Gyllene, my creative consultant teared up for this one. Just sayin’. This was hard to post – cause after this – there’s nothing left for me on this family and I truly loved writing this fic. Thank you for your comments and support.
Thirty years later, Louisiana:
“Took you long enough to see me.”
“You know why I stayed away Tara.”
“I know it was all my fault for hating your husband just ‘cause he was a vampire.”
“How have you been?”
“Sookie, I’m the one that hooked up with a woman in New Orleans and led a quiet life – no kids, regular old job, no drama. You’re the one with the kids, grandkids, and published books – all of it. You tell me.”
“Are you sure you want to hear it – you’re really over your vampire prejudice?”
“Yes. So spill Stackhouse.”
“That’s Northman Tara”
“Yeah – Susan Northman.”
“I never did get used to Susan.”
Sookie was back in Louisiana hosting a visit with her old friend Tara. The two had remained in the know about each other from Lala, but hadn’t spoken directly for years. Now that Sookie was back out of hiding and in Louisiana, they decided to catch-up. Using the scrapbooks she brought out to the deck for their visit, Sookie started with life in Pennsylvania when she and Eric had their third child.
“So I told Eric to make a wish on our first married Christmas together and he wished for another child. After debating how to have the baby, we went with a donated egg and sperm and I was pregnant.”
Sookie flipped opened the book to a page with pictures of pregnant Sookie (VERY pregnant Sookie). “Look at you!”
Sookie laughed with her friend. “My belly entered rooms first; then me. Eric loved it though – the belly, the breasts, the baby moving around. He wanted more but after two miscarriages, I just couldn’t try again. So that’s how we became a family of five.”
“Why did you name him Ulfrik?”
“Ulfrik was named after Eric’s father.” Tara nodded indicating she understood the unusual name.
“Weren’t your kids lonely – home schooled and all?”
Flipping the pages and showing some birthday party images, Sookie replied. “Not at all. We had several friends, families of the local pack that had kids around the same age. Eric built a small school and Jessica and Hoyt co-taught all of them. Well, we all helped but they oversaw the curriculum. It was easier for the Were kids to attend a school that could work around their shifting and other supernatural obligations.”
“You mean the prejudice when they came out?”
Sookie sighed remembering the problems shifters and Weres had when they had their own reveal. It was worse than for vampires because shifters and Weres had whole families that were ostracized. “Yes, we kept them sheltered until things calmed down. At least the Fellowship wasn’t around when that happened.”
“The Northman compound – I know all about that from Lala. You had everyone living together!”
“It was a big piece of property. Honestly we love being together; Lala, Hoyt and their families wouldn’t have returned to Louisiana this year with us if we didn’t enjoy the closeness.”
They flipped through the albums – Tara oohing and aahing or laughing at the images. Time and family life had been good to her friend. They came to a picture of Maxine and Charles – a posed portrait with all the grandchildren. “Lala told me it was bad when Maxine died – said her husband went almost right after.”
Sookie misted up. “It was ten years ago but it still hurts. She took me in when I was alone. I’ll never stop missing her or my Gran.” Tara hugged her friend in comfort. Honestly, Tara knew Maxine was kind but she never really understood the close relationship Sookie had with her. Tara was often so angry at the world though, she missed many opportunities for companionship. “Charles did die two weeks after. His death was almost kind; he mourned her so much. That was hard and Genny really helped me through it.”
“Did Genny move with you to Louisiana again?”
“She and Ryan did build a house on the property with us but they will split their time between Pennsylvania and Louisiana.”
“Are they like the oldest humans turned?”
“They are a minority – but they don’t regret it. Though they never married they are bonded and they both have a thirst for life that makes them ideal vampires. Eric was pleased when she asked him to be her maker. Now with RealBlood, there’s no need to feed on humans either.”
“Lala told me you guys invented that.”
“All Hunter and Eric. Hunter felt strongly about it. Well, you know why I suppose.”
They got to a page that was mostly words. Tara could read the title, so she knew it was about Hunter, but she had problems with her eyesight and she asked for help. “Can you read this to me? I want to know but I can’t read print that small.”
“Sure Tara.” Sookie sat up a bit and held the scrapbook so she could read her journal entry more easily.
Holding my son Hunter’s hand tightly, I watched as Eric drained him of his blood; taking away his years of pain, taking away the continual exhaustion, taking away the worry and helping him move on. My son wanted to live as long as possible and grow as strong as possible while he could. To help him stay alive over the years, Eric fed Hunter his blood so his tired body would continue to accept the donor heart he’d been gifted when he was five years old. It wasn’t a perfect plan when our doctors formed it. There were risks that his body would give out at any time or that his unique immune system would finally win the battle on rejecting the heart, but the plan did work. Hunter’s goal was to mature until he was 18 – but at 17, handsome, tall and muscular he couldn’t complain. It was time.
