**A/N: First, here’s a huge THANK YOU to Gyllene for the gorgeous banner above!!! Second, ok, truth time: I don’t usually read Christmas fics any more. (ducks) I know, I know, I’m sorry!! I don’t know why I don’t, but they’ve just never really appealed to me. Maybe they’re too short? Too sappy? Too unrealistic? I don’t know, but for some (I suspect Madame Muse bit me in the ass) reason, I was inspired to jot this one down. My only hope – since I DON’T read them as a general rule – is that this isn’t like any other Christmas fics already floating around out there. The fear of unintentionally plagiarizing someone else’s work has already prevented me from reading most stories in the TB/SVM genre anyway (except the ones written by my good friends who would bop me on the nose and let me know if my story started sounding too much like theirs while still sending me coffee memes and cookie recipes), but to accidentally plagiarize a Christmas fic would gall me severely – not to mention the other writer! Finally, enjoy my own little rendition of an Eric/Sookie SVM Fix-It/Christmas Fic! Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope you enjoy it!**
Sookie sat on the floor looking up at her newly-decorated Christmas tree. All the decorations were, sadly, new, and she was surrounded by piles of now-empty packaging. She sorely missed the beloved, traditional, and sometimes worn out, decorations from her youth. The tree, she decided, really was very pretty with the shiny new lights and the shiny new ornaments, and the shiny new tinsel that she could now use since she no longer had any pets to worry about eating the stuff.
The tree itself was shiny and new, too, having been purchased from her local hardware store the day before where she had seen that it was on sale for 50% off. Even though she was now an extremely wealthy woman, the thriftiness taught to her during her upbringing still affected most aspects of her life, and she couldn’t resist the idea of having her own Christmas tree this year.
As she smoothed the lovely crimson and gold fabric of the tree skirt, made of satin and also 50% off, she considered the past few Christmases with a melancholy frown. On the move constantly after Eric’s marriage to someone not herself, her only link with normalcy being Mr. C and sometimes Diantha, settling down for a nice Christmas holiday hadn’t been exactly feasible before now whether she’d felt like celebrating the season or not.
Things this December, however, was slightly different – all her (known) enemies were no longer amongst the undead. When she had done her twice-a-week check-in with Mr. C back in July, she had received the very relieving news that all the Kings and Queens and underlings wishing to either steal her or kill her were now dead – Eric had staged the ultimate coup and was now King of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Nevada, Arkansas, and for some reason, Missouri.
For someone who never wanted to be a king, he sure was king of a lot of territory all of a sudden.
When Mr. C had told her that she was safe now, that Eric had not only ridded her world of all her known enemies, but that he had also issued a Royal Decree that she was Untouchable, the survivalist part of her had rejoiced.
The woman, however, had remained…deflated.
Where was he?
If he had wanted her, why hadn’t he killed them all before divorcing her and marrying someone else? Why had he been so cold, nasty, and hurtful, and why had he threatened to Turn her?
Well, it wasn’t like it mattered any more…
Sookie rose from the prettily decorated shiny new tree and went to the kitchen in the mid-sized cottage that was now her home, albeit listed under the false identity she’d received from Mr. C all those years ago.
“Haley”, the name she’d chosen as a remembrance of her Gran’s people – she hadn’t cared one bit about the last name because if she couldn’t remain a Stackhouse it didn’t really matter – had since purchased the house and had started putting down roots of a sort.
In the interest of now-ingrained discretion she had refrained from pursuing another job to while away her hours. Economic times were still unpleasant enough that she didn’t feel right taking a job away from someone who actually needed one, plus after being on the run, however slowly and for so long, keeping a job now would feel surreal. It also took at least half an hour, sometimes longer, to drive to the nearest small town, which was also a factor.
Finding that particular home had been a stroke of luck. Diantha, Mr. C’s semi-demon niece who was helping her uncle keep Sookie safe, had a cousin from the other side of her family who sold real estate. The cousin, whose name was basically unpronounceable by non-Dae but gladly answered to Bernice instead, apparently had a large office suite in New York City but dealt with hidden members of the Dae community nationwide – hence the secluded property in the North Carolina mountains.
