The cremation took place four days later. It was a grand and elaborate affair prearranged by Russell. A few old friends and family had flown in to pay their respects. The house was overflowing with floral arrangements from mourners around the globe.
The days before were occupied with hosting the new guests as well as dealing with the grief that surrounded them. Sookie had been especially important to Pam who had a difficult time accepting Russell was truly gone. She remained angered by Eric’s seeming aloofness through it all. It was not unheard of to hear her mutter, “Cold Nordic ass,” in reference to her brother.
Things had gotten especially tense when Talbot had asked Eric to attend the reading of the will. He had declared no interest in it, and if Russell left him anything, to give it to Pam. Sookie had ended up soothing a seething Pam with limited success.
Sookie understood Pam’s feelings, but understood Eric’s just as well. There was little that could be said to remedy the strife between the siblings. Eric retreated to the apartment often during these times and Sookie let him, only retrieving him when she feared he went hungry. He would always return at night to their bed where they held each other tight as one or both released a tear from their eyes.
Talbot was understandably upset. He cloistered himself in a shroud of black in deep mourning. Adonia was his only source of comfort, and for once she let up on coupling him to Sookie.
Pam made her intentions known to stay with Talbot for the traditional full forty days of mourning, perhaps even longer, hoping her brother would agree to the same. She was now a wealthy woman in her own right and she didn’t know her next step. The days past had diminished any thought of her and Eric’s continuing of the family business together. When Talbot enquired how long Eric intended to stay, he had merely replied, “Soon.”
Jill was the first to depart, eager to get back to micromanaging her own family. Despite the fear she instilled in the other family members, she had proved a dependable rock during these stormy times and they were sad to see her go. Pam greeted her farewell with a genuine ‘bless your heart’.
“Asteri tis zois mou,” Adonia cooed at Sookie while she helped her cook, a phrase she had come to understand as ‘star of my life’ as the old matriarch would often refer to her like this. She hadn’t been shy in letting Sookie know Asterion would make a fine name for her and Talbot’s first-born son either. While Adonia continued her prattle in Greek, Sookie lost her ability to follow it past the first sentence.
“My mother is imparting her wisdom on you,” Talbot offered from his position on the window seat staring out blankly and surprised Sookie in his awareness.
“What did she say?” Sookie asked gently with a sympathetic smile.
“The woman who doesn’t wish to bake bread, spends five days sifting,” Thalia translated who was thinly rolling filo pastry on the kitchen table under her mother’s strict instructions. At Sookie’s questioning look, she elaborated, “You’re procrastinating, and she wishes you to resolve things between you and Eric.”
Sookie was startled a little, due to the fact that Thalia seemed genuinely helpful and seemed to be similarly supportive of Adonia’s request. Shockingly, the grumpy woman who wore a scowl more often than not even now offered an encouraging smile. Somewhere along the way when the golden couple had faced their storm, Thalia had discovered she was rooting for them to make it and had come to adjust her opinion of Sookie. It could have been that she actually started to like Sookie, but she would never admit to that aloud.
“She’s finally letting up on me marrying Talbot?”
“Yes. She’s reasserted that she’ll take any blonde great grandchildren over none,” Talbot explained as Adonia was shoving Sookie out the kitchen and to the front door with more force than should be reasonable for a woman of her advanced age while telling her to go find Eric and not return until she succeeded.
Slightly bristled, Sookie shook off the flour from her hands before finding Eric exactly where she knew she would. While she avoided the place like the plague ever since the last time she was there, Eric happily retreated there on a daily basis. She took a deep breath while staring up at the only apartment lit from within just where she knew him to be.
“Hey,” she spoke warily when peering her head round the door. He looked up slightly startled from the book he was reading by characteristically testing the spine to its maximum capacity in the process while his long legs were stretched over the empty coffee table. Eric acknowledged her with a similar greeting while she hesitantly entered the space that she had once described as ‘theirs’, but now seemed to speak solely of his presence.
“Is it dinner time already?” he asked while she looked everywhere but at him, noting the small traces of his that were absent from the mansion.
“No,” she sighed while fidgeting with the hem of her shirt. “I’ve been sifting flour.”
Eric regarded her with confusion, trying to catch her eye. When he was about to ask for clarification, she made a gesture for him to let her speak to which he gave a brief nod.
“I have to tell you something and I’ve been putting it off,” she explained to which he motioned for her to sit beside him. “Before I start, promise to hear me out first?” she requested softly while coming to kneel beside him so their heads were at a similar height. “I’ll understand if you want nothing to do with me, but please hear me out.”
“I don’t think there’s anything you could say that would warrant that,” he replied.
