“But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”—Khalil Gibran
He smiled, gratefulness alighting his eyes. “I looked at you when you were defending Godric. You were so passionate—so fierce. And I felt . . . .” His voice trailed off.
“It was a thought really—attached to a feeling I didn’t understand at the time.”
“Yes. I pictured us together. I was showing you my farm—in Sweden.” He shrugged. “It was an odd thought to have in that moment.”
“And the feeling?” she asked.
“I think it was contentment,” he responded after a moment. “It is what I feel with you now—always—despite the threat we face.”
Sookie smiled a little.
Eric pushed another strand of hair behind her ear. “At the time, my thought was fleeting. No, that’s not true; I actively expelled it from my mind for the moment, promising myself that I would return to it—and analyze it after I spoke with Godric.”
Sookie’s smile turned a little rueful. “I’m familiar with doing things like that. But—in the past—it wasn’t often that I’d actually let myself get around to thinking about the hardest things.”
“I, too, ignored the things related to feelings I did not want to have or to understand,” Eric admitted, his fingers now drawing patterns upon her shoulders. “And after the roof happened and Godric was gone, all I could feel for a while was my pain—until the night you came to Fangtasia in that lavender dress.” His eyebrows furrowed.
“What?” she asked.
“It was a lovely dress,” Eric said. “And you looked beautiful, but the garment didn’t suit you. A shade paler would have better complemented the hue of your skin—the bronze in your eyes. A shade darker would have intensified the pink in your cheeks, the gold of your hair.” His smile turned from longing to mischief. “And—of course—it wasn’t red.”
“Your favorite color.”
“Yes,” he chuckled. His face became more serious again as he went on. “The night after that, you came back to Fangtasia, that time with the picture of the Were’s tattoo. And—after that—it was difficult to control or to understand my feelings once more. My grief over Godric’s death and my affection for you both got overridden by my hatred of the Weres and then Russell. But after the severing spell—when we were in Slidell—I relaxed a little. And I let myself feel. I let myself be free to just enjoy the sensations of being with you.”
“And then we learned about the Fae bond,” Sookie said ruefully.
“Yes, and it felt as if my feelings were out of my control again.”
Sookie caressed his cheek, offering what comfort she could with her hand and her eyes.
He brought his hand up to cover hers. “So—the Fae bond may have made me act on my feelings for you in a way that I might have been too stubborn to do otherwise, but I now know that it didn’t create my feelings. I am sorry I didn’t recognize that before I caused you pain, min älskade.”
“I can’t believe that you’re apologizing,” Sookie smirked, trying to infuse her tone with a little playfulness.
“But I am,” Eric said sincerely. “As I told you before, I had tried to instill the first dream that I sent to you with lust, but I didn’t feel that emotion from you the next night—during the meeting with Nan.”
“What did you feel from me?”
“Curiosity. Affection even. And it wasn’t just in the way you kept looking over at me either. It was as if your blood was curious about mine inside of you. I had very little blood in you at the time, but I was using it to monitor your blood and your feelings carefully. By then, you’d begun to question Bill’s blood in you. I felt him trying to use that blood to foist fear into you when you spoke up for Godric. And I felt your blood,” he paused, “resist his—almost shield itself. It was,” he paused again, “amazing. You fought Bill’s influence because your own emotions refused to be undermined. You spoke out of care for Godric, but your blood also showed me that you cared for me as well,” he continued with something akin to awe in his tone. “I did not know how to interpret that. For a moment, I worried that I had unwittingly influenced your blood to fight against his—because I hated him.”
“But you hadn’t,” Sookie stated with certainty.
“No. Feeling your emotions, I realized that you already thought better of me than I had hoped was possible. And—again—I just didn’t quite know what to do with that.” He paused, his gaze thoughtful. “Now—ironically—my only fear is that the Fae bond created your love for me.”
“I don’t care if it did or not,” Sookie said sincerely—and stubbornly. “The truth is that the Fae bond would have never formed if I hadn’t wanted it to. Whatever happened before or after it was made, I reached out to you on that rooftop because I cared for you—because I somehow knew you cared for me too. Maybe my blood inherently recognized something about yours—that it was its match. That you are my match.”
