My very long life had been exciting, mostly fulfilling, and for many decades boring, until Sookie made her abrupt appearance one fateful night. Love at first sight, as she liked to say. Not that I had never felt it, but it was rare for me to invest so much of myself into another person. My wife was the perfect combination of beauty, wit, stubbornness, and sense of adventure. Plus, she loved me, thoroughly and unconditionally.
The night I was crowned King of Louisiana and Arkansas was special, but in my mind it wasn’t nearly as special as countless other nights spent with my Sookie. Somehow she had managed to save us all one more time. Whenever I feared that I would lose her, I was filled with terror the likes of which I’d never felt before, not even for my own life.
Why? Why did I feel like she was my world and without her I’d be nothing? In over a thousand years on this earth it had never occurred to me that my life hinged upon another’s. Now, it wasn’t only a fleeting, romantic thought. It was a visceral conviction: Sookie was mine and I was hers and without her I was nothing.
We were the center of attention during my coronation. She was exquisite when happy, her smile so brilliant that the diamond necklace around her neck dimmed in comparison. The pride I felt roared through my being and I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs in simple joy for having such a mate. Having her beside me had been an amazing adventure, full of everything that makes life worth living – the highs, the lows, not a single moment wasted.
Never did I think that I would ever understand the moment she used the love token to save my life. She had tried to explain it, how much it hurt to see me fighting, how the hopelessness of the situation had been the driving force that made her wish come true. She didn’t know what she was wishing for, only that she wished for it all to never have happened. I deduced that, because she wished with love in her heart, she was able to remember a life that had never happened so that she was able to avoid it all ever happening again.
But, like everything in life, it was my turn to experience firsthand what had driven Sookie to use a cluviel dor to save my life.
From the moment Sookie and I had made a second cluviel dor, I understood that if I was the one forced to use it, I had to be able to recite my wish fast, with purpose, with faith, with the full understanding that if I left any word out then my wish would not come to pass as I intended. Night after night thereafter, I recited the words over and over in my head, careful not to touch Sookie’s middle as I practiced.
We twirled effortlessly on the dance floor, Sookie’s steps perfectly matching mine, her eyes twinkling one moment then… terror. Her whole being filled with it and she stopped us in the middle of our dance.
She collapsed within my arms.
It happened so fast that I just held her in shock. The word “staked” and screams of outrage rang throughout the ballroom. When I looked up, Sookie’s godfather was in the middle of staking the queen of Oklahoma in the chest, her face a mask of anger. A woman twice scorned seeking revenge. She had staked my love, who was now dying in my arms.
Sookie’s tears were at odds with her faint smile. “I saved you again,” she whispered.
Faster than I can describe, because we had no time, I put my hand on her waist and recited the words that I had made myself remember like an actor in a play. I had rehearsed them so often, that they came to me automatically.
Sookie’s eyes were open and still focused on me. I looked around me then at my hand on her waist. It was bloody, my own tears spilling and staining it and Sookie’s dress. From within the silk of her gown, long golden tendrils of light particles uncoiled like vines, first surrounding my wife’s body, then crawling up my arm and slowly surrounding me.
I watched mesmerized, my fear of losing her leaving me. All I felt was peace and warmth, Sookie’s love and mine making me have faith that the token we had made would make it all better, would right all the wrongs and fix what was broken.
Still in my arms, Sookie took a shuddering breath, no longer fearing for her life as the light took her from me. Suddenly she disappeared. When I looked around me once again, the ballroom started disappearing too. I felt the overwhelming urge to lie down on the floor and I didn’t fight it. I closed my eyes as pain started shooting through me, first through my abdomen, then spreading to my head. When I felt like I could no longer bear it, I opened my eyes to my new reality.
“Eric?” I heard Pam’s voice next to me. She was sitting beside me on my bed and I suddenly gasped like I was out of breath.
As a matter of fact, I was out of breath. My heart beating furiously inside my ribcage told me almost everything I needed to know.
“Care to explain what happened,” Pam said and I had a hard time gauging her emotions. I looked at her and she looked lovely, as young and vibrant as the day I’d turned her. Except…
“I’m human,” I mumbled, stretching my legs, then feeling the need to stretch my whole body. It felt wonderful, except that my toes were cold.
