Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters in True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. So neither copyright infringement nor offense is meant. I simply want to make the characters do what I wanted them to do for a while. I am especially “unownerly” when it comes to this story. You will recognize a lot of the dialogue throughout as being quoted from Season 5 of True Blood, though I’ve tried to use Eric’s thoughts to make this story “different” from its source. That said, I claim no ownership to the quoted material and have placed it in bold so that it is set apart from my own words.
Roman walked in from a door behind Bill and me, and though I did not personally know the vampire, I knew what power felt like when it walked into a room. Clearly, Roman was powerful.
He carried a little box in his hands and proceeded to conduct a ritual using a claw-like relic from that box. I had heard of the Ceremony of Lilith before, but I’d never seen it. In truth, I had never had much time for rituals. Still, I watched the proceedings with the curiosity of a thousand-year-old seeing something new. Bill’s wonder at the scene was more overt.
Of course, the whole ritual was a contradiction in my mind. The fact that the same Guardian who so fervently believed in coexistence with humans would conduct a ceremony that was designed to connect the members of the Authority with Lilith and the old ways was a paradox. The Sanguinistas held that the Vampire Bible was absolute truth, and they believed in the “divinity” of Lilith as God’s daughter. I’m sure that they, too, had “holy relics” like the one Roman was holding, just as I was certain that they conducted similar ceremonies. Yet they were the enemies Roman clearly feared the most.
And that—in a nutshell—was why I had never really believed in the efficacy of such rituals. They could be too easily twisted to support the beliefs of almost anyone who wanted to utilize them. At best, that seemed like foolishness to me. At worst, it was hypocrisy.
No—I believed in the power of my hands. I believed in the quickness of my mind. I believed in the advice from my gut. And—as of about a week ago—I believed in the power of the heart to have the ability to trump all else. But I did not believe that Lilith’s blood was really on the relic in Roman’s hands, and I did not believe that the Authority would be using Lilith’s wisdom to deal with Bill and me.
As the ceremony progressed, I noticed that Nora attempted to fall to her knees so that she could take part in it as well, and in that moment, I saw her differently than I’d ever seen her before. I saw a fever in her eyes that I’d never witnessed. I did not know the woman I was looking at now.
As soon as the ritual was over, Roman immediately took on a businessman persona, and I—for one—was grateful for that. A businessman―I could deal with.
“Mr. Compton,” Roman began smoothly, as he strolled back toward the conference table. “Mr. Northman,” he said a little more stiltedly. I found that interesting. It meant that he understood my strength. It showed that—in a different circumstance—he knew that he might be on his knees in front of me.
Roman continued, “To meet under these circumstances—it is a shame—one of several recent disappointments.” He glanced back at Nora. “You think you know somebody. You consider them an ally for centuries. And when they betray you, they won’t even tell you why—no matter how persuasive you can be.” Roman had been walking over to Nora and brought his hand up to touch her cheek almost tenderly.
I realized, then, that my sister had been intimate with Roman, but unfortunately, I didn’t think that would do her much good now. My theory was proven correct as Nora was dragged toward the door. I was glad that I had been allowing agitation to show concerning Nora—because I truly felt restless as I watched her being manhandled. Whether she was a radical now or not, she was still my sister, and I cared for her. I let my agitation show on my face and in my movements as she was taken from the room yelling out her innocence.
More and more, I was suspecting that she was not innocent, however. Her guilt was like a smell in the air, and I knew that a vampire of Roman’s age would sense it too. I sighed, figuring that my sister’s days on the earth were likely now more numbered than my own.
I looked down at the floor and quickly assessed my bond with Sookie. She too was agitated over something, but she was safe. I let myself “recover” and looked back up at Roman.
The Guardian was studying me; it was clear that he knew I held great affection for Nora, which had been my aim. However, I also figured that he was unsure about my affiliation with her cause.
“I’m in a real pickle here, boys,” Roman said. “According to Nan Flanagan, you,” he paused and smiled as he gestured toward Bill and me. “What is it she liked to call you guys? Fuck-up one and fuck-up two.”
I tuned Roman out for a moment as he gave a listing of Bill and my so-called crimes. Frankly, I was offended at being termed ‘fuck-up two.’ I’d have thought that I’d be ‘fuck-up’ number one in Nan’s book. I’d certainly striven to be over the years.
