Epilogue: No Hurry at All

Epilogue_BOtP

The concrete steps leading into the MET were cold that Sunday morning. January had gifted New Yorkers with two dustings of snow already, but the sun was bright as the two children exhaled deeply and watched their breath in the air. They giggled and then chased each other up and down the stairs, being careful to stay inside the radius that they intuited their parents would approve of.

steps MET

The eldest of the children, a seven-year-old blond-haired little boy, skidded to a stop as he saw that his little sister, who was a year younger than him, was in danger of slipping on the steps. He steadied her and made sure that she was okay before running from her again.

The girl, her own blond locks lighter than her brother’s hair, giggled her way after him until both children heard the cry of their newest sibling. They came to a halt and ran back up to their parents.

Why is he crying?” Kate asked with a tilt of her head as she took in her little brother, wrapped snuggly in her father’s arms.

“Sometimes babies just cry,” Eric said, rocking his youngest son gently in his arms.

I didn’t cry,” Kate insisted.

Eric laughed. “You used to—sometimes. When you were hungry or when you were tired or when you needed your diaper changed.”

“I’m a big girl,” Kate said, crinkling her nose and placing her hands on her hips. “I don’t need diapers any more. And I can’t ‘member cryin’.”

“Oh—you cried,” her big brother Johan confirmed. “But not a lot,” he added to make his sister feel better. “I’m sure I cried more.”

Eric chuckled as the baby settled down in his now-expert arms. Little Niall Benjamin, named for the two men whom his children called grandpa, was easy enough to soothe. He just liked to be rocked a little.

Sookie sat back a bit and watched her children go back to their play. She looked down at her hand, which was interlocked in her husband’s, and then she looked into his eyes, which were looking right back at her.

He squeezed her hand. Both of them were remembering a time when they thought that such a moment as the one they were now sharing was not something meant for them. However, during the last eight years many such moments had been theirs, and Eric and Sookie were thankful for all of them.

It wasn’t that the bad still didn’t come with the good, but—thankfully—their lives no longer included psychopaths hell-bent on harming them or parents anxious to continue abusing them.

Of course, they had to deal with the kinds of sorrows everyone did. Niall had been diagnosed with cancer the year before, and—although the elderly man was doing his best to fight the disease, which was in remission for the time-being—he wasn’t nearly as energetic as he used to be. They’d received another piece of difficult news earlier that week. Remy Savoy’s condition was now grave. His HIV had developed into AIDS the year before, and he was not doing well at all. Over the years, Sookie and Eric had made a point to get to know Remy and Hunter. Hunter was only about a year and a half older than Johan, and the boys got along especially well.

Remy’s parents had been helping him with Hunter since Remy’s HIV had transitioned to AIDS. However, he’d called Eric and Sookie the Tuesday before to ask them if they would consider adopting Hunter and being the child’s “second parents” once he succumbed to his disease. There had been no hesitation on their part.

Briefly, after Kate had been born, Eric and she had considered moving into the old Northman estate, which had reverted to Eric’s ownership after Grace Northman had shot herself the day before she was to be sentenced for her crimes. Given her age and status, she’d been released on bail during her trial, though she was under house arrest. When her lead attorney had told her that she was going to be found guilty and that there was nothing he could do to prevent that, she’d dressed in her finest clothes, and—in the dead of the night—she’d put a bullet in her brain.

She’d gotten off easy, but Eric was glad she was gone. A part of him would have always worried about what kinds of machinations she could had accomplished—even from prison—if she were still alive.

True to form, Grace had never properly signed or filed the paperwork which would have given her ownership of the property. In a bile-filled suicide note addressed to Eric, she’d said that she couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving HER property to Johan when she died. Of course, the effect of her action was that the property reverted to Eric anyway.

However, given the fact that so many had died in that house on that horrible day more than six years before, Sookie and Eric had opted not to move there, and—even though the house had been in the Northman family for over a hundred and thirty years—they didn’t want it for their kids either.

The property had been on the market for almost four years. Eric had considered donating the home to be used for an orphanage or a shelter; however, there were all kinds of city zoning ordinances, which had prevented those plans. He’d also considered just donating the estate to the city as a historical building and then writing off the donation and taking a huge tax break. However, just that week, they’d finally gotten an offer they could accept, though it was 12% under the property’s market value.

Both Eric and Sookie were glad to get rid of the house, which had stood empty since Grace’s death. Eric had helped Grace’s staff find other work, and he’d taken some of the things that had belonged to his grandfather. He’d also let his siblings take anything they wanted, but—other than that—he’d not returned to the home where he could have been killed.

Where Kate, Milos, and Nora had died.

Eric and Sookie planned to put the money from the sale into a trust that would one day be split between all of their children.

In addition to not wanting to deal with the ghosts of the past by living in the Northman Estate, Sookie and Eric loved their own home much too much to leave it, despite the fact that they had no yard. Happily, Riverside Park was close. The renovations to convert the two separate floors into one home had taken a long time, given all the structural changes that had to be made, but at the end of those changes, they had plenty of room—which had turned out to be a very good thing since Hunter would soon be arriving.

Sookie smiled a little as she noticed the way Eric was absentmindedly stroking her palm with his thumb as he watched over their children. He’d been heavily involved in the renovations of their home, working with the architect and basically designing the alterations, which included the adding of two major stairwells between the floors; a separate apartment for Miranda and Jarod and their two-year-old girl, Maggy; a large den area for the kids; and four new bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.

Eric had enjoyed the project immensely and had even toyed with the idea of leaving NP since it was running so smoothly now—and since he knew that Tamara and Pam could run things without him. However, he loved his work at NP too much to leave it. Like his morfar Johan, Eric was a builder with his brain and his hands. Of course, in Sookie’s opinion, his best “building” was in making sure their family was strong, and she couldn’t imagine a better husband and father.

