Jason stared at the blasted microphone in Frannie’s hand.
“This fuckin’ thing’s defective,” he muttered. Of course, that was the moment the microphone chose to work, and his cussing was projected loudly to the entire audience.
He immediately looked apologetically at Miranda, who didn’t like any kind of cursing going on when there were kids around. When he saw her scowl, he decided that the thing to do was to put on his lop-sided, “dumb” grin. That expression had gotten him out of trouble more times than he could count. ‘Course, he knew that Jess would have his back if the Werelioness did attack, and that was a comfort too, but the Stackhouse charm still worked like a charm, and Miranda gave him an indulgent grin.
Jason had become used to those grins—first from Gran and then from Sookie and finally from Jessica, but he was still always happy to get them. They meant that he wasn’t in trouble—at least not too much.
Jason cleared his throat and looked at Eric and Sookie. He couldn’t help but to smile at his sister. He could admit that he’d not always been the best brother. In fact, every time he thought about how he treated her right after Gran’s death when he was high on V, he cringed.
Sookie had been the one to arrange everything for Gran’s funeral service. She’d been the one to open up the house to the people of Bon Temps for the wake, and Jason knew that most of the people who had come by only did so to gossip about Gran’s murder. Sookie had been the one who had to “hear” every judgmental thing that the townspeople were thinking about her because of her involvement with Bill. Jason shivered even thinking about how much she must have been hurting during those days. And he’d done nothing for her, except hit her and drive her further into Bill Compton’s clutches.
Jason felt guilty, knowing that he should have done a lot more to protect Sookie, especially before Eric entered her life. Instead, he’d blamed her for his life not being normal. He’d even blamed her for Gran’s death—until he stopped taking V and got out from under the influence of the Newlins. It had been Eric’s warning, as well as the fear that Sookie might have died in the bomb blast at Godric’s house, which had truly “sobered” Jason up and made him realize just how badly he’d let down Sookie and Gran for so many years.
Jason now tried to be the best brother, brother-in-law, and uncle he could be. He knew that Sookie had forgiven him for his fuck-ups long ago, but Jason still felt like he needed to make amends for his past mistakes.
However, ten minutes earlier, he’d been the beneficiary of a miracle. Lafayette had pulled him aside to give him a message from Gran, who had “visited” with Eric and Sookie through Laf. Gran wanted Jason to know that she was sorry that she’d not been able to speak with him this time. However, she promised that she would be visiting again—on his wedding day to Jessica. She said that he’d done a good job with his life and that she was proud of him. Hearing those things had healed something in Jason that he hadn’t even known was broken.
“Sook. Bro.” Jason nodded in the newlywed—or re-wed—couple’s direction as there were a few chuckles among the group. Jason had been calling Eric, “bro,” for several years now—much to Pam and Miranda’s continual amusement.
Jason took a deep breath and looked straight at Sookie. “I’ve been tryin’ to think of what Daddy might’ve said today. I know he’d’a been proud of you.” He paused. “But I also know that he wouldn’t’ve thought that Eric was good enough for you, Sook, but that’s just ‘cause no one ever could be. But,” he paused again, “Eric comes close enough in my book, and I know Daddy’d’ve felt the same.”
Jason saw his sister’s eyes welling up with tears, and he put his hand up as if to stop her. “Don’t you go cryin’ now, Sook,” he said sternly.
“I mean it, Sook. Don’t!” he ordered. His eyes were starting to burn a little with tears too.
Trying to figure out what more to say and wishing that he’d written his speech down like Jessica had suggested, Jason took another deep breath as he watched his sister grab hold of his “new” brother-in-law like he was her life preserver. Jason had seen them interact with each other countless times, but the vampire’s tenderness when it came to his sister and nephew still surprised him a little—especially since he knew firsthand what a bad mother fucker Eric could be.