I had to hold in my smirk as Roman complained about the cost of keeping the Festival of Tolerance debacle covered up. Okay—I could agree with that one. It was a fuck-up thanks to the necromancer’s “visit.” Bill should have known better than to hold the festival before she was dealt with.
I almost rolled my eyes as Roman indicated that Nan was not a great prize, but since she was “Authority,” he was going to have to “roll some heads”—so to speak. The hypocrisy disgusted me. I now understood Godric’s ambivalence regarding Roman.
Indeed—when the Guardian pontificated, “I am the Authority!” I knew exactly what my maker had meant. Power and arrogance rolled into an expensive suit. I admired Roman and was annoyed by him all at the same time.
Roman turned his gaze—which was supposed to be foreboding—onto Bill. “The true death for Northman means the true death for Northman,” he said coldly.
I held in my scoff. Clearly Roman was pissed off that Bill had failed to follow orders and to kill me when I’d been under the witch’s spell. However, Roman’s main problem was Bill’s insubordination—not any concern he had for the “public safety.” Again, I was disgusted by the Authority’s idiocy—their hypocrisy. Yeah—Bill had been idiot #1 in that scenario since he’d contacted Nan out of jealousy more than true concern over my being under a spell. However, Bill had done the right thing in the end.
And in my estimation, it was the Authority that was mostly to blame. They’d sent no one to offer help or to investigate the situation. I was a-fucking-thousand years old! I was a powerful and loyal vampire, and I had proven myself a good leader throughout the years. I was an asset to my underlings, my state, and the vampire community at large. And not even one Authority representative had been spared to investigate whether something could be done to break the witch’s spell!? Ludicrous! Instead, within a few hours—probably fucking minutes, actually—my true death had been ordered.
In my estimation that was indicative of short-sightedness on the part of the Authority. I’d always blamed Nan for it; she had despised me, after all. But now I also suspected that Roman was lazy. But that was now a good thing. If he was—indeed—lazy, then he would want some “help” in dealing with his problems. And that would work in Bill and my favor.
I tuned in again as Roman changed his tactic. He asked Bill if he was a Sanguinista.
Bill answered, “I don’t even know what it is.”
I wondered if my king was lying, but frankly, I didn’t care. It didn’t really matter. If Bill and I lived through this, however, I would have to teach him how to keep his ear to the ground a little better so that he could better know what was going on in the vampire world.
“Mr. Northman?” Roman asked, now addressing me―obviously with the same question he’d asked Bill.
“Yeah, I’m tryin’ to stay away from politics as much as possible,” I intoned. It was the truth.
“And religion,” I mumbled and then listened as Roman asked me whether I thought the concept of the “common good” was “hopelessly naïve.”
In fact, I did not find it naïve; it was practical. If the common good was good for me, I was all for it. However, I very much doubted whether a vampire with as much ambition and self-importance as Roman Zimojic actually believed in the common good. Roman probably felt it was beneath himself to even know what the word “common” meant.
Roman turned back to the Chancellors in order to elicit their opinions. I figured that the Guardian already knew what they would say. I studied the Chancellors to see if any were on our side—if any could be useful.
I scoffed. The redhead in the bad suit, who said that Bill and I were “lame horses”that should be “put down” was not going to be put on my Christmas card list. Indeed—when she turned to us and yelled out, “True death for these fellas,” my dislike for her solidified.
Oh well—one down.
I let my eyes move to the next speaker. I did not know who the black vampire was, but I could sense his age and power. He reminded the members of the Chancellery that Bill and I had destroyed the necromancer. Damned right we had!
As I noticed the truly hideous and useless decorative bowl on the table (I’d never understood bowls that held nothing), the “little boy” of the group slammed his fist onto the tabletop.
I rolled my eyes. I knew three things in that moment. The first was that the tantrum-throwing diminutive vampire would not be on Bill and my side. The second was that young ones who were turned ought to be put down immediately. Generally they were, but someone had apparently “missed” this one until he was old enough to fight off threats. The third was that this vampire was probably the most powerful of all the Authority members, other than Roman. Otherwise, he would have been killed by now. He was just that annoying.