When she’d bought the not-so-little cottage through Mr. C’s services, she had been surprised by just how right it had felt settling into the mountainous region, and she was excited by the hope that here she might even see some of that illusive snow people kept talking about. The scant few flakes she’d seen while still in her home state and ‘here and there’ while on the run had been few and far between, and had always melted within a few hours.
Snow at Christmas sounded like an odd fantasy, but it was one of her favorite wishes.
She ambled back to her well-stocked kitchen and made herself a mug of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, then wandered back to her living room. After she adjusted a couple of ornaments, she sat down on the plush sofa to watch the lights on the tree and enjoy the warmth from the fireplace.
Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, and two weeks ago she had sent off the gifts she’d had fun selecting and wrapping. She naturally hadn’t been able to spend as much time picking out the gifts as she wanted to because remaining permanently on guard against being discovered was so ingrained into her senses, but this year she’d definitely been able to spend more time and care on her selections.
She had also already placed the few gifts she was going to receive under her tree. Because of his susceptibility to glamour, her brother and his family weren’t allowed to know where she was while she was on the run, and it would be a while before she felt safe enough to tell him especially since Mr. C still cautioned against it.
Soon after she had fled the area, Diantha, with her Supe-fast speed and ability to evade detection, had left him a letter from Sookie, sent via Mr. C, stating in briefest detail what had happened, and instructed him to post any news he wanted to share with her in the Personals section of the Classifieds in the local paper.
Throughout the years she had learned of his marriage, of the births of his children and of his promotions, of a child’s broken leg and of beginning ballet recitals, of toddler gymnastics and a child’s football prowess, of a first tooth lost and a tooth-fairy’s visit…and of the maintenance and upkeep on her Gran’s home in the unspoken hopes that she would come home one day. Sookie highly suspected the new Mrs. Stackhouse had more to do with the notices in the paper than her brother did, and she appreciated the lady she had yet to meet all the more for it.
That night, after the chocolate was cold and the fire had gone out and the lights on the tree had been darkened, Sookie went to bed, and didn’t bother thinking of good things to dream.
The next morning dawned slow and easy, and nicely warm thanks to the central heating. Sookie rose and, as usual, immediately ‘listened’ to her surrounding area before leaving the warmth of the bed. Her survival instincts still demanded caution and vigilance, and she didn’t think she’d ever see the day when she could feel even half as relaxed as she used to be. Just because Mr. C had told her that Eric had either killed or seen to the death of her enemies certainly didn’t mean that one of those enemies wouldn’t have friends or progeny of their own.
Once assured that she was still safe, she bathed, dressed, fixed herself a small breakfast, and was simply glad to be able to do so in her own home.
She considered herself lucky in that, all in all, her life on the run hadn’t been too very uncomfortable. There had been several close calls, and a couple of those had been unnervingly close, but somehow things had always worked out. There would be a disturbance somehow that would enable her to escape or maybe a taxi would pull up at exactly the right moment. A couple of times the attacker, most often a Were but once in a blue moon a vampire, even seemed to give up because she would look back over her shoulder as she ran to see how close they’d gotten and they wouldn’t be there anymore. Those times seemed too ‘lucky’ to be real, but it wasn’t like she’d hired guards, and Mr. C would have told her if she had them…right?
But now that she thought about it, she had to wonder.
For the first year she spent in hiding, she and Mr. C had arranged for her to spend one week in one location, then move to another location for two weeks, then to a different location for a week, then two weeks would be spent at the next destination. After that, for a long while she would alternate between spending two weeks or a month in each new location. The year or so before she purchased her house, she had given into travel fatigue and managed to safely remain in each location for a month at a time.
Usually she would stay in inevitably-prepaid elegantly-appointed hotel suites with room and concierge service, but sometimes the directions she would receive on her phone would lead her to nice houses already fully-stocked with whatever food and sundry items she might need as a human on the run for her life. Several times during the past years she even stayed in a Nordic-looking “chalet” in Minnesota. That location had been her favorite, and not only because it was the first time she’d been assured by Mr. C that she could plan for a month’s stay. It had come the closest to feeling like ‘home’.
