How to tell you have a HEA

Okay, so this is the promised post about Sookie and Eric’s relationship. In fairness, this won’t be the last post on it, but probably the first of many. Mainly because what I noticed when breaking up the audiobook (I clip certain scenes so I can skip right to the significant ones on my iPod and so I can review different scenes over and over) is because the whole Freyda/Felipe/Sookie/Eric/Kym thing is heavily involved in the entire plot. I will need to touch on this in stages. Don’t expect everything tied up in a neat bow in this one post.  Please also note that I’m using a .lit version of the ebook – page numbers will be out because of that until I get my print version. 🙂

Now, before I go on, I want to tell Sookie haters to again, fuck right off. Not only do I hate you, but this post isn’t going to make sense to you if you don’t like Sookie. I get that you’re interested in Eric, but I hate to break it to you – he loves Sookie. No matter how immature you think she is, or how thankless she is, how she’s always running from everything, how she’s always refusing gifts, how she doesn’t act like her telepathy is that special gift to Eric which fucks her life up, or the bond that fucks her life up, or how she’s just not grateful enough for the beneficence of Eric Northman, and all the other shit said about her. I personally think you don’t know Eric half as well as you think you do if you can’t grasp why he loves who he loves, and why he acts certain ways. You’re set up to fail right from the get-go there. So please to take this version of Eric who is totally biddable and will rattle off shit you love all the time without a brain in his head.

I should also point out that dissecting romances is not my favourite thing to do. The only reason I give a shit is because of what Sookie’s life will look like at the end, and I hate not knowing the ending – I obsess. I don’t actually ship, like so many do – I accept the relationships as they are on the page. If Sookie turned around and said she was desperately in love with Bubba, you would find many posts about Bubba and his position in the world on this journal. During the first part of the series, I was pro-Bill. When her interest in him dropped off as a romantic interest, so did mine.  I like characters or don’t like them, independent of whether Sookie feels nicely towards them or not – hence my rabid, long term Alcide hate. But I don’t ship all by myself without Sookie’s input.

Also, don’t bother to try to get me to determine if Sookie really loves Eric because of something she does or he does. This method of dissecting is rather stupid. I’m not going to distrust every single word on the page just because it doesn’t fit my definitions of what’s right. I think, sadly, that many women – to go by fanfic standards – are waiting for a big sister to enter their life, who will also fuck them. He’ll like romcoms and crying, relationship discussions and doing their hair. Shit. I wouldn’t marry someone like that, and I think finding a man who’s like your big sister who fucks you is probably a lost cause. In my experience, men tend to be much more ornery than big sisters. And Sookie just doesn’t have that option – Pam doesn’t even like crying or watching Sookie cry, let alone doing it herself.

So if Sookie doesn’t leap up and kiss Eric goodbye when he leaves, and I do that to Mr. Minty every time he leaves, I’m not going to declare Sookie “not really in love” with Eric.  Every relationship is different in the little things and what works for some, does not work for all people. I – for example – have never had a long discussion with Mr. Minty about serious issues, including our sons’ disabilities and how they make us feel. A sentence or two is what has served us well – and meaningful looks. Romance novels and Cosmopolitan tell me this means relationship fail. I’m still waiting for it to fail…17.5 years is a fuckload of time waiting for fail. So, when Sookie says she loves Eric, and thinks she loves Eric, then Sookie loves Eric. That’s the end of the debate for me.

Onto the meaty stuff. As it ended in Dead Reckoning, we ended with Eric telling Sookie (finally!) about his impending marriage to Freyda. Now, this will have to be covered in another post, because I gotta have time to consider her and everything she said. I also have to map out the behind the scenes moves as much as I can. But one of the reasons that Freyda is seen as so inevitable by the characters is because she is apparently a lot like Eric.

All throughout this book, from Bubba to Bill, there was a lot of talk about the inevitability that Eric would choose her because she’s rich, because she’s powerful, and because she’s beautiful.  While I would agree that these are attractive qualities, and that Eric would want them, Eric is all about achieving these for himself. I can’t think of any point at which Eric just took what is handed to him on a platter with relish. If someone were to offer him the ability to sit back and do nothing, relax and kick back, when would that be? This is ‘relaxed’ Eric with ‘free time’:

When Pam knocked on my front door thirty minutes later,
I was ready for work, and Eric was antsy as hell.
Pam was no sooner seated opposite him than he
began bombarding her with questions.

Dead to the World, p. 266

Truly – think about the last time you saw Eric wandering around with nothing to do, just chilling, and he hadn’t just had sex. When was the last time you read about him wandering about for a walk around the woods, or just sat down to watch a movie with Sookie? This is not in the man’s nature. Eric is a natural workaholic, and he’s always on the go, doing something, rather than being inert. He’s not like Bill – he doesn’t like taking his time – he likes being on the go. Something falling into his lap, no matter how good it looks to him is ever going to hold his attention.

