A/N: You can thank a fever and chills for a chapter that is done before my usual weekend posting date. What better way to keep my mind off aching all over than hanging out with Eric? Even in an underground cell with poor, rotting Pam.
Since I’m (sadly) betaless, and I’ll be writing more and more in the AU vein, so if you spot something that makes no flipping sense or if I drop a plot point, please let me know. It’s easy to play back DVDs to fact check canon, but not so much when I’m controlling the plot! And sorry for the even-heavier-than-usual reliance on dashes in this chapter. People just kept hesitating in what they were saying!
Thanks for all the review/favorites! Every time someone comments or favorites, I’m genuinely thrilled. XOXOXOXOXOXO
Chapter 7: Final Arrangements
When I woke for the night, I was at first disoriented. The royal cell was strangely reminiscent of my bedroom in Sookie’s house, with similar concrete walls and built-in flat interior lights. I vaguely wondered if the same contractor had done the work; I had to assume only a few companies locally would specialize in underground vamp-secure spaces. But despite the similarities, it had none of the little touches that had made the other room seem like home the first time I’d (in my memory) seen it.
Pam had eventually stopped crying the night before and fallen silent. At one point, I had suggested she move to the other cot in the cell for her own comfort, but she had mournfully answered that she didn’t want to move for fear something else would fall off, so I left her alone. But I had continued to check on her feelings now and again the rest of that night with what I hoped were unobtrusive emotional probes. I could feel that she loved the Other Eric deeply; I just didn’t know how to respond to that given how I was feeling about Him. What I did try to do was send Pam what probably felt like awkward waves of comfort. I didn’t want to feel her hurt and while I regretted being the cause of her pain, I also knew that I felt strongly about my position, just as she did hers. This wasn’t something we could agree on.
When I felt for her on waking this evening, I could feel that she was awake, emotionally exhausted – and fearful, presumably for what tonight would bring.
I also reached out to feel for Sookie as well, and found her worried, although not frightened. I was relieved; I did not want her to try to do more for me for fear of what might happen to her.
As I lay on the cot, wondering what the king might do with us this night, I felt a ripple of curiosity from Pam’s corner. “Eric?”
“What happened to you at Sookie’s? I don’t mean in general –” Pam didn’t want to discuss the changes in me any more than I wanted to hear about the old me. It was too painful for both of us. “—but whatever was going on two days ago. You were very happy just as I was going to ground but when I rose for the night, you were –” Pam stopped. “Things had changed. You were … very unhappy.”
That was a diplomatic way to put it. I knew Pam was referring to what happened while I was intoxicated on the fairy blood – and what I felt afterwards.
“Was it Sookie?” she asked tentatively when I didn’t answer right away. “I thought you had probably finally fucked her when I felt your joy and when I felt your later feelings, I assumed she had…done something. Or said something to hurt you afterwards.”
I could feel Pam’s negative feelings towards Sookie, but it hadn’t occurred to me that they might be caused by Pam’s love for the Other Eric. She thought Sookie hurt Him – me. And she didn’t like it.
I was also frankly shocked that Pam seemed to think the Other Eric could be hurt. I thought He – I – wasn’t supposed to have any feelings?
“I drank a fairy,” I finally said. “It was…intoxicating.” I turned fully to look at her. “I could walk in the sun. And swim and fly in the sun. It was – amazing.” It was still amazing; I could feel the swell of remembered pleasure sweep through me again and I knew Pam felt it, too. “But when it stopped and I realized I could never do it again –” I shook my head. “It hurt.”
“You flew in the sun?” Pam’s tone sounded almost mocking, but I could feel her genuine thrill for me.
“Not a lot,” I answered ruefully. “I was concerned that if I were spotted, I’d get interrupted. But I did see the sunrise from the treetops. And swim in the lake.” I added teasingly, “And swim with gators.”
“Just a regular Louisiana good ol’ boy,” Pam said drily.
There was a moment’s silence before I asked, “Why did you think the feelings had something to do with Sookie?”
This time Pam was the one who was quiet before answering. “It felt very much the way you felt went she was gone.”
“Gone?” I had no idea what she was talking about.
Pam sighed. “Sookie was gone for a year. You thought she was with the fairies, although I don’t think she’s ever told you for sure.” She looked at me questioningly as if perhaps Sookie had confided in me since I’d lost my memories, but I had to shake my head “no.”
So the dead fairy’s attempt to take Sookie to the fairy realm was not the first one. And Sookie had not wanted to go there again.
Any residual qualms I had about having eaten the fairy vanished.
“What did you mean that my feelings were similar to when she was gone?” I had not forgotten how we got on the subject of Sookie and fairies.
“You care for Sookie.” Pam’s eyes met mine. “I mean, you have cared. For a long time.”
