Chapter 17: Just As Real

UN_17

Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”―John Lennon


“Why do you call me that?” Sookie asked.

“What?”

“Little one.”

Eric thought for a moment. “I was not aware I was calling you that. I do not do it consciously, so I’m not sure. Perhaps it is because you are small compared to me. Or young.” He shrugged. “I can try to stop myself from saying it—if that is your wish.”

Sookie shook her head. “No. It’s okay. So,” she took a deep breath, “what is a dream weaver?”

Eric looked at Sookie through narrowed eyes, as if double checking that she was—indeed—ready to hear what he had to say. After what seemed like minutes of silence, he finally answered her question. “A dream weaver is a vampire who is very skilled at sending a human not only an emotion but also an intention in a dream. If the human sleeps during the day, the dream will literally take him or her over.”

“Like what happened to me today?”

“Yes,” Eric confirmed softly. “But—as I said—you are safe from woven dreams as long as Bill is awake.”

“Why can’t they be sent at night?” Sookie asked.

Eric considered for a moment. “No definitive answer to that question has ever been discovered. Some vampires believe that the process of dying for the day—and the magic enacted to preserve the vampire through that death—is somehow connected to a woven dream. Others feel that even vampires lack the stomach and fortitude to endure woven dreams along with their human targets—their victims. By all accounts, the humans at the receiving end of such dreams are in true misery.”

Sookie looked down. “I know.”

“Yes,” Eric said. “You do.” He ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “It is too bad that Compton will never have to endure it.” His voice softened. “Godric believed in the second theory. He found the practice of dream weaving to be barbaric—a coward’s way to bring pain to a human.”

“Because the human would feel all the pain, and the vampire would endure none of it,” Sookie commented, turning her focus back to the fire.

“Yes.”

“And Bill’s one of these dream weavers,” she said matter-of-factly. “And that’s a vampire gift or something?”

Eric considered for a moment. “It must be—in Bill’s case. But I had never known of it being a gift.” His brows scrunched together. “There are some abilities that vampires are ‘born’ with—so to speak. These—we call gifts. Other skills are learned over time. For instance, I had the gift of flight, but very old vampires can develop this ability through practice. However, even then, they will lack the maneuverability a natural flier has, for their flight is actually a kind of hovering, amplified by practice and the strength that comes with age.”

“So dream weaving isn’t a usual gift?”

“No. To become a successful dream weaver takes much aptitude and magic; thus, only very old vampires are capable of it—or, at least, that is what I thought until today.” He paused. “And—even among the old—weaving dreams successfully takes much practice.”

“Have you ever done it?”

He shook his head. “No. I have not given humans my blood often, and—even if I had—Godric’s influence would have kept me from attempting to create such dreams. Also, my age is not generally thought of as sufficient for producing woven dreams. However, it seems that Bill’s skill has developed quite early, probably through both natural aptitude and practice.”

Sookie brushed away a tear.

“Should I stop?” Eric asked.

“No,” she responded. “I need to know everything.”

He nodded, but changed the topic slightly so that it would be less personal for her. “Dreams that come during the day can be of two varieties: one more passive on the vampire’s part and one more active. It is the active type that only dream-weavers can craft.”

Sookie arched an eyebrow in question. “Passive?”

“Yes. The passive type is quite easy for vampires to send,” Eric explained. “Simply put, before we die for the day, we ‘tell’ our blood inside of a human to become active if the human sleeps before we wake. Our blood is then imprinted with our emotion in that moment. For instance, if I wanted to make you have a lustful dream of me,” his eyebrows waggled, “I would imprint my blood in you with my arousal. If I wanted you to have a frightening dream of me,” he let his fangs drop dramatically, “I would instill my blood with fear.”

She chuckled a little.

Glad to see her smile, he went on, “However, day-sent dreams, such as those I have just described, are generally considered ‘weak.’ The human maintains most of the control because the vampire is asleep when the dream happens; thus, he or she cannot monitor or manipulate the human’s emotions during the dream. Follow me so far?” Eric asked.

Sookie nodded, though she looked a little confused.

