“Truth is a great flirt.”—Franz Liszt
The sun had been down for almost ninety minutes by the time Sookie stirred in Eric’s arms. He immediately stopped his continued caresses of her hair and moved his hands so that he was not touching her. Eric intuited that Sookie would not be as comfortable with their close proximity as he was, and he intended to let her establish the physical boundaries between them. She had been clear about not wanting a sexual relationship with him—at least for the time being. That was a condition of her coming with him.
He knew that he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from wanting her or even from conveying that want to her at times, nor would he resist any advances that she made toward him—now that they no longer shared a blood tie. However, he would respect her wishes by not actively attempting to seduce her.
“Eric,” she whispered into his bare torso.
He looked down and saw her eyes flutter open and then close a few times before they stayed open. Immediately, she withdrew her hand from his quadriceps and then groaned at the pain her sudden action had caused her.
“Easy,” Eric said softly. “I know that you are in pain. You need not be reticent about touching me if it helps you. Octavia said that it was good for me to be near you while you are recovering. And if the temperature of my body soothes your fever, that is good too. I promise not to get the wrong idea, even if you move your hand. Just. A. Little. Bit. Higher,” he teased lightly.
She slapped his leg playfully, but weakly, and then went back to resting her hand on it. “I bet you’re enjoying yourself—aren’t you,” she commented with a hint of a blush on her cheeks.
Eric was happy to hear her teasing him back; it meant that the spell hadn’t broken her spirit.
“Would it help if I pretended not to enjoy your touch?” the vampire asked with a smirk.
“I don’t want to pretend,” she said with sudden seriousness in her voice.
Eric understood all of the connotations of her statement. He sighed and leaned forward to kiss her lightly on the forehead. “Then we will have no pretense—you and I,” he said sincerely.
“Does that mean you’ll start tellin’ me everything?”
“Of course not!” the vampire chuckled. “But I promise that the words I do speak to you will be true.”
She sighed, warming his body with her breath. “I guess that’s better than nothing.”
“It is difficult for me,” Eric paused, “to trust anyone with everything, little one.”
“Me too,” Sookie admitted. “Especially after Bill.”
“I would say that we could learn together,” Eric responded somewhat playfully, “but we might both be too stubborn to change our ways.”
She chuckled, but then immediately coughed.
The vampire brought his hand up to smooth her hair behind her ear. “I will get up now so that I can get you some water. Is that acceptable?”
She nodded slightly into his chest. Very carefully, he moved Sookie until she was lying on her back and propped up against several comfortable pillows.
“Okay?” he asked.
She nodded again, even as she sighed with relief. “You do that much better than Amelia.” She smiled slightly. “And much quieter too.”
Eric chuckled softly. “I suspect I am. She is loud when speaking—even when she tries not to be. Are her thoughts the same?”
“Louder,” Sookie cringed as Eric brought the straw to her mouth. She took a few sips and savored the cool water. “But I like her,” she added. “Her thoughts match what is coming from her mouth.”
“I imagine that is uncommon,” Eric mused.
“Very,” Sookie confirmed before taking another drink.
The two were silent as Sookie drank about half of the glass.
“Um, Eric?” she said uncertainly as she bit her lip; her face grew a little pink.
“Human needs?” the vampire asked.
She nodded in confirmation.
“Perhaps trying to walk again can be saved until tomorrow?” the vampire half-asked and half-stated.
“Yes,” Sookie said, feeling relieved that he was offering to carry her. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to make it on her own.
Eric gently drew down the blankets and carefully picked Sookie up so that her head was against his chest. Her nightgown came down almost to her knees, but Eric set her down on the toilet so that she could easily maneuver it up as needed.
“Do you need help with your undergarments?” Eric asked.
Sookie’s cheeks became redder. “Uh—Amelia and I figured it would be easier if I went without.”
A smirk slowly spread across the Viking’s handsome face.
“It’s killing you not to make a comment about my lack of underwear, isn’t it?” Sookie asked as Eric helped her lean against the wall. For the second time that day, Sookie was thankful that the toilet had been installed so close to the wall.
“Like a stake to the heart, little one,” Eric answering, now grinning like a schoolboy. “I will leave you for a few minutes if you are secure here.”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah. Tack.”
Eric smiled in surprise. “You just said ‘thank you’ in Swedish.”
Sookie nodded again. “You spoke Swedish to Pam once in front of me. It sounded pretty. So I learned a little.”
