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.
“What’s happened to you?” Pam asked with such grief in her voice that my knees threatened to buckle. She took a step toward me. I had never felt such pride in her as I did for that step. She was afraid of me, but she was not ready to run.
She was afraid for me, so she was not willing to run.
“A century together,” she said, her tone betraying her hurt, “and never once have I ever done anything to hurt you—to hurt us. How could you think I would go and dig up Russell Edgington?”
However, I hated her too because she was also wrong—dead wrong. What she had tried to do to Sookie had shaken me. As Pam had fired that rocket at my beloved, I had felt my life slipping into oblivion. With a single pull of a trigger, Pam had betrayed a hundred years of trust. Her chief motive was—no doubt—to save me. And I couldn’t help but to agree with her action to some extent, given the fact that the witch had eventually been defeated.
Yes. Pam had been right to act as she had. My death in front of the witch’s store wouldn’t have made Sookie any better off. And I would have been dead for no real reason.
Yes. Pam had saved my life. But she hated Sookie too, and she failed to acknowledge that I loved Sookie more than my own life. If my actions in front of Marnie’s store had demonstrated nothing else, they’d demonstrated that fact. Yet, even now, I knew that Pam loathed Sookie and was angry at me.
The saying that there was a fine line between love and hate had become a cliché for a reason. It was fucking true!
I did know that Pam was telling the truth—as she saw it. She would die for me without question and without regret. But I also knew that she didn’t recognize that her disobedience at Marnie’s shop had been the biggest betrayal of me that she could make. That was the paradox, and it was the reason why I had needed to put Pam through all of this so that I could be sure of her. Could she have released Russell in an irrational attempt to “protect” me from Sookie?
To protect me from my own feelings?
“Well, you’d be a fool,” I said with cold cruelty. And then I uttered the words that I knew would hurt her worst of all. “I trust no one. You shouldn’t either.”
In that moment, I couldn’t help but to wonder if my words were true, and I felt broken by them right along with Pam. Just two nights before, I’d been contemplating adding Bill Compton to the short list of people I trusted, but now the entire concept of trust had so many holes in it that I could hardly believe that I’d ever believed in “trust” at all. Godric and Pam and Nora—it was those three whom I had trusted for so long.
Godric had chosen death over life—over me—and I felt the same kind of betrayal from that action that Pam must have felt when I chose to die for Sookie. I had chosen Sookie over her—and over myself—and that must have crushed my child. Had that moment irrevocably damaged all of the trust between me and my progeny?
If Nora had aligned herself with the Sanguinistas, then she had chosen to disavow herself from all of Godric’s teachings and all of her former compassion for humans. Admiring Lilith as a figurehead was one thing, but participating in a radical movement to establish vampires as feudal lords over humans was based on the same twisted notions that had ruled humans like Hitler. I was no innocent when it came to my treatment of humans, and I did feel that vampires were superior in most ways. But I had human parents. Part of me was human, and failing to see that kinship was madness.
Sookie. I sighed even as I continued to cling to her in our bond. Could it be that Sookie Stackhouse was the person that I now trusted the most—or, rather, the only being who had a hope of teaching me to trust again?
It was another fucking paradox!
But—then again—she had no idea of the bond’s significance because I’d not had a chance to tell her of it.
Before we formed the bond, Sookie had stopped on a roadside at night because she recognized me walking there. Not a minute later, I’d threatened her because she smelled so goddamned good that I could hardly control myself in my amnesic state. I’d chased her, planning to devour her blood during the whole pursuit. I’d been aroused by the hunt. Her blood had thudded in her veins. I’d wanted to fuck her as I drained her. Yet a simple hit from her—one that hardly hurt, despite my whining to the contrary—had stopped me.
I now recognized that two things had kept me from draining her that night: my gut and her eyes. My gut told me that I shouldn’t hurt her, that she was important to me. And I trusted it. Her eyes told me that she wanted to believe that I wouldn’t hurt her—to believe in me. She trusted me.
“Trust me,” I’d told her in Dallas as we’d stood in the Fellowship Church. Even then, her eyes had told me that she did—despite a preponderance of evidence that she shouldn’t. Hell—if I had been her, I wouldn’t have trusted me.
I broke her trust later that same night by tricking her into taking my blood. Yet she still trusted me. She came to me for help when she and Jessica found the car of Bill’s kidnappers. She trusted me enough to go to Jackson with a Were just because I’d sent him to her. She trusted me enough to be crushed when I told her I felt nothing for her in Russell’s mansion. She trusted me enough to come to Fangtasia to ask me why she shouldn’t trust Bill. She trusted me enough to drag me inside from the burning sun after I had once again betrayed her trust by locking her in my basement and then taking her blood without her permission. She trusted me not to hurt her when I couldn’t even remember my own fucking name! She trusted that I was not going to harm her the night she found me at the foot of her bed―with my fangs out—after I’d had that fucked up vision of Godric.
She even trusted the amnesic me with her already-assaulted heart. She just didn’t trust herself enough to know that I had given her my own dead heart in return. Yes. Maybe I could trust again.