He chuckled. “Think of it this way. In the passive kind of dream, it is as if the vampire spurs an emotion and gives the human a piece of chalk, with which he or she can draw anything. Or the human could erase the picture altogether. The vampire nudges, but the human controls. Clearer?” he asked.

She nodded. “Yes. Much.”

He chuckled again. “So in passive dreams, the content—except for the vampire’s presence—is fully from the human’s own subconscious. In other words, if I sent you such a dream, it would be based on your memories and impressions of me—equally as much as on the emotion I’d sent. For instance, if I sent you a dream in which I wanted you to fear me, but you had no fear of me generally, the dream would basically fizzle out—or seem like one of those scary movie parodies. Likewise, if I sent a dream with lust, but you held no attraction for me, the dream would likely seem like an awkward encounter at a porm.”

“A porn?” Sookie asked, a sudden blush firing her face.

Eric chuckled. “No—a porm. With an ‘M’.”

“Huh?”

“The dance for adolescents,” Eric explained.

“Prom,” Sookie corrected.

“Ah,” Eric sounded. “Yes. Prom. But I would be up for enacting a porn-type dream with you,” he leered, as his fangs emerged once more.

She rolled her eyes and looked at Eric pointedly until he put his fangs away.

“You are no fun, Sookie,” he complained with a smirk.

She chuckled and shook her head before turning back to the fire. “Did you ask your blood to do something in my dream today? Did you give it an emotion?”

“I must have,” he said evenly.

“But you said you wouldn’t send me a dream,” she reminded.

“I said that I wouldn’t ask my blood to make you dream.”

“And there’s a difference?” Sookie challenged.

“I think so.” He smirked. “Though—perhaps—barely. The passive kind of dream can also occur even if the vampire does not consciously send it. In this case, the vampire unintentionally imprints his or her blood, which will then find its way to the human’s dreams on its own. You see—a vampire’s blood inside of a human is an active, living thing,” he added. “It likes to be where the action is, so to speak. But in these unintentional dreams, the vampire will usually not appear. The blood just rides the human’s emotions like a wave—or so I am told.”

“That makes sense,” Sookie mused quietly. “Today—you weren’t in my dream at first. In fact, you didn’t show up until after I was already getting scared.” Her brows scrunched together in question. “So—uh—what did you ask your blood to do? What were you feeling before you went to sleep?”

“You tell me,” Eric said pointedly, even as he leaned forward a little. She could feel his eyes boring into her, but she kept her own head turned toward the fire.

“The dream ‘you’ tried to keep Bill from influencing me. You tried to get me to think about what I was doing. So that means that you activated your blood to protect me from him—didn’t you?”

“You would know better than I,” Eric said thoughtfully. “If protectiveness was indeed the imprint I inadvertently sent—it is a feeling to which I am not accustomed. Plus, as I said before, my presence would have been controlled by your own subconscious, which is why you were able to expel me, but not Bill.”

“And I staked you,” Sookie sighed, looking back at Eric.

“You could have just asked me to go,” he chuckled.

“I didn’t think of it at the time,” she smiled.

“Next time then,” he remarked with a twinkle in his eye.

She nodded and gestured for him to continue.

“As you now know, some vampires can also produce a more ‘active’ kind of presence within a dream. They literally ‘weave’ a pattern into the dream—like,” he paused, “a woman knitting a design into a blanket.” He closed his eyes. “The one on your couch—did you weave that?”

“What?” Sookie asked, trying to stay up with his train of thought. “Oh—the afghan,” she said with realization. “No. My gran made that.”

Eric nodded. “It was skillfully crafted,” he observed. “Such things last a long time.”

Sookie nodded as her eyes filled with tears. “Yes. Gran tried to teach me to knit, but I was never very good at it.”

Eric’s voice softened when he saw her watery eyes. “But you understand the technique? The method she used?”

Sookie nodded. “Yes.”

“Then—perhaps—you will practice the skill and become better at it with time.”

She smiled a little. “Yeah. Perhaps.”

He looked back at the fire. “It is a good analogy to use. An expert dream weaver is like an expert knitter. Even if a single strand were loosened and pulled, the overall structure of the creation would remain intact. But a novice dream weaver would not be so lucky, for—if a single strand were pulled on his or her work—the whole thing would unravel.”

