Chapter 13 – Shrouds

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Those still standing retreated into the shadows leaving Tara and Eggs on the dew-covered grass as real human tears stained the grounds. They observed from a distance only withdrawing further when the darkened sky released tears of its own. Tara welcomed them alongside hers as the dark crimson that stained them washed away. Sadness beseeched those that had thought this would be their moment of triumph in deluding the impossible to defeat. No words were spoken as they looked upon the fatality of their gains, mere sighs and a few tears were shed. When Sookie started shivering again from both the pain of her friend’s sorrow and the cool air on her damp body Eric didn’t hesitate to locate a warm blanket to drape around her and held her tightly in his grasp.

 

“I have never felt such pain,” Godric said in his native tongue as he felt Tara’s grief and heartache encompass her.

 

“I told you it’s involuntary,” Cecily reminded her maker.

 

“Love,” he acknowledged with great sadness. “It should not feel like this.”

 


 

Jason was the one who finally managed to reach out to Tara as he sat quietly beside her in the pouring rain and she allowed his presence to comfort her. It had not been so long ago that Amy Burley had entered and cruelly departed from his life. Tara didn’t scorn his presence as he let her be, offering only his company and no empty words.

 

“Let’s bring him inside,” Jason proposed when it seemed Tara had no more tears to shed. She shook her head in accordance with an uncharacteristic meekness and didn’t protest when he and Sam proceeded to carry Eggs’ body to the throne room. She diligently washed the remnants of blood from his bleeding heart staining the white sheets red on the improvised bier.

 

Godric stood observing from the entrance of the doorway with a pristinely white folded length of linen clutched to his chest. He watched Tara shaking and shivering while trying to dry her beloved’s body. Jason helped her replace the stained sheets for clean ones and placed some more over to cover his bare torso.

 

“It looks like he’s in a fucking morgue,” Tara sobbed at the sight of it.

 

“I’ll find him some clothes,” Jason promised as he held her crying form to him closely.

 

“None of those monk robes,” she said brushing away furiously at her tears with the backs of her hands. “He was no saint.” Jason simply nodded before exiting the room.

 

Godric sidled in carefully till he reached her fully aware. “When I was human we shrouded the death in a burial cloth,” he explained in gesture to the bundle in his hand. Her gaze didn’t avert, making Godric unsure if she was truly aware of his presence, it was a strange sensation for the blood inside her to inform him of something he could not read from the outside. So he simply stood next to her looking upon Benedict Talley’s departed form trying to feel what she felt.

 

“What happened to Jesus, Mary and Joseph?” Tara finally spoke, her cynical nature resurfacing.

 

“You did not take too kindly to them,” he responded politely at which she snorted. “I thought perhaps this would be more to your liking. If you prefer I can leave you alone.”

 

She turned her body slightly to look down at him. He was a good foot shorter than her and unlike his hollow quoted words from an ancient text she despised, this was an offer she could appreciate.

 

“Nah,” she said off handed. “It’s ok kid. You can stay.”

 

Godric chuckled softly. “It has been many centuries that someone mistook me for a child. It is… refreshing.”

 

“You’re a strange little fella,” Tara alleged with a discerning look as she took in the boyish looking vampire and his tattoos properly for the first time. “Were you a pagan or somethin’?”

 

“I was born in Gaul. Today’s…”

 

“France. And large parts of Western Europe,” she cut him off. “I do read you know.”

 

“I’m sorry,” he apologised sincerely. “I did not mean to undermine your intelligence. Most humans today do not know.”

 

“Most humans today don’t read anymore either,” she snapped back. “Most humans are idiots too. I’m just not one of them.”

 

“You certainly are not,” Godric acknowledged. “In another time I would have observed you from afar. Recorded your life for history.”

 

“That’s just fucking creepy,” she said pointedly with an accusing stare before resuming to pull at the white sheets with unnecessary scrutiny to straighten it further.

 

“I meant it as a compliment,” the ancient vampire offered fidgeting with the linen fabric between his hands.

 

“I wasn’t offended,” Tara shrugged. “There just haven’t been a whole lot of people willing to look after me in my life.”

 

“It has been the same for me too,” Godric confessed with a slight pain in his eyes.

 

“Will you show me how?” she asked with a softer voice taking the cloth from him. He nodded and proceeded to pull the white sheets off of Eggs’ form and with Tara’s help started to unwrap the cloth between them up and over the corpse. She followed his instruction as they bound him tightly with fabric knots across the body leaving only his head exposed.

