“Eric…” Sookie said in a tone of warning as he rose his arm to launch the snowball he was holding. “Eric, don’t throw that at me.” She was smiling and backing up as his arm continued to raise.
“If you would just stand still…” he came toward her.
“No!” she started laughing as he released the snowball and it flew at her. She ran as fast as she could in the snow, and ducked out of the way so the snowball went flying past her head. “That would have hit me in the face!” She glared at him and began to gather up a snowball of her own.
“What do you plan on doing with that, Sookie?” Eric asked with amusement as Sookie packed the snow in her hands.
“Hold still and find out.” Sookie stuck her tongue out at him, continuing to add more snow to the ball she was making. Before long, she had to hold it with both hands. If he started to run, that would be the end of things. Eric was far too fast for her to have a snowball fight with. “You know if you would play fair-”
“You still wouldn’t hit me,” Eric cut her off in a teasing way.
“Jerk.” she mumbled and then launched her snowball at him. It was well-packed, and flew fairly well. Unfortunately, it landed at his feet. “Shit,” she muttered, then took off running again when Eric picked it up.
He caught up with her easily, holding her with one hand, and the snowball in the other. “I told you you wouldn’t hit me.” He held the snowball over her head.
“Eric don’t!” She was laughing again as the snowball came closer and closer to the top of her head. “Don’t!” She was still laughing when the icy cold snow hit the top of her head.
She shrieked at the cold. Snow slid down the collar of her coat, and down the back of her shirt. She squirmed and wiggled against him, which only seemed to encourage him to put more snow down the back of her jacket. She was laughing between shrieks as chunks of snow found unsuspecting warm flesh. Eric wrapped both arms around her, and pulled her down into the snow next to him.
“Oh to be young again,” Eric sighed, his arms and legs stretched out in the dense packing snow necessary for making a good snowball.
“For a thousand-years-old, you sometimes seem younger than I am.” Sookie shook her head, and turned over so that she was sitting on his legs. “Is this what it was like when you were human?” She looked around.
“Not quite.” Eric continued to smile, but he closed his eyes as he thought about it. “We got much more snow than this, but there was little time to go out and play like we are now.”
“Do you miss it?” Sookie asked as she tried to get snow out of her hair with hands encased in mittens.
“Being human, your home, your family…” Sookie trailed off.
“I have made my peace with those things long ago, Sookie. It does me no good to mourn for the things I cannot have.” He said easily, and she nodded.
“I don’t think I could do it.” She shook her head. “I don’t think I could just walk away from everything just for the promise of immortality.”
“But you would be so good at it.” Eric argued, and Sookie shook her head again.
“It’s not for me.” Sookie stood up, and began to brush snow off of her pants. She was cold and wet, and ready to go inside before she got herself sick.
She started to walk toward her house. Eric could have asked if she was mad, but he knew through their bond that wasn’t the case. They’d already had the discussion about her being turned at some point, and she’d made it abundantly clear she wasn’t interested. For the most part Eric let it rest after that, but every once in a while he would bring it up just in case she changed her mind. If Sookie ever decided that she wanted to be one of Them, he wanted to be the one to turn her.
He followed her into the house where there was a fire crackling and popping in the living room. They took off their wet shoes and clothes. Eric took them out to the mud porch since the cold didn’t bother him one bit, while Sookie wrapped herself in a blanket and sat in front of the fire. She sat with her knees pulled to her chest with her toes pointed toward the flickering flames. In the corner behind her, her Christmas tree was all lit up. There was a small pile of presents wrapped and ready underneath it. The list of people she had to buy gifts for was relatively short, but then it always had been. The hard part had been returning the gifts she’d bought with the intention of giving them to Jason’s new baby. Her heart had broken a little bit the day she took them back to the store.
As it stood, Sookie’s plans for Christmas were relatively simple. She would go to the midnight Christmas Eve church service she had always gone to with Gran for so long. She’d even talked Jason into going with her. He seemed a bit more open to religion in the face of all that had happened. He was searching for answers, and Sookie was thankful he was turning to God instead of alcohol the way some people would. Then Jason would come for a late breakfast, and they would spend the day lounging in front of the television watching old holiday movies while they waited for dinner to be ready. Sookie was making yet another turkey. She was getting pretty good at it with all the practice she’d been getting.
