**A/N: I’ve found that I’m actually a bit reluctant to end this little story, but yes, it’s finally winding down. So: this is Part 1 of a multi-part epilogue. My plan had been to bombard you fantastic lot with a zillion-word epilogue, but I figured you’ve waited long enough for even this part. Your patience (well, for SOME of you… 😉 ) has been remarkable – thank you! To the rest of you: HUSH, or bribe my muse – and an Eric Northman or Godric of mine own would suffice quite acceptably… I hope you enjoy, and remember, this is a blend of TB and SVM. Caution: This chapter is primarily for fans of a smarter, more mature Sookie, but remains relevant to the fic.**
Epilogue, Part 1
As she dried her hair in front of her dresser, Sookie surveyed her “new” old bedroom with a gentle eye. For some reason, it just felt right to be getting dressed here for her upcoming “big date night” with Eric. After all, this is where it all got started, in a way.
A little over ten months ago she had moved in with Eric on the pretext of updating her old family home, and had never moved back. She would still smile secretly about how the forecasted “month’s” worth of renovations managed to take more than four.
The expansion of the now-secure cubby took a month all by itself. It now boasted twice as much room, its own ventilation system, plus a bathroom, a security center for the property, and a tiny kitchenette just in case a fairy-hybrid in the house needed to take shelter down there for any reason. Some would call it a glorified panic room; Eric called it an “alternative living area”.
Neither believed the excuses for how long the transformation took as both were responsible for the many delays in the renovations. That the house was now more than doubled in size due to having a large, luxurious, and extremely well equipped bathroom added to each bedroom wasn’t discussed either. Both enjoyed the new gazebo in the back decorated with solar-powered fairy lights and ceiling fan.
Now, two or three times a month they would retreat for a few nights to her old newly-furbished homestead, and everyone at the Palace – from his head steward on down the line – knew the King was not to be disturbed when ‘on retreat’ with his Sookie. A delightful coven of Witches that Eric had on a retainer of sorts from New Orleans, including the always lovely if slightly mysterious Octavia Fant, had not only warded the property against violence and danger of any sort, they had also spelled the property to discourage uninvited guests. That had been Eric’s idea.
They each had agreed that time spent as a couple was mandatory, and was one of the things lacking in their previous relationship which had led to its painful downfall. No matter how busy they were with their duties, barring true emergencies these planned times away were sacrosanct.
Sometimes they would sit on one of the new, comfortable, couches Eric had ‘persuaded’ her to buy and talk for hours about anything and everything. Sometimes they would still write letters to each other, too. Sometimes those letters would be long, heartfelt monologues; other times they would relay a funny quote or memory one would enjoy sharing with the other.
Fights and disagreements were few and far between, but still sometimes naturally occurred between the two passionate, headstrong, tenacious people. Impasses were never reached, however, as both were more than willing to work, sometimes hard, to reach a compromise that would suit them both. The makeup sex afterward was also an extreme inducement toward settling any disputes as quickly as possible.
As the months passed, Sookie became more and more comfortable in her various roles. Of course she kept up with her philanthropic duties, but she also used her improved financial position to help integrate more Supes into her community projects. Mr. C was still an invaluable resource, and had quickly became one of her most trusted friends. She and Eric had him and his wife over for dinner at least twice a month.
Slowly, but quickly according to the inherent small-town bias against all things Vampire – Lord help them if they ever found out about Witches and Shifters and Weres oh my! – she was able to incorporate more of a Vampire presence into her beneficial works. She was very gladly surprised with how well some people in Bon Temps actually accepted seeing Vampires helping out at the new Recreation Center and the new Community Center she’d commissioned. She strongly suspected her Eric had encouraged Vampire participation, but regardless, everyone seemed to have fun.
Large anonymous donations continued being made toward bringing up the standard of living in the Hotshot community. The area had even been incorporated into its own Official Township (Mr. C had surprisingly done that pro bono), and new water and sewage lines had been quickly laid thereafter, and a new Town Hall complex was erected just as swiftly. Calvin Norris was promptly elected Mayor, and his new wife, a lovely energetic were-lynx named Claire, had started several community gardens. There was talk of a couple of orchards in the works, as well.
