**A/N: Again, grab a warm beverage, snuggle up with the pillows and blankets if you can, and plan to read this chapter in a dreamy, peaceful mood. As always, it’s unbeta’d so all my many mistakes are mine own to regret. I hope you enjoy:
The following nights passed in something of a beautifully hazy fog for Eric and Sookie. Both had suffered through more than enough drama and had mutually, if silently, decided to allow nothing and no one to breach the sanctity and peace of the wall they were slowly but steadily erecting around their newfound bliss.
On King Northman’s part, he had managed to spend at least some portion of every evening with her since they had come to an understanding, and he wasted not one second before commanding his staff to never disturb the time he spent with their future Queen unless it was truly a matter of life or death.
He remembered with sad regret all the disruptions that had happened in the past, and was determined to keep his private time with Sookie sacred from his public life which he also intended to share with her. He could count too many instances when a needed conversation had been disturbed at just the wrong point, and necessary information had not been shared between himself and the light of his life.
That would never happen again.
However, he did take pride in slowly familiarizing her with all facets of his monarchy and the grounds on which it sat. He was determined that she would never feel left out or under-informed again. It was his unspoken plan to ensure that she understood all the quirks, rules, regulations, and expectations of a Queen in the vampire world.
His heart quickly warmed with the knowledge that Sookie was becoming a familiar presence in “his” kingdom. He would never push her to join him on the throne or in a union, but that was his intended conclusion. He had her back in his life and in his arms, and he would wait.
When he had royal business to tend while Sookie was on the grounds, it became the norm for her to rumble about the palace proper and the surrounding facilities, weather permitting. Every worker, lieutenant, guard, servant, and maid knew Sookie was allowed anywhere at any time…nothing was off limits to his Lady. She was even allowed to view the dungeons should she so desire – but he was ever thankful that she had never actually gone down there.
As expected, Sookie adored the greenhouses, and quickly reignited her fledgling friendship with the vampire Felicia…now that she was no longer a bartender at any rate.
On a more unexpected note, the halls of the enormous residence now sometimes resounded with lyrical humming of the Elvis variety. Upon hearing that “Miss Sookie” was back amongst his favorite undead, Bubba had simply reappeared one night…with no intention of leaving. He had “his” Sookie back, and frequently escorted her from greenhouse to greenhouse, anywhere she wanted to go when not with Eric. The Viking privately thought he should thank Bubba for possibly deterring Sookie from the dungeons.
Sadly, Pam had not made one single effort to become reacquainted with “that walking fairy vagina” – a remark which earned the loss of Eric’s credit cards for six months – but neither Sookie nor Eric were overly concerned. Each knew that Pam was only reacting to the pain her Maker had suffered, and each knew Pam would come around when she was ready, and that Pam would never admit to badly missing the blonde herself…Pam didn’t do emotions.
When the time was right, Sookie fully expected that an all-expenses-paid trip to a New York Fashion Week would be required. Mr. C’s assistant-slash-niece was already checking into reservations. Somehow Sookie also knew that Dianthawould be accompanying them, and that her purchases would be just as colorful as she was herself.
Eric took great pride in showing Sookie around his royal compound himself, enjoying drawing her attention to things large and small that he knew would interest her. The light in her eyes and the joy in her smile was his most desired reward, and she gladly shared them with him often.
There had been lots of hand-holding and long, slow walks around her property and his alike. During the first nights it became common for him to arrive brandishing a new warm coat (with matching scarf and gloves, of course) to bundle her up so they could take flight into the chilled Louisiana night to some new location where he just had to show her something that he thought she would like.
She had finally put her foot down after the seventh new such coat set. Eric had just smiled as he relished the fact that he had gotten away with giving her so much already.
The royal guards, a motley crew of vampires, Weres, and other shifters, had quickly become accustomed to seeing the King strolling through the palace, the grounds, or the greenhouses hand-in-hand with his Lady.
The older palace staff, those who had lived in Louisiana their entire lives, knew the no-longer-tragic story of the King and the Telepath. Any newcomers were quickly and proudly informed of how ‘their’ King had used both his brains and his brawn to bring down those worthy of defeat so that he could be with his once and, hopefully, future wife. Adoring smiles filled with approval, thoughtfully ignored by the vampire and his part-fairy, often followed the couple as they would make their way around.
The proudest of the staff were those from the kitchens who were given the honor of serving the King’s Telepath in the dining room of his private residence. They were happy to boast of Sookie’s quietly happy grace and gentle manners shown not only to the King but to the wait staff as well.
The vampire ruler treated the staff quite fairly, meaning that they were given their orders and then ignored unless a bonus or punishment needed to be doled out, but unnecessary interaction was coldly discouraged… until the Telepath became a regular visitor. Since then the King’s cold blue eyes had warmed just a fraction, his velvet voice was no longer quite so clipped, and his handsome face was no longer so very rigid.
