Chapter 52: Good Company

ERIC POV

“You know what to do if the Council asks for my head,” I said to Thalia quietly.

My ancient friend nodded.

The look that passed between us convinced me that Thalia did—indeed—know what to do. In many ways, killing Victor and de Castro had been the easy part of the plan. What now followed was harder, for I no longer had any control over my fate; it was in the hands of a Vampire Council of four.

And I figured that I was already beginning with one vote against me.

The Moshup Clan’s representative, I knew, would celebrate the opportunity to have my head. The Queen of New York, Michelina, was no fan of mine. I had turned down an overture that she’d made toward me centuries before because—frankly—she’d come across as a little desperate and fucking her held no political advantage for me.

To make matters even more complicated, Karin had been the one to assassinate her sire about ninety years before. Oh—there had been good reason to do away with Mateo; though once he’d been a great vampire, he’d become an unimaginably dangerous entity during his final years of undeath.

Not only had he become obsessive and erratic, but he’d also “forgotten” that it was necessary to cover up the fact that vampires were real! I did not know who had hired Karin to “take care of the problem,” but I had heard rumors that many older vampires (including several of the older European monarchs) had gotten together to pay for Mateo to be “euthanized” as it were.

Michelina could not “officially” hold a grudge against Karin (or me)—because my child had been acting for the betterment of all vampires and it had been Mateo’s fading sanity which had left him vulnerable to attack—but I knew that her private opinions would most likely not allow for leniency toward me.

Agnes, the current leader of the Narayana Clan was logical. But de Castro had never wronged her directly, and he had been a part of her clan for several decades; she’d worked directly with him on many projects, which could work for or against me. Plus, Agnes was known to be old-fashioned in her thinking—when it came to vampire tradition—something else that could work either for or against me. The California queen’s support would be a coin flip.

Russell Edgington, the current leader of my own Amun Clan, would be on my side. Of that, I had little doubt. Russell had liked Sophie-Anne. And he’d despised de Castro and Madden.

Stan of Texas was the current leader of the Zeus Clan. He had become a “friend” of mine since I’d presented myself as Leif in Dallas in order to keep an eye on Sookie. And Sookie had saved the lives of many in his retinue on that horrible night when the Fellowship attacked Stan’s nest. Plus, her involvement had led to Stan’s rescue in Rhodes, though his child, Rachel, had died that day.

However, Stan was pragmatic, so he might vote in whichever way was best for his own interest.

Thus, his vote, too, was a coin flip in my mind.

But I needed one vote—at least—between Agnes and Stan.

The Ancient Pythoness would be called to break a tie amongst the Council if need be. I could only hope that—if I got two Council members on my side—the old biddy would support me.

But I’d rather not have the situation come to that point.

And that meant that I needed both Agnes’s and Stan’s votes.

“Ready?” Desmond asked me. Nargal, having already helped my vampire children eliminate Freyda’s guards, had just arrived and was at his brother’s side. “My daughters?” I asked Nargal.

“Skilled,” Nargal said with a nod of his head. “And selfish,” he seemed to pout a little. “Indeed, I am quite upset that I got to kill only a few because they were so efficient. Still, I had fun.” He looked at me piercingly. “My brother figured that my visible support would help you and your bonded during your hearing.”

“Mine too,” Octavia said as she approached.

I looked from the full-Dae, to the witch, to Desmond.

“When you present your case to the Vampire Council, it will be with the clear backing of a variety of Supernaturals,” the lawyer informed.

“That could backfire,” I commented, watching Sookie as she greeted and hugged Amelia and Bob. “And it could put you all in danger as well,” I said, turning my attention specifically toward Octavia. “You reside in this state, and—if things do not go my way—I have no idea who will be made ruler.”

The elder witch shrugged. “I believe that helping you will be helping my coven,” she said matter-of-factly. “Having to deal with the effects of de Castro’s rule—and Madden’s misrule—has taught me that some vampires are better than others.” She shook her head almost sadly. “For many years, I did not wish to be a leader among my kind. Oh—I took on some students, like Amelia,” she said, gesturing toward the younger witch, “but I avoided Supernatural politics. If I had not, I might have better helped my fellows after events like Rhodes or Hurricane Katrina.” She sighed deeply. “Instead, I retreated and buried my head in the sand—even leaving New Orleans after Katrina! And—because of the inaction of those like me—otherwise good witches were coerced into performing magic for Regent Madden against their will and without payment.” She looked again at Amelia. “I have little legacy to show for my life, but I would try to make this state better for her. So I am placing my faith in you; do not let me down, Viking.”

I bowed in response to her as Calvin approached.