Sookie nodded. “You’re tryin’ to tell me that Bill is no novice.”

Eric sighed. “As I said before, the skill to create woven dreams generally develops with age and a lot of experimentation.” He looked at her pointedly. “Are you sure you want me to go on?”

She nodded.

Eric sighed and tried to sound detached, as if he were a teacher explaining a lesson. “The human has no power to prevent a woven dream or to escape it. It is, therefore, the most dangerous kind of dream-making—as you have learned firsthand. Since the vampire—being dead for the day—doesn’t have the ability to monitor the human, there is no way to temper the human’s emotional response or to end the dream if the human is in great distress. Moreover, the impulse of the dream will not end with the human’s waking—as you also experienced. In fact, the human awakens to a worse nightmare—a living one—where he or she is both conscious and unconscious at the same time.”

“Aware of being completely out of control. Aware that you’re being abused,” Sookie said knowingly.

“Yes. And the effects of the dream remain in place until the vampire awakens and stops them or,” Eric paused, “until the human dies or commits suicide.”

“So Bill stopped things?” Sookie asked shakily. “When he woke up?”

“No,” Eric corrected. “I found out today—from Octavia—that a woven dream can also be stopped by another vampire’s blood. I woke up about an hour before sunset, and I was able to slowly reduce the effects that Bill’s blood was producing in you. And—eventually—the dream lost its hold.”

Sookie reached out for Eric’s hand and was almost surprised to find it was seemingly waiting for hers.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

“You’re welcome,” he responded.

“I felt so,” she paused, “weak. Powerless”

“You were not weak,” he insisted. “But—yes—Bill did take away your control. But the fact that he did that shows his weakness—not yours,” he added passionately.

She smiled a little. “Thank you—again.”

“You’re welcome—again.”

He waited for a few moments before slipping his hand from hers and adding another log to the fire. When he returned to the couch, he continued. “Most younger vampires know nothing of dream weaving, and—among older vampires—there are two very divergent opinions regarding the practice. Some vampires look down upon it—seeing it as no better than what the ancient Romans did to their gladiators. Others believe it is perfectly acceptable, and use it as a way to torture humans. Some vampires even practice it as,” he paused, “sport.” He sighed. “Godric told me once that there are some groups of vampires—ancient sects in Europe and South America—that place bets on dream weavers—to see how long it takes for their human victims to kill themselves or die.”

Sookie let out a sob.

“But that was—I’m sure—not Bill’s intention,” Eric clarified. “I imagine that he is simply desperate to have you back.”

They both looked into the fire until Sookie’s sobs had subsided.

“As I said,” the Viking picked up, “it is not a common practice among vampires because most never reach an age to make it possible.” He sighed loudly. “Bill is known for his ability to glamour. And dream weaving could be seen as a complement to that gift. I should have foreseen that he could do it. I should have,” Eric paused, “accounted for the possibility that he might try.” He straightened his posture a little. “And—given the fact that I failed you in this—I wish to amend our arrangement.”

“What do you mean?” Sookie asked, her eyes suddenly frightened. “Are you sayin’ that you don’t want me to come with you anymore? Are you sayin’ that the deal between us is off? That I won’t be able to get the severing spell done?”

“No,” Eric answered quickly. “I am saying none of those things! What I am saying is that after the severing spell, you can choose, Sookie. I’m saying that you don’t have to come with me. You can heal and then do as you wish.” He sat forward, taking her hand again. “What I am saying is that the spell no longer comes with strings attached. What I’m saying is that I will not be like Bill. I will not take your choice or your control away from you. I will not force you to face Russell with me as a condition of helping you to free yourself from Bill.”

Sookie gripped his hand in stunned silence, her mouth slightly agape. After a few moments, she brushed away a tear and spoke softly. “When I was trapped in that dream, I felt so out of control. I would have done anything to get to Bill. I would have killed you—without a second thought—because I thought you were trying to keep me from him.”