Eric chuckled. “Du förvånar mig, lilla vän.” [“You surprise me, little one.”]
“I’m afraid you’ve already lost me,” Sookie chuckled.
“Then I’ll teach you more when you are stronger.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
The vampire nodded and then left the room.
Sookie did her “business” as quickly as she was able. After she flushed the toilet, Eric waited another few seconds before knocking.
“Come in,” Sookie said softly. She knew that Eric would hear.
Eric found Sookie as he’d left her, though her nightgown was slightly more twisted than before.
“Can you help me stay on my feet as I wash my hands and face?” Sookie asked. “I want to brush my teeth too.”
“Of course,” the vampire said as he carefully stood Sookie onto her feet in front of the sink. He made sure he was supporting most of her weight as she washed her hands and then started to brush her teeth.
Sookie sighed as she glanced at the mirror. Her hair, which she’d not been up for washing earlier, was looking worse for wear and hung lifelessly around her shoulders.
Eric followed her eyes. “After you eat a little, Amelia has given me leave to give you something for the pain you are feeling. After that, we could bathe if you wish. Or I could simply wash your hair.”
Sookie’s skin flushed red again as she spit out some toothpaste and rinsed her mouth before warming up the water to wash her face.
Only after she was tucked back into bed a few minutes later did she speak. “Amelia said that you bathed with me after the severing spell was over.”
“I did,” Eric spoke honestly.
Sookie’s cheeks still felt warm, both from her exertion and from the thought of Eric seeing her naked.
Eric put the straw next to her lips in order to entice her to take more water.
Sookie swallowed the water—as well as a little of her pride. “I should apologize for the way I was—uh—for what I—uh—for how I acted during the spell.”
“You did as you needed. We both did,” he said quietly.
“Amelia told me that you could have left a little of your blood in me,” Sookie said quietly.
“I almost did,” Eric admitted. “I would like to be able to track you if we are separated. It would be practical.”
“But you didn’t leave it in me,” Sookie stated.
“No,” Eric responded as Sookie took another drink.
Her eyes asked him why.
“It would have defeated one of the primary reasons why you wanted to go through the spell if I would have left some of my blood inside of you, Sookie. It was,” he paused, “difficult for me to let you go—and even more difficult for me not to heal you last night. But those difficulties were,” he paused again, “necessary—for you.”
She nodded. “I think you’re a better man—uh vampire—than you want people to know, Eric Northman,” she said with increasing strength in her voice.
“Perhaps I am more selfish than you think,” he said as he gave her another sip. His eyes were suddenly darker—stormy even. “Perhaps I want you to come to me one day and ask to take my blood.”
She swallowed loudly as his intense blue orbs seemed to penetrate into her very soul.
“Is this how you glamour someone?” she asked.
He smiled and the tension in the air dissipated. “No.”
She returned his smile. “Thanks for giving me back my ability to know that my feelings are my own, Eric,” she said gratefully.
“It was a good tradeoff,” he returned with a twinkle in his eyes. “I got to see your breasts.”
Thankfully he had waited until after she had swallowed her latest drink of water to tell her that. Her cheeks immediately went back to crimson. And she closed her eyes tight.
“Did you see anything else? I know you must have,” she gulped, “felt everything during the spell.”
“Sookie,” Eric said seriously. “Look at me.”
She pried her eyes open and bit her lip nervously. For a moment her physical weakness was secondary to her embarrassment.
“We will be spending a lot of time together, and I will hold to my promise not to try to seduce you—though I would welcome your advances should you change your mind,” he smiled caddishly.
She gulped again at his words.
“And since we will be together, we should get everything out onto the table so that there is no reason for you to be embarrassed—okay?”
“Okay,” she squeaked.
“And now you know that I will speak the truth,” he smirked.
She nodded in affirmation.
“Well—here’s the truth. I want you very much. But you know that already. I want your body and your blood. But there’s more to my desire than those two things.” His eyes seemed to turn almost indigo as he continued, “I think that you are beautiful—inside and out. I enjoy being with you because you are clever and brave. And you have the ability to make me laugh. I admire few humans, but you are one of them. And—for some reason that I cannot fathom—I trust you more than any other being right now.” He paused, “And there is one thing more, Sookie Stackhouse; I would have wanted you—just as much, if not more—when I was a human too.”
“Wow!” she gasped.
“Wow indeed,” he observed as if he, too, was surprised by his words. “I cannot tell you the pleasure I feel in being able to trust a being who owes me neither fealty nor allegiance through a blood bond. Godric taught me never to trust someone who wasn’t my maker or my child, but . . . .” He stopped for a moment.