I frowned as the werepanther nodded toward Desmond.

“You should hold off on letting your involvement with me be known until after a good outcome is had,” I cautioned Calvin.

“I know that you’ve already lived up to your commitments to me and my people.” He chuckled. “And my banker is very pleased!” His expression sobered. “The demon said that you could use someone of the two-natured variety sittin’ in your cheerin’ section tonight. Mustapha is kick-ass, but he’s your day-man and not affiliated with a pack. And don’t worry ’bout me.” He shrugged. “Good luck to anyone who wants to find me if I have to go into hiding. Hotshot might be small, but few have any idea of how deep our dens go.”

I reached out to shake the werepanther’s hand out of respect, even as Sookie approached me.

She, too, had insisted upon being by my side during my trial with the Vampire Council—come what may. I’d tried to talk her out of it—just as she’d tried to talk me into running if things did not go our way. But I knew that running from a Council order of execution was futile.

Eternity was a long time to be caught, and a judgment from the Council didn’t expire—even once a completely new regime was formed. And—once caught—I would not simply be executed. I would be tortured for a very long time.

And my punishment would be extended to every one of my blood.

Karin.

Pam.

Miriam.

Sookie.

I would allow none of them to be lost.

I looked around the room. In addition to the non-vampire Supernaturals in my corner, Rasul was also prepared to speak for me if Felipe and Victor’s mishandling of the state needed to be explained. Sandy was prepared to speak too. And Thalia would be clearly visible behind me and Sookie as well.

Pam and Karin—much to my relief (thanks to Desmond’s careful planning)—would await the outcome of the proceedings with Freyda. If the best-case scenario occurred, they’d have one of the demons escort the Oklahoma Queen to her state and then join me and Sookie at Fangtasia for instructions. If the worst happened, they’d kill Freyda and disappear. Of course, I would “confess” to Freyda’s death right before my execution in order to tie up that loose end so that my children and my other allies would never be implicated.

“The time is here,” Desmond said kindly as he gestured toward two seats in front of where a video camera had been set up; the camera would broadcast our images to the members of the Vampire Council.

I took a breath I hadn’t needed in a very long time—and then I took my bonded’s hand. “There’s still time for you to go.”

“No!” she said loudly. I felt her fire and a little irritation at me in our bond. “No more of that kind of talk. We’re gonna face our fate together,” she said quietly, her voice steady and sure.

I was certain that I had never loved her more than I did in that moment.

I was certain that she’d never been more “mine.”

I was certain that—if I survived the night—I would endeavor all my remaining days to make sure she understood just how much her commitment to “us” meant to me.


SOOKIE POV

I’d seen fancy televisions that could show more than one channel at a time. But I will admit that I was impressed when Desmond turned on the television and I saw a screen split into four chunks.

I could tell immediately that the figures in the four images weren’t the kings or queens of the Vampire Council. Indeed, some kind of “sound and video check” was clearly taking place. I noted that one of the younger vampiresses in Eric’s area, a brunette named Molly, was tinkering with some equipment on our end, focusing a camera on Eric and me. Nargal moved to stand behind her.

“Pan out a little to show the whole group,” he said, even as I turned my head to see those gathering right behind Eric and me. Calvin winked at me. Octavia gave me a little smile, and I could tell from her head that she had come to appreciate me greatly; after all, not many would have opened their homes like I’d done for her. Of course, she still thought that I was “trouble.” But—as I dipped into her thoughts for a moment longer—I could hear that she thought that Eric and I would be worth that trouble if we ruled the state as fairly she thought we would. As if she knew I was listening, she projected that she was ready to truly lead the witches of Louisiana and that she hoped they would build a good partnership with the vampires.

I smiled at her. “I hope so too,” I said.

She nodded and I looked at Nargal, who had left Molly’s side and was now standing next to Thalia. I’d not had the chance to interact much with him, but there was a twinkle in his eyes as he looked back at me.

“You know, young one, your grandfather was a good friend to me,” Nargal offered. “And—after tonight—you will be officially seen as a part of the Cataliades clan,” he added.

“Welcometothefamily,” Diantha giggled from behind her father.

“Really?” I asked him. I’d known that Desmond was helping me and would be declaring himself as my “official”guardian, but I hadn’t thought that the rest of his family would accept me in such a way.

As Nargal nodded in confirmation, I found myself smiling at the thought of Desmond’s family adopting me. I already loved him and Diantha, after all. Indeed, I found myself happy that my recent choices were going to be making me more attached to the Supernatural world. I took a moment to chastise myself for resisting my place among everyone in the room I was in, especially Eric.

Indeed, I couldn’t imagine better company!