However, given his love for architecture, Sookie had encouraged Eric with his idea of expanding Mormor’s house in Sweden, where they still spent part of their summers. When it was feasible, Eric and Sookie would spend their vacations at the lake house, giving Mormor and Niall a chance to spoil the kids, but, even then, the house was crowded, especially since Amelia and Pam or Bobby and Thalia and their children often spent part of the summers with them. Plus, Miranda and Jarod and Maggy always came along too.

Indeed, now that their family was growing—seemingly exponentially—extra room was a must.

“What are you thinking?” Eric asked, looking at Sookie with a little smile.

“About how our family’s growing,” she smiled back.

He chuckled. “Just wait until Pam and Amelia have their kids.”

Sookie shook her head and giggled a little. “Do you really think they’ll go through with their plans?”

“Yeah,” Eric said, shaking his head. “But I don’t know if I’ll want to be around them for nine months.”

Sookie nodded in agreement. Pam and Amelia had been talking about having kids for a while, and “shopping the sperm bank” had become a more serious business to Pam than shopping for shoes had ever been. However, she and Amelia hadn’t been able to decide who would be the baby’s biological mother. Both of them had wanted that honor. Just two weeks before, Bobby had made a joke that they should both get pregnant at the same time—with the same guy’s sperm—though Bobby had been quick to clarify that he wasn’t volunteering when his own very pregnant wife, Talia, had given him her patented “look.”

Not two days later, Amelia and Pam seemed to have taken the joke seriously, and as soon as Pam picked the “perfect little swimmers,” she and Amelia both planned to try to get pregnant—at the same time. Though Sookie and Eric were excited for the couple, they were both a little afraid of what Henry had dubbed the “dueling pregnancies.” Meanwhile, Niall and Mormor were in hog-heaven at the thought of all of their new grandbabies. They had little Niall, Hunter, Kate, and Johan; as well as Pam and Amelia’s potential little ones; as well as Thalia’s children, whom Bobby had adopted, and the little boy Thalia was carrying; as well as Maggy, whom they considered “theirs” too. Claudine and Rasul, who had gotten together three years before, were also expecting their first child. Niall liked to laugh about how he would soon have a baseball team of grandchildren.

Sookie couldn’t help but to be a little melancholy when she thought about Niall’s and Elsa’s advanced ages. She hoped they’d be around for a long time to come so that they could enjoy all their great-grandchildren. Plus—selfishly—Sookie didn’t want to lose them either.

“Did you get a chance to look at the bunk beds I picked out for Hunter and Johan?” Eric asked quietly so that the kids wouldn’t hear them. Though their children knew that Hunter would be living with them soon, Eric and Sookie wanted to surprise Johan and Hunter with the fact that they’d be sharing a room as they had the spring before when they’d all vacationed together in New Orleans. In a few years, they figured that the boys would want their own rooms, and there was plenty of space for that, but both Eric and Sookie intuited that Hunter’s integration into their family might be easier for him if he shared a room with Johan for the time-being.

“Yeah,” Sookie smiled. “But don’t you think a rope swing and a slide is a bit much?” she asked with a little smirk.

“What?” Eric asked innocently. “They’re boys.”

“You know that your daughter is going to want to stay in there too.”

Eric chuckled. “They make a version with three beds.”

“And let me guess. That’s the one you ordered?” Sookie asked with a chuckle.

“Better safe than sorry,” he said, bending down to kiss her on her nose.

She shook her head indulgently. “You know, Hunter’s already nine; he’ll probably outgrow something like that soon.”

Eric nodded. “Yeah. But Claudine cautioned us that he might regress a little.” He sighed. “Plus, he’ll be able to move into his own room as soon as he wants, and the other kids can use the bunk beds until they outgrow them too. And by then,” he added, his eyebrows waggling, “we might have another who would like to use it with Niall.”

Sookie arched a brow. “Really? Are you making plans without me, Mr. Northman?”

“Absolutely not,” he vowed. “But it is January, and you know how we are.”

She giggled. “Yeah. I do.” All three of their children had been conceived in that month, and all three had been conceived while they were using birth control. Of course, they’d always been joyous when they’d learned about them. Sookie had carried Kate and Niall to term, so their birthdays were both in early October, while Johan’s was in September since he was born premature. But their estimated conception dates were all during the middle of January—though in different years, of course.

Sookie touched her belly with her free hand. I’d probably better get a test—just in case,” she joked.

He arched a brow. “Yep—you probably should. Remember the NP party was just last weekend, and you know what that means?”

Sookie laughed. “Super sperm,” she whispered so that the kids wouldn’t hear.

Eric shrugged playfully. “I’m just saying.” His face grew a little more serious. “And I kind of have that feeling I got with Kate and Niall.”

Sookie looked at Eric with a little surprise. “Really?” she whispered.

“Yeah,” he said. “Remember the other day—when Henry and Bobby took Kate and Johan to the movies?”

Sookie blushed. “The shower?”

“Or the kitchen counter,” he smirked.

Sookie nodded, remembering how they’d taken complete advantage of the fact that Niall had napped for several hours while their other kids were with their godfathers.

“I’ll make an appointment before we go to Louisiana,” Sookie said seriously. Her husband’s sixth sense was not to be ignored—especially not when it came to their kids.

Eric frowned a little. “I’m worried about Hunter. When I spoke with him on the phone yesterday, it was clear that Remy’s illness has affected him greatly.”

“I know,” Sookie said in an even lower voice. “And Remy’s mom told me that she doesn’t think Remy will last much longer. He’s very weak now.”

Eric nodded sadly. “Now that Remy’s doctor is suggesting hospice care, I think that’s a foregone conclusion.”