Roman held up his hand and stopped the debate, even as he, ironically, reported that the Chancellors had already had several heated debates over what to do with Bill and me. Again, I almost rolled my eyes at the irony. Roman might like to give lip-service to “debates,” but he clearly enjoyed the sound of his own voice too much to truly welcome them.
The Guardian walked toward Bill and me again, stating that all the members of the Authority had committed themselves—their very lives and “destinies”—to mainstreaming. With dramatic flair, Roman stepped in front of us.
“Coexistence with humans is not an option; it is a necessity,” he stated with passion. “It is merciful. It is just. It is vital.”
I agreed with the “necessity” and the “vital” parts, especially now that vampires had “come out” to the human world. The “merciful” and “just” parts seemed like posturing on the Guardian’s part—like sound-bites from a politician. I hated fucking sound-bites—except, of course, when I was the one doing the “biting.”
Roman continued, “Not to mention that they outnumber us a thousand to one.”
I certainly agreed with that point. I watched as the Guardian grew more and more agitated, especially as he mentioned fundamentalism. Yes—everything seemed to go back to that for Roman. He was scared, and his fear was a gift to me—an Ace in the hole.
Salome stood up and opened a case holding an ornate stake.
I could think of a hundred things I wanted to say, but very few of them were to Roman Zimojic. I checked my bond with the woman that I wanted to say most of those hundred things to, but only one of them seemed important now: “I still love you.”
Unlike earlier when I’d been in physical pain, I wished now that my bond with Sookie was complete so that I could send her love and comfort in that moment. Perhaps, it was selfish, but I wanted the woman I loved to know that I loved her—to feel it down to the bone—one more time if I was to meet the true death.
“I still love you, Sookie Stackhouse. I will always love you.” Yes—those were the words I wanted to say, but they were not for the vampire holding the stake that threatened my heart. They were for the woman who held my heart.
For a moment—just one—I became lost in my emotions. They swirled of regret and loss and mourning. They beat with desolation and denial. There were things that I needed to say to Roman—plans that I needed to implement, but I was on my knees and paralyzed by my feelings.
Thankfully, Bill stepped up to the plate with the perfect opening.
“I offer you an exchange,” Bill said. “Our lives in return for Russell Edgington.”
I had to admit that I was really, really starting to like Compton.
I shook myself from my thoughts about Sookie. Right now, I had to remember that I wasn’t dead yet, and that meant that I wasn’t done yet! What I needed to do was to use everything that I’d learned about Roman and Salome so far to my advantage, and I needed to do it goddamned now!
I sneered as “bad-suit” vamp started to laugh at Bill’s statement. Little did she know that Russell really was a threat! Quickly, I shifted my gaze to Roman, and I instantly knew that Bill had made the right play. And I was now ready to play my own part as well.
Roman immediately went into denial mode—as if Nan saying Russell was dead on national television had made it true.
Bill told the Guardian the real truth. “Sheriff Northman and I consigned him to the ground, but we did not kill him.”
I watched as the members of the Authority looked at each other in disbelief—and fear. Yes—I thought—they were pretty much shittin’ bricks, as the humans might say.
Bill twisted the dagger, “Tragic mistake.”
I decided it was my turn. Bill had set me up perfectly, and I intended to finish the job.
“Because he has now broken free,” I volunteered with a hint of sarcasm.
Bad-suit, as I’d expected, was the first to react.
Roman stared me down—or tried to. “That sounds like a lie to me.”
“But it is the truth,” I said evenly. Then my voice turned deadly serious. “Whether we live or die, you will find out soon enough.”
With more trepidation than anger in his eyes, Roman began to approach Bill and me, but Salome stopped his progress. She claimed to be “intrigued”; however, I saw uncertainty in her eyes as well.
“Russell wants nothing more than anarchy,” Bill accurately stated. “If you would like your entire mainstreaming agenda and your administration with it to be completely obliterated, then—by all means—ignore me.”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself, but to someone of Roman’s ilk, information coming from a king—even one as young as Bill—would be taken more to heart than information coming from a “mere” sheriff. And, in truth, I was ultimately a bigger threat to Roman too, given my age. Bill was not such a threat; thus, Roman would not feel intimidation in listening to him.
Indeed—Bill had certainly received the hint I’d dropped about Russell and had run with it nicely. In that moment, I wanted to pat my younger companion on the back and arrange for him to have a nice plump donor.