Of course, all this assistance had nothing to do with the sudden appearance of beautiful and handsome blond-haired children soon to begin kindergarten in the newly-constructed community education center, which also provided free middle- and high-school remedial courses. There had even been talk of adding rooms for college prep classes, but no one took that idea seriously…yet. However, all were surprised, and gratified, with the number of adults who enrolled in the adult remedial and continuing education courses.
Soon enough, internet service and laptops became widely available in Hotshot…anonymously. Sookie was shocked – it wasn’t something that she had even thought about doing. Eric had simply smirked when asked about it, and had magnanimously accepted his enthusiastic reward that night.
She might have been estranged from her brother, but once she had eventually found out from Calvin, bless his heart, about the existence of quite a few blond haired babies all born in the same month, she had to help even if Jason refused to step foot in that community, now township, again. No one blamed him.
The last she had heard about Jason was that Hoyt’s girlfriend had made a move on him in the middle of the bar one night, and Jason had, to everyone’s extreme surprise, turned her down, and loudly at that. It wasn’t long afterward that he and Hoyt had gone to work in Alaska. She wished them both well, and didn’t bother feeling guilty for missing Hoyt more than her own brother. Maybe Jason would grow up and come back someday. Maybe not.
Calvin, with Eric’s explicit approval, had brought all those children to the Palace for Sookie to meet individually…and read. With an odd sense of sad relief, she declared none to likely possess the same talent which had plagued her all throughout her life, but she arranged with Calvin to meet with them at least twice a year to keep an eye on them. If a child should show evidence of telepathy, or any other…gift, she would most certainly step in to help in any way she could. No child should feel as alone as she had felt.
On their birthdays every year until they reached the age of 18, all children in the township received a gift-box of age-appropriate books, art supplies, school supplies, treats, and a gift certificate for clothing at a local store.
With the anonymous financial contributions, she enabled the area’s small families to more easily remain intact. To do otherwise was unthinkable – she was determined that Jason’s legacy, however willingly or unwillingly given, would prosper.
In general, and with her subtle assistance, times were slowly changing in other ways, too. When tragedy had struck a moderately priced light-safe hotel in Minden – a small group of cowardly FOTS terrorists had bombed it in the middle of the day – Sookie had shed happy tears when a surprising number of Bon Temps’ human citizens had showed up to donate at the emergency blood drive held at the Community Center to benefit wounded Vampires. No one questioned too closely the fact that the members of the FOTS responsible for the attack had never been found (although Sookie still had the rare nightmare from the information she’d gleaned from their thoughts), and a new, better, much more secure hotel had already been built to replace it. Eric considered it a wise investment of the Kingdom’s resources.
As far as her role as Eric’s Bonded and Chosen Mate, and because he had strongly proclaimed it to be so, her word was the same as his throughout the Kingdom: Immediate Law. When she’d asked him about the “and Chosen” part, he had simply laughed and replied, “Well, I chose you, didn’t I?”
That sexily quirked brow begged to be kissed, and thus no more work had been accomplished that night.
Her role at the Palace, and in the Kingdom, had steadily become more defined, as well. She laughed as she recalled stating once a while back (within Eric’s hearing) that she considered herself to be something of a ‘glorified office manager’. After mischievously threatening to spank her beautifully rounded rear for that should he catch her, she and her Viking had chased each other around the property, laughing and playing, startling staff and guards alike, for hours. While no spanks would ever be given, the same could not be said for tickle fights…even if Eric would never admit to being ticklish. His Sookie knew better, however, and had proven her knowledge early that morning. While she graciously never referred to herself as a glorified office manager again, she did relish instigating certain tickle fights quite frequently.
Fiercely loyal and jealously protective over their King and his Bonded, Palace employees would often smile good-naturedly over the antics of “their” lovers.