“We’ll be there in four days,” Sookie said, squeezing Eric’s hand.

“I think we should go tomorrow,” Eric said quietly. “Pam—along with her little shadow—can take my meetings.”

“Gracie,” Sookie smiled a little. Gracie, now a lovely young woman, was attending college at NYU and had been working as Pam’s “intern” at NP. She had an eye for graphic art, and Pam had begun letting her make many of the decisions when it came to cover art for books.

“Yeah,” Eric said with a little smile before his expression fell again. “I just think Hunter needs us sooner rather than later. And Johan would cheer him up.”

“Okay—then let’s go tomorrow morning. I’m sure Niall will let us use the jet.”

Eric kissed Sookie’s hand and looked back at their kids. In turn, Sookie leaned up to give him a little kiss on the cheek. Eric and she were planning to stay in Louisiana until Remy passed away. It was a sobering thought, but—as Eric had said—Remy was losing his battle, and his doctor had already told him to get his affairs in order. Quickly.

Though they were officially cousins, Hunter called Sookie and Eric his aunt and uncle, and “Uncle Eric” was Hunter’s particular favorite. Of course, all the kids in the family still gravitated toward Eric. Sookie smiled.

“What?” Eric asked her, again wanting to know her thoughts.

“Maybe—if I’m pregnant, this one will finally be a momma’s girl or boy, oh great ‘baby whisperer,'” she giggled.

He chuckled. He’d gotten the nickname ‘baby whisperer’ from Bobby right after Johan was born, and it had become a running joke among everyone that if a baby was crying, it should just be handed to Eric. Truth be told, more often than not, the baby did calm down in his arms.

“We both know that Kate always preferred you when she was fussy,” he reminded her quietly.

She looked at him skeptically. “I think it was more of a tie. Remember when she was colicky?”

He chuckled again and kissed her forehead. “I’ll never forget that,” he whispered. “That’s when I realized she was going to be high-maintenance,” he added fondly.

Both parents turned their focus to their kids immediately when they saw Kate almost trip over her too-quickly moving legs.

“Not too fast, Katy!” came Johan’s protective voice. Only he could get away with calling her by that nickname. “Remember how you fell last time and skinned your knee.”

Sookie and Eric smiled at their dare-devil daughter and their more cautious eldest son. They were as different as two children could be, but they had complemented each other from the start.

“I know that I falled last time,” Kate said with her hands on her hips again and a stubborn look in her eyes. “But I got up, and Mommy gave me a froggie,” she said, referring to the animal that had been on the Band-Aid that Sookie had put onto her scraped knee. Band-Aids were a must for any adult’s pockets when he or she spent time around Kate.

Sookie and Eric looked at each other and chuckled when they saw Johan’s skeptical look. Though he was older than his sister, he looked younger in that moment. In fact, Kate was on the verge of out-growing him, though Johan had Eric’s slim build and would likely be just as tall as his father one day. Even if he looked young for his age, however, he was quite advanced both socially and intellectually according to his teachers, and he took his job as big brother very seriously.

On the other hand, school bored Kate to tears, though she did like recess. She, too, was smart, however. It was just that she preferred to do “different” things than her teachers wanted. Yes—she was a handful!

Sookie took a long drink of her coffee, enjoying the fact that she could have it once more now that her youngest boy had stopped nursing.

She sighed and a contented smile eased across her face.

“What this time?” Eric asked her with a smirk.

She squeezed his hand. “I was just thinking about how important it is to get up after we fall.”

“Or when we get pushed,” Eric added, with just a pang of melancholy in his voice.

“Yes,” Sookie said, her tone matching his.

They looked back at their children, both internally vowing that no force on earth would ever “push” Johan, Kate, Niall, or Hunter down if they could help it. Their little ones might fall, but Eric and Sookie would always be there to offer them a hand up.

Sookie felt her smile drift back to her face. For the first year of Johan’s life, she and Eric had always brought their quiet eldest son with them to the MET for their usual Sunday visits, but, after the rambunctious and, indeed, high-maintenance Kate was born, they could no longer bring the kids with them—if they wanted to have any peace. However, every Sunday, she and Eric still made their visits—thanks to Henry and Blake, who always babysat the kids on Sundays. Not counting the special exhibits that moved in and out of the MET, which Eric and Sookie always tried to catch, there were around 440 galleries. Together, they’d seen almost 300 of them. Their Sundays at the MET remained some of their favorite times together, and no matter how busy life got, those times helped her and Eric just relax with each other.

However, the MET was still a big part of the kids’ lives too. Ever since Johan was three and Kate was two, Eric and Sookie had brought them to the MET one or two Saturdays a month so that they could enjoy the many activities for children. The “Start with Art” program was Johan’s favorite since he and his daddy could draw while listening to stories about the art. Kate liked that program too, though the very active girl enjoyed “Art Trek” even more.

Going to the MET also allowed the kids to see one of their favorite people, Ben, more often. In fact, he was Grandpa Ben to the children, and his wife Maria was Grandma Maria.

“Mommy?” Johan said, coming up to her. “What are we doin’ today?”

Sookie smiled. “Today we are going to story time.”

“What’s that?” Kate asked.

“Well—someone will read us a story, and then we will be going on a treasure hunt to find all the art in it,” she said.

“I’m on Mommy’s team!” Kate pronounced.

Eric chuckled. “What is Daddy—chopped liver?”

“I don’t like liver,” the blunt Kate explained. “And Mommy knows where everything is!”

Eric chuckled again. It was true. While he was familiar with a lot of the art in the museum, he tended to remember only a few pieces from each gallery. He always recalled the piece Sookie chose as her favorite each week. And if a different piece stood out to him, he always remembered that one too, but Sookie’s knack for recollecting things was uncanny.