 

“We called this an Eslene,” Godric explained as he tucked in a loose end. “A death shirt. My people believed it kept the soul from becoming lost. A bowl would be placed on his chest and his people would fill it with coins and other items to ensure he was properly equipped for the afterlife.”

 

“Shame his bowl would be awfully empty,” Tara mused while stroking her finger languidly over Eggs’ soft cheek. She noted all of his warmth had been lost with the torrential rain. “I’m the only one to be considered his people left and I ain’t got a pot to piss in.”

 

“I’m sure he will be fine wherever he goes from now.”

 

“Knock it off with the Jesus shit will you,” she returned with a hard edge before a heavy sigh overtook her firing anger. “The only truth that book ever spoke is ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.’[1] We’re just matter, an assembly of atoms and molecules. Circle of life and shit. This is his end, nothing more.”

 

“You don’t believe in a higher being?” he asked with worry for her in his voice. “An afterlife?”

 

“No,” Tara stated adamantly. “If I did he or she would have to be an awfully vengeful God to make sense of the shit my life has been so far.”

 

“I hope this is the last of ‘shit’ in your life,” Godric offered sincerely as he tried to take inventory of her inner tumult.

 

“Me too kiddo,” she breathed out softly. “It’s my fault Maryann showed up you know.”

 

“I think she came for me,” Godric denied sternly.

 

Tara let out a small snort. “Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me,”[2] she quoted with a roll of her eyes. “Conceited much?”

 

“Perhaps I should use Mr Shakespeare’s words as my royal motto,” he jested carefully while finding some sort of comfort in her deflection with humour. He hoped it did the same for her but he struggled to make sense of his own emotions and hers.

 

“You vamps don’t really seem to have a sense of humour,” she remarked dryly.

 

“There is little to laugh about in old age.” With that statement they remained silent for as they sat collectively gazing at the loss of human life that would never get to know that wisdom.

 

“Tara,” she finally said while offering her hand out to be shaken.

 

“Godric,” he returned taking her hand in his and shaking it tentatively. Despite his excellent memory he couldn’t remember the last time he shook a hand. His was somewhat limp in her firm and well-practiced handshake.

 

“Explains the God complex then,” she returned sardonically.

 

“I hope you weren’t named after the plantation,” he joked after stifling a laugh at the expense of his own name.

 

“That my friend, was the first sign for me not to believe in the good Lord above.”

 


 

“Gran was saving it for me,” Sookie said sadly bunching up the satin fabric in her hands. “I always told her I would never have use of it but she kept it anyway.”

 

“I’m sure it can be repaired,” Eric offered reaching his fingers for hers. “Pam’s dry cleaner is quite adept with blood.”

 

“Even maenad blood?” she asked pointing at the black stains sceptically. The residue seemed to be eating away at the fabric while they spoke and in demonstration she poked a finger through the fabric with a small sigh.  “I think I should get some of Pam’s warning labels sown in from now on.”

 

“I can have it remade for you,” he proposing trying to move the dress out of her hands carefully. “It would look identical.”

 

“That’s sweet,” she expressed with a pinched smile as her fists clutched the material tightly, unwilling to let it go. “You and your immaterialism have a point though, it’s just a thing. The memory of it is more important than the item. A new dress would just be… a new dress.”

 

“Think about it,” he offered with a soft kiss to her forehead. “At least save the undamaged fabric.”

 

“Ok,” she said giving him permission by handing over what was left of the dress. “Maybe if Jason were ever to marry someone they’d have a use for it.”

 

Using his vampire strength and precision Eric pulled the undamaged panels from the seams till he had a neat stack of the unstained fabric.

 

“I’d like to see to Tara and my house before we leave,” she informed him while fondling the slippery white fabric between her fingers.

 

“Of course,” Eric replied. “We will depart to Bon Temps when she is ready. But I think we should return to Godric after.”

 

“You’re not buying his gospel now that he has defeated the maenad, are you?” she asked with worry in her eyes. “We agreed we would leave for safety as soon as this business with the maenad was done.”

 

“When it comes to our survival, yes. Without hesitation we will be gone instantly,” Eric offered in explanation. “But if you and Cecily believe you can reach Godric I think I should at least try. He nurtured me for over a thousand years I owe him much more than that.”

 

“I don’t want to see him walk down the road of blind faith causing inadvertent destruction and chaos,” Sookie said with a heavily exhaled sigh. Her heart ached for his internal pain. “He’s not wrong to view the species as equals, it’s the method and the company that is.”

