The Age of Eric Contest
Title: Let Women Vote
Pen name: Thyra10
Characters: Sookie Stackhouse, Eric Northman, Jason Stackhouse, Pamela (named Northman here). Hoyt Fortenberry, Andy Bellefleur and Crystal Norris have minor parts.
Disclaimer: Charlaine Harris made up the wonderful characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries-universe and owns all rights. I just took them home with me and put them in a time machine set on Scandinavia somewhere between 1880 and 1900 – a time where women`s role in society was greatly debated.
I mention several politicians, authors, playwrights and public figures from Scandinavia in this story. I do not expect you to know any of them and you do not have to google them to read the story. They are more to add coloring than center pieces.
I have taken slight liberties with the mentioned historical facts. They did not all happen in the short period of time of this story, but are as far from each other as 10 years. But they are all so inter-connected I couldn`t leave them alone.
When it comes to language, customs and little details in clothing etc – I never lived in the 1880s/1890s and may have several mistakes in my story. I have done my best with the knowledge I have and whatever I could check in books and online. I apologize in advance for any and all mistakes.
I want to thank Rascalthemutant for being such a great beta. She wants this story made into a movie and asks for casting suggestions 😀
“Did you hear that Fredrik Bajer made another proposal in Parliament for women to have the right to vote?”
People laughed and Jason sat there at his end of the table, almost choking over his own joke. Or what he perceived as a joke.
“How anyone could think women should vote is beyond me,” Hoyt Fortenberry, Jason`s loyal friend and biggest fan, shouted over the laughter. That aggravated me so much, I couldn`t help myself.
“I do,” I said but then I heard that it was echoed by someone else. Someone much louder than me. Everyone stopped laughing and stared at the other person who had spoken up. Everyone apart from Pamela Northman. She gave me a wink before she smiled at her brother. Who incidentally was the other person in the room who thought women should be able to decide who should run the country.
Pamela and Eric Northman were rather new acquaintances of my brother Jason and me. The two siblings seemed interesting and I had been the one to push Jason into inviting them to tonight`s party.
“Eric Northman,” my brother said. “Do you really believe women have the brain they need to vote? I mean, all I hear is them talking about fashion and gossip.”
Everyone laughed but I was fuming on the inside even if I tried to smile on the outside. I`d never talked to Jason about fashion and if anyone gossiped in our house, it was certainly not me.
“Let me reverse the question, Stackhouse,” Eric Northman said. “Do you think all men are smart enough to vote?”
Everyone around the table smelled an intriguing argument as sharks smell blood and were laughing and cheering it on. I mentally rolled my eyes at Jason`s stupidity. My brother is charming and sweet, but anyone calling him smart was lying.
“Of course, Northman. We are the strong sex after all. Women are the lucky sex. They don`t have to deal with the cruelties of this world because they have men doing it for them. I would hate for my sister…” Everyone turned to me “to have to start reading the papers to keep up with what is happening in Parliament.”
Jason knew very well that I read the paper every morning. He also knew I was the only one in the house who did. Unless the cook read it before she wrapped garbage in it.
“So you would say that all men keep themselves informed about politics?” Eric Northman asked my brother.
“That`s our duty as men. A duty we are happy to relieve our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of so they can stay pure and unsoiled.”
Jason always did like to feign idealism when he was drunk.
“Then I invite you all to answer me this question, my good men.” Eric Northman looked from one to the other. “And the women at this table are most welcome to answer it as well.” His eyes met mine for a short second and I couldn`t help noticing how blue they were. Everyone quieted down to hear his question. It was almost as if this was a circus and the drum roll had started. “What famous politician has just immigrated to America?”
People looked at each other. I, of course, knew the answer, but I also knew that my brother would prefer for me to keep it to myself.
“Is he a foreigner?” Andy Bellefleur asked.
Eric Northman shook his head and his blond curls fell all out of place.
“No. Born and bred in this country.”He looked around. “No one?”
People shook their heads. I noticed Pamela Northman giving her brother a proud smile, but I wasn`t too happy with the smug smile on his face. Before I knew it, and completely against my better judgment, I`d opened my mouth.
“Louis Pio,” I said.
If I`d thought Eric Northman would be disappointed that someone other than him knew this, I was wrong. I was rewarded with a smile so bright we could have turned down the lamps and saved ourselves some petroleum.