Eric handed Sookie a handkerchief, and Jason could tell that something about that act truly touched his sister. She looked up at Eric with an expression on her face that Jason had only ever seen from her when she was looking at Eric. It was beautiful; she was beautiful. “One look is worth a thousand words,” Jason whispered to himself, and suddenly he knew what else he needed to say to his sister and his brother-in-law.
Jason couldn’t help but to smile, even as he worked to keep his emotions under control. The last thing he wanted to do was to cry in front of a crowd that included Pam. He’d never live that shit down.
He inhaled deeply and resumed his speech. “You remember how Gran was always full of her wise sayin’s—adages that she would use to try to teach us stuff?” he asked Sookie.
She nodded and dabbed her eyes as Eric pulled her closer.
“Well,” Jason said, “I still hear her voice in my head sometimes, tellin’ me those things even now, helpin’ me make sense of the world. It makes me know that she’s always with me—still tryin’ to teach me somethin’ new.”
Sookie could only nod as she once more thanked God—and Pam—for waterproof mascara and wondered how many times she was going to have to touch up her make-up that day.
Jason went on, “She used to say that ‘One look is worth a thousand words.’ Remember?”
“Remember when I tried to correct her one time because I’d heard the sayin’ as, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words?’”
Sookie nodded and chuckled a little. “I remember you sassin’ her,” she said loud enough so that he could hear her.
Jason chuckled too, “I thought Gran was gonna pop me good for talkin’ back to her, but when she calmed down, she told us that although a picture was well and good, the things people could capture with their eyes from a look were more true than what a camera could catch. Remember?”
As Sookie nodded, Jason went on. “I never really understood the difference between the two sayin’s till I saw the kind of looks that pass between you and Eric, Sis. Sometimes y’all seem to be sayin’ a thousand words to each other—with a single look and in a single moment—when you’re not even talkin’! But then I realized what Gran’s sayin’ was really tryin’ to teach us. It was that some looks need a thousand words to describe them ‘cause no simple word or phrase could ever be good enough for them. Some looks deserve more words. But the best looks have no words, Sook, and those are the kind you and Eric give each other.”
Jason scratched his head as if he was starting to confuse himself a little. But Sookie understood him perfectly, and—not for the first time—she recognized the philosopher/poet inside of her brother. He’d be the first to call himself simple, but Sookie knew better. She smiled at him and nodded her encouragement.
Fortified, Jason went on. “What I’m tryin’ to say is that I learned what love should look like from watchin’ y’all. And the first time I got a look like that from Jess,” he looked over at his gushing fiancé, “I thought my heart was gonna swell right outta my chest. And that’s when I knew that I was in love too.” He looked back at Eric and Sookie. “Y’all taught me that, and now I want y’all to know that even though I ain’t so good at talkin’, I’m a better man ‘cause of watchin’ y’all. And I’m gonna be a better husband too.”
Jason wiped away a tear that had refused to obey his pleas not to fall. “I don’t know enough about enough to know why the air seems to rustle between y’all when you look at each other, but I do know enough to be thankful that it does—‘cause it makes my beautiful sister so happy.”
He exhaled slowly trying to ensure that more tears didn’t follow the first. If he was lucky, Pam wouldn’t tease him about it. If he was very lucky, she’d not even noticed it. “Now, I know that it’s Eric’s job to have the first dance with you, Sook, and Bubba’s gonna be up here after me to sing a song for y’all, but I wanna request the second dance ‘cause even though I ain’t the man Daddy was, it’d be my honor to stand in for him and show everyone how happy your family is for you today. And how proud we all are too. Uh,” he looked uncomfortable for a moment as he looked around, “that’s all I have to say.”
Jason gave Frannie a nod as he walked off the little stage area.
Sookie wiped the last of her tears away with the now drenched handkerchief and got up to hug Jason as he returned to their table.
“I’d be honored to give you the second dance, Jason,” she whispered. “There’s no one else I’d rather have it with.”
Before Sookie could retake her seat, Frannie turned to address Eric and her. “I would like to ask for Eric and Sookie to come up to have their first dance together,” she announced.