Eric sat down beside her a few seconds later. Sookie offered him part of her blanket, and before she knew what was happening she found herself sitting in front of Eric with her back against his chest. He hadn’t taken the blanket from her- which she was thankful for- since his skin was perpetually cool anyway. Her hair was damp from the giant snowball he’d smashed on top of her head, but that didn’t seem to bother him at all. They were quiet for a few minutes before Sookie broke the silence.
“You know if I ever changed my mind about being a vampire, I’m not sure I could let you be the one to turn me.” Sookie slid down against his body so that her head rested on his thigh.
“I don’t think I could let you belong to another.” Eric countered quickly, and that just brought the conversation to a screeching halt.
“Even if I chose it for myself, I would feel some sort of resentment about it. I don’t want to resent you.” Sookie turned her head toward the fire.
“Sookie we all start out the same. Whether it’s humans or vampires, all births are the same. I didn’t get a choice. Pam didn’t get a choice. Bill didn’t get a choice. In fact, I don’t know a single vampire who got a choice. You, my lover, would be the first.” He picked up her hand and kissed the back of it. “Have you never thought about it?”
“I’ve thought about it.” She admitted, and stroked his cheek. Not only did he look surprised by this, but she could feel it. “It’s not that big of a deal. You hang around vampires long enough, and you start to wonder what it would be like.”
“What would you do first if you were turned?” Eric asked her out of sheer curiosity.
“Oh, that’s easy.” Sookie sat up and turned her back to the fire so she and Eric were face to face. Flames danced on his pale skin, giving him a golden glow she could usually only imagine. “I would trap a fairy and drain her dry to see what all the fuss is about.”
Eric was impressed with this answer and Sookie felt a wave of lust hit her. “Her?” This was the word Eric latched on to out of the entire confession.
“Oh, calm down. I just figure a female might be easier to catch.” Sookie rolled her eyes, but she knew Eric had very different images running through his mind.
“You might be surprised about that. The females are often stronger than the males because they are used to being pursued by male predators.” Eric pointed out.
“Well, then, I guess it would be a good thing it would be two against one.” Sookie smiled at Eric, who seemed to be delighted at being invited into this little fantasy Sookie was laying out for him.
“Two against one.” The words fell out of his mouth in a dreamy sort of way that made Sookie giggle just a little. “That has a nice sound to it.”
“Well that’s how it would be if I was a vampire, right? Two against the world?” Sookie put her warm hands on Eric’s legs, and the blanket fell down her back.
“I don’t think the world would ever be the same.” Eric put his hands on Sookie’s and the two of them found themselves locked in a stare.
“Do you ever think about what it would be like to be a human at this point in time?” Sookie asked him.
“To be human would be a step backward for me, Sookie. I have already done that.”
“I know, but…I don’t know, don’t you ever wish we could take a walk together on a sunny day or we could eat breakfast together in the morning?” She tried not to feel embarrassed, but she was a human. These were things that normal human couples did all the time- things she had never really had the chance to do since the two serious relationships she’d been in were with vampires.
“Maybe you aren’t destined for a life filled with the ordinary, Sookie. Perhaps you are meant for something much greater.”
“Like being a vampire?” Sookie shook her head.
“No.” Eric said sharply, and she looked at him. “Sookie, if you told me you decided what you wanted was to be a vampire, I’d probably turn you before you even got the whole sentence out of your mouth. But I respect that you want to remain a human. If I didn’t, you wouldn’t have a pulse right now.”
He had a point and she knew it. There were times when she’d wondered why he didn’t just turn her. At first she had assumed it was because she was imagining his attraction to her. He would say things to make her think he had feelings for her, but he would never actually tell her what those feelings were. Once she became convinced he had feelings for her (this was after he’d healed her in Mississippi when she’d been staked), she’d started to think he didn’t because he simply liked to lord the possibility over her head. He could do it anytime he wanted, if he wanted, and there was nothing she could do to stop him.
She’d lived under that assumption for a while, but then he had started to become cautious about how frequently they exchanged blood. It was one thing for him to take it from her, in small doses, but it was more dangerous for her to take it from him. She didn’t know how close she was to being a vampire, but Eric had warned her to stay out of danger. He might not be able to heal her next time. If Eric was giving her that warning, it must mean she was awfully close. For that reason, she’d made sure to stay out of other people’s affairs and watch her own back a little more closely.