While she had dearly missed her own home and her family and friends and the traditions of her youth, she had to admit that as far as running for her life was concerned, in a weird way it could not have been made smoother or more convenient.
In the beginning, though, it was hell for the frightened small-town girl. Scared out of her wits, her heart broken and her soul shattered after Pam’s last call where her friend had not only informed her of Eric’s marriage and its implications regarding her safety but had also relayed Eric’s stern instructions to go to Mr. C immediately, Sookie had wisely packed whatever necessities she could get her hands on quickly, locked up her house, and fled to the address Pam had given her.
The demon’s office immediately became a warm sanctuary.
Mr. C had been glad and relieved to inform then her of the impossibly huge Trust set up for her by Niall – as well as the fortune settled upon her by Eric, too, of all people.
Sookie had been shocked by the inheritance from Niall, but the financial security given to her by the Viking had stunned her. She could see Niall leaving her something- not the vast fortune he actually bequeathed to her, certainly, but something – because he was her relative. Considering her upbringing, that made a familial sort of sense.
Finding out that Eric – after all he had said to her…Eric! – had left her a hidden fortune of his own, however, had led to Mr. C asking her repeatedly if she was ok. It also led to the subsequent delivery of a bottle of cold water and a cup of warm, over-sweetened tea for the shock he thought she must have suffered when it became clear that she wasn’t ok.
Eric had also left instructions with Mr. C concerning which kind of new “on the run” vehicle for Sookie to purchase under her newly-acquired name.
After the partial recovery from her shock, she discovered that the funds which Eric had given her had always been securely hidden offshore so that no one, save Eric and Mr. C, had even known of their existence, therefore they were entirely safe for him to untraceably transfer into Mr. C’s care…for Sookie.
It appeared that the Viking Vampire had no more trust in the terms of the contract meant to provide for her safety than did Sookie or Mr. C.
At that moment fear for her own survival had to be at the forefront of her thoughts so she’d had no real opportunity to truly think about it, but even then she’d been shocked that he’d bothered to help see to her safety after their last few encounters, and especially while in the midst of his own life-changing turmoil.
It had, however, made her start subconsciously reevaluating his final words and actions toward her, which added even more confusion to the mess that was her life at the time.
Finally she came to the conclusion that she really needed to talk to the vampire himself before she made any decisions regarding how she felt about him and how she should truly feel about their final meetings. And, since the likelihood of ever even seeing him again, much less of being able to actually sit down and talk to him, were a big fat zero, it didn’t really matter. Besides, she had to stay safe for anything of the unlikely sort to happen anyway, so she made the determined effort to keep survival at the foremost of her thoughts, and all-things-Eric at the back.
Now that she was safe and settling into her own home of several months, and trying to create a new routine that didn’t involve having to constantly be on the alert to avoid potential kidnappers of whatever species, she had the luxury of time and homey comfort to let her thoughts wander, and wander they did.
More and more, every day and night, she allowed herself to ponder the ‘hows’ and the ‘what-ifs’ of everything that had happened, and had yet to find an acceptable answer to most of it.
That day, though, with it being Christmas Eve and strongly feeling the loss of all her family and friends, the situation seemed to call for building a big fire in the hearth, plugging in the lights on the pretty, shiny new tree, and wrapping up under the old afghan – one of the precious few things she’d been able to bring with her when she had fled her beloved home – and thinking.
The house was clean, the laundry was done, so Sookie let her melancholy thoughts roam as she contemplated the entirety of her short but intense relationship with Eric.
By the time the night of Christmas Eve fell, she was positive of only one thing – the one thing she wasn’t sure if she would ever have.
She wanted to talk to Eric. She needed to talk to Eric.
If only to answer her questions, to make it have been ok that she’d loved him, that she hadn’t been a fool for letting him enter her heart, that she hadn’t loved him in vain…
She needed to talk to Eric.
As she drifted off to sleep on her soft sofa, wrapped in her grandmother’s warm if horribly ugly old afghan, Sookie’s last thoughts were a heart-felt, soul-deep wish to see her Eric once again.