“What’s wrong, min kära?” Eric asked as he squeezed my hand lightly.

“Other than the fact that we are about to find out if you’re gonna be a king or be executed—you mean?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes. “Yes—I can feel that you are nervous about that; however, a moment ago, there was more.”

I nodded in confirmation. “Yeah—just looking around, I was mad at myself for not realizing that being part of the people in this room was better than being part of a human community that never really accepted me.” I sat up a little straighter, knowing that every pair of supernatural ears in the room could hear me, and I spoke to all of them—in addition to my vampire. “I’ll never take any of you for granted again.”

“Do not take yourself for granted either,” Eric whispered, leaning down to kiss me.

I smiled into the kiss.

Desmond cleared his throat. “It is time,” he said.

I felt my nervousness ratchet upward.

“Time to face the music,” I muttered, even as I hoped that the song would be a good one.


ERIC POV

I faced the camera (and the proverbial music) as I saw the four monarchs on the Vampire Council take their places.

“Desmond Cataliades representing Eric Northman,” the demon lawyer said as he moved to stand next to where I sat. “Mr. Northman has requested this emergency session to inform you that he was forced to kill Felipe de Castro and wishes to take the Louisiana throne. Mr. Northman is aware that—since he once swore fealty to Felipe—his act could be seen as treason, yet he asks that you take into consideration extenuating circumstances, including the fact that King Felipe was in Area 5 tonight to murder Mr. Northman without just cause and to take his bonded and pledged mate—both clear violations of Supernatural law and Felipe’s oath as king.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Desmond nod slightly as he finished his opening.

I was not surprised when Michelina, the Queen of New York, was the first of the four Council members to speak up. “So, Northman, you have killed your king. And why am I not surprised that you would try to get out of your rightful punishment by using underhanded excuses?”

I looked into the camera directly. “My reasons are not underhanded, your majesty. They are simply true. Felipe wanted me out of the way. And he intended to leave this state with my bonded.”

“Come now, Eric; you cannot actually expect us to believe that Felipe was out to kill you. After all, when he took over Louisiana, he left you alive—a magnanimous move on his part. And an unwise one, in my opinion. I would have killed you,” the Queen of New York added coldly.

“I’m sure you would have,” Russell mumbled as he rolled his eyes.

Michelina ignored him. “Not to mention that Felipe had much to gain from your impending marriage with Freyda of Oklahoma. Plus,” she smirked, “I have it on good authority that your bond with your pet telepath has been broken. So—if Felipe wanted her—he could simply claim her. As could any of us now,” she said, her threat clear.

“Sookie Stackhouse is not a pet,” I said firmly, though calmly. “She is my mate, and our bond it stronger than ever. As for Felipe keeping me alive after he took over the state—that is true. I swore fealty to him, and—had he not broken covenant with me, first by allowing Regent Madden to undermine me, my territory, and my businesses, and then by trying to take my life and my bonded—I would never have acted against him. But, perhaps, I should have—even from the start.”

“What do you mean by that?” Russell asked.

I looked at my bonded and then at the camera. “The night of the takeover, I would have fought—had Sophie-Anne not already have been murdered. I chose survival, and—as I said—if Felipe had been worthy, I would have been his loyal sheriff indefinitely.”

“It seems that—to you—loyalty is synonymous with murder!” Michelina yelled out. “Thus, I call that Eric Northman be put to death immediately! For high treason!”


A/N: Good morning all!  I hope you are having a good weekend and enjoyed the chapter.  If you have the time and inclination, I’d love to hear your comments.

Best,

Kat

As always, many thanks to the best team out there: Kleannhouse and Seph!


 


 

36 thoughts on “Chapter 52: Good Company

  1. Girlllll….you always do that cliffie thingy! 🙂 Well, we knew queenie had her sights set on Eric and when he refused her, she turned her gunsights on him. Hope someone on the Council will remind all of her history with Eric and why she’s bitter…..she should recuse herself….

  2. No surprise about that one Queen calling for Eric’s death. But really she shows her hand too soon. There has been no evidence presented yet. No defense made. I wonder if she was a back up plan for De Castro? Maybe she knew about it all before hand. Why would she know about the bond being broken? I mean really the only people in the know were Bill, Madden and De Castro. Looking forward to next week.

    1. You make a great point, how does she know about the broken bond, unless Claude knew, he was trying to contact her when the AP had her fairy treat. I hope this venom on her part backfires, revealing that FDC attempted to break the bond without the bondmates’ consent, which I think may be a big no no in the vampire world. That right there could end up being Eric’s best defense, plus a penalty for NY if she knew about it ahead of time and didn’t report it. Sookie is the Angel of Rhodes and supposedly that gives her some status in the vampire world.

