“You seem a bit shell-shocked, vampire,” Octavia said knowingly as she nodded toward Amelia to indicate that the young witch could stop chanting.
“Wow!” Amelia exclaimed amazedly, though her voice was obviously stretched to its limits. “I can’t believe that took so long!”
“Dee child had a lot of vampire blood inside of her, and to kill dee rat’s blood—but to leave enough of her own blood behind—was difficult.”
“But she’ll be alright?” Eric asked.
Octavia nodded, her eyes holding both wisdom and intrigue. “She will sleep now, probably through dee night and well into dee morrow. Longer if she is lucky. Her body is very weak, both from her previous loss of blood and dee spell. After she awakens, she will display severe flu-like symptoms. Amelia will know what needs to be done and will give you a progress report each night before she leaves.”
Eric nodded. Careful to keep Sookie covered, the vampire gently disentangled himself from her and wrapped her into her cloak.
“Dat must be left behind and den burned, vampire,” Octavia said pointing at the cloak. “And yours too, along with dee blanket you were lying on.”
Eric sighed and nodded and acceptance.
Octavia looked over at Amelia. “Amelia can help you bathe dee child and put her into her bed, but den she must go rest if she is to return when dee sun rises.”
Eric nodded again.
“Your Sookie will rest longer—and better—if you are next to her, Eric,” Octavia said with a glint in her eyes.
Eric glared at the witch. “She is not mine.”
“You still pretend dat you do not love dis woman?” Octavia chuckled, though her voice, too, had obviously been taxed because of her all-day chanting.
Eric’s eyes widened. “I do not love her,” he said sharply. “I am incapable of such an emotion.”
Octavia smirked. “When I first met you, I would have said dee same. But tings change.”
Eric growled a little. “That has not!”
“Deny it all you want, vampire. But make sure dat you do not let yourself—or dee girl—get killed because of your denials.”
“What do you mean?” Eric asked angrily.
“Ah,” Octavia said, looking him directly in the eyes. “Once you know dat it is love you are fighting for, you will be stronger dan you have ever been as you protect it. But if you deny your love, den you may try to talk yourself out of protecting it—until it is too late for you both.”
Eric growled at her again. “I care for this woman because she is my asset and because I want to taste her blood and her body. There is nothing else!” he seethed.
“Now who’s dee liar?” Octavia asked with a wicked smile. “You told her dat there was more to it earlier.”
“You did,” Amelia squeaked out.
“And we witnessed you with her today. Yours were the actions of a man in love,” Octavia continued.
Eric glared at them both. “I,” he paused, “like her. She amuses me.”
“Den denial it ’tis,” Octavia said with a cackle. “Lie next to her if you can—at least—call upon dat practicality you are known for. She’ll heal either way—just not as fast or as comfortably. And,” she continued to chortle, “lie to yourself all you want. You’ll eventually understand—just not as fast. Or as comfortably.”
With that the elder witch motioned toward Amelia, who stepped forward a little. The younger woman still looked quite chipper and not tired at all, despite the long day of non-stop chanting.
“If you’ll carry her up, then I’ll help you get her clean and into some jammies,” Amelia said brightly. “Octavia will burn the cloaks and blankets while we’re doin’ that.”
Eric glanced over at the fireplace and noticed that the blaze was steady but not roaring. Clearly, the witches had kept it up during the day. Octavia put on the last two pieces of wood that were left in the house.
Despite knowing that Sookie was unaware at the moment, Eric eased her out of her cloak carefully. He recognized that she would be embarrassed that he’d seen her naked, but there was little he could do about it—except to force himself to avert his eyes from her most intimate parts. Plus, she’d already be mortified when she recalled that he’d had ample opportunity to memorize at least the feeling of every inch of her body since they’d been naked and touching almost all day long. But the petite witch in front of him obviously couldn’t carry Sookie. And she seemed unable or unwilling to walk into the circle.
It certainly wasn’t that Eric didn’t want to see Sookie naked. If touching her for the last hours was any indication, her body was beautiful. Yes. He wanted to study and to play with every inch of her until she was writhing against him in ecstasy—not agony. But seeing her like she was, so weakened and vulnerable, made the Viking feel protective in a way he’d never felt before—except, perhaps, with Pam when she’d been a “newborn” vampire.
Eric gently scooped Sookie into his arms and held her close. He made sure to keep his eyes away from the part of her that smelled most delectable to him, but some things he could not help but to see. Her breasts, which had been pressed against his body for most of the day, were milky white, and Eric could see the faint color contrast between them and the flesh around them. He figured that was because of the sun. He knew that—given Sookie’s modesty—she would not sunbathe nude.
