“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”—Henry Van Dyke
Six months later
“You’re awake early again,” Sookie smiled as she entered their newly redone light-tight and highly-secure bedroom. She was still getting used to having to go through two doors, scan her thumbprint, and enter a seven-digit code to get into her own bedroom, but that was a small price to pay for being able to go to sleep in Eric’s arms. She’d just begun to use the guest bathroom for her daytime “human needs.”
“Ludwig said that there would likely be side effects when we completed our bond,” Eric responded with a smirk. “It looks like this might be a permanent one.”
“So—I’ll have to somehow deal with more time with you?” Sookie sighed with mock irritation.
“Looks that way,” Eric chuckled.
“So—how do you feel? Wide awake? Or a little drowsy like yesterday?”
“Wide awake at 2:40 p.m.,” he responded as he looked at the clock, “and much more alert than yesterday. Maybe because we made a fourth exchange last night,” he added, his eyebrows waggling in a way that always managed to make her blush.
“Do you think you could be out in the sun safely?” she asked.
He contemplated for a moment and then shook his head. “I don’t think so. Though I feel almost as strong as I feel at night, my instincts are telling me to stay away from the sun.”
She nodded, taking in the information with a frown. “So—no Wesley Snipes day-walking?” she asked, trying to keep her tone light.
He wasn’t fooled; after all, the bond was telling him of her disappointment. “I am sorry, lover. We could try . . . .”
“No,” she interrupted. “I think we should listen to your instincts on this one.”
“I know that—after speaking to Ludwig—you had hope that we could spend time in the daylight together after we completed our bond,” he said cautiously, not wanting to upset her further, but not wanting to drop the issue of her disappointment without talking it through either.
She took a deep breath as she sat onto the bed. “I won’t lie and say I’m not disappointed, but I’m sorry for you, not for myself. I would have liked to have been able to give you the gift of bein’ in the sun again.”
“The gifts you have already given me are more than I could have ever hoped for, min kära,” he said softly.
Sookie shrugged. She didn’t like to be reminded that Eric was alive only because of her. She didn’t like to be reminded that he would now be truly dead if Pam hadn’t dragged him back from Europe when she had. Dr. Ludwig had told them the even her blood wouldn’t have saved Eric if his illness had progressed another week.
Yep—it was safe to say she’d become a Pam fan.
Wanting to change the somber mood, Sookie began to slip her robe off of her shoulder. “Well—whatever will you do with your afternoon—now that you’re awake?” she asked coyly.
“I suppose I could get some work done,” Eric said pretending dismissiveness as he reached toward his nightstand, where he kept his laptop.
“And I suppose I could double-check tonight’s schedule for the reopening of Fangtasia,” she commented.
“Did you decide to rehire Ginger?” Eric asked, trying to keep his tone casual, even as his eyes dropped to take in each new inch of her body that her slow disrobing exposed.
Sookie stopped her undressing for a moment and rolled her eyes. “Yeah—I felt sorry for her. But her thoughts are not very—uh—comfortable to be around. Even though she’s accepted that you are mine,” she said possessively, “she still fantasizes about having sex with you—all the time.”
“I’m well aware,” Eric said with a longsuffering sigh.
“Why don’t you just glamour her to not want you?”
“I’ve tried—multiple times. It won’t take,” Eric said with frustration. “I don’t know if she’s just that committed to the idea or if Pam has glamoured her to not accept my glamour. I can no longer command Pam to tell me the truth either.”
Sookie giggled even as she climbed on top of his lap.
“That Pam!” she said with mock frustration.
“I am worried about you two becoming friends,” he said, as he leaned upward to nip at her earlobe and took over the process of slipping her robe over her luscious curves. “She already has Willa talking back to me.”
“Afraid that we’ll all gang up on you—huh?” she asked with a teasing pout.
“Petrified. Stiff with fear,” he purred as he let her feel just how stiff a certain part of his body was.
She moaned a little as her desire built.
“We should test to see how your reflexes are this early in the day,” she said coquettishly. “For—uh—scientific purposes, of course.”
