Author’s Note: Thank you to Breathesgirl and to Ms Buffy. I keep the copies and the changes. The work these ladies do is something I can never repay. I appreciate it. To my readers, thanks for your commentary. There is nothing more enjoyable than sharing a story, and I love sharing this one with you. Oh, and if you pop Eric’s phrase in the Swedish/English translator in google, you’ll get the right answer every time.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
“I don’t understand the purpose of this trip,” Eric’s face told the story. Eric Northman was sure Sookie was making fun of him and he wasn’t in the mood to be made the butt of yet another joke. Pam’s leaving allowed him to feel he could release the tension he hadn’t realized he was holding for the first time in over a week. As each day passed without a prank or pratfall, he felt his stress ratchet up another notch. What made it worse was Pam watching him, a knowing smile on her face. She finally left last night, giving a light kiss on the cheek to his other child, Karin.
“See you soon,” she breezily finger-waved at him. It left the Viking suspicious that either Sookie or Karin were in on it, whatever ‘it’ was, and there was still two weeks until the pledging.
Sookie rolled over on her stomach and propped herself up on her elbows, “You dig a hole in the ground and you put the bottle of bourbon in it, upside down. You’re really supposed to do it thirty days before the ceremony, and we’re cutting it short.”
Eric rolled his eyes, “I am a vampire,” he reminded her. “I do not drink alcohol. Tell me again why this is so important?”
Sookie cocked her head to the side and her eyes took on that narrow look that annoyed him, “It’s a tradition, Eric. It’s supposed to ward off any rain for our wedding day.”
Eric sat back on his heels. He knew he’d taken on an even more annoyed tone. “So, we have to squeeze an extra day into our schedule to go to Bon Temps, stand in your brother’s backyard, and pour a bottle of spirits into the ground? To ward off rain? Sookie! You are Sky Fae. You or any one of your oh, so solicitous Fae relatives could do the same thing without our adding one more stop to this traveling circus!”
“Fine!” she said. Sookie was standing up, her eyes blazing, and Eric could feel that there was no way she was fine. Sookie turned to him just before she walked out the door of their retreat, “I get it! It’s okay for me to have to travel halfway across the country and allow some scary-ass broad to cut into me with a knife in front of a room full of vampires, but my family traditions are stupid.” Eric opened his mouth, but Sookie cut him off with the pointing of a finger, “Oh no! You’ve said your piece! I can see where my feelings stand in all of this!” and she was out the door, leaving Eric fuming.
“Du är en smärta i röven!” Eric growled and he jumped up to follow her.
The Viking’s teeth were grinding. He stalked into the sitting room. He could feel his Intended in the room beyond. Unfortunately, Meg chose that moment to walk in with a tray. Eric whipped his head in her direction, “Out!” he barked. The young woman jumped either from the sight of the naked King, the barked command, or both, tea sloshing from the pitcher on the tray. In her confusion, she turned heel too quickly and almost collided with the closed door. Charles must have heard Eric’s command because he opened the door at the same time and caught the tray full on, dumping tea and blood, items tumbling and glass breaking as it hit the floor. Sookie came shooting out from the bed chamber, took one look at the shaking servant, and cut her eyes at Eric in a way that let him know just who she blamed.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” the servant was stammering. Sookie walked toward her and Eric had had enough.
“Get out,” he said very carefully, “It is fine. It can be cleaned up later.” He looked at Charles. The Were leaned down and grabbed Meg’s arm. It was masterfully done and within seconds the door was shut and they were alone again.
“I hope you don’t think I’m cleaning this up myself,” Sookie snapped. She headed to the little kitchen. Eric didn’t look at her as he moved to the disaster area, picked up the dropped and broken items, depositing them in the trash basket. The staff could sort out what should be thrown away and what could be salvaged later, he reasoned. When Sookie returned, she actually shoved him a little as she dropped to her knees, blotting the spilled blood and tea with paper towels. Eric could see they would need more towels, so he moved back to the kitchen and returned with more as well as a second trash can. He didn’t say anything, but when Sookie shoulder bumped him again to make him move out of her way, he bumped her back. He caught her just right and the telepath tipped awkwardly, landing on her ass. She growled and he couldn’t help it. She looked particularly fetching, her eyes burning blue, hissing mad, and he struggled not to laugh. Of course, Sookie could feel it. She felt everything now. She could see herself as he saw her, her hair a mess, her robe hanging open, her butt planted squarely in the blood and tea, and she lost it. The laughter exploded from her nose. The sound was so unattractive that she laughed even harder. Eric threw his own head back, laughing from some deep place within him that was rarely tapped, but felt more than right. Sookie wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and Eric realized he was leaking too.
