The Queen’s Consort and his Wife

Such is this time of year that I am most likely to leave the fandom. This is the third year in a row, and can’t it be over now? The Sookie hate, and the complaints about the books drive me up the wall. I almost left this time last year – so I’m not really talking anywhere but here, where I can blast the hell out of negative Nellies in the comments (be warned). I belonged to the Harry Potter fandom before this one –  so I’m used to better behaviour than this and people who actually want to read the books, rather than read the third book they didn’t like to complain about it. There was no rousing on Harry to do everything right, and we all talked about more than Harry and Ginny, and no one wanted Hermione to die because she and Harry were friends. People actually talked about Harry, and no one denied his special nature. *Sigh* So you won’t find me anywhere but here, and by PM on – it’s that, or leaving.

So the question I’ve already gotten a couple of times is about Eric and Sookie and how that will play out. As one can guess. Fairies will be coming later, but first it’s the romance portion, get it out of the way. It’s what everyone wants to know, so we’ll go with that one. I’m not even going to quote a pointless quote about how they love each other – they both said they do. Sookie told freaking everyone – Alcide, Amelia, Eric, Sam. I’m sure someone will say she didn’t say it, or didn’t mean it, or it wasn’t heartfelt – but let’s face it – that’s so much fapping. Eric told Sookie, freely and easily and a couple of times. If someone wants to debate the pointless shit of “in love or love” or how they said it, that person is not me. There couldn’t be anything more pointless. I mean, they debated that with Dead in the Family and the whole thing is so much dust on the wind now. It was stupidly pointless then too, and just an excuse to gripe and whine it’s not a romance book.

One thing I will say generally on the relationship – and it’s thanks to Thyra10 I noticed this – the theme of the book was aging, age differences and death. The relationships shown were all on age differences – Fintan and Adele, of course Halleigh and Andy, Miriam and Pam, Dermot and Sookie, Eric and Pam, Sam and Jannalyn, Eric and Sookie. These relationships are all characterised by age differences. It was Thyra pointing out to me that Thalia was mentioned that lead me to seeing it in the text – the different perspectives that age gives to one partner, who changes over time. A lot of the moral differences between Sookie and Eric come from not only his vampire self, but are emphasised in his age – this is the first book where he talks about being set in his habits, and Sookie asks Sam if he thinks people become set in their habits (with regards to Claude). It was a far more subtle theme than Dead in the Family, which gave a gigantic hint in the name. But when you do your re-read, you’ll be able to see it.

As I’ve spoken about before, the better end of the bargain doesn’t actually go to Sookie. Who’d you see in Dead Reckoning cheering on her relationship with Eric? It’s a sad indictment that the person who did the most ‘cheering’ was Bill. It’s probably because he really does love her. But Pam, Amelia, Sam, Bubba, Claude, Alcide – none of these people are for their relationship. Pam even spells out what a spectacularly lacking husband Eric is:

“There, see!” Pam said to Eric. “She lives with other men. She
goes shopping with other men. What kind of husband are you?”

Dead Reckoning,
p. 25

I know round these parts, it’s always Sookie who has to change. It’s her that has to get used to blood and guts when she’s kissing her husband; it’s her that has to do everything. She has to accept he’s wonderful, but his best friend, and his child thinks he’s a pretty damn shitty husband. I do too.

The truth is that all through these books, Eric has been flying with a net. Since they recently restarted their relationship, he’s had even more of a net than he ever had before. For a start, he’s had Pam to try to help him work his relationship with Sookie. I would hazard that Pam – over this – feels she’s been taken for a fool. She risks her own friendship with Sookie – who is her friend absolutely and would save her from an exploding building, for Eric, who keeps doing it wrong. Pam isn’t just angry over the blocking Victor is doing on Miriam, but that her maker is actually being an arsehole and could jeopardise her own friendship with Sookie, which took on a life of its own sometime after the Rhodes bombing.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say that Sookie and Pam have an easy friendship, that’s a separate relationship to the one that they both have with Eric. Way back in Dead as a Doornail, Pam was sending Sookie flowers over getting shot, she sent her t-shirts from Fangtasia (mentioned in From Dead to Worse) and of course, Sookie finally declared it:

“I’m serious. Eric’ll have to let him kill you if you take Alexei out.”
“You care, don’t you?” Pam was unexpectedly touched.

