It was decided that we would stay in Äre for the day before heading back to Bjärka-Säby. I was glad since I was exhausted, completely drained both emotionally and physically.
I woke up the next evening to tears stinging my eyes. I had been so hopeful that we would be able to find Eric… How naïve I had been. Six months had passed since he had left us all behind. It was more than enough time for anybody to fall off the face of the Earth. So for a man, a vampire, like him…
The fact that he had left everything behind, his two progenies, his business empire, his position in the vampire hierarchy, should have been clues enough that he wanted to be left alone. Who was I to try to bring him back to a life he seemed not to want anymore? Did I really think that I, Sookie Stackhouse, uneducated waitress from Bumfuck, Louisiana, would be enough? Would the woman who had not once, but twice rejected him be enough?
The memories of both of my rejection of him broke my heart. After the whole fiasco with the witches, I had been so confused. I was in love with Eric, there was no denying it, but with which Eric was I in love with? In hindsight I now realize that these two Erics, the one with and the one without his memories, were the same man, well vampire. The Eric I had found on the side of Hummingbird Lane, the one that was so sweet, gentle, kind, loving and memory-less, was just another side of the complex being that was Eric Northman. Bill’s blood had just added to the confusion.
The second rejection… I now realized how stupid I had been. Eric had offered me protection, security, but I had been too blind. How could I have doubted that he wouldn’t have been able to protect me? To keep me safe from both Bill and Warlow? If only I had agreed to leave with him… Yes, Bill might have been able to track me, but even in his Billith form he would have never been up to the challenge that was my Viking. And maybe we would have been able to come up with a plan against Warlow?
I closed my eyes, what a mess. I wouldn’t hold it against him if he had given up on me. But then the picture by the bedside… Yeah, it gave me hope. That’s all I had these days, hope.
The door opened slowly on Thorfinn. Once he saw me, he vamped to the bed and engulfed me in a hug, patting my back.
“I’m so sorry” I sobbed. “I had hoped…”
“No need to apologize, min kära (my dear). You must know that this isn’t the end of your journey. It’s only the beginning. Come, Olga has prepared a meal for you.”
Wrapping myself in Eric’s large leather jacket, I joined Gustaf, Thorfinn, Olga and Oscar to the dining room. I hated the pity in their eyes.
“Good evening, Sookie” said Gustaf.
“Are we going back to Bjärka-Säby tonight?”
The Vampire King shook his head. “Not yet. We will head to Gamla Uppsala before stopping in Stockholm.”
“You think Eric might be there in Gamla Uppsala? You did say the other night that it was where his mother’s clan was from…”
“I don’t think so, but I thought you might want to see it. Their museum boasts a large collection of Viking artefacts… I have arranged for a private visit after hours.”
I nodded. I had to admit that I was curious about it. All I knew about Vikings came from romance novels and Hägar the Horrible cartoons.
“The others will meet us in Stockholm and we will then head off to Öland where we will rest for the day.”
“Öland… That’s where you all come from, right?”
“Yes” answered Thorfinn. “Eric still owns the lands where our village once was. He built a farm there back in the 19th century.”
I barely ate. I was too anxious. I had thought that being in the last known place where Eric had been would have given me some sort of feeling of peace… Now I wanted to escape it.
I was on autopilot. I barely acknowledged Olga and Oscar warm goodbye as I boarded the chopper. Unlike the previous evening the scenery was not enough to tempt me. The trip to Gamla Uppsala was a short one and we were welcomed by the museum curator. Visiting a Viking museum with two real genuine Vikings sure was unique. We finished the tour with a stop at the souvenir boutique. I was looking at some jewelry display when Thorfinn started to curse really loud in Swedish. At least that’s what I thought. I turned around and literally burst in laughter at the view of Gustaf putting a horned helmet on his son’s head.
Gustaf was laughing too.
“How can a serious museum, one that claims to be the best in Viking history, sell something this stupid? Far, you know better than anyone that these… things are modern day’s invention!”
“But you look so cute in it” I giggled.
“And isn’t the duty of a father to buy his son a souvenir?” added Gustaf with a smirk.
“If you really want to buy me a so-call souvenir, far, then get me a new Ulfberht sword?”
“Yours is still in mint condition!”
“But far…” moaned Thorfinn, acting like a spoiled brat.
“What’s so unique about these Ulfberht swords?” I asked.
“Just the best swords ever forged! Father and I still have ours from our human days. So does Eric…”
“He keeps it in Öland. You will get to see it later tonight.”
My mood suddenly changed. Tonight… Öland… I felt a tingle in my heart. It was weird, I had been at his safe house in Shreveport, his cabin in Äre… But thinking of going to Öland, to the land where Eric was born and where he had been raised made me feel closer to him. We were nearing Stockholm when Thorfinn’s cell phone rang. The conversation, held entirely in Swedish, was short and quick.
“Pilot, kommer vi att gå direkt till Öland.”
Gustaf frowned and so did I. I understood pilot and Öland but the rest…
“Stockholm’s night life seems to be more attractive to my sister and our friends than Öland.”
“They’re not coming with us?” I asked.
“They will join us tomorrow.”
I nodded. In a way, I was glad. Going to Eric’s birthplace felt rather… I don’t know, intimate? If the way I had reacted by being in his cabin in Äre was any indication, the visit to Öland would be quite emotional.
We landed near a large and beautiful farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. As we exited the chopper, Gustaf pointed several spot, explaining what used to be there a thousand years ago. The land was so wild that I could barely imagine a whole village used to stand on it. I walked toward the house, Thorfinn and Gustaf several feet behind me, speaking in Swedish and remembering their past obviously. As I was getting closer to the house, I frowned. There was light… But didn’t Gustaf say that the Öland house didn’t have a housekeeper? I turned around, but the King and his son were heading toward a tumuli. I decided not to wait for them and went to the door. I was getting ready to knock when it opened suddenly.
“Fuck a zombie! Sookie Fucking Stackhouse!”
“Good evening, Pam…”