“Yeah, and I’m not, which is really fucked up if you think about it.” Pam was in distress, judging solely by her tone. My heart skipped a beat when I realized that I could no longer feel my children’s emotions within me. For the first time in nearly six hundred years I was alone inside myself.
My fear made me sit up on my bed, startling Pam. “What day is it? What’s the date?”
“Funnily enough, it’s the first of June in 2009. A Monday.”
“What do you remember?”
“Again, it’s quite funny that I remember two years into the future and my maker was actually a thousand-year-old vampire, not a human who’s made bad hairstyle choices in his mid-twenties.”
Tangled in bedsheets, I tried my best to extricate myself from the bed as I explained. “Sookie was staked by Freyda the night I was crowned King of Louisiana and Arkansas.”
“Fuck a zombie!” Her eyes widened in sudden understanding. “You used the cluviel dor.”
“She wasn’t supposed to die that night and you know it.” My human body was clumsy, or I was all thumbs and left feet that night because I couldn’t seem to get dressed fast enough.
“She took the stake for you.”
“Yes,” I stopped, awe filling me now that I knew we were all safely in the past. “Whatever power made Sookie able to go out in the sunlight, also kept her alive long enough even though she’d been staked. I wasn’t willing to test whether it wouldn’t kill her eventually, so I did what I had to do.”
“Why are you human?” Pam asked as I put on a t-shirt.
“One night, when we met with Niall, I told him that I had made Sookie the same as me because I couldn’t be the same as her. Even saying it struck me as selfish. There was always a way.”
“So…you gave up your whole existence in order to be with Sookie as a human?”
“She gave up much more for me,” I pointed out. “She gave up her job, her home, her whole life just to be with me. She loved me that much. I have to show her I love her the same.” The words left my mouth with conviction, and my new body agreed with my feelings, my heart stumbling then starting again at double time.
“Eric, I understand,” Pam said in an uncharacteristic soft voice. “You are my maker, and I love you, and I want you to be happy. This is what you need and I will help you. For starters,” she took out her phone and started dialing, “I think I want to buy a certain house next to a cemetery.”
I smiled. How could I do this without her? Per usual, Pam astounded me with her intelligence and depth. After she finished her phone call and announced that she had a meeting with a realtor later that night, I turned to her and showed off my new body. “How do I look?”
Pam’s eyes took in my jeans and t-shirt. “Awful, but Sookie will love you no matter what. At least brush your teeth before you go. Your breath stinks.”
It was near torture to drive at a lawful speed on my way from Shreveport to Bon Temps. There has never been a longer hour, none that I could remember. When I arrived at Sookie’s grandmother’s house, I did my best to stop my body from shaking with nerves and adrenaline. It had been an amazingly long time since I’d felt that way. I rang the doorbell and fidgeted, my heart hammering so loud that I could hear it inside my head.
An older lady opened the door and smiled up at me. “Can I help you?”
I stammered like a schoolboy. “I- I- Good evening,” I smiled and swallowed nervously. “I’m here to visit Sookie.”
“She’s working tonight, darling. Do I know you?” she opened the screen door a little to take a better look at me.
“I’m sorry, I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure. I’m Eric Northman,” I said and extended my hand. Being human was new to me, but not so new that I couldn’t remember the manners that Meg, Pam, and Sookie herself had all taught me.
“I’m Sookie’s grandmother, Mrs. Stackhouse,” she shook my hand politely. “It’s always nice to meet one of Sookie’s friends. Would you like to come in?”
“If it’s all the same, ma’am, I will go to Merlotte’s and see if Sookie will be free soon.”
The old lady smiled wider. “Of course. But come tomorrow night and have dinner with us,” she said as she closed the screen door.
I thanked her profusely. Whatever happened tonight, Sookie’s grandmother had already invited me to dinner. If there was ever an “in,” this was it!
Merlotte’s wasn’t very busy at all. I parked not too far from the front door and entered. My whole body vibrating like a tuning fork. Of all the human things I would have to master, appearing cool under pressure would have to be one of the priorities. That and mastering my bladder once again, I supposed. So far so good.