She paused and wiped away another tear, but her voice was stronger as she went on. “And you were, Eric! You were trying to keep me from him!” She shook her head and squeezed his hand harder. “You helped me escape from the dream. You didn’t have to. You are helping me break the blood tie with him. And you don’t have to do that either. Thank you. Thank you so much for letting me choose whether to help you with Russell.”

She sat up a little straighter as resolve entered her eyes. “I want to help you, Eric. I want to help you in order to pay you back for saving me from the monster who sent me that dream—the monster whom I thought that I loved. I want to help you because you’ve been honest with me—from the start—even when the truth was ugly. I want to help you because I trust you. And—honestly—I want to help you because I think I have a better chance of surviving all this if I’m with you. And—finally—I want to be there when Russell and Bill get their comeuppance for all the evil that they’ve done. I know that probably makes me a bad Christian. But I can’t help it. They both deserve it! So—I guess what I’m sayin’ is that we’re in this together—until the end.”

Eric’s fangs popped down, and the intensity in his eyes danced brighter than the flame in the fireplace. “I would very much like to rip your clothes off and fuck you right now, Sookie Stackhouse. Will you let me?”

“Eric,” she whispered, her own eyes glazing over with intensity as she squeezed his hand impossibly tighter in order to steady herself. “I can’t.”

He closed his eyes and seemed to be panting for a moment. When he reopened his orbs, the storm in them was all but gone and his fangs had retracted. “Pity,” he said.

“I thought we agreed that you weren’t gonna try to seduce me,” she said as she finally withdrew her hand from his.

He smirked. “Well—I figured that since our deal was being restructured, I might try to renegotiate that part too.”

She smiled. “You’re incorrigible.”

“Perhaps. But when you speak of seeing our enemies perish, you are,” he paused, “almost too tempting to resist.”

She took a deep breath. “So,” she said, obviously changing the subject to a ‘safer’ topic, “have you told me everything?” she asked. “Everything about the dreams?”

“Yes,” he responded. “More than you should know. More than even most vampires know.”

“Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me.”

“And thank you for trusting me enough to throw your lot in with mine—voluntarily,” he returned sincerely. “I will try not to fail you again.”

“You didn’t fail me, Eric. You saved me—and not just my life.”

He got up and tended to the fire once more, returning to the couch with a bottle of water. “You should drink this and eat more soon.”

“Soon,” she agreed, “but first—there’s something else I need to ask you.”

“Ask,” he said.

“Last night, you told me that you’d sent me two dreams. They were the passive kind—right?”

Eric nodded. “Yes. I sent them the first two days after you had my blood.”

“And your goal? You didn’t tell me last night.”

“To increase your attraction for me,” he stated unapologetically. “You will have to tell me what came of those dreams.”

She sighed. “What if I’d rather not?”

“Then I will assume that we had rounds and rounds of mind-blowing sex in them,” he said as his familiar leer returned to his face.

“We didn’t,” she said simply.

“Then I am curious to hear of them. Perhaps you will decide to tell me at some point. As I said, I have not given many humans my blood, and I am interested in the process—at least to a certain extent. I sent a couple of dreams to Lafayette too—to try to increase his fear of me.”

“Lafayette has had your blood?” Sookie asked, the surprise clear in her tone.

Eric nodded. “Yes. From the gunshot wound he received at Fangtasia, he had an infection that may have killed him. Plus,” he paused, “I needed to make sure I could control him. He was selling V for me.”

Sookie’s eyes grew wide and accusatory. “What the fuck, Eric!” she reproached. “You tortured him for selling V, and then you had him do it for you?”

“Yes. I’m afraid that it came down to a question of death or dishonor for me,” Eric responded. “My queen ordered me to sell vampire blood so that she could fill her coffers. If I had refused, she could have killed me for treason. I am a survivor,” he continued unapologetically. “So, instead of dying, I chose to make myself a hypocrite. I forced your friend, Lafayette, to sell V for me only days after I almost killed him for doing the same. I have gone against all that Godric ever taught me about the sacredness of the blood. But I am alive.”

Sookie shook her head. “Wasn’t there someone above the queen you could have told? I mean—why not tell the AVL and Nan Flanagan?”

Eric scoffed. “The AVL is the public face of the vampire Authority in this country. I could have gone to them, but if I had, things would have likely been even worse for me.”