As he walked her up the stairs—actually hovering a bit so that she would not be jostled—he had to force himself to pull his eyes from her tempting nipples. They were two dusty roses, begging to be tasted, but the vampire refrained.
He sighed and pulled her closer—not that it helped to alleviate his temptation. Once again, he felt the softness of her breasts against his hard chest and reveled in that feeling. They were the perfect mixture of firmness and suppleness as she moved slightly against him. Yes. Without a doubt, they were the most beautiful pair of breasts he had ever seen, and he’d seen a lot of pairs during his thousand years. He wanted to cup them and test them in his hands. He knew that they would fit perfectly in his palms, but—again—he refrained.
The Viking’s thoughts were momentarily drawn from Sookie’s beautiful body when the young witch started filling the tub with water. The bathtub was Jacuzzi style, so it took a while to fill, but its size allowed for Eric to climb in with Sookie so that he could keep her body cradled into his.
As expected, the vampire was completely unconcerned about his own nudity, though several gasps from the witch told him that she liked what she was seeing. Eric didn’t pay her much mind as he let the warm water relax him. He hoped that it was soothing Sookie’s tired and sore body as well—even if she weren’t awake to enjoy it.
Gently, he lowered the back of Sookie’s head into the water and then rested her against his raised knees as he washed and conditioned her once golden hair. Now it was like the richest of chocolates—dark brown and luxuriant. He’d not lied when he said that she was just as beautiful with either hair color, but he still missed her natural locks. They were more “her.”
Her hair clean, he motioned toward the witch. As Sookie rested against him, her back against his chest, he let the witch clean the front part of Sookie’s body and her legs. Eric watched the witch carefully, making sure that the young woman was respectful to Sookie’s body as she worked. From Amelia’s earlier looks at Sookie, Eric was quite certain that Amelia appreciated Sookie’s body as much as she appreciated his; however, she washed Sookie as a nurse would wash a patient, which pleased Eric. Amelia would be needed to help care for Sookie until she was stronger, and he did not want for Sookie to feel uncomfortable—especially not when it came to intimacy.
Especially not after she’d been forced to remember what her uncle had done to her.
After Amelia was done, Eric waved her away and asked her to go get Sookie some appropriate clothing. As she did that, Eric leaned Sookie forward a little and gently washed her back. By the time he’d rinsed her, the witch was back and had taken out several towels.
Eric’s inclination was to stay in the bath water with the woman he’d held so tightly for most of the day. He, too, was exhausted: from the pain of the spell, from the concern he’d been feeling for Sookie all day, from the effort it had taken him to chase down Bill’s blood in her body with his own, and from the fact that he’d forced himself to stay awake all day. It had not escaped his notice that the bath water had a pinkish tint from the blood that he’d lost because of the bleeds. He could feel that there was still dried blood on his face and neck, but he hadn’t wanted to completely ruin Sookie’s bath water by washing it off.
He sighed as he brought them out of the tub. Amelia helped him wrap Sookie into a large towel and then went about wrapping her hair in another one. Once Sookie was adequately dry, Eric carried her into the bedroom. He was still dripping. “Put another towel onto the foot of the bed,” he directed Amelia’s.
Quickly the witch did as he asked.
“I will shower,” he said in a low tone. “While I am gone, finish drying her, and—if you are able to do it without disturbing her—dress her.”
Amelia nodded as Eric placed Sookie down gently onto the towel before using his vampire speed to zip down to the small basement. Wanting to be close to Sookie in case she needed him, he quickly grabbed his duffle bag and zipped back upstairs so that he could take a shower in Sookie’s bathroom. He glanced in the direction of Sookie and Amelia when he reentered the bedroom and noticed that the witch had already restored Sookie’s modesty by getting her into a long nightgown. That fact comforted him in a way that was uncomfortable for him to acknowledge. But he was also disappointed that her flesh was once more hidden from him.
His hands and his body already missed her soft warmth.
Eric quickly took a shower and put on a pair of track pants, along with a T-shirt. When he came back into the bedroom, Amelia was patting down Sookie’s wet mane with another dry towel. Eric whipped back into the bathroom to grab the brush that he’d seen on the counter.
Amelia looked at Eric with some confusion as the vampire picked up Sookie. He motioned for the witch to remove the used towels and to turn down the bed before he got into it with Sookie. Then, he positioned her so that she was once more leaning against his chest.
“Is there more TrueBlood in the house?” he asked the witch even as he began to gently brush Sookie’s hair.
“Sure,” Amelia said, a wistful smile on her lips as she watched the gentle actions of the lethal being in front of her. “What kind of blood do you like?”
