A/N: Extended italics = dreams
“Mmmm,” Sookie murmured. She was sitting forward on her lounge chair. Eric was behind her rubbing suntan lotion onto her back. “You do this very well.”
“I am from Sweden,” he laughed, “at least what you call Sweden now.”
Sookie sighed deeply and settled back into Eric’s strong chest. For once, the couple had very little to say to each other, but Sookie finally spoke up.
“I’m gonna tell him―I mean you―my answer tonight.”
“What answer?” he asked, caressing her arms.
“I want to re-bond tonight―or whatever you call it. I just have one more thing to do first.”
“Oh?” Eric asked. “And what’s that?”
Sookie shook her head, “I don’t wanna talk about it, okay? I just wanna sit here and enjoy this with you.”
“Okay,” Eric said, pulling her closer.
After a few minutes, she said nervously, “I just hope he wants to re-bond as well.”
Dream Eric smiled into her hair. “He will. This will make him very happy. It makes me very happy.”
“Will you still come to me in my dreams too? I want you to still be able to be in the sun like this.”
“I will come if you need, but I do not think you will need me like this after the bond is re-formed.”
“I’ll miss you in the day,” Sookie said groggily.
“Maybe,” Eric returned enigmatically.
Sookie woke up to a heavy, but comfortable weight on her waist. Eric’s arm was slung over her, and she couldn’t help but smile at their closeness in the little bed in the cubby. She inhaled deeply, taking in his scent before she pushed his arm off of her and sat up, turning her head toward him. Eric’s face looked peaceful and beautiful in the dim light that he had left on for her in the cubby. She was, of course, slightly disconcerted that he was quite literally dead, but as she touched his hair and pushed it from his face, she knew that she loved him more than ever.
She looked at the little clock she had put next to the bed the week before; it read 9:03. She shook away the memory of the last time they’d been in the cubby at 9:03 a.m.―when he’d been under silver―and gave herself a few more minutes to curl back up next to him and snuggle into his chest.
The previous night, he’d done just what she’d hoped he would do. He’d told her the truth, even though it was ugly at times. In so doing, he’d shown her a kind of respect that Bill seemed incapable of showing.
She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Eric Northman was in love with her, and she was 99.9 percent sure that he still wanted to bond with her. In fact, she was quite certain he’d have done it the night before if she had asked.
Still―Sookie had paused and asked that they wait one more day to be sure. It wasn’t that she didn’t love Eric. She did―oh boy, how she did! She loved him in a big way that she didn’t even know how to put words to. But in the back of her mind, there was one doubt lingering, one voice that was keeping her from giving her heart to Eric completely. And that voice scared her to death.
“I have to find out for sure,” she said out loud to the still and silent body next to her. “I have to find out for both of us. We deserve no doubts between us.”
Resolved to do what she had to do in order to put her last doubt to rest, Sookie sat up. She cupped Eric’s cheek with her hand. “Whatever I find out today, I love you.” She kissed him lightly on the forehead. Reluctantly, she left Eric’s side, giving him one last long look as she climbed out of the cubby.
As soon as she secured the doors to Eric’s resting place, she went to the kitchen, picked up her phone, and dialed.
Lafayette picked up after the fifth ring, “It’s too fuckin’ early, hooker,” he said, obviously having checked his caller ID before picking up the phone. “Jesus made me get up early fo’ your skinny ass yesterday. Now I knows you ain’t wakin’ me up early again today!”
Sookie stammered apologetically, “I’m sorry, Lala, but I need to talk to you.”
“Ain’t you keepin’ vampire hours now? Why you callin’ before 2:00?”
Sookie chuckled a bit.
“Yeah―well―whatever you wants better be good, hooker. I gots my beauty sleep to attend to!”
Sookie chuckled again before turning serious, “It’s important, Lala. You workin’ today?”
“Yeah, the night shift,” Lafayette returned.
“Do you think you could come over here for a while? I need a big favor, and I want to talk to you about it in person if that’s okay.” She paused and then added in a low voice, “And can you do that privacy spell thing Jesus did?”