  3. Gah…….what a cliffhanger! The Queen of NY sounds quite bitter. Acceptance is a great look for Sookie. Thanks for another great chapter.

  4. Not that it really matters, but what time is it? All the vampires can show up?
    Another big cliff hanger. I am glad Sookie realizes who her friends are now.

    1. LOL. Well–this is an hour or two after Felipe died, which occurred about two hours after sun down (Central time). So that would allow New York, Mississippi, Texas, and California to all attend (though CA would have been “summoned” not long after she rose for the day). Good question though. I actually thought about this question and kept changing the times in my outline to make everything work. 😉
      Kat

  5. LOVE that Sookie finally took her rightful place in the supernatural community, it’s about time! And Nargal welcoming her into the family. 😊 Queen Michelina better watch herself before she makes any more enemies…

  6. Awesome chapter again! Agree with others, NY is showing her hand too soon. As a native and life long resident of rural upstate NYS, I would expect that anyone in authority here would be an a-hole whether human or vampire because that is how this state is. And that is why we ate presently towing a uhaul as part of our move to another state where our son and his family live! Thanks for interesting reading end route. I think we know how the AP will vote with all her actions behind the scenes.

  7. Not necessarily a good idea for that queen to be so quick to throw her “guilty” out there. She had to have found out about the supposedly “broken bond” from someone so I agree with someone else who questioned that. Philipe’ second line of defense?
    Her obviously biased opinion should eliminate her from voting but who ever said vampires were fair?
    Can’t wait til next chapter. Hate cliffies *grumble grumble* 😋🙂

  8. Cliffy really. Do you plan and keeping us on the edge of our seats for 4 more weeks, while you give, Russle, Agnas, and Stan each there own chapter before we find out if Eric will meet the final death or become King. Biting nails and pulling hair. Love your writing.

      1. And we all know political battles are the bloodiest, dirtiest, most underhanded fighting there is. Plus, as Eric notes, he is no longer in control of his fate. Though in a way, his past behavior and dealings speak for him. To the negative when it comes to NY, to the positive when it comes to Russell. I am hoping Stan supports him so he gets at least 2 votes, because the AP(the tie breaker) will support Eric for sure, she has already done much for him, killing Claude and getting Lucifer to stay out of a deal with Amelia’s father. Sookie at Eric’s side may be what sways Stan to support Eric, since Sookie saved his nest mate after Eric sent her to Dallas.

  9. who is this NY bitch??? I’m betting Russell will bitch slap her through the conference call! Thanks for updating – it made my day!

  10. Yikes! That Michelina is a bitch! Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned I guess. Even if the vote comes to a tie I gotta believe the AP will vote in Eric’s favor. Looking forward to next week!

  11. Is this the right time for Sookie to reveal her Supe heritage and claim Eric? NY is announcing open season on Sookie. It would be nice if Niall did something right for a change and showed up to support her and announce she is a fairy princess, so that messing with her invites Fae retaliation. Or if the demons are going to claim her as Dae to hide that she is part Fae, having 2 powerful demons at her side who are also powerful lawyers is major mojo. I truly hope Michelina gets her comeuppance for this. Maybe Karin needs to trim that vampire family tree a bit more. Or a fairy needs to teleport into her resting place during the day and stake her. If Freyda is still delusional enough to think if Eric is king he will change his mind and marry her, she could be a good witness. Maybe she should change her name to Cleopatra since she is the queen of denial (as in the Nile). I think Stan will vote in Eric’s favor, his POV shows him to be thoughtful about making decisions, he likes Eric and if the demon lawyers make the important points as well as revealing FDC trying to break the bond and Sookie’s supernatural status (which FDC also knew about but still handled her as if she were a plain old human), he will conclude that Eric acted correctly in killing FDC.

  12. We expected that from Michelina. What about when Madden tried to stop Eric from going to Sookie when she was taken by Thing 1 and Thing 2. That alone justified Eric killing Madden. Then when Felipe kept ignoring his request to let Pam turn Miriam. I consider that a betrayal. Felipe ignored Louisiana and let Madden run it into the ground, ruining his standing with the other supernatural groups. I hope the other monarchs will see reason. Seems to me Eric has enough support to unleash a freight load of whoop-ass on any vampires that come after him.

  13. I love this chapter. The political stuff is always entertaining to me. It’s not so different from human politics if you think about it… Glad Sookie FINALLY acknowledged that “being human” wasn’t exactly what was best for her. New York didn’t really​ surprise us, but I hope the rest of them are in favor of Eric ruling. Agnes and Stan have to see that Eric alive and running the state is a much better option than the alternative.
    Again, great chapter, and I can’t wait till the update this weekend!