Christmas morning dawned bright and…white. Sookie woke up on the sofa to dazzling white light filtering through the lacy curtains on the windows, and squealed when she peeked outside.
It was snowing! And, judging by the amount of sparkling white covering and muting the small yard around her house, she thought that it must have snowed all night, too! Since she had gone on a supply run two days before, she wasn’t worried about having to descend the steep, hairpin-curve filled road leading from her secluded house to the small town set in the foothills at the base of the mountain she called home.
Instead of worrying about getting out, after freshening up and quickly eating a small breakfast, she excitedly donned what cold-weather gear she owned, and went outside to enjoy the Christmas snow…and promptly fell on her ass after slipping on the slight accumulation of ice on the flagstones just off her covered porch.
She sat where she landed and laughed a bit, then leaned back on her gloved hands to simply take in the altered beauty of the land. The entire experience was utterly enthralling. She was certainly not used to the blanketing effect of snow, nor how it muted the background forest noises she was accustomed to hearing. The newness of the fallen, and still falling, snow was so exhilarating!
During all her running, she’d somehow always managed to spend winters in the warmer, sunnier climates of Florida, Texas, and California. The nice cottage in southern California was surrounded by a very tall privacy fence so she was hidden enough to even be able to absorb some sun beside the large pool during her stays there. The sun had a recharging effect on her fairy side, and she knew she needed to be out in it as much and as often as she could, but no matter how tall the fence, she never felt safe enough to truly relax when outside on her own. But the whole “running for her life” thing was so incredibly exhausting – especially with all the driving involved. It felt as though it was literally draining her energy reserves, so she grabbed what sun she could.
The lovely cottage was wonderful, but the houseboat in Florida had truly surprised her. When she’d arrived at the GPS point Mr. C had given her, she had looked around in confusion. A houseboat? A quick call to his own burner phone had verified the destination, and Sookie had quickly climbed aboard the large new boat fancifully named Säker Drömmar. She always stayed on that boat whenever Florida came up in the rotation and although it had taken her a while to get her ‘sea legs’, once accustomed to the gentle rocking of the boat, she had the best sleep there. She was even able to begin a cautious friendship with the Were guys who lived in the houseboats on either side of her.
Not that she had wasted much time thinking about it, but she had briefly thought she’d see some snow during her northern rotations, but her stays in the northern states had always been during the late spring through summer months. However, she had particularly enjoyed a fall spent in Maine, and another fall spent in Washington, DC. The high percentage of demons – particularly soothing to her mind, which had been nice – involved in politics made that area especially safe for fleeing telepaths, and was the first place she had stayed after leaving Louisiana. She’d been very glad to return several times as she loved the luxurious hotel suite – long gone was the small-town girl who complained about luxury! Once in a while Diantha was even able to join her during her stays in the nation’s capital.
Naturally she had experienced a few flurries here and there, but having never experienced a true, decent snowfall, much less one on Christmas Day, the experience was doubly treasured. For the first time in recent memory, Sookie felt like a kid again.
Soon her yard was covered with mangled snow-angels and small, lop-sided snow people. Eventually satisfied with her “work”, Sookie went inside to change into dry clothes, warm up, and eat a bowl of hot soup for lunch. Late that afternoon, after an impromptu dream-filled nap on her sofa near the rebuilt fire and the twinkling tree, on impulse she made a mug of hot chocolate, bundled back up, and went back outside. She sat in one of the rocking chairs on her porch and quietly enjoyed the waning afternoon while contemplating her most recent dreams.
When she had initially gone on the run, for many months she had suffered a series of terrible nightmares that centered around the events leading up to her having to leave in the first place. All the important things had been taken away from Sookie – her home, her family, her friends, her past, her…Eric, and her dreams made sure she knew it in full overly-vivid detail.
Sometimes in her dreams hordes of slavering vampires would descend on her family and friends and torture them mercilessly for her location. Other times thoughts of vampires and Weres discovering and threatening children she didn’t even know she was related to – family she didn’t even know she had – plagued her bloody nightmares.