“What do you mean?” Sookie asked.

“Sophie-Anne would have denied my accusations. Most likely, the Authority would have tortured me and killed me for treason. And trust me when I say that their methods of torture would have been far worse than anything Sophie-Anne could have come up with.”

“What if you had given them proof that it was Sophie-Anne?”

“Then she would have been tortured and killed for selling the blood.” He laughed ruefully. “I would have gotten off easy, probably only having to spend a decade or so in a silver-lined coffin as my punishment for betraying my monarch.”

“They would have punished you anyway?” she asked incredulously.

Eric nodded. “Oh, yes!”

“Geez!”

The Viking chuckled. “Geez—indeed. When Sophie-Anne ordered me to sell the V, I really considered only three options: killing her so that I could take the monarchy by force, abdicating my position as sheriff and leaving the state, or selling the V. You know what I chose.”

“Wait—if you’d killed Sophie-Anne, you would have become king? Wouldn’t have the Authority just killed you then? That’s like the ultimate betrayal!”

“Nope,” Eric chuckled. “Killing a monarch and taking his or her throne by force is perfectly fine according to the Authority—as long as the vampire committing the regicide is deemed ‘worthy’ by them.”

“How do you know you would have been seen as worthy?” Sookie asked.

“Simple,” Eric answered with another chuckle. “I have the money required to buy the label.”

Sookie was silent for a moment. “Vampire politics are so messed up,” she finally said.

He smirked. “You don’t even know the half of it. Russell might be stark-raving mad, but he’s right about the corruption within the Authority. Of course, having him in charge would be even worse—unless you like insanity better than inanity.”

They were silent for a few minutes as Sookie contemplated Eric’s words and the fire. “You said that you sent Lafayette a dream to make him more afraid of you. Why?”

Eric sighed. “Lafayette was willing to sell the V for me, but I needed it moved faster. I knew that his fear of me would,” he paused, “motivate him.” The vampire ran his hand through his hair. “I sensed that Sophie-Anne was up to something when she suddenly doubled the amount of V she wanted me to sell. Meanwhile, the Magister showed up at Fangtasia because the Authority had become suspicious about the increase of V sales in the area. And guess who made sure he had an anonymous tip pointing right to me?”

“Sophie-Anne?” Sookie stated as much as asked.

“Bingo! The Magister found a stash of V—which conveniently showed up at Fangtasia after a visit from the queen. He took Pam into custody and began to torture her. She told him that Bill was the one who was responsible for the V sales. If she had told him it was the queen, he might have believed her, but he would have also immediately killed her. I went along with Pam’s story to buy us some time, but the Magister ordered me to bring him Bill within three days’ time—or else he would kill Pam.”

“That’s why you were in Mississippi!”

Eric nodded in confirmation. “Meanwhile, Russell had been told about the queen’s V-selling enterprise by Bill. And Russell decided to use that information to blackmail Sophie-Anne into marrying him.”

“Wait,” Sookie interrupted. “Isn’t Russell gay?”

Eric chuckled. “Vampire kings and queens rarely marry for anything other than political gain. Russell is delusional and ambitious, and having Louisiana increases his territory and his income. He eventually wants to take over the whole fucking country and replace the Authority.”

“Wouldn’t they stop him?”

Eric shrugged. “Russell is three thousand years old. And his work is behind the scenes. Think about it; I have lived only one state away from him for decades, yet the first time I met him—and certainly the first time I ever learned anything about his Weres or his plans—was only days ago. Given Russell’s policy of isolationism, the Authority likely knows nothing of his schemes. And, given his age, they’d probably prefer that it stayed that way!”

“Which means he can do whatever he wants,” Sookie observed.

“Yes—and that includes quietly recruiting others.”

“So that’s what you were doin’—pretending to be recruited?”

“Partially. Initially, I swore my fealty to Russell because I figured he was a better short-term option for me than Sophie-Anne. He also promised to help me save Pam—though he refused to hand over Bill to me. It was not long after that that I realized that Russell was the creature who had been responsible for my human family’s deaths. In fact, I found out that information exactly seven minutes and twelve seconds before you were brought into Russell’s mansion.”

