Hadley: The Preferred Sookie

Ha. The movie channels strike again. I ended up watching Quills with a younger Steven Moyer in it, the other night. And since I rarely think of True Blood, I had my one and only epiphany on how I think it will go this season. I reckon, in True Blood style, Bill will stake himself as B1000 – which will wrench the heart of every fangirl (either up or down depending on their proclivities), leave a nice cliffhanger, and be a wonderful allegory of how the writers think even your inner female parts should be killed – even if it means risking killing yourself. Ball may be gone, but he left his handpicked writers behind who back him up on how he feels about women. Nevertheless, I thought Steven looked better with longer, lighter hair and nice sculpted sideburns. The dark hair harshes him out.

Sorry I had a bit of a wait. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and I’m absolutely militant about organising my computer. So every single ebook is now arranged in order by author name and then series etc. When I pointed out to Mr. Minty that this would now be good for us (we’re sharing it, because he’s doing a course at the moment, and takes his readings to class on the Kindle, hence motive for buying it) because when the new Sookie came out I wouldn’t have to ignore him completely by being glued to my computer and could now sit in his vicinity and stroke his hair while reading, he gave this pithy reply:

“You’ve got a sick fetish for reading. ‘No, I can’t go shopping or do anything
that’s life sustaining. There’s a new Sookie Stackhouse to read.'”

Too true. 😀 At the moment, he’s likened it to a baby mobile. Since I fall asleep while looking at it in bed. 😀 But yay for portable Odd Thomas (shout out to JanineMNM), now I can read the new ones and highlight the shit out of my Sookie ebooks. Although I do wonder if there’s a whole heap of fans out there of Odd Thomas who want him to give up his job as fry cook and make money selling his services. I would be interested in how much of a sexist double standard there is – Sookie’s not okay with being a waitress, but Odd can fry cook to his heart’s content.

So onto content that matters. This is about Hadley, and whether Sookie can morph into Hadley, and more importantly, why the hell so many seem to want Sookie to morph into Hadley. Hadley doesn’t get much discussion in the fandom. She’s seen as kind of inconsequential, despite the fact that she’s the reason that Sookie is involved in all this vampire business. I did try ages ago to write a story from Sophie Anne’s point of view, about how Hadley came to talk about Sookie. But my primary issue is that I would have to enter into a POV of someone who doesn’t understand the connection between sex and love – and I think that that would largely go over reader’s heads, and they wouldn’t see damage – they’d just see someone to feel sorry for, or not really get it. I gave it up as a bad job, but I think about Hadley sometimes.

Recently, I was thinking about the parallels between Hadley and Sookie. Particularly at this point in her life, Sookie and Hadley have a lot in common. If fanfic had its way, then Sookie would become Hadley. She’d stand by and meekly go along with a marriage to someone else for a lover…and Sookie would probably have to vamp it up too. If you get some odious True Blood crossover, then Sookie becomes small and dark like Hadley, rather than robust and blonde – with brown eyes and not her book canon denim blue. No irony is lost on me that Hadley is routinely thought of as a stupid, slutty bitch for her life, but somehow this is the outcome they want for Sookie. *Sigh* fangirls.

I mean, think how often you’ve read this scenario, except replace the names of Hadley and the queen with Sookie and the sheriff:

Hadley was going to make the queen regret what she was losing, evidently.
Hadley turned back and forth in front of her full-length mirror, appeared satisfied
with what she saw, then burst into tears.
“Oh, my dear,” the queen said quietly. “I am so sorry.”
I knew exactly how Hadley felt, and for the first time I felt the kinship with my
cousin I’d lost through the years of separation. In this reconstruction, it was the
night before the queen’s wedding, and Hadley was going to have to go to a
party and watch the queen and her fiancé be a couple. And the next night
she would have to attend their wedding; or so she thought. She didn’t
know that she’d be dead by then; finally, definitely dead.

