A/N: If you want to hear the “soundtrack” I listened to when writing the wedding, click the picture.
Chapter 207: Right
She and Eric had opted to speak their vows from their hearts instead of memorizing something. Thankfully, she found that her words flowed from her easily.
“The moment I met you, my life changed,” Sookie started—her voice much stronger and steadier than she’d expected to hear. “From the start, something drew me to you—something I tried, but failed, to resist. And I am so happy that I failed.” She took a deep breath. “You have given me love when I didn’t think I’d ever find it. You are already the best husband and mate for me.” She glanced at Hunter. “And you are the best father to our son. I vow that I am yours, and I will remain yours.” She smirked a little, “And in front of all these people, I take you as my husband, Eric Northman.”
Eric was growling before she’d even finished her words. And then his lips were on hers.
Sookie was thankful for smudge-proof lipstick—extremely thankful.
By the end of the night, all of Pam’s industrial-strength cosmetics would likely be on her Thanksgiving list.
With difficultly, Eric broke the kiss even though that was the last thing he wanted to do. He knew he was panting again, but couldn’t help that now. He didn’t want to. She’d publically given herself to him and then claimed him in a single breath. And she’d done it with that sexy fucking smirk on her face.
He heard and felt a low growl emit from his chest as he struggled to regain his control.
In that moment, he wanted to claim her with both words and actions—to press her naked flesh into his own as he did so. He leaned toward her again, his eyes dilated with passion as he bent to capture another kiss.
But just as his mate could rile him, she could always calm him. Sookie lifted her palm against Eric’s chest soothingly. Despite the lust that his passionate kiss had spurred inside of her, there was still a little part of her brain—tiny actually—that was functioning, that was cognizant that they were in a room full of 250 people, including their son. And she did not want to lose her dress in front of them.
However, as she heard the click of Eric’s fangs and felt the rumble of his growl against her palm, Sookie’s tenuous hold on modesty evaporated, and she leaned upward into his second kiss. Her lustful feelings argued with the hold-out part of her brain, assuring it that there were plenty of vampires in the room to glamour the humans and Weres to forget all about the fact that she was getting ready to climb her man like a tree and take him at the front of the church. And between Eric and Thalia, they could order the vampires to “forget”—right? She figured that Jesus would cover Hunter’s eyes, which solved that problem. And she could always get another dress.
Yep—her mind was just switching off when a sound poked into her consciousness. The mother in her heard it loud and clear.
“Daddy,” Hunter admonished in a giggling whisper, “it’s not time to kiss Mamma yet. You’re supposed to wait till the end.”
Their son’s voice, like a little bell, rang through their passionate haze. With difficulty, they broke their kiss and shook their heads in order to clear them.
When the fog lifted from Eric’s mind, he couldn’t help but to chuckle at his son’s words, especially when he saw Sookie giggling.
Reverend Daniels was also chuckling. “Eric?” he asked expectantly.
The Viking knew that was his cue to get back with the program and to speak his vows to his mate. He took another moment to compose himself as he looked at his still-giggling son and then back at Sookie, whose expectant expression enraptured him. He felt warmth in the corners of his eyes, but it wouldn’t do to let his emotion spill down his face in tears. He would allow that kind of vulnerability to emerge only when he and his mate were alone. That Eric belonged to just Sookie. Hers.
The myriad of feelings he had for his mate swirled in him and in their bond, and he saw her gasp at them. Truth be told, they continually floored him as well. Looking into her shining eyes, he felt lucky—blessed.
He felt whole, yet ready to be filled.
“Min kära, jag älskar dig,” he began. “You are my light in a thousand years of dark, and you shine the way for all that is yet to come for us. You are the mother of my child and the heart of our clan. You are my heart.” The intensity raged in his eyes. “Sookie. You. Are. Mine!” he growled. His energy pulsed almost harshly for a moment, signaling to all of those present that the woman by his side had indeed been permanently claimed.