“But?” she pushed.
“But he trusted you in the end, so I think he must have changed his mind,” Eric said seriously. “And—truth be told—I trusted you even before that; I trusted you to help me find Godric, and that was no small thing for me,” he finished quietly.
“Thank you,” she said after they’d been silent for a moment.
“So,” Eric said, his voice becoming lighter again, “it is because of the admiration and trust I hold for you that I will not fuck things up by doing something untoward.”
“Okay,” she said, smiling a little.
“Now—for the sake of full disclosure—you should know that I did feel every part of you during that spell, and it was all lovely to feel.”
“Eric!” she interrupted, turning impossibly redder.
“Let me finish. Please,” he added.
“I felt all of your body, but I also felt your pain. I was glad to be with you through that spell, Sookie. I was glad to take some of your pain and comfort you through the rest. Without you being there the morning Godric killed himself, I,” he paused, “would have been lost.”
“But I was with him only for a few minutes,” Sookie said.
“Yes—but what came before those few minutes was a thousand years of affection between a child and his maker, Sookie,” Eric said quietly. “You will never know what the slight touch of your hand did to bolster me that morning. You will never know the comfort that I felt because Godric didn’t face his final death alone. You will never know how grateful I am that tears beyond my own were spilled for my maker when he met the sun.”
“I know now,” Sookie said as a tear slipped from her eye.
“Then you must know that what I did for you during the spell is nothing compared to what you did for me.”
Eric put down the water and stood up, walking away from the bed a little. He continued speaking even though his back was turned to her. “I will not lie and say that your body didn’t feel right against mine. I think you felt that too.”
“I did,” she heard herself admitting.
She saw his head nod and heard him sigh as he turned back around. “Perhaps when you’ve had some time, you will want more from me than you do now.”
“Perhaps, by then, you will be able to give more than you could now,” she said just as sincerely.
He smiled. “Miracles happen.”
She smiled back. “Every day.”
“Meanwhile,” he responded, back to his rakish expression and tone, “I did feel you naked, and then I saw you naked because Octavia would not let me take the cloaks or the blanket out of the circle. She had to burn them. So I brought you up here in your birthday suit.”
“It sounds weird when you use expressions like that,” Sookie said, even as she went back to her blushing.
“Stop interrupting,” he asserted playfully.
She nodded for him to continue.
“So we did bathe together, but I kept your back to me at all times. I could not, however, prevent myself from seeing your beautiful, bountiful, and glorious breasts.” He smirked. “In truth, I didn’t try to avoid seeing them. But I didn’t touch. And that is saying a lot considering the fact that the witch left us alone a couple of times.”
“Did you see the rest?” she asked hesitantly.
“I averted my eyes,” he paused, “with difficulty.”
“Then, I appreciate your difficulty,” she said with a little smirk of her own.
“So?” he queried.
“So what?” she asked with confusion as he returned to the bedside and picked up the water glass.
“Broth and then a bath?” he asked.
She nodded. “Fine. But I’m gonna wear a bra and panties, and you’re gonna wear what you have on.”
“Fine,” he said with a devilish grin.
“What?” she asked.
“You might need help getting into and out of your makeshift bikini, little one.”
“I think I can manage that much,” she said, not being able to prevent her own grin from forming.
“What a pity—for me,” he returned.
After a moment, they both chuckled as they remembered him saying just those words to her the night of their first meeting.
A/N: Hello all! I hope that you liked the chapter. I wanted to show that Eric is coming to terms with his feelings for Sookie—or, at least, the ones he’s willing to admit to. I think that Eric is practical and he’s now realized that he cannot deny certain truths. So—by speaking of them in “somewhat limited” terms, he thinks he can control his feelings. Or—at least—that’s my interpretation for him at this moment (I think something similar happened at the end of Season 3 when he kissed Sookie in his office—though that never happened in this version of events).
Meanwhile, Sookie’s got some healing to do. Is she attracted to Eric? Yes. I think we saw clear evidence of that in Season 2 and before I picked up the story in Season 3 (porch scene anyone?). And—in this chapter—we get strong hints that she’s still attracted to him despite Eric’s blood no longer being inside of her.
One more thing-I will tell you this much: The AP will be a part of this story; however, she is NOT in Eric’s bloodline (either human or vampire). Godric’s maker is a new character I’ve created. You’ll learn more about her soon. I’m excited about her though.