HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY/NIGHT!!
**A/N: Go make yourself a cup of something warm and comforting…maybe change into your jammies and put on those comfy bunny slippers…grab a tissue…kick back, and enjoy:**
After popping to the end of her drive to place some bills and her “what did you mean by this” reply in the mailbox, Sookie escorted her hangover back into the kitchen and continued trying to drown it in coffee. A little while and some pain relievers later, she decided that she was going to live after all, and bravely prepared herself some toast. She might be a bit younger than she used to be, but hangovers were still awful.
Deciding to keep the morning from being a complete loss, she took another cup of survival into the living room and sat on the sofa to peruse the latest foundation reports from Mr. C. While she did so, she made the conscious decision to keep her mental net focused on her mailbox just to see if her suspicions were correct.
An hour later, as she was penciling in recommendations for more anonymous donations to several local libraries and instructions to expand on her youth center in Bon Temps, she caught the reddish signature of a Were approaching quickly, stopping, then departing just as quickly. Intensely curious and highly suspicious, she popped herself out to her mailbox, and, just as she suspected, the bills she was mailing out were still there and the flag was still raised, but her letter to Eric was gone. With a smirk, she popped herself back to the sofa.
Gazing down at the list of her charitable activities and the updates the firm had provided, she couldn’t help but grin. It seemed King Eric Northman had about as much patience as Sheriff Eric Northman used to have – not much.
It did her part-fairy heart good to know that he was just as affected by whatever was going on between them as she was. Realizing that she was about to go a daydreaming trip, she set the files aside. Her amended motto, “with great money comes great possibilities”, floated through her mind, but on some days the files looked better on her desk than in her hand.
Her inheritance from Niall’s had been a huge and somewhat frightening shock at first, but with Mr. C’s gentle guidance, it hadn’t taken her long to figure out what she wanted to do with the monetary portion of it. Since that time, libraries in Bon Temps and several surrounding towns had received massive donations. Bon Temps’ elementary, middle, and high schools had also received new libraries and new computer sciences lab, all of which were kept up to date, and every year five “mediocre but with potential” high school students received full scholarships to the local community college.
She had been determined to help out students who were intelligent but who had some other difficulty in their lives preventing them from being able to reach their full potential in an academic environment…students like her own self back in the day. While they might not be telepaths, they still deserved a chance for a better life, and helping to provide them with better educational opportunities was one way that she could help. For whatever reason, Niall had seen fit to provide much more than adequately for her future, and she was glad to pay it forward.
Her friend Tara, now happily single and an excellent mother of two adorable brats, was handsomely paid to manage a series of clothing stores and nail/tanning salons carrying the latest, safest, tanning equipment. She didn’t know that the name of the company she worked for, SBS, was short for Sookie Brigant Stackhouse. She thoroughly enjoyed spoiling Tara’s kids, but never once felt the need to procreate herself.
After her first few months with Sam, she’d scheduled a brief consultation with Dr. Ludwig. With the parameters of her heritage in mind, it had taken the good doctor a couple of days to concoct the right mixture, but thereafter every three months Sookie gladly received her birth control shot.
She’d been surprised by how easily she’d released to the universe her dreams of sitting on her front porch watching the sun set while surrounded by her grandchildren. As much as she’d wanted that, she knew it not only wasn’t practical, but extremely selfish, too. There was no way she could put a child of her through all she’d endured. Whether or not her telepathy was passed on to the next generation, any child of hers would automatically be suspected of having “special skills” by the supe world, and she couldn’t justify exposing any child to those risks.
Sam wanted kids, though, and his increasing noticeable disappointment with his failed attempts had made her start feeling slightly suspicious about exactly why he wanted kids. Was it that he wanted children in a general sense, something he’d never mentioned before considering his then current fascination with the subject, or was it that he wanted to make kids with her…specifically, telepathic kids?
She didn’t know, and she didn’t want to find out. Family had been very important to her, but she was determined to be the last of her own line. She was also going to definitely be keeping an keep an ear out for any bastards bred by her whore-dog brother.
