[A/N: Extended italics = dreams]
Sookie stood next to Gran’s grave. This time, she was not afraid to be in the graveyard, and it was not dark at all. In fact, the sunset was causing a gorgeous blend of pinks, oranges, reds, and purples in the evening sky, which was full of puffy clouds that were soaking in the colors. Most importantly, she was not afraid because Eric was standing right next to her.
Eric stared at the sky in amazement. “When I was a young teen, I once saw the waning sunlight play with the clouds in this way. I had been collecting bundles of wood as a punishment from my father for sneaking off with a servant girl when I was supposed to be practicing swordsmanship. I was, of course, bitter about my father’s punishment, as I always was.” He winked down at Sookie. “However, I became thankful for it when the sky opened up with so much color. It felt that Freja herself must be smiling into the sky.”
Sookie smiled at Eric’s memory and noticed that he was carrying a bundle of white daisies. “Are those for me?” she asked.
Eric turned his gaze from the sky to Sookie, staring at her with just as much reverence and awe. “You are even more beautiful than the sky tonight, min kära . . .” he began, his voice full of love.
Eric continued his thought, “. . . BUT I’m afraid these flowers are for a different woman.”
Eric chuckled, “I brought them for Adele.”
Sookie looked surprised. “Why?”
Eric’s look turned serious. “After you disappeared, I was able to track you here, and I picked up traces of fairies as well. Your trail, however, ended right here, right at Adele’s grave.”
Sookie looked down at the headstone and sunk to her knees next to her Gran’s grave. “I missed her so much that night and wanted only to talk to her about everything that had happened with Bill and with you. Even though it was probably stupid, I came here to be close to her.”
Eric sank down next to Sookie and placed the flowers gently against the headstone. For the first time, Sookie noticed another bunch of flowers that looked like they had been placed on the grave a few days before. Eric picked up that bunch and tossed it away before settling into a more comfortable position.
“This is not the first time you have come here like this, is it?” Sookie asked.
“No,” Eric said as he sighed unnecessarily. “At first, I came here to be close to your lingering scent. But then there was a hard rain that took it away.” He looked forlorn at these words, and Sookie couldn’t keep herself from reaching out and taking his hand.
He continued, “And then, months later, I started coming back after I bought your home. This place has been a comfort to me.” Eric paused. “I admit I was curious about your Gran and found out about her―including about how she died.”
Sookie was silent for a moment. “I was supposed to be home the night she was killed by Rene. He was the one who killed Dawn and Maudette.”
“Yes,” Eric said. “I learned about Rene Lenier after you had traveled to the fairy realm.” He squeezed her hand lightly and looked at her, the emotion swelling in his eyes. “ I am glad that you were not there that night.”
“But he killed Gran instead,” Sookie said, her eyes filling with tears.
Eric had his arm around her shoulder in moments and pulled her into his body. “I know. She would not have wanted for you to die too though.”
After a few moments, Eric continued, “I am sorry that I did nothing to prevent her death, Sookie.”
“What could you have done?” Sookie asked as her sobs turned to whimpers.
“Perhaps nothing, but I could have investigated the matter more. After your first visit to Fangtasia, I told Bill to glamour the police in order to find out if they had any suspects other than your brother. I also asked that he inform me if there were any other deaths or if you needed assistance in your own brand of investigation.” He lightly tapped her head to indicate that he was referring to her telepathy.
“Oh―Bill never told me any of that.” Sookie was surprised. “What did he find out from the police?”
“The police had no suspects except for your brother and Bill; that is probably why he said nothing to you.”
“So you were trying to help?”
Eric nodded. “But I could have come here myself; I should have spoken directly to you instead of following vampire protocol and approaching you only through Bill. I failed to follow up adequately, and for that, I am sorry. I didn’t even know that Adele had been a victim at the time; thus, I was unaware that you were facing an immediate threat from the killer as well.” His voice became almost a whisper as he finished his sentence.
Sookie reached up and grabbed Eric’s hand which was still on her shoulder. She gave it a squeeze, and then pulled him closer to her. “I don’t think that you could have done anything else to prevent Gran’s death, Eric. And I appreciate that you tried to do somethin’. I wish I would have known at the time.”
Eric shrugged. “As I said, I did little, not nearly enough, considering that the victims had been with vampires.” He became quiet for a moment, “I’m afraid that I counted on only Bill for information when I should have sent someone else. Bill never told me about your Gran being a victim, Sookie. If he had, I would have come to your home and tried to track the killer. Maybe I could have stopped him before he came after you again.” His voice grew low as he raised his hand to stroke her cheek. “While you were away, I learned that you had to kill Lenier in self-defense, and I’m sorry you had to go through that. I should have done much more for you, especially considering how I felt about you. Perhaps it was my denial of my feelings at the time that prevented my action, but still, I regret it.”
