Listening to Sookie attempt to get the truth out of Bill was frustrating for Eric. More than once he wanted to rush into the house and employ his own methods of interrogation. Eric had been around for the Inquisition—he knew how to get people to talk whether they wanted to or not. It wasn’t his place to do that, though. Sookie managed to get the truth out of Bill, even though it took the toddler vampire making a moronic slip in order for her to do it.
Sookie had used one of the oldest tricks in the book to catch Bill in his lie, and he had fallen for it masterfully. He was so busy trying to keep all his lies straight that he wasn’t really paying attention to what Sookie had said before in their conversation. Attention to detail… that was the difference between failure and success. Sookie hadn’t outright told him the reasons she had come to see him, and while he had wanted to know what they were he decided to let her tell him in her own time.
Now he knew.
He also knew it wouldn’t be long before the queen came looking for her telepath, because one thing was for certain, she wouldn’t give up that easily. Bill had failed, but there was no guarantee that she wouldn’t just come up to Sookie’s house all on her own. Sookie had made a good point about Bill simply kidnapping her. It would be easy enough to do since Sookie worked late into the night. Telepath or not, Bill could very easily just snatch her up as she walked to her car.
But then Eric started to laugh to himself. Any attempts by a vampire to kidnap Sookie Stackhouse were more than likely to end in the vampire meeting the True Death. She was part fairy, for fuck’s sake! He assumed Sookie hadn’t yet met with any of her fairy relatives, but if there was any species of supernatural that was more possessive than a vampire, it was a fairy. They didn’t stand for their kin being fucked with, especially by something with fangs. Bill could have taken Sookie, but it would have been the last thing he ever did.
Eric was standing at the far end of Sookie’s porch when her front door had gone flying open, and Bill pathetically attempted to hang onto the jamb instead of taking the rejection like a man. No doubt Bill had a lot on his mind at that point. Not only had he been fool enough to let Sookie slip through his fingers, but he had also failed his queen. It was a bad, bad night in the world of William Compton, and Eric couldn’t help but do a little gloating on the inside.
That is until he heard Sookie’s quiet sobs from the doorway. Eric sped around to the backside of the house, but didn’t hear Sookie say anything else. She ignored Bill’s pleas and begging for her to give him another chance. Pam would have been proud at how hard Eric rolled his eyes while he let himself into the kitchen silently. He sat down in the same chair he’d sat in the night before, and waited silently for Sookie. He would give her all the time she needed.
It didn’t take long for Sookie to find him in the kitchen. Eric could smell the scent of her tears, and it enraged him. He wasn’t angry with Sookie for feeling the deep sting that was traveling through her, but with everyone who had conspired to hurt her the way they did. He felt the urge to protect her from her pain, and knew if he wanted to he could absorb some of it for her, but he knew Sookie well enough to understand that she would feel betrayed by that as well. The pain was hers to deal with in her own time, and her own way.
He wouldn’t make the same stupid mistake Compton had made.
Then she spoke softly, “It’s over. Bill and I are through.”
Sookie completely crumbled after that and would have fallen on the floor if Eric hadn’t caught her. In spite of his own discomfort at seeing her so broken, Eric sat her in his lap and let her cry it out. She sobbed in his arms, soaking the front of his t-shirt with her tears. He didn’t care. She could ruin a thousand shirts if she needed to. With every tear that rolled down her cheeks she was letting go of Compton a little bit more. That thought was the only thing that brought any sort of cheer to the situation.
It wasn’t until Sookie asked a few minutes later, as she began to calm down, that Eric realized he was humming quietly. Her sad brown eyes locked on his as she said, “You did that when I was scratched by the Maenad. What song is that you’re humming?”
Eric smiled faintly and said, “An old lullaby from my human days.”
Sookie nodded, and then rested her head on his shoulder before she said, “It’s beautiful.”
Eric very clearly recalled his mother singing it to his infant sister when she would whimper and cry throughout the night. His sister had been a beautiful baby, and not more than nine weeks old when his family was slaughtered. More than 1,000 years had passed since the death of his family, and Eric was still hell bent on finding the person responsible. He knew that someday, somewhere, he would find out who had murdered his family.
Sookie sat up in his lap and looked into Eric’s eyes. She leaned in and softly kissed him on the mouth. “Thank you for being here for me. If anyone had said just three days ago that you would be my biggest ally, I would tell them to quit hittin’ the V.”
Eric smiled faintly at her and said, “Thank you for trusting me. And just so we’re clear, I didn’t know what the queen was doing up until you came to see me two nights ago.”
“I know,” Sookie reached up to touch his cheek, her warm fingers trailing along his skin.
Eric reciprocated the gesture and wiped away the remaining tears on her cheek. Sookie squeezed her eyes closed and a few more tears fell. He wiped those away as well, and Sookie opened her eyes in time to see him lick his thumb. She gasped quietly in surprise.
“They’re as sweet as your blood,” he explained, and Sookie nodded. He lifted her chin when her head sunk and he said, “But that doesn’t mean I like to see them.”
“I’m sorry,” Sookie apologized and climbed off his lap.