It was reported that during her visits he was even known to smile, but the lower staff remained convinced that was just wishful thinking on the part of the upper staff. However, even the lower staff had to admit that ‘the living was easier’ at the palace these nights since Sookie started coming around.
Also seen visiting the palace offices more frequently was Mr. Cataliades, but, oddly, only ever after Sookie had been escorted back to her well-protected home by none other than the King himself. Sometimes the universally respected royal lawyer arrived alone, and at other times he brought known jewelers carrying large cases or renowned clothing designers. It was all very hush-hush.
For once Sookie was glad that she wasn’t working or actively taking classes. The time she would have wasted on a job she didn’t need or begrudged on a class she wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on was much better spent becoming reacquainted with Eric. Sometimes it occurred to her that, through mostly her own fault, she had never truly known him at all, and chose to regard him when she could with new eyes untainted by the past.
Sookie had also decided on the night they officially reunited that she would no longer hold herself back, that she would show Eric how she felt when she felt it. He deserved to know her joy, and he deserved the chance to fix or explain any possible misconceptions.
Although the bond they had once shared was long gone, sometimes she swore that if everything was still and quiet and calm, she could still feel a bit of… something… from Eric. The more time she spent in his presence, the more she realized that she missed the bond and the subconscious comforts it had brought.
And while Eric had been right about there only being two ways she could truly trust him to keep his non-biting word, he was wrong, too. Even during their first week ‘together’ she could tell he was allowing her to see past the layers and facades accumulated over the centuries until she knew he was revealing longer and wider peeks of the loving, caring man he actually was. She craved those moments like air and chocolate.
Often during their walks, or while ensconced on a sofa, they would talk about anything and everything, but sometimes they would just quietly savor each other’s mere presence. They both cherished those times the most.
There had been lots of talks and lingering glances as they excavated past problems and shed light on false perceptions. In voices low and quiet, they had finally breached some of the barriers from the past, exposing underlying issues that one or the other had not realized were so serious or, in some cases, even realized existed at all. And so it was with calm minds, loving hearts, and generous spirits that they discussed, wrangled, and dissected every problem they could think of until the old concerns were resolved and the old misconceptions were laid to sometimes painful final rest.
Both felt justifiably pleased with their newly-gained method of mature communication.
And they still wrote letters to each other. Sometimes a letter or reply would be rife with inane observations, and sometimes a reply would leave the other in tears, but always the words given to each other were filled with honesty and devotion.
Once in a while Sookie would find herself remembering bitter thoughts but now, instead of hurling painful recriminations at Eric, or, worse, allowing the bitterness to grow and fester, she would grab an old wire-bound notebook left over from her school days and write and write and write until all the hurtful words were on paper instead of in Eric’s ear or moldering in her heart.
If afterward the situation still warranted attention, she would reach for her stationery. She was now quite happily on her second new set. Some envelopes would contain only one leaf of pretty paper holding the words of a happy memory or a future dream. But other envelopes would be thick with many sheets carrying answers or, rarely, asking more difficult questions whether about vampire life and politics, Eric’s expectations, Sookie’s fears, or something else entirely.
Eric always viewed envelopes from his Sookie with anticipation, even the ones carrying questions or asking for clarification on a misconception. Sometimes those were the fun ones for him to read.
But the rare ones telling him of a broken dream or a remembered pain…those were the hard ones, the ones that sometimes brought a bloody tear to his eye or a bowing of his head, but those were the ones which, conversely, brought him the most hope as they brought his Sookie ever closer to him. Regardless, he would always read each missive many times over before responding to the very best of his honest ability. Every query or concern was taken with the utmost gravity, and answered in kind.
Sometimes he sent her his own queries or concerns over remembered events. Unlike in times past, she would respond quickly, with respectful care and consideration.
And there had been many precious instances of shared laughter and long, close hugs tinged with the sweetest urgency. Each was becoming delightfully accustomed to sudden ‘hug attacks’ which would be enthusiastically returned at a moment’s notice. Sookie had never heard Eric laugh so freely nor so often. She reveled in the light blue fire shining in his eyes, the joy in his heart melting and rebuilding her own several times over.
When they weren’t solving problems from the past – a task they both agreed was a necessary evil, she made it her mission to hear that beautiful full, hearty laugh as often as possible. Her Eric deserved to be joyful.
She had made a conscious decision to include Eric in all aspects of her life as well, and after their reunion she had spent much time during the following nights informing him of her investments, her charities, and the information given to her from Niall.
Wanting to ensure that she left nothing to chance, she had chosen to write about “the great fairy reveal” in a letter. And he had never been so filled with brilliant, blinding joy as the night he read that letter.