“Why don’t we all be on the same team today and find all the art together?” Eric suggested.

Kate thought for a minute. “Okay. Can Grandpa Ben play?”

“I’m sure he’ll come spend an hour or so with us,” Eric smiled, “but remember that he has to work too.”

Kate’s little eyebrows furrowed. “Why would anyone work when they could play with me instead?”

“I have no idea, Little One,” Eric chuckled, pulling his little ray of sunshine to him with a long arm and giving her a quick kiss on her head before launching her back at her brother.

Eric and Sookie both laughed as Kate immediately went back to running after Johan. Indeed, she did trip a little on the wide steps, but she laughed through it and continued her chase.

Little Niall had settled into sleep against Eric’s chest, and Eric made sure that he was still covered thoroughly by his thick blanket, though the bright sun and lack of wind made the January morning unseasonably warm.

He nodded to Jarod who was watching over his family from about ten feet away. He and Sookie had thought about whether they should keep their guards, but they’d decided to err on the side of caution, even though they had no overt enemies left.

Eric’s thoughts went back to his wife as she scooted a little closer to him and leaned against him. He readjusted them so that one of his arms was around her and the other one was under little Niall even though the baby carrier he was wearing was enough to keep the infant cradled to him. Sookie was quick to thread her fingers back into his as soon as they were repositioned.

Eric spoke in a faraway voice as he glanced at his two oldest children, playing gleefully on the MET’s steps. “I once had a fantasy of a moment just like this one, but when I opened my eyes, my hand was empty.” He looked at their entwined hands.

Sookie nestled into him a little more—closer. “It’s not empty now,” she whispered as she squeezed his hand.

“No,” he whispered, so that she could barely hear him, “it’s full now.” He sighed contently. “And it gets fuller every day.”

Though the museum had opened fifteen minutes before, Eric and Sookie weren’t in a hurry to go inside. Kate and Johan were having too much fun playing on the steps to interrupt them. Plus, the family had all day to enjoy the museum and the rest of their lives to enjoy each other.

There was no hurry at all.

TheEnd


A/N: Well—that’s it! I have to tell you that I’m spent—both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t stop working on this today because I was so looking forward to what you all would think of it now that it’s done. I hope that the end didn’t disappoint!

If there is anyone whom I didn’t cover in the epilogue (whom you’d like to know the fate of), just ask me, and I’ll tell you.

Many, many, many thanks for all of you who have followed this all-human story. I will admit to having this epilogue in mind from almost the beginning. And I knew that I wanted to feature the MET at the end.

I really hope you enjoyed the angsty ride of this story, and—now that it’s done—I hope you will let me know if you liked how it ended. I will miss this world. I started Comfortably Numb around two years ago (and started posting it in April 2013). As I was with Come Back to Me, I am sad and exhilarated to be able to label this one as “complete.”

I’m taking the day tomorrow off to decompress and to go wine tasting.

I’ll be back soon with more Uncharted or Who’s Your Daddy?

XOXOXO,

Kat


I would be remiss not to thank Sephrenia one last time for all the wonderful Character Banners and the Title Banner for this story and the other stories of the Comfortably Numb trilogy!  You’re the best!   She created a special banner to celebrate the Northman family!


The Northmans


Here are the names of the child actors I would have cast for Johan and Kate:

Johan_older

Kate


To see all of Seph’s banners for my stories, click the pic.

Banner for Kat's Page


whole cast CN

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87 thoughts on “Epilogue: No Hurry at All

  1. A beautiful family I loved this ending and I will miss the story 🙂 With that said I am looking forward to more of your current stories and any new ones that you write. I love that they are long sweeping sagas 🙂 Thank you for writing you have a beautiful gift for story telling.

  2. I loved it!! The entire series, actually, your entire site has brought me many hours of excitement, anxiousness, angst, happiness, and so many other emotions it would take too long to list. You are a very talented writer, and I can’t wait to see what your working on next:):) I do wonder what came of Jason, does he have a part in Sookie’s life now???

    1. No. I don’t think so. It’s odd that Eric was the kind of person who could give that chance when it’s not deserved. I think that–after everything went down with Grace (asking for a second chance and trying to kill Eric), Sookie would have been even less likely to trust Jason. And–of course–Sookie had years of daily abuse from her mom and brother. Eric had short, though intense periods of abuse and then long periods of neglect. I think that Sookie knows that–if Michelle were still alive–Jason would still be being an ass to her. I just couldn’t let this Jason get an “in” with Sookie. However, I imagine that he and Niall continue to have some kind of relationship. I would like to think that Jason finished college and made something of his life. But–I have to say that I want him to remain a bachelor. I don’t think the character ever showed us that he could be a decent father, and I wouldn’t want Michelle’s legacy to get passed on.
      I didn’t include mention of several people in the epilogue b/c it didn’t feel natural to get them in there. Jason was dealt w/ in C. 41, and I decided that — for Sookie — that’s where he was going to end up. I like to think of Henry, Blake, Bobby, and Jarod as her “true” brothers in the end.
      Kat

  3. What a wonderful ending to a glorious journey you took us on with this trilogy. You are such an amazing writer and I thoroughly enjoy everything you write. I get so excited everytime I see an email letting me know you’ve posted a new chapter for a story. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication you put into your writing for us to enjoy.

