Epilogue: Of Kings and Queens
At long last, at this late hour a rare silence settled upon the Jurgenson mansion that Henrik found he appreciated more and more as the years went on. His old bones craved stillness now, as in his younger years they'd desired action and excitement and motion. His grandniece and nephew now slumbered down the hall, as did Annika and her husband. It was a few days after Christmas; they would remain until the new year, before returning to their own home in Uppsala.
Patiently, he waited, watching the moonlight travel across the floor of his dark study. Soon, she would come. Somehow he knew this; perhaps Sookie did not appear to him always when he wanted her, but always when he needed her most.
Sookie Northman, the vampire queen of Sweden.
She and Eric had wed, not long after returning from their tragic adventure, to find King Viggo had succumbed to the wasting spell cast by Fionn. Sookie made as ravishing a bride as she did a vampire; he had it on good authority from the pictures plastered across the media of the King and Queen stepping out into the world on their first sojourn as man and wife - - though he'd been invited, Henrik hadn't quite been able to bring himself to attend. The rest of his family had, little Annika even filling the role of flower girl.
At first, it was in photographs that he most often saw her, after returning from Louisiana. The public delighted in nosing about the new royalty as they had the last King, and Henrik too watched their lives with a sort of masochistic fascination.
It wasn't until a year later that she surprised him, ambushed him, graced him, with a visit to his bedroom late in the night. He'd awoken to a gentle but cold caress upon his cheek, finding the lady of his dreams staring down at him, clad in nothing but a sweet lace nightgown. His heart lurched for the sight, but somehow he greeted her with some sort of dignity. Queen Sookie, in my very own home. To what could I owe this pleasure?
Sookie's red lips had curled in gentle if not tragic smile.
It's time for this to stop, Henrik.
This referred to his injured leg, he knew by a gesture of her hand, even if the appendage remained covered by a blanket.
When the doctor remained silent, Sookie urged, Take my blood. It will heal you.
Eric too offered Henrik this, more than once, after the infrequent times Henrik attended a board meeting. He knew the sight of him limping along, cane in hand, must have inspired something akin to pity in the vampire. But Henrik did not exactly refuse for pride, so much as a deeply seated sense of guilt. The leg, he reasoned, would be his cross to bear for all his failings. He'd failed in saving Sookie's humanity, failed in saving their child.
When the doctor shook his head no, Sookie had released a frustrated cry, climbing to straddle him. Don't be so stubborn. You have to stop blaming yourself.
In the end, she brought him round, the way she always did.
After several infusions, Henrik found he could walk normally, even run after a futbol.
One issue she never did win with him; he never quite managed to move on.
He dated, but never married.
He filled his life with his work and caring for Annika, finding happiness and fulfillment in these things that carried him through the long years.
Perhaps Sookie had become a queen, but she remained humble, rarely wearing a crown. (Though there were occasions in the privacy of their own chambers, that Eric enjoyed the sight of her in a diamond tiara and white thigh-highs). She did throw herself into philanthropic work, not just at the telepath center, but with abused women and immigrants. All roads she herself had walked down, and she felt a certain duty to use the weight of her crown and newly acquired wealth to help others along their way who needed it.
"The moon is beautiful tonight."
Henrik started, to find Sookie seated beside him, following his gaze out the window. Her lithe young body only seemed to laugh at the years that passed by them, her beauty just as staggering this night as it had been forty years ago. The years had not been so kind to him, despite the vampire blood, but he did not mind. It was all apart of being human, the destiny he had chosen. Sookie had offered him immortality, more times than he could count, until finally he'd begged of her not to tempt him anymore. She'd sobbed for the way she could see him deteriorating before her very eyes, weak mortal flesh succumbing to the wear and tear of time, but respected his decision. Now, only in her eyes, could he read her regrets and wishes to make him impervious to age and disease.
"But not as beautiful as you, my dear," he complimented, and she slipped her hand into his. The flesh was warm but loose, veins bulging over bones, wiry blond hair turned to silver. "How was Louisiana?"
Around Christmas she would return to her home state (an easy thing now, with Godric as King) to visit with her brother and the friends she'd left behind for a new life. Sam still tottered about Merlotte's, and she reckoned he would continue to tend bar until he collapsed on it. For old time's sake she would sometimes pitch in a hand, and the old shifter delighted in elbowing his patrons after she left with a wry: Y'all realize you've just been served a chicken basket by the vampire queen of Sweden? Eat up!
"Just fine." For hours, they spoke of small things, reminiscing and laughing quietly as old friends. It was only as Henrik began to fall asleep in his chair, that Sookie stood to take her leave of him. The doctor managed to laugh at himself, making some joke of how he couldn't stay up to all hours of the night anymore, as they had in their youth, that broke Sookie's heart without knowing or meaning to.