Not to mention that there is a pretty critical thing that is important to Eric – and that mark was hit a couple of times in the book – as to why he will ultimately refuse no matter what his situation with Sookie:

It’s an illusion of independence, but one he seems to hold dear.
Deadlocked, p. 311

Huh. So what he’d like instead is a wife who tells him what to do? Oh Freyda doesn’t pay very much attention at all. Because being her Consort will not be anything like true independence. She just doesn’t know what she’s talking about there. Yes, he’s not truly independent from Felipe – but until the takeover, Eric was left to run his Area, be a good boy, play nice, send money and people left him alone to do what he does best. No vampire is truly independent – Bill has to follow orders, and Felipe has to get approval from the Narayana Board to do stuff like takeover Louisiana. Freyda is huffing something if she thinks there is any independence in the vampire world. But she talks a good game.

Not only that, but she thinks strong arming Eric into a marriage will therefore produce more of Eric’s beloved independence? Freyda’s argument that having the woman you sleep with telling you what to do is flimsy at best. Even Sookie knows it’s not good:

Eric didn’t like being told what to do, but he understood expediency very well.
Deadlocked, p. 139

Eric is not going to be jumping through hoops to be told what to do – almost exactly what Bill said would be his problem with the offer:

Though we can’t stand each other, I know Eric will try his best to get
out of this situation simply because he loves his freedom.

Dead Reckoning, p. 305

While there needs to be caution taken with what Bill says, I think he’s been relatively honest for the last part of Dead Reckoning, and throughout Deadlocked. If for no other reason than it would hurt Sookie and stop him from pressing his suit with Sookie in order to be dishonest or provide spin. This power on offer isn’t actually going to be given to Eric himself – it will be funnelled through his wife’s hands. Eric isn’t going to like those conditions. Yes, he loves power – but this is not real power – this is borrowed power he hasn’t worked for. Power that is just as much at the discretion of Freyda – and even more so – than the Sheriff power he has earned all by himself. Look how well he reacted to Victor trying to hem him in, uh?

That’s the benefit we saw with the cluviel dor and Niall’s test of Eric. Eric could have asked Sookie to make him King of Louisiana, be his wife and all kinds of things for the benefit of power. But instead, all he wanted was to get out of a situation wherein he was being forced – nothing more. Eric’s not really interested in seizing power at any price, or of getting stuff he didn’t work for. He doesn’t want things handed to him on a platter. For all of his wants, he doesn’t want things easy.

It is therefore a good job he picked Sookie. She isn’t going to make things easy. So she shouldn’t. Eric was an arse – a royal dick if you will (before confirmation of his royalty) – this book as well. Quelle surprise! Who knew that would happen, uh? The problem is that through the reflection of another relationship, we see what the real problem is – and it’s all Eric’s fault:

“I wish Danny’d tell Kennedy what he’s up to. Not knowing is
making her have all kinds of bad thoughts about him.”

Deadlocked, p. 244

I know Sookie is currently – without doubt – catching all kinds of hell from the fandom elsewhere for even doubting that Eric is not trustworthy.  You know – the guy engaged to another woman – the one she found with another woman masturbating on his lap? Yeah, that guy. But this is essentially a problem of Eric’s own making. I have a big feeling that if Sookie actually knew where she stood, what was going on, and what was happening, then she’d be in a whole lot better space. Rather than rage at Sookie, rage at Eric for being a withholding bastard. And before you suggest that she should ask questions…well remember the beating Pam got for trying to tell Sookie? You think he’s going to give it up because Sookie asks nicely, then you, my friend have won the Nigerian lottery, and if you send me a bank transfer fee of $AU1,000, I shall happily forward your winnings.

I suspect that a lot of stuff is going on behind the scenes, and I’ll go into that in a later post, because I still need to figure it all out. I even have to do a timeline and everything, to track movements. We only get Sookie’s knowledge of the whole thing – but I think that there’s more going on behind the scenes that Sookie is being left out of, quite deliberately. So Sookie is being shown what she is made of – how much she will doubt Eric when he doesn’t tell her anything. I also think that Eric’s going through his own crisis too – all about his identity, but again, later post.

So what did I squee over? A running theme of quotes, that indicate to this old married woman that it’s Eric or no one as far as Sookie’s concerned. And I was so happy to see an indication of something that is essential for any marriage/viable long term relationship. I don’t think it’s something many people would immediately pick up on – but I have mentioned it previously. Surprisingly in a post about using Google translate in fanfiction. It’s all about intimacy – and what sorts of conversations you have with people. As an old married woman, I can tell you that there are things I only say to Mr. Minty – that no one else gets that sort of talk from me. They don’t have to be important conversations, but they do have to be personal.

Sookie says just that early on with Sam – that she needs more feedback on how much other people share:

“What about the things you aren’t telling him? Are those things important?”
“Yeah, they are. Important, but not … personal.”

“By personal stuff … things that are only about me and him. Like if I wasn’t
happy with the way he treated me, or if I thought he needed to be around
more, or if he’d go with me to Jason and Michele’s wedding. If I needed
to talk about any of those things, I would.”

Deadlocked, p. 230

This to me, means that Sookie really does have intimacy with Eric in their relationship. The mere fact that she shares – all the way through the book – how Eric lacks in that area means that there’s still intimacy there, no matter how much Eric tries to spackle over their problems with sex. Sharing with someone doesn’t only mean sharing good stuff, or positive stuff – and it doesn’t have to mean sharing a whole bunch of stuff – it just has to mean that the conduit is always there. That you feel free enough to tell them off. That your conversation will always get a reply – even if it’s one that you don’t like much.