Of course, it helped that she had Eric around far more frequently than she did in the past. Not only did she not volunteer herself to settle other people’s problems, but Eric was also around to make sure she wasn’t in any danger with vampires or the local Supes who might want to cause her harm.
“Okay, well, if you rose one night to find you were a human again, what would you do first?” Sookie asked, since it seemed fitting.
“I would go looking for you.” He said without hesitation. “I imagine I would find you laying under the last rays of sunlight out in your yard in one of those tiny bathing suits that looks like underwear.”
“It’s called a bikini.” Sookie chuckled.
“It would be called ribbons when I was finished with it.” Eric informed her and she laughed a little louder.
“Well thanks for the warning.” Sookie pulled the blanket up around her shoulders again.
“Are you cold?” Eric asked, and reached up to rub her arms.
“Not really. I’m just feeling a little naked.” She admitted.
“Well in that case,” Eric pulled the blanket away from her altogether.
“Eric!” She tried to grab it back from him, but that was as useful as the snowball fight they’d had in the front yard.
He was in an awfully playful mood that night, and she wondered why that was. She didn’t see this side of him very often but she liked it. She liked when he was mischievous, but in a good-natured way. The last time he’d been like this, that she could recall, was back when he was cursed. He’d ambushed her on the mud porch one night when she was getting home from work. He thrown her over his shoulder, and took her over to Bill’s house to do a little spying. Unfortunately, Hallow had been in town at that point, and they were a little too close to danger for her liking. She was supposed to be keeping him safe, and there they were just a few yards away from the woman who wanted nothing more than to make Eric’s life hell.
He continued to hold the blanket just out of her reach, but this problem was easily solved by reaching over onto the couch and grabbing another afghan. “Problem solved.” Sookie smirked at him as she wrapped the blanket around her a little tighter. The problem with the afghan, of course, were all the holes in it. It didn’t really leave her feeling any more concealed than if she wasn’t wearing it.
“Nicely played.” Eric smiled at her and tossed the blanket he was holding onto the recliner on the other side of the room. Sookie thought about dashing over to get it, but Eric would beat her over there easily. It wouldn’t even come close to a challenge for him.
“So what does a vampire do for Christmas anyway?” Sookie asked once they were settled again in front of the fire. Now they were laying side by side with throw pillows underneath them.
“The same thing I do every other day.”
“So you’ll be at the bar all night?” Sookie asked.
“Of course. Pam tried to convince me to hire a man to dress up like Santa.” He shook his head.
Sookie burst out laughing. “Oh sure! I can just see that now.”
“It was a ridiculous idea. Although, I was a bit intrigued about the idea of Santa’s naughty and nice list.” Eric’s eyebrows danced as he stared at Sookie.
“Where do you think I’d be on that list?” She rolled onto her side from her stomach.
Eric looked where the blanket had fallen open just a bit. “You belong on a list all your own, my lover.”
“I’m serious.” Sookie grinned, genuinely curious to know what Eric thought.
She wanted to believe she was a good person and the good she’d done was enough to outweigh the bad, but sometimes she wasn’t so sure. She’d killed a vampire, even if it was sort of in self-defense. She’d killed Debbie Pelt, again in self-defense. She’d witnessed the murder of another vampire while at Sophie-Anne’s mansion in New Orleans. If there was any truth to what the Fellowship had to say, she was certainly going to hell for allowing Eric and Bill to feed on her, to say nothing of the sexual relationships she’d carried on with both of them. She’d killed a fairy without hesitation. There were a bunch of other sins to add to the list, but those were the big ones that stood out in her mind. She’d done her best to make her peace with all of those things, but just because she had rationalized her actions it didn’t mean there wasn’t a higher power out there somewhere keeping score.
“You do what you need to do to survive, Sookie.” Eric pulled her a little closer and she slid easily along the wooden floor. “You have never taken a life with malicious intent. You have tried to save the lives of others, in spite of the suffering it has caused you. You have fought valiantly for the causes, and people, you believe in. And in spite of all the reasons you have accumulated to walk away from the whole supernatural lot of us, you continue to fight. If that doesn’t put you at the top of the nice list, then I don’t know what would.”