She let out another sigh looking at her lap to muster the courage before daring to find his kind eyes again, vowing to herself to remember him as this. “Remember when Uncle Des spoke about my other grandfather?” He nodded so she continued, “My grandmother worked as a governess in New Orleans for a wealthy family when she left school. She was set to marry her high school sweetheart, Earl Stackhouse, when they both had saved up enough to set up house together.
“When my grandmother worked in New Orleans she fell in love with another man. He was spending the summer with friends who lived in the house across from her employer’s. He was from a rich family up north and he talked about taking her home to Newport.
“She fell pregnant with my father. He had already returned to Newport at that point and she wrote him a letter. He was shocked, but insisted they get married and she come to him as soon as possible. He was delighted to become a father he assured her. The next day the entire household was in shock as a messenger came to deliver her a ring, a member of the staff! It caused quite the outrage.
“My Gran gave her notice, and worked in the new girl before taking the long train journey up to Newport. When she arrived with a single suitcase in hand and a small bump on her tummy, she was greeted by a family in mourning. He had died in a boating accident, and he had told no one of my grandmother. His mother made her out to be a con woman. They were less than kind to my Gran, robbing her of the ring he gave her in promise.
“Heartbroken and ashamed she returned to Bon Temps. When Granddaddy Earl heard she was back, he visited her immediately and when she confessed all that had happened, he proposed to her. He raised my father as if he were his own and they never looked back.”
She remained quiet for a moment steeling herself for the next part. When Eric started to ask if she had finished, she held her hand up indicating she was far from done.
“When Russell revealed the name of the man who ordered the death of your family, you didn’t register my shock. I know your thoughts were elsewhere, but that’s what I was, I was shocked and I didn’t know how and when I would be able to tell you, if I would ever be able to tell you. I’m telling you now and know that I’m sorry I’ve sought comfort with you these past few days, but I took it as a parting gift.”
Tears were brimming her eyes while she trembled the words out, “I’m so sorry, Eric.”
In his confusion to what exactly caused this distress in her he pulled her close to his chest, trying to offer her some sort of comfort. “No,” she sputtered while pushing at him to keep the closely guarded distance she felt was necessary between them. “I don’t deserve it.”
“Sookie,” he tried, but her imploring look made him quiet. She quickly wiped away at the tears that had already fallen with the back of her hands before she composed herself and found the words she needed to speak to him. “Eric, the reason I was shocked was because I knew the name. I know the Brigants are a well-known family on the East Coast. However, I know them because Fintan Brigant was my biological grandfather. He was also Dermot Brigant’s twin brother.
“I understand if you want nothing to do with me ever again,” she sobbed, speaking the name of the man who had ordered his death and that of his family for the first time since Russell had revealed the same name. “Please don’t kill me.”
He didn’t say anything as he registered her relation. Her tears, however, did little to suppress the rage that festered inside.
“Eric?” she whispered between the sobs that were blinding her vision, but his shift from the sofa alerted her to his sudden movement away from her. “I’m so sorry, Eric.”
“I can’t believe you,” he seethed against the slightly cool glass of the window he came to lean against. “After all this time.”
“I didn’t know until Russell-”
“You think I care!” he shouted while pounding against the piece of glass harshly before turning around and staring her down with a menace she never knew he possessed. “You think I care about the FUCKING BRIGANTS!”
She trembled slightly, her fear taking over her need to divest herself of the tears. “I-”
“You’re sorry!” Eric screamed. “What the FUCK are you sorry for?”
“For the Brigants,” she whispered. “For being a Brigant.”
He regarded her frigidly, bringing back the cool persona that had hunted her through her former home and adjoining graveyard with lethal precision. “Wrong answer.”
“Eric, I don’t understand.”
He scoffed until he noticed she really didn’t appear to understand the cause of his upset, the cool persona slipping back into the one that would deny little, if anything, for her. However, the anger still remained. “I can’t believe that’s how you see me! After all this time, that’s all I’ll ever be to you, isn’t it? The killer that’s here to rob you of life!”
“No!” she screamed back without a thought, the fear of him gone in an instant, finding her feet beneath her legs in the process, and stalking towards him.
“What am I then?” he demanded harshly when she invaded his personal space where even his eyes now appeared to glisten with the promise of tears.
“You’re the man to whom I owe my life,” she answered sincerely. “The man I love with all my heart, who I would die for to make happy.”
“Don’t say that,” he pleaded in a whisper, cupping her face. “Don’t ever say that.”
“It’s the truth,” she countered evenly.