Sookie says quite late in the book this key quote – and boy do I know how this one feels:

For what seemed like forever, my spare time had been taken up by Eric. We
were making plans to meet, or we were together, or we were talking on the
telephone. Now that it seemed our relationship was unraveling, I had no
idea what to expect from our next meeting. If we had a next meeting. But
I couldn’t imagine how I would fill the hole in my life left by his absence.

Deadlocked, pp. 546-547

This is the biggest indicator to me that Sookie is wanting to share with Eric – even if he’s not around – and she doesn’t have a stand-in. There is essentially no one to fill the hole made by his absence. No one else whom Sookie can talk to about all these little things, no one who cares. It doesn’t even have to be something important – she’s valued being able to tell her everyday concerns to for ages. Someone to offload to – and in fact, it’s one of the first things I think both Eric values about his stint with amnesia:

“I lay in front of your fire and talked to you about your life,” he said.
From Dead to Worse, p. 214

and Sookie values very highly:

“I’m all ears – for the moment, at least.” He laughed.
This was the real treat, or at least one of the real treats –
having someone with whom to share the day’s events.

Dead and Gone, p. 173

Sookie sees just this little thing as a treat. I have to say that I do too. One of the things I miss most about having my husband busy or whatever is that no one else really gives the feeling that they care about stuff. I can’t be as frank and honest about what I think, and I don’t really want to share with them anyway. It’s one of the things I love about being married – and one of the things I think is the biggest value in a marriage. Sookie is given the choice to share intimacy with others, and doesn’t take it. Not with Sam – not everything with her best friend – even after he promised he’d keep it secret earlier in the book:

“Sam, let me tell you about what’s happened the last
couple of days, and you’ll understand, I promise,”
I said, and with a certain amount of editing, I told him.

Deadlocked, p. 546

Not with Alcide:

“I can’t talk about it,” I said. “Or I’ll get real upset,
Alcide, and you just don’t want that tonight.”

Deadlocked, p. 452

And not with Bill:

One of the things I really like about Bill is that he didn’t pester me with
questions while I was working through all this. He just drove.
“I can’t talk about it now,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

Deadlocked, p. 471

Not with Dermot, or Tara. Not one of the suitors got the story Eric wasn’t getting by deliberate means – not about feelings and all that sort of thing. No full disclosure of what’s going on. No one is essentially stepping into Eric’s spot. Without Eric, Sookie’s not talking to anyone else. She’s not giving anyone else the full story. I see it as a positive move towards all the stuff married people do. Even if you have problems, then you still share them because that’s the person you talk to.

It’s something that they do both seem to really appreciate – and Eric is still doing it too – even if he doesn’t really get the answer he wants. In fact, he has improved (by God it’s slow going with a 1000 year old vampire) since the last book:

“There’s also the fact that I’m not used to sharing my daily concerns with
a human, and it’s hard to break the habit after a thousand years.”

Dead Reckoning, p. 68

It’s not important stuff like with Freyda, but this is certainly a good improvement on his last statement – and this is only an excerpt of one of the longest rants Eric has on the page – one that has some purpose, but is mostly detritus that doesn’t actually lead anywhere practical:

“…They wanted me to permit cadaver dogs to go over my property. I had
to say yes, but it makes me furious. How stupid would I be to bury
someone on my own property? They’ve searched the house again…”

Deadlocked, p. 354

If you recall – I’ve mentioned before that Eric just doesn’t talk that much. And compare it to the Dead to the World talking that’s on the page – one hundred percent practical stuff. That most of his talking is asking questions about Sookie, and that lots of other things are not sharing. He’ll tell stories, like about Aude, but this is the very first time he’s actually bitched about something in his life that doesn’t have a point. It’s venting frustration – and that’s damn good to see. This is what you do when you have someone you love dearly – you offload on them – and Eric certainly felt free enough to just rant about stuff.

The fact that he’s doing that, and doesn’t seem to talk to Freyda is a good indication that things are going well other than the great hulking problem of Eric’s other fiancee, which Eric is handling just all wrong. Yes, Eric could handle it better. But at least part of his problem is the fact that he’s been made inert by other events, which I’ll get into in a later post. This one is really just to assure you that no matter what problems they’re facing, and they’re big – that Eric and Sookie are still doing fine underneath all that – they’ve gotten better since the last time we saw them. Yes, they are diametrically opposed on how to go about dealing with the Freyda situation, and Eric isn’t making it better by hushing it all up. That can be fixed though, if he doesn’t let it go too far.

Next up, I’ll tell you how Sam is not HEA (again) and what all this saving means for him, then back to Eric/Freyda/Felipe. This little post is just to tide you over until I can really get into the whole thing – to calm those of you who have read here for a while, and like the reassurance so you can relax. Without Eric and Sookie sharing with other people – and it’s clear they’ve got the habit for doing that with each other – there’s no way they can be anything but the HEA couple.