Almost everyone in the bar looked my way when I entered, but not because I was a vampire. I was a new face, plain and simple. I scanned the place and saw Sookie’s blond ponytail bobbing as she walked and carried a tray laden with food. My stomach tightened uncomfortably before I shivered. It would not do to be this nervous in front of her.
“Would you like a booth or a table?” a female voice asked me.
Coming back from visions of Sookie naked in bed, I paid attention to the person who had asked me a question. It was another waitress, one that – if I recalled correctly – would die soon. I chanced that she would think I was slow while I looked at the sitting chart on the hostess’ booth and figured out the best place to sit if I were to be served by Sookie.
“That booth over there,” I pointed to one that was in the middle of Sookie’s tables.
Sookie wasted no time at all to come and take my order. Her smile was familiar but alien. She didn’t know me, and the realization made my heart stumble and sink.
“Have you been here before?” she asked me pleasantly, setting a cardboard coaster and a glass of water on the table.
“Once or twice a long time ago,” I answered and tried to sound sincere. Then I had a idea. “My friend said to ask for Sookie. He was here not too long ago and said she was great.”
Sookie’s face lit up. “That’s me! That’s so nice to say! Thank you!” She was truly pleased. “In that case, tell me what you would like to drink and I’ll bring it to you right away.”
What did she use to drink? “A Coke, please, with lots of ice.”
“That’s the best way to drink it! Coming right up.” Sookie bounced away and came right back without stopping anywhere but at the bar to pick up my drink. “Have you decided what you would like for dinner?”
I blinked confused. I hadn’t even looked at the menu. “What would you recommend?” I asked, not that I would be able to eat.
“Not to brag but we’re kinda famous for the Hamburger Lafayette. Would you like to try it?”
My smile couldn’t be contained. “Yes, I would.”
Fifteen minutes later I had my food, but I’d filled up on soda. I’d never had a Coke in my life, and even tasting it by proxy didn’t compare with how good it actually tasted and felt going down. Besides, since I was drinking glass after glass, it kept bringing Sookie back to refill it. However, I had to try to eat something, if only because Sookie’s actual job was to bring food to people.
I lost my battle with the burger. At first it all went well, with every morsel making it inside my mouth, with me chewing carefully and swallowing, enjoying the new tastes and feeling my insides welcome the calories. By the time I’d eaten most of the burger, it was a mess of slippery bread, gooey condiments, and escaping beef. I’d made a mess all over my shirt.
Embarrassed beyond my own comprehension, I asked Sookie to point me to the restrooms. To her credit, she didn’t even look at my shirt as she gave me directions. She always looked me in the eye.
The restroom was another adventure, but not because I didn’t know how to point and shoot or take care of a stain on my clothes. I hadn’t done either of those things in so long that I lacked the muscle memory. I did remember to wash my hands, though, unlike several other patrons.
When I returned to my booth, Sookie had cleaned it and settled another full glass of Coke upon it. My visit to Merlotte’s was drawing to a close and I hadn’t done anything to make her notice me as more than just another customer. But there was one way to ensure she would never forget me. My courage faltered only briefly before I made up my mind and walked forward with my head held high.
As soon as she saw me retake my seat, she smiled in my direction and bounced back ready to offer me dessert. Before saying another word, I grabbed her hand, and she politely didn’t pull away like I thought she might. Manners won over her aversion to touching others.
Slowly, her own thoughts became evident on her face, and rather than letting me hold her hand, she held mine instead. She blinked a couple of times, then smiled widely.
“Do you have a few free minutes?” I asked her. “I would like to ask you to have dessert with me. My treat.”
She giggled. “Sure! I’ll bring us some pie and coffee.” She turned then turned again. “What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Eric.”
As she got our food and coffee, Sam Merlotte stopped by my table and eyed me curiously. “Don’t I know you?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Have you been here before?”
“Yes, a long time ago.”
His expression cleared somewhat. I wasn’t sure exactly whether he knew me or not, but I was sure that the shifter could smell that I was human and had the scent of vampire about me. He left as Sookie returned.
“Thank you for giving me a reason to take a break,” she breathed out as she sat down.