“No, it’s not,” Eric replied in a similar tone, his expression still soft. “The day you die all promise of happiness is lost.” She tried to dissuade him, but before a single noise could escape her mouth his lips were on hers, closing the last few centimetres between them as her back met the wall.
“I’m not accepting your apology,” he said to her with warning when they found a need for air again. “You have no fault in this. Why would you think I would reject you over this? If anyone should understand the complex structure of assembled families, it’s me.” She gave a brief nod before kissing him over the heart and leaving her hand to rest there.
“I love you, Sookie. The only thing that could change that was if you told me you pulled the trigger on my family,” Eric continued before taking a deep inhale with his head tilted back to the wall to take in the wide expanse of the ceiling above. “Apparently even time can soften my resolve on that.”
“You mean it?” she asked her voice still small.
“Remember my promise that I would always give you the truth and that you never have to work for it,” he reminded while willing away the uncertainty in her eyes with the determination in his own.
“Yes, and I would never pull it from you unless you asked,” she smiled, relief overtaking her previously anxious state. “Thank you.”
“Sookie, do you think you can ever forgive me?” he asked with the realisation they were in the exact position on the same wall when everything appeared to have fallen apart. “For walking when I should have stayed?”
“I’ve already forgiven you,” she replied sincerely. “It took some time for my heart to heal from the wound you inflicted.” He winced a little at her description while waiting for her to express the same anger he had unleashed on her moments earlier but it never came.
“Can we still be an us?” he asked, seeking confirmation.
“Yes,” she smiled at him through her wet eyes, a smile overtaking the heartbreak that previously reigned. Their lips sought each other at the same time once more, and didn’t let up until Sookie’s ringing phone forced them to join the family for dinner. Adonia was pleased to see the young couple reunited with their regained affection for each other. She didn’t even cough in interruption when she found them kissing in her pantry.
“I think it’s time we start thinking about moving on,” Eric sighed as they came up for air from their extended make out session.
“Thinking about marriage already,” she teased with a radiant smile hoping to avoid the still somewhat tense subject between them.
“Who knows,” he said before he descended upon her bruised lips again. “But I was talking about going back home.”
“Sweden?” she murmured. She didn’t know when that happened, but the apartment in Stockholm felt more like home to her now than anywhere else. He simply moaned in confirmation as his hands roamed down her body and he softly laid butterfly kisses down her neck and collarbones.
“It’s just starting to get nice and warm here,” she complained. “You want me to go back to the arctic chill.”
“I’m sure I can find a way to keep you warm. Aren’t you warm right now?” he hinted, causing her to stiffen slightly in his hold.
Her pouty lips were too hard to resist to him and he attacked them with vigour to remove the scowl from her face. She lifted her head back in mock protest so he continued to nuzzle the line of her jaw and drop more kisses down her throat.
“You’re just going to disappear in your cave anyway while you leave me to paint the apartment.”
“I promise I won’t,” he returned, his lips barely leaving her skin as he continued with his dedicated task. “We can go to Paris first, like we planned.”
“Promises, promises,” she sighed with the contentment of his attentions.
She moved herself up on her elbows pulling her body out from under him so she could look him in the eye. He growled at her escape and quickly hovered his body back over hers, nuzzling her soft tummy as the top of his head nudged at her breasts.
“Eric, don’t you have to… you know get back to work sometime?”
“No,” he sighed. “We suspended operations when Russell was diagnosed. I don’t think Pam wants to work with me right now.”
“What about money?” she asked while he was slowly lifting the hem of her shirt so he had access to the soft skin that lay beneath it.
“I have enough,” he said between sets of kisses on her midriff. “You wouldn’t be able to spend it if you tried.”
“That’s only cause I’m frugal,” She giggled when he found a ticklish spot.
“Even if you weren’t, you still wouldn’t be able to spend it,” Eric countered as he continued to let his fingers roam her side.
“Stop it!” she exclaimed. “One urination catastrophe was hard enough to live down.”
Despite her protestations he continued to tickle her, “What are you going to do to make me stop?” he taunted.
She surprised him by flipping him on his back and straddling his ribs using his own momentum against him. “Gain some insurance,” Sookie moved her body a little down so she could kiss his lips comfortably, and he roamed his hands from her waist to cup her behind, squeezing gently. She moaned in approval against his mouth while grinding into his crotch.
“What am I going to do with you?” he sighed as they came up for air again. He moved the loose locks hanging down her face tenderly behind her ears. The grins on their faces mirroring each other.
“The same thing you’ve always been doing,” she whispered contentedly. “Be exactly what I need.”
At breakfast the next morning they found Adonia happily knitting away at baby socks; baby blue ones to be exact.