Sookie held her breath. Her mate was every bit the fierce vampire as his tone challenged any who would question his claim to come forward. He was magnificent, and Sookie knew that if anyone did challenge Eric, that individual would be ripped limb from limb right in the middle of the church, but—knowing that she felt the same amount of possession concerning him—she couldn’t find an ounce of judgment within her. She watched his face soften as he raised the handkerchief to tenderly brush away a new tear that Sookie didn’t even know had fallen. Yes. He was her savage warrior, but he was also her gentle man.
His tone softened to match his expression, “As you take me, so do I take you, min kván. I vow that I am yours. Always.”
“Don’t kiss him yet, Mamma,” Hunter whispered urgently when Sookie teetered forward.
The wedding party and the Supernaturals who could hear the little boy all chuckled.
Reverend Daniels winked at Hunter again. “Thanks, Hunter,” he smiled. “I believe you have the rings?” he asked Jesus.
Jesus nodded and reached into his right jacket pocket.
As Eric finished his vows to her, Sookie couldn’t help but to hold her breath as she memorized the way Eric looked in that moment. Lafayette had been right. Eric’s eyes did pop against the black of his suit, but there was also something savage—carnal—about them and him in that moment. His blue eyes stormed with raw emotions: love and lust, possessiveness and care, need and calm. He was her Viking. He was her vampire. He was her husband. He was her best friend. He was her mate. He was her helpmeet. He was the father of her child.
He was hers.
Sookie had thought that the human wedding they shared would be more-less a symbol—or maybe just the fulfillment of a little girl’s dream still lingering somewhere in her mind. She had known that their vows would be meaningful, but since their words would simply repeat what they felt for each other every day, she hadn’t expected them to feel so powerful.
Perhaps, it was that they were saying their vows publically that made the difference. Perhaps, it was that they were staking their clams and demonstrating their ownership of each other in a holy setting. Whatever it was, Sookie felt almost overwhelmed. She had told Eric that she loved him a million times. She had declared that she was his and proclaimed that he belonged to her thousands of times. But there was something about having those words witnessed―especially by so many people that loved them and by their son―that seemed to give them added efficacy.
So many emotions oscillated through her as she stood in front of that church with her mate. But, most of all, she felt proud to belong to him. No. She felt proud to belong with him.
Sookie squeezed Eric’s hand and smiled up at him as Jesus handed their matching rings to Reverend Daniels. They were white gold and had three small diamonds sunken in a vertical line down the center. The three diamonds represented Eric, Hunter and herself; the simple inscription, “Ætt,” also represented her family.
She smiled at Jesus as he stepped back into place. He had truly become one of their most trusted and treasured friends. Through everything, Jesus always remained calm and faithful. She’d learned that, as a demon, he had a natural affinity toward vampires. Sometimes Sookie wondered what Eric would one day do without him, even as she wondered what she would do without all those friends and family members that died before them—especially Hunter. But Eric assured her that they would adapt. It was the way of the vampire—and apparently the fairy, according to Niall. And as long as they had each other, Sookie knew she and Eric would ultimately survive all of their heartaches—even those of the worst kind. She held onto Eric’s hand even more tightly with her right hand, even as Reverend Daniels placed Eric’s ring into her left palm.
Sookie took a deep breath and slid the ring onto Eric’s left index finger since they’d decided to keep their pledging rings on their left ring fingers.
Her voice quivering with emotion, Sookie said, “With this ring―a token of the pledge, vow and covenant between us―I thee wed, min bóndi.”
Eric sighed and took Sookie’s ring from Reverend Daniel’s hand. “With this ring―a token of the pledge, vow and covenant between us―I thee wed, min kván.”
Reverend Daniels smiled even as he took a deep, nervous breath. Truth be told, he was a little apprehensive about what was coming, but when he saw his Joann looking confidently at him from the back of the auditorium, he felt immediately calmer.
