The vermin are more annoying than usual, and Eric has taken his frustrations out on them more viciously than ever before. All he wants was to return to Bon Temps and be with Sookie, but his customers are preventing Eric from doing what he wants. Only a few days until the Yule holiday, and the pathetic and desperate are flooding his bar. Beginning with Thanksgiving, business picks up in the bar and reaches its zenith on New Year’s Eve. The holidays bring out the best and worst in people. Those that came to Fangtasia are usually the worst humanity has to offer. They are depressed, lonely, and emotional. Often times, these people are the dregs of society with no family or friends to speak of. They want to end their suffering and loneliness, so they think to commit suicide by vampire. It is during this time of year that Eric issues strict proclamations about the behavior of vampires in his area. The last thing any of them need are the human police targeting vampires because of suicidal humans.
It is finally closing time and the last of the patrons are loitering around his bar, not making their way to the exits quickly enough to suit him. He stands from his throne, fangs fully extended and snarls, “GET OUT!!!”
The scared humans flee the bar in a hurry, some of them forgetting their purses and phones in their panicked flight. Ginger stares dumbly behind the bar, unsure of what to do. Is she supposed to leave with the rest of the people? Or is she supposed to stay and clean up? She stands as still as possible, looking like a deer in headlights especially since she is wearing a ridiculous headband with antlers on it; mistletoe hangs from one of the antlers. Eric turns his fierce gaze on her and chuckles despite his foul mood. He retracts his fangs before speaking to the overly glamoured barmaid. “Go home Ginger. The cleaning crew can handle everything in the morning. I will lock up.”
Ginger scurries from behind the bar, her purse already slung over her shoulder. She pauses to give Eric a look of longing. She’s been a good girl this year, and wants Santa to give her the only present she desires: Eric Northman. The Viking vampire knows how Ginger feels about him and he will never act on it. In a way, Eric feels sorry for Ginger. She works hard and has been loyal to him for years. He will not fuck her because he knows if he were to do so, it would create an intolerable situation for him, one that would most likely result in Ginger having to be killed. Pam would act like she didn’t care, but he knows that she secretly cares for the brainless woman, almost the same way Pam cared for the girls that turned tricks for her over a century ago.
“Run along Ginger,” Eric says with a shooing motion and waits for her to comply. Once he is alone in his business, he uses his speed to tally the end of night receipts, prepare the deposit for the next day, and leave a detailed set of instructions for the cleaning crew. In less than fifteen minutes, Eric has the bar securely locked down and is in the sky heading to the woman that he adores. He wasn’t planning to spend the night with her, but their earlier reunion left him feeling raw and needy. Before he dies for the day, he will have to amend the instructions for Bobby so that all the arrangements for the ballet will go off seamlessly.
Eric’s excitement, both literally and figuratively, rise up as he soars through the chilly night air heading to Bon Temps. He knows Sookie will be sleeping, but he just needs to be near her. He needs to feel the reassurance of her skin against his, even if it is simply because of her hand holding his. While he had sat on his throne, his mind had drifted, thinking of his future with Sookie. Yes, there will be many more misunderstandings and fights between them in the months and years to come, but he is looking forward to each one. Loving Sookie makes him feel whole. He had considered Pam’s words carefully from the previous evening, wondering if a relationship with Sookie would be the right thing to do. He already knew it wasn’t the smartest thing to do; she is a weakness that will be used against him by his enemies. And being with her is going to make the situation between himself and the King of Louisiana come to a head. Eric has no wish to be any higher up the political ladder than the rung he now rests on, but he knows Compton will not give up Sookie easily, despite his false promise months ago to step aside so that she could be happy with Eric.
Landing at Sookie’s home, Eric senses nothing amiss. He inhales deeply as he takes in the serenity of the scene before him. He can get used to this; coming home to the woman he loves after a trying day at the office. Except in the fantasy world he is spinning, Sookie would be waiting for him at the door wearing something red and enticing that he would be more than happy to rip off her as he spent the rest of the night making sweet, passionate love to his bonded. Eric smiles wryly as he walks up the steps to the front door. When did he start referring to sex and fucking as making love?