“Indeed, Miss Stackhouse. Louis Pio, the leader of the Socialist Democratic Party immigrated to America.”
Everyone looked at me as if I had grown an extra nose. Jason was far from happy. He glanced from me and back to Mr. Northman.
“How were we supposed to know about him? He`s a socialist. We have certain standards here.”
Everyone generally agreed with Jason and the dinner conversation quickly went into discussing the king and his new carriage and whether there would be a new heir to the throne soon.
“So I take it you read the papers?” Pamela Northman sat down next to me in the parlor while the men were having their after dinner cigars.
“Good for you,” she smiled. “You impressed my brother, I`m sure.”
“In that case he is easily impressed,” I answered with a smile, but secretly enjoyed her praise.
“On the contrary. He often lectures me in how boring and predictable people are. A woman who knows socialist leaders is everything but.” I blushed slightly. When she put it like that, it sounded almost bad. Naughty somehow. “Don`t blush, honey. You should be proud. If I had known the name, I would have shouted it from the rooftops.”
I laughed at the picture of Pamela Northman standing on rooftops shouting `Louis Pio`.
Noise in the hallway let us know the men were joining us and as if some invisible force had worked its way through the parlor, we all sat up straighter and smiled sweeter. Even I. Oh, I hated how women changed themselves for men.
Jason scowled at me when he came into the room, but his good mood soon came out again and he held out his arms while shouting.
“Ladies, have no fear. We are back to entertain you.”
Everyone laughed and I noticed Crystal Norris laughing a little louder than the rest of them. I groaned.
“And what is making this clever lady growl?” a voice suddenly whispered in my ear.
Pamela Northman gave her brother`s shoulder a slight slap.
“Eric. You know very well that women prefer compliments to their looks, not their brains. Miss Stackhouse will feel quite ugly in your eyes if you don`t immediately compliment her flawless skin or her beautiful eyes.”
Pamela was teasing her brother but I ended up red as a beet. Mr. Northman smiled at me.
“Oh, I could give endless compliments to your skin, eyes, hair or…” he looked down, but stopped just before my bosom and looked up again “even your feet, I`m sure. But I do suspect you to be one of those rare women who prefer compliments to your intellect. Am I not right?”
“Certainly, Mr. Northman,” I answered, pleased with my steady voice. “Unfortunately most compliments are only given by men as a bargain chip and not freely from the heart. I prefer no compliments at all, if I have the choice.”
Mr. Northman`s eyes widened and a smile curled his lips. “A very clever observation, Miss Stackhouse.”
Jason was irritated the next morning. He had had too much to drink and his head was giving him trouble.
“Why couldn`t you have kept quiet, Sookie? I want you to find a good husband and you are scaring everyone away when you talk about women`s vote and socialism. You`re a kind and loving woman. Why not show that side of you instead?”
“I`m sorry, Jason,” I said, knowing that trying to explain it to him was no use.
He smiled. “No harm done, Sookie. It will soon be forgotten.” Jason got up and started putting on his jacket. “Did you see that nice Mr. Quinn? He will make some fortunate woman a nice husband some day. He may not have a lot of hair, but he has money in the bank and that`s worth more than the thickest curls.”
I nodded. John Quinn was a sweet guy but I couldn`t imagine being married to him.
“And he does not have strange ideas like that Mr. Northman. And Northman`s sister is an artist.”Jason said `artist` as if it was a dirty word. “Imagine a female painter. I mean, it`s fine when women paint fruit bowls and flowers in a vase, but Miss Northman paints all kinds of unsuitable things.” And with that he was out the door.
Jason hadn`t been gone half an hour when Amelia came into the parlor and announced company.
“Mr. and Miss Northman,” she said and gave me a wink. I was glad Jason hadn`t seen it or she would have been reprimanded.
“Miss Stackhouse,” Pamela Northman exclaimed when she entered the room. “How good of you to receive us. Thank you for a marvelous party last night. My brother was most taken with you.”
“Indeed I was, Miss Stackhouse. Women speaking out in public do not grow on trees.” Eric Northman smiled his charming smile and I couldn`t help being taken in by it. I coughed slightly to calm myself.
“I dare say that men appreciating opinioned women aren`t exactly common either,” I replied in a surprisingly steady voice.
“So you two are really a match made in heaven,” Pamela Northman exclaimed.