In the next moment, she was under him, and he was buried to the hilt. “What’s you first impression, lover?” he moaned, a look of bliss blazing in his eyes as he relished the feeling of her tight sheath squeezing his cock into absolute submission—as always. He knew he’d never tire of that sensation, just as he’d never tire of anything else about his wife—not even her stubbornness.
“Your reflexes seem to be workin’ just fine,” Sookie panted as Eric began a steady rhythm that took them both to paradise.
Hours later, but still before the sun went down, the bonded pair lay entwined in each other’s arms.
Both were playing with each other’s wedding rings—the rings that were newly on their fingers. Though Louisiana still hadn’t passed a law allowing vampire-human marriages, fourteen states had, and Sookie and Eric had taken a trip to California three days before. There, one of Eric’s monarch allies had performed a pledging ceremony for them. Then they’d gone to a Justice of the Peace to marry according to human law.
At Eric’s suggestion, the couple had waited to complete their bond until after they’d returned to their home following their wedding and pledging. He’d wanted to give Sookie the time she needed to work through her grief for Herveaux. Eric had been able to feel the complicated web of Sookie’s emotions when he and Pam had returned from Dallas after Sarah Newlin met her fate in a very painful—and satisfying—fashion. The fact that the Yakuza were there and he’d gotten to kill them too was just an added bonus. He’d been especially grateful for Sookie’s blood and cure during his fight with them. By then, he’d already begun to feel almost like normal—so he’d gotten to “take his time playing with his food,” as Sookie euphemized.
Though Sookie’s love for him was comfortingly unwavering and actually grew stronger every day after he returned from settling scores, she still felt guilty about Alcide’s death and about moving on so quickly.
While he was in Dallas, there had even been two unfortunate run-ins between Sookie and Alcide’s father, but Willa had prevented any harm from coming to Sookie. After the second confrontation, Willa had threatened Jackson Herveaux to within an inch of his life before glamouring him to go back to his lovely trailer and stay away from Area 5 for good. Eric had been extremely proud of his youngest progeny for both her restraint and her protectiveness of his bonded.
It had been several months after Eric’s return that Sookie felt ready to resume their sexual relationship—though the couple had been sleeping in the same bed before that—curling up together in the cubby’s small bed each night until the master bedroom had been converted to be light-tight and secure for Eric.
After they’d recommenced their physical relationship, Sookie and he had begun to discuss whether to marry legally by human law and/or to pledge by vampire tradition. In the end, they’d decided to do both for personal and practical reasons. Personally, they’d liked the idea of being further connected to one another. Practically, a pledging would help to solidify Sookie’s status as Eric’s in the vampire world and a traditional marriage would help humans—especially fangbangers—to recognize that Eric was very much taken.
Luckily, the new AVL spokesman hadn’t contacted them to do any interviews—not that that was a surprise, considering who’d taken over Nan Flanagan’s old role.
“Do you think Bill’s okay?” Sookie asked—speaking of the devil and breaking Eric from his reverie. She propped herself up on his chest to look him in the eye.
“You know, lover, a lesser man would feel threatened that you asked that question while you were naked in his arms,” Eric responded with a chuckle.
“Yes—but we both know you’re not one of those,” she smirked.
“Quite true,” Eric grinned. He contemplated for a moment. “Honestly, Bill was never really suited to be a king. But I think that he’s in his element as the new spokesman for the AVL. And it’s clear that he enjoys being the poster boy for the so-called ‘new mainstreamer.’ So—yes—I think he’s okay.”
“It’s so weird that Bill ended up with Violet—or maybe it’s not that strange, after all,” Sookie mused.
“How so?” Eric asked.
“Well—Lorena was a bitch; of course, she was also insane and obsessed.”
“And Violet has some of those characteristics too,” the Viking commented, immediately picking up on Sookie’s train of thought.
She nodded. “I do have to admit that I’m glad Violet’s away from Jason; he’s much better off with Jessica.”
“And Bill gets to have some of the elements that kept on pulling him back to Lorena over the years,” Eric mused.
“Without as much psycho,” Sookie added.
“Plus—Violet’s about as opposite from you as one could get,” Eric noted. “He probably needed that after,” he paused, “what happened.”
“I just wish Bill would have given up after I made clear—multiple times—that I’d picked you.”