Their bond told her that he was speaking the truth, not that she had a reason to think he would lie to her. He had always been nothing if not brutally honest with her, even when she could have used a lie or two to make things better. Well, maybe not better so much as easier. Eric saw little value in the white lies people told themselves. The truth would always surface eventually. He liked that Sookie was the kind of woman who dealt in facts instead of speculations. He liked that he could tell her the truth, and she could not only take it, but want to know more. He didn’t need to treat her delicately and she would actually become offended if he ever did.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Sookie suddenly asked.
“What?” Her question threw him off.
“You’re never this nice to me all at once. What’s going on? If you weren’t immortal I’d think you were going to tell me you were dying or something.” She sounded a bit anxious.
“I can be mean if you’d like.” Eric rolled on top of her. He seemed heavier when she was laying on a hardwood floor.
“I don’t want you to be mean. I just want you to be yourself.” Sookie looked up at him.
“So I’m not nice when I am myself?”
“You are. You’re just not normally this nice.” Sookie wasn’t sure how to explain it to him. “The Eric I’m used to has little time for snowball fights and leisurely chats in front of the fireplace.”
“That’s because most of the time we spend together is while we are conducting business in one form or another.” Eric looked down at her body, mostly naked under his own. “This is certainly not a business transaction.”
“It better not be.” Sookie said quickly, and Eric laughed. “Can we get up off the floor? This is starting to hurt.”
She had barely gotten the words out of her mouth before Eric was standing and taking her with him. She was on her feet for about a second before he was scooping her up, and carrying her off toward her bedroom. He dropped her on her bed, and she scrambled to get under her blankets. It wasn’t nearly as warm in her bedroom as it had been in front of the fire.
“So tell me more about this fairy you would capture if you were a vampire.” Eric urged once he was laying next to Sookie.
She closed her eyes, and rolled onto her side. “Are you going to make me regret telling you about this?”
“I’m just curious.” Eric said innocently. but she sensed something far more devious underneath it.
“I haven’t put that much thought into it.” Sookie told him but that was a bit of a lie too.
“Then make it up.” Eric urged.
Sookie felt slightly trapped at the moment and said, “You do realize this wasn’t a sexual thing to me, right?”
“But it would be if you were a vampire.” Eric turned toward her. “Believe me, lover, it is nearly impossible to resist the smell and taste of the Fae.” Just thinking about it was enough to get Eric going, and his hands started moving around as if they had a mind of their own.
“Is that why you like me so much?” Sookie asked in a joking manner, but the question seemed to really bother Eric.
He retracted his hands and rolled onto his back to give Sookie a little bit of room. “I’m not that shallow, Sookie. I can’t say I wouldn’t miss it if you woke up tomorrow and no longer had the same taste, but I would like you for the same reasons I do now. You can trust it has nothing to do with the Fae in your blood, or the special talent in your brain.”
His feelings were hurt. “I’m sorry, Eric. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Sookie. Each of us has flaws and obstacles we must overcome. That does not change when a human becomes Vampire.”
“So what flaws do you have?” Sookie knew Eric had flaws, but she was curious to see what they were from his own perspective.
“Some might say my feelings for you.” He told her.
“Would you agree with those people?”
“There are times when I think, perhaps, there is something to their claim. I have put myself at risk for you more times than I have any other human.”
“Do you regret it?” Sookie asked.
“Not for a second.” Eric pressed himself against her, holding the back of her head. “Listen to me, Sookie. I made the choices I did because they were the most beneficial to us both. Your death would not benefit either of us in any way. The world is a far more interesting place with you in it.”
Sookie couldn’t help but wish that Eric would say he loved her right at that moment. He hadn’t said it since he was cursed and she didn’t want to hear it if it wasn’t the truth, but she hoped it was. It wasn’t that she wanted to hear it all the time and she certainly didn’t expect him to make a big production out of it, but it would be nice to hear in the quieter moments they spent together. She didn’t see the harm in her knowing it. In her heart she knew it was true but until she heard him say it, she wouldn’t allow herself to really process the weight of that emotion.