“Pamela!” Eric Northman growled. “I do apologize for my sister. She is being very forward. That being said, I do believe there is some truth in her statement.”
“Excuse me?” I asked dumbfounded.
“That we should… ”
I never got to hear what he thought we should because Jason walked through the door and it was clear he wasn`t too fond of my present company.
“Mr. Northman. Miss Northman,” he greeted. “So very kind of you to visit us today.” Jason never was a good liar.
“Your sister has been most hospitable,” Eric Northman said. “I do hope we can repay you with a dinner invitation. Tomorrow, perhaps?”
Jason clearly didn`t want to accept but since it would go against all codes of good conduct to say no, he nodded. “We would love to come.”
And with that Mr. and Miss Northman were out the door and Jason was staring at me.
“They are not acceptable company for you, sister.”
“And why is that?” I rarely went against my brother but he had rubbed me the wrong way now.
“They are mmmm they live their lives very differently from us. They have different standards.” When I still looked at him for an explanation, he held his hands up in the air. “They are Brandes-fans, for Christ`s sakes, Sookie. They believe in free love for men and women. They believe women should work. They, they, they… they don`t believe in marriage, Sookie.” He looked at my surprised face. “Or at least that`s what I`ve heard.”
Pamela Northman kissed both my cheeks and even gave me a tentative hug. I was very surprised with her showing of affection as our friendship was a new one. But now we were at the Northman house and I figured this was how they greeted their guests.
Jason pulled slightly back when she seemed to want to kiss his cheeks too. I even thought I noticed a blush on his cheeks.
Eric Northman`s thumb stroked the back of my hand a little more than what was common when we exchanged handshakes, but that was far from as extreme as what his sister had shown. He did have warmth in his voice when he welcomed us to his house.
The Northman house was decorated very differently from the Stackhouse house. For one, they had books everywhere. I had all my books in my own room as Jason didn`t want the dusty smell of them in any room he used. The Northmans also had a different variety of pictures on the walls than we did. Our pictures were romantic pictures of sunsets on the west coast and tulips in a vase. The Northmans had two kinds of pictures. Either the motives were naked people or they were…. I squinted at one of the darker ones… of nothing. At least nothing I could make out of them.
But apart from all the naked people looking at me from the walls, I felt more at home here than in my own living room. I couldn`t help smiling as my eyes followed the titles in the book shelves. So many books I`d read and so many I should have loved to plow through.
“You like books?” Eric Northman stated the obvious with a smile.
Before I could answer, Jason said. “Yes, she has her nose in a book from dusk until dawn. I don`t know how to pry her away from them.” He sounded embarrassed.
“And why would you pry her away from them?” our tall blond host asked.
Jason snorted. “It`s just not suitable for a young woman to read as much as she does. It`s fine to read enough to be able to follow easy dinner conversation and not embarrass oneself but she is reading so much more than that. She may scare potential husbands away by being so… so…”
“Literate?” Mr. Northman asked.
We were moving towards the dinner table.
“No, it`s more than that. She has opinions that do not suit a woman.”
I blushed. I knew Jason was worried over me and my chances at finding a suitable husband but he had no business involving two relative strangers in his thoughts.
“Good thing I don`t plan on marrying, then,” I said without thinking.
Jason stared at me while pulling out the chair for Pamela Northman. Mr. Northman did the same with my chair.
“Sookie!” Jason exclaimed. Then he smiled at our hosts. “As you can see, she does have the strangest ideas.”
Eric Northman turned at me. “I think it`s admirable that you don`t plan on marriage. I have never understood why women would choose that kind of slavery voluntarily.”
“Slavery?” Jason almost shouted. “Is it slavery for a woman to be loved and cherished by her husband and children?”
“And not to be able to work if her husband is set against it?” Eric Northman asked.
Soup was being served and we were all quiet as long as the servant was in the room. But as soon as he closed the door after him, Jason spoke.
“Is it slavery to be able to stay in your beautiful home and make it a safe haven for the ones you love? Women of our class are lucky they can focus on what`s important – their family. You mustn`t forget that women are weak creatures and it`s our duty to keep them safe and sound.” Jason sounded very pleased with himself after that little speech.
“I am not too weak to work and I can never imagine getting married,” Pamela Northman said with one of her special smiles. Her brother nodded approvingly.