  4. Goodness. It’s done. What an wonderfully written epic for the FF ages! April, 2013. Yes, I’d say you deserve some decompressing. Such a beautiful way to end the saga, where it all started. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the comment, msbuffy. I know that you’ve been with this one from the beginning, and I appreciate all your kind words and thoughtful (thought-filled) comments throughout. I’m glad I’ve added to your excitement about visiting the MET too. 🙂

  5. This was simply one of the most wonderful stories I’ve ever read! I loved every single word! You are a lovely, captivating writer and I can’t wait for whatever else you share with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  6. Awesome end to this story! I tried to leave a review for the last chapter, but wordpress would not accept it. So I hope you get this one. I loved it. A very fitting end to this story. I loved how you recalled from the first part of this story how Eric saw a family on the steps holding hands and wished and imagined someone was holding his hand. That little flash back was nice. I was really hoping to see grace in orange, but it is better that she is dead, so she can’t send people after Eric and Sookie from prison. So it was a fitting end. Although I would have loved to see her get beat up in jail for being a snob and waiting to kill her own grandson and great grand son. I don’t think the people in jail would even stand for that, since that was really low behavior. I am curious, if Jason truly turned over a new leaf and maybe talked to Claudine as well for his mental health. He needs to see how unhealthy it all was, so he does not carry this behavior on to his own children or marry someone like his mother. So Jason was the only one I was curious about, even if Sookie never has anything to do with him. Anyway loved this story! I am sorry to see it end. But this is one I will defiantly reread at some point in time. And it is rare for me to reread anything, unless it is a fav! So I will be happily when you make it downloadable so I can load it to my kindle for those long auto repair shop days!

    1. I decided that I see Jason staying in Louisiana, but–given the fact that he does have some kind of relationship with Niall–I think he likely would have been influenced to go to counseling in order to understand the ways he was manipulated by his mother. On the other hand, I stand by my idea that Sookie won’t reconcile w/ him. I think that she knows that some chapters are best left closed, and Jason would open up wounds she doesn’t need to have. She’s found her family in New York. Letting Jason in wouldn’t help her or them in my opinion–even if he’s turned over a new leaf.

      thanks so much for reading! I’ll work on the .pdf for this story soon.

  7. I have to admit that I have been remiss in not reviewing very often. I have followed this series however and loved it, which for me says a lot because I don’t really like all human as much. The journey that you took us on was wonderfully expressed. I really was caught up into the characters that you developed for us. Even though many sad things happened for our couple I was happy that they found contentment and a beautiful family in the end. I too am looking forward to the next story you give us as well as updates to the ones you are currently working on. You are definitely one of my favorite writers,

    1. Thanks for commenting! It’s okay that you don’t review often. I love to hear from readers, especially at the end of a work, but I understand that it’s not always possible to review. I’m so pleased to hear that you liked the resolution to this trilogy. It was so wonderful to write a happy ending for this Eric and Sookie. They SOO deserved it.

    1. Hmm…I haven’t had an all-human story come to mind yet, but you never know. I enjoyed writing this one more than I thought I would. There are a lot of things that one can do with humans that cannot be done w/ supernatural characters, and I had a great time trying to reimagine characters like Appius as humans. I tried to keep them close to how they were characterized, but it was also fun to stretch them. Thanks for reading!

  8. Even though the splitting up of the last chapter was unintentional I think it did you a great favour in highlighting Freyda and her struggle in the end. Emotionally it wasn’t far off from where Eric and to a certain extent Sookie started, the victims of manipulations scared to truly feel anything and residing in that ‘comfortably numb’ state of mind. It showed in such stark contrast where both Eric and Sookie had transformed their lives into with the help of many others in this epilogue; the joy to be found in filling that void with that ‘connection’ they didn’t know they were seeking till they found it in each other and their (makeshift) family that came forth from that. A fitting end in calm waters that seemed so turbulent at times that I wondered where we would end up. Thank you for another great story and I’ll be curious to see if you’ll try your hand at an AH story again in the future.

    1. That’s exactly why I ultimately split it. I wanted the Freyda sequence to get more emphasis and not be buried. I am so pleased that you noticed the parallels between her and our hero/heroine. She is numb at the end. Of course, she also has a mental illness. She’s actually somewhat loosely based on a friend of mine from college. She, too, was manic-depressive. In her manic phases, it was as if she didn’t want to sit still. If she was “doing” she was happy. In her depressive stages, she often “created” very paranoid versions of the world around her. She was diagnosed, but often “skipped” the meds because she didn’t like the kind of “numbness” they made in her. There was a part of her that longed for the manic stages, even though she knew that was “bad” for her. She was perpetually in a struggle w/ herself, and she only made it to her early twenties before she overdosed. By then, I was in a different state getting my Master’s degree. Like Freyda, Jenn had lots of people willing to help her too. I cannot imagine living with such perpetual inner turmoil.

      Thanks so much for reading and for the comment. I’m glad you liked the ending and the story.

  9. What a beautiful ending to a beautiful story..I’m going to miss this trilogy…it was one of my favourites!
    Eric and Sookie have a wonderful family ! I really loved the banners concerning the children…
    I’m would like more information about Pam’s and Amelia’s pregnancies…Maybe an outtake?
    Thanks for writing and sharing this story with us…Take care

    1. I’m not sure I could muster an outtake, but I think it would be funny if they managed to get pregnant at nearly the same time. Can you imagine! LOL. I knew a couple that decided to have a kid and did it similar to this in that they were be artificially inseminated. They were leaving it up to God to decide which of them would have a baby. Both ended up preggers. One had an easy time, and the other was sick for most of the pregnancy. I wasn’t that close to them, but I imagine it was crazy!!! I think if I wrote an outtake for them, I’d give them two boys–just b/c I think that would be funnier. 🙂

  10. An great end to an excellent trilogy. I went to the MET for the first time this year and it really added to the experience to think of the role that it played in the lives of these characters. I’m really bad at reviewing sorry, but do love all your updates and get excited when I see a new chapter link in my inbox. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

  11. Such a beautiful ending to an amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing your words with all of us and looking forward to whatever you work on next.

