Disclaimer: The Sookie Stackhouse Series is the creation of Charlaine Harris. Don't sue me Charlaine! I love your books.
A/N This story is told partially in flashbacks but begins two weeks after "From the Beginning". Still not happy with it, so please be kind…
I awoke in a tangle of sheets, with a cool, heavy arm thrown at an angle across my bare breasts and waist. It was completely dark in the room, the few candles having burnt out hours before. I glanced over at the digital clock and was amazed to see that it read 11:48 am. I couldn't remember the last time I had slept this late, unless I was sick, or shot or beaten up. Sleeping this late was the ultimate indulgence to me. Of course, staying up until 4 or 5 am kind of made your likelihood of indulging yourself a bit greater. I had been getting by on about 5 hours of sleep a night for the past week. I shifted Eric's arm gently then realized I was being silly. I couldn't get used to the idea I wouldn't wake him without serious