It gives him an immense feeling of satisfaction to know that his key ring holds a key to Sookie’s home on it now. And he feels the need to pound on his chest and yell like Tarzan because Sookie has reissued his invitation to enter the house. He could tell when he was here earlier that the deed to her home had finally been transferred back to her name. If he could have gotten away with it, Eric would have run over to Compton’s home and blew a huge raspberry in his face before saying ‘neener, neener’. It’s childish and he knows it, but it would have been immensely satisfying. Eric starts walking towards the stairs but his vampire senses pick up Sookie’s heartbeat coming from the living room. That happy feeling inside him swells when he realizes she is asleep in the cubby. Being as silent as a church mouse, Eric levitates down the ladder and removes his clothing so all that is left are his skin-tight boxer briefs. Crossing to the bed, he smiles tenderly at Sookie. She is curled up in his bed with the red quilt he had used as a shield from the sun wrapped around her. Her slow even breathing tells him she is in a deep sleep. Eric lifts her in his arms, cradling her body close to his for a moment before he lies down on the bed, arranging them so that his arm is wrapped around Sookie as she lies nestled against his side. A sigh of contentment escapes his lips when he feels her burrow closer to him.
“We need a bigger bed,” she says drowsily in the darkness.
Eric chuckles quietly. “Even in a bigger bed I would still be wrapped around you like a boa constrictor so there really is no point. I didn’t mean to wake you Lover. Go back to sleep,” he says before placing a chaste kiss against the crown of her head.
“Mkay,” she sighs. It does not take long before her breathing returns to the deep even level of before. Eric smiles in the darkness when he hears the slight snoring coming from Sookie’s parted lips. He even finds that adorable. Love has made him a sap. Yet he couldn’t be happier. Before he dies for the day, he sends Bobby an email with the extra items he needs sent to Bon Temps in preparation for the ballet this evening and he wants the limousine sent to Bon Temps at 6:30 pm instead of going to his home first. As the first rays of the new day peek over the horizon, Eric’s eyes close and a happy smile graces his handsome face.
Sookie rises the next morning with a smile on her face because she knows Eric came back to her after closing the bar. She would have loved to continue what they had started earlier in the evening, but she was just too damn tired. For someone that’s only supposed to work part-time at Merlotte’s she’s been in there nearly every damn day for hours on end. She doesn’t mind working, but now that she has someone she would rather spend her time with, she finds the lack of regimented work schedule annoying. There is only a finite amount of time that she can spend with Eric because of his work obligations; she doesn’t want that time to be wasted with her having to serve beer and greasy food to a bunch of unappreciative bigots that look down on her for being different. She knows that if she asks Sam to put her on a specific schedule, he’s gonna want to know why, and then he’s going to blow his top when she says it’s because she wants to spend more time with Eric. Maybe it’s time she quit Merlotte’s once and for all.
After she woke up, Sookie spends a long time simply staring at Eric. She’d never really had the opportunity to admire the Viking without him knowing it. He looks completely different when he is still for the day; it reminds her of Eric without his memories. His face is smooth, free of his thousand years of experience. It’s not that his face is lined and aged, but it shows a hardness and resilience that is not present in his sleep. Sookie traces the features of his face with her fingers, lovingly caressing each and every part as if discovering it for the first time. She could have happily explored all of his body in such a way if it wasn’t for the ringing of her doorbell. Wrapping her body in the robe that she had brought down to the cubby with her, Sookie quickly rises up the ladder and runs to the front door. She finds Eric’s rude and impatient day man, Bobby Burnham, waiting with two garment bags. As soon as she opens the door, Bobby shoves the garments in her hands without a word before he turns and jogs down the steps back to his car. Sookie knows from his thoughts that he looks down on her, thinking she is a country bumpkin that isn’t good enough for Eric. Sookie can’t really refute his line of thinking; sometimes she doesn’t think she is good enough for Eric either.
She carefully hangs the two garment bags, lowering the zipper on each bag so the items inside will not wrinkle further. The black garment bag holds a tuxedo clearly meant for Eric. The white garment bag holds a thing of beauty, clearly designed for a princess. Sookie is in awe of the garment on the hanger, almost afraid to touch it for fear of spoiling its perfection. Her hands shake slightly as she removes the envelope taped to the hanger which has her name written in an elegant looping sweep.
I saw this dress and instantly thought of you. I can’t wait to see you in it tonight.
Sookie reverently takes the garment out of the bag, gasping in shock when she sees the full dress. Never before has she seen something so exquisite. The material is of the finest quality and the embroidery on the bodice looks as if it is real gold. It looks like something that belongs on the red carpet, not on her body. But she is in love and doesn’t want to part with it though part of her wants to yell at Eric for spending so much money. She can’t wait to put it on.