While Sookie and her brother Jason had tried to keep close to each other, both had finally realized that they didn’t actually have all that much in common. In the end, Jason’s disapproval of her divorce from Sam had been the painfully final straw on their already strained relationship. Instead of supporting her decision, he had repeatedly foisted his unappreciated and ill-considered advice on her to the point that she had eventually told him that if he couldn’t talk to her about anything else, then to not bother talking to her at all.
His love for her was conditional upon her living within what he decided were acceptable boundaries, and Sookie had had enough of that to last her a lifetime. She missed her brother, but not the man he’d become.
In a bittersweet way, Hoyt had been a better brother to her, especially after Mrs. Fortenberry’s timely demise. On her behalf, lots of casseroles, pies, and gossip had been served after her service, and life had then quickly settled down quite nicely without her unnecessary input. Everyone adored Hoyt’s ex-stripper girlfriend from Monroe even if her presence in his life was suspected to have been the unofficial cause of Maxine’s massive coronary. The pies after the service really had been delicious.
Chuckling to herself, Sookie put away the foundation paperwork and fought against a subtle, inexplicable impatience. Since she had no pressing errands or appointments that day, she decided to put her time to great use and took a nap.
Eric was in a situation that rarely existed, but when it did, it invariably involved Sookie. Eric…was in a quandary. Once again.
Sookie had finally asked about his deviously vague observation, but what was he to do now? How should he answer the question now that it’d been asked?
He’d been waiting on pins and needles to see if she would be curious enough to actually bring it up. That she was curious to begin with, much less curious enough to actually ask him about it, was news most excellent. So much of his future depended on this exact thing.
Eric heated himself up yet another in an endless supply of bagged blood. His vampire instincts missed the chase and capture of his natural food supply, but his “more delicate sensibilities”, he snorted to himself, detested being that close to the foul stench of his normal prey.
Humans certainly had much better bathing options now than in the past, but unfortunately nothing hid the stench of slow deaths by chemicals introduced into their bodies in a fanciful bid to escape reality. He often wondered why some humans chose to make their lives worse by giving it away to small-time drug lords, then turned right around and tried to make their skewed realities seem better by taking even more of those same drugs. But in the end, he didn’t really care. He totally supported the concept of Darwinism.
At least one of the benefits of being king was having at his disposal the cleanest blood available. His royal grounds contained housing for screened donors, but he refused to house anyone of that sort on his property since he wasn’t comfortable with keeping a herd of humans on hand. In his opinion, vampires could catch their own dinner, drink from bags, or lift a bottle. Any visiting vampires could bring their own or drink what was offered; he didn’t care which. Somehow he didn’t think Sookie would mind his version of vampire hospitality.
How to approach his Sookie…
He pondered as he paced barefoot, his black silk robe billowing with each step.
If she was curious enough to ask, it would mean that she really was interested in pursuing at least some sort of a relationship with him. If she hadn’t asked, it would have meant that she wasn’t ready yet, that he would need to shelve his need and impatience, and try his hand in other ways on another night. He wouldn’t give up, but he would have had to pull back, going with the theory that you can’t miss something if it isn’t gone.
But, to his everlasting and almost painful relief, she had asked.
All evidence of any sort of stoicism was gone from his demeanor in the privacy of his chambers. Here, he was free to pace, free to gloat or think or swear or anything else to his dead heart’s content. Once this area had been completed, no one save a highly glamoured and witch-spelled maid was allowed in to clean once a week. Even his weekly supplies of blood from a vampire-controlled and screened blood bank were handled only by his Second.
What to do…what to do…
Ruthlessly determined to be realistic, even if Sookie had asked that all-important question, it by no means meant that he’d been forgiven. It only meant he was being allowed to plead the rest of his case, and offer a logical solution to the trust problem.
He took up his pen as he paced by his desk, and rolled the platinum piece between his fingers. Thus far this pen had provided him with the ability to carefully chose his words for maximum truth and effect. This pen had saved him from saying too much or saying the right thing the wrong way. This pen had given him the time to think about his words before he sent them her way.
This pen had helped bring his Sookie back, however distantly, into his unlife. He just might frame this pen if his wishes came true.