Her role as The Royal Fairy was certainly secure. To her ears only the King had huskily declared her to be The Royal Sorceress – she had charmed and stolen his heart from him, after all. But in reality he worked tirelessly with her as she strengthened and perfected her fairy abilities and gifts. While her heritage and such were kept as secret as possible, by necessity his innermost circle and primary security teams were well aware of the potential threats and complications that came with her nature, and prepared themselves accordingly. Supe senses and Supe gossip being as they were, however, the truth of Sookie’s ancestry became the best-known secret in the Kingdom.
Another role she gladly assumed was that of liaison between the humans and the Supes…and between the Supes themselves, sometimes. She first began kindly interceding between Palace employees using her own experiences not only as a former waitress, but as a fae-hybrid raised in a human world as well, but soon enough word spread of her fairness and integrity, and thus began her Kingdom-wide reach. As more Supes heard of the impartiality with which she treated all Species, more and more disputes of varying degrees of complication, and potential repercussion, were brought to her attention.
At first Eric did not want her to assume such a burden unworthy of her time, talent and worth, but allowed it because she wanted it…and because it gave him an excuse to provide her with her own office very conveniently placed next door to his own…with a pass-through, naturally. That particular door swung often on its well-oiled hinges.
As time progressed, he was able to see the amount of honest satisfaction she derived from her “liaisoning” as she called it, and he personally rather welcomed the fewer incidences of species-based disagreements clogging the Supe legal system as the separate groups slowly managed to get along better than ever before. He chastised himself for ever having been surprised; his Sookie could do anything.
Eventually her services proved so popular that Eric saw the necessity of hiring her an assistant, and they were both shocked when she hadn’t even argued. That her assistant was not only female and Were, but was also proficient in four studies of martial arts, an expert sharpshooter trained in most firearms, and was a certified paramedic, was never questioned.
The King was taking no chances.
Sookie wandered over to her chest-of-drawers and picked up the new, still-in-the-box, ‘so large she would never use it all before it went stale’ bottle of Obsession. Barring her own heady scent enhanced with fresh sunshine and him, this perfume was still his favorite fragrance for her skin. She slid out of the heavy silk robe she had donned after her shower, and lightly spritzed behind her knees and into the hair at the nape of her neck. Any other place on her body was highly likely to be licked and nibbled by a horny Viking Vampire, and he’d much rather taste her than perfume.
As she replaced the perfume, she looked down at her arms and legs with vague dissatisfaction. During the summer, she had sunbathed in the privacy of the rooftop paradise he’d had built for her atop the Palace. Well, in as much “privacy” as small nearby troop of armed Weres and a 360* security system could provide, at any rate.
Knowing well of her love of (and fae-based need for) the sun, Eric had created for her a well-appointed, and well-enclosed, place to relax. It was complete with lush greenery, lawn furnishings, a small shallow pool, shower stall, plenty of fresh towels, and her preferred tanning products. The area was even equipped with a small but well-stocked outdoor kitchenette under a covered area for when she didn’t wish to “bother” her maid staff.
At first she thought the fans placed in amongst the gardens’ worth of greenery were overkill…until the first truly hot spell, then she fell in love with them. They made it so much easier to bathe beneath her beloved sun. He had told her that he had thought about buying her the best tanning bed on the market for rainy days and the colder seasons…until his research made him question the safety of such contraptions. She had replied that if she wanted to be in a coffin, she’d just join him in one of his.
Although she loved looking at it, she didn’t fully trust the rooftop dipping pool – she always expected it to suddenly break through whatever supports were inexplicably holding it up and drown the library beneath it – and so preferred to use the Olympic-sized pool Eric had built for her at the rear of the Palace instead.
But, despite all of his extravagant considerations, the changing of the seasons naturally brought on the cooler weather, and now the last of what had been her tan was slowly fading. She didn’t really mind, though. It was the middle of February, and come April she’d be able to catch a couple hours of sweet, sunny bliss in her rooftop haven. She missed going up there as she hadn’t had a reason to for a couple of months now.