  12. The best revenge for what was done to them is to live life to it’s fullest. And that is what has happened. This has been a wonderful journey, brought to a fitting conclusion. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  13. I can’t believe it’s done. What a emotional roller coaster this story was. I am so glad I found it. You are an amazing writer.
    I totally agree with you about Jason. Now that Sookie has a family and children, I can’t see how she would let Jason near them or herself. How did Grace get a gun if she was under house arrest? But I’m glad she did. I don’t think Eric or Sookie would have rested knowing she was still alive even in a comfy jail cell.
    They have a wonderful family that keeps growing. It’s great with all those kids around. Eric & Sookie’s Christmas and other holidays will be such happy times. ( will Eric send his kids off to boarding school? I think not.). I imagine Sookie having identical twins this time around, girls. LOL. I forgot how Hunter is related to them. They both have come so far! They deserve this happiness. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and all the comments!

      As for Grace, she mentioned some “hiding places” where she kept disposable phones. I speculate that she would have lots of places to hide weapons, or she’d pay someone to get it to her. But I kind of imagine a little pearl handled derringer–don’t you?

      I agree w/ your idea that there will be no boarding school for Eric and Sookie’s kids. 🙂

      Hunter is Hadley and Remy’s son. Hadley–as she is in the books–is Sookie’s cousin. In this work, I gave Hadley HIV as a consequence of her past drug use. Remy is HIV positive too. Hadley dies of AIDS not too long after Hunter was born (she’s sick when Gran dies). As for Remy, he was on a cocktail of drugs and his viral count was low for a long time, but eventually he developed AIDS. I’m hoping that by six years from now AIDS will be virtually “cured.” It is well on its way to being so thanks to the drugs being developed. I have friends with HIV (both gay and straight) and the drugs they are make their viral loads almost non-existent. Anyway, I hope that answers your questions.

      Thanks so much for reading!!!

      1. Yes, that clears it up about Hunter. (I hope your friends get well). It would be like Grace to have a small gun hidden around in that big house. Oh what you said about Sophie-Ann tried to go after Eric, just no and yuck. Just when I thought she was a decent person. I’m glad Appius Jr will be brought up by loving family instead of his father. What about Felicia? is she well?

        1. I think Sophie-Anne is “decent.” She’s just clueless. She’s not dangerous though, and she backed off. I think she goes after men on whims, just wanting the most powerful one in her sights as any given time. That’s kind of how she seemed like she’d be to me.
          As for Felicia? I see Felipe being a good “father” to her. I see her growing up happy on a Spanish estate. I picture her loving to ride horses. I think eventually she will get to know her NY family.

  14. Simply amazing story. I so enjoyed every chapter and would get so excited whenever there was a new chapter email in my inbox. Thank you so much for your time and beautiful story telling skills.

  15. Haven’t read yet but looking forward to it. I read the first couple chapters of the first story then made the decision to wait to read until story was complete. So glad to have the opportunity to now read a complete story. I just love all if your stories, though I don’t make comments in chapters very often. Thanks for giving great alternatives to CH’s original story that was just disappointing to me in the end so much so that I have boycotted her last two books and probably will never read them. I love Eric and Sookie together and love them together in a HEA story even better.

  16. Pam and Amelia pregnant at the same time, in the same house. Now that could be a scary thought lol.

    I have loved this from the beginning. I enjoy angst (I know – who would have thought that ;)). It provides obstacle for the characters but the often end so much stronger because they have overcome all those obstacles. I enjoy reading the process of them doing so – and you sure gave them enough obstacles to overcome in this story.

    But they did get their ending. They have a family that loves them, a family that chose them and that is amazing for everyone. I love how you ended them at the MET with their children. It brought them full circle.

    1. Ah–thanks! I’m glad you liked the end. I respect your opinion so much b/c–as you know–I admire your writing.

      I had no idea you enjoyed angst–given the fact that yours are soooo angst free. 😉

      I definitely wanted to bring them full circle in this tale. And I wanted to leave them strong, happy, and content.

  17. Lovely ending to a great story. I can understand why no one wanted to live in or purchase the Northman estate. With so many deaths happening there i am surprised it is not haunted by some really unhappy beings of one kind or another. Thank you again for a wonderful story.

  18. I’m sad its done but I loved it. And reread the whole thing before I read the last two chapters…:-) What happenes to Alexei and Guo Li’s daughter? I’m curious about Sophie Ann since Sookie is the matriarch now and how AJ is doing now that he’s old enough to understand how rotten his father was and how his sister Nora died. I totally agree with your stance on Jason. This Jason has no place in their lives.

    1. Good questions!

      For Guo Li’s daughter and Alexei? They had a little flirtation for a while, but then just decided to be friends. They still keep in touch. She finished her degree at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and has become an important chemist. She married a cousin of Liang’s. And she and her husband have giiven Guo Li and Chun Hua a grandson.

      As for Alexei, he was crushed by his sister, Nora’s death. Out of everyone, he was the one most affected by it. He saw Claudine for a while, and she helped him a lot. He landed a few roles in off-broadway productions, and his work as Richard II got him a lot of notice. He’s become a very successful actor in Broadway and is contemplating whether to try movies. He’s not a “player” per se, but he’s definitely still “playing the field.” He donates any money he makes from acting to a shelter for abused women and children in his sister’s name.

      As for Sophie-Anne? Well–once he found out that Appius’s will had initially put restrictions on her ability to remarry, he used his status as Nora’s executor to make sure she had her fortune w/out restrictions. She was quite grateful and–as might be expected–she made a “move on Eric” to show her gratefulness. He basically rolled his eyes and told her to quick being an ass. He and Sookie laughed about Sophie-Anne’s attempts later. Happily, she proved to be pretty harmless, so the matter was forgiven after she apologized to Eric and Sookie. Though she continued to prefer affairs with women, she soon decided to try to “get” Russell Edgington. He didn’t “cooperate,” so she moved on to pursue other wealthy men. Finally, she landed a famous actor who travels a lot. Sophie-Anne is quite happy w/ that arrangement.