“Don`t you want love and children?” Jason asked, shaking his head.
Pamela Northman laughed. “I don`t really consider myself fit for motherhood.” She leaned conspiratorially into Jason. “Children are way too noisy.” She laughed again. “As for love. I can`t see why I should deny myself love just because I`m never going to get married.”
I gasped, but Jason`s face turned into something I`d never seen before.
“Really?” he asked and suddenly they had some kind of unspoken conversation I couldn`t make heads or tails of.
Mr. Northman looked at me. “So how do you stand on the subject of love and children?”
“As I`m not planning on marriage, those are aspects I`m giving up on too,” I said. “I mean, I love my brother and I hope he has children I can be an aunt to. I just can`t picture myself married to someone he has found for me.” I glanced at my brother but he was deeply engaged in the conversation he had with Miss Northman. “He is the sweetest person I know, but I strongly believe marriage should be a partnership where you share interests and ideas and…” I looked back at Mr. Northman, suddenly aware of how far into intimacy I had spoken. I closed my mouth.
“And you don`t think the man exists who could be in an equal partnership with you?” he finished my sentence.
“No, I don`t.” I realized I was blushing heavily.
“What about a man such as myself?” Mr. Northman asked.
If I had blushed before, I was sure I could have been used in a lighthouse now.
“What do you mean?” I asked, not because I didn`t know what he meant, but to buy myself time to find a suitable answer.
“We agree on things. Don`t you think a person like me could be a suitable partner for you?”
I noticed how he kept saying `a man such as myself` and `a person like me`, not just `me`. “Possibly,” I nodded. “But I couldn`t know for sure until I would have married such a man. Some things don`t reveal themselves until you have known a person for quite a while.”
“I have a proposition for you then, Miss Stackhouse. How about we explore our friendship with conversations on the subjects we are interested in and then you can make up your mind if it really is possible to know a person well without being married or related to that person. Maybe that would change your opinions on marriage.” He paused. “Not that I disagree with your opinions, but it would be sad if you missed out on marriage if you really could have an equal partnership, as you put it.”
“But why?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Why would you want to do this?”
“Oh, let`s just say that I find you a remarkable woman and I`ve enjoyed the few conversations we`ve had already. It shall be a pleasure to hear more wisdom from that beautiful mouth of yours.”
I straightened up in my chair. “Aren`t you contradicting yourself now, Mr. Northman? Would you have commented on my brother`s mouth in your attempt to get him to talk more?”
Eric Northman laughed so loudly he attracted the attentions of his sister and my brother.
“Please share the joke, Eric,” Miss Northman asked.
Mr. Northman leaned back in his chair and addressed my brother. “You have a remarkable sister, Stackhouse. She saw right through me and pointed out my weaknesses. As much as I love a woman who can speak for herself, I am also not blind towards female beauty. I may have tried to hide the latter and she would have none of that.” Mr. Northman held up his glass and made a toast. “To smart and beautiful women.”
Even Jason joined in the toast and much to my surprise, he also accepted us all being on first name basis.
It didn`t take more than two days before the Northmans came calling again. Jason was there and he was actually delighted when they entered the room. I suspected Miss Northman`s, Pamela`s, female charm had something to do with his change in disposition towards them.
Pamela started out giving me the same deep hug and cheek kisses as she had at the dinner at their place. Then she threw herself into Jason`s arms and gave him the same treatment. Eric smiled at me and then he pulled me into his arms. I stiffened when I felt his hands on my shoulder and back and his lips on my cheeks. I was not used to this kind of intimacy with anyone.
He held my hand when he pulled away and looked me in my face, a smile curling his lips.
“I must admire that beautiful mouth of yours yet again, sweet Sookie. Now I admire it for its beauty and later on I`m sure I will admire whatever comes out of it.” I gave a small hmph out my nose which made him laugh. “And I notice that you don`t even need your mouth to state your opinion of me. Marvelous!”
“It seems you think this is just a game. You treat me just as much as a toy, a doll, as any man would,” I said before I managed to stop myself. Luckily Jason was deep in conversation with Pamela or he would have been outraged.
Eric`s smile faltered. “Do you think so?” he asked.
“I do. I appreciate that you are interested in my opinions and accept your compliments to my mouth; looks and content. But it seems you are merely interested in charming me, winning me over.” I sighed.