Sookie sighed deeply. “No wonder you were such an asshole to me.”

Eric couldn’t help but to smile. “We are both lucky that I had enough control not to try to attack Russell that night. I wanted to fight him more than I have ever wanted anything—except maybe one thing.” Eric looked at Sookie significantly.

“You can’t want to have sex with me that much,” she said sarcastically.

Eric shook his head and grinned almost boyishly. “You are right. I want to kill Russell more than I want to have sex with you, but,” he paused dramatically, “having sex with you is a close second.”

Sookie rolled her eyes and then took a deep breath to refocus herself. She wanted, no needed, to ask him something more about the dream Bill had sent her—something that she’d been afraid to ask before.

“Would have Bill known that the dream he weaved would affect me that much?” she asked.

Eric sighed and looked back at the fire as a somber mood once more filled the room. “All that I can say is that a vampire does not weave a dream by accident. It is a developed skill and requires a concerted effort on the part of the weaver. And it was extremely difficult for me to free you from the state you were in.”

“So you’re saying that Bill knew exactly what he was doing when he sent that dream. You’re saying that the strength of the dream proves that this is something he’s done before.”

“I cannot say either of those things with one hundred percent certainty,” Eric said cautiously. “But I believe them to be true nonetheless.”

Sookie sighed. “Bill sent terror to drive my dream today,” she said quietly as she stared back into the fire. “I’d never felt so afraid—not even when Rene was trying to kill me, not even when I found Gran dead in the kitchen.”

Unconsciously, she reached for Eric’s hand again, and without thought, he covered hers with his own.

“I was afraid of you too,” she continued. “I was afraid of Russell. I was afraid of Bill dying. I couldn’t do anything else but to drive to where I thought he was. And in my dream, he said he was at Fangtasia. Do you think he was really there?”

Eric shrugged. “It is possible. If my blood succeeded in blocking his, Bill would have needed to regroup after the hospital, and going to Fangtasia to look for me would have seemed logical to him.”

“What about after you stopped the dream? Do you think he was able to track us? Before we got back here to the house?”

“His blood did try to reach for him,” Eric replied honestly. “Whether it succeeded or not, I know not.”

“But you tried to block him again?”

“Yes. But, as I said earlier, I haven’t had much practice controlling my blood in a human.” He closed his eyes. “However, I can sense every single drop of my blood inside of you—even now. When you were in the hospital, I could sense how close you were to death, and my blood within you called to me. And after I gave you more, I could feel all of those drops inside of you as well. I could even control where my blood went and where it healed you first.”

Sookie squeezed his hand as he reopened his eyes.

“Wow—that’s amazing!” She smiled a little. “Thanks again—for the healing.”

Eric nodded and smirked. “You’re welcome—again.”

“So—I have another question.”

Another?” he said sarcastically.

She rolled her eyes. “It’s important.”

“Proceed,” he said jokingly.

She shook her head. “So—if your blood can block his and if this house can block him from being able to find me, then how was Bill able to influence my dreams at all?”

“Dreams are unique, Sookie. They are not affected by distance like the other elements of a blood tie are, nor can they be stopped by any known witch’s spell. And Bill’s vampire gifts seem to be tied up in his ability to influence humans. He is—as I said before—well known for his skill in glamouring.” He shook his head a little. “After I started thinking about it more, I realized that dream-weaving is akin to glamouring. Thus, I really should have anticipated that he may have had that skill. I,” he paused, “regret leaving you vulnerable.”

“Was that an apology?” she asked, the surprise clear in her tone.

“A regret and an apology are two different things,” he replied stiffly.

“Clearly,” she intoned.

Eric looked back at the fire. “As I was saying, Bill likely regrouped. If he couldn’t pinpoint your location with the blood tie, which would have been impossible once we were inside the spell of the Vicksburg house, then he might have returned to his home or to your home. If so, Russell likely captured him. Or—more likely—Bill went straight to Fangtasia to demand that I ‘release you.'” He lifted his free hand to do an air quote, the sight of which almost made Sookie laugh out loud despite the seriousness of the topic. However, she sobered quickly at his next words.