“I hope Raven just announced she’s expecting,” Sookie said to the other family members. Pam just scowled at her, scarily likening her to Thalia.
Adonia rubbed Sookie’s tummy and cooed the name Asterion over and over again. Sookie indulged her, despite being highly uncomfortable while Eric gave her a pointed look that such an immaculate conception would be hard feat considering how far they’d come before Pam had come to interrupt the two. Thalia just rolled her eyes at her mother’s hopeful devotion, which didn’t go down so well and erupted in a Greek shouting match that was ended by Talbot booting everyone out with no apologies.
“Sookie, will you go shopping with me?” Pam asked, sensing Talbot wanted the house to himself for the day. A little surprised at her request, she answered yes before noticing Eric’s discontent.
“Stay with me instead,” he begged her while hungrily kissing her against the door of their bedroom. “I made plans for us,” Eric tried to entice with a waggle of his brows.
“I already promised Raven,” she replied though her resolve was weakening with his expert attentions.
“Screw her,” he said, continuing his seduction. “Wait, don’t.” She sighed with a slight laugh while putting her hands on his chest to stop him. The rift between the ‘siblings’ turning her off instantly, she was becoming rather tired of being the one constantly in the middle of it.
“I really wish you two would sort out your animosity.”
“When she stops acting like a petulant child I’ll consider it,” he replied now nipping at her fingers as he tried to win back lost ground. She moaned a little before she regained her resolve and put more distance between them, locking him out of the bathroom in the process.
“It’s only more exciting if I get to chase you,” he all but growled out to the closed door.
“You’re not gonna convince me to ditch Raven,” she yelled with more determination than she actually possessed. “Now you can either come with us or stay here by your lonesome.”
“Fine,” Eric huffed petulantly. “I need to settle up our little hideaway anyway. Bring me back something nice.”
“I’m not nice enough for ya?” she teased, leaning in for a goodbye kiss when she emerged from the bathroom. Before he managed to answer her or the kiss, Pam was loudly banging the door for Sookie to leave knowing it would aggravate Eric.
“I’ll be back soon, Pouty,” Sookie apologised before giving him a quick peck on the cheek and bolting out the door.
“We’ll be returning home soon enough,” Sookie announced carefully in the car ride to Mytilene, the island’s capital, while considering Eric’s intent to give notice on their apartment that day.
“What are you going to do in Bethesda?” Pam asked while trying to mask the hurt of that impending departure.
“No, back to Stockholm,” she corrected gently, hoping the shorter distance might offer some sort of solace.
“Why would you want to go back to that windy shithole?” Pam sneered.
“I’m still hiding out from Lorena, and I like it there, despite the cold.”
“I’d hoped you and Eric would stay for the mourning period at least,” she spoke with a slight sadness.
“Eric’s not really the mourning type,” Sookie replied while readjusting her sunglasses in the mirror.
“I’ve noticed. The cold hearted bastard.”
“He has his reasons, Raven,” she sighed really not wishing to get in the middle again.
“Yes, which you won’t tell me,” Pam said pointedly.
“They’re his to share or not. Trust me when I say you are better off not knowing them,” she tried to appeal once more. “When my grandmother died, my brother and I disagreed over many things too. I let Bill convince me of the worst of my brother. He and I don’t speak anymore because of it. Any communication we have goes through lawyers. Are you really prepared to lose a family member on the back of another simply because you don’t understand his emotions?”
“I guess not,” she grumbled.
Pam’s mood failed to lift after that despite Sookie’s best efforts. The shops in Mytilene were more geared to the tourist trade, and Pam’s desire to finally drop cash like there was no tomorrow was stifled by a lack of worthy wares. Sookie did manage to find some nice gifts to give to Talbot and Adonia in thanks for their hospitality while Pam’s eye rolls only became more ornery and mocking in the process.
Annoyed by her lack of retail therapy, Pam dragged Sookie into an unassuming seedy bar. “Drink,” she demanded while the bartender set out a row of ouzo shots per her orders.
“Pam, this is hardly the time and you’re underage.”
“Not here,” she shrugged after downing the first shot and subsequently pulled out her own lethal persona, dropping crisp bills and signalling another round. “Now drink.”
“Shit,” Sookie mumbled, nearly tripping over her own securely fastened shoelaces while distracted with the pattern of the irregular cobblestones. “I promised myself never to drink again. Don’t you dare take advantage of me, Pamela Ravenscroft!” she warned while opening the car door. Pam couldn’t help but laugh at Sookie while they both tumbled into the back seat of the car on top of each other to much hilarity.
“Sookie?” Pam hissed rather loudly after they settled beside each other with their feet dangling out the opened car door. “Who’s going to drive us?”