Definitely Dead, p. 223

Don’t tell me you haven’t read at least one of the versions of post-Deadlocked fic wherein Sookie stands back and watches Eric marry Freyda, and does silly things to try to get his attention, and just cries all the time. Oh, and Eric is really fucking sorry that Sookie has to go through with it.  And if you know what I’m talking about, you have a 50/50 chance of having read one of the ones where Sookie goes along to the wedding like a good girl because she was ordered to, or the ones where she’s just fine with Eric being married to someone else. You can even find less sophisticated versions of this in Bill/Sookie fic – where Sookie is all understanding about Bill needing to dump her for eight weeks to go to Lorena or that the Queen pimped him out. If you don’t read fic – don’t tell me you haven’t read that scenario roughly sketched out in discussion, except they usually imagine Sookie doing more crying and having more regret for ‘punishing’ the vampire suitor of choice for nothing except a few killings.

I think it’s very interesting that the majority of discussion and fic dovetails so nicely. You don’t have to look far to find people laughing about Sookie being left alone at the end of the books, and having no one; or find where Eric suddenly becomes a saint because he’s a victim of vampire political schemes – like Sookie is not. Very little discussion about how Sookie will end up winning the situation, and all about how Sookie will learn the lesson she’s supposed to – ie. that men are always right, always victims, and she must apologise. Very little emphasis is put on the fact that she has been betrayed by all this, and that Felipe won’t stand up for her when she has no obligation to work for him or save his life. It’s all about the angst of the manpire, and Sookie is merely the bi-product who will learn her lesson about how important she is. As all women must learn how they are secondary to the lifestory of a man. Alan Ball – you chose your fandom well.

But back to Hadley and her betrayal, which preceded Sookie’s betrayals. Might I helpfully point out – just in case you need your dots really close together that this is the night after Sookie finds out about Bill’s betrayal, and that’s why she feels she knows “exactly” how Hadley felt. Now dots really close:

Bill had broken my heart. Maybe Eric was on the way to doing the same thing.
Deadlocked, p. 176

This is not something that’s just Bill – it’s clear Sookie’s looking down the barrel yet again. I mean, Deadlocked is just a very protracted version of what Bill did to Sookie when he left to go to Lorena. We have Eric neglecting Sookie, lying to her about how often he sees Freyda, hiding how much time he spends with another woman. We have Eric deciding what should be best for everyone and expecting Sookie to merely go along and take what’s left. I don’t know why anyone would feel sorry for Eric when he’s doing almost exactly what Bill did – ignoring Sookie, sending her away so he can “work” and visit with Freyda. But it’s also a parallel with Bill and the Queen – yet another fucking backroom deal with a female vampire to Sookie’s detriment.

Now of course, Sookie gets zero trim actually having faith in Eric not breaking her heart. I think she’s been pretty long suffering with it. I doubt you’d find many women who would put up with a guy who lets women masturbate on his lap, and has his fiancée visit him in secret, and still think that “maybe” they were on the way to breaking your heart. I mean – check out any fanfic where Eric cheats on Sookie and see how many readers think it’s acceptable. You’ll get an idea of what a hard limit is in this fandom – it’s not Eric dipping his wick after he committed. It’s the only unforgivable sin – cheating on Sookie. That’s what I believe is behind a lot of Bill hate – not the rape, it was the cheating that did it.

So Bill broke Sookie’s heart by being the emissary of the Queen. There can’t really be any question that before that, Sookie hated him – and that heartbreaking scene where she stumbles home from the hospital the night before this ectoplasmic reconstruction of Hadley’s last nights is certainly one. And that’s when Sookie feels a connection to Hadley – that she can understand what it’s like to be disregarded and treated like she didn’t matter and that her feelings don’t matter. Lorena was just a small time version of how a male vampire will choose the wants of a female vampire over that of his human female lover. That was how she connected to Hadley – that vampire political scheming can tear your heart out – stomp all over what you want and break you in the meantime.

Lo and behold, it’s some more vampire political scheming that’s on the way to re-breaking Sookie’s heart again. And here she is, not being Hadley, but being Sookie. She’s not acquiescing to the necessary evil and supporting her vampire ex-husband in his new marriage – she’s demanding he actively choose her. Even though the fans wish her otherwise. This is another parallel between BillBabes and EricLovers – they both want Sookie to apologise for not trusting their favoured suitor enough, and forgive the suitor of their choice that he had a hard choice in the first place and didn’t do enough to choose Sookie. Fuck Sookie’s feelings on it – a man somewhere is upset!