“Maybe,” Eric posited, “Russell tortured him and forced him to weave a dream.”

“How would Russell have known that Bill had that ability?” Sookie asked. “Lorena,” she said quickly, answering her own question.

Eric nodded. “Yes.”

“But you said that dream weaving takes great effort. Could Bill have even done it if he were being tortured?”

Eric closed his eyes. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. But . . . .” He stopped midsentence.

“But?”

“But I know you still have love for Bill; I can feel that. So I want you to know that there is a possibility that he didn’t intend for you to go through what you went through today. However unlikely, it is possible, little one.”

Sookie sighed. “I’d never been in love with a man before Bill. This morning—when I was driving here from Vicksburg, before I had that dream—I thought about my relationship with him. Every start and every stop. Every fight. Every time he hurt me or lied to me or scared me—even beyond what he did for the queen or what he did in Alcide’s truck.” She shook her head. “Did you know that I met Malcolm and his nest-mates at Bill’s house one night?”

“No,” Eric said stiffly, his jaw clenched. “I did not know that.”

“I went over to Bill’s because I’d contacted an electrician for him that day—someone who’d done some work for Gran before. I’d vouched for Bill so that the electrician would be willin’ to work for a vampire. I’d been excited to tell him the news.”

“But you encountered Malcolm, Liam, and Diane.”

Sookie nodded. “Yes. They were,” she paused, “disgusting—and frightening. They started,” she paused again and closed her eyes, “touching me—pawing me—and threatening to bite me. And Bill just sat there most of the time—like some sinister overseer—in the corner of the room.”

“Did he not stop them?” Eric asked with barely controlled rage, though his grip on her hand remained gentle.

“Eventually,” Sookie whispered. “But not before Liam pulled me against him; he rubbed his—uh . . . .” Sookie glanced nervously down toward Eric’s lap. “He rubbed his thing against me,” she said with a cringe.

Eric growled a little.

Sookie took a deep breath. “But Bill didn’t stop him—didn’t stop them—until Diane was about to bite me; that’s when Bill said that I was his.”

“Which is why you agreed to those words at Fangtasia? You thought that if you didn’t, you’d be manhandled by thuggish vampires,” Eric seethed.

Sookie nodded in confirmation. “By the time I’d left Bill’s house after he’d let Diane and Liam,” she paused, “touch me like that, I had already decided that I couldn’t be with him. I’d wanted the kind Southern gentleman who’d charmed my gran and who’d helped me with my mental shields—the one who’d saved my life and taken a walk with me. The vampire I met that night was not the same.” She shook her head. “But by the next night, I’d forgiven him. It was as if all the fear and anger I’d felt the night before had vanished.” She closed her eyes. “Now I know that it was Bill’s blood, taking those feelings—my feelings—away.” She opened her eyes and looked into Eric’s. “And there were so many other moments that made me question Bill. But—every time—I stopped questioning after only a little while.”

“His blood,” Eric said.

Sookie shrugged. “That’s part of it. But it was also me. I wanted love so badly that I tricked myself into feeling it, just as much as Bill tricked me. And—if I still feel love for him at all—it’s only because it’s hard to let go of the,” she paused, “hope it gave me.”

“I have never found love that brought hope with it,” Eric observed quietly.

Sookie sighed. “As it turns out, I haven’t either.”


A/N: Again—this is not a Sookie questioning her choice to not be with Bill. This is a Sookie wanting to be informed about the things that have been affecting her life. I think it’s healthy to question things like that—if, for no other reason, than to prevent making similar mistakes again. I hope you do too.


 

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24 thoughts on “Chapter 17: Just As Real

  1. Loved the in depth reply Eric gives her. He really wants her to be informed. And I thought it to be significant that he was ready to comfort her, even as he was not aware of it. And I loved (this word is getting repetitive, I may have to break out the thesaurus!) how you kept him in place, with his leers, and the suggestive comments. Great job!

    1. Sadly, there’s not as many synonyms for “loved” as one would think. “Adored”, “Treasured”, “Cherished”, maybe “worshipped”. So, I’m going to have to go with I “LOVED” this chapter as well! Grin!