He sat and wrote.
Ten crumpled pages later, he finally finished.
But…this was not a letter that could simply be delivered by another party. The contents of this short missive were too important. He would think on it during the night and plan something appropriate.
As he dressed for that evening’s serving of kingly pap and bullshit, an urgent call came in from Rasul’s capable yet boring replacement. He rolled his eyes. Apparently yet other fool and his rag tag band of vampire desperadoes had decided to mount a ‘dramatic’ takeover of the new monarchy.
He sighed as he grabbed his phone to call, among others, Thalia and Jessica to his side. Thalia would have his head if he neglected to invite her to any sort of conflict, and as supportive and helpful as Jessica had been during the rebuilding of his kingdom, she deserved to participate in the excitement of a small skirmish as well.
Although young and still needing his mentoring in many ways, she had surprised him. Beneath her genial and usually mild personality lived a delightfully vicious streak which he had carefully honed and nurtured. She’d been a bit timid at first, but it hadn’t taken as long as he’d thought for her to blossom into a very capable vampire. She was a natural at hand-to-hand combat, took to the sword as if born to it, and was an excellent shot. Sweet, tame, “mainstreaming” Jessica was proving to be an enthusiastic and highly-skilled killing machine.
Just another night in paradise, he thought to himself as he grabbed his sword and flew to battle. He hoped this one would last more than an hour.
Unaccountably disheartened by the whole lot of absolutely nothing that had happened the night before, not that she’d been expecting anything, the next morning Sookie rose, showered, and proceeded to get on with her day.
While she could easily have chosen to rest on her expensive laurels, she much preferred to put her education to use in the running of her foundation. Mr. C’s team did a fine job of keeping all the legalities in order and the interest mounting up, but she enjoyed doing her own research on new projects to see if they needed her particular brand of support.
This afternoon she was scheduled to investigate a new “crisis support” non-profit just starting up over in Minden. Times were hard everywhere, and she was glad to help. She was already providing the majority of anonymous financial support for seven different “community help” organizations, and was likely to add an eighth one to her list that evening…if the place met her “no discrimination of any sort allowed” standards.
Last minute review of their financials complete, Sookie headed out to her two-year-old Cadillac Escalade. She missed her ancient yellow beater, but when it had finally died a painful death, dear old Sam had nagged her into replacing it with a boring compact. It, too, had served her well, but had never felt like “her” car.
Then one day she’d passed one of those big, beautiful Escalades on the road, and she’d fallen in love. After a bit of research, the next day she found the nearest dealership and went and bought herself one. She had been so nervous and excited – it was the first completely unnecessary and exorbitant purchase she’d allowed herself. She figured that not only would Niall have approved of such a luxurious purchase, but that she deserved it. She had only wished that her beloved Gran had been around so that she could have literally shared the wealth.
Although she was a billionaire several times over, after general maintenance and making expensive improvements on her home, she still maintained a rather modest lifestyle. She’d had a new roof and wrap-around porch put on the house, and had installed a new heating and cooling system even though she loved using the fireplace on cool and cold evenings. The old house had needed new wiring and pipes, and she’d loved painting all the walls brighter, cheerier colors. It had taken some time, but she’d enjoyed finishing the attic and converting part of it into a very rarely used home office with en suite bathroom. The rest of the attic remained dedicated to hiding the family’s “seen better days” possessions.
Only once had she gone down into Eric’s cubbyhole, and that was to check on its condition after a particularly rainy hurricane had blown through. After seeing that it had sustained no damage, which had somehow required her to sit on the bed for over an hour lost in her memories, she’d stripped the bed and dusted the small area. She convinced herself that the reason she remade the bed with clean sheets was that she never knew if she might need the safety of Eric’s hidden room. On that weak premise, she’d hauled down a backpack loaded with bottled water, energy bars with a long expiration date, and a couple of her books…that she’d placed beside his on the nightstand.
She hadn’t gone back down since.