Within less than a second, Eric was standing beside his beautiful bride. He held out his hand to her, bowing a little as he did so. Sookie rewarded him with a radiant smile and a playful roll of her eyes as she took his offered hand and let him lead her to the center of the dance floor.
Almost as soon as they were there, Bubba’s guitar began to play the familiar strains of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” the same song he’d sung for them right after their pledging.
“Perfect,” Sookie said as they fell naturally into rhythm with each other.
“Yes,” Eric agreed as Bubba’s croons filled the tent.
Wise men say only fools rush in,
But I can’t help falling in love with you.
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin,
If I can’t help falling in love with you?
Sookie had always loved to dance, but when Eric led her around a dance floor, she always felt almost weightless. And then—suddenly—her feet lost contact with the floor as he held her tightly and they began to float. She rested her feet upon his and smiled up into his eyes.
Eric pulled her a little closer, making sure that she was comfortable in their new position.
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be.
Take my hand, take my whole life too,
For I can’t help falling in love with you.
“Why―pray tell―are we two feet off the floor, Mr. Northman?” Sookie asked playfully into their bond, even as she laid her head onto his chest.
“Your fault, Mrs. Stackhouse-Northman,” he returned into the bond as he inhaled her hair. She was sunshine and peach blossoms. “I can’t help floating around with you,” he sang into the bond, doing a surprisingly good impression of Bubba even though he’d changed the words a bit.
She giggled a little and held on as he spun them in the air. “Just don’t float us into the ceiling of this thing,” she said as she looked up at the roof of the tent.
He chuckled and kissed her temple in response.
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be.
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you.
No I can’t help falling in love with you.
“No I can’t help floating around with you,” Eric sang into the bond along with Bubba. The vampire’s joy took them a foot or two higher.
Everyone in attendance—especially Hunter—looked on happily as Eric and Sookie shared their first dance as a married couple according to human law.
“I knew this would become a float-fest before the first song ended,” Pam smirked as she held out her hand to Miranda, who placed $5 into it.
“So did I,” Miranda intoned, “but you barely got in under the minute mark.” With a smile on her face, the Werelioness watched the couple as she leaned into Jarod. She was happy to lose this particular bet.
After the first dance ended, Jason—looking quite nervous and formal—stepped into his father’s role, even as the A.P. shocked Eric by suddenly appearing next to him to take his second dance. Everyone else was pretty surprised as well as the frail-looking Ancient Pythoness moved gracefully around the dance floor.
“You are leading,” Eric intoned after his shock had faded away a little.
“I am older,” she smirked.
“I am surprised,” he countered.
“That I would lead?” she asked, her smirk still firmly in place.
“No—that you would dance.”
Her expression changed to a faraway, soft smile. “I have not felt like dancing since Artegal died.” She sighed. “But I intend to dance tonight. I feel like a celebration is long overdue.”
Eric understood all of the meanings embedded into her simple statement. “Yes,” he answered. “It is a night to celebrate.”
The A.P. was even shorter than Sookie, so Eric had to look down to catch her eye; he knew well that even though it seemed that she couldn’t see, she missed less than a hawk. He spoke quietly, “I cannot think of anyone with whom I would prefer to share this dance since my human mother is long dead. Thank you.”
“Thank you,” the A.P. returned.
Eric quirked a brow. “For what?”
Her expression was back to a smirk as the song ended, “For not messing things up before you got to this moment.” She pulled back from him, even as Sookie walked over to them. The A.P. reached out and took Sookie’s hand before placing it into Eric’s. “You two have helped me to keep my promise to my Artegal—my promise that I would live a happy life until I could go to him,” she said softly. “Thank you.”
Sookie went to respond to her, but the A.P. had already moved away, and Frannie was inviting others to dance. As Eric once more took Sookie into his arms to the strains of “Love Me Tender,” neither of them spoke. They simply held onto each other. They had both been touched deeply by the A.P.’s words, and they were both already dreading the dawn when they knew that they would lose her.