieces across their bedroom floor.
Between the lust building all evening and the infusion of fire from drinking their combined blood in the chalice, their first two joinings passed in a blur of lips and tongues and teeth and fangs and groans and sighs of needy satisfaction.
It was during their third joining when Eric, seated deeply within the blazing warmth and addictive love that was his Sookie, stopped mid thrust to gaze down into her eyes still misty and dazed with passion.
“My Pledged,” he had said, his words growled with enormous satisfaction then punctuated with a slow, deep thrust.
“My Bonded,” he growled, emphasizing the statement with another slow, deep thrust.
“My Queen,” he purred with guttural satisfaction then began a leisurely, deeply rhythmic pistoning intended to drive them both to madness before bliss.
“Mine,” he managed to claim before surrendering to the blinding light brought on by his lover’s rippling ecstasy.
Now, as the sun slowly crested the horizon while he rested safely in the Royal Chambers with his Sookie nestled into his side, Eric allowed the shock and the joy of the evening’s events wash over him. The knowledge that his Sookie loved him so much as to perform her own Pledging with him, and with a fairy dagger at that, soothed him in so many ways.
While they had both made mistakes in the past and he had instantly absolved her of her few paltry trespasses, he never truly felt as though he had done enough, nor could possibly do enough, to truly earn her forgiveness.
Not only did it now appear that she had pardoned him fully, but that she…loved him – she truly loved him. She loved him enough to…
Eric slipped into his dayrest with his Sookie in his arms, and contentment and peace in his heart.
It was a Happy Valentine’s Night indeed.
•~•0•~• FIN •~•0•~•
**A/N: This short story has been a long time in the making, and I sincerely hope it was worth the wait. I’m sad to see it end, honestly, but have thoroughly enjoyed writing it not just for you guys, but for myself, too. So…what did you think?**