There were some people who tossed those words around as if they were meaningless, but their actions contradicted their proclaimed emotions. Then there were people like Eric who acted with every ounce of feeling he was holding back because he just couldn’t find the words to express himself. But Sookie tended to believe that Eric’s inability to express his emotions was a selective flaw he chose to exercise. It was a rare moment when Eric was lost for words, but then Sookie and Eric rarely engaged in discussions about their feelings. And in many ways, Sookie was as stunted as Eric.
“If I had died after the fairy attack-”
“You lived.” Eric didn’t like talking about that night.
He didn’t like knowing he had let her down, or that he might have lost her because he wasn’t there to save her. He didn’t like the way she stared at her scars sometimes, or the painful memories they brought to each of them. He didn’t like knowing that no matter what he did for the rest of her life, it would never erase a single moment she spent praying to see his face and didn’t. Because she didn’t want to make him feel any further guilt over the whole thing, she decided to drop it.
“You should know that if you had not survived, I would not have stopped until there wasn’t a single fairy left in this realm, or the other. I would have killed them all, and I would have mourned your loss in ways I cannot begin to describe to you.” Eric was still holding the back of her head, forcing her to look in his eyes.
She nodded, but said nothing. What were the right words to say to something like that anyway? She had already told him she didn’t blame him for what happened to her. Yes, she had been hurt he hadn’t come for her. He wasn’t obligated, but she had just gotten so used to him showing up at just the right time, and when he didn’t…when he didn’t it broke her heart. She had never wished so desperately to see another person’s face and it was in that moment, while she was laying on the dirty blood-stained floor, she realized she loved him. It was the real thing, and not just the sort of love you feel in passing for another person after knowing them for a while. It was the kind of love that fueled her and made her weak at the same time. It burned holes in her stomach late at night when she was alone and thinking of him, and it warmed her heart when he was close by. It turned her inside out and made the world seem foreign when he was away.
“Maybe I don’t have to be a vampire for it to be two against the world.” Sookie pondered out loud, and wasn’t at all surprised to feel his lips press against hers.
She’d never kissed him with her eyes open before, and it was a strange feeling to look into his eyes while he kissed her. It was almost overpowering. She could feel everything in their bond, but then to add what was in his eyes to the passion on his lips, Sookie thought she might just break wide open right there next to him. Is it really possible to be this in love?, she thought to herself, but didn’t say a word. Their feelings twisted and tangled, and ultimately resulted in the loss of what clothing they were wearing.
In the entryway of the house, the Grandfather clock chimed. It was officially Christmas Eve. By then sex with Eric had become familiar, but not boring. She couldn’t imagine herself with anyone else, not that she wanted to. It had been almost two years since she’d found herself in bed with anyone other than Eric and she hoped it would stay that way for a long time. While it was true he was her husband in the eyes of other vampires, she didn’t allow herself to see him as such. There was a whole mess of steps between stranger and husband that should be taken and they hadn’t been. At least, not to her satisfaction. Although, she would admit, she was becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of being Eric’s wife.
Eric disappeared beneath the blankets, positioning himself between legs that were still tan from the summer. His hands remained on her chest, rubbing and squeezing at the right intervals. He smelled a slight trace of fairy, the way he always did when he was in bed with Sookie. It was an intoxicating smell that made it difficult for him to control himself. The desire to tear her apart and drain her dry was a powerful one, and he had to remind himself it was Sookie he was with. He felt an incredible urge to bite her thigh, but held back. Her body moved in predictable ways and his right hand drifted down to where the rest of him was.
Her hips tilted accordingly,while her hands grabbed at the sheets beside her. Her voice caught at the top of her throat, making a sound that was part gasp, part choking sound. If the sound wasn’t so familiar Eric might be concerned he was hurting her, but he knew better than that. Her hips continued to raise off the bed higher and higher as the sounds that escaped her throat became a little bit louder and longer. He nuzzled her thigh as if he were going to bite her, and he could feel her body tighten with pleasure and anticipation. But instead of biting her he moved his mouth up her body, stopping at various points along the way. Her breathing was ragged and rushed, and she was pulling him up toward her face.