“He took our delay in completing the bond as a sign that he still had a chance,” Eric observed. “He didn’t understand why we took our time.”
Sookie smiled at her husband. “That right there is why I chose you, Mr. Northman. I didn’t even have to explain things for you to understand why I needed to wait.”
He bent down to kiss her forehead. “I know you well, Mrs. Northman,” the vampire grinned.
“That you do,” Sookie agreed as she leaned up to place a kiss on his lips.
They both sighed as their love for one another echoed in their bond. They continued their leisurely kiss for several minutes, both of them experimenting with their new ability to “send” emotions to each other. Eventually, that “sending” included as much lust as love, and before long, their lower bodies had “requested” to become part of their silent “conversation.”
Neither Eric nor Sookie was prepared to deny that request.
After they’d come down from their orgasmic highs, they restarted the conversation they’d been having before—which had become a common practice for them since they tended to become distracted when speaking in bed.
“I know that you regret not being able to maintain a friendship with Bill,” Eric said.
“I just wish he wouldn’t have made things worse by not accepting the truth,” she returned flatly.
Eric tried to hold back his chuckle, but failed miserably as he produced a snort.
Sookie smacked his arm lightly even as she tried to hide her own grin by burying her face into his chest.
He snorted again.
“Stop that,” she chastised as she nipped at his nipple playfully.
“Sorry,” Eric returned, even as he let out a bona-fide guffaw. “I just wish I would have been here to see it. Pam told me it was epic. In fact, I think that’s why she decided to like you.”
Sookie rolled her eyes. “I really hated having to blast Bill like that, but I’d warned him to stop skulking around our property. It got plain creepy!”
“Well—according to Pam, you made your point,” Eric said, barely suppressing another laugh, “on his ass!”
Finally, Sookie couldn’t hold in her own giggle. “Well—I figured that shooting him in the butt would hurt him less than blasting him elsewhere. And Pam’s the one who helped me to sneak up on him from behind when he was trying to look into our bedroom window.” She shivered. “Talk about a creepy peeping Tom!”
Eric let out another loud laugh. “Pam said that when he tried to explain that he was just watching over you, you threatened to shoot him in the balls the next time you caught him anywhere near our house!”
“Hey! She was supposed to keep that part a secret,” Sookie pouted. “You already have too much fun with the way I finally dealt with Bill.”
He chuckled. “That I do, lover. Still—I know that you had wanted to maintain a friendship with him.”
Sookie sighed. “He’s the one that made that impossible by being an asshole again.”
Eric smirked. “I think that—when it comes to Bill—his default setting is ‘asshole.’ But—in his best moments—he’s not that bad,” he shrugged.
“Too bad those moments ended up being too few and far between,” Sookie said with a mixture of wryness and regret in her tone. She took a breath. “Do you think he hates me now?” she asked.
“No—he hates me,” Eric responded. “Bill will always love you.”
She sighed. “I wish he didn’t. I truly want him to be happy.”
Eric moved so that he was leaning against the headboard, and Sookie curled into his lap.
“Do you think Bill is capable of being happy?” he asked. “I’ve known him for more than a century, and I’ve never seen him thus. When he was with Lorena, he was either lost in bloodlust with her or lamenting his ‘captivity.’ There was never anything in between. When he was in the queen’s court, he just seemed to be brooding in general, despite being surrounded by luxury. Even when he was with you—with an angel—he bewailed the vampire he was.”
“An angel?” Sookie asked skeptically with a roll of her eyes. She was ready to leave the topic of Bill Compton behind.
Eric shrugged, and his nose crinkled in the way that Sookie had come to associate with his unreserved playfulness when they were alone together. She sighed happily at the sight.
“You are my angel,” he grinned before he became more serious. “You saved my life, Sookie. And—using your blood as a model—Ludwig was able to vaccinate vampires against the Hep-V virus. So—yes—I think that angel is a fitting term. Unless you prefer goddess.”
She rolled her eyes again, but then frowned. “But Dr. Ludwig couldn’t save anyone else who was already infected.”