“Oh hell no!” Lafayette exclaimed, picking up on her mood. “What kinda shit you got yo’self into this time?”
“I just need to make sure about something, and I need your help to do that.”
“Fine, hooker. I’s be there in 20, but I can’t do the privacy thing like Jesus did, but he showed me the one he did for y’all the other day with the circle, and I thinks I can do that one.”
“Thanks, Lala,” Sookie said, the relief clear in her voice. “I’ll cook you a big breakfast!”
Lafayette grunted. “Just make sure you’s got plenty of coffee,” he said as he hung up.
As she put on some coffee, Sookie couldn’t help but to smile at seeing the dishes from the night before stacked neatly in the drainer. She thought about Eric’s strong arms coming behind her and encircling her waist the night before. She had to shake herself out of her memory so that she could run upstairs to use the bathroom and to put on some sweatpants and a T-shirt. She also grabbed the small locket she’d worn to the Moon Goddess and placed it around her neck. Not for the first time, Sookie was grateful that she’d had the locket, Gran’s high school graduation present for her, with her in Dallas so that it had not been in the house during the Maenad’s reign. Most of her other jewelry had been stolen or destroyed during that time.
After she was dressed, she returned to the kitchen to put on some bacon. As she waited for it to achieve her desired level of crispiness, which was pretty crispy, she made pancake batter.
She was just pulling the bacon out of the pan when she heard the doorbell.
She covered the cooked bacon with a paper towel, turned off the burner, and went to get the door. She was greeted by a groggy-looking Lafayette, a bag slung over his shoulder.
A sour-faced Alcide stood behind Lafayette. Sookie was immediately bombarded by the Were’s thoughts of disapproval because Eric’s car was still outside. She decided right then and there that she’d be ecstatic when she had a different guard.
“Hey Alcide! Good mornin’,” Sookie said trying to sound cheerful.
“Long night?” he asked, the judgment clear in his voice and his head. Pictures of Eric and her in the woods worked their way to her from his mind.
“Yep,” she tried to answer without showing her frustration. “Eric came by and we had a long talk.”
“It looks like he’s still here.” His voice brimmed with possessiveness and anger.
“Yeah. It was late, and Bubba had smelled a vampire on the property that shouldn’t have been here, so Eric stayed and watched over me while I slept,” Sookie said, being intentionally vague. “He’s in his cubby right now.” If Alcide was going to judge her and think the worst of her just for spending time with Eric, then he sure as hell didn’t deserve to know about her private business, as far as Sookie was concerned.
“Oh,” Alcide said, his thoughts confused about whether he should be pissed that Eric had stayed the night or thankful that he cared about Sookie’s safety.
Sookie decided to change the topic, “Look, Lafayette and I are gonna have a visit and a bit of breakfast. I’ll bring you a stack of pancakes in a few minutes, okay?”
“Sure thing, cher,” Alcide said, brightening.
Lafayette took this moment to speak up, “All right. Now that all the good mornin’s and how-de-dos are done with, I’s be needin’ that coffee now.”
Sookie laughed and then shut the door behind herself and Lafayette. “There’s already a big cup of coffee waitin’ for you on the table, Lala. Thanks again for comin’.”
He grunted but said nothing as he made a beeline for his steamy caffeinated mecca.
Sookie gave him his moment as she returned to the kitchen and turned the burner back on. While she was waiting for the bacon grease to reheat, she took a long sip of her own coffee and then turned her attention to making a big heap of pancakes.
She placed a large pile for Lafayette and a smaller one for herself onto the table before taking a big stack and a cup of coffee out to Alcide. She quickly came back inside and joined Lafayette at the table.
After Lafayette had devoured his stack and drunk a second cup of coffee, he finally asked Sookie, “Okay, hooker, now what’s so important that it required me to leave my warm bed and come see yo’ skinny ass?”
Sookie put her index finger up to signal that she didn’t want to talk about it until the spell was in place and then quickly cleared the table, bringing in the coffee pot to give them both a refill. Meanwhile, Lafayette had opened the bag he’d brought in and was pulling out a book and a Ziplock bag full of the salt-like substance Jesus had used the other day.