“The only thing Russell wants more,” I added in order to keep the fuse burning, “is to see us dead.”
“Why?” Salome asked. Now, I noticed, she really was intrigued.
“He pissed me off,” I reported enigmatically. “Then I pissed him off.” I shrugged, “You know how these things go.”
Roman was not satisfied, “No—I don’t! Why would you keep Russell Edgington alive?”
Bill once again stepped up to the plate. “After what he did, we felt the true death was too good for him.”
Yep—I was definitely going to have to arrange for a nice donor for Bill—maybe two. I’d even trouble myself beforehand to find out the younger vampire’s favorite blood type. Of course, I figured that Bill’s true favorite type was “Sookie-flavor,” but I wasn’t willing to go that far.
“We wanted him to suffer,” I added.
I smiled to myself, as the Guardian fumed about how Bill and I—once again—didn’t follow the orders of the Authority. Clearly, Roman was now at “full-tilt,” as it were, and that was the best possible thing for Bill and myself—if we could survive the next three minutes, that is. We needed for Roman’s fear of Russell to outweigh his anger that his rule had been undermined. From what I’d learned about Roman, I gave us a sixty-forty chance—in our favor.
In the next moment, Roman had leapt over his sleek conference table and had a stake aimed for Bill’s heart.
Okay, maybe fifty-fifty.
“Well,” I thought, “at least the stake’s not over my heart.” Then I thought again. I wasn’t about to let Bill die for me. That would be demeaning—fucking humiliating! Plus, it would serve no purpose. Of course, I didn’t want to die in Bill’s stead either, but I was damned sure not going to lose a “Supernatural pissing contest” with Bill either, so I made a calculated risk. In the end, I didn’t really believe that the Guardian would strike.
Okay, at least fifty percent of me didn’t believe it.
“Guardian!” I yelled, my voice echoing with the authority of my thousand years. That got the Guardian’s attention. Yeah—I was pretty certain now that I could take Roman in a fair fight. “I was the one who did it,” I said calmly.
Yeah—I was now damned certain that Roman didn’t want to try to take me on, which was why he kept his focus on Bill. That was good to know.
“Lilith help me, I am going to stake you!” Roman raged as he brought down the stake within a quarter of an inch from Bill’s flesh.
But he didn’t kill Bill.
I was relieved—not overly surprised, but relieved nonetheless. Bill and I were winning the battle—at least for the moment.
Roman walked away, pontificating about the fact that he now understood that many things were more important than his “personal desires.”
I smirked to myself. I doubted very much that Roman actually believed that, and given the little “tell” that I’d picked up from him when he said those words, I was pretty sure that I would like to play poker with the Guardian. I would likely be able to build a franchise of Fangtasias with my winnings.
Bill spoke sincerely, “Guardian I promise you. Now Russell is free, he’ll stop at nothing to find us. And when he does, you will be there to put an end to him as we should have.”
Despite everything, I knew that the vampire next to me was speaking his true feelings. Hell—I knew what was paramount on Bill’s mind, for it was the main thing in my own too: Sookie. Killing Russell would help to keep Sookie safe. Not killing him had been a mistake. But right now, that fact was going to save Bill’s and my lives―at least for another night.
Bill continued, “I offer this to you as a final gesture of solidarity. I, like you, believe that mainstreaming is possible and essential, but Russell must be stopped.” Bill paused. “I fully expect to meet the true death either way.”
I realized that Bill was still being sincere, and in that moment I decided that I was going to do everything in my own power to keep Bill alive—that is, right after I made sure that my other priorities were met.
My first? Sookie. She had to live. I checked our bond. She was still there—still okay.
My second? Me—of course.
But Bill was a fourth.
Unless Pam was in danger. Then Bill would be relegated to number five.
But a solid five.
A/N: I really enjoyed a lot of this scene from the show, but I was annoyed that Bill seemed to be “in charge” of things. I didn’t think that made much sense. I think the better explanation was that Eric was keeping things close to the vest, even as he was feeling Sookie’s strong emotions through the bond. I hope you enjoyed my interpretation. I didn’t use all the words from the scene, instead opting to summarize a lot of the dialogue and happenings from Eric’s POV, but remember that the stuff in bold is from the episode, so credit the TB writers for that.