“You mean, I want to fuck her.” It was more of a question than a statement. My impression of my “normal” motivations were that they typically involved only my fangs and my dick.
Pam snorted. “I wish. Our lives would be so much simpler if it were that easy.” She shifted positions to be more comfortable. “No, you care about her. You’ve saved her life at least twice that I know of, you’ve risked yourself in other ways for her sake on a ridiculous number of other occasions, and you bought her god-damned dump of a house in order to fix it up for her while she was gone. You care for her. No matter what she may think about it.” Pam pursed her lips. “And while she was gone, you …didn’t handle it well.”
I could feel the pain through our bond as Pam presumably remembered what my “not handling it well” entailed.
“I was sad?” I prompted.
Pam laughed mirthlessly. “Sookie Stackhouse fucking broke you, Eric.” She shook her head. “You were miserable while she was gone. I’ve never seen you so depressed. Not in a hundred years; not even after Godric. You were –” Pam choked a little on the ironic turn of phrase, “—not yourself while she was gone. At least that damned house gave you something productive to do until she came back.”
That made me think of something. “Why didn’t I give her the house then? When she got back?”
Pam shrugged. “You own the house, you own her. I assume you were still holding it over her head to get her to choose to become Yours.”
Oh. Well, fuck, just as I was beginning to think maybe I could live with the Other Me, Pam had to remind me that He – I – was an asshole.
“You were probably going to give it to her anyhow,” Pam said morosely. “Whether she became Yours or not. That fairy bitch has turned your ability to think like a vampire to shit.”
“Pam,” I said warningly.
Something about my tone made Pam sniffle: nostalgia, loss. “Goddammit, you just sounded like you, and it hurts to know you’re not you even if you sound like it.” Her eyes brimmed with bloody tears.
I chose to ignore the implication of what weeping over the “missing me” said about Pam’s feelings for the “current me.” Not that I expected her to love me the way she loved him, but to constantly be compared to an absent someone else when I was the one present was…tiresome.
“You said I had saved Sookie’s life? Twice?” I hadn’t missed that little detail in her explanation earlier. And maybe more questions would distract her from her sense of loss over asshole me.
Pam wiped at her eyes. “Yes. The first time, you took the blast from an explosion in Dallas so that she didn’t get hit by the shrapnel –”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “Is this the same time I tricked her into drinking my blood?”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Yes, you asked her to suck the shrapnel you took for her out of your chest. As far I am concerned, that was quid pro quo.”
I couldn’t agree with Pam since I still knew that Sookie hadn’t needed to suck the metal out of my body, but I was surprised that Sookie hadn’t mentioned I had protected her in the blast.
“And the second time I saved her?” I asked cautiously.
“You didn’t give her to Russell Edgington.” Pam said definitively.
I frowned in confusion. “No, I thought I did give her to Russell Edgington. And that we both drank from her until she nearly died.”
“Well, yes,” Pam said, “but you could have just given her to Russell outright and been done with it. Instead, you convinced Russell to drink her with you and walk in the sun together – and not drain her in the process. Whether that annoying little –” Pam spotted my look and obviously changed her next words. “—fairy princess appreciated what you did for her or not, you saved her life because Russell would have just chugged her like a human bottle of sun tea.”
“Did you say ‘walk in the sun together’?” I stared at her, wondering if I had misunderstood something.
“Oh, for God’s sake, what have you two been talking about for the last few days that she hasn’t even told you that?” Pam said in exasperation. She then proceeded to explain to me how I had planned to destroy Russell Edgington by appearing to give him Sookie, while safeguarding her to the best of my ability. “And then, after Sookie pulled you inside so that you didn’t burn any further –”
Oh, she did? Maybe she didn’t hate me – Him – as much as I thought she did?
“—she let you drink from her in order to heal and then went back out to rescue that asshole from the sun after you asked her to.”
“She let me drink from her? Voluntarily?” I was genuinely shocked. “And rescue who, Russell? I wanted him rescued? Why?”
“Fuck if I know that to this day, Eric. I know you ended up feeling that you were punishing him even worse by not killing him, but I still think you should have staked his miserable ass. Even Sookie thought so.”
I was still confused as all hell by this. And hadn’t Sookie told me Edgington had met the true death?
“But then we did kill him later, right?” I said warily.
Pam shook her head. “No, you and Bill buried him in wet cement wearing a very fashionable overcoat of silver chains. He’s still there, no doubt withering away. You, fortunately, are not.”
She was about to launch off into some other part of the story, I could tell, but I interrupted her.
“So Russell Edgington is not dead is what you’re telling me?” I said intensely.
“No, although I sure as fuck wish he was.”
Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. I was going to have to let Sookie know. If I ever got to see her again. She thought she was safe.