Mostly, though, her horrific dreams involved being captured and forced into both telepathic and blood slavery for various vampire kings and queens, but the worst ones involved Eric coming after her himself and forcing her to serve his beloved new queen while he stood around and laughed at her…or he would hold her down for his beloved queen to drain…or he himself would drain her to the point of death.
Her worst nightmare, though, the one that had kept her from sleeping for three days straight, had been the one where Eric had Turned her against her will, laughing as he took the sun away from her and forced her into a dead life of darkness as his slave.
Thankfully after a while the nightmares had lessened in both frequency and severity, possibly in direct proportion to the increasing amount of sunlight she was able to absorb through her now tanned skin. For that reason alone she would always think kind thoughts of beautiful Florida, Texas, and California.
However, now that she had slowed down and was safely settling into her new home, her dreams were starting to return, only, they weren’t nightmares anymore. These nights she dreamt of wistful things, feelings, and ephemeral glimpses of what-ifs and could-have-beens.
Now when Eric appeared in her sleep, he would kill that queen and officially choose his beloved telepath instead. Sometimes he would even take back all the horrible things he’d said, pick her up in his strong arms, and carry her off to beautiful dream-lands filled with hope and joy and life everafter.
Sometimes he would just smile down at her, his eyes a deep, bright sparkling blue, and he would touch her cheek and bid her to wait for him.
Those dreams she loved and hated the most because they gave her a hope that she couldn’t logically justify.
Yet these dreams had also made her think, had made her remember more fully their last encounters and at least try to consider them in a different, more logical light, and also consider them from the viewpoint of a different heart – a 1,000 year old heart, to be exact.
Now that she had the luxury of being able to relax and breathe, she could take the time to properly analyze the events of their shared past and perhaps find a clearer, less inherently-biased way of looking at things.
She sighed and cleared her mind, glad that at least one of her Christmas wishes had come true with the snow, and became determined to enjoy the cold, gentle solace of the late afternoon. The continually falling snow had lightly covered the mess she’d enjoyed making of her yard, smoothing out some of the damage while covering the few patches of earth she’d bared during her enthusiastic creation of the snow-angels. The effect of the setting sun added a further softening of the land’s features, and enhanced the well-darkened mystery of the surrounding woods.
Cheeks and nose reddened from the cold but body warmed by her coat and scarf and the now-empty contents of the mug she still held, Sookie was so enthralled by the novelty of the soothing scene before her that she didn’t realize someone was approaching.
Eric paused at the edge of the forest and surveyed the breathtaking scene before him. The soft lights in the house bathed his Sookie in golden light as she sat alone in one of the big wooden rocking chairs on her porch, her cheeks and nose red enough to give that Rudolph character a run for his money. She clasped a steaming mug in her hands, and from the scent, it appeared to be chocolate.
His heart ached as he watched her sip from her mug before returning her gently sad gaze to whatever she was seeing as she looked past the yard in front of her house. He could still detect what could only be snow-angels and oddly-shaped snow creatures beneath the newly fallen snow, and while the corners of his lips curved at the mental image of his Sookie playing in the snow, he didn’t think that was the point of her unfocused stare.
The sweet, warm scent of her skin, of her, had hit him about two miles back, his sense of smell not only heightened because of his vampire nature but because he was eternally attuned all things Sookie. Her unique fragrance had drawn him to her side like a beacon.
Not once during the past years had he forgotten the scent of her skin or the sound of her beloved yet fragile heartbeat. The taste of her lips and the feel of her hair as it brushed across his skin had often eased him into his day rest, red tears of fury and frustration sometimes leaking from his eyes.
The night he achieved his freedom it took all 1,000-plus years of learned patience and self-restraint to keep from rushing immediately to her side, but too much was as yet unfinished to risk her safety because of his desperate impatience.
Now finally released from every possible responsibility that ruling so many states and running so many businesses had thrown at him, and after having ensnared, questioned, and ridded the world of the surprising number of Were groups and lone vampires sent to capture his beloved, at last he was free to act.
