Chapter 71: Strong Enough

Sookie lay on her side feeling numb. She hadn’t spoken since before they left the basement in Fangtasia. For the last few hours Eric had been curled around her, silently comforting her the only way he could. It meant a lot to her that he had remained at her side and allowed her to grieve. He didn’t ask questions or pressure her to speak. In fact, he had checked out of the bond to give her all the room she needed, but he physically stayed close.

He left her side long enough to take Moli outside and make her a cup of tea. Sookie didn’t drink it, but she knew it was there. It was just before sunrise when she rolled over to face Eric. His eyes were closed, but opened easily when Sookie was settled again. She touched his cheek and leaned in to kiss his lips gently. The kiss was a thank you for his kindness and patience. Eric pulled her into his arms and she burrowed into his chest as the dam broke and the tears came. She cried until there was nothing left, and her body started to shut down from exhaustion. Eric stroked her back and twirled some of her hair around his fingers in the hope that it would soothe her. Her heartbeat started to slow and her breathing became deep an even. An hour after sunrise, Eric finally let the pull of day take him under.

As for Sookie, she slept uneasily. More than once she was woken by awful nightmares of Gran’s final moments. Sookie would wake with a strangled sob in her throat and the feeling of her stomach turning. She got up long enough to go to the bathroom, get a glass of water and let Moli out. Her dog knew something was wrong. Moli stuck close to her owner, sensing that Sookie wasn’t quite right. There was no cheerful chatter, none of the usual excited scratching between Moli’s keen ears. No, Moli’s mistress was definitely in a funk, and Moli picked up on that immediately. As if to try and make up for the sadness her mistress was feeling, Moli delivered extra kisses to her hand and was quick about going out to do her business. And she tried to get Sookie to play with her, but Sookie just stood in the yard, staring vacantly into the distance.

She tried to tell herself that Gran wouldn’t want this. The truth had come out, which was the important thing. The thing that bothered Sookie was how blind she had been. How had Bill been able to fool her so completely? It was one thing to fake an interest in her because he had been ordered to procure her for the queen. It was something else to commit a murder in order to fulfill that order. And Gran had done nothing wrong! Gran had been a fan of Bill’s and even defended Sookie’s relationship with him when people around town started talking. But it had been for nothing since Bill had killed her anyway.

Just when Sookie thought things with Bill couldn’t get any worse, she was wrong. And the worst of it was that she had fallen in love with him. She could blame it all on the blood, but she didn’t believe that was all of it. Her feelings for Bill hadn’t completely disappeared when Jesus and Lafayette broke the ties between them, so her feelings didn’t stem from the blood. The blood had heightened and amplified her feelings, but it wasn’t the root of them. Sookie’s attraction to Eric, as troubling as it had been, hadn’t disappeared after the ties were cut. Of course now she was sure she loved him all on her own. Had it been a bi-product of their bond it would have gobsmacked her from out of nowhere. That wasn’t what happened. Her feelings had grown and evolved slowly until she was sure it was love.

What would Gran think about all of this? Did Gran feel more at peace now that Sookie knew the truth? She didn’t know, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to. How could she ever face Gran again knowing it was her fault that Gran was dead? No, Sookie hadn’t arranged the murder and had she known what was going to happen she would have given her own life to stop it. Where was Claudine or the rest of her fairy family that was supposed to be watching over her? Why hadn’t Fintan intervened on Gran’s behalf? He could have blown Bill’s ass to kingdom come, but instead Gran had been killed for nothing.

It was a lame argument, but it wasn’t fair.

Moli whimpered at her feet, but Sookie hardly noticed it. She was in no mood to cheer up her puppy. Instead she turned to go inside and Moli followed behind her. Sookie forced herself to eat some toast and have a cup of tea, but then she just went back upstairs to lie down with Eric. She curled into his side and closed her eyes. Should she tell Jason about this? Telling the human authorities would be too weird.

As if they didn’t think she was crazy enough, she couldn’t imagine walking into the Renard Parish Sheriff’s Department to tell Andy Bellefleur that the ghost of her grandmother had told her that a vampire was the one that killed her, and it was only possible because her fairy relatives hadn’t sent a bodyguard to keep Gran safe. Yeah, that was a fast way to make sure any doubts anyone had about her sanity would be confirmed. She just didn’t need that on top of everything else. Sookie tried to get comfortable and to get her brain to quiet down. It was only when she rested her head on Eric’s chest again that silence took over. Finally she was able to let herself sink into the dark abyss of sleep.

oOoOoOo

Eric woke the same as he had gone to rest, with Sookie asleep on his chest. She looked so small and fragile lying there cuddled against him. For centuries he never would have thought he would take any pride in bringing comfort to a human, but it was important to him that Sookie was happy.

In fact, at that moment, it was the only thing that mattered. Someone as vibrant as she usually was, wasn’t meant to be sad. He hated the numbness he’d felt coming from her the night before. Eric found himself trying to come up with a way to distract her, if only for a little while.

Of course that was when his phone rang. Pam was calling.

“What?” he asked by way of greeting.

“The clothes have arrived,” Pam told him.

“I’ll be in later to collect them,” he said.

That was the extent of the conversation. Eric was the first to hang up. He didn’t even ask about Bill, and whether or not there was word from the Authority or the queen. He didn’t want to discuss it in front of Sookie until he knew she was in a better place mentally. He hoped that any guilt she had been feeling for the situation Bill was in had been erased by his rather detailed confession. Bill didn’t deserve an ounce of Sookie’s sympathy or compassion, but it wouldn’t surprise him one bit to learn she still felt something. It was just in her nature to do so.

Eric lay still, listening to the slow and steady beat of Sookie’s heart while she slept. He had been awake for a little more than two hours when Sookie finally started to move around a little. When her eyes opened she shifted her head up to see Eric looking back at her.

“Hi,” Sookie said quietly.

“Did you sleep well?” he asked.

“Not earlier. I kept having nightmares,” Sookie sighed. “I took Moli out for a while but that’s all I did today.”

“That’s alright,” Eric assured her.

“No, it’s not. Gran didn’t raise me to be a Pitiful Pearl. I need to get my butt out of this bed and get on with my life,” Sookie said as she lifted her head. “But thank you for being here for me. I really appreciate you being patient and understanding about this, and taking care of me.”

Sookie leaned in and kissed him softly just like she did the night before. Eric wrapped his arms around her. She nuzzled into his neck for a few minutes, but then started to pull away from him.

“I need a shower,” she said.

“I have to go to Fangtasia. Your clothes were delivered,” he said.

Sookie frowned and said, “I’m sorry about that too. You were being incredibly generous to me and I feel like I shit on that. I swear I’m going to try and be better about that kind of thing in the future.”

“We come from different worlds, Sookie, and you were raised to be independent. I have no desire to squelch that, but I don’t want you to feel like I’m buying you off either,” Eric said.

“I know that’s not what you’re doing. I’m just not used to someone being as generous with me as you have been. It’s always come at a price in the past,” Sookie explained.

“I might want sexual favors sometimes,” Eric joked.

“Only sometimes?” the corner of her mouth lifted.

“Sometimes I might want blood,” he said easily.

“Hmmm… well, if you accompany me to the shower you might get both,” she suggested.

Eric smiled, fangs down, and said, “Lead the way, lover.”

 

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