Thalia and Bubba had come into the guest room only minutes before sunrise. Bubba had taken the silver chains from my body, while the older vampiress had watched.
Apologetically, Bubba had informed me that the chains would be reapplied by Sookie before I rose, but that they’d be put on very close to sunset so that I would be weakened as little as possible.
And so that I would be strong enough to leave the state as ordered the next night.
Bubba had looked regretful as he’d shut the door of the cubby.
I was weakened, but I still managed to reach into my pocket and take out the pouch with my father’s silver watch inside.
Despite the pain, I gripped it.
And I stayed awake past sunrise.
ANCIENT PYTHONESS POV
Sadly, the tipsy feeling that drinking Claude’s delicious blood had given to me had begun to wear off.
My handmaidens had made sure that I was in a secure place for the day, but the fairy’s blood would act to keep me awake for several hours longer—even beyond what I was generally capable of because of my advanced age.
I meditated upon what my visions had told me about the very moment that I was existing within.
I knew that I could have prevented what was about to occur, but I also knew that some things needed to happen without my interference.
Bill Compton needed to try to kill Eric Northman.
So I let it happen.
I woke up with a smile on my face and glanced at my clock. It was 10:03 a.m., but—though I’d been asleep for less than three hours—I felt well-rested. I stretched and left the bed—after giving my Viking a little peck on his lips—to use the bathroom and wash my face.
I “heard” Bob and Amelia puttering around the kitchen, trying to be quiet. I also “heard” Calvin and Mustapha on the porch. Warren was nearby too, likely in his sniper perch again. I was happy that his work would be changing to something less “splintery” in the upcoming days. A couple more werepanthers were also nearby.
I felt three other voids—beyond Eric’s. One was in the cubby—Bill. A second was near Bill—Bubba. A third seemed to be under the house.
I shook my head. No matter how many times I’d told Thalia that she should stay inside, she seemed to insist upon resting in the ground.
I chuckled as I got dressed and made my way downstairs.
In truth, I practically skipped down the stairs!
Amelia smiled at me as I entered the kitchen. “You look happy,” she commented. “And you haven’t even had coffee yet,” she added with a smirk.
I laughed out loud. “I am happy. But if there’s coffee made, I’ll be even happier.”
Amelia giggled and pointed toward the blessed caffeine-making machine.
“Get your coffee. We have a lot to do today!” she ordered good-naturedly, even as Bob nodded in agreement. Both had their laptops out. (Thanks to Eric, I’d gotten WIFI months before.)
“So,” Bob said, “I’ve found the ingredients we need to ward the Shreveport home you and Eric want to make your main residence in Area 5. Amelia and I will leave to collect them this afternoon, and then we’ll head over to the house to get set up, but we’ll need you and Eric present to complete the ward.”
I nodded. “Okay. We can be there—say—an hour after sunset? Eric already gave you a code to get in—right?” I asked.
Bob nodded in confirmation.
“Before lunch,” Amelia said between gulps of coffee, “I figured we’d look through the royal residences. Rasul emailed me a list of seven estates owned by the crown in the New Orleans area.”
“Seven!” I exclaimed.
“Sophie liked collecting property,” Amelia informed with a shrug.
“She liked collecting, alright,” I muttered. Though I’d eventually liked the former queen well enough, it was her desire to “collect” me which had sent Bill Compton into my life in the first place! But—then again—without Bill, would there have been an Eric? I shook my head and refused to imagine my life without my Viking.
“Well—let me drink that cup of coffee and get something into my stomach, and then we can start looking at those properties,” I resolved.
Before I made even the slightest of movements, I waited until Sookie had woken up and was in the kitchen with the two witches who had betrayed me.
I was willing to allow Amelia and Bob to live—so that Sookie would eventually forgive me for what I was about to do. But I was not going to allow Eric to live.
Not now that I had found the perfect chance to kill him at long last!
Also, I felt confident that Sookie would get over Northman soon enough after their damnable bond was finally gone.
When Eric was finally dead!
The silver I was clutching had done its job by keeping me aware of all that was around me.
Keeping me awake in spite of the sun.
“To spite and to smote my enemy,” I whispered, feeling the strength of fate on my side at long last.
I secured the chain of the silver pocket watch around my wrist, wanting to have both of my hands free if needed and knowing that the pain of the burns would be well worth the trouble.
Silent as a mouse, I lifted the cubby’s trapdoor, the hinges of which I’d oiled well upon its creation. I rose from the space cautiously, only to see that the room had been made light-tight—just as I’d suspected based on the hammering I’d heard the night before. I was disappointed when I saw that only Bubba was dead for the day in the room.
I’d been hoping that Thalia would be there too.