When she recovered herself, Sookie wiped away her tears one more time, leaving red streaks across her face, “I’m not kidding, Eric,” she told him, “we are going to Bon Temps. I didn’t have a real down country wedding with Sam, it was more of an ‘on a budget’ affair, and I want all the bells and whistles this time.”
“What do I get in return?” Eric asked. He leaned forward and began crawling toward her. Sookie was smirking when he bumped her backwards to lie flat in the mess on the floor. He just continued to move over her, allowing her to see the slow smolder in his eyes. “What is it worth to you, Miss Stackhouse?” he purred.
“So, making me happy isn’t enough?” she challenged him, her tone only half playful.
Eric’s face turned serious, “Making you happy is important to me, Älskade.” He leaned down to nip at her lip, “Is making me happy important to you, too?”
Sookie was watching him carefully, “What did you have in mind?”
“Well,” Eric looked around, “I did notice we have windows now…” Sookie glanced at the large, tinted window that took up a good part of the far wall. It was dark outside, but where there were buildings nearby you could see into the windows whose curtains were open. Further, on the horizon, you could see the lights of the boats on the water and the illumination of the city on the far side of the river. “I would like to take you while enjoying the view,” Eric whispered.
“And that would make you happy?” Sookie rolled her eyes.
“I am a vampire with simple tastes,” he said innocently, “It takes so little to please me…”
“And you would want the lights…”
“On, of course,” Eric said owlishly, “After all, why should you miss the view?”
“I’m sure I can see everything I need to with the lights off,” Sookie told him.
“Are you sure?” the Viking growled. He stood up then and lifted one of the chairs. He positioned it so the straight back was toward them. He held down his hand for her. Sookie’s lips twitched as she placed her hand gently in his larger one, and she stood gracefully, pulling against his grasp. “Let’s experiment,” the Viking whispered in her ear, nipping the lobe and smoothing the robe from her shoulders. He retrieved her hand, holding only her fingertips and led her to the chair. “You see, you would lean over like this,” and he stopped her several feet short of the chair and then leaned over, bending her forward with him. “And your hands would rest here,” he teased against her cheek, placing her hands on the top of the chair. “Then I would stand behind you like I’m doing… but you would need to brace yourself a little differently,” and he inserted a foot between hers and used pressure to make her widen her stance. Sookie found her breathing started to stutter a little faster as she saw her reflection clearly in the glass and Eric’s standing behind her. He ran his hands down her arms, leaning down to kiss her shoulder and then leaning further to trail his lips down her spine until he stopped at the hollow of her back. When he reached her right cheek, he playfully nipped it before running his hands over and then between the globes of her bottom. “Of course, you need to be alert, Miss Stackhouse,” the vampire said warmly, pushing her a little forward and up so she was on her toes, “because you never know what might happen next,” and he was rubbing wet fingers over her, entering her just a little and then withdrawing, making her whole body move with him. Sookie couldn’t stop looking at the reflection, it was so clear in the darkened glass, the way her vampire’s eyes were washing over her body and the way his hands were moving on her. A low moan escaped her, and Eric took that as his cue to exchange fingers for his cock, pushing and then withdrawing, pushing her to tiptoe and then letting her settle back. “Look outside, Lover,” he growled. “Look at the windows. Each holds someone who might be watching you, wishing it was them standing behind you as I am now,” and Eric surged forward, filling her so fully she gasped.
He moved with more purpose, his voice a purring guide, directing her attention to first one building and then the next. He joined cock with fingers that pulled at her clit. Sookie could see her reflection, her mouth open as she rocked with Eric. Because of the positioning of the chair, she couldn’t see her breasts swaying, but she felt it when Eric reached around to pinch a nipple and then roll it. Suddenly she found she couldn’t look at herself, she couldn’t look at the open windows, she could only look at Eric’s thoughtful reflection as he played her body, his technique guided by the reactions that flowed through their bond. When he felt her flagging, he added a twist to his motion, finding her sweet spot and then dragging himself over it again and again.
“Eric! Eric! Eric!” she chanted. She could feel her walls closing in on him, her grip on him strengthening until his movements were somehow less and more.