 

“The world doesn’t like change but the next generation is always thankful for the progression,” he recalled from observation. “Mortal enemies don’t make the best allies, however.”

 

“Aren’t fairies and vampires supposed to be mortal enemies,” she sassed.

 

“That’s only because little fairies taste so delicious,” Eric said as he sniffed her like an overexcited canine.

 

“Stop,” she cried while giggling at the ticklish feel of it. “I really need to see to Tara.”

 

He pouted a little but he understood her need to support Tara and snuck in a kiss before he let her go. “I’m sorry for your friend’s death,” Eric tried out as if he was testing the correct weight of the words.

 

“He wasn’t my friend,” she explained with a small shrug. “I never even met him before. From Lafayette I gathered he wasn’t really the best man for Tara. But he didn’t deserve to die the way he did though.”

 

“Cecily said they were in love,” Eric said in confusion. “The pain was paralysing Godric.”

 

“Who knows,” she returned. “It doesn’t hurt any less to lose someone whether they were good for you or not.”

 

“You’re too young to be this cynical,” he scoffed denying to himself that those same feelings of loss were travelling through her in memory of the Civil War veteran he despised. No matter what that shared bond told him Eric decided he knew better than her projected feelings.

 

“You’re too old to be this optimistic.”

 

He laughed a little at her back talk. “It’s good we found each other then.”

 

“If you say so,” she returned before giving him a soft kiss for their short goodbye.

 


 

It annoyed the shit out of Tara how efficient vampires were with dead bodies. Despite New Orleans laying in ruins from the storm, Godric had managed to arrange an escort out of the city with a properly equipped air conditioned box truck to carry Eggs’ body to Bon Temps. Ready to depart whenever she desired.

 

She was glad for not having to deal with Mike Spencer, the town’s creepy funeral director, who in Tara’s mind was just another bigoted asshole. Everything had been arranged per her wishes and it was only on the journey back that she allowed her eyes to rest for a few moments.

 

The ride was long but quiet. The others had prepared Sookie on the state of their town but she was shocked upon seeing it nonetheless. She reminded herself that Tara’s welfare was more important than the disrepair of her ancestral home.

 

It was at Tara’s request that they all gathered at the old Stackhouse farmstead. Growing up it had been her refuge from the broken mess that was her life from birth. It was the closest thing to a home of her own and Adele Stackhouse had been the only maternal figure and adult she had respected in her entire life and in that moment she never missed her more.

 

Tara knew she owed Sookie endless apologies for the desecration of her home and her Gran’s memory but she lacked the energy to do so. While it shocked Sookie to see the state of the house her Gran took such pride in, she couldn’t find it in her to let it upset her. She rocked Tara softly as she cried on the ruined sofa while Jason, Sam and Lafayette cleared the yard of debris.

 

When the sun set they were joined by Eric and Godric. Tara had allowed the 2000 year old vampire to come to attend the funeral when he had asked her permission to do so. He was granted this only if he were ‘to check the Jesus shit at the door.’ to which he had reluctantly agreed. Godric had felt guilt over the loss of human life and felt a need to be present and pay respect. He had an overwhelming need to acknowledge the worth of the involuntary sacrifice. It troubled him that he had intended to demand the same of Eric not so long ago.

 

Tara’s continued emotional turmoil confused him greatly and he thought it a lesson from God to learn from this human that suffered so much in her life. Things had to have happened for such reasons.

 

Eric turned out to be an expedient cleaner much to Sookie’s surprise as he whirled around her home complaining about her aged vacuum cleaner. He had to annoyingly slow down his vamp speed for the machine to catch up to him in equal efficiency. They had a small spat over him ordering a new one while she tried to resist arguing too much since he was the first man to ever clean her house. With his diminished swiftness Eric took his time exploring every nook and cranny of her home. The last time he had been there it was to retrieve a disoriented Godric after his initial confrontation with the maenad. Taking in Sookie’s home had hardly been a priority.

 

In quiet contemplation Godric walked around the grounds of Sookie’s home marvelling at the energy field by the tree line. He assumed it to be a portal of the fae but the magic of it seemed latent. In preparation he had changed his usual white linen garbs for dark brown ones out of respect for the dead. With a glance at the waxing moon he knew it was time to attend to the burial. Cecily appeared beside him and reached out her hand as they wordlessly returned to follow the party of mourners from a distance.