I quietly searched the room until I found a suitable weapon—an old wooden ruler. I dropped fang and used my most lethal weapons to sharpen the end of the ruler into a point. The taste of the wood was not pleasant, but I quietly spat out that which I’d “whittled” off so that I would not ingest any of the potentially lethal substance.
I stood for a moment next to the bed, knowing that I could stake Bubba. I would not have hesitated to kill Thalia. But Bubba was another story. I recalled how he’d supported Sookie and my relationship, even after she’d ended it.
Still, he’d helped Eric to restrain me the night before. But—then again—Bubba was a simpleton, unable to think for himself. I was certain that—once Eric was out of the picture—Bubba’s friendship with me would take precedence in his life once more.
And—undeniably—he had been a good friend to my Sookie.
Spotting a pair of gloves and the silver chain which had kept me subdued the night before, I determined that I would return to tie up Bubba with the silver after the others in the house had been secured (or killed—in the case of Eric). And then I used my senses to confirm the locations of all of the creatures in my vicinity.
Eric was in Sookie’s room, a fact which would have elicited a growl from me if I’d not been intent upon being as silent as possible.
Another vampire seemed to be right below the house.
Even though the scent was hard to be certain of since the vampire was under the dirt, I figured that was Thalia.
I closed my eyes, weighing my options. I could glamour Bob and Amelia to dig up and kill the ancient vampiress before nightfall. Or—better yet—I could burst through the floorboards and dig into the earth to get to her myself. Yes—the sun was up, but only limited light would reach the crawl space under Sookie’s home.
Speaking of sunlight, I knew that I would have to face at least a little as I jetted from the room I was in to get to Sookie’s room, where Eric lay helpless. That being the case, I took a quilt from the upper shelf of the closet and wrapped it around my body. After making sure that the pocket watch chain was still securely around my wrist, I gripped my makeshift stake and the quilt edges in one hand.
I figured that—once Eric was dead—I’d simply make a little noise in Sookie’s room. That would draw Sookie and her witches to the room, where I’d be waiting. Though I was still weakened from having been in silver chains all night, I was certainly strong enough to easily subdue three mostly humans. Then, I would regain my strength by drinking from one or both witches. Hell—I might even drain the male one—since he was not as important to my beloved.
Then, I would plan how to take out Thalia in a way that would limit my exposure to the sun’s rays.
I did not have to worry about the guards outside for the time being. I smiled to myself. The witches’ wards, which Sookie had obviously used to keep me outside and clueless about the true happenings within the house, would now be working against those who had arranged for them. The guards would not be able to hear any commotion or complaints from the witches or Sookie.
Yes—Sookie would be very angry at me for killing Eric. However, it would be only a matter of time before she realized that her feelings for him were all illusions. And—as for the fact that I would be killing a king? I couldn’t imagine that the Vampire Council would punish me. I would tell them that I was avenging Felipe’s murder and that I’d not promised fealty toward Eric as my king.
Both facts would be true.
Hell—they might even make me the King of Louisiana! For—though I was young—I’d proven my worth to my kind many times over.
Steeling myself, I slowly turned the doorknob. As quietly as possible, I opened the door and sped through the ambient light of the house to Sookie’s room before opening that door and going inside.
The bathroom door had been left open—and the bathroom light had been left on.
But even without that, I would have been able to see my enemy lying in Sookie’s bed. He seemed to have a smile on his face.
From both the bedroom and the bathroom, I picked up the scent of the sex I’d heard in the hours before and right after sunrise. I scowled and approached the resting vampire.
He smelled of Sookie as if he’d purposely marked himself with her. Her blood was inside of him. Her sweet smell was gracing the surfaces of his body.
I drew the sheet off of him and celebrated my power over him.
He was vulnerable.
He had no idea that a foe—his fate—was standing over him.
In that moment, I appreciated just how exposed and weak a vampire was when he or she slept.
Eric was lying on his side, one of his long arms stretched out as if Sookie’s body had been trapped underneath it until she’d arisen and freed herself.
I would free her even more permanently!
Not surprisingly—because he had no shame—Eric was naked. I frowned as I flipped him onto his back and noticed that his cock—even flaccid—was larger than the size of mine when I was fully aroused.
“No matter,” I thought to myself, even as I became aroused as I looked at the Viking in all of his glory. Lorena had taught me that being with men could be pleasurable, and—in a different life—I might have enjoyed Eric fucking me. But—despite Eric’s physical beauty—my arousal stemmed mostly from the thought that he would soon be dead by my hand and Sookie would be mine, even if I had to use force and/or blood to make her that way.
Given her latest actions, there were lessons that she needed to learn, and I recognized that I had to take a firmer hand with her going forward—for her own good.
I raised the stake, ready to win at long last!