Once she reached her intended destination, she concentrated then swept her hand over her body. Her strong fairy glamour immediately changed her appearance into that of a woman curiously resembling her fairy cousin Claudine. During the few times she’d chosen to mask her appearance when doing her own investigative work, she’d chosen to model her new look on her beloved cousin as both a remembrance and a nod to her heritage.
It didn’t take long for her to see that this newest community resource center was worthy of her investment, and she was soon on her way to Mr. C’s office in Shreveport. She was a bit surprised by how tempted she was to accidently to drive by a certain converted plantation, but firmly resisted the pull.
When she finally returned home, she automatically checked her mailbox. It had been empty save for a lovely flier for a local furniture store that went out of business several times a year. She was intensely disappointed to find no letter or flowers…or wood… on her front porch, either.
Oh, well, he’s a king with kingly things to do, she figured with an unintentional pout. Of course she noticed that the sun was setting as she fed the cat, and it was depressingly dark by the time she finished her boring salad for dinner.
Unbidden doubts and suspicions had started to surface, but instead of moping, she planned out her evening then got to it. She took her evening shower, then spent some quality time playing with T2. She painted her fingernails…then her toenails…then checked her emails. The latest one from Amelia was ignored, just like all the others she’d sent.
Amelia had just been doing as Sookie asked when she’d brewed up the potion to break the bond, but she’d also been just a little too excited about interfering in her and Eric’s relationship. After that, Sookie had started paying more attention to not only Amelia’s thoughts, but to the intent behind them, as well. Something about the little witch started feeling “off”, and Sookie had wisely decided to start putting more and more distance between them. She never detected anything truly seditious or disparaging, but her intuition was telling her to ease herself out of the witch’s sphere of influence, so she heeded her own instincts.
Her friendship with Octavia, however, was flourishing right along. That ancient witch was more technologically advanced than she, herself, was, and they enjoyed lively email discussions about everything under the sun.
Afterward she built up a nice fire, made herself some hot chocolate, grabbed up T2, then flipped aimlessly through the television channels until she found one of her favorite old black-and-white romantic tearjerkers, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. No one came by bearing letters or flowers or wood.
She couldn’t remember when time had ever passed so slowly.
With the sun rising in half an hour, Eric had to move quickly to complete his shower, touch up some final details, and go to rest.
Last evening’s amateur revolt had been squashed disappointingly fast – Thalia had muttered under her breath for hours afterward – but the annoyingly thorough investigation afterward had brought to light a slightly more serious problem.
The small band of delusional vampires had been egged on by another group with their own agenda. Those dissidents were gathered into a larger, stronger, better-organized and better-backed group, and were a somewhat more credible threat…”were” being the key word.
This night, along with half of last night, had been spent searching out those individuals and anyone associated with them. Through a little time and effort, and a couple of convenient explosions, not a one was left to see another moonrise. Eric’s large network of loyal friends and allies, and highly-paid Weres, had once again proven their loyalty. Thalia’s blood thirst had been moderately relieved.
Now that he’d stamped out yet another supposed threat to his throne, he was ready to rest and contemplate exactly how he was going to answer Sookie’s question.
With a smirk engendered to hide his own nervous anticipation from himself, he reached for his phone. Over three years too late, yet too soon, he was going to do what had to be done.
He sank into his day sleep with a smile gracing his firm lips.
All day Sookie had unintentionally felt as though she were waiting on something, but she couldn’t figure out why. She would clean her house in short, energetic bursts, then sit on the sofa for a while listlessly flipping through pages of her latest novel. She even cleaned the already spotless attic, then returned to take up her fruitless watch on the sofa. She cleaned the litter boxes again, the one in the laundry room and the other in the spare bedroom, determined as always to prevent the smell of a cat’s bathroom from pervading the house.
By late afternoon she was a nervous wreck but couldn’t pinpoint why. She just knew that, once again, no one came by bearing letters or flowers or wood. Or coats. Or comfy slippers. She looked down at her warm, toasty toes and smiled. She didn’t know what was going on or what to think, but was glad her feet were happy.
Surely she hadn’t scared him off just by asking him what he meant?