The next part of the ceremony would be something that he’d never seen before, but he was determined to be accepting, and after Eric and Sookie had trusted him with some information about their bond, he could not deny them. Plus, he had been assured that he needn’t do anything during the process, but he was curious to be a witness to it.
He spoke to the gathering. “Sookie and Eric will now exchange their blood to seal the covenant that they have made with each other through the speaking of vows and the exchanging of rings.”
Britomart and Niall watched as the reverend moved to the side and Eric and Sookie progressed to the table Eric had built, which held the chalice that Hunter had given them.
Claude and Jesus went with them. Their job was to “obscure” what was really happening from the gathering, using a combination of fairy, demon, and human magic; only those who were specifically named by the spell, which included himself, his sister, Claude, and Jesus, would witness what was truly occurring. Sookie and Eric had wanted to allow Hunter to see, but given the fact that he was so young and protective of them both, they feared that he might get scared because of the blood-letting or because of the light that would inevitably be produced by the daggers. Plus, they did not want him to have to force himself not to react if he did see the true exchange. And—in the end—they decided that parents ought to keep some sights from their young ones.
In effect, Claude and Jesus would create an “illusion” for those not named by the spell. With Amelia’s help, they’d managed to use human magic—witchcraft—to augment the fairy and demon ability to “glamour,” or alter, their own appearances. They would create illusory images of Eric and Sookie that showed them making a simple, straightforward blood exchange, while hiding what they were really doing. Part of the illusion was also to make the scent of their blood seem pedestrian—completely unremarkable.
Thus, the spell was practical as well as necessary, and it would serve a far-reaching and long-lasting purpose. According to Sandy Seacrest, Russell had ranted about Sookie’s sweet blood to de Castro when they were alive. Luckily, Russell seemed to have kept the knowledge of her Fae heritage to himself, but a lot of damage had been done in a short period of time by the bragging de Castro, who—in his delusional mind—had thought that he could steal Sookie from Russell and make her his. The illusion spell would dispel the rumors about Sookie’s blood by making it smell ordinary. It was too late to hide her sweet scent; it was too well known among various Supernaturals. However, the way that Sookie smelled on the outside would be all but forgotten if her blood was deemed inferior by the AVL members in attendance, who would be —most assuredly—anxious to spread the gossip. In fact, Eric and Sookie were counting on that, which was why so many AVL members—including the AVL’s annoying national spokesperson—had been invited.
Niall knew that there was already a circle prepared on the floor beneath the plush rug that Eric and Sookie had donated to the church. And—just to be safe—Amelia, who was already positioned only a half-step from the circle’s edge, was ready to say a privacy spell if the illusion spell failed to work. A privacy spell would completely conceal Eric and Sookie from those congregated, but it wouldn’t have the advantages of the illusion spell.
Niall, however, was quite confident in his son and the truly brilliant illusion spell that he had helped to craft. He knew that Amelia, the brujo, and Claude had been practicing the illusion for many weeks, and Niall had seen how well it had worked during their last several practice sessions, when the spell had performed perfectly.
If all went as planned, most of those in attendance would perceive only a tiny amount of blood being drawn from both Eric and Sookie with a commonplace-looking knife. They would see Sookie and Eric speaking to each other for several minutes in soft tones that they could not quite hear, after which they would see both take small sips from the chalice, which they would then place into a little drawer built into the table. At the same time, they would smell O-positive human blood—nothing fancy. And they would smell Eric’s vampire blood as it had been before his bond with Sookie.
However, they would see none of the reality of the ceremony. They would not see the ceremonial daggers being used. They would not see the light being produced. They would not smell the magic or the unique mixture of Eric and Sookie’s shared blood.
Certainly, others knew that the spell would be happening. Pam, Duncan, Lafayette, Batanya, Miranda, Jarod, and Amelia―of course—would be acting as safeguards to ensure that the spell was working well. If one of them signaled Amelia, then she would immediately raise the privacy spell. As always, Niall had been impressed by Eric’s thorough planning, what Sookie termed his “Plan Z” ability.