Her hand slipped between their bodies for just a moment to make sure they were aligned. She moved her bottom half over just a bit and whispered Eric’s name in his ear. She turned her face to kiss him and when she did, her hands snaked around his sides and down his back to grab at the butt she had first fallen in love with when he had no idea who he was, or how he’d come to be in her care. Her hips lifted off the bed once again as her hands pushed against him. He entered her easily, both of them gasping with relief. To tease her, Eric moved slowly in spite of the pressure from her hands. Even with all of the months since the fairy attack, he could still feel the remaining strength of his blood coursing through her system.
“Faster.” Sookie breathed, her throat exposed to him.
“Be patient, lover.” Eric’s voice was about as light as Sookie’s, but he enjoyed seeing her so frenzied. It was rare to see Sookie lose control and it excited him to know he had that sort of power over her.
Her hands traveled up his sides to his back and had he been human, he would have felt a chill run up his spine. Instead he caught the scent of fairy in the air and his eyes went a little starry. He could see her pulse jumping in the veins in her throat. Her jugular vein was doing the most enticing dance. It was fast and seductive, and for a moment he thought it was calling his name before he realized it was Sookie’s voice he was hearing. He hadn’t realized he’d started to thrust into her with greater intensity and strength, and the noises she was making were starting to sound more like whimpers of pain than pleasure. He backed off just a little bit, since he didn’t want to hurt her. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her throat, and finally the need to taste her overpowered him.
Her fingers dug into his back as her body tightened, and just as a small scream was welling in her throat, his fangs sank into her throat to cut it off. She made another one of those choking noises, and for a second, Sookie thought she might black out. She felt herself float up out of her body, and she could very clearly see Eric on top of her, sucking on her neck while her own body shook underneath him. He finished feeding, and then kissed his way back to her mouth. When his lips reached hers, Sookie felt herself slam back into the present, and a warm aftershock radiated from her pelvis and shot out of her fingers and toes.
Eric pulled her on top of him, and her hips rocked lazily against his. She picked up his hand, kissing each of his fingers before getting to his palm and working her way down to his wrist. Eric had made it no big secret that he enjoyed being bitten. She just had to be careful not to break the skin. With the threat of being turned hanging over her head, she would have to hold herself back just a little bit. Eric was slightly buzzed by the trace of fairy blood running through his system, and he moved her on top of him as quickly as he could without making her nauseous. Her body wasn’t built for the sort of speed he was capable of when he wanted it. She kissed his wrist, and he opened his mouth to tell her to bite it.
“Be patient.” She whispered, and smiled at him without removing her mouth from his pulseless wrist.
His head rolled back as her hips continued to rock against him. Seeing an opportunity too good to pass up, Sookie bent quickly and bit his neck. Eric hissed underneath her. His hand moved from her hip to the back of her head to hold her in place while he shuddered under her. He muttered something in that language she didn’t understand. She gently kissed the spot she had just bitten, and then pressed her body against his, holding onto him tightly. He pulled her comforter up around them, knowing it wouldn’t be long before she complained about the chill in the air.
The room was nearly silent. All Sookie heard was the sound of her own breathing and the occasional pop or crackle from the fire in the living room. Eric could hear the thudding of Sookie’s heart, but even better, he felt it against his own still chest. Her breath was warm against his throat, and smelled sweet. His fingers got lost in her tangled blond hair for a while before running slowly up and down her back. He felt the tiny hairs on her body stand up straight, and everything shuddered just a bit.
“She would have dark hair. Black maybe, and she would be about my height. She would have dark eyes and full. red lips. To me she would smell like cotton candy.” Sookie mumbled in the darkness.
It took Eric a moment to figure out that Sookie was talking about the fairy she would capture if she were a vampire and when he figured it out, he started to laugh. Sookie could hear his voice reverberate through his chest, and it made her smile. She loved the sound of his laughter, and wished she could hear it more often. But then maybe the fact that he didn’t laugh so frequently was what made it so special to her.
“You know, I take back what I said earlier.” Eric rolled them over so that he was on top of Sookie again. “I think maybe you belong on the naughty list after all.”
She smiled up at him, and stretched forward to lick his extended fangs. “I can live with that. Merry Christmas, Eric.” She pushed his hair back over his shoulders.
“Merry Christmas, my lover.” He answered, and then kissed her.