Watching the life leave his body was the hardest thing I’d ever done and though I promised him I wouldn’t cry, tears did fall silently from my eyes. Hunter held my gaze the entire time and in his eyes I saw his first smile, his first steps, his first love, his first heartbreak and I prayed that in three days I would see his first rising. Knowing his son’s body was ready, Eric ripped open his wrist and fed him his blood once again, only this time ensuring his human child would now become his vampire child for eternity.
Sookie paused taking a moment to control the emotions the memory still evoked. Tara took her hand and held it tightly in hers while she continued.
After Hunter and my husband were at rest, I closed the lid on the double coffin we’d purchased for the occasion and left them in our downstairs chamber. I visiting the coffin often while I waited; just placing my hand on the top and willing my love and wishes through the layers of metal. Three nights later, Hunter rose as a vampire: Beautiful, strong, happy and with a very proud maker by his side. My boy, who had been diagnosed as terminally ill when he was just three years old, had become immortal.
Tara had to wipe tears away as Sookie finished reading about the turning of her son. “Sookie, that must have been hard – watching your child die at your husband’s hand – or rather fang.”
“It wasn’t his death, it was his rebirth. I had to keep my faith that it would work. For 12 years it was our plan and now we have each other forever.”
“Yes truly forever with you, Hunter and Ulfrik all being vampires. Celia will be turned too?”
“Yes, she just wants her children to be older, like I did. Rasul will be her maker and her husband, like Eric and I are to one another. They live on this property.”
“And all the other vamps around here? Is Eric the number one maker of vampires?”
Sookie laughed. “No, he made Hunter, Ulfrik and I. Thalia turned Jessica and Hoyt, Johanna and Erica aren’t ready yet. Lala, well you know Lala found himself a hunky vamp and bonded to him. He and Jesus are our comic relief – and wonderful grand uncles.”
“So what about the cloak and dagger stuff, that’s all over – you’re living as Sookie again?”
“Yes, finally. It’s quite a bit of information – do you have time?”
“I napped today – I have hours to catch up.”
Since her friend asked, Sookie launched into the story of their return to Louisiana. It was a slow transition, starting five years before. They waited until Sookie and Ulfrik had both been turned with Eric as their maker before even stepping foot back in the state. Karin welcomed Eric back and gladly began returning his Sheriff duties. Per his contract, he would need to serve for another 25 years. They planned to return to Pennsylvania as their home base when he finally fulfilled his contract; they’d just enjoyed the area so much. So they wouldn’t get bored, they would also travel the world. Hunter had started up a new Pennsylvania division of Viking Industries – a research and development group dedicated to creating something better than True Sludge as they called it for vampires. Under Hunter’s leadership they created RealBlood and it was just about to be launched when they returned to Louisiana. Eric felt strongly that it was time to reveal their true identities; he wanted his son to have credit for his accomplishments under his real name, not the name of Henry.
So after re-establishing the northern Louisiana area under his rule, he called the Queen and informed her he had several new children. As he suspected, she wanted to meet them. They left Genny behind as she’s not a fighter and they didn’t know how the meeting would go. Saying the meeting caused an uproar would be an understatement. Rasul greeted them at the palace entry and guided the vampire family into the throne room. Taking Sookie’s hand, Eric led his two sons to the throne where they would pledge fealty to the Queen who had wanted to kidnap their mother.
“Jason was the one to give it all away. He was in court with his sorry excuse for a maker and ran to me; apologizing, crying, it was wonderful but scary at the same time. The Queen realized what had happened immediately and tried to have Eric seized. We had a few surprises ready for that.”
Sookie continued on to explain that in addition to the ability to fly, Ulfrik had risen with the vampire gift of extreme speed and strength. Sophie-Anne’s two huge and older personal guards and children, referred to as ‘the Berts’, were bested by Ulfrik in seconds. Hunter and I, like Eric, can also fly so we were able to rise up from the area and surprise everyone with another gift.”
Tara was wide eyed and on the edge of her seat listening to the story. “What gift? Tell me?”
“I’m going to tell you something, but you must agree to let Eric glamour you so you can never discuss it.” Tara, too anxious to learn more agreed immediately. From there, Sookie gave her the information on their fairy background. “So, Hunter and I had this dormant fairy gift that didn’t appear until we were turned. We can shoot something akin to sunlight from our hands.”
“You’re just making fun of me now girl.”
With her head shaking no, Sookie aimed at one of her plants and fried it; then laughed at Tara’s foul-mouthed outburst. “Not a lie. The fight was over quickly and Eric gave Godric Louisiana to rule. I regret that Jason’s maker, Bill Compton, was hit by a ball of light and perished.” She giggled at her fake statement. “He is now being mentored by, Indira, one of our closest vampire friends in Louisiana.”