“No—that honor was mine alone,” Eric responded almost reverently. “But you helped to protect all uninfected vampires,” he added. “Pam, Willa, Bill, Jessica—and so many others—are now safe because of you. And now that Ludwig has discovered a way to inoculate humans from even becoming hosts or from passing along the dormant virus to their offspring if they are already infected—also using your blood as a starting point, I might add—the virus will become even less of an issue. In a generation, it will be completely eradicated.”
Sookie nodded. “That’s something—but Dr. Ludwig’s the one that figured out how to help the others.”
“You will learn to stop selling yourself short one day, lover,” Eric said half-seriously and half-teasingly.
She smirked. “Maybe.”
“I will keep working on it,” he said with a nod.
She smiled. “Thank you.”
“It’s my job,” he returned. “As your husband,” he added proudly.
“And my bonded,” she said.
“And your pledged.”
“And my king,” she grinned.
“Don’t remind me,” he cringed.
“You and I both know that you were born to be a king, Eric. That’s why the newly formed vampire council begged you.”
“They didn’t beg,” he said sullenly.
“Um—yeah they did. I was there—remember? Please, Mr. Northman. We are willing to offer you anything you want. I thought they were going to get chapped lips from all the ass-kissing they were doing, your highness,” she teased.
Unfortunately for Sookie, her vampire knew just the way to combat this particular brand of teasing—to fight fire with fire. “Whatever you say, my fairy princess,” he smirked.
Sookie rolled her eyes. “I don’t care what Pam calls me; I’m not a fairy princess,” she muttered.
“Oh—but you are!” Eric grinned. “Niall has made it abundantly clear to me that you are a princess—and that I must treat you accordingly, or he will—and I quote—’shoot off my dick with a blast of fairy light,'” Eric grinned rakishly.
Sookie flushed red. “I can’t believe he said that,” she mumbled.
Eric chuckled. “He probably got the idea after Pam told him what you did to Bill.” His tone became more serious. “However, I am glad you have a male relative willing to threaten your mate to treat you as you deserve to be treated—especially now that you are my queen.”
“Whatever,” she said, shrugging off her new title. “For now, I’m your personnel director, and if we don’t get to Fangtasia within an hour of sunset, Pam will kill me. After all, you need to be seen on your throne, your highness.”
“And you need to be seen at my side, your majesty.”
She rolled her eyes. “For one week only,” she reminded.
He chuckled. “Yes—one week to make sure that the re-launch of Fangtasia is successful, and then we’ll bring in the new eye-candy to take over. And we will take a much deserved vacation.”
“Pam is looking forward to being in charge,” Sookie commented as they reluctantly got out of bed.
“Maybe she’ll overthrow me while we’re away,” he said hopefully.
“Nope—she’ll probably just screw up your paperwork or redecorate your office to make it more kingly,” she grinned. “And two weeks does give her a long time to work her particular brand of magic,” Sookie added with a smirk.
“I know, and I’m scared,” Eric joked. “In fact, I’m glad we’ll be all the way in Sweden while she’s in charge of our state.”
“In the windy shithole,” Sookie said with a grin.
“Less potentially dangerous than a ski resort,” he chuckled. “And close to the sea.”
“I can’t wait.”
She sighed as he took her into his arms.
“You know, my people—my human family—thought that the sea was healing. But you’ve already healed me,” he said softly as he caressed her hair lovingly.
“Well, husband, since we’re both all good and healed now, let’s just enjoy our vacation—okay?”
He chuckled, “A very good idea, wife.”
A/N: Many, many thanks for all who have read, “favorited,” and reviewed this story!
I hope you enjoyed the ending! I know that some of you probably wish I would have made it longer, but I always wanted to focus the action to be right after Episode 4. So the epilogue is my “cheat”—so I can tell you how stuff ends up w/out having to write my way to that point. That said, I might have to return to this storyline someday—just to write a one-shot about Sookie shooting Bill in the butt (as Pam “helps”). But for now, I’m happy with how I left things. I hope you are too.
P.S. Thanks once again to Seph for the story’s banner! I think it’s one of my favorites of hers!
Salt Water .pdf Above is the .pdf copy of the complete story if you want to download it. I hope that you'll be so kind as to leave a comment before you download, however.