As I sat in the kitchen with Amelia and Bob, I felt my happiness absorbing me.
Yes—I knew that Eric and I had trials and tribulations ahead.
But—for the first time in my life—I felt both comfortable in my own skin and hopeful for what the future would hold for me.
Amelia and I giggled as we looked at the more opulent of the State residences. I immediately determined that three of the seven were not going to work for Eric and me. One of them would, however, do quite well for Rasul. The one that Sophie-Anne had lived in primarily would certainly work for Eric’s headquarters—though I wanted to talk to my bonded about redecorating portions of the building if we were to live there.
Though nice enough, I decided that the house that Victor had been staying in should be gutted and sold. After all, who knew what that snake had left behind.
The last house we looked at was the one that I liked the most. It was located in the French Quarter. Indeed, I found myself wondering if Eric and I could stay there when we were in New Orleans and just use Sophie’s old residence for work. As a bonus, there were tunnels connecting Sophie-Anne’s old palace with the residence in the French Quarter, so people could be led to believe that Eric and I lived in the palace!
I smiled. I liked the thought that our residence and our workplace could be kept separate and the idea that Eric’s resting place would be even more secure.
I’d just told Bob and Amelia to plan to ward Sophie-Anne’s old royal residence and the French Quarter home (and the tunnel between them) when I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise as if a breeze had blown inside of the house.
Quickly, I used my gift to determine if there was a threat outside.
“What is it, Sookie?” Amelia asked with concern.
Having “heard” and felt only who should have been outside, I shook my head. “Maybe nothing.”
“Maybe?” Bob asked.
“It’s a feeling. A bad one,” I whispered, pushing out my telepathy as far as I could, but still hearing no threats.
“Trust any feelings you have,” Amelia encouraged, even as she gripped my hand.
The immediacy of her thoughts because of her touch worked to bring my telepathy back inside the house itself.
I heard Amelia’s loud concern.
I heard Bob’s curiosity.
I heard . . . .
I heard . . . .
“Something’s not right!” I exclaimed, standing up quickly.
“A void’s not where it should be!” I yelled out before my whole world seemed to become fuzzy. I couldn’t say for sure what happened next, but I was in my kitchen with Amelia and Bob one moment and in my bedroom looking at Bill holding a stake over Eric’s chest in the next.
I barely registered the “pop” sound that accompanied my change of location or the pain that I felt for having—clearly—teleported for the first time.
Bill looked up at me in surprise.
“Sookeh,” he said, “I must do this!” I could see his arm rising as high as it could go, and I knew that it would soon drive downward and thrust the wood into Eric’s heart.
Time seemed to pause for a moment, though I didn’t need it to. There was no soul-searching to do. There was only protection to be done.
“Bill Compton, I rescind your invitation!” I yelled aloud and with my whole heart at the same time.
I’d never meant any words more!
Bill seemed to freeze in the already seemingly frozen moment, and the look on his face was one of horror and surprise. Immediately, the arm with the stake in it was wrenched towards the door as if it was anxious to be “first out.” I was fine with that. After a moment, magic drew the rest of Bill toward my bedroom door, and I moved well away so that he could not grip me.
Moved between him and my bonded.
Bill was fighting against the magic, even as his hand opened the door so that he’d move into the hall.
I heard a slight sizzle as ambient light met his skin; I followed behind him, closing the door to my bedroom in order to protect my bonded from that light.
“Sookeh!” Bill cried out in pain, as he dropped the stake from his hand. It was a ruler I’d used throughout my schooldays.
Fashioned into a murder weapon intended for my Viking!
As Bill staggered backwards, still fighting the magic of his recension, I picked up the ruler, ready to stake him if he somehow succeeded in resisting the magic that was leading him toward the sun.
“Sookie! What’s happening?” Bob yelled out with concern from near the entryway.
“Stay away from Bill!” I yelled loudly, but coldly. “And keep Ames back!” I added, as I continued to watch Bill’s backward progress.
“Sookeh,” Bill gasped, “please. Invite me back in.”
“Never again, Bill,” I said, looking directly at the face of the person who wished my mate dead.
I memorized that face so that I would never again forget what a true enemy looked like.
“Sookeh! Please! I’ll die!” Bill yelled as his hand turned the lock on the front door. He couldn’t stop himself, though he was trying his hardest.
“I know, Bill,” I returned unfeelingly. “That’s the idea,” I added as the hand that had been holding the stake turned the knob.
“You can’t mean that!” he yelled, even as the sunlight from the windows in the living room were making his skin smoke.
“I mean it with everything that I am,” I said sincerely.
Once he had opened the door—had been forced to open it—Bill flew back from the house.
I took a deep breath and followed. Maybe I wanted to witness Bill being gone for good, given what he’d planned for Eric. Or maybe I wanted my unremorseful face to be the last thing Bill saw.