Tara smiled. “I’ve actually seen Jason already. He’s so much happier now than he was as a human.”
Sookie nodded in agreement. “We met up once. I know he was abused while he lived in the Palace, I know he regrets his human life and actions . . .”
“It’s still hard to forgive though.”
“Yes – but we’re immortal, we have time.” Tara nodded, hearing what Sookie was saying but struggling with the immortal comment.
“She was killed in the fighting. Ulfrik knew that even after all these years, her betrayal still hurt Hunter and I. I knew what he was planning; I didn’t encourage it but I didn’t stop it either; neither did Hunter for that matter. Ulfrik beheaded her; he did it out of love for me and his brother.”
“Understood.” Tara took a sip of her drink before asking. “So that Godric guy, did he want Louisiana?”
“Godric knew it was a possibility depending on the Queen’s reaction. He sent his child Margeaux to serve as the regent here.”
“Not that I’m not happy to see you, but is Eric really obligated to complete his contract?”
“He’s doing it out of honor. He’ll be more like Margeaux’s lieutenant here then will serve in that capacity to Godric when we return to Pennsylvania. When we leave, Karin will step in as Margeaux’s lieutenant.”
“What about his other child?”
Sookie’s face changed and she sighed. “We don’t talk about it much, so I’ll be brief. She seemed to be making progress, and the key word is seemed. If Tori hadn’t been around, I hate to think what would have happened.”
“What do you mean?”
“Lala didn’t tell you?”
“Only that she was out of the picture.”
“She was staked.” Tara gasped and Sookie nodded. “Long story short: she overheard Hunter and Eric talking about his turning. He was 15 at the time and we knew it was coming sooner than originally planned. Anyway, Eric left the house shortly after Pam heard all this and she lost it. Luckily, between his body building and vampire blood, Hunter was able to fight her off a bit and Tori came up behind her and pushed in a stake.”
“How does Eric feel about that?”
“Guilty that she attacked Hunter, guilty that he hadn’t rehabilitated her and she had to die, sad for the loss of his second child. He was a mix of emotions; and if he thinks about it he still struggles. At least he never blamed Tori or Hunter, but sometimes I think he over-blamed himself.” Sookie stopped to take a sip from her RealBlood then warned Tara. “We’re about to be disturbed.”
“What?” Tara whipped her head around.
Sookie just laughed then Tara finally heard it. “PAWPAW!! PAWPAW!!”
A sweet little girl joined them on the deck while a woman, likely her mother, came running after her. “ROWAN! I told you Gran is visiting with someone. You needed to wait.”
“I want Pawpaw.”
“You ALWAYS want Pawpaw.” The woman picked up the little girl and walked to her mother. “We didn’t mean to interrupt. Rowan, apologize.”
The little girl looked down and said, “Sorry Ma’am, Gran.”
Tara first laughed at her friend being referred to as Gran, then she collected herself and met Sookie’s daughter. “Call me Tara, I take it you’re Celia?”
“I am.” A man holding a baby came onto the deck and Celia smiled at him. “This is my husband, Rasul holding our son, Eric. This little ball of energy who wants her Pawpaw is Rowan.”
Sookie stood to take baby Eric from Rasul while she told Rowan where Pawpaw was. “Pawpaw is flying with your uncles. He’s on his way back though so just hold tight little one.”
Tara looked at Rasul. “I know more vampires are adopting with their human companions, but it’s still rare. I see you’re one of them.”
He moved to pull Celia close to him. “When I first met Celia, Eric was changing her diaper and I couldn’t connect with anything he said about being a parent. It took some time and Celia wore me down – I’m glad she did. I’ve never been happier. It’s easier now that I can legally adopt these two. We’re married and Celia’s the birth mother but it’s a nice feeling of security. Something I know Eric would’ve wanted for many years before the adoption law was passed.”
Sookie confirmed Rasul’s statement and motioned for everyone to sit. The group chatted on the deck while they waited for the others to arrive. Sookie gave Tara the opportunity to leave before more vampires joined them but she assured Sookie that her old fears and prejudice were gone. It also could have been that she was thoroughly enjoying holding baby Eric at the moment. It wasn’t too long before Sookie whispered something into Rowan’s ear and the little girl started jumping up and down. “PAWPAW! PAWPAW!”
“She sure loves her Pawpaw.” Tara was still amazed at this while she said it.
“He’s my favoritist person.”
“Who’s your favoritist person?” A low voice boomed from the other side of the deck. Eric and his sons had landed silently surprising a few of those gathered.