  2. Well, it took me forever to try to figure out how to scroll but this was a great chapter … I like that Sookie is questioning things and that Eric is being honest with her …. now off to watch some tutorials on my new toy uh tool … no I think toy is the right word… LOL

  3. Tough chapter for Sookie and Eric. Or it would have been for me….staying on point with emotional sore spots with an ambiguous someone. Most people would dodge the painful truth. Courage! good for them.

  4. I love that you’re giving them something that they’ve never really had before: time to just sit and talk, honesty and openly, with each other without Pam or some crisis barging in on them. I hate that Sookie is having to lose some of her naivety, but sadly it’s time to considering the other people in the area. It’s great seeing how they’re both being brave during this discussion, too. I do wonder if at some point Eric will realize that Russell helped Bill weave the dream… Great chapter as usual!

  5. Great chapter Kat Sookie and Eric really needed to talk I find that in the show and in the books they seldom did that and the lack of communication is poison for a successful relationship or friendship They need to become accomplices before being lovers Sookie needs to trust Eric completely with her soul knowing that the feelings for him are sincere… take care

  6. She can see the clear difference between Bill and Eric, if not before now, in this chapter it’s irrefutable. Eric wants her to know the truth and have choices. Bill, while loving her as he is capable, was always about control and getting what he wants..

  7. Best chapter thus far, Kat! The dialogue between Eric & Sookie is written splendidly. Their communication comes across as honest and not at all forced. They clearly trust in one another considering the topics raised in their current conversation. Thanks so much for this excellent chapter!

  8. Really enjoyed the detailed talk between Eric & Sookie and, in what is quite an improvement, Sookie’s willingness to listen and judge the facts for what they are (Bill=douche). I am totally on board with Bill’s extra douchiness in this story and with the blood manipulation as the reason why Sookie kept going back to him… Better than the alternative frankly! Eric is kinda cute with his easy admission that he is so keen to sleep with her but it feels as if he admits to that all too willingly so as to evade the question of his deeper feelings for her. I am a little worried about the spell procedure but at least Sookie is going into it with a full understanding of how important it is to free herself from Bill.

  9. Sorry i haven’t replied for every chapter. Trying to do catch up reading 😦

    Wow. The woven dream was… Horrible! And that is weirdly a compliment! It was very well done. And Erics panic at trying to save her… Geez louise, the whole make his blood embrace hers, sing her lullabies, doesnt really say ‘assett’ lol. Nor does holding her hand when she seeks comfort 😉

    Hmmm, hopefully Sookie is noticing the ammount of honour Eric is showing by giving Bill plausible deniability. I think though, when she puts together the circumstances of the first woven dream, Bill’s honour and credibility will be toast!

  10. I love love love Eric and Sookie in your story. Glad you had Sookie bring up Liam, Malcolm and Diane. Now you made me curious why Bill didn’t care that Liam rubbed his Johnson on Virgin Sookie but DID care about Diane trying to bite her. Hmmmm. I think Sookie is getting the picture without Eric having to be to mean in his explanations.

  11. I love the way you write. A few chapters ago you mentioned somebody said this is ‘just like back and forth’ or something along those lines. I completely disagree. Then some people were angry the chapter of the dream, I was cautious because it is Sookie we are talking about, but I couldn’t believe she would kill Eric at this point, especially while he was dead for the day. One of my favorite things about your writing is that it makes me think. You are writing about vampire blood’s ability to influence, but there are many reasons people are vulnerable to influence like an abusive mate in real life and your stories very much apply to that as well. You simply write stories that are well thought out, beautifully crafted and intelligent. I would not respect a Sookie that immediately expected Eric to solve all her problems without question at this point in the story. You are building a stronger Sookie and a stronger happier Eric through proper character development. I love that! I appreciate that and I thank you for that. I finally stopped feverishly hitting the next chapter button and stopped long enough to review because I am wondering if and when Sookie is going to figure out that Bill took her virginity against her will. Basically, he raped her on her first time. I can see how it would be good and bad for her to figure this out, but the evil part of me that wants to torture Bill and stomp on him and truly have her despise him so there is never any doubt in anyone’s mind, wants her to figure this out and chop his balls off for it! 🙂

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