“You are absolutely right that I am interested in charming you. You are a fascinating woman and I would love for the fascination to be reciprocated. We would be grand together, you and I.”
“And in what sense would we be grand? You know I don`t believe in marriage.”
“Oh, there are certainly other ways men and women can explore each other than as husband and wife.”
“Are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting? In that case I must make it very clear for you. I am not a believer in the so-called free love. I find it only designed for men, and women have to pay the price. Men can always marry even after a scandalous love affair but women are shunned from good society.”
Eric looked at Jason and Pamela who were at the other end of the room, laughing over something.
“My sister seems to be doing just fine.”
I was lost for words. His sisters reputation wasn`t the best and she was an artist. Artists were expected more extreme behavior. Whereas I was just Jason`s sister and would be ridiculed pretty quickly. And I would drag Jason with me.
Suddenly I had Eric`s hand in mine. “I don`t mean any disrespect,” he said in a hushed voice. “It`s just that, well, you fascinate me and I can`t help wanting more from you. Neither you nor I believe in marriage, but I would be willing to walk that path if that was the only way to get as close to you as I want to. I do hold you in very high opinion.”
He got up and walked over to his sister.
“I believe we should be on our way, Pamela,” he said.
I was sitting totally dumb struck, but Jason protested and claimed they had been here an entirely too short time. He ended up on making Pamela and Eric promise to come to dinner with us the week after.
“Fascinating people,” Jason exclaimed when they were gone. Apparently all reservations against the Northmans were forgotten.
A letter came addressed to me the next day.
To my dear future lover/wife
I hope I have not offended you with my free speech but I do think you deserved nothing but. My intentions are open and clear if not necessarily honest in the traditional way one speaks of honest intentions towards women. It is very clear to me that you are the woman I want to spend my time with and I am not ashamed to admit it openly. I do hope I can convince you of the fact that I may be an agreeable partner to you too. Imagine the discussions you and I could have in our private chambers. Imagine everything else we could have in our private chambers too. We are a perfect fit. A hand and a glove.
I had all kinds of reactions to his letter. I had never had a letter like that before and I suspected not many women did. It was a scandalous letter and anyone reading it would have been outraged. Anyone but me.
I immediately wrote an answer.
I notice you call us a hand and a glove which is very fitting with Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson`s new and very interesting play `A Glove`. No theaters have yet had the nerve to show it, but I have had good fortune to read it and it shows so very well the injustice in expecting chastity from women and not from men. I also want to point at Amalie Skram`s very interesting book `Constance Ring` which deals with the same subject. Women are to be chaste and men can have a past. This is not fair in my opinion and as I suspect you and I are very different in that aspect, both in opinion and experience, I can`t see how we can build anything closer than a friendship with the exchange of opinions.
I let an errand boy take the letter to the Northman house and it didn`t take two hours before a reply was in my hands.
Dear Lover and Wife,
Did your letter really say that you reject me because I have a past and you don`t? If that is the case, how can we ever get close to one another? I cannot undo my past and I do certainly not want you to build one where I am not included. It seems like a problem without a solution which is most disagreeable. Every problem should have a solution.
The problem is not mine but yours. I have stated I wanted no marriage and I also have no interest in any free love. I welcome you as my friend and would be most interested in exchanging ideas with you in the future.
I didn`t hear anything more from Eric Northman. No more letters and no visits. I almost expected the dinner to be cancelled, but at the time we had agreed upon, Eric Northman and his sister Pamela were outside our door.
I had been very nervous the whole day and had probably changed dresses three times. I had even used the silver comb, the comb that fit so well with my blond hair. I was almost annoyed when I realized how much I wanted to look well that evening.
Eric and Pamela looked their usual selves and hugs were exchanged. When Eric leaned down he whispered in my ear.
“I`ve missed you.”
That was all it took for me to lose my voice and be all flustered.
We ate our dinner and the conversation ran as freely as it had the other times I`d been in the company of the Northmans. I loved being able to voice my opinion without anyone staring at me. Even Jason looked proud, though I knew he disagreed with most of what I said. I supposed Pamela had a good influence on him.
Eric agreed and disagreed and the debate between the two of us became rather heated from time to time. After some hours I noticed that Pamela and Jason had left us to our discussions and I wondered where they were.