Either way, the vampire was beyond Amelia and Bob’s spell when I stepped out onto the porch. Calvin and Mustapha were both looking on silently, and Amelia was soon by my side, gripping my hand.
“Don’t let that snake try to slither away or dig!” I commanded the guards.
The werepanther and Were both nodded as they kept their eyes on Bill.
“Sookeh!” Bill screamed, as the smoke on his body turned to flame.
“Goodbye, Bill,” Amelia said from next to me—her voice registering her shock at what was happening.
“Good riddance!” I seethed as Bill continued to yell out my name; unblinking, I watched the sun burning through him.
It looked painful.
And I found myself—glad.
I sat down on the porch steps with Amelia by my side.
And we watched a vampire “meet the sun.”
Of course, I’d been the one to introduce Bill to that fiery orb when I’d uninvited him from my home.
Despite that—I knew that Bill’s screams would not give me nightmares.
Seeing someone suffer like Bill was suffering should have yanked at my heart-strings, and I even heard Amelia crying from next to me as his body slowly lost its shape.
But no compassion was raised within me when Bill Compton finally stopped fighting against the fire and became dust on my lawn.
As the flame of Bill’s demise disappeared as if into the ground, Mustapha looked at me with shock in his eyes.
“What happened?” he asked.
“I don’t know how, but Bill was awake. He had a stake. This,” I said lifting the ruler, “and he was going to kill Eric.” I shook my head and scoffed. “Bill Compton ran himself out of chances.”
“Yes, he fucking did,” Amelia said, even as she brushed her tears away.
Calvin walked over to Bill’s ashy remains and used a handkerchief to pick up an old-looking pocket watch. “Silver,” he said.
“Could have been using the pain of it to keep himself awake,” Mustapha suggested.
“I didn’t know that was possible,” Amelia frowned.
“Could have been with him,” Calvin reasoned kicking the dust a bit.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said calmly as I stood up. “Gather his dust. I don’t want the remains of that snake on my lawn. And bury what’s left of him and that watch next to his marker in the cemetery. Then go through his house. Make sure there is nothing there that can cause any additional damage to Eric and me. I want Bill Compton completely gone from our lives before Eric rises tonight.”
Calvin nodded. “I’ll see that it’s done, your majesty,” he said with a certain amount of awe and respect in his tone—maybe because I was “letting my fairy show.”
I smiled at the werepanther. “Thanks, and it’ll always be just Sookie when it’s just family and friends around. I’m gonna sit with Eric till he rises,” I announced.
“I’ll knock with lunch,” Amelia promised.
I nodded and then tossed the stake toward Calvin. “If that fucking watch still works, break it with this. And bury the stake with Bill too,” I practically snarled before turning to go to my love.
A/N: So? Are you all happy with the way I “did in” Bill? Most of you were speculating that Thalia might get the kill. I admit that she was a bit of a red herring. Others spoke out about hoping Eric would get to do it-with “extreme” prejudice. However, about half way through drafting this piece, it struck me that Sookie needed to be the one to kill Bill in this story. Indeed, I was visualizing this moment long before I “got to” it, and a lot of the narrative was driving toward this. Many of you were intrigued by Bill’s odd reaction to silver; now you know why I came up with that. I envisioned Bill as a COWARD (all capital letters) in Not Without Action. Given that premise, I knew Bill would never go after Eric unless he could “stake him in the back” or in his “sleep.” That was when I began imagining a way that Bill could go after Eric during the daytime-when our Viking would be vulnerable. Anyway-I do hope you liked this resolution to the Billusional one (I love that label!)! I figured that the worst torture for him would be looking at Sookie when she killed him. Plus, this moment also shows that Sookie is willing to follow up her words with ACTION (another nod to the story’s title). Purposely, I didn’t have her be a huge part of either main battle, beyond her acting skills (acting like a blood slave to Eric to fool Victor and acting catatonic to fool Felipe). Of course, Sookie’s part in both battles was essential, but she didn’t have to demonstrate her willingness to actually spill blood herself. In this scene, she got to do that and-I hope-live up to the potential I had hoped that the books were working their way toward, though-at the end of Deadlocked (remember, this story starts near the beginning of that time line)-I had less hope than when I started it.
Sorry for rattling on, but I thought some of you might like to know my thought process during this chapter, which-though Eric does not speak-I felt was the story’s natural climax. Both Eric and Sookie had to demonstrate action and both are the protagonists of the piece, but I liked the idea of Sookie getting the last “word” as hero/heroine.
So…All that’s left is an epilogue. I’ll try to get that to you soon, but definitely by the weekend.
Many, many thanks to Seph and Kleannhouse!