      As for AJ? Well–at the end of the story, he’s ten. Despite her antics, Sophie-Anne is a decent parent, and AJ has an incredible nanny, and Markus and Margaret are still there, and that makes up for any deficiencies. Alexei moved into the Northman Mansion, and AJ likes to hang out with his older brother too. He spends quite a bit of time with Eric and Sookie and his nephews and niece. He looks up to Eric as a father, and is just beginning to learn about some of the things his biological father did. AJ is an artistic young kid and has been allowed to pursue his own interests. No one is pressuring him to one day take the helm of NP, and–so far–AJ’s favorite school subjects are English and Social Studies. And his passion is ice hockey, which he plays well. Eric or Alexei makes sure to take him to as many Islanders games as possible. In addition to spending time at Eric and Sookie’s, Pam and Amelia like to have him at their place too. And since Tamara and Gracie now live in Carmichael Tower too, he visits them a lot too. All told, he’s a well-loved and well-adjusted kid–despite who his father was.

  19. What a wonderful end to a great story, I’m not surprised that Grace killed herself. She would never have survived prison. I do wonder if Sookie finally had contact with Jason and what he did with his life.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the ending. As for Grace, I thought about having her die in prison, but she’s the kind of person who would try to hurt Eric even from there, and I just figured she’d not want to put on that orange jumpsuit–that she’d rather die.

      Again, thanks for reading!

  20. Wow! I can’t believe this is over 😩. I have loved every bit of the whole trilogy, and whether it was making me cry or smile I was totally gripped. As only the second of your series I’ve read I know I still have a lot of catching up to do, but I can honestly say I love your stories and will be off to read some more now xx

  21. ((Sigh!)) That was the perfect ending to a beautiful story! Thank you once again for sharing your incredible gift with us. 🙂

  22. This was not only the end of a unique S/E trilogy, as only you can write it, 🙂 but was an excellent look inside familial abuse –at all levels –those with status and influence, and those that lived and worked in small, no-name towns. Such pain and brokenness that was overcome (and when things happen, maybe not as overcome as was previously thought). S/E will have each other –each gives life and purpose to the other. When I think how far our couple has come –that is the joy of this set of stories.

    It’s OK Jason was not mentioned –I had wondered. But, Sookie leaving him where he was is good enough. I, too, have “cut off” a brother because of his hatefulness. it doesn’t hurt a bit to cut of diseased limbs.
    Bravo –tears in my eyes because this was not some fanfic written with a little story and a lot of sex –this had bite; this had depth; this had realism.

    ***Standing O, CK****
    Pat

    1. Wow, Pat! Thanks so much for the wonderful comments. You have made my day. The issue of childhood abuse is dear to my heart. There are so many varieties of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, mental, neglect. Often, children suffer from multiple kinds all at once, and the strongest ones are those who break the cycle. I loved writing about two people that could. At the heart of SVM, Eric and Sookie are both bruised by their pasts. I didn’t “enjoy” exploring that. But it was cathartic in many ways for me personally. Thanks for reading and providing thoughtful responses throughout.
      Best,
      Kat

  23. Hmm. Wow. It’s done. Was it really that long ago that I saw the first alert for this story?

    An incredible ride. Tears. Both joyous and sorrowful. Angst my dear? In spades! But it seemed to make the peaceful and loving and happy moments so much more precious.

    They way you dealt with everything was amazing. Thought provoking and with such truthfulness that I can’t help but see all of these characters as real. Family violence, in all forms, grief and healing. Just beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time.

    Now onto the ending. This has to be up on the same level as ‘All In’ for me. A wonderful HEA for this all human story. After everything that’s happened to them, this was a lovely slice of a perfectly normal day. Loved it! And loved where they are and where they are going.

    I can only imagine the difficulty that Hunter is about to go through, but I know that he will come through OK. I’m sure Sookie and Eric will get him the counselor he’ll need, and be loving parents for him, while always respecting that they can never replace Remy or how much Hunter will always love him.

    The Northman clan update in an earlier review was wonderful to see. Nice to see that everyone is moving into healthy happy lives, going where, and being who they want to!

    I’m guessing SA, AK and maybe Alexei move in with the ‘famous actor’ SA marries before the Northman estate is sold 🙂

    Grace. Bitch in life. Unintentional selfless bitch in death. RIMP with your son!

    Jason. I get Sookie’s decision. But I hope he stayed in contact with Niall. And that whoever his counselor is, will help him understand that the Sookie has every right to choose to stay estranged. Hope he turned his life around.

    Can’t believe this is the end! Thankyou! Thankyou so much for this wonderful story 💙💖💕💓💜💛💚💗💝💞💟

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! I have to say that a lot of the family drama is drawn (and amplified) from personal experience, so writing this was a healing exercise in some ways.

      Oh–and Grace lived in a different home–the Northman Estate is what I called it.
      Appius bought the “gaudy” Northman Mansion” after Stella died. So no moving was needed. Actually, I picture the “actor,” someone Russell Crowe-like, moving in w/ Sophie-Anne and then traveling a lot for roles. LOL. That way she could continue her affairs. She always seemed to prefer just to “be married” rather than to be in a marriage.

      Again, thanks so much for reading and for all the lovely comments and thoughts you have shared throughout!
      Kat

      1. Hehe OK. Norman estate vs mansion. I missed that detail 🙂
        Thanks for clarifying!
        And it’s been a pleasure to read, it’s sunbelt l definitely been my pleasure to review as my way of saying thanks for writing 😦

  24. I love that it all came full circle to that fantasy they had. Sigh. I came to this just before it ended and I have loved every minute of it. The ending did not disappoint at all! Love it!