“Pamela is contemplating painting your brother and wanted to see if he would be a suitable model,” Eric said as way of explanation.
“Oh,” I said, not really sure how Pamela was going to assess Jason.
“And it does give us some minutes on our own,” he waggled his eyebrows, but when he saw my shocked face, he continued. “For some private conversation. Nothing more.”
“What conversation would that be?”
“I have a proposition for you.”
“Another one?” I asked.
“Yes. I cannot rub out my past, but I could make it a distant past instead of an instant.”
I shook my head, not understanding what he was saying.
“I wanted to ask you if we could be friends under the following terms. We will see each other regularly, but as friends only. We will not show any hmm romantic interest in anyone else. If we, after a while, find that we want to change our friendship into something more, then my past will not be a subject as it will, by then, be a distant past.” He smiled his charming smile.
“That was a bold proposition. What you are asking me is that I, after a time as your friend, would become your mistress and that I would disregard the fact that you apparently have had other mistresses before me. And how is that proposition not offensive?”
I wasn`t angry with him. Eric and I didn`t have that kind of relationship where we got angry at each other. We exchanged our ideas freely and this was what we did now too.
“Because whatever relationship you and I choose to enter into, and I am, as I have stated earlier, by no means opposed to marriage when it comes to you, would be for life. Not a short term arrangement.” He shifted in his chair. “I desire you, Sookie. I desire you, mind and body. And I find it almost intolerable to be denied when I know you want me too.”
I was about to protest when Jason and Pamela returned to the room. They both had red roses in their cheeks and I inhaled quickly at the thought of what they had been doing. Jason had most definitely forfeited any rights to being the protector of my virtue.
Eric came by my house at least once a week, usually with his sister, who`d apparently lost some of her initial interest in my brother. We engaged in very interesting exchanges of ideas and agreed more than we disagreed. Eric was the only man, the only person, who respected my opinions and stated how important they were to him. I could only return his compliment as his ideas had also become very central to me.
After a few months of valuable conversation and interesting letters, Eric abruptly stopped talking one afternoon he was visiting alone.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I have something to ask of you and I`m not sure how you`ll react.”
“If you want to ask me to marry you, you know the answer,” I teased, but I immediately regretted when I saw the look on his face. “Was that your question?” I whispered while taking his hand to soften the blow I`d given him.
He coughed slightly. “No, that wasn`t the question, but I would have preferred not to know the answer to the other question. You keep stealing my dream away from me.”
I looked down. “I`m sorry.”
He took my hand to his lips. “Don`t worry. I wanted to ask you something that would scandal you much more than being married to me. I`ve been invited to the Brandes-salon and I was asked to bring the person who influences my opinions the most.”
I knew Eric from time to time saw the two brothers Georg and Edvard Brandes and that they had political salons where Eric was invited. People from all over Scandinavia came to Copenhagen in the hopes of being invited to the Brandes-salons. So I was both shocked and proud that Eric would want me to join him there.
“Women are allowed to this salon?” I asked.
Eric laughed. “Georg Brandes has singlehandedly translated `The Subjection of Women` by John Stuart Mill. I think he would welcome women in his circles.”
“You would be perfect there, Sookie. Personally I hope you can show Georg Brandes how inconsistent he is in his opinions on women, but you are welcome just to be there and listen if you prefer. Of course, your reputation will be tarnished forever if you choose to go.”
I knew that any woman associating herself with any of the two Brandes brothers would be scandalized, but I didn`t care. I wanted to listen to the conversation there so badly it almost hurt.
“And so what? I don`t care about my reputation,” I answered quickly.
“You don`t? Then what is all this about not wanting to take me as your lover because of your reputation?”
“Oh, that would be something else entirely.”
“How so? I fail to understand how it can be more important to ruin your reputation by going to a salon than to be with someone you love.”
I thought it over for a minute. Then I got up. I couldn`t say what I wanted to say unless I had some distance between Eric and me.
“Maybe it wasn`t really my reputation I was worried about,” I started, but then I couldn`t find a way to go on.
Eric waited for a while but when I stayed quiet, he came over to me and put his arm around my waist and brought me close to him, my back to his chest. I was thankful for not having to look him in the eyes.
“What were you afraid of, Sookie?” he asked in a low voice.
“I can`t be sure,” I answered after a while. “Maybe I was afraid of being close to you. Maybe of being thrown away again.”
