Sookie awoke inside of her dream. She was where Eric had been—in their bedroom. She was standing next to his side of the bed. On the bedside table were both of the pictures that her mate had been looking at. Immediately, she called her husband to her forcefully, and he was standing next to her in moments.
He didn’t question her about calling him so early, and she didn’t mention the tears that were on his face even inside of the dream. He reached for her, and she came to him.
She touched his cheeks softly, slowly pulled his face to hers, and then kissed his lips tenderly. She didn’t need to feel him through the vampire bond to understand the grief he was choosing to face for the two people that he loved more than his own life. It was the kind of grief that only a thousand years of waiting and then losing could create.
She felt him seek out the comfort of her very soul through their kiss.
And in that moment, she knew that he was the most exquisite and bravest being that she had ever met—would ever meet. He could have fought to keep Hunter with him—refused to let him come to the fairy realm at all. Within the protective spell in place around the house, she was certain that he could have won too. Yet he was going to walk with Hunter into the fairy world, and he was going to let his son choose his fate after a night of being reunited with his mother. Sookie understood the risk that was occurring—as much as Eric did.
Hunter would be so excited to see his mother, and she knew of Hadley’s plans to make the boy ‘extra’ happy while he was there. Hunter hadn’t seen his mother in more than a year, and Sookie wondered if any child would be able to resist the urge to stay with a parent he or she hadn’t seen for so long. And knowing how sensitive and loving Hunter was, she wondered if he could resist the emotional pull to stay with his mother or even to go with her into Faerie at the end of the night.
Niall was right. Eric had given Hunter the perfect excuse to stay with his mother if that’s what he wanted to do. Eric had reminded him that as a vampire, he could wait for his return for many, many years. Eric had not, however, allowed the boy to see the toll that the waiting would cause to his father.
And Eric was also willing to give up their shared dreams—and another potentially huge chunk of time—so that she could complete her training and so that she would be safer. She knew that the premonition of her needing to save his life was secondary to her husband. Whenever he spoke of her fairy gifts, it was always in the context of how they would make her safer first. He probably didn’t even know that he did that, but she recognized it. Her husband was willing to give up the two people that he loved the most in order to make them safe and happy.
He was letting himself hurt to keep her and Hunter from pain. He was a beautiful man. He was a beautiful husband. He was a beautiful father.
She kissed him deeply and slowly, instilling within the kiss all the love that she had for him and willing for him to feel that love. She pulled his blood stained T-shirt over his head and wiped his fresh tears with it. She undid his jeans and slid them and his underwear down his body. Mechanically, he stepped out of them as well as his flip flops. She pulled her own dress over her head and took off her underwear before sitting on the bed and then drawing him down to join her. She laid him onto his back and lay on top of him, once again joining her lips to his.
His long arms held her and his fingers gripped her back, but they did not roam as they usually did. And she understood that she needed to give him comfort through her body—more so than passion. But she also knew him better than anyone else ever could; they were part of each other, and what he needed most was their connection.
She kissed his lips, his blood-stained cheeks, his neck and his chest with soft kisses, and after a while, she moved her hands along his body in soothing caresses. When she felt that he was hard, she lowered herself onto him and completed the connection of their bodies, even as she returned to her soft kisses. She did all the moving for them that night―raising and lowering slowly or sometimes just staying still so that he could feel her around him completely.
And he let her.
It was hours before they reached a release, but as always seemed to happen, they found that release together. It cascaded through them in a soothing, drawn-out wave.
After that wave had finally subsided, she turned them so that she was lying on her back and he was lying on her chest. She stroked his hair, and she knew that he was listening to her heart and her breathing.
They stayed like that for the rest of the night, saying no words. Eric kept hold of one of her hands, and she tenderly caressed his hair, back, shoulders, and arm with her other. Periodically, he would unconsciously begin humming as he often did. Sookie stroked in time with the beautiful melody of his tunes, but did not ask about them. She knew that they were ancient and from his mother, and she knew that he needed them as comfort that night. They comforted her too, and she felt her heartbeat matching the beat of the tune—or perhaps Eric was matching the tune to her heart. Whatever the case was, Sookie realized, it didn’t really matter.
She knew that the next night would be about their physical reconnection—about finally feeling the vampire bond again and strengthening both of their bonds—and so did Eric. She also knew that this night was needed to help Eric shore up the strength he would require for the morning after their night together—when he very well might have to say goodbye to both Hunter and her.
She knew that nothing she said could make that possibility go away, so she simply held her husband and tried to send him her love, hoping the he could feel it even across the realms.
Finally, Eric’s voice spoke into the darkness. “It will soon be dawn, min kära, and if I do not move myself to the cubby, Miranda will likely kill me.” He tried to chuckle, but the sound wasn’t quite right.
Sookie shook her head, “No—Miranda will understand today. Everyone will understand. They love you.”
There was a moment of silence, and then Sookie felt the tiniest of nods on her stomach.
She said softly, “Go to sleep, Eric. Go to sleep with me.”
Again, he nodded slightly and did as she said. Only after she felt her vampire asleep with her in the dream did Sookie allow her own tears to flow again.
She held onto him tightly until those tears finally stopped hours later. And then she too went to sleep.