Maybe she had, she thought with a grimace, then rearranged her thinking. If Eric was one to be put off by a mere question, a question about something he himself had brought up more than once, then she could sprout wings and fly. Glancing back over her shoulders just to be sure – she was a fairy, after all – she caught sight of T2 stalking the feather duster, and had a good laugh.
That distraction was just what she needed, she thought as she levitated the duster while the kitty chased it. There was every possibility that, realistically, Eric was just caught up in king business and that his delay in getting back to her probably had nothing to do with her at all.
A bit more lighthearted after her little chat with herself, she played with the cat for a while longer then took a shower to clean up after having cleaned all day. She took the time to apply her favorite lotion, a sultry blend of lily of the valley and jasmine, and threw on her favorite comfortable jeans and warm, red, v-necked sweater.
After that, she fixed herself a nice dinner, wrote out a grocery list for shopping the next day, then once again piled up on the comfy sofa, but chose to read instead of watching television. T2 curled up on her lap, as was her innate right as queen of the house, and purred.
Forty-five minutes after first dark, there was a knock on her door.
Eric slowed down to turn onto Sookie’s long driveway, and allowed the memories to flood back into his mind. With his vampire vision he noted every single change as he all-but coasted along, noticing more changes as he approached her house. As it had been so very long since his last visit, he decided to park out front.
Slowly, savoring the bittersweet experience, he exited his vehicle and quietly shut the car door before approaching the steps leading up to her front porch. After taking a huge, unnecessary breath, he slowly ascended the steps. Her light, sweet scent, tinged with more fairy than he remembered, led the way.
Memories, so many memories, some good, some bad, and some horrible, passed before his eyes. Echoes of conversations long past soothed and tortured his ears while his eyes remembered the light of his beautifully temperamental fairy.
Holding absolutely still as only a vampire can, he listened to the few winter’s night noises in the surrounding area, then narrowed his scope to hear the two hearts beating within the house. One, smaller and quite rapid, obviously belonged to the cat that resembled the one murdered so long ago.
The other, the most precious sound in his world, belonged to the most precious person in his world…that beloved, irreplaceable person who was just inside that door.
Seeking wisdom, courage, and fortitude, Eric did as he was taught by his human father so many lifetimes ago. He closed his eyes, threw back his head, inhaled deeply, and concentrated on centering himself. What worked for one type of battle must surely work for another…
With strong determination firmly subduing a remarkable case of annoyingly human nerves, Eric knocked on Sookie’s front door as he felt the magical proof of his rescinded invitation. He couldn’t, wouldn’t, blame her for that even though its past necessity greatly saddened his heart. He heard her light-footed approach, and stepped back two paces when she flipped on the porch light.
She opened the door, and the look of complete shock on her lovely face gave him a much-needed moment of humor before the youth of that lovely face stunned him.
“Sookie,” he gasped quietly, his shock evident in his voice and in his slightly widened blue eyes.
“Eric?” The gently questioning tone of her voice brought him back to himself.
He cleared his throat.
“If you have a moment, I would like to answer your question now.” His eyes eagerly roamed over her figure as he took in the few changes wrought over the past years.
From what he could tell, it wasn’t just her face that had taken a few steps back toward youth. Her body seemed just as young and toned as she’d been the last time he’d lain with her. While they “why’s” were intriguing, he’d love to find out the old-fashioned way if what he was seeing really was the truth. All in good time, he commanded his rising libido.
Sookie stared in amazement. Logic dictated that since he was Vampire there wouldn’t be any changes visible in his appearance, but he still managed to take her breath away. Still just as tall, still just as handsome, still just as unconsciously suave and debonair, Eric was still…Eric.
Blond hair gleaming in the porch light, blue eyes as fathomless as a blue sky at dusk, the only thing missing was his trademark leering grin. The serious sadness on his beautiful face suddenly made her miss that detested smirk.
She attempted to clear her thoughts, then nodded her head. Hell yeah she wanted that question answered!
Eric took a third step back and gestured for her to join him. He didn’t dare ask for entry, not yet.
She chewed on her upper lip for a second as she debated the risks associated with being so near him, then threw habitual caution to the wind and stepped out of the comfort of her house, and joined him on the porch.