There’s a great similarity between Hadley’s betrayal for the Queen’s political schemes and advantage – with both Bill and Eric. When it came to Bill, well, let’s face it – he could have brazened out the Queen’s orders, told Sookie about it, chose her and her emotional wellbeing over what the Queen told him to do. Except he didn’t. Now it looks like Eric is doing much the same thing – Sookie’s happiness comes after the vampire’s comfort. We have it from Eric’s own lips what big impediment stands in the way of his love, and it ain’t contracts alone:

He said, “Sookie, if I turn down this opportunity, Felipe will punish
both of us. Our lives will not be worth living.”

Deadlocked, p. 289

See, it’s not just that he’s locked into a contract – it’s that he’ll be punished. Oh, but most of the discussion is about feeling real sorry for Eric that other vampires aren’t sweeties. How sad…and what a big fucking surprise, amirite? This is the big thing – something that isn’t talked about a lot – or not near enough as it should be. Lots of warbling on about how sad it is for Eric, but nothing much about his own personal choice. Eric is life’s ultimate victim with no agency. It’s only about how it’s a contract, and Appius gave orders. Yet Eric talks of it as an “opportunity” and that if he doesn’t take it – and he talks here as “turning it down” – that he will be punished. If I was forced and had no option, I’d be saying something about how I can’t turn it down, so punishment is moot. But that’s not what Eric is saying – he’s saying “My comfort and peace is of uppermost concern here, and if I stay with you, I get you but I also get downsides.”

Same with Hadley and Sophie Anne. Sophie Anne could have turned down a marriage to the über-jealous Peter Threadgill, but she didn’t want to do that. She wanted to have the power and security that came from following the rules and having an alliance. Even though it deeply distressed Hadley, Sophie Anne went along with what she wanted to do. Hadley’s despair be damned. Hadley was expected to knuckle under and accept it because it would be best for Sophie Anne, and stay around so that Sophie Anne could have everything she wanted – the security of the deal with Threadgill, the love of Hadley. Rather than Hadley looking to make herself happy – she is expected just to do what the Queen wants her to do. Lest we forget, a usually very beloved character has given the absolute opposite of this advice for Sookie:

“You need to be looking out for yourself, Sookie.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 250

I suppose this is when we just ignore Pam, because she’s not being gung-ho on Eric’s side, and actually returning the spirit of friendship to her human friend. Telling her to look out for herself and her interests – which is, at this point, counter to Eric’s interests (which is having cake and eating it too – or at least blood *how boring is their diet, amirite?*). So that means that Pam is just reduced to a woman butting her nose in, rather than the exalted mouthpiece for a man’s interest. Not so favoured is the woman who suggests running counter to what a man might like. 😉

Despite how badly it all turned out for Hadley, there’s still the same expectation in the fandom that Sookie should do the same. From the BillBabes, that she should “understand” that Bill had to do what Lorena and the Queen told him, and from the Eric fangirls, that she should stay around and eat shit while Eric marries Freyda. That Sookie should ‘stand by her man’ even though he’ll choose what works best for him, she should also choose what works best for him. To fly in the face of what Pam says she should do, and not look out for herself, she should emulate her dead cousin. That like Hadley she should take the second spot and be happy with a husband who isn’t actually her husband, and who has another more important Mistress. It’s quite the hierarchy – there’s Freyda and what she wants, then Eric and what he wants for himself, and then there’s Sookie on the bottom with no one looking out for what she wants – she’ll take the crumbs from Freyda’s table with a shit eating grin (and weeping inside because she is on the bottom of the hierarchy). Except in this scenario, it’s often her fault for not knuckling under earlier and doing what Eric would want her to do – look after his own self interest.

Now, I can understand why in their own self interest, neither vampire wants to be punished. And I would expect them to act accordingly. I don’t expect them to actually eschew the way they want their lives to be in Sookie’s favour. But what I can’t understand is why Sookie should stand by and act in their self interest, rather than be like them. And why Hadley is so dissed by sections of the fandom, when she is the very model of what the fangirls want Sookie to be. Hadley wanted to use her relatives to get ahead, Hadley ditched all the humans in favour of supes, Hadley wanted vampires to use Sookie’s telepathy, Hadley stood back and let her lover marry someone else, and then goes about trying to play childish games to ‘prove’ that her lover loved her best. This is exactly what so many want Sookie to do. I fail to see why Hadley isn’t the fucking mascot of this attitude. I suppose because….I don’t know….Hadley showed just how fucking BALLS that idea is.