“And I accepted that match,” Eric said, his eyes burning with love. “It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know what I was doing—not anymore. What matters is that—in accepting the Fae bond—I was following my instincts. And it was the best thing that has ever happened to me, Sookie. A thousand years, and that moment—that horrible moment when I felt that my life was ending—was actually the beginning of what I now know is my “true” life. A life with you.”
Tears now streaming down her cheeks, Sookie tilted her head up to kiss Eric. At first, it was soft as their lips barely touched. Then—progressively—it became more heated, just as Sookie’s flesh heated. Even in the confined space of the twin-sized bed, Eric and Sookie had plenty of room, for there was no separation between their bodies.
“You love me,” she panted when she had to break the kiss to get air.
“Yes. With my whole being,” Eric grunted as he trailed kisses along her jawline and then up to her lips again. It wasn’t long before Sookie had to be let up for air again.
“Eric,” she said as he recommenced his sweet assault on her chin, “I want to complete the vampire bond.”
Eric stopped his ministrations and pushed himself up a little so that he could look into her eyes. “You do?”
Sookie nodded. “I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not afraid of how you feel about me or of how I feel about you.” She took a deep breath. “And this is a bond that we can choose, Eric. And I do choose it. I choose it with every part of who I am. My head tells me that creating another bond with you would be the smart thing to do—because it will make us stronger. My heart wants to do it because I love you. You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had, and I believe in you—and in us.” She took a breath. “Finally, my gut chooses you.” She smiled. “Maybe it all comes down to the blood, after all, because every instinct I have has always told me that I could trust you. You see me as who I am and what I could be—not as who you want me to be. So—if you choose it too—I want to bond your way.”
“Yes,” Eric said simply. “It is what I choose.”
“You don’t need to think about it?” Sookie asked somewhat nervously.
“No,” Eric confirmed. “I thought about it as I was driving us here. You are right. On every level, it is the right choice. It will make us stronger, and we will need all of our strength for the days ahead. It will allow you to feel my love for you—even when I have a difficult time expressing it. It will allow me to send you comfort in times of distress—like yesterday.” His eyes flashed with an emotion the likes of which she’d never seen from him before—pure devotion. “And it would enable me to be a proper helpmeet to you, Sookie Stackhouse. I wish to pledge to you.”
“It is the vampire way of marriage. I want you for my wife.”
“You wanna marry me?” Sookie gasped, as fresh tears fell from her eyes. Eric quickly brushed them away.
He smiled. “If we had no blood tie, I wouldn’t feel how happy my words are making you, and I would be worried because of these tears, min älskade. Once we are bonded in the vampire way, you will have similar peace of mind about my feelings.”
“How do we pledge?” Sookie asked. “Can we do it now?”
“But you have not yet told me ‘yes,'” Eric teased.
“I figured you could feel the ‘yes,'” she teased back.
“Still—I would like to hear it,” he responded sincerely. “I have never asked a woman for her hand in marriage.”
“But—you were married when you were a human,” Sookie said.
“Yes—but I negotiated a marriage treaty with the woman’s father. I’d said fewer than ten words to Aude before we wed.”
“Wow!” Sookie exclaimed, marveling at how different Eric’s human life was compared to hers.
“So?” Eric asked.
“So?” Sookie responded, still lost in her thoughts about the Viking culture.
“Your answer, min älskade.”
“Yes!” she cried out, bringing her hand up to stroke his cheek once more. “I want to pledge with you. And I want to marry you according to human law. And I want to call up Leonie and see if there’s a Fae version of marriage too! I want to do it all.”
“Greedy,” Eric chuckled.
“You love it when I’m greedy,” Sookie said knowingly.
“Yes, I do,” Eric confirmed, capturing her lips hungrily.
Sookie wound her arms around him as tightly as she could as he repositioned them so that he was lying over her. She sighed as she felt some of the weight of him, even though she knew that he was holding most of it off of her with his strong forearms. As their tongues continued to play together, he slid home into her.
“Eric,” she moaned into his mouth as she brought up her legs to wrap around his taut bottom.