Maybe the greatest paradox of them all was the hope and the hopelessness that love could engender—at the same fucking time!
I sighed. It was undeniable that love made people do fucked up things. Love had caused Sookie to run from me—from both Bill and me—because of the idiotic notion that we’d all be hurt less if she did. Love had caused Godric to make sure I was safe by ordering me away even as he prepared to meet the sun. Love had caused Nora to risk her position—and likely her fucked up cause—in order to try to save my life. Love had caused Pam to disobey me and fire a rocket at the woman I loved.
Maybe love was so fucked up because it required trust in order to be real, and “trust” had a lot of fucking holes in it.
I sighed internally. I was the “fool” that I’d just accused Pam of being. And I was a liar. I did trust. I still did. And that’s why I was hurting right now, even as I was hurting my child.
Pam’s desolate tone once more broke me out of my thoughts. “If I mean so little to you,” she cried, “then why keep me around?”
Her voice bared her bitterness and anger. Once more, pride for her surged through me as I turned around slowly to look at her, even as I hated myself for the pain I was inflicting upon her. From her words and from the feeling I was getting from her end of the bond, I knew that she was about to say what I needed to hear. But her words would also sever something between us that we would never get back. They would dissolve the blind trust that we had always had in each other before.
I slowly turned to face her.
“If you can’t trust me more than Bill Compton or—or—a Werewolf for Christ’s sake, then release me and get it over with,” she said, her voice stronger now.
I looked her in the eyes, every single bit of my energy focusing on them. Godric had taught me that when torture was used—and make no mistake, I knew that’s exactly what I’d been subjecting my child to—there was a moment of crisis right before the one being tortured gave up the last shred of information. There was a resolution in the tortured person in that moment, and it was a sign that he or she was going to admit that which would hurt him or her the most.
For Pam, that moment was here, and I knew that after it, I would be absolutely certain that my progeny had had nothing to do with Russell’s release. It needed to happen, but after it did, nothing would ever be the same.
“Just say the words,” she begged, even as her voice betrayed the hope that I never would, “‘As your maker,'” she said, pausing after every word as if it hurt her physically, “‘I release you.’ Say it, and we’re done!”
I said nothing as I studied her and waited.
“Say it!” she yelled.
Yes—Pam hated Sookie. Yes—part of her wanted to kill her. Yes—part of her wanted Russell to kill her now that he was out of the ground. But I knew in that moment that Pamela had not betrayed me. She was willing to suffer that which she feared the most: my abandonment of her. And she was willing to suffer it in order to prove herself to me.
Indeed, I felt great pride in my progeny, and I opened our bond again in order to let her feel it too. She looked up at me with confused eyes.
Yes. I loved my child. But I also knew that I would have to release her—not in anger and not because I thought she had betrayed me. The last thing I would do if I really thought she had betrayed me was to release her. I would kill her or at least keep her under my power so that I could order her to do as I bid.
No. I would release her so that we could begin rebuilding the trust between us. I knew that we would now have to be on more equal footing to do that.
However, in releasing her, I was going to lose a great deal of my connection to her. I would no longer feel her emotions as I did now. And I would no longer be an immediate presence inside of her either. I would be able to sense that she was alive, and I would still be able to “call” her if I wanted to, but she would not have to answer my call.
As I waited for Pam to calm down and to accept the affection that I was now sending her through our bond, I recalled standing outside of the Fellowship of the Sun church in Dallas with Isobel. I couldn’t even feel Godric’s presence there. It had taken Sookie’s message through a fucking bellboy to confirm that Godric was inside, for he had chosen to shut himself off fully from me by that time. I hadn’t even known if he was alive or dead. I had promised myself that I would never do that to Pam. But—in releasing her—I would be breaking that vow. I would be making it impossible for her to feel me at all—unless I chose to “call” her.
“What the fuck, Eric?” Pam squeaked a little.
Slowly, I eliminated the few steps between us. With my thumb, I gently brushed away some of her tears, bent down, and kissed her on the forehead.
Her expression showed her confusion at my gesture.
“I hope that you and I will always be connected, Pamela,” I said in a soft voice, meant to start the healing that would have to occur between us now. “I am sorry that I had to hurt you, but I had to be sure.”
She gasped. “That was an act?” she asked, her voice sounding almost as betrayed as before.
“A necessary one,” I responded, even as I wondered how my voice could sound both stern and contrite in the same moment.
“I understand,” she said shakily even though I knew that she didn’t.
“Go clean your beautiful face before your child comes.” I smiled a little. “We—none of us—like seeing our makers in pain, dotter. We will talk more later,” I promised.
Though still obviously a little confused, she nodded before turning to walk to the employee washroom as I went to my office to speak with Bill.
I was bolstered by only one fact. I may have tortured Pam in order to find out for sure that she hadn’t betrayed me, but—unless I saw no other way out of a situation—I would not abandon her as Godric had abandoned me when he’d walked into that Fellowship church.
I sighed deeply.
I would abandon neither my child nor the woman I loved―even if I had to let them both go.
I don’t say this enough, but many, many thanks to Kleannhouse for the extra set of eyes and Sephrenia for the amazing visuals. You gals rock!