“Oh, Sookie,” Eric said and bent down and kissed my neck. “I won`t hurt you. And I certainly won`t throw you away. I want us to grow old together. As friends, lovers or as husband and wife. You know that.”
I turned around in his arms and looked him in the eyes. This was a time for honesty, not romantic words.
“You have had mistresses before and they are not in your life anymore. It seems to me you have thrown away people before. How can I know this will not happen to me?”
Eric opened his mouth to say something and then he stopped. He kissed me lightly on my lips instead. “So this is what has been bothering you. Not entering into an affair with me but fear of it ending?”
“Just fear, I suppose. In general.”
Eric kissed me again. This time deeper. It felt awkward because of my lack of experience, but also very nice.
“Have no fear of me, Lover. I will never leave you.”
“You can`t make promises like that.”
“Actually I can. Because of my hmmm past, I know women. All my experience tells me that you are a rare gem and that I will never meet anyone like you again.”
I kissed him and then pulled back.
“So you are saying that if I have more experience I may find men that fit me even better than you?” I teased.
Eric laughed. “No. As it so happens, I am also your perfect match. You might as well settle for me.”
Eric`s hand found its way down my neck to my chest. I was wearing a corset under my dress, but I could still feel the warmth of his hand, how his fingers played with the outline of my breast. I sucked some air and then I came to.
“Eric, we can`t do this now. The servants…”
Eric grinned. “Haven`t you noticed that I usually stop by on Wednesdays when your cook and servant have the afternoon off?”
“Really?” I asked, not realizing the pattern of his visits.
“Really. I`ve always hoped it would pay off some day.”
“Eric Northman. You are scandalizing me entirely,” I scolded.
“Good thing you don`t worry about your reputation, then,” he teased back.
And with that he started unbuttoning the little pearl buttons on my dress. I motioned to him that we should go to my bedroom instead. I locked the front door, knowing that Jason would not be back for hours and that visitors would just have to turn around on the stairs.
Eric Northman undressed me slowly. He then unpinned my hair which made me feel like Lady Godiva. Not naked and not dressed. My hair covered me up slightly.
“Please undress me too,” he said in a husky voice.
I took off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt. I gasped slightly when his muscular chest with curly blond hair, was free of all clothing. He was so entirely handsome.
My fingers trembled slightly when I was about to open his trousers. It was as if it struck me what we were about to do.
“I`m afraid,” I whispered.
“Don`t be. I will make this a memorable experience for you.”
He helped me open his pants and stepped out of them when they pooled on the floor. I had read enough to know about male anatomy and knew that Eric was very excited about the situation. His member told me as much, hard as it was against my stomach.
Eric kissed me tentatively on my lips and then on my neck and shoulder.
“You are so beautiful, Sookie. How did I ever get this lucky?”
“By never telling me I`m beautiful,” I laughed. “You always only complimented me on my thoughts and ideas, never my looks.”
Eric kissed my mouth again. “I do seem to remember saying something about your mouth.”
“That was a long time ago. Didn`t we agree on letting the past become the distant past?”
Suddenly I was lifted and laid down on my bed. Eric pulled off his socks and lay down next to me.
“Indeed. Let`s focus on the present.”
And with that he started kissing me on places I hadn`t imagined one could be kissed. I tried kissing him back and knew I did the right thing when a kiss on his nipples made him moan out loud.
“Bite. Just a little,” he whispered. I complied and found I liked the noises he made so much, I copied my actions on his other nipple.
I had imagined sexual intercourse would be a man on top of a woman and his sexual organs in hers. At least that was what the medical books said. Eric did not seem in a hurry to put anything in me. He did put a lot of kisses between my legs and soon the kisses became licks and light sucks. I was amazed at the effect they had on me and soon I stopped thinking all together and heard myself make noises on my own.
Without having done any exercise I lay in my bed panting and through my half closed eyes, I noticed a smug smile on Eric`s lips.
“What was this?” I asked. I had never read about anything like this in my books.
“I made you climax,” he said in a proud voice.
“You made me…?” I laughed, shaking my head. “So I am merely an instrument and you are the musician?”
“In this case, yes. But I do look forward to being an instrument as well. I think we will make fine music together.”
We certainly did. Eric entered me very carefully, claiming he was larger than most men. I felt a slight pain, but soon it was much more agreeable. Actually much more than agreeable too. Agreeable enough for us to do it again after a little while.