  25. I have to say I’m not a fan of all human fics and I didn’t start reading this one until you started posting the second story and I was running low on other things to read. I figured why not try it, I love your writing and all of your other stories. I finished the first story in two days and then had to anxiously wait each week for your updates. You did a superb job on this trilogy. It kept me captivated the entire time. The ending brought it all together. I love your work and can’t wait for your next updates on your other stories. Keep up the great work.

    1. I’m so glad you gave the story a try and that you liked it and stayed with it! I know a lot of people don’t enjoy the all-human stories. I will admit that they are hit and miss for me too. If you decide to check others out, try “All In” by Kjwrit and “Dead Man’s Hand” by eys1214. These are two of my favorite all-human fics. Oh–and inlovewitheric’s “Semper Fi” is also a favorite. Again, thanks so much for trying this one out!

      Best,
      Kat

    1. Oops you are correct. It had been August in an earlier draft and once I got to the epilogue that change had slipped my mind. Thank you for pointing it out. Other than the error I hope that you enjoyed the story. Once again. Thank you.

  26. I’m so happy with this ending and kinda sad that it ended. I got all teary eyed with the throw back to their fantasies from the first MET trip.
    I almost didn’t get though the details of their abuse back in the first part but was glad I powered through. Your depictions were so real and raw that I just wanted to wrap my arms around these two lovely characters. I cried for them so much during these stories both with sorrow and joy.
    This wrap up for eric and sookie was wonderful along with the other characters you mentioned.
    Thank you for writting this for us! Can’t wait for your next exciting project! I know that whatever you write will be great!

  27. wonderful ending, beautifully written, and i a so happy for their HEA and that Hunter will be joining them too. the reason are sad but he will be truly loved by his new parents. the new babies name will be Milos i am sure of it. KY

  28. I’ve read most of your stories but I’m one of those terrible people that doesn’t leave feedback. My bad. I’ll try and be better. I’ve been reading this series off and on for awhile trying to catch up. It was hard getting through some chapters because you really felt bad for Eric & Sookie. I think that just shows what a great writer you are. I love that E/S had their HEA. I look forward to reading your new stories.

  29. Oh I have not been able to stop reading I love the whole story and have been spending every waking minute ( sometimes staying up untill 3am or 4 am unable to stop, needing just one more chapter ) I also love how you leave a little something at the end of most chapters for a little more insight as to how you, eric, sookie or another character was feeling or thinking, I was a little shocked and disappointed that people were leaving quite harsh and uncalled for comments, I’m glad you always stand your ground with these types and very glad that it hasn’t sawed you away from continuing your lovely way of story telling, I am moving on now to your next story and I can’t wait 😉 thank you so much for spending your time giving us wonderful story’s you are a true talent

  30. I enjoyed this story so very much! It was gripping from beginning to end! Of course, that could be said of all three stories in the trilogy. I so enjoyed the story each of the characters took. It was interesting to watch as each grew, changed and evolved in order to adapt to the flow of their circumstances. Eric and Sookie experienced so much hate, love, torment, pain, desire, ridicule, friendship, deception and finally coming together of family and friends! They deserve all the happiness they finally found.

  31. well, wow!……that was a saga-and-a-half!!!…..what a truly enjoyable read, i thoroughly enjoyed the whole trilogy….thank you for sharing your talent, Kat, i look forward to reading more of your stories….. x

  32. An absolutely perfect ending! Although I had been reluctant to read an all-human story, your wonderful writing sucked me in just as much as always does. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible talent.

  33. I am so thankful i found you Thank you for sharing your gift of writing! I absolutely love the depth of your stories and your creativity.
    I look forward to reading all of the stories you have written.

  34. This story was a first for me in a few ways – the first all human (which I had actively avoided before and I now actively seek out!) and the first of yours. The first time I read it I came in when you were mid-way through Touch the Flame and I remember that once I caught up I was desperate to see that notification email to read the next chapter and once it ended I devoured everything else you had written (and still do)!
    Now the fandom is slowing it’s output of fiction I have started to re-read some of my favourite stories which is what puts me back here. On a second read this is even more fantastic than I remember. Your writing skill is incredible. I ached along with the characters and cried regularly throughout the story. I can honestly imagine this as a series of films that I would watch, buy on DVD and watch again!
    Anyway, this is a bit of a rambling comment but I wanted to share with you the fact I think you are a bloody talented writer and storyteller. I hope you continue to give us new versions of Sookie and Eric for a very long time 🙂

  35. wow… I just finished this story after reading it nonstop for a week. this morning alone I was reading from 6am to now 1:45pm… i’m floored by your talent. honestly this is by far the best AH eric and Sookie story if not overall best fic i have ever read, and I’ve read hundreds. this story was so well crafted, god you wrote like a pro! thank you for sharing this incredible story. i am so satisfied with the ending they deserved and i agree, jason needed no part in her life. he had his chance. thank you for providing me with a amazing reading experience. its quite a treat to get so much entertainment out of a story. though many parts were very hard to read, particularly the abuse the character suffered as children, which hit a little close to home, you handled so well. just amazing.

  36. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. You have a talent my dear. I can’t wait to read all of your stories. If I were to change one thing it would only be that Grace was sent to prison and have to suffer for the rest of her miserable life. You’re right though, she would only have tried to hurt them again. Love love love this series!!!😘😘😘

  37. Ahh, what a satisfying conclusion to a marvellous story! I have thoroughly enjoyed this re-reading this brilliant trilogy! Thank you for sharing your remarkable talent! x

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