As soon as Jesus and Claude started the illusion spell, Eric turned and looked up at Niall, who nodded his confirmation that the spell was working. As Eric turned back around, Claude produced the dagger that called most to Sookie, took it out of its covering, and placed it before her on the table. Likewise, Jesus did the same with Eric’s dagger. Immediately, the vampire’s hands itched to touch it as it lit up in a soft red light.
“You are able to see what is happening?” Niall asked his sister in a low voice, wanting—no needing—to make sure.
Britomart nodded, “Yes.” She took in a deep, unneeded breath. “They are calling to me even now.” She sighed. “I have not seen them together since Artegal and I bonded with them,” her voice trailed off, “long, long ago.”
Niall held his sister’s hand more tightly. “Eric told me that the magic created when they are brought together is greater than any he’s ever known.”
“Of course,” Britomart said, her voice half-amusement and half-awe. “Those daggers were full of magic before my love and I ever held them. We both felt it at the time. And after we used them, our magic—fairy and demon—was absorbed into them as if they were sponges. Now, Eric has added vampire magic to them, while Sookie has brought her own fairy essence to them, but” she smiled, “perhaps it was the touch of human magic from both of them that added the most to the daggers.”
Niall chuckled. “Perhaps.”
Britomart grinned. “In all my days, I have found that very few so-called Supernaturals are as stubborn and tenacious as humans—my little cat being the exception. Human magic may be less potent, but it is still fierce in its way.”
“Yes. My Viola proved that to me,” he said softly.
It was her turn to squeeze her brother’s hand in comfort. She knew how much he missed his beloved.
“Is it not time for you to fulfill your role?” she asked him with a glow in her translucent eyes.
He nodded and popped away.
Eric understood well that the blood exchange had to be done carefully, which was why he’d double-checked that the spell was working with Niall before the daggers were brought out. He and his mate had wanted an exchange to seal their human union, but they had wanted it to be done with “their” daggers. In fact, they made a point to use them once per year, always on the anniversary of their pledging—and now wedding. However, putting them together always brought out fireworks—so to speak.
Initially, they had planned to share blood in private after the wedding was over, but when Claude and Jesus told them about the spell they had developed and perfected as their wedding gift, both Eric and Sookie had been very grateful. Doing it during the wedding ceremony itself seemed to instill the exchange with even more significance.
The blades of the daggers in front of Sookie and him glowed in anticipation—his reddish and hers white. Eric’s eyes and hand were drawn to “his” dagger—Artegal’s dagger.
Sookie felt a wisp of melancholy enter the bond, and immediately that emotion was echoed in her. The daggers—now so much a part of Eric and her—had once belonged to Artegal and Britomart just as much. Thoughts that the A.P. would likely be meeting the sun at the dawn stopped both Sookie’s and Eric’s hands from grasping the daggers for the moment.
“Just like Godric,” he whispered as more sadness filled their bond. “She will be leaving me just as Godric did. She will be leaving Hunter.”
Sookie took her husband’s hand in hers and squeezed it as they both pulled their eyes from the daggers and looked at one another. “Not just like Godric,” Sookie said firmly. “She is not leaving because she is giving up. She is leaving because she has always refused to give up.”
Within the protection of the illusion spell, Eric allowed one tear to fall. Quickly, Sookie took the handkerchief from his pocket and wiped it away before it could stain his cool, alabaster cheek.
“You’re right,” he said, his voice rough with emotion. “But it hurts.”
“I know,” Sookie comforted. “But I will be standing next to you this time when,” she paused, “it’s time. You will not be alone in a hotel room when you feel your connection to her leave you.”