Sookie runs to the bathroom to begin preparing for the evening, hurrying through her shower so she can begin the real work of getting ready. In a panic, she calls Lafayette for help. She doesn’t have the time or money to go to a salon to have them help her with her nails, hair, and make-up so she has to make use of the resources she has. Lafayette arrived a short time later to find Sookie simultaneously tweezing her eyebrows and shaving her legs. Lafayette quickly takes charge of the situation, making Sookie finish shaving her legs so he can begin his work. He gives her a manicure and pedicure, tweezing her eyebrows and then applying her make up as the polish dries. For her hair, he sweeps it back in an elegant twist, which he knows Eric will appreciate since it leaves the column of her neck exposed for his attentions and will give him a nice view of her cleavage.
Inside the garment bag, Eric had also included the necessary undergarments and shoes Sookie will need. She feels positively sinful as the silk and lace slide against her body, caressing her like a lover’s touch. Looking in the mirror at her body, Sookie feels sexy wearing the delicate lingerie, matching garter, stockings, and high heels. She can’t wait to have Eric see her like this!
Lafayette is helping her slip on the dress when Sookie feels Eric reanimate for the night. Lafayette whistles appreciatively when he sees the finished product and he steps away from the mirror so she can see herself. Sookie gasps in shock when she sees her reflection. Gone is the country girl from the bayou and in her place is a sophisticated woman. The woman in the mirror is a stranger to Sookie because she looks both regal and mysterious; two things Sookie never would have associated with herself. Sookie’s chin begins to tremble because she finally sees herself as being worthy of Eric.
“Hooka don’t you dare start cryin’,” Lafayette orders. “That mascara ain’t waterproof and wes don’t wants ta ruin yous eyes.” Despite his fierce words, Lafayette smiles happily at his friend. “Yous look beautiful Sook.”
Sookie rushes to her friend, embracing him tightly in thanks for helping her. “Thank you Lala; I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Lafayette takes his leave soon after so that Sookie and Eric can be alone. Eric has paced his cubby like a caged animal, longing to see his mate. He heard the exchanges between Sookie and Lafayette; he was smiling even though he was impatient to gaze upon her with his own eyes. He knows the dress he chose for her tonight is far too elaborate for the ballet, but he wants her to feel like the belle of the ball; Eric wants her to have the chance, just once, to feel like Scarlett O’Hara.
“Damn high-handed vampire,” Sookie says with a smile on her face as she stares at her reflection in the mirror, waiting for the moment her vampire can see her.
When the sun finally recedes enough that he can safely climb out of the cubby, Eric vamps up the ladder and through the house, finally coming to a stop outside of the bedroom they had shared. Sookie stands in front of the mirror with her hands nervously smoothing the fabric of her skirt. She accessorizes the dress with the Bvlgari jewelry Eric had given her for the fifth night of Christmas. Her eyes meet Eric’s in the mirror as she stands still and gazes at him shyly. Eric for his part does not move from the doorway. He knew she would look lovely in the dress, but the vision before him far exceeds his expectations. There are no words to describe her loveliness . . . Sookie’s beauty is greater than any of the famed paintings in the Louvre, it exceeds the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel, and more awe-inspiring than any of the Seven Wonders of the World. Eric can only stand there and gape at the heavenly vision before him. He has no words to describe the wealth of emotion swirling inside him.
“Eric?” Sookie turns around to look at the man she loves. He stares at her with intense, unnamed emotions swirling in his eyes. His lips part on an inhaled breath that he has yet to release. She goes to take a step towards him.
“Don’t,” he says raising his hand to stop her. Seeing her confused look, he explains further. “I just want to look at you.” Eric moves in the room, crossing the wooden floor to stand a few steps in front of Sookie. His eyes move over every feature of her delectable body. “Lover you are absolutely stunning,” he says in the hushed tone one would use while praying in church.
He grabs her hand to help her spin slowly around so that he can see the full effect of the dress on her body. When she is once more facing him, he cups her face in his hands. “Lover you are perfection personified. I am in awe of your beauty.” Sookie blushes beautifully at his words and leans up on her toes to kiss him in thanks.
When Eric goes to deepen the kiss, Sookie pulls back reluctantly. “If you do that, we aren’t going to leave this room, and this dress is far too pretty to waste,” she says petting her dress lovingly.
Eric smirks seeing her petting the dress like she would her kitten. “Are you sure you don’t want to yell at me for how much it costs?” He is so pleased she accepted the gift without kicking up a fuss about the price tag associated with it. This bodes well for their future together. He’s had a hundred years to spoil Pam; that will look like charity by the time he is finished lavishing his beloved light with tokens of his affection. Though to be honest, he will never stop spoiling her.
Sookie’s eyes narrow slightly before she pushes Eric towards the shower. She wouldn’t have been able to budge him an inch if he hadn’t been willing to move. He grabs his garment bag to take in the shower with him as he walks away laughing.