 

The ceremony was short and simple. Tara spoke a few words of their time together and his memories. She had spoken the truth to Godric when the earth had covered over Eggs he was gone. Gone from her heart too, she let go with an astounding ease. Tara simply disconnected and moved on. Yes, she carried the sadness but not the sorrow. She had the uncanny ability to simply punctuate an end. It baffled him.

 


 

“You’re a difficult man to track down Northman,” the shrill voice of Nan Flanagan commandeered behind him.

 

“I didn’t know I was being tracked,” he returned coolly. Eric had wisely retreated to the parking lot of Merlotte’s when Nan Flanagan found him, leaving Tara solely in attendance of her closest friends and family. The fact that the smells of Sookie’s place of work were less than agreeable to his sensitive nose may have further motivated his chosen position. Unlike Godric, Eric simply couldn’t care for Tara in the same way Sookie couldn’t care much for Eggs aside from his relation to her friend.

 

“Why haven’t you reasserted your position of Sheriff?” she demanded.

 

“I haven’t been asked to,” he shrugged. “Since when do you occupy yourself with middle management?”

 

“This reign needs balance,” she returned her temper barely contained.

 

“He’s already found in with Mrs Krasiki next door,” Eric replied sarcastically. “I think she’ll pull him adequately off balance.”

 

“She no longer works here,” Nan Flanagan informed with an unneeded blink of the eyes.

 

“Russell,” the Viking answered knowingly, pleased with the knowledge that Pam had located him and set him back upon his rightful throne.

 

“Indeed,” she replied staccato. “Your progeny is his head decorator now.”

 

“I hope he likes heads on spikes,” Eric grinned before he thoughtfully added, “Although she’s very much into pink these days.”

 

“This is a fucking nightmare Viking,” the spokeswoman growled. “I have hippy dipshit down here and the psychopath next door. You need to reaffirm your power base or the whole south is going to shit. There are already rumours that that rogue cowboy Stan Baker has his eyes on the Lone Star crown.”

 

“My position was dissolved with Sophie Anne,” Eric responded off handed gesturing with his palms as if he was washing his hands clean of it all. “I worked as an interim for the new regime. My tasks are finished. I’m free to go where I please.”

 

“The Authority sees otherwise,” she informed with steel in her voice.

 

“The Authority allowed for this all to happen,” Eric retorted unimpressed. “If they had stuck their nose out of a window for five seconds they may have seen this shit coming, like I did.”

 

“Godric seemed a perfectly qualified regent,” she bit back. “Do I need to remind you that you’ve refused to step up for decades?”

 

“Qualified?” he snorted. “An ancient vampire with a cult following and dealings with our most sworn enemies since the Great Reveal. Yes that surely sounds perfectly qualified. You had the opportunity to stop him yet you encouraged him in his delusions.

 

“He’s one of the main proponents of the mainstreaming movement,” Nan Flanagan explained with a hint of annoyance. “Those are the type of vampires we need in power at this moment in time. But we need moderates like you to really run things. Your maker heeds to your counsel and you are respected in this region.”

 

“His politics extend beyond your make belief mainstreaming bullshit. I refuse to be the muscle behind his misguided ideology or yours for that matter,” Eric gritted out, the disgust and vehemence palpable with each punctuation. “There’s a reason I enjoyed my fiefdom and didn’t move beyond that. I’m not openly supporting this reign.”

 

“So you’re jumping ship like your progeny,” the blonde vampiress taunted crossing her arms. “It’s good to know where your loyalties lie.”

 

“Do not speak to me of loyalties,” Eric hissed baring his fangs and allowing the shrill woman to feel the full force of an ancient vampire’s strength around her neck. It was only the encroaching black forms of her guard that made him loosen his grasp on her. “Keep this up and you’ll find yourself fighting on all frontiers.”

 

“You don’t want to be aggravating the Authority, Northman,” she said baring her own incisors. “You’ll find yourself without allies far too soon.”

 

“The only power that the Authority has is the one they proclaim to have,” Eric informed dismissively. If the situation with Godric and the maenad had taught him anything it was exactly that. The political power scheme was upheld by supposition of power there was no army backing up their claims. Like Sookie pointed out, ‘Placebo effect’. “Talk to me when your precious Authority dare show themselves instead of hiding behind the likes of disposable baby vamps like you.”

 

“Caution yourself underling,” she growled out. Nan hadn’t been called a fledgling for a good hundred years and it brought back the bile of tainted memories.