Sookie watched the Viking’s head snap back, his neck arched so that he faced the ceiling, his hips moving, his thighs slapping against her. He looked down, and she could see his hands as he separated her. When he breached her rosebud with his thumb she exploded, her cries becoming incoherent. She was captured by him, his eyes holding hers in the window’s reflection. Her walls were pulsing, milking him and he released her gaze, throwing his head back again, his fangs prominent in his face. She could feel him twitch and then jerk within her, he moaned and she felt the cool flow of his release as he thrust into her twice and then three more times. His eyes returned, capturing hers again, dark in the mirrored surface. “What do you think, Sookie, should we try that again with the lights out?” he smirked. When he withdrew from her, she staggered, almost falling to her knees. He followed her down to the floor and then pulled her backward so she sat on his thighs. Eric grabbed her head and turned her so that he could kiss her. “Well?” he murmured against her lips, “What do you think?”
“I think you’re going to ruin me,” she sighed, kissing him in return and then allowing her head to rest back against him. She was covered in a light sweat. “What time is it?” she sighed.
“Late enough that there are people waiting for us,” he answered. He kissed the side of her forehead, clearly as reluctant to move as she, “We could put everything off until tomorrow,” he suggested.
Sookie half smiled, “And then have you use lack of time as an excuse not to go to Bon Temps? I don’t think so, Buster!” Sookie leaned forward, placing her hands on the floor and used it as leverage to push up, grab the chair and get upright. She glanced back out the window and saw a female face staring back at her. The unknown woman waved and Sookie found herself blushing bright red. “Oh my God!” she stammered, hunched over, and ran for the bedroom. Eric rose effortlessly, looked out the same window, and waved back. He could feel Sookie’s embarrassment through their bond, but he also felt the way she quickened to the idea of being watched during sex. Eric hummed a tune as he drew the drapes and turned to rejoin his telepath.
Sookie was already in the shower and Eric stepped in behind her. He washed her carefully and she returned the favor. When he started to kneel she grabbed his hair and pulled him back up, “I mean it!” she told him. “Maude is leaving tomorrow and she wants to speak with us together. Mr. Cataliades wants time with us both too, or more specifically, time with you.” While the Amun Summit was their pledging, it was also their Clan Meeting. Eric, as a King with business concerns, was expected to have a team presentation on the progress of their energy generation operation. For the first time, this venture would have a table with information in the exhibitor’s hall. Pam and Max were creating a parallel program, their presentation about the Fangtasia expansion into event planning and their nightclub expansion into the Pacific Rim.
Eric wasn’t a micromanager, but he did expect to be knowledgeable, so all presentations were to be made to him first. He personally reviewed reports and expected to be involved with every strategic meeting. It was a mountain of work and it required every spare minute his team had to be ready.
Sookie didn’t need to read the reports to know that the energy venture was a success. She could see it in the easy confidence that Jane and Thierry exhibited. Still, Eric continued to create packages of information, spreadsheets, and prospectuses for her to read. The wind turbines were well underway and the first dozen circuits were already on-line, their large blades turning in the mountain breezes across the southern part of Arkansas. Construction on the co-generation plant located on the Louisiana/Texas border had started and due to good weather and some unexpected windfalls was ahead of schedule. Transmission line work was slower, but if all continued as projected, they would be seeing true profit within the year, profit they could reinvest into the shale oil drilling phase of the project.
Then there was Jane. Sookie also saw a copy of the proposal for the bio-engineering research facility she would build in Shreveport. Eric had given it a green light. Sookie was a little puzzled by the source of the investment income. Eric would contribute 20 percent of the seed money. Dr. Ludwig and Jane herself were investing another 20 percent. The remainder was coming from ‘outside’ investors. Eric hadn’t mentioned anything about banks loosening their lending stance toward the kingdom. Sookie resolved to ask him where the money came from, but the opportunity never seemed to present itself. What was more pressing was who would take Jane’s place. Sookie knew that Pam had named Thomas her Second. That meant that after the Summit, Karin and Thomas would move to Little Rock and either share the palace with Pam or take another residence there. The agreement was that Thomas would run all kingdom operations within the state border and support the energy venture which crossed both territories. This arrangement would free Pam to focus on the work she and Max needed to do to take Fangtasia to the next level. Of course, Pam would retain ultimate accountability in her role as Regent, so Thomas would need to maintain a close relationship with her. While Karin had no official standing other than as his mate, Sookie had no doubt she would provide Thomas with the extra set of eyes and hands he needed.