Pam told me more details about how I’d found Russell Edgington and his wolves, thanks to Sookie’s relationship with Bill, and how I had sought vengeance from the king of Mississippi for the death of my family. Hearing the specifics of how I had killed Edgington’s lover only convinced me that I had foolishly placed Sookie in future danger because of my own need for vengeance. If Edgington had loved his consort as much as I loved Sookie, we had a lot to fear if he was ever able to retaliate. I was going to have to warn her if it was the last thing I did.
I was barely listening as Pam rattled on with a story she found amusing about Russell and some large glass vase, as I sat, thinking about loving Sookie.
I loved Sookie. I had been certain of what I felt for her even before she kissed me on the steps of her house, but even I had been surprised at how quickly and intensely my feelings had grown. Even with my memories gone, it seemed strange to fall in love with someone in just a few days.
I wondered if I had loved her for a long, long time before I lost my memory. If Other Me had not just “cared for her,” but loved her.
Although if He/I did, He/I sure had some fucking moronic ways of showing it.
It would be so much easier if Sookie could feel how I felt about her. If she could feel and subsequently learn to trust my love for her, maybe she would forgive me, no matter what the Other Eric had done. And while I couldn’t undo the past, I could try to do right by Sookie in the future. If I survived that long.
“—honestly, I don’t know what he expected to do with that big pile of goo, but—” Pam fell silent as guards appeared at the bars of our cell.
“Sheriff Northman,” one of the human guards said. “You have been determined to be under the control of a necromancer and therefore a threat to your kind. King Compton has requested that you be brought upstairs for the administration of your sentence.”
“What? What sentence?” Pam said shrilly. “He hasn’t had a trial yet!” Pam had used her vamp speed to stand and move between me and the guards, as I was still seated on my cot. “If you try to touch him, I’ll rip your fucking human heads off,” she growled.
“Ma’am, don’t interfere, or we will have to use silver bullets on you,” another guard said.
“Pam,” I said in the same voice that had made Pam cry earlier. “As your Maker, I command you not to interfere with them removing me from this cell or administering my sentence.” Pam began to cry again and she made a move towards me, but stopped when a gun rose in her direction. I felt my progeny’s panic and sorrow and I turned to the guards.
“The True Death?” One nodded sharply, avoiding my eyes. I assumed that was part of their training, to minimize the likelihood of glamouring. “I don’t expect privacy, but can she come close enough to say goodbye to me? I’d also like to give her a few final instructions. Nothing that can’t be overheard by you,” I said sincerely.
All eyes moved to one member of the team. He spoke into his Bluetooth headset. “Your majesty, Sheriff Northman asks if he can give Ms. Swynford de Beaufort some final instructions. He has commanded her as her Maker not to interfere with the enactment of his sentence, but he wishes to say goodbye to her.” Through the headset, I heard Bill agree and the guard nodded and gestured at Pam affirmatively.
In an instant, she had moved in close to me, but rather than clutch me to her – although I could feel she wanted to – she simply stood close by, her arms cradling herself as she wept. “Eric,” she sobbed quietly to me, “Please don’t let them do this. You are stronger than they are, far stronger than fucking Bill, for Christ’s sake; you do not have to let them do this. We can fight them, fight the Authority if we need to—”
I stepped forward and lightly placed my arms around her, careful not to damage her fragile and deteriorating body. “Shhhhh, Pam,” I said gently. “You promised me.” I raised her chin with a finger to look her in the eyes. “You’re not going to give these men any trouble. They’re just doing their job.” And in that moment she hated me as much as she loved me – or Him, or whatever version of Eric Northman it was that she cared about – but she nodded the tiniest bit. Down to business. “Pam, do I have a will?”
“Yes,” she bit out. “But I don’t want your fucking properties –”
I shook my head at her. Not relevant. “Do you inherit Sookie’s house if I meet the True Death?”
“Yes.” I could feel as her mind leaped ahead to what I was about to request.
“As Your Maker, I command you –”
“Fuck you, Eric Northman, you do not have to command me to give her that goddamn house!” Pam hissed at me. “I will give it to her the moment you are gone if that is what you want, and then I don’t care if I never see Stookie Stackhouse again. But you only have to fucking ask me!”
I leaned closer and said softly, “And if I don’t get a chance to tell her, tell her about Russell Edgington. Please. She doesn’t know.” I was purposefully vague, aware of the human guards and uncertain whether having anyone else should hear the news that Russell Edgington was still alive.
Pam nodded stiffly, still sniffling. I felt another rush of tremendous pain and sorrow through our bond and her eyes filled again. “Eric –” she choked out. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to tell Bill and I never, ever wanted it to come to this –” She began to sob wretchedly and I kissed her lightly on the head.