A long time ago, he'd rescued her from the hand life dealt her.
It only seemed fair to her, that he let her return the favor.
But he'd refused the gift of eternal life, and so she was left to watch him slowly walk to his room, after a warm embrace of goodnight.
She always feared now, watching him go, that it would be the last time she saw him. She would hover outside his window at times, more than he could ever know, just to hear the sound of his breathing, before moving on with her night. This was a lesson only time could teach a vampire. The inevitability of change in this world, in which she was a rock, watching fragile living things pass her by.
Sookie's boots crunched in the snow outside, the air kissing her skin with a biting chill. She reveled in the stillness of winter, the dark silhouettes of the trees against the blanket of glowing white. She wondered if she could ever leave this wonderful place as easily as she'd fled Louisiana. Perhaps not, though deep in her breast, she felt a stirring some nights for new discoveries that startled her.
Securing her fur hat upon her head, Queen Sookie took to the air. A skill only in the past five years she'd acquired - still, an amazing thing, for a blood drinker so young. But Eric's blood was a powerful concoction, and she a quick study.
Because she liked it, she decided to light upon the quay of the Gamla Stan, delighting in the old buildings as she walked along the water. At three in the morning not a soul but her stirred in the Old Town. From there she would return to the "palace", the opulent old house she and Eric shared. Their favorite residence remained the castle in the suburbs, but necessity dictated the royal couple move closer to the heart of the city. Eric gave Pam club Loki, which became purely a place of diversion, and a lucrative one at that.
Up ahead, a tall figure clad in black waited upon the quay, looking out over the harbor, the lights of the city blinking warmly on the other side. "Surveying your kingdom, darling?" she asked, melting into the arms that waited for her.
"Awaiting the return of my wandering queen," Eric amended, pressing a gentle kiss to the chilled tip of Sookie's nose.
Caught in the icy blue depths of his eyes, Sookie paused for a moment, lost in thought. She did wander quite a bit, though never terribly far. Not yet, at least. She'd been told by older vampires that a wanderlust would hit her at some point, that she would desire new places, away from her maker. At times Eric would look upon her with a sadness in his eyes, and she knew he thought of this coming time, when she would want strange surroundings more than the life they built in Sweden.
It all seemed so far away now, in his arms, though maybe not unfathomable.
But if change would be a certainty in her vampiric life, an inescapable foe, then also she knew Eric would be her constant. That no matter where in the world she wandered, there would be love for her, there would be a waiting pair of arms. She thought on the way she'd once fled from him, but now she'd come to truly understand what could be meant in that powerful word: mine. For she would carry Eric with her, no matter how far she flung, and he her.
Sookie tilted her head just a fraction, catching Eric's soft lips in a kiss that after all these years, still weakened her knees.
"I see it in your eyes, that you're afraid I'll leave you soon."
Her King groaned as he nuzzled the warmth of the bend of her neck, kissing the place where once a pulse beat strong against her skin. Now, only on special occasions, but still he craved her. "I can sense your growing restlessness. You have been precocious in all things vampire, Sookie, why not this?"
"Because," she reasoned, lifting fingers to comb soothingly through the hair at the base of his neck. "I am so very content here, with you…"
She kissed the shell of his ear, and he rose to receive her lips once more. "But?" He could hear the hanging thought in her sentence, as he always seemed to know when she did not quite speak all of her mind.
"Even if I do leave, someday, I will always come back to you. Because you're mine, Eric Northman, and that is how I love you."
Eric paid her a blindingly brilliant smile, remembering a particular night forty years ago when he'd decreed something strikingly similar to her, and still she sighed for the beauty in his joy written across his handsome features. Amidst shared past and future uncertainty, of all the lessons Sookie learned as a vampire, it was to appreciate the moment she stood in.
And this particular one burned almost too lovely to stand, in the arms of her King, looking out over the lights of their city reflecting upon the waters of the harbor.
"Well, we needn't worry about it now."
"Because you're here with me tonight."
"And for many nights after that?"
"And your love for me is a vast and fathomless thing, that all the oceans could not fill?"
"Oh, truly, indeed."
Sookie giggled as he swept her small form up into his arms, taking to the air with an effortlessness she had yet to master. "Good, my little Valkyrie. Prove it to me?"
She pulled him into a kiss that curled the Viking's toes, distracting him to point that they wobbled just a bit in their flight across the city.
"Any time you like," she promised, and it was a promise she would keep, all across the world, for centuries to come.
A/N: Thank you, THANK YOU, everyone for the overwhelming response to this fic! It's been a pleasure and privilege to entertain you. :) If you enjoy my writing, I have EXCITING news about an original project! Check out my profile page for more details.