“You’re my bud,” I said. “Of course I care.”
Dead in the Family, p. 245

I know that it’s difficult to see it from the first person narration of Sookie, but how many friends do you think care for Pam? You think she has tea and cakes with her Victorian vampire circle? Cause I don’t see that happening. And now Eric is fucking up one thing Pam has and values – her friendship with Sookie. She might have stood by when Eric was just keeping zones from Sookie, but she’s not going to stand back and watch Sookie be outright shamed and used by Eric….again. Eric did this to Sookie at the end of Dead to the World – I don’t think Sookie will have much tolerance for shenanigans this time, and Pam knows it even if fanfic writers don’t. Pam, unlike those writers, is on Sookie’s side. As Eric says:

“She’s a better friend to you than you know,” Eric said darkly.
Dead Reckoning, p.

I would hazard that quite apart from the bullshit fighting we see on the page, Pam has been haranguing Eric in private about the shabby way he treats her telepathic friend. I would say that she’s probably told Eric he’s a crap husband, that he needs to do better – and through the prism of Miriam’s impending death – value what it is he has, not take it for granted. I’d also say that Pam isn’t really cheering on Eric hurting Sookie with this, and wants her friend to know the truth. I also suspect that she’s been pushing big time for him to do it right, and more importantly, do it himself.

All of the stuff about age differences – Pam gets them. She gets what upsets Sookie. She understands that two guys at the back door with severed heads aren’t going to really make Sookie happy. So any argument that vampires don’t get it? Well Pam fucking gets it – she’s actually thinking about Sookie. So do fairies. It’s absolute bullshit that vampires don’t understand that killing upsets humans. They use it to threaten them. Pam says herself:

“They were sorry it was too much for your human sensibility.”
Dead Reckoning,
p. 247

She knew – the gleeful way that she called Sookie to the door that it would upset her. But her own husband – one who calls himself that – doesn’t get it. He’s cruel to her, rather than kind to her. But let’s face it, when he thinks he’s being rejected, Eric is a royal prick. Last time he threatened to kill Sookie, this time he just hurt her and made her cry. Sookie sent Eric a pretty clear message that she wasn’t sure she was going to put up with it this time, or his other bad behaviour, so now Eric will have to scramble to fix that behaviour, or lose her. A lot of the problems in the relationship will now be his problem, because Pam isn’t covering his arse any more.

The other way that Eric has been flying with a net is the bond. He says himself that he’s been relying on it to keep the relationship afloat:

I should have encouraged you to find a way to break the bond,
and in fact we have a ritual for it. I should have offered it to you.
I was afraid that without it we would be parted, whether because
you didn’t want to be dragged into my troubles or because
Victor found out you were vulnerable.

Dead Reckoning,
p. 183

Now, I know that some people are going to bleat on about how the bond needs to be back, or some vampire will come in and steal Sookie. I don’t know that the bond actually protected Sookie this time, in practical terms. I mean, if any of Sandra Pelt’s tactics had worked, Eric would have been somewhere in between Shreveport and Bon Temps when Sookie died. The bond only alerted Eric, so he could come and make a pain in the arse of himself. It didn’t magically save Sookie from fire.

Might I also point out that people determined to get you – like Sandra Pelt or Victor – aren’t put off by a blood bond. It didn’t stop Victor from sicking Bruno and Corinna onto Sookie outside Eric’s house. Victor wanted to hurt Sookie because it would hurt Eric – Sookie even points out that Victor considers her bug squish. It didn’t stop Victor from putting fairy blood in the glasses in the hopes that Eric and Pam might attack Sookie in his presence, and Eric has a bond with Sookie. It’s simplistic to think that the bond does anything really that practical. As I’ve discussed before, it’s biggest purpose is a literary device. Mostly, it just makes Eric worry – because he can’t actually act.

Eric has been relying on the bond to keep Sookie with him – and that’s no good for their overall relationship. Sookie knows she’ll have to make a lot of changes to her life, and a lot of things that she’ll have to give up, like children. I think that Sookie has thrown her lot in with Eric, considering how much she says she loves him. She’s never been this one hundred percent sure about anyone else – she’s made it clear that she loves him. But that doesn’t mean that he gets to make no effort. The blood bond had his back for a while there – he knew she wouldn’t leave.