  14. With everything at stake how could i not expect a huge cliffhanger. Awesome story. Great chapter but of sooooo frusfrating. More please and hurry. Dawn is approaching. Lol

  15. I have started reading the story from the beginning again and realized I totally forgot about the cluviel dor wish that Sookie made, that she would stay Eric’s. It isn’t entirely clear to me what the exact wish encompassed since Sookie only thought the wish, then describes it to Eric, but her description was that if she was to stay Eric’s, then everything would be okay. So at minimum she will stay Eric’s no matter what else happens. To me that seems she will share his fate so they are not separated, but there is no time definition. They could die together if Eric is ended for treason. But if the cluviel dor heard the part about everything being okay also, then it could mean that their plans will work in the best way that keeps them together indefinitely. Maybe someday we will get a cluviel dor POV, at the end of everything, that clarifies what it interpreted as the wish and how it influenced events. That would be interesting.

  16. Eric has might and right on his side with his group of allies. Hopefully the council vote will be in his favor, even though Michelina is very vocal against him.

  17. Sorry to everyone for throwing my opinion out there again. I really wonder if there is a way to reveal the attempt to break the bond by FDC/Victor/Bill as part of Eric’s need to act against FDC. There certainly witnesses that can support how FDC gloated about it . It seems that a bond is considered sacred, if someone outside the bond could break it without the consent of the bond mates, what is the point of a bond? Of course, the witches would have to testify they were coerced but did a fake spell to avoid breaking the bond. Octavia mentions that Victor was forcing witches to work for him for free, so they can support the evidence that other supernaturals were being mistreated in the state. Also, there is the fact that FDC knew Sookie was a supe since the fairy war, then was informed by the demons she was part of their family and he still insisted on claiming her. The vampires ticking off demons and fairies sounds pretty bad. Michelina has blabbed about the bond being broken, it seems another council member needs to speak up and say what the hell.
    At the bottom of this is the vampire concept that humans are objects that have no rights. If Sookie was a purely human telepath, how is it right that she be treated like an object, forced to live and work somewhere she doesn’t want to by some monarch? Being fed on and used for sex against her will? That is rape. That is slavery. Being coerced by threatening her family and friends is illegal. This is beyond ridiculous and is totally illegal in the US. If the council supports this or considers it acceptable, then they need to be outed to the Justice department, FBI, Homeland Security, etc. This was one of the most offensive things CH put forth in her books. These may be the rules to work with in this fan fiction universe but I need to put forth my opinion on this subject. If vampires want to be treated as equal citizens and have equal rights, then that is a 2 way street. Michelina threatening Eric by threatening Sookie ,that any vampire can claim her, the council or AP or someone needs to stand up and say NO, that is wrong and will not happen. If a vampire monarch can claim anyone with a useful ability without penalty, why not claim the state’s governor or hell, how about the President of the US? That would have major repercussions for all supes. If this council has any legitimacy, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Saying it is tradition or custom or some other excuse, we fought that war a long time ago, plus had the civil rights movement.
    I apologize for being long winded and annoying. I love this story and this author’s work, I am in no way criticizing her, I am criticizing the concept put forth by the original published author who created these characters and her covert acceptance that everyone would just go along with these rules because, hey, they’re vampires, they have different rules. Not if they want to be part of the human world.

    1. If Eric becomes king, I would love to see him be an advocate for human-vampire equality and human rights, as well as the rights of bond mates. Imagine that you are married, and someone comes along and dissolves your marriage without your consent because they want your spouse for themselves, to enslave and rape them. That is what Bill, Victor and FDC each and all wanted to do to Sookie. They planned to force Sookie to bond with someone else. There are human societies that perform human rights violations every day, but that does not make them acceptable.
      I also think the fact that Appius could sell Eric to Freyda, and kept him enslaved well past the age of adulthood for vampires needs to be addressed by the council. We have laws in the USA regarding the age of adulthood. And we have child abuse laws. If the usual age to release your progeny is 300, then make it law. There is no slippery slope there. We say children are legally adults at 18. If they have a physical, mental or psychiatric condition in which they are unable to function as an adult then there are procedures and rules to cover that. Appius raping Eric for centuries including present day, is totally unacceptable. RAPE AND SLAVERY(via selling Eric to Freyda) IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. Anyone on the vampire council that does not act to correct these injustices because it is tradition, custom,etc should be dealt with harshly by human authorities since they are complicit in human trafficking as well as numerous other crimes. Humans are referred to as pets, yet we have laws to deal with animal cruelty and these people are treated as less than animals.

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