 

“Three ancient vampires, an army of linen clad vamps that will follow my maker into death. By your admittance I have sway over my maker and add to that my disbanded retinue. My devoted progeny has ingratiated herself with the most powerful vampire on this continent,” he listed off his fingers in warning. “And let’s not forget Stan Baker. He’ll join any bloody fight you invite him to. We go back. Far. Save your cautions for the Authority Ms Flanagan. Perhaps look into that lovely ‘church’ that seems to be fine with us all of a sudden despite vampires clearly killing their leader. I’ll never carry the title or the crown but unofficially I run the South when I feel like it and no authority has the power to claim or dictate otherwise.”

 

“This isn’t over Northman,” she spat out before speeding off.

 

“It certainly isn’t,” Eric replied to the muggy air. “It’s only the fucking beginning.”

 


 

[1] Genesis 3:19

[2] William Shakespeare Anthony and Cleopatra Act 5 scene 2

 


A/N: True Blood season two always hinted at these ‘rogue’ vampires of Dallas. I think it was Barry the bellboy who stated as much. Their version of Stan (who goes by Baker instead of Davis) was supposed to be the epitome of that but he got killed in the explosion but I always thought it was a bit of a lost opportunity so I’m going with that Stan instead of book Stan. Tara got herself a character banner because she will be appearing in and out of the story now and then with her tie to Godric.

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15 thoughts on “Chapter 13 – Shrouds

    1. I never understood why vampires as old as Godric and Eric let themselves be bitched around by the likes of Nan, there was no back up to her position… oh well means I can ridicule her here 😉

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  1. Great chapter as always! The conversation between Tara and Godric was so touching…and Eric got to tell off Nan! Looking forward for more..Take care
    Now Thanksgiving fixing time!

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    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one again. Tara and Godric have quite a few similarities and they both understand pain well they jufews deal with it differently so they’ll be an interesting match. Nan always annoyed me in her self righteousness so she deserved to be told to f off for once… enjoy the fixin’

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  2. I never thought of Tara and Godric together. If they can ease each others pain and find common ground, it’s awesome. They both need friends who can truly understand them. Maybe they can save each other. Love Eric telling Nan off. It’s hard to imagine vampires as old as they are putting up with her crap.

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    1. They’re an unusual coupling but somehow it works, they both know pain but deal with it on a different level and her self righteous attitude might actually be helpful with someone as lost as Godric is at the moment so there’s a good ground of understanding for these two which is interesting to explore.

      Totally agree on Nan, her power was never really reinforced and the authority always appeared as this looming threat that had little repercussions with its demise but I blame that more on the lack of follow through on power structures on the show. The threat was always instantly eliminated with the annihilation of the front men which made no sense if there wasn’t something backing than power base… oh well at least Eric knows his worth in this fic and he’ll have to use it while Nan runs interference…

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  3. Good to see Eric being able to stand up to Nan now that he is no longer Sheriff… She is very annoying… Although hard to tell how much her threats mean since the Authority is such an obscure entity… For all we know they have some magic weapon?

    I hope you can redeem Tara from the mishaps of TB… She was SO MUCH better than the books version in Season 1 of TB. Reading the comments on the previous chapter reminded me of that first TB scene where Tara is such a hardass vs. an annoying customer and then continues to be all uppity (she had some good points from what I recall) at Merlotte’s… She was really funny then… Of course TB had to spoil her and just make her into an always-angry and intolerant woman… Didn’t help that TB made Franklyn’s abuse of her quite appalling (I found TB was quite cavalier with abuse and rape in general though nothing was quite as bad as the Jason in Hotshot debacle… Yuk)

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    1. Well Nan and her supposed power always rubbed me the wrong way, and why thousand and two-thousand year old vampires were cowering to her remained a mystery to me for a very long time…

      I liked TB Tara too in season one, maybe even more than Sookie at the time and the actress really put in an amazing performance. She also saw right in regards to our favourite Bill and it had nothing to do with prejudice against his species at the time pre-Franklin, she rightfully signaled that the B/S relationship was comparative to an abusive one… Yes, TB was grossly unfair with doling out rape and torture especially since it then did little with character growth, Jason had a horrific experience but nothing came of it (not even a giant litter of were-panthers…) and in Tara it persisted the myth of an angry black woman to a cliche where she was a character, like Lafayette, of great potential. Her death in season 7 probably offended me the most for its reasoning, ‘we didn’t know what to do with her’… really… for how long?

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