Remembering his misery when he lost his bond with Godric, Eric unashamedly allowed another tear to fall. Sookie took care of that one as well. His eyes shone as he took in his wife. She was so beautiful, but the beauty that could be seen was nothing compared to the beauty that could not be seen: her heart, her soul. She was taking care of him―nurturing him with comfort―both physically and through their bond. He could feel her healing magic soothing him.
She spoke into their bond. “Neither you nor I will ever be alone again, min bóndi.”
He nodded and responded into their bond. “I will always stand by your side, min kván—no matter the storm.”
She smiled and wiped away a tear of her own.
“She is doing what I would do,” Eric said into the bond. “She is seeking her beloved so that she can retake her rightful place with him.” He shook his head. “I should not begrudge her the happiness she longs for—not when I would break through the very gates of hell to be with you.” His voice inside of her reverberated with his passion.
“You don’t begrudge,” Sookie responded. “You’re just gonna miss her.” She took a deep breath. She hated that the A.P. was going to leave—hated it because she loved having her around, but mostly because she knew that it would hurt her boys. But Sookie couldn’t blame Britomart any more than she could blame her own heart for beating for her mate.
Eric raised her hand to his lips and gave it a gentle kiss. “Your love is the miracle of my existence, Sookie Stackhouse.”
She sniffed and raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you missin’ somethin’?” she asked in challenge.
He chuckled lightly, but then spoke sincerely. “No. I am not missing anything. Everything I need is right here.” He squeezed her hand. “And right there,” he looked over his shoulder to see Hunter smiling toward them.
She sniffled again and nodded. “Well then, Buck-o, I say we move things along so that I can become an official ‘Northman.’”
He nodded in agreement, and then they both looked at the daggers once more. Their pull was as strong as ever.
Eric picked his up first and quickly sliced a small wound into his palm, which he held over the chalice that Hunter had given them. His rich, ancient blood flowed slowly into the vessel.
Even as Eric’s wound healed, Sookie picked up her dagger and repeated Eric’s movements. Before her blood had even finished dripping into the vessel, Eric was lovingly tending to her wound. His saliva stopped the flow of blood, and then he nicked his tongue on purpose in order to fully heal her wound.
Eric and Sookie brought their hands that were holding the daggers together. The light on the blades became molten blue in their palms.
Just as the light began to swirl around Eric and Sookie’s joined palms, Niall popped to them. Of course, the illusion spell hid his presence from most of those gathered. The elder fairy looked upward to the balcony and gave his sister a little nod. In turn, she gave him a small smile.
Niall turned his attention to the couple before him, and, without preamble, he picked up the chalice to speak the blessing of the Sky Fae over it.
The same words were used for all love-based marriages and bonding ceremonies among his people; thus, they had not been spoken when Niall married Mab. Their union had been based on alliance, not love. And when Mab had broken the terms of that alliance, their marriage had ended as far as Niall had been concerned.
He’d never married Viola by human custom, a fact that Niall regretted now. However, when they had bonded with one another, he had spoken the blessing over their blood.
Despite all the capacity fairies had for deep love and despite their long lives, very few actually found their true mates; thus, the blessing Niall recited was rarely spoken and known by only a few. Its words were ancient and powerful, and Niall felt them in his very soul. They spoke of lovers who would call to each other and search for each other through all the seasons of their lives—whether those seasons were full of spring promise, opulent with summer richness, or bitter with winter hardship.
Even as he spoke, he saw the image of his Viola smiling at him from his memories. He saw Artegal and Britomart, both young and so new in their love. He sighed through his memories and spoke as much to them as to Eric and Sookie.
Eric felt the raw power in Niall’s words even though he did not understand the Fae language.
As soon as Niall was done giving the blessing in the Fae language, he repeated and translated the blessing for Eric and Sookie’s benefit. Even in English, the words still held their energy and efficacy:
“When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf, and sap is in the bough;
When light is on the wild-wood stream, and wind is on the brow;
When stride is long, and breath is deep, and keen the mountain-air,
Come back to me! Come back to me . . . .