As I discussed before, the bond seems to keep reeling Sookie back to Eric. From Bon Temps, Sookie was yearning to be with Eric, and if the bond was in place, then Eric relied on that factor. He admits above that Sookie wouldn’t feel compelled to be around him – and would actually have a choice on wanting to be with him. He can’t rely on that to just keep her around – he now has to make an effort, rather than just considering Sookie an extension of him, who will wordlessly put up with his bad behaviour because she has no choice.

I think – and I doubt there’s going to be much fanfic on it – that this is the point where Eric proves that he will finally make an effort for Sookie. He won’t just try to keep her from getting away – he’ll actually have to do more things to keep her. The real question is whether or not Eric is going to go for shallow and easy (Freyda) or is he going to go for deep and hard (Sookie). Sookie’s shown him she’s not on board with turning – even though she said she doesn’t know, a breaking of the bond is a pretty big “No” which requires an even more harsh and intrusive bond – and as you can see from the books, they’re different. Sookie’s willing to understand Eric:

And that was the thing wasn’t it? I found all of this understandable.
But I still hated it, hated myself, wasn’t too fond of anyone else.

Dead Reckoning, p. 301

Now it’s his turn to understand her, rather than rely on the 27 year old human to do all the heavy lifting. Before anyone argues in the comments that he’s a vampire and she has to accept him and roll around in blood, that’s the point – Eric isn’t the only one in the relationship.

I regularly stop my husband – who is normally a very nice man – from thinking of committing arson on the school, or assault on the parents when our kids are teased, or punching people who are mean to me. He understands that my profession doesn’t lend itself to violence. I know full well that if he was left to his own devices, he would (and has) punched people’s heads in. But he holds back when he’s with me – and I in turn don’t fool myself that he’s as gentle as I would always like him to be. Doesn’t mean I have to like the punching, or that he has to eschew punching when I’m not there – no one has to change their stance if they don’t want to, just their habits. It’s known as being considerate, and married people have to be considerate all the time.

Sookie understands Eric – she doesn’t ask him to change his nature, but there’s no harm in wishing for less “trouble” that Eric brings with him. This is discussed in the book – the ability to change your habits, rather than the innate person that you are. Sookie and Sam discuss it concerning Claude – and it comes up in a round about way with Sookie and Eric. After all, he was there through the ralphing in the toilet over the severed heads the fairies bring in – and now that the bond is gone and doesn’t ensure her acquiescence, Eric will have to start being considerate to Sookie at times like these. Or choose a woman like Freyda who gets horny over blood and bits of flesh coating your body and mouth. He can’t have both – Sookie’s made herself real clear.

But of course, the real thing is the Oklahoma-Freyda situation. How I think that’s developed, what I think she wants, and what I think is going to happen. So for Mama Lovis *waves*, there will be predictions on likelihoods and how I see the storyline going. From here on in, use judicious caution. But let me say – I was one of the “Snape loved Lily” group in HP – and I was right. 😀 I could have been wrong though, so don’t rely one hundred percent on my being right.

But already, I know the way the discussions are going to go, because this fandom loves easy answers. “Eric is an ally” is going to be the popular stance from those who don’t understand politics one single lick. Ah, no. Eric will be the Queen’s consort. Let’s dispel the “ally” bullshit now with a quote:

“And as my regent, Victor could plead that his wishes supersede
those of Ocella, and that I’m too useful to him to leave the state.”

Dead Reckoning,
p. 253

One cannot be an ally from Louisiana if one is living in Oklahoma. Eric doesn’t get to keep Area Five, and go over to Oklahoma once in a while to fuck the Queen. He gets to leave Area Five, and Victor gets it. That’s why Victor’s not fighting for Eric to buck the marriage. A marriage where he gets to keep Area Five and marry Freyda as an ally would have Victor on Eric’s side, just so that Eric can’t absolutely annihilate him politically and physically. Freyda is a powerful Queen – not some tinpot dictator like Victor. If it was an alliance, then Victor would have quashed it no matter what he feels about Eric, not encourage him to marry a helper on Eric’s side who can rival Felipe and wants to make her husband happy.

No, there’s no “ally” about it – Eric is a consort to the Queen – just like Hadley was a consort to Sophie Anne. No power to actually do anything, and he can’t marry anyone else, but a consort is the official lover (and in this case husband) of the Queen, without being King. Freyda may give him his own bailiwick to keep him happy, but he’s not co-Regent. Eric says it himself:

“In the meantime, she calls me every week, offering me a share
of her kingdom if I’ll come to her.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 253

A King doesn’t need to be bribed with a “share” – a King owns half, or all in concert. That’s like if someone tried to bribe me in the comments with my own LJ – I already have it, so what the hell are they bribing me with? Freyda wouldn’t bother to offer Eric shares of her kingdom if he was going to get that when he came to her anyway. That doesn’t make sense. Now you see why Bill talks about Eric loving freedom. Eric would always be subject to his Queen – not her equal, or her ally.