As soon as the screen door closed behind her, he withdrew an envelope from the inside pocket of his leather jacket and placed it on the nearby table. Then, to Sookie’s surprise, he shrugged the jacket itself off his broad frame and held it up for her to put on.
“I don’t want you to catch a chill,” he said, his voice slightly husky. She was so close that her scent and her warmth were having its usual effect on his body.
His jacket, many times too large for her smaller frame, hung low on her hips and the arms were so long they hid her hands, but she was warm. Subconsciously she sniffed, inhaling the beloved masculine scent of his skin, then sniffed again as memories invaded her poor, bewildered brain.
A moment later an envelope appeared before her eyes. Instead of taking it, she looked up and saw Eric watching her, his eyes suddenly apprehensive and wary.
“The answer to your question,” he stated, his voice strained. He held the envelope up a bit higher.
Hands suddenly shaking as she shoved the long leather sleeves up, Sookie finally took it, and broke the glue seal on the back. She absently noted that Eric had turned and taken several steps away from her as she removed the letter.
My Dearest Sookie,
To answer your question, I can only think of two ways to truly prove to you that you can trust me completely.
The first way is not acceptable to me as it would require me to remain apart from you and simply let you die a natural, human death. This would provide you with the ultimate proof that you could trust me not to turn you without your permission. Of course, by that time there could be no “us”, and my existence would then be meaningless.
The second way, the one I favor by far, would be for me to Bond with you, and you to Bond with me, preferably permanently, but a Bond of any sort with you would be more than I could hope for.
With a full Bond between us, you would immediately sense if I were to ever lie to you. My every emotion would be yours to read and know.
A true Bond between us would allow you to fully understand the depth of my love for you.
A true Bond between us would allow you to fully understand the regret I have for the things I have said and done to you.
Whatever you choose, know that I humbly beg your forgiveness, and plead for a chance to earn your trust, and your love, once more.
You are my light, and I miss you.
Yours in any way you will have me,
When she finished reading his letter for the third time, Sookie’s hands were shaking so badly that she could barely make out the words.
Tears streaming down her cheeks, chin trembling, she lowered the letter…to see Eric on his knees before her, head and shoulders bowed.
Hastily scrubbing the fallen tears from her cheeks, she sniffed, then folded his letter and stuck it in her jeans pocket.
Then she willingly accepted the biggest risk of her life.
She took the half step needed to allow Eric to rest his head just below her breasts. That Eric, tall, arrogant, Alpha-male Eric, would lower himself to his knees before her and beg by written word and deed for her forgiveness took her breath away, broke her heart, and mended it.
If he could be brave enough to expose himself like that, to take such a huge risk to his pride and his heart, then she could be brave enough to do the same.
Eric had waited until her first tear had fallen to kneel before her, but kneel before her he did. The wait while she read was excruciating, but the wait after she’d finished reading was even more agonizing.
He’d felt her take a step toward him, had felt his forehead touching her, but fear kept his eyes closed. He comforted himself with her sweet, feminine scent, her natural bouquet enhanced with lily of the valley and jasmine.
When her hands lightly touched his head, his heart would have paused had it still beat. Then, when she pulled him close into her warmth, he broke, and could no longer hold in his tears of relief and remorse.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, please forgive me,” he whispered over and over, his voice gruff and cracking. He was broken but determined to win her forgiveness.
Finally, her own voice choked with emotion, she whispered the words that he would later swear saved his undead life.
“I forgive you.”
She held him even closer then and added, “Me too, Eric, me too.” He caught her as her knees gave way, and lowered her gently to the wooden planks of the porch.
He gathered her in his arms, her face naturally coming to rest in the crook of his neck, and allowed himself to weep. This closeness with her, no matter how painful, was more than he’d dared hope. When she took him in her arms, he sobbed.
In the soft, warm light on that porch on that cold Louisiana night, they each held the other close, each giving the other their strength as together they mourned time lost, trust lost, and love lost…and shared that faintest of hope that love was now found again.
Eventually realizing that it was still too cold for her to remain outdoors for so very long, Eric gently swept her up into his arms and rose.