When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me . . . .
When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay;
When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day;
When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain
I’ll look for thee, and call to thee; I’ll come to thee again!
Together we will take the road that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.”
Eric heard his wife let out a little sob as Niall finished the blessing, and the vampire found that he was already sending her his strength. The light of the daggers now fully encased him and his mate in its warmth.
Niall smiled and set the chalice down before stepping back a bit to give his great-granddaughter and young Eric as much privacy as possible, while still concealing himself inside the illusion spell.
Without a word, the vampire picked up the chalice and offered it to his woman. The look in Eric’s eyes was feral and fervent―as it always was when his mate took his blood. The idea that both of their blood was mingling in the cup aroused everything about him—his body, his mind, his spirit, and his heart.
He allowed the calm, accepting look in his mate’s eyes to still the storm in his. Without hesitation, Sookie took the cup with a confident smile and drank; in so doing, she once again took him, and Eric felt more grateful than ever. In the next moment, she was offering the vessel back to him—once again offering herself. The vampire took his bonded’s offering proudly and finished off their combined blood. The flavor―and the feeling—of the mix caused Eric to sigh contentedly, euphorically.
Their bond swimming in their happiness, Sookie and Eric placed the daggers together and then wrapped them in velvet fabric.
Niall stepped forward and touched both Eric’s and Sookie’s cheeks affectionately. “I am proud of you, my children,” Niall said softly before picking up the daggers and the chalice. Once Claude and Jesus’s spell was lifted, the comingling of Sookie and Eric’s blood and the magic generated during the exchange would be smelled by all the supernaturals in the room unless Niall took away the objects used for their exchange.
“These will be waiting for you at the ætt land,” he smiled. “I will see you there soon, my children.” And with that, he popped away.
Eric and Sookie rose to their feet and—along with Claude and Jesus—returned to their places. Reverend Daniels also returned to his previous spot.
Eric noticed that Daniels—as well as most of the others in the room—was shaking his head a little bit, obviously still feeling some effects from the illusion spell, which had been dropped shortly after Niall popped away.
After a few seconds, Daniels seemed to come back to himself, even as the rest of those gathered did the same. After receiving confirmation nods from Batanya and Lafayette, Eric knew that the spell had worked perfectly.
Though still a bit hazy, Reverend Daniels took a deep breath and finished his duty. “Now that you, Eric, and you, Sookie, have given yourselves to one another by the saying of vows and the exchanging of rings and blood—all of which symbolize your love―it is my honor to pronounce that you are husband and wife—according to the great state of Louisiana.”
An excited Hunter leaned in. “You can kiss her now, Daddy,” he whispered loudly.
Daniels chuckled and looked at Eric. “Your son is correct.”
Eric bent down and kissed Sookie chastely—at first. However, before long, her arms were entwined around his neck, and they were floating a few feet above the floor, oblivious to anything but their own joy as they lost themselves in a no-longer-so-chaste kiss. When Sookie finally realized that they were flying, she blushed and ordered her husband—now even more her husband than ever before—to land them.
“Already hen-pecking?” Eric teased her as he obeyed her directive.
“Uh-huh,” she sounded before kissing him again.
A/N: I have to admit to feeling drained after finishing this chapter. Writing this wedding has drained me emotionally—in a good way.
If you are interested, visit the bonus features for this chapter, click the link below. I have compiled all the wedding outfits, decorations, etc. onto one page—with a few things you haven’t seen before—so that you can see everything together. I hope that you enjoy!
Thanks to all of you who have been giving me your support during the last several chapters. It means so much to me to know that you are still with me and willing to celebrate this Eric and Sookie with me after they have had such a long, difficult road. I know that we are nearing the end, but as I’ve gone back and read what you had to say at the beginning, I’ve been amazed by how many of you have stood beside me for the better part of the last year as Back and Forth and Come Back to Me have been posted.