“They all taste deplorable,” Eric responded with a smirk. “Surprise me,” he said, glancing up at the young witch. “I shall need three. Perhaps a mix of flavors would make them seem less bland.”
The witch giggled a little and left the room as Eric continued to gently cajole the tangles from Sookie’s hair.
He smiled at the new color. Yes—he was getting used to it. But he still missed the blonde.
A vampire’s hair was one of the few things that could change on his or her body. Fingernails and hair grew slowly, but they did grow, and hair could hold dye. Eric’s hair had been long during his human life, and he had let it grow quite a bit longer before he cut it for the first time in the late 1400s. Thus, he’d had to deal with many a tangle during his long life.
Once Sookie’s hair was smooth silk in his hands, he quickly styled a braid which would fall over her shoulder. A thought struck him that he’d never brushed another being’s hair, let alone braid it. He liked the feelings it created within him; in fact, he liked them so much that he felt the need to push them away.
Octavia’s words had cut into him like a sharp dagger, which she had then twisted inside of him in order to create a larger wound. She had accused him of loving Sookie Stackhouse, but that was impossible. After all, part of him continued to hate her for the effect she had on him—the trouble she always seemed to attract.
No. Eric Northman did not do love. Not anymore. Never again.
Sookie had been right when she’d called him out for having a lot of love for Godric. After all, a vampire was supposed to revere his or her maker. That was part of what the blood bond between them fostered. And Godric had been a particularly good maker and had even shown Eric true affection—at least until the last few decades of his life when he had cut off almost all communication with Eric, including shutting down their bond.
Godric had simply called Eric about twenty years before and told him not to be concerned when he could no longer feel his life through their bond. Eric had been concerned, of course, and had asked Godric why he felt the need to shut him out. He’d asked Godric to tell him what he’d done wrong, but Godric never did. He simply informed Eric that the disconnection was needed and requested that Eric not initiate contact with him by other means either. Godric had never officially freed Eric, and that request had felt like an order, so Eric had not tried to see or to speak with his maker after that—despite the fact that they’d been geographically close. He’d hoped that Godric might eventually request his presence or reconnect with him through their bond, but, even in the end, that did not happen—unless one counted the moment in the Fellowship church when Godric called him to come to the basement, only to send him away again within a minute.
But Godric had saved Sookie from her attacker, and for that, Eric was grateful. It had not escaped Eric’s notice that Godric had called him only to place Sookie in his care. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why he felt the need to protect her even now. Sookie had been the reason why he’d felt his maker once more—if only for a fleeting moment.
The only other feeling he got from Godric was on that fucking rooftop in Dallas when Godric had ordered him away.
One last maker’s command.
Yet Sookie had stayed on the roof so that Godric would not die alone. Eric had heard her say words of comfort to his maker—words which had comforted him as well.
“Gratitude. You feel obligation,” Eric said to himself as he looked at the woman in his arms. He owed Sookie a debt of gratitude for staying with Godric. Yes. That was what he felt—not love. Love was an emotion that would lead a thousand-year-old vampire to sink to his knees and offer himself to the sun just so his maker would not have to die alone. And he would never let himself be in another such position—and definitely not for a human/fairy who would die her natural death as he had to live on.
Eric nodded to himself. Yes. He could care for her—already cared for her. After all, he owed her. Plus, she was a strong ally and had the potential to become even stronger. But love her? No. That—he would not allow, even if he were capable of it.
He would not be left behind again!
The young witch came and went quietly, and Eric downed two of his TrueBloods while they were still warm. He repositioned Sookie so that she was lying on her side, and then he spooned his long body behind her. Octavia had told him that Sookie would rest better with him near, and the sooner she was well, the better it would be for them both. He felt relatively secure in the Slidell home, but he was anxious to get out of Russell and Sophie-Anne’s kingdom.
Yes. He would stay with Sookie as she rested because it was practical and because he owed her.
He did not let himself entertain any other reason for being close to her as he slipped into downtime and rested from the long day’s exertions.
A/N: I’m glad that most of you approved of Eric’s action to not leave his blood in Sookie. Too bad our favorite badass is still fighting against his feelings, but I understand why. The show moved on so quickly from Godric’s death that it didn’t show how Eric was grieving (until Godric started “haunting” him—a device I didn’t really like, so I’m glad to avoid it in this AU). I—for one—think that one of the major reasons why Eric didn’t want to show Sookie his true feelings was b/c his maker had just left him. And I think that response makes complete sense for TB’s version of the character. Like Sookie, he too has a lot of emotional scars.