“How long have you been working tonight?”
“Since the lunch rush.”
“Wow!” I said, truly awed. “No wonder you’re tired.”
“What brings you to Bon Temps?”
“I was passing by on my way home from Monroe,” I lied, but it was a good enough reason.
“You live in Shreveport or Bossier?”
“Shreveport. I own a bar there, a…” I wanted to be as honest as possible and there was no way to sugarcoat it, “a vampire bar.”
She blinked and leaned closer. “Are you a vampire?” she asked in a very low voice.
I laughed. “No, just an entrepreneur. I’m going to sell it though. The city life is not for me.”
“Too bad. I’ve always wanted to meet a vampire.”
How could I dissuade her from such a thing? Knowing Sookie, it would be nearly impossible. My best chance would be to make her fall in love with me again so that she would forget that dangerous notion.
She must have misinterpreted my silence because she cleared her throat and thrust her hand in my direction. “Proper introduction,” she smiled as I took her hand. She shook it. “I’m Sookie Stackhouse.”
I didn’t dare let go of her hand, as hard as she was holding mine. I was sure she was trying her best to read my mind.
“I’m Eric Northman, my pleasure.” I pulled on her hand a little. “Are you related to Mrs. Adele Stackhouse, by chance?”
“Yes, she’s my grandmother.”
“That’s wonderful,” I said and truly meant it. “I met her briefly earlier today and she invited me to dinner at her house tomorrow night.”
Sookie was surprised. “Really? She didn’t say anything to me. I live with her,” she explained. Embarrassed, she looked down at our hands, still locked together. I knew the reason she couldn’t seem to let go and my heart leapt to my throat. “I should probably give you your hand back,” she mumbled and slowly tried to let go.
“I don’t mind,” I said quickly and squeezed lightly. She looked beautiful as her cheeks filled with blood, and for once I didn’t feel the need to sink my fangs into her flesh. Even though the thought had formed in my mind, the need for blood was foreign and I marveled. “So we’ll be having dinner together tomorrow?”
She smiled. “Yeah, we will. What a nice surprise!”
That night we spoke like friends who hadn’t seen each other and needed to catch up on everything. Our easy conversation was a revelation for her. She loved asking me questions and loved to not know the answer until she actually heard my response coming out of my mouth. She loved to answer my own questions, seeing that there was nothing she could say that would make me turn away. We actually closed the bar! I had such a difficult time leaving her that night, that I had to ask for her number even though I was going to see her again the next night. After securing a promise that she would call me the moment she woke up the next day, only then was I able to leave and go home.
The next night, at her house, I was at the mercy of her grandmother, who wanted to make sure that I was an upstanding citizen with a job. In the intervening day, I’d visited a lawyer to draw up the paperwork so I could sell Fangtasia to Pam, as well as visited a local commercial realtor to start scouting places where I could set up another business. A human-centric business.
“You weren’t kidding, huh?” Sookie asked me as we strolled down her driveway, something her grandmother had suggested we do. I suspected she was trying to set us up.
“About my business?” I asked.
“You really are selling it,” she expanded.
“Yes, I am. I believe a vampire is better able to take care of a vampire bar.”
“A vampire is buying it?”
“Yes, a woman I know put in a bid. She has good business acumen. I’m sure she’ll do great.”
“Will you move to Bon Temps?” she asked.
“I bought a house already, but I have to fix it first. I believe you probably know it, the old Compton estate. Is it nearby?” Thanks to Pam, the Compton house was mine. While I’d been trying to woo Sookie the night before, she had actually talked Bill Compton into selling the decaying structure to her and had even managed to sign a contract. He would never be ordered to procure Sookie, I’d made sure of it with my wish, and – per Pam – he’d been ecstatic to part with the dilapidated estate and land in the middle of nowhere.
Sookie smiled in the darkness and pointed west. “It’s right across the cemetery next door. We’ll be neighbors.”
“That’s awesome!” Truly, truly awesome.
Sookie laughed. “We can have sleepovers!”
I smiled and stopped walking, my heart beating furiously at the thought of having her in my bed again. She turned to me to see what was the matter and lost her smile as I moved closer. “May I kiss you, Sookie?”