Once he had waged the warfare that bought his freedom and ended many of the threats to Sookie’s safety, but well before it was anywhere near safe enough for her to even consider visiting her precious Bon Temps again, Eric had instructed Pamela to quietly search through all available properties in the continental United States. She was to set aside only the ones which met his initial yet exhaustive list of criteria as a place safe enough for his fairy to settle until he had neutralized the remaining threats. He had wanted to give her the gift of what peace he could as soon as it became possible.
This property was one of a select few he had deemed appropriate enough to be brought to the attention of Cataliades so that he could in turn pass the information on to the trusted real estate demon named Bernice. He was absolute in his intent to leave no possible link that could be used to track Sookie. Too many of the few remaining threats were too highly skilled in evasion and espionage tactics to risk…anything. She had already suffered by far too much because of the Supe world in general and himself in specific as it was.
After Sookie had chosen this place, Eric, with the use of glamour and financial persuasion, had been able to purchase the entire mountain, and had immediately ordered the necessary changes to convert the only other home site he’d left intact into a safe house. He had also ordered the security upgrades he had deemed necessary to the house that Sookie would then soon call home.
The house itself truly was in her name. For her safety he’d made sure that her powers as the official home owner remained in force. He had simply neglected to charge himself for the cost of said home.
He had also neglected to charge himself for her frequent use of his quaint ‘chalet’ in Minnesota fortuitously listed under one of his many secret identities known only to Pamela…and Cataliades.
One of his aliases had been the company that had “sold” to ‘Haley’ the SUV that was infinitely better suited for her life on the run than the antique rust bucket she’d been driving. He couldn’t charge his own self, now could he?
Another of his names also owned the Presidential Suite at the privately-owned hotel in Washington, DC – the hotel he had given Pamela a while back as a reward for going five years without accidentally draining anyone.
It was also of his aliases that owned the sweet, high-walled bungalow that Sookie had liked so much in California… and the new houseboat he had instructed Cataliades to purchase for her use in Florida.
He may have also instructed Cataliades to station highly trained and trustworthy Were and Dae in every city that Sookie visited.
As much as he relished assisting Sookie with her freedom, all the safe conveniences and amenities he provided to smoother her way were little more than a salve to his conscience. Although logically he knew there had obviously been nothing he could do to evade his cursed Maker’s finagling, to this night he still thought that there had to have been something that he could have done to fix the situation.
Perhaps worst of all, he now knew that he should have discussed the entire thing with Sookie the moment he realized what was going on. With her unique way of viewing any given situation, and with enough time to think, she may have even been able to find other options… but even if she had not, she had still deserved better from him.
She had deserved to receive the truth rather than the omissions and cold silences he had given her.
But those nights were over. As painfully depressing and infuriatingly galling as they were, they were finally over, and by his own Machiavellian hands at that. He grinned evilly at the memory of his devious machinations and the many layers of subterfuge he had successfully planned and carried out. Eric had always vastly preferred a clean, fair fight, but when his enemies were determined to fight dirty, he would fight…dirtier.
Now it was time to put the past behind him and claim his perhaps undeserved but much-needed reward.
With discretion and expediency in mind, he had landed the previous night at the safe house he had converted on the other side of the mountain from where “Haley” now resided. He had timed his arrival to within half an hour of the sun’s rising to help control the almost unbearable urge to go straight to his Sookie knowing that if he did, he would do so completely lacking in anything near finesse or self-control.
As he stood gazing at his heart’s desire from the safe darkness of the woods, he sighed. He had a lot of information to give her, many things to apologize and atone for, many things to explain, many words to take back as best he could, and for once in his very long existence, he relished the opportunity to do so.
Living without his Sookie had meant living without his personal sun. She was also his moon and his stars; she was his dreams and his hopes and his desires and the light that seemed to guide his heart.
Too bad for him that he had come to realize these truths too late to savor them with her. The years apart, however, had taught him fundamental, heartrending lessons about communication, honesty, and humility. They were lessons he would rather never have to learn again – heartache was a bitch of a mistress. But he had indeed learned them well, and was now impatient to begin the rest of his unlife.