Let’s face it – that idea is the fucking epitome of an unhappily ever after for Sookie. It didn’t work out well for Hadley either. When we look at Hadley and what she did, we can see how very dangerous it would be to be like Hadley. How it would all come to nothing. Peter Threadgill might have been killed, except why exactly was that? Oh, that’s right. Because Sookie intervened. Because she was the one who found the bracelet and was smart enough to smuggle it into the Queen’s party right under the nose of all his vampires. Peter Threadgill was clever enough to get Sophie Anne over a barrel – he used her silly girlfriend to get at Sophie Anne:

Peter Threadgill knew all along that the queen had lost the bracelet to Hadley.
Definitely Dead, p. 321

Hadley thought she was being all devious and clever, and putting a stop to the whole shebang. Hadley thought that by stealing the bracelet she’d be getting revenge on Sophie Anne for not loving her enough to not get married. That was where all the ‘practicality’ of considering her girlfriend’s position went – into all the pain and hurt of the rejection that Hadley felt. To top it all off, even her protest about not being loved enough was used for vampire purposes. All that happened is that Peter incorporated her into his plan. And lest you think that that’s the end of it, like all good vampire royalty, he had a contingency plan:

Anything that would discredit Hadley would discredit the queen.
Definitely Dead, p. 322

Peter had plans – as many plans as it took – all running simultaneously to ensure that he could get Sophie Anne. Peter was focusing on Hadley in an endeavour to make sure that he had Sophie Anne over a barrel. It’s not as if once the marriage went forward that Hadley stopped being a pawn in vampire political bullshit. It’s not as if when the marriage happened, Hadley just had to accept one night a year, and that was all the indignity offered to her. And in fact, Peter even had a backup plan so that Sophie Anne couldn’t do anything to get rid of him when they were all alone in their bed chamber – which was again foiled by Sookie:

“Oh, just a few. The death had to be witnessed.”
“Oh, gosh. That’s me.”

All Together Dead, p. 146

Of course, Sookie didn’t explicitly plan that one – but Peter was no fool. He made sure that he had as many plans as he could possibly have to actually get what he wanted. Hadley’s attempt to throw a wrench into the whole thing was in his favour, not something that screwed him up. The bullshit that entered Hadley’s life – the political scheming – didn’t stop just because she accepted the marriage and tried to fall into line with what Sophie Anne wanted. No – as the favoured handmaiden to the Queen, that was a reason to target her with anything that Peter Threadgill could think of, in order to bring the Queen down.

That’s something to keep in mind in Sookie’s situation of course. This notion I’ve read a few times that Eric takes off, and Sookie hears no more about it all. He just disappears into the ether for a few months and then they’re all good and back together. That Freyda would be content with her husband in another state, and wouldn’t have greater demands on him, or want advantage or anything political like that.  I would hazard that Freyda isn’t an idiot. I know, I know. She must be, because she’s competition for Eric. Except she outfoxed Eric, now, didn’t she? He turned her down at Rhodes, and she waited and waited, and finally got her man. See why Eric would make a rather crappy King? He’s better off not playing with the big boys – and what makes him intelligent is that he knows that.

Hadley tried to be clever – and she just wasn’t clever enough – but she was too stupid to know that she wasn’t good enough. Oh certainly, she wasn’t a complete idiot – except all she would have succeeded in doing, had she lived, was to get the Queen killed. If Hadley had taken the bracelet and kept it, then she would think she was breaking the marriage – but really what she was doing was taking away everything the Queen had. I think in part, that that was what Hadley in fact wanted. That so bitter was she, so heartbroken was she, that she didn’t actually care that the Queen would lose her state and queendom. That she felt that the Queen should have chosen her and not power. What she failed to factor in – is that as an ordinary vampire, you’re much more vulnerable – and Sophie Anne would be sure to be under fire by other vampires who wouldn’t have wanted her to rise to power again.