She bit her lower lip then nodded, nervous. All this was completely new to her and I had to be careful, go slow. I took her hands and bent to her, pausing just a hair’s breadth away from touching my mouth to hers. Sookie came forward and bridged the gap, her lips soft and tentative, innocent. My lust for her was a slow smolder instead of the fire that always threatened to consume me.
Sookie gasped and pulled away in surprise. “I really, really can’t hear you,” she whispered to herself. She let go of my hands and grasped my face instead. I took advantage and held her waist, pulling her body closer to mine. “Nope,” she smiled wider and pulled me to her.
Her next kiss was the fire I’d been missing. She took my breath away and made my knees become wobbly. The sudden desire that swept through my body was so unlike what I’d been used to, that I felt I would pass out and therefore held her tighter. I hoped she was strong enough to keep me standing. The blood rushed completely away from my head and into my loins. My Sookie was so soft, so warm against me, smelled so good and tasted like heaven… how was I supposed to let her go?
But I did, I let her go slowly, pulling her away before we did things she would regret.
We continued our walk holding hands. I was peaceful and happy and she was warring internally, I could tell. Finally, as we turned to go back to her house, she spoke up and confessed her worry.
“I’m a telepath,” she announced.
“Really? Can you hear my thoughts?” I asked and smiled.
“That’s your question? You’re not going to question my sanity?”
“No, of course not. I know vampires who can fly, why wouldn’t I believe you?”
“Oh!” She was surprised but got over it quickly. “Here’s the strange part: when I touch somebody, I’m compelled to hear their thoughts, but not you. I can’t hear you. Why is that?”
I lied. “I don’t know, Sookie. Maybe I’m dull.”
She stopped and looked at me. Dull was not the word she was going for. “To me you’re fascinating.” She shook her head but her expression was one of wonder. “You’re not like anybody I’ve ever met.”
“Thank you! I’ll take that as a compliment,” I chuckled. “You’re pretty wonderful yourself. For what it’s worth, all you have to do is ask me what I’m thinking and I’ll tell you.”
We approached my car and she seemed reluctant to let me go. She kept asking questions, some of them silly, just to keep me near her longer. Since there was nothing better for me to do than to spend time with her, I didn’t mind one bit and rejoiced that she was already feeling comfortable around me.
“Would you like to go for a ride?” I asked her as she eyed the car. She wasn’t admiring the machine, I knew this. She was steeling her resolve so she could let me leave. I’d just given her more time to spend with the guy she was starting to like a lot.
“Let me go grab my purse,” she said and ran into the house and back outside in record time.
Her eyes widened when I handed her the keys. “You can drive this car, right?”
She smiled and tried to look nonchalant. “Of course!”
Many months later, after Sookie’s grandmother had passed away peacefully in her sleep, after I’d made a new life for myself in Bon Temps, after I’d successfully managed to keep Sookie hidden from the supernatural community, after we fell in love again, on a sunny Sunday morning when the first hint of winter was sweeping across Louisiana, I took Sookie to her favorite restaurant for brunch and proposed.
Being Sookie, she had tried to push me away by telling me how she feared having children, how people had always called her Crazy Sookie, that people took pity on me for being in love with her, none of which I cared about as long as we were together. I managed to convince her of that fact, to make her see that I was going nowhere unless it was with her. So when I asked her to marry me, she felt secure enough within our relationship to agree to be mine forever. She even agreed to move into my house, the one she had helped me remodel and decorate. The house was no longer a source of anxiety for her, but a source of pride.
Though my account of this part of our story may feel disjointed, it was done as a gift to my beloved wife who slowly began to write down her fantastic dreams of a life she never had, and who showed me her journals one evening knowing that I would understand her vivid dreams better than most. That world was still there, in the fringes of our current life, distant and wonderful rather than awfully close and dangerous. I’d made sure that she didn’t have to change in order to fit into her world.
Whether she believes that her dreams really happened or not, at least she knows that it all had a happy ending. She knows that the sacrifice she was willing to make for me, I was also willing to make for her. She knows that the man she chose to spend the rest of her life with, loves her more than the promise of eternal life, because life without her is no life at all.