“Sookie,” he said at the same time.
Buried to the hilt, he didn’t move for a moment.
“Do you feel that?” he asked as he broke the kiss and looked down at her.
She let out a breathy giggle. “Yes—it’d be difficult not to.”
He laughed, causing his cock to twitch inside of her. She moaned at the sensation.
“I meant how perfectly we fit,” Eric said, his smile softening. “In a thousand years, no one has felt this perfect. And in a thousand more, I will still be amazed by the feeling of it.”
“It won’t get old for you?” she asked with a mixture of playfulness and concern.
“Impossible,” he said. “It will get better.”
With that, he began to move. In. Out. In. Out. Faster. Then slower. Deeper. Then more shallow. Sometimes brushing her g-spot. Sometimes filling every inch of her sheath.
Holding him tightly, she thrust back, complementing each of his movements with her own—dancing with him. Hips raising and then lowering. Internal muscles squeezing and then relaxing.
“Sookie,” he moaned as she ground her pelvis against his, creating impossibly deeper contact.
“Do you want to finish the bond now?” she asked breathlessly.
“Later,” he said as he sped up his movements again.
“Okay,” she grunted as he thrust upward, spurring her release. “Eric!” she yelled out as her walls throbbed around his cock.
For his part, Eric let lose a string of profanities from a variety of languages as his own orgasm began.
He was shivering over her—well after her own long release had ended.
“You okay?” she asked as she brought a shaky hand up to his cheek.
His fangs were down, and his eyes were savage and protective; he looked as if he could have just crawled out of the primordial soup of the earth.
“This is the first time I’ve had sex with someone I knew that I loved,” he said gently, his tone contradicting his fierce look.
She smiled and continued to gently stroke his face. “It’s nice—isn’t it?”
He nodded and looked down at her with adoration. “Leonie was right.”
“Because I love you, I do have more to lose. But I have so much more to fight for too,” he said, moving a hand to caress her face in a mirror of her own actions. “I loved Godric, but I couldn’t stay with him on that rooftop. I loved my parents, but I didn’t go out into the dark to avenge them.”
“I know,” Sookie said with a little sob. “And I’m glad. You would have died, otherwise.”
“I will let no dark or light stop me from coming for you, min älskade,” he vowed ardently.
“Or me for you,” she responded, even as they leaned toward each other for a soft kiss. As it ended, they were both smiling.
A/N: If you want a little insight into what I was trying to do with the Slidell section of the story (back in Uninvited)—it was to create a “nest” similar to the one in Dead to the World/Season 4 when Eric loses his memories. However, I didn’t want the memory loss to have to happen for Eric to let himself “relax” and allow himself to just “be.” And I wanted Sookie to have that time to be able to start seeing herself as valuable. I think that her cries for “normalcy” later in the series/books are inherently moments when she cannot understand her own value. I used to think that this was interesting and had hoped to see Sookie eventually grow beyond this. But C.H. put the brakes on her growth completely. When TB has Sookie choose not to use up her “light” to kill Bill, I had a moment of hope for her. But then what did we get? We saw her—years later—pregnant and in the middle of a “normal” life. Sure there were lots of Supes at her table, but that just continues to show that Sookie is accepting of others. I never got a sense of her accepting herself—even though I think that’s what they were trying to do. At least they tried. C.H. failed Sookie in my mind. Anyway, Slidell was designed to give both Sookie and Eric a little “nest” that echoed the one Sookie established with amnesia Eric. But with the opposite of amnesia going on. (Of course, then they learn about the Fae bond, and they doubt their feelings are real. They can’t quite figure out where their feelings are from—like Eric after Hallow’s spell is lifted maybe?) Anyway, that’s a little window into the way my head works. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Now that they have accepted the Fae bond and the fact that they love each other (and—really—who cares where love comes from—right?), they are all in. Vampire bond, vampire pledge, Fae bond, fairy wedding, human wedding…they’re gonna do it all.
Thanks for reading!
As always, thanks Kleannhouse for looking this over for me. And thanks Seph for the wonderful visual art. I especially love this chapter’s banner. Very evocative!