“I forgive you,” I whispered to her and was grateful to hear that the words comforted her. “And although I don’t want to be the vampire you knew again –” Pam’s body trembled and I knew that those words were not as welcome. “I appreciate that you loved him – that you love me enough to want to fight so hard for me.” I smiled. “Especially since I appear to have been a major asshole,” I added drily.
“But you were my major asshole,” Pam sniffled.
I looked down at the top of her blonde head. “Are we good?” I asked almost casually.
She wiped tears away from her eyes, making a far worse mess on her face. “As good as we can be with you willingly going off to die for that –” I didn’t know if she was about to curse King Bill or Sookie, but this was not the time to name call either of them, so I touched a finger to her spell-ravaged lips and shook my head.
“Be good,” I said warningly, using what I now thought of as my Maker voice.
“Fuck you,” she said, rolling her eyes, but I could feel that she said it with love.
I looked over her head at the guards. “I think we’re done here.”
Pam turned to the corner where she had spent the night and pressed herself against the wall as the guards put silver handcuffs on me and led me out of the cell. I could feel that she didn’t want to try the limits of my command’s bind on her by watching them take me away.
We were a cluster of five: two guards who held me by my biceps, my wrists bound behind my back in silver, with two more armed guards, one at my side and one at my back. They led me out through the front hallway outside, where Bill stood looking up at the full moon.
The guards forced me to my knees in front my ruler, but I made the choice to acknowledge him because I was going to die with honor, especially if it was going to be the last thing I did. “Your Majesty,” I said respectfully.
King Bill’s face was cold. “You understand why you’re here?”
“I’ve been told I’m under the spell of a necromancer,” I replied bluntly. “And that I am consequently a threat to my kind.”
“You are here, Sheriff Northman, because I have been given orders to sentence you to the True Death.” The king paused as if he expected some response from me, but I simply nodded slightly in acknowledgement. “Do you have anything to say?”
“According to my progeny, I was a –” I hesitated and then reframed my words, closing my eyes against the difficulty of what I was about to say. “—I am –” I would die with my honor, what little I felt I had left. “—a barbarian thug who’s never respected your authority. I don’t expect you to show me any mercy.”
The king looked down at me, bewildered. “Surely you don’t wish to die?”
“No. But I don’t wish to live this way, either,” I replied. I glanced up at the king, trying to explain my choice. “The vampire I used to be is a stranger to me. I have nothing to say in his defense.” I saw the king rock back on his heels, perhaps in surprise at my words. To the end, my reputation as smug, sarcastic ass had preceded me, I guess. “I will accept my sentence.” I lowered my head briefly. And then I thought of something. “But I have a request,” I added.
The king pursed his lips as if this was much more in keeping my usual character. “Naturally.”
“Release Pam,” I said urgently. “At the rate she’s decomposing, she can’t be much of a threat. At least not for long.”
King Bill looked as if he was considered it. When he didn’t say no, I took it as a wish granted.
“What else?” he said as if expecting something worse.
“Sookie.” And there it was. I could see by the expression on his face that whatever he feared I would ask had to do with Sookie. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what he thought I was about to say. “Tell her I was born the night she found me,” I began and I heard my own voice crack with the emotion of it. “Because of her I went to my true death knowing what it means to love. Tell her thank you.”
Clearly, that was not what my king had anticipated.
Bill Compton gave me a faint, stiff nod in acknowledgement, then signaled for the weapon of execution, which turned out to be an elaborately turned wooden stake nested in a velvet-lined box. As he began to withdraw the weapon from its royal purple shroud, I added, “And one more message for her. Please.”
The king turned, the implement of my True Death in his hand, as if he was once again unsure what to expect from me.
“I am told you know exactly what happened to Russell Edgington,” I said carefully. Maybe the king’s guards knew the full story, but I suspected not.
The king tensed.
“Please tell Sookie all the details. So she knows the whole truth,” I said, meeting his eyes to try to convey what I meant. The warning for Sookie’s sake.
He barely nodded again, his face unreadable. And then, one hand lightly marking the target of my heart, he raised the stake high overhead in his other hand, preparing to plunge it into my chest. I raised my eyes to the sky, where the moon hung, huge and white. And as I looked at it, I followed the thread of my bond with Sookie for one last time. And while I felt that she was worried about something, tired but somehow relieved, I willed my love towards her and knew that I had done my best to leave her safer in this world.
A/N: I appreciated the context of TB Eric nobly telling Bill that Sookie deserves happiness with whoever can give it to her (only to have Bill blatantly steal that line himself later!) but since MY Sookie doesn’t still love His Royal PITAness, My Eric isn’t going there.
And no, this isn’t the end! It’s a cliff hanger where for once Eric isn’t just going to sleep. 🙂