Eric is pulling the door closed behind them so they can enter the limousine that is waiting to take them to the ballet. He and Sookie have been talking and laughing, easy smiles on their faces. However both of their expressions falter when they see Bill Compton standing at the bottom of the porch steps with a sour expression on his stony face.
“Bill, what are you doing here?” Sookie is the first to recover at seeing her former paramour at the bottom of her steps. It’s not that she is unhappy to see him, but he isn’t the first person she would have wanted to see at the bottom of her steps. She smiles cordially at him as she lifts her dress so she can easily walk down the steps. Eric is by her side the entire time, her hand tucked firmly in the crook of his elbow. There is no way Eric is going to let Bill have the opportunity to touch Sookie, so he places his body firmly between the woman he loves and his monarch.
“Sookie,” Bill says with a gentle smile towards the woman he wants to be his more than anything. His expression quickly changes to outrage when he notices the plain gold band on the ring finger of her left hand. His sources had told him of the gold jewelry Sookie had been wearing of late, but they failed to mention that she was wearing what could be construed as a wedding band on her left hand. His fangs descend and a snarl builds deep in his chest. “What is the meaning of this?”
Sookie startles and shrinks back from Bill, huddling closer to Eric’s side. Eric raises an eyebrow at the king’s overly hostile gesture, but he remains calm though he longs to destroy the insufferable goat for his blatant sign of disrespect. “My King, forgive us, but we have tickets to the ballet this evening. We do not wish to be late. Now if you will excuse us . . .” Eric really tries to be the bigger man in this instance by ignoring Compton’s outburst though he wants nothing more than to rip the fangs from his mouth for his aggressive action.
“You will not leave without my permission, Sheriff! You have no business being near Sookie. I have ordered you to stay away from her, and you have disobeyed me. Sookie is mine!”
Eric growls low in his throat as he prepares to attack. He’s never wanted to be a monarch, either as a human or as a vampire, but he’ll make the sacrifice if it means the world will never have to hear Compton’s ridiculous accent butcher the name of his little fairy. But he should have known that his firecracker wouldn’t be content to stand aside and let him take out the trash.
“Bill Compton where do you get off?!?!?!?! I’d rather belong to the dead opossum on the side of the road than ever be yours again! I’m with Eric; I love him and he loves me. If you can’t get with the program, then change the fuckin’ channel!”
Eric feels a different kind of hunger take over his body as he watches Fairy Sookie come out to play. He loves it when she lets her assertive side out. He has always admired strong women; it’s an appreciation that began with his mother. Sookie is a beautiful woman, and he’s seen thousands of beautiful women in his existence for one to matter more than another. It was her spirit and determination the evening they met that caught his attention. He was originally going to let Pam handle Bill’s insolence that night, but something about Sookie had stayed Eric’s hand. He regrets his altruistic act that evening. However, he is enjoying the show his fairy is putting on tonight. He’ll step back and let her handle the situation until he feels the need to intervene.
“Sookie, you don’t know what you’re saying,” Bill says in a conciliatory tone. He realizes that he has overstepped by making his demands in front of Sookie. He should have summoned Eric to his home and had his soldiers deal with the issue there. Bill has enough evidence to accuse Eric of treason; after all, he did threaten to end him in a room full of vampires. By dragging this issue out in front of Sookie, Bill has turned her against him. He needs to back pedal now to spin the situation to put him in a positive light. “Darling, you know I only want what’s best for you,” he begins in a soft tone only to be cut off by her contemptuous snort.
“No Bill, you only want what’s best for you,” Sookie retorts. “Now you heard Eric; we have tickets to the ballet and we’re gonna be late. So if you don’t have anythin’ important to say, then get off my property!”
Bill bites back the snarl and the urge to drag her to his side. She needs to learn her place, and that’s by his side! Bill takes a step towards the tow-headed duo, and that’s the last thing he does before a brilliant white light flashes out from Sookie’s hands. The force of the light sends Bill hurtling back towards the woods that lead to the cemetery, his body leaving divots in the ground where it bumps along the ground. When Bill skids to a halt, he stares at the couple with his fangs down as Sookie marches to the waiting limousine. She enters the passenger area of the vehicle with Eric close behind her. The Viking vampire stands beside the open door with his eyes locked on Bill. Eric smirks at seeing his monarch covered in grass stains, dead leaves, and twigs. With an exaggerated motion, he mouths the word “Mine” before settling in the back of the vehicle. Once the door is closed, the limousine rolls slowly away, leaving the King of Louisiana to stew.