“Where you want it?” Lafayette asked in a low voice.
Sookie thought about which floor it’d be easiest to clean when they were done. Looking at the wooden floor in the room they were standing in, she said, “Let’s do it in here.”
Lafayette nodded. “Hey, leave that pot inside the room. I have a feelin’ I’ll be needin’ more coffee.”
Sookie smiled and nodded.
A few minutes later, Lafayette had circled the table with the salty substance and opened the spell book to the right page. “Let’s just hope I remember how to say this right,” he said as he took a deep breath. “Otherwise, I might turn us into chickens or somethin’.”
Sookie gave a nervous laugh as Lafayette started chanting in a low voice.
When he was done, he looked up from the book. “Well, we’s ain’t chickens.”
“Nope,” Sookie said.
“Wanna see if it worked?”
“Okay,” Sookie answered. She took a deep breath and yelled, “Alcide, help!”
The Were didn’t break down the door to get inside, so Lafayette said, “Shit, I guess it did work.”
Sookie nodded, “Yep, looks like!”
“Okay, now why is I here, hooker?”
Sookie said softly, “You’re here because I love Eric.”
“I knows that already! What? You needs me to tell you ‘bout the birds and bees or somethin’?”
Sookie reddened and shook her head.
Lafayette turned serious, “Hey, Sook, if you think I’m gonna be upset with you if you’s gets with him because of all that shit from before, don’t sweat it. I’m over that. Just don’t let that fine-ass man of yours or his dominatrix sidekick lock me in no more dungeons, and we’s square, okay?”
Sookie hesitated, “I’m glad that you’re okay with Eric and me, but it’s not your disapproval that I’m worried about.”
“Well hooker, don’t you worry none ‘bout what all the bigots and rednecks ‘round here think. The good folks―the ones that matter―will come ‘round.”
“It’s not them either,” Sookie said quietly, looking at Lafayette with tears in her eyes.
“Well who is it then?” he asked, concerned over his friend’s reaction. “Tara?”
Sookie shook her head. “No―it’s Gran.”
“Gran!” Lafayette exclaimed in surprise. “But she never even met Eric!” He paused. “She might’ve been enamored by Bill’s Civil War era behavior, but she would want you’s to be happy, and if Eric does that for you, she’d have been first in line to approve of him.”
“I know,” Sookie said. “It’s just somethin’ she said to me―through Marnie.”
Lafayette tensed, “Marnie?”
Sookie nodded. “I heard about Marnie from Holly’s head after Eric was cursed, and I went to the Moon Goddess to scope out the place and see what I could get from Marnie’s thoughts. I pretended that I needed a readin’, and I heard Gran talkin’ to me from Marnie’s head.”
“Really?” Lafayette exclaimed.
“Yeah. Gran warned me that Marnie was dangerous.” Sookie’s voice grew quiet, “She also told me not to give my heart to Eric―that it wouldn’t last between us.”
Lafayette contemplated for a moment. “Listen, Sook. Maybe you misunderstood what she was gettin’ at. Or maybe it wasn’t even her.”
“No,” Sookie said. “I don’t think I could have misunderstood. And she was speakin’ to me; I’m sure of it. Through Marnie, she said that I wasn’t to give my heart to the new man in my life. She said that the situation was ‘temporary.’ And then I heard Gran’s voice in my head; she said exactly this: ‘It isn’t going to last.’”
“Shit,” Lafayette said.
“I know. I finally realize how much I love Eric and that I’ve loved him for a while now. I finally have my head on straight about vampire blood and Bill. And I have finally figured out that I want nothing more than to be with Eric and share my life with him, but in the back of my mind, I can’t stop hearin’ Gran’s voice tellin’ me that it won’t last. And I’m scared to death.”
“So you’s afraid he’s gonna leave you or somethin’,” Lafayette supplied.
Sookie nodded. “And I just don’t think I can handle that, Lala―not if I give him my whole heart like I want to.”
Lafayette looked at Sookie closely. “You’s wants me to try to channel her for you, don’t cha?”