Can I also point out, while I’m here, that when Eric answered the phone in Sookie’s house, he was speaking to Freyda in Sookie’s lounge room. Anyone who’s tried it on that Sookie being friends with Sam or Bill is disrespectful of Sookie can now just shut their yaps. This was the height of discourteous and rude behaviour from Eric. Talking to your possible future wife in your current wife’s house – that’s a special kind of arseholery. Sookie, at least, doesn’t hide anything from Eric – she told him she found herself naked with Bill. He doesn’t even have the decency to tell Freyda he’ll call back until after Sookie figures out he’s not talking to Felipe.

I’ve spoken before about what the hell a new Queen on the board would want with Eric. Let me reiterate, and then expand into prediction territory. *Don’t* rely on my predictions – I may not be right.

So, the first one – what would the Queen want with Eric? This one seems really simple to the fangirl. Eric is the hottest, best at fighting/politics/everything. Honestly, Eric might be a brilliant, transcendental experience in bed, but I don’t think that this is actually what’s motivating her. I doubt Freyda is an ESN hound. As I have discussed before, Eric is not best at politics. Felipe and Sophie Anne – hell, even Victor, have pushed Eric into a corner. In fact, Bill points out that the Queen doesn’t need anything from Eric at all:

“She also has a lot of power. That is, she has territory,
minions, real estate, oil money.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 305

I suspect we’ll end up seeing stuff in fanfic where Eric has more something than a woman – that’s the way this fandom rolls. She has power, land, an army, and money. Eric is, to put it blankly, a pissant compared to her. It’s not a politically smart move to make – not for a Queen. She obviously doesn’t need the proceeds from a small piece of Louisiana, or one guy who’s good with a sword. Eric won’t have land when he goes – excepting what personal property he has – and he’ll have to sell that and kick that money into the oil money fund. He can’t actually gift Felipe’s Area to Freyda – he’s appointed as its caretaker, not its owner.

As for the idea that he’s the best fighter in the world – yeah, that’s pretty stupid. Eric wasn’t sure whether or not he’d be able to take Victor in the book – and indeed, Pam and Eric double teamed Victor, and it took Sookie’s intervention to finally kill him. If Freyda wanted to marry a great fighter, she would have married Akiro. And the only reason she’d need a great fighter is for her Second. Don’t get me wrong – Eric is fierce and bold and would be a good soldier – but it’s clear he’s not the best fighter in the world, or he wouldn’t have called in Thalia to fight Victor.

There are two things I think Freyda wants from him. We’re entering prediction territory here – I’m one degree, but don’t trust my info, because I might change my mind, or I might just be wrong. It’s less than a week since I read the book, so you have to give me leeway. It’s still settling, but I think I can see a couple of things Freyda might want from Eric.

The first one – my less favoured one – is the inside information on Felipe’s territory. Eric is a Sheriff, and he would know the weaknesses to overtake Louisiana – which would be useful for taking over the territory. However, I’m less in favour of this one just because an elaborate plot with a marriage is overkill. As I’ve discussed before, spies are a way of life for vampires, and I think that Eric would make a spectacularly crappy acquisition on that anyway.

Eric’s known as the last holdover for Sophie Anne. He’s not part of Felipe’s inner circle – he was part of Sophie Anne’s, and now in between Freyda and Louisiana there’s Arkansas, run by Red Rita. If Freyda wanted information to take over territory, she would have come at Victor. It’s not as if she hasn’t previously figured out ways to get into Louisiana anyway. And right into Eric’s Area:

Two summers before, a small group of vamps from Oklahoma
had tried to set up a rival bar in adjacent Bossier City. After one
particularly hot, short August night, they’d never been seen again,
and the building they’d been renovating had burned to the ground.