After she slipped on the lacy garter and hose set she’d planned on wearing this evening – Eric loved slowly…tantalizingly slowly…disrobing her of everything except her garters and hose then bending her over the bed – she slipped on the cranberry-red silk bra and panty set she’d selected earlier. As she’d slipped on the hosiery, she thought back to the shopping trip where she’d purchased the items.
To Eric’s surprised relief, she had not only gotten along quite well with her bodyguard/assistant, she’d actually become quite good friends with the woman. As one of the few known Were-Lioness in the New World, Serena had been somewhat of a loner before joining the military, and after serving with honors (she would never speak of her time spent serving her country), she had been quickly hired by Eric for his security team. His Master of Guards had heard of her via the ever-active Supe Gossip Train, and after investigating her himself regarding placement on the King’s team, he had suggested to Eric that Serena might be a good companion of sorts for the King’s precious Bonded. Eric, naturally, had hired Mr. C to investigate the woman, and all concerned were impressed with her credentials.
While at first the Were-Lioness and the Telepath were both somewhat reserved, they had slowly become more comfortable in each other’s presence, and their true friendship had grown. Now each could honestly say the other was their best friend.
Serena would accompany Sookie during whatever daylight outings she wanted or needed to make, and together they usually made even the most boring of errands more tolerable as both shared the same dry, surprisingly wicked sense of humor.
No matter close their friendship became, however, Serena saw herself first and foremost as The King’s Bonded’s Primary Guard, and had no problem shoving the fairy-hybrid behind herself and the other guards should the need arise. Luckily such an occasion had only arisen twice so far.
While Eric was immensely pleased with how well Sookie had accepted having her own personal guard, he still saw the need for her to have her own small but scarily talented group of bodyguards. It grated badly on his instincts that he could not accompany her during the day, therefore the only way he could protect her during those long, sunlit hours away from his side was to provide other means of security.
Sookie finally accepted this upon realizing that he was a very powerful King and that therefore there were far too many ‘bad guys’ who would love to use her to get to him. Mostly, however, she just couldn’t’ stand the thought of him being so worried about her. Yes, she had her magic, but if she were knocked unconscious or too-quickly ambushed, what good would it do her then?
So, Sookie slowly became accustomed to being escorted everywhere by large, well-muscled Alphas-in-their-own-right Weres…and found that she quite honestly didn’t mind the handsome ‘scenery’ a bit. None of them were ever altogether relaxed in her company – they were constantly on guard whenever they escorted her anywhere, and she somewhat correctly blamed Eric, but Viking Vampire Kings would be…Viking Vampire Kings.
As she seated her plump breasts into the silk cups of the bra, she couldn’t help but laugh as she remembered how uncomfortable those huge, muscular Weres had been when she and Serena had gone shopping for new hosiery earlier that afternoon. They might have rather smugly lingered at that establishment a bit longer than necessary just for kicks, but neither would admit it. Afterward they’d taken pity on the guys and had visited a bookstore. Her own library in the Palace was expanding by leaps and bounds, and not just by her own hand. It was becoming almost common for her to find new books silently placed here and there in the “reading room”…her Eric did love giving her small surprises.
Finally…finally she was ready to don the beautiful cranberry-red dress Eric had sent her a little more than a year ago. She couldn’t believe how much time had passed, and so quickly! As much as she missed asparagus, she couldn’t help but thank the vegetable for its help in reuniting her with Eric. She hated to think about just how much longer it would have taken for her to truly get back together with him, but knew in her soul that it would have happened eventually.
What the Viking Vampire wants, the Viking Vampire gets.
And, for some reason that she still didn’t fully understand but for which she was fervently thankful, he wanted her.
As she slipped her matching heels on and switched purses, she wondered what he had planned for the night. For the past couple of weeks, every now and then a hint of nervous excitement would slip through their Bond, and the mystery was killing her.
Even now the Bond was pulsing with impatience, hope, and excitement.
With a deep breath, she headed downstairs. She had a feeling that tonight was going to be special somehow.
After all, it was Valentine’s Night.
**A/N: Ok, folks, what did you think? **