Sookie nodded and spoke quickly, “I hate to ask you to do this. I know you think it’s screwed up that you can channel dead people, and if you say no, I’ll understand.”
Lafayette lowered his gaze and took a minute to think. Sookie remained quiet while he did.
Finally he looked at her. “Okay, but I don’t know exactly how to go ‘bout it.”
The relief clear in her eyes, Sookie looked at Lafayette and said, “Well, Marnie just wanted to hold onto somethin’ of mine. She used this.” She took off the locket. “Then she just closed her eyes and sorta concentrated. She told me to think of a question. Then I started hearin’ these different voices in her head until finally I heard Gran.”
“Okay,” Lafayette said nervously. “Lemme see the locket.” He closed his hand around it. “Now think about who you wanna talk to and whatcha wanna talk about.” He closed his eyes tightly, and Sookie started to listen in to his thoughts.
Before long, she began to hear voices in his head, but Lafayette tensed and opened his eyes.
“Shit!” he said, the fear clear in his eyes. “I don’t thinks I can do this, Sook.”
Sookie nodded, “That’s okay, Lala. You tried.”
Taking in her crestfallen look, Lafayette said, “Let’s try one more time, hooker.”
“Thanks,” Sookie said gratefully, “but you don’t have to.”
“I know,” Lafayette said.
Once again he closed his eyes and concentrated. Sookie began to make out the voices in his head again, and suddenly she heard her Gran in there.
Lafayette’s eyes popped open again, “I thinks I hear her, Sook!”
“Yeah, she’s definitely there.” Sookie spoke to her, “Gran, why did you say that Eric and me wouldn’t last.”
Sookie heard her Gran’s voice in Lafayette’s head, “Sookie dear. You want to talk to me about your young man, don’t you.”
“Yes,” Sookie whispered; the tears started falling from her eyes as soon as she heard Gran’s voice. “I love Eric so much.”
“And you are afraid of what I told you before?” Gran asked.
“Yes,” Sookie said.
“Don’t be,” Gran said confidently. “I was wrong.”
“Well, it seems your young man has some kind of angel on his shoulder―or at least someone powerful protectin’ him. He was supposed to be killed recently, but somethin’ happened to change his destiny, and that seems to have changed yours as well.”
“So he’s not gonna leave me?” Sookie asked, the tears falling steadily now.
“No. That young man of yours seems pretty stuck on you. Actually, I suppose he’s not so young, is he?” she chuckled. “Well, he still looks like a youngin’ to me. He reminds me so much of your grandpa with all his carvin’ and dinkin’ around the house.” She chuckled again. “Your grandpa was also pretty high-handed at first, but I straightened him out, just like you’ll do with your young man. But he’s devoted to you, Sookie. That’s for sure.”
“Gran,” Sookie sobbed, “I love you so much. I miss you.”
“You don’t have to miss me, Sookie. I’m just fine. I have everything I’ve ever wanted now that your grandpa is with me.”
“He is?” Sookie asked, brightening.
“Of course he is. I always said that he’d be back with me one day. You just have to have a little faith.”
“I will,” Sookie promised. “I love you both so much.”
“We love you too,” Gran returned. “Now, Sookie, it’s time for you to move ahead with your own life. And you be sure to make Lafayette my apple custard pie since it’s his favorite. And be sure to look after Jason and tell him that I’m so proud of him.”
“I will, Gran,” Sookie promised.
“Also, you tell your young man somethin’ for me.”
“Okay,” Sookie whimpered.
“You tell him to be sure to prune the roses back more in the winter. He’s done a good job with the house so far, but I don’t like the way those people he’s hired are lettin’ my roses grow wild. You’ll never get quality blossoms in the spring that way!”
Sookie laughed through her tears. “I’ll tell him, Gran.”
With that, Lafayette seemed to gain awareness of himself again, and Gran was gone.
Sookie launched herself into her friend’s arms, “Did you hear all that?”
“Yeah, Sook. I’s heard it all.”
“Oh thank you, Lala. I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Just make me that pie, Sook.”