This left Thierry with primary responsibility for the entire energy operation, no longer splitting it with Jane. Eric shared on more than one occasion his appreciation for the French vampire. Thierry had a rare talent for making even the most grueling hours look easy. His laugh and sometimes biting sense of humor seemed to click with Eric. While Eric told her he preferred Thomas’ approach to strategy in chess, he played many hours with Thierry as well. Their sessions seemed to provide both the time to brainstorm ideas that allowed them to be more creative in their process. Still, Sookie couldn’t escape the feeling that the loss of Jane left Eric short and that he would need to find at least one more Sheriff.
As they walked toward the door that led to the elevator, Sookie reminded him, “I did arrange for two donors for you tonight.” He fed from her earlier, but he still provided blood to Karin, and that was a strain. Sookie felt his gratitude. Still, Sookie was thankful when her Viking made his time with the donors quick. It meant she might unexpectedly find herself in a closet or against a convenient door, and she was grateful for that too.
Maude waited for them downstairs in the garden. “I’m going to get me one of these,” she declared, gesturing at the foliage and fountain. “Something like this could make my Minnesota winter seem like a distant memory.” She pulled out her phone and picked out a quick text message, “I told Desmond I’d let him know when you made it down. Figured we’d both get our business wrapped up together.” She nodded at Eric, “I’m betting you’re up to your eyeballs in alligators. Last year, no business to speak of. This year, more business than you can shake a stick at. You have made a true success of yourself, Northman. You’ve done us all proud.”
Eric sat down, pulling Sookie to sit next to him, “I owe you a great deal,” he said civilly.
“You sent me Pam,” the Queen shrugged, “and if you allow me time with this one,” she gestured at Sookie, “I’ll consider us even.”
The attorney entered the garden and bowed formally toward the couple, “Good evening,” he said. Sookie saw the bundle in his hands. It looked like a stick or a…
“Is that a sword?” Sookie asked.
The attorney held the bundle against his chest and loosened the tie at one end. The fastenings fell open to reveal a hilt that was simple and yet elegant in line. The grip was wrapped with some kind of fine black cord over a metal core. There were no jewels, but there was something about the shape that suggested the art was the sword itself. “Your family sword,” Mr. Cataliades beamed.
“But why…” Sookie looked at Eric. She could feel something coming from him and she couldn’t quite decide what it was.
Eric’s expression was likewise unreadable. “It will be displayed at the pledging,” he said not as a question, but as a statement.
The attorney nodded, “The Prince believes in the old ways, as you know. The exchange will be held at the joining in front of the Sidhe.”
“So, the money he has offered toward the research facility?” Eric questioned. Sookie felt like the two of them were starting to speak in tongues.
“Should be considered the first part of the dowry,” the attorney smiled.
‘What the hell?’ Sookie thought, ‘when is someone going to tell me what the hell is going on?!’
Eric turned to her, his face carefully neutral, “The traditions of the Fae and the traditions of my own people from my human times are similar,” he told her. “Your Great Grandfather has arranged a dowry.”
“A dowry?” Sookie heard the faint edge of whine in her voice. “Like he sold me? What kind of crap is that?”
Eric shook his head, “No, this is not a bride price. He has settled this money for your use. He specified the investment in the research facility and intends that it represent your ownership and not my own. By doing this he assures you are the larger financial partner in our arrangement,” and the Viking’s eyebrow rose. “It is also a clear message to me that I am expected to match the amount at the time of our joining as your dower. This is not about buying you,” the Viking said gently, “It is assuring you financial independence in case you choose to leave me.”
Sookie could feel this was important to Eric and she found herself wondering yet again what his spiritual beliefs might be. “And the sword?” she asked.
“The sword will be displayed at our pledging,” Eric said, “and when we are joined in the Fae way, it will be expected that you will hand me that sword to use as my own. I will then hand you my sword to hold.”
Sookie remembered seeing Eric’s sword. They were at Sophie-Ann’s monastery when he used it to take the head from Jade Flower and another time when he fought Breandan.
Sookie shrugged, “I don’t get it. I’ve seen your sword, Eric. It’s not like I could even lift it. What am I going to do with it?”
Eric glanced at the demon. Sookie could feel his discomfort and it puzzled her, but before she could ask, he turned to her, “It is expected that you will hold it for our son,” he said simply.