Dead to the World,
p. 87

His ruthlessness might have caught her attention back then, with what Eric did with those vampires, but it shows that Freyda doesn’t really need to get information on Eric’s area – she’s no doubt already getting it. I also note that she doesn’t really need Eric’s inside information about how to take Victor and the state of Louisiana. As Pam points out, Felipe is a rather absent leader:

“Absolutely nothing is happening. Victor is still our leader.
Our position doesn’t improve. Our requests go unanswered.
Where is Felipe? We need him.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 25

As Eric notes out later, Felipe is dreadfully overstretched. Numbers are low in Eric’s area, Victor is not rebuilding things, Red Rita has a demolished state, and Felipe has sent half of his regular staff over to Louisiana. Felipe isn’t answering requests any more – and he’s not actually interceding in big trouble – like the stuff between Eric and Victor. While part of that is a strategy to let them fight it out themselves in a Darwininian contest of “May the most ruthless vampire win”, it’s also that Felipe doesn’t have the manpower to come in and settle petty disputes.

Not only that, but Felipe has bigger things to worry about on whether or not Victor and Eric are getting along:

I’ve appealed to Felipe, but I haven’t heard from him.
Oklahoma is one of the rulers eyeing his throne.
He may want to placate her.
Dead Reckoning, p. 253

If Freyda is considering having a go at Felipe already, then she doesn’t need Eric for anything but a little information. She may not have all of the intelligence she needs to take Felipe, so anything to give her an edge would be good – and Eric could have information, since he’s been working with his new Masters. So she may want to marry Eric so that she’s got a man who got a glimpse at the inside of the machine – and can give her key information.

The second – and far more likely theory – is Sookie. Eric says himself that:

“They’d receive a fee if it was an advantageous union,
if each half could supply something the other lacked.
It was mostly a business arrangement.”

Dead Reckoning, p. 252

It’s a business arrangement, for something that the other lacks. It’s clear that Freyda doesn’t lack for money or power in any way. It’s Eric that lacks that – not Freyda. No, one thing Eric has that no one else has is Sookie. It’s been made clear – from the bond to the pledging – Eric is her husband, and he owns her. Eric has a blood bond with Sookie, and in Andre’s eyes, that’s good enough for Sophie Anne:

“As long as she’s bonded to someone in our kingdom.”
All Together Dead, 
p. 177

Freyda may think Eric and Sookie are a package deal due to the bond. The pledging is not worth the knife that was kissed, once Eric goes to Freyda, but would she really consider that the blood bonded slave of Eric Northman, now put aside as his wife would stay in Louisiana? Does it really matter to her if Sookie is shamed and degraded? Doubt it. She’ll be Oklahoma’s telepath anyway, just to be with her man. Not many humans around like Sookie – leaping out of windows to save their vampires – I can only think of one – Sookie.

On top of that, a telepath with awesome insight into Fae politics – even Victor wants to know how that’s going. Sookie is one hell of an asset, and she’s so attractive to vampires it’s not funny. Sookie is the ultimate spy for a vampire – they can spy on their rivals by reading their day men, they can save money with business associates, they can save your arse from Fellowship threats. Sookie did lots of work at the Rhodes conference on Sophie Anne’s behalf, all while bonded to Eric. What sort of Queen wouldn’t want that?

As I’ve talked about before, and as it says above – the bond keeps Sookie with Eric. If Freyda found out about that at Rhodes, then she could reasonably expect that Eric would come along, marry her and bring with him a telepath. The one piece of property he owns outright as far as the vampire world is concerned. Andre did it for a reason – to own an asset for the Kingdom. With the pledging in place, Eric has a right to keep Sookie away from Felipe with the pledging – the bond doesn’t do it (or the pledging wouldn’t have been needed). The bond keeps Sookie bound closely to Eric, unable to think of getting away from his troubles. Once Eric leaves the Area and brings his bonded telepath with him, then Felipe can’t order her to Las Vegas – she’s not his asset any more.

Of course, all that’s fucked without the bond, that Sookie broke – which makes me want to cackle evilly.  Sookie is no longer bonded to Eric and thus doesn’t have to go anywhere with him. I think this will be the unforeseen thing that will help him get out of the contract with Freyda. Personally, I don’t fear too badly for Sookie’s safety if Eric does actually leave – because I don’t think the Pam willing to fight her maker for her friend wouldn’t protect Sookie by claiming her herself – and we all know that neither of them would require sexual exclusivity. I don’t think Eric is going to leave though – I just think he has to learn about commitment not ownership.He has to learn how to be a little more equal with Sookie – not just owning her and taking no risks on love. She takes risks – it’s way overdue for his turn.