It had taken him far too long to plan and execute his freedom from that horrific farce of a marriage, but finally he had both accomplished his goal and ensured his Lover’s safety.
Now, he had come to fulfill the only Christmas wish he had ever bothered to make.
If he had his way, this would be his last Christmas without her.
On silent feet gliding through the snow, Eric approached the love of his undeath. The nearer he came, the faster he moved, until finally he stood before her. It worried him some that she didn’t notice him, that her gaze remained firmly unfocused a little to the left, but upon closer inspection he recognized the look and knew he had worn the same face in the recent past.
As soon as the name passed his lips, Sookie jumped, and the mug she’d been holding fell from her hands and shattered into sharp fragments in front of her feet.
Before her stood what was most surely a ghost…a ghost who looked and sounded like…like Eric? Her Eric?
Now bathed in the warm golden light from inside the house, her Eric surely did stand before her in all his majestic glory. Tall, broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, dressed in the achingly familiar black jeans and black leather jacket with a black t-shirt peeking out, the only changes she could detect were in the black leather boots he wore, and the new signs of age haunting his intense blue eyes.
To any other observer, his beautiful face revealed no changes. His cheekbones were still as high as always, his nose and forehead as regal as ever, his chin as handsomely stubborn as always, but his eyes betrayed the ache accumulated throughout the missing years, and the fangs peeking out behind his slightly pink lips gave evidence to the intensity of the emotions brought on by the current situation.
When the mug shattered at her feet, Eric forwent the well-practiced words and well-reasoned phrases he had prepared for this moment and simply swooped in and gathered her safely in his harms.
The bemused expression on her face – her eyes and her mouth were both wide open in shock with delight slowly overtaking her features – took him back in time to simpler nights, and he laughed.
Having her in his arms once again made him feel as though someone had switched the light in his heart back on, and he could not contain his joy…didn’t even want to try…
Realizing the absurdity of the situation – she was being held in Eric’s arms and the Viking himself was laughing as if the weight of the world had suddenly left his shoulders and he had received the best gift ever – Sookie joined him.
A small part of her relished seeing the familiar crinkling at the corners of his eyes brought about by the huge smile lighting up his entire face, but mostly Sookie felt…safe.
And with the way he was looking at her, as if he could gaze at her for nights without end and still not have his fill of her?
The small clearing in front of her house resonated with the joyous sounds of their combined laughter born of love and pleasure too strong to contain.
Unable to stop himself, Eric placed Sookie onto her feet, gathered her securely into his body, and slowly rose into the air, twirling as if dancing with his bride as he spun them around, the flight accompanied by frequent bursts of happy, relieved laughter. Neither could stop smiling as they gazed into the others’ eyes, each welcoming the other home without words.
Knowing that her Eric would not drop her, that, judging by the way he held and looked at her, he had no intentions of ever letting her go, Sookie slowly raised her arms, wove her fingers through the blond hair at the back of his head, and snuggled her face into the crook of his neck.
Almost instantly great gulping sobs overtook her as she released the torrent of fear and loss and stress accumulated during their lost years. She was home now, so it was finally safe to let go of all the pain, safe to shed all the tears she had been too afraid to give into before this moment.
Slowly, gently, with red tears slowly falling down his own face in shared torment, Eric lowered them to the porch, and then released his own remembered agony within the comfort of his Sookie’s embrace.
After what felt like hours but was in truth only minutes later, with a grand sniff Sookie looked up into the red tinged gaze of the other half of her heart.
The look on his face told her everything she needed to know.
She had not loved him in vain, and this was the last Christmas she would spend alone.
“Eric Northman, won’t you please come in?”
**A/N: MERRY CHRISTMAS (if you celebrate it)!!!!!! So, what did you think of this one? (Annnnnd that’s all, folks. Really. This will not be turning into a Valentine’s Night fic – you know, the fic I ended up loving so much that I continued it to the point that I don’t want it to end a natural ending now but the story itself has been told so I’m left weeping over that LAST last chapter and my dog gives me funny looks.) Reviews are appreciated!*