Sookie nodded and then looked at Eric seriously, “Wait―Bill didn’t tell you about Gran being murdered? But you asked him to inform you if there were more victims.”
“No, he did not,” Eric answered simply.
“But why wouldn’t he?”
Eric was silent for a minute, “I am not certain, but I’m afraid that I probably hold some of the blame for that as well. I made no secret of the fact that I wanted you for myself when I informed Bill that I needed your help finding the thief at Fangtasia. I might have,” Eric paused, “antagonized him.”
Sookie snorted, angry that Bill would use a petty reason like that not to tell Eric about her Gran.
Eric continued, “Bill wanted my involvement with you to be limited. He took a calculated risk that he’d be able to protect you from both the killer and myself. He was not wrong in recognizing that I would not have been good for you at the time. I knew I wanted you then, but I had not yet acknowledged that I was attracted to more than your telepathy, scent, and blood.”
Eric continued, “So Bill not telling me was the wrong decision, but I am convinced that he did it to keep me away from you. If I had been around you more then, there is no question that I would have found a way to have you, and Bill couldn’t allow that because of the queen, remember?”
Sookie was silent for a moment, “So Bill didn’t tell you about Gran’s death in order to keep you from taking me since the queen wanted me?”
Eric nodded, but then added, “I believe he also cared about you. He didn’t want you to fall into my hands because of that either.”
Sookie shook her head, “But at the time, he was still plannin’ to hand me over to worse hands, the queen’s.”
“Yes,” Eric agreed.
Sookie sighed heavily, and they fell into silence as the sky darkened fully. Sookie looked up into the night sky, which was now brightening with stars.
Eric followed her eyes, “You can see a lot of stars here. It reminds me of my human home.”
“They are beautiful.”
“Yes,” he agreed.
After a few more minutes, she spoke again, “They were her favorites, you know.”
“What?” Eric asked.
“Daisies,” Sookie said, smiling at the flowers.
“Oh,” Eric replied. “Good. I’m glad.” He got a faraway look in his eyes, one Sookie recognized he got when he was trying to remember something or when he was figuring out the solution to a problem.
“What are you thinking?” she asked.
“These flowers, what you call daisies―something similar grew in my homeland on the southern coasts. I used to gather them for my mother, who made medicines from them. She would take the juice from them and moisten bandages to put over sword wounds.”
“Really?” Sookie asked, looking at the flowers.
Yes, these flowers open only in the daylight though, so I did not see them like this again for many, many years―not until cut flowers began to be used as decoration.”
His voice grew quiet, “There were some of these growing along the water’s edge by the small lake I swam in after drinking the fairy blood. They were the first I’d seen in the daylight since my human days.”
Sookie squeezed Eric’s hand, having no words to help comfort his loss of the sunlight for over a thousand years.
After a few minutes, Eric spoke, “I’m glad they were her favorites. I would have liked to have met her.”
“She would NOT have liked you―at least not at first,” Sookie said, taking Eric a bit by surprise.
“Why not?” he asked, a bit hurt and a bit intrigued.
“Well, you know how you were when I first met you―she would have thought you were an arrogant ass.”
“Well I am an arrogant ass,” he said with a brilliant smile.
Sookie hit him lightly on the arm. “You would have grown on her though, you know?”
“Like I grew on you?” he asked with mischief in his eyes.
At the same time, they looked at each other and both delivered the line she’d given to him after she’d slapped him, “I’d prefer cancer.” They both chuckled.
“You did eventually grow on me, you know,” she said dragging her fingernail over his palm.
Eric nodded, the light in his eyes turning lustful, “You do know how to make me grow, Sookie.” He gave a meaningful look toward his crotch.
Sookie laughed and slapped his arm again, “How many times have I got to tell you―no dirty talk!”
They laughed together for a few moments before Eric asked, “What’s your favorite flower?”
Sookie shook her head. “I don’t think I’ll tell you; you don’t actually dream these dreams with me, and I’ll just have to tell the real, awake you all over again.”
“But maybe I can bring you some in your dreams, min kära,” Eric said invitingly.
“Fine,” she said shaking her head. “I like hydrangeas, the blue ones.”
Eric smiled widely. “Wait until spring, min kära. I had some of those planted in your front yard.”
Sookie couldn’t help the large smile that broke out onto her face.