It seemed both Eric and I were capable musicians with instruments that fit each other. When we were laying next to each other, panting and lazily stroking each other`s skin, I found that I regretted that I hadn`t done this before, since I had obviously missed out on something. But I was glad I hadn`t done it before too. I wouldn`t have wanted to have done anything like this with anyone but the man next to me in my bed.
Eric Northman was the only man I ever wanted to do it with. Eric Northman was the only man I ever wanted to share my life with.
I gasped slightly at myself when I realized that I actually did want to share my life with Eric Northman. I turned towards him, lying on my side and looking at his handsome features.
“I accept your marriage proposal,” I said with no further ado.
He was quiet for a while and I suddenly feared that he hadn`t meant his marriage proposal. That he only wanted this, having me in my bed, and then leaving me.
I wanted to get up, get away, but Eric stopped me.
“Why now?” he asked.
“Why not now?”
“I feel like you want me for this.” He pointed at his body. At us lying there naked next to each other.
“You fear that I want you for your body?” I asked, not understanding what he was saying.
“Well, you gave me a test ride and now you want the horse.”
“What? No! I just realized… I knew…”
Eric turned to his side and faced me.
“I`m just teasing you, Sookie. Even if you only wanted me for my body, I would say yes. But I know you want me for my brains as well.”
“And for your modesty, of course,” I laughed.
I hope you liked this story. I would love to hear your opinions and especially if the story made sense even if the historical facts mentioned in the story aren`t taught outside Scandinavia.
Rascalthemutant, the great beta on this story, asked me to put this in the A/N:
Thyra here is too modest to mention this, but her great-grandfather was Fredrik Bajer, the pacifist, women’s rights activist, and 1908 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. He was the first to propose a bill for women’s enfranchisement to the Danish parliament in 1886 and of course was laughed at, but did so over and over again until women finally gained full voting rights 30 years later, five years before the passing of the 19th Amendment in the U.S. But that’s not what won him the peace prize. That was for negotiating a treaty between Sweden and Norway. Google him; he was an interesting man and I appreciate his perseverance. And I had the fortune of seeing his plaque in the Nobel Peace museum in Oslo with Thyra.
Yes, Rascal is right. I`m pretty proud of my great-grandfather and he is the main reason why I`m so interested in this historical period. In my opinion, the debates they had back then were much of the reason why we have the (close to) gender equality we enjoy in Scandinavia today. There were several sides in the gender equality debate:
The Traditionalists: Like Jason in this story, most middle- and upper class people (the only classes that counted in debates like this – I give brief mention to one of the first Social Democrats,Louis Pio, in this story to show you that there were definitely also a huge working class that demanded rights) felt women were delicate creatures that should be protected from the cruelties of this world. If you`ve ever read or seen Henrik Ibsen`s The Dollhouse, it gives you a great perspective on how important a female purity, and not just sexually, was.
The Women`s rights movement: As Rascal mentioned, my great-grandfather Fredrik Bajer, and many with him, worked hard for equal rights to women. Not just the right to vote, but rights concerning divorce, inheritance, children etc. I have to mention that Fredrik Bajer gave his wife,Matilde Bajer, half the prize money when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He felt she`d done half the job.
Amalie Skram and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: They were both important Norwegian authors who advocated, each in their way, that men should also be virgins when they married. Amalie Skram`s first book, Contance Ring, was about a young woman marrying a much older sea captain and finding out that he has had an extensive “past”. She finds she can`t live with the knowledge and asks why only women should be virgins when saying yes at the altar. Amalie Skram herself married a much older sea captain when she was very young and ended up divorcing him and moving to Copenhagen. I can highly recommend Amalie Skram`s books if they are translated into your language.
Georg and Edvard Brandes: The Brandes brothers were very influential on Scandinavian thinking and opened their homes for discussions about women`s rights and other important issues. As mentioned in the story, Georg Brandes translated John Stuart Mill`s The Subjection of Women into Danish and probably looked at himself as an advocate for women and their rights to be equal. He does contradict himself some in his writing, though, showing some thoughts about women being second rate in thinking. The Brandes brothers were probably shocking to the majority of the Scandinavian bourgeoisie and close to gods to a smaller minority of free thinkers who looked very much up to them.