That evening, the third night after that fate-making reunion, about forty-five minutes after the sun had disappeared below the horizon, a wind-blown Eric had arrived at her doorstep. With a smirk he was carrying a now ubiquitous box undoubtedly containing yet another coat/gloves/scarf combo in what was sure to be a lovely jewel-tone.
As per usual, Sookie had gladly met him at the door and invited him in, and, as usual for them now, he had placed the box on a side table so that he could gather her into his arms for a series of kisses both fiery and languid.
Long moments later, still panting and recovering from the tidal wave of passion that was her Eric, Sookie had placed a hand on his chest to steady herself while she offered him a Monarchs’ Blend, his own private-label blend that he now stocked in her refrigerator.
Eric could sense that something was different this evening. He was still delightfully surprised with her enthusiastic greeting, and had promised himself that he would never take such a beautiful welcome for granted again. He reclined on the sofa when she invited him to do so, and waited with increasing nervousness as she prepared their drinks in the kitchen. It eased his heart that nothing seemed wrong, but he definitely sensed a difference.
After she served him his fancy heated bottle and took a sip of her coffee – later nights called for more caffeine – Sookie handed him an envelope. Her delicate features were marred with apprehension and excitement, a combination that worried Eric.
His thousand years of experience keeping his face placid and his tension hidden, Eric gently accepted and opened the envelope.
I received some information a while back from Niall that Mr. C had been holding for me until my divorce. Niall didn’t expect to see me again anytime soon since he closed the Portals, so he left me a letter and some things with Mr. C.
I’ve got more powers, Eric. Niall had written that I would develop more, and he was right. I can still use my microwave fingers to fry people, but now I can “pop”, I guess you’d call it teleport, when and where I want to. I can “pop” people, too, if I concentrate really hard.
Well, I know I can at least pop Sam… That’s a funny story for another time, though. I can also levitate people and things, but for some reason I can’t seem to bring things to me, at least, not yet. The most useful gift as far as daily life is concerned is that I can heat and cool food and drinks. I guess that goes back to the microwave fingers things, huh.
There may be more powers coming, but I don’t know. I think I have more than enough now, don’t you?
He wrote that there was some sort of weird rumor among fairies that the more often a fairy uses their power, the quicker that power gets used up, but that that’s a lie. He said that the more a Sky Fairy uses their power, the stronger and more honed their power gets, like using a muscle. I just need to spend time outside in the sun to sort of recharge. Guess all that tanning is a good idea after all!
The main thing, though, the most important thing for you and me, is that I will live a lot longer than the average human. He wrote that I will age very, very slowly after I reach fairy maturity.
I guess I’ve already done that because, like you said that first night and then again last night, I actually look younger now than when you used to know me. He wrote that full fairies tend to reach their maturity between 20 and 25, but that he thought that I might reach mine closer to 30, but that he couldn’t be exact since I have so much human blood.
The only thing I hate is that my fairy side didn’t mature in time for me to save you from that horrible marriage. I hate that I couldn’t save you, Eric, but I wanted you to know that I expect to have a very, very long life.
Eric, he said that I might easily live another 700 to 800 years, but it could be longer since it’s just a guess.
700-800 years, Eric.
With love and magic fingers,
Sookie waited with barely contained excitement and trepidation as Eric read, and slowly re-read, the letter. His face remained stoic until after third re-read of the letter, when he closed his eyes and held still as only a vampire can.
Then, in one move, he opened his eyes, dropped the letter, and grabbed Sookie by her shoulders. As he stared down into her startled eyes, bloody tears began trickling down his cheeks.
“Do you mean this? Are you sure?” The demands fell forcefully from his stiff lips. “Sookie, answer me, is this real?”
Sensing his disbelief, his fearful hope of having his dearest wish come true, a tremulous smile graced her lips as she nodded.
“It’s absolutely true,” she confirmed with a sniff. Any tear from Eric killed her, even the good ones. “Niall said so.”
Eric held her apart from him, his red-rimmed eyes fervently searching her face, for a long moment before he pulled her onto his lap to clutch her to his chest.
For well over an hour they sat like that, each holding the other close as salty and bloody tears flowed freely. The salty tears were on behalf of the bloody, and the bloody were shed in the aching relief that comes when a soul’s prayer has been answered.
Yet, to Sookie’s surprise and bemusement, no matter how much time she had spent in his arms, not once had they progressed further than Eric’s signature incendiary kisses.
**A/N: This chapter is meant to show “middleground” information – it’s not background material, but it’s not “the present” either. I hope that makes sense? And…the chapter is somewhat shorter than I wanted, and I fully blame my allergies and the antihistamine fog that happens when I try to fight said allergies. Finally, this story is getting LONGER than I had ever anticipated, and I fully blame y’all. Your support for this endeavor has been beautifully overwhelming and vastly appreciated. So, yeah, I blame y’all… 😀