Sookie’s mouth became an ‘o.’ She thought about the necklace the demon had handed her earlier. She looked down, biting her lips, and then raised her eyes to see Maude watching her.
The Minnesota monarch’s gaze turned more considering, “You realize,” Maude said to no one in particular, “if you are successful, it will present a new series of challenges for all of us.”
Eric nodded, “There will be those who will wish to restrict our ability to procreate in this way, a more traditional biological method. There will be those who question whether we should be able to create vampires at all.”
Maude nodded, “And there will be those who will see children created this way as a threat to our way of life.”
Sookie swallowed, “I don’t know why you are getting so worried,” she sighed. “It’s not like this is a done deal. I mean, we have agreed to try, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever have children, right?”
“No, Lover, there is no guarantee,” Eric assured her. He took her hand in his and she felt both comfort and something else from him, something that made her feel safe.
She leaned against him, ‘I love you,’ she thought.
“You are very precious to me,” Eric said against the skin of her forehead as he kissed her. Neither noticed the expression on the attorney’s face.
Maude became more business-like, “I have walked through the ceremony with Sookie. Eric, as someone who has officiated, you know what is expected. I have sent the form book to both of you. Now the Ancient Pythoness has informed Bartlett Crowe that she will be presiding. That will end any discussion as to whether Sookie should be accorded the title of Queen.” She glanced from Sookie to Eric, and then back. “I assume you have made arrangements for your pledging gifts.”
Before Sookie could even respond, Mr. Cataliades replied, “The Princess’ gift will be delivered to the Summit at the appointed time.” Eric glanced at the telepath, his lip quirking. Sookie could almost hear him asking whether the gift had to do with expanding their collection of bedroom apparatus and she sent him her annoyance, at which he grinned broadly.
The Viking turned to Maude, “The gift has been arranged.”
Minnesota nodded, “You understand that to lose or otherwise disrespect a gift given during the time of your pledging contract is a serious offense and can require restitution from the other.” She didn’t wait to see their acknowledgement. Instead she glanced at the list she held in her hand and then stood. “Well, I think that’s all of it. Inger and I have business in Minnesota before the Summit. We are presenting our newest co-venture with Phoebe Golden. I have great hopes for its success,” Maude stepped forward, embraced Sookie and then bowed to Eric.
Once she left, they turned back to Mr. Cataliades. “The Prince considered asking for a contract similar to the agreement I drafted for your pledging, but he reconsidered,” and the demon shrugged.
“And who was going to be a party to that agreement?” Sookie asked sharply. “You better not be saying it was something my menfolk were going to handle on my behalf.”
Eric was grinning beside her and Desmond smiled as well, “I will say that the Prince anticipated your reaction, Miss Stackhouse,” he said cheerily. “He has asked that blood oaths be taken instead.”
Sookie looked at Eric, her eyebrows raised. “It is an old custom,” he told her. “It is similar to the blood exchange we will make at the pledging. For the Fae, it will be a pledge that we will defend the other’s house.”
“So, if Grandfather gets in trouble…”
“I will be sworn to draw sword at his side.”
“And Grandfather will be sworn to draw his sword for you,” Sookie concluded. “So, you look worried. Is this a bad thing?”
Eric did look worried, “No, Lover. Not a bad thing, just an unusual thing. It will be a declaration that I have powerful allies and that may make some suspect that I have greater ambitions.”
“Oh,” Sookie said, biting her lip. She turned to Mr. Cataliades, “And what say do we have in this? Can we refuse?”
Before the attorney could answer Eric took her hand, “There is no need to refuse,” he assured her, “you are worth it.” Sookie found herself looking at Eric’s profile. The attorney and he were talking about travel arrangements to the Summit and Eric asked about Diantha. All Sookie could think about was how happy Eric had been as Sheriff of Area 5. He had fewer worries then. He flexed his muscle, but he had freedom too. He wasn’t trapped in endless meetings and all the machinations that went with forming alliances with other kingdoms. He watched his back, but not like now where every offer seemed to have a second or third agenda. Now he would be drawn even further into this world of politics, all for her. ‘How can I be worth it?’ she wondered.
In that moment he turned to her, a soft smile on his face. He let her see everything he felt for her through his eyes and he pushed her a wave of something that felt like adoration. “You are my life,” he told her. When her mouth opened, he laid a finger across her lips and then replaced that finger with his lips. Sookie felt in that moment that she had all the answer she needed.