She gazed up into his face, and saw for the first time the bloody tears that had fallen down his cheeks and neck to soak his shirt. She cupped his face with her hand and smoothed her thumb over some of the bloody trails on his cheek. She smiled a twisted grimace when she only succeeded in making a mess.
“It’s too cold to keep you out here long,” he stated quietly as he pressed his cheek into her palm. “I need to get you back inside.”
His statement, his invitation to her to invite him in, was sweetly open.
Sookie didn’t even bother castigating herself. She was held safely in his arms, and while she had no doubt they’d still have their share of problems in the future, for right this minute, she was finally home. With a tremulous smile, she agreed.
“Eric Northman, won’t you please come in?”
His smile in response to her invitation brightened his entire face. Eyes sparkling and with a grin so wide his cheeks ached, he held her close while she opened the screen door, while she closed the front door, and while he sat them down on her sofa that he remembered so well.
Unable to let her go, he simply sat her sideways on his lap and helped her to remove his jacket…then promptly took her into his arms once again. He rested his forehead against her hair, inhaling her enhanced scent and placing a soft kiss to her crown every now and then.
She was in his lap, a wish granted that he hadn’t even thought to make, and he was going to make he most of it.
Content as never before, Sookie leaned into his chest and did something she hadn’t done since the last time she was truly in Eric’s arms: she snuggled.
About an hour later, an hour filled with nothing more than simply holding each other and healing various unseen yet excruciatingly painful wounds, Sookie grunted a pout. Eric responded with an inquisitive noise, nowhere near ready to let her go.
With a disgruntled tone, Sookie announced that she needed a human moment. Eric laughed, a deep, full-bodied rumble, as he helped her to stand.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” she told him, scared that he’d be gone when she returned.
“I’ll be right here,” he reassured her, dead certain that nothing but the sun could tear him from her side as long as she wanted his presence.
With a smile she left the room. Once she was finished her human moment, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror above the sink as she washed her hands. Upon frank examination, she realized that she appeared both hopeful and scared to death. She splashed her face with cold water to get rid of the tear tracks, and heated Eric up a washcloth with warm water. His bloody tears had dried in her hair, and she couldn’t care less.
When she returned to the living room, he was exactly where she’d left him. His gaze followed her every step until she stood before him. She straddled his lap, her knees on each side of his thighs, and met his inquisitive gaze as he rested his big hands on her hips.
“Close your eyes,” she gently ordered, then proceeded to wash away every dried tear from his face and neck. Sadly there was little she could do for his shirt. When finished, she tossed the very pink cloth to the table, and going on instinct, took him in her arms and snuggled into his shoulder.
“Ah, Lover, you’re going to be the death of me,” he whispered into her ear.
Shaking her head side to side, lightly rubbing her lips along his neck, she quietly disagreed with him. “Nope, not if I can help it.”
As expected, he softly chuckled, then tightened his arms about her small frame.
Those were the last words spoken for the next several hours. Each was content to simply hold and be held by the other, giving and accepting the healing comfort that only the other could provide.
An hour before the sun would rise, Eric reluctantly pulled back to gaze down into his Sookie’s face.
Before he could speak, she decided to use her bravery and speak some words of her own first.
“Eric, I want us to take it slow. I want to get to know you, the real you, who you are now, and I want you to get to know who I am now, too. Is that ok?”
He couldn’t believe the worried look in her eyes. How could there be any doubt?
“Of course, Lover! We have so much to discuss, so much to sort out and settle between us. There’s nothing I would like more!” His exclamation was a bit loud considering the quiet of the house. “Well, there is something…” he added, his words trailing off suggestively, his voice deeply seductive.
He quirked that eyebrow she loved so much.
Sookie snickered, then did something she’d very rarely done in his presence. She giggled, then wrapped her arms around his shoulders and continued laughing lightly into his neck.
“There you are,” she whispered into his ear, her voice light and happy and sending shivers down his spine. “I’d wondered where you went.”
**A/N: Ok, y’all, what did you think? (And before you pelt me with rotten fruit, for the record I *am* planning an epilogue to be completed within the next few weeks…)**