“Your stupid plan,” she answered with a yawn. “Your problem.”
Without much thought she pulled up Eric’s number from her phone babbling nonsensically over his need to come and rescue them doing her best to explain where they were. In the interim, Sookie entertained Pam with the story of her vow never to drink again since the entire Amelia and Alcide fiasco. However, before she was able to finish the story Sookie fell asleep, and Eric only just managed to interrupt a giggling and hovering Pam before a breast was squeezed.
“What?” Pam whispered, or at least she assumed it was a whisper. Sookie meanwhile, seemed unaware of the interruption as she continued to snore.
Eric merely raised a single brow daring Pam to continue the innocent act when her hands still continued to hover where they shouldn’t, “Get in the front.”
“Spoilsport,” she mumbled before he helped her out, her ill-chosen heels causing her to stumble and land firmly into his chest with a thud. “I’m glad you’re here, Eric”
“I’m sure you are,” he grumbled while getting her to move towards the front seat, her lack of coordination and cooperation, however, had them standing still longer than anticipated.
“Do you miss him?” she breathed into his chest as a tear escaped her eye.
“Yeah, I miss him,” he answered honestly.
She gave a small smile up at him, “Sorry I’ve been such a bitch.”
“Sorry I’ve been such a cold hearted bastard.”
“Forgiven,” she announced rather loudly. “But you’re still a bastard,” Pam slurred while he managed to strap her into the front seat.
“And you’re still an expert cockblocker,” he complimented before pecking her on the forehead.
A triumphant, yet goofy grin, graced her face, “You’ve noticed then?”
“It is very hard not to,” he huffed with a raised brow.
“But you still love me,” she tittered with a knowing smile.
“Yeah, I do,” he returned sincerely while caressing her cheek. “Nothing’s going to change that. You’re my sister, only one I got.”
“Thanks,” she whispered shyly before he closed the door on her. Carefully he scooped Sookie’s feet into the car, dropping a kiss to her forehead after covering her with his jacket.
Pam had fallen asleep when he took his position in the driver’s seat leaving him alone with his thoughts on the lengthy drive home before he carried each girl as if they were precious cargo back into the house under Adonia’s disapproving glare on account of their intoxicated state, the blame firmly levered onto Pam while she complained about the health of the non-existent baby.
After placing Sookie on top of the covers, Eric carefully tried to remove her sweater and dress, but she stirred when he managed to get the first up over her head.
“Eric,” she exclaimed with childlike excitement. “Where did you come from?”
“You’re back at the mansion,” he informed gently. “I’m helping you undress so you can sleep properly.”
“Oh,” she replied, brows furrowed. “Are you gonna take off my underwear again? I really liked it when you did that.”
“Not tonight, my sweet,” he said while he helped her into her nightgown.
“Why not?” she whined. “I want you to.”
“I will another time,” he promised with an excited glint to his eyes.
“Is it cause I drank a little? I promise I didn’t kiss anyone this time,” she mumbled. “I told… I told Raven not to take advantage.”
“That’s good to hear,” he chuckled while tucking her in under the covers. “Next time get her to promise you that.”
“Eric, I didn’t bring you back anything nice,” she suddenly realised with a protruded bottom lip as if contemplating deep thought.
“That’s okay, you’ll think of it next time,” he replied.
“No, it’s not okay,” Sookie whispered. He watched her while she remained silent and her breathing calmed somewhat. When Eric made to move thinking she had fallen asleep again, she stirred and started wiggling her body under the covers.
“Here,” she announced triumphantly upon placing her underwear in his hands, her eyes half lidded, laden with mischief and fabricated lust. “I brought you something nice.”
Eric looked down at the pink lacy piece of fabric with amusement and chuckled with anticipation to the reaction his possession of it would cause in the morning. “It’s very nice,” he said holding it up for scrutiny. “I don’t think it’s my size though.”
“Meh,” she giggled. “It’ll stretch.”
“We’ll see,” he replied. “Try to get some sleep and drink the water I put here.”
“Ok, Prince Charming,” she said before nodding off.
He placed a soft kiss on her forehead while chuckling, “Goodnight, my little Fairy Princess.”
A/N: Much thanks to msbuffy for her editing skills once more!
We needed a bit of levity after the last chapters, right? So I hope it delivers since some of you are still mourning the death of Russell. It seems the worst of it has passed now between our favourite couple and they seem to be headed on the right track while Pam acts as the eternal shitstirrer/professional cockblocker in between. So I hope it makes up for the ups and downs for the past few chapters, love to hear thoughts as always 😉