She ran to him with her arms in the air. “YOU PAWPAW! Take me up! Fly Fly!”
“Of course little one. In a moment. I need to check on your Gran.” Eric picked her up and she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I’ll take her Daddy.” Celia put her arms out towards Eric and he handed the little girl over giving his daughter’s cheek a kiss; then made his way to his wife.
“Yuck Pawpaw! No mushy stuff.”
“I always have mushy stuff for my angel.” Ignoring the blechy noises Rowan was making, Eric moved to greet Sookie. They’d only parted a few hours ago so Sookie could have time with Tara, but they acted like it had been days. He removed a handful of flowers from inside his leather coat. “These are for you.”
“Fresh cut?” She raised her eyebrow at him and he nodded. “Just how far did you guys fly? These are only in bloom north of us. My lilacs are done for the season already.”
“We found some in Mississippi. I know you already miss the scent of Lilacs.”
“Master wooer. You are so Sw. . . .”
He put a finger to her mouth then reached into his jacket again and pulled out duct tape. “I was prepared for that comment.” He chuckled to himself. “Of course, the only store open this late was Wal-mart. I don’t know how that place has remained in business after all these years.”
They laughed for a moment then Sookie put the flowers down and wrapped her arms around Eric’s neck. “I missed you.”
“I missed you more.”
Tara’s mouth dropped as the two shared a passionate kiss right there. “Good Lord Sookie. You act like that in front of your kids and grandkids?”
Keeping her eyes on her husband, Sookie parted from Eric enough to reply to her friend. “Grandparents and parents that still love each other this much? You bet Tara. These kids know what it means to love.”
Celia added. “Tara, those two are still attached at the hip whenever they can get away with it. Daddy and Mommy do everything together.”
Another munchkin came out from the sliding doors onto the deck squealing for her Daddy and ran to Hunter. With a huge smile, Hunter knelt down and opened his arms. “Hi Marjorie.”
Tara’s mouth hung open. “OK, I get that Celia had babies and Rasul adopted them, but Hunter is married to another vampire.”
“He is, ah, here she is now.” Sookie moved to her daughter in law. “Tori, I’d like you to meet my friend Tara Thornton.”
“Pleasure to meet you.”
“Same here.” She turned to Sookie. “I’m still confused. The adoption law was for vampire/human marriages.”
“It wasn’t. Not strictly in the wording. Most interpreted it that way after seeing the first adoptions go through.”
“So you have a nanny for the daytime?”
The family gathered on the deck looked at Sookie and she simply replied. “She already agreed to glamour.” She looked directly at her friend and answered. “Tara, Hunter and I are day walkers. It’s part of the fairy background I mentioned. Neither of us can go sunbathe but we can stay awake and tolerate indirect light.”
“Holy Shit Stackhouse, I mean Northman. Life sure handed you a hell of a horrible youth but then gave you a fairy tale ending.” Everyone could hear Rowan groan just as the word fairy tale left Tara’s mouth. “What did I say Rowan?”
“Wait for it.” She held her finger up in the air.
Marjorie squiggled her way out of Hunter’s arms and ran towards Sookie. “Fairy tawe! Fairy tawe! I want to heaw the stowry about Gwan and Pawpaw again.”
Rowan tried to get her off the request for the story. “Marjorie, Pawpaw’s taking me flying. Ask your Daddy if he can take you up.”
Marjorie’s face lit up in excitement and Rowan thought for sure she was saved until Marjorie said. “That sounds gweat! Just after Gwan tells the storwy.”
“ACK You’ve heard that story a schmillion times.”
“I wike it.”
Sookie laughed as the two girls moved to sit on her lap. Rowan did in fact like the story just as much as Marjorie did, but for some reason she felt the need to keep up the pretense of being a tomboy and therefore, not into mushy anything. While Marjorie got a kick out of knowing her Daddy was the reason Sookie and Eric found each other, Rowan ate up the comments about Eric’s first diaper change of her own mother and of course how much her Pawpaw liked the red at the wedding. As a result, Rowan declared red as her favorite color about a year ago. The problem was, for six year olds, not too much was available in red so she picked up stuff from the boys department often; adding to the whole tomboy image. While Sookie was thinking about all that, the two girls had situated themselves on her lap. “You ready?” They both nodded and Sookie faked that she was thinking hard about the story. “Let me see, where does it start?”
Both girls yelled in unison. “A letter!” Though Marjorie’s sounded more like wetter.
“Yes, it starts with a letter.”
Look for Even the Dead can Scar to start soon and at some folks requests, additional chapters of Pick your Poison will be on their way at some point. I have revised the one-shot with some tweaks to be used going forward. That’s been re posted as Chapter 1 – What’ll it be?
Tidbits have been updated for this chapter.