“What are you apologizing for?” Eric asked her as she went across the room to get a paper towel to dry her face.
“I shouldn’t be cryin’ all over you like that. My problems with Bill aren’t your problems,” Sookie sighed, and threw the soiled paper towel in the trash.
“It’s okay, Sookie,” Eric said sincerely, and really he didn’t mind it too much. The hard ass in him wondered what there was to cry about over losing Compton, but then he wasn’t in love with the toddler vampire and Sookie very clearly had been. That would change, in time, and he planned to be there when she was ready to give her heart to someone else.
“He was at peace with this choice,” Sookie said softly a few minutes later, her eyes trained on the floor. “I don’t know if that makes it any easier to bear, but I think knowing he was ready to let go is a little comforting.”
Eric looked at Sookie, his mind reeling through his years with Godric. There were so many, and they all played quickly in his mind from the moment a small boy landed on top of him while he waited to burn on his funeral pyre, to the moment the sun—along with his Maker’s command- forced Eric indoors and separated them for Godric’s last moments on earth. But then there was Sookie, her warm, compassionate hand holding his, reassuring him that Godric wouldn’t die alone. Somehow she had understood that need he felt, in spite of the fact that Sookie had all the reasons in the world not to show up there.
Eric had been prepared to die with his Maker up on that roof, but just as Godric had promised him the night he was turned, he once again bestowed Eric with the gift of life with his final command. As painful as it was to walk away, Godric had been correct to force him indoors. There was still plenty of living to be done, and Eric had to wonder if there was much that Godric knew that he didn’t. Even in death, his Maker was still teaching him, and that was part of what made letting him go so difficult. A thousand years had passed between them, and still Eric was learning; it never ended.
“He asked me if I would care for you,” Sookie’s eyes slowly lifted from the floor where her toes were skimming across the wood as she talked. “I didn’t really know what to say at that moment. You had managed to save my life twice in one night, and then you tricked me into drinking your blood. When I think about it now, that night is sort of the perfect way to describe whatever it is between us, Eric.
“You can be incredibly kind and generous, and then you turn around and do something deceitful or cruel. What I didn’t understand until that night was that you were just being yourself. You are unlike anyone I’ve ever met, which I suppose isn’t saying much considering how small my life has been up until recently, but I think even if I lived another thousand years I wouldn’t come across anyone like you.
“Godric told me he’d stopped thinking like a vampire; he was worried about how God would punish him when he died. I told him that God, at least the God I know, doesn’t punish; he forgives. I don’t know what sort of sins Godric felt the need to be forgiven for, but I know we all have bones in our closets. We all make mistakes we wish we didn’t, and sometimes we hurt people for a bunch of reasons—sometimes on accident and sometimes just because we can because we think it heals something in ourselves to do it. I think Godric was looking for redemption. I don’t know if he found it, but I hope he did.
“I’m very sorry you lost him, Eric. I didn’t know the same vampire you did, and I can’t even begin to comprehend how painful it must have been for you. The closest I’ve come to experiencin’ that kind of loss was when my Gran was murdered, and it doesn’t even compare. I know I miss hearin’ her wisdom. She always had a way of makin’ things make sense for me. I wish she was here now to tell me that everything is gonna work out, and that someday my heart won’t hurt as bad as it does right now. I wish she could have known you,” Sookie said, and then laughed.
Eric couldn’t find words, which was rare. All he could do was look at Sookie, and the bright smile that graced her tear-stained face.
“She’d thank you for savin’ my life and then try to swat you for trickin’ me with your blood,” Sookie informed him, and then she really dissolved into giggles.
If he didn’t know any better he would think she’d gone a little mad based on the way she was doubled over, laughing hysterically, but he felt the corners of his mouth turn up into a smile. He had seen pictures of Sookie’s grandmother. If Sookie’s size was any indication, her Grandmother hadn’t been much taller and she was definitely not as strong as her granddaughter. He had never met the woman, but it certainly would have been amusing for her to try and swat him with anything within her reach.
Before he knew it, Eric was laughing along with her and when Sookie stood upright again, clutching her sides as she sucked in air, there were fresh tears on her face. They weren’t tears of sadness, though. Sookie slowly calmed herself down and leaned against the counter while she caught her breath.
“I would have liked to have met your Gran,” Eric admitted. “If she was anything like you, I think it would have been quite interesting.”
“Thanks to Lafayette, that could still be arranged,” Sookie said, just as Eric heard a car in the distance.
“Speak of the devils, I think they’re here,” Eric stood, and Sookie started to walk toward the doorway. Eric caught her hand and pulled her back. He looked deep into her eyes and said, “I never thanked you for being there at the end. I will never forget that you did that for him.”
Sookie nodded and said, “I didn’t do that for him, Eric, I did that for you. I just didn’t know it until now.”
The car was turning onto Sookie’s driveway, but Eric still moved at vampire speed, pulling Sookie’s face to his and kissing her for all he was worth. He wasn’t sure how, or when it happened, but in that moment Eric knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was in love with Sookie Stackhouse.