I occasionally wonder if certain sections of this fandom – if they don’t have pride Sookie has – instead have the memories of goldfish. They look at how it went for Hadley to march into political vampires as if she was untouchable and then promptly die because she exposed her weakness. I mean, if they remember Hadley exists, and what her fate was, why the hell they want Sookie to the same thing over again. Sure, Waldo was the person who killed Hadley – but he only excused her from when the shit hit the fan with the turning of Jake Purifoy. Hadley was a disaster waiting to happen. She was the most vulnerable person Sophie Anne had in her retinue. The stupidest one who didn’t think, and thought she could outfox Sophie Anne and Peter Threadgill – and made a big mess that Sookie cleaned up.

If Hadley had actually lived, she would have ended up in serious trouble – yet again – because of the stuff Sookie does all the time in fanfic. Acting like a silly, selfish girl, and having a tantrum under the guise of going along:

She was weeping and from the looks of her face, she’d been weeping for some time.
“Hadley, you have to cut this out. People will notice, and the new king will do
something about it. He’s the jealous kind, you know? He doesn’t care about -”
Here Andre lost the thread, and shook his head. “He cares about keeping face.”

But Jake, I can’t stand it. I know she has to do this politically,
but she’s sending me away! I can’t take it.”

Definitely Dead, p. 225

Now, certainly in many of these fics, Sookie seems to know that she can’t take attention away from the happy couple of Freyda and Eric, and keeps herself under control. However, I don’t believe that Sookie would be able to go along to any of the vampire shindigs, merely because Sookie is far more known within supe circles than Hadley ever was. Sookie is no “Eric’s handmaiden” and I doubt very much whether Freyda would want all the attention on Sookie at her wedding. Sookie’s known to kill her enemies – at least some of them. It wasn’t about Hadley’s tears – Peter Threadgill couldn’t give a damn about whether she’s upset – it’s about the fact that the biggest thing anyone remembered from his wedding is the blubbering vampire in the corner.

I don’t think that Freyda would appreciate Sookie at her wedding merely because Freyda actually already sees Sookie as a serious threat, whom one may not allow to live:

Clearly, Freyda was having second thoughts about something. I hoped those
thoughts weren’t about whether to let me live, but I was pretty sure she was
considering how much of a threat I represented.

Deadlocked, pp. 175-176

The fact is that Sookie presents far more of a threat than Hadley ever did. She has the popular support of shifters, and as Freyda noted herself, Sookie is liked even by vampires she rejected like Bill. Even Thalia tolerates her. Sookie would garner more sympathy than Freyda would, and she’s even more dangerous because unlike Hadley she’s killed fairies, weres, shifters and vampires. You wouldn’t want to have the ex-wife being forced to be a witness if everyone is going to sympathise with the ex-wife, and you might accidentally-on-purpose fall on a stake in her vicinity.

I also fail to see why this scene is seen as some sort of “just desserts” for Sookie, or any kind of happy ending. Yes, yes, I know – it’s all terrible for Eric that she slept with someone he knows. It would be pretty terrible if Sookie knew someone Eric slept with….wait…:

Eric looked up. “I have been with this one,” he said coolly, tapping Dawn’s picture.
Dead Until Dark, p. 107

As he bent to kiss her, Eric looked at me over her head.
Dead Until Dark, p. 207

“We had sex many, many times.” She grinned. “The tie between maker and
child doesn’t have to be sexual, but with us it was.”

All Together Dead, p. 89

My heart bleeds for Eric. Truly. It must be hard knowing that Sookie slept with someone else that wasn’t him, and he knew that person. That she had a long standing relationship that wasn’t with him. I mean, 2 years knowing Bill is no 140 years knowing Pam, but still, way more traumatic for Eric to know about Bill than it is for Sookie to know about Eric’s conquests. *insert me rolling my eyes at the internalised misogyny and slut shaming in this fandom*

Even if she did callously show that she was her own woman, and choose who she wanted to be intimate with (almost like she’s a real person!) without regard to how Eric felt about it, or might feel in the future, I don’t see how anyone would “deserve” to go through Hadley’s pain. Not even Hadley – who merely loved someone who loved power more than they loved her. I personally think that Hadley’s fate was sad – and I wished that she was infinitely more sure that she was in fact, lovable. That way she could have ditched Sophie Anne in favour of finding someone else who would love her. I would also hazard that if this did in fact happen – that Hadley found self-love – that Sophie Anne would have used her ability to keep her children with her indefinitely to put the kibosh on that. But it didn’t go that way, and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t go that way with Sookie. I hope that she doesn’t sit meekly crying in the corner over Eric, and I fail to see why any reader would fucking enjoy that.

I fail to see how the whole thing would work out well for Sookie, and anyone she loves. One of the major differences Sookie has from Hadley is that like Bill, Sookie has family people know about. She has people she cares about – and unlike Hadley, she was actually famous before she was involved in some vampire marriage clusterfuck. Any number of supernaturals know about Jason or Sam, who she cares about – and who would be most excellent leverage against her. Even Hadley knew that – that the people she cared about would be used to get to her:

The safe-deposit box had held Hadley’s birth certificate, a marriage licence, and a
divorce decree dated more than three years ago – both naming the same man, I
was glad to see – and a laminated copy of my aunt’s obituary. Hadley had
known when her mother had died, and she’d cared enough to keep the clipping.
There were pictures from our shared childhood, too: my mother and her sister;
my mother and Jason, me and Hadley; my grandmother and her husband. 

There were a couple more things that I wanted to think about.
Definitely Dead, p. 294-295

Hadley knew enough to know that photos of fragile humans you love, in the possession of a vampire is something that will get those humans hurt. She was so worried about Hunter that she left only a lock of his baby hair in her safety deposit box. No other identifying information, no pictures, no nothing. She certainly didn’t tell anyone about Hunter at all. The fact that she kept all this stuff shows that Hadley did in fact, care. That she laminated and preserved all this stuff – kept Hunter’s baby hair, shows that it was something valuable to keep, but also something to hide.

Sookie would have no such luxury. Much like Warren was abducted by Jannalynn to keep Mustapha in line, anyone or anything Sookie loves will be taken as some kind of surety that Sookie will behave herself and do as she’s told. With Eric out of Area Five, you can bet your arse that Felipe, cape or not, won’t be putting a vampire detail on all of Sookie’s family and friends – any more than Eric put a detail on people Mustapha cared about. No one would stop some vampire coming to take Remy in order to make Sookie tow the party line. Sookie will be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. All of the people she loves will be up for grabs, with few friendly vampires actually looking out for Sookie’s interests.

Because Bill didn’t warn her about any hierarchy, because she entered the vampire world with no warning that maybe the vampires would want to play hardball with her at some future date, because she made a name for herself, Sookie’s family and friends are at risk. There’s no way to put Jason’s existence and tie to Sookie in some safety deposit box. It’s likely that Hadley didn’t even think about the fact that Sookie could be punished for Hadley’s lack of compliance – or maybe she didn’t care. Or, just as likely, she thought that the Queen would play nice. Hadley didn’t really think the whole thing through in her bid to stay uppermost with the Queen. It’s possible that Sookie was another bone she threw Sophie Anne in order to keep her interest and try to circumvent Sophie Anne needing the power and stability Peter Threadgill would bring her.

I just can’t conceive of a happy ever after where Sam is threatened with having to fight in the pits, and Sookie has to pay off his debts. Because we all know that that’s how it would all go down. Even though I don’t like Sam having something to say about Sookie’s involvement with vampires, it’s clear that being beloved by someone down with vampires doesn’t do you any favours. It certainly hasn’t made Frannie’s life easy, that’s for sure. Hadley hid those she loved – and those she loved best, she didn’t even make anything but oblique references to. Even if she left Hunter, it’s clear that she didn’t serve her son up on a platter to her vampire enemies – to use and abuse a la Chico’s mother.

I think overall if we look at Hadley’s situation – put in second place for power’s sake – that we can’t really see anything that’s so “happy” about that ending. Even if she had survived, and Waldo had never put an end to her for the sake of jealousy, that she would have had a very unhappy lot in life. I don’t know why anyone believes that Hadley’s life was a happy ever after, or even why it was ‘just desserts’ for daring to love. Is this the overall thrust of the books – that women who love are idiots? That even falling in line with your lover’s want for power must be lifelong, or you don’t get to have a happy after. I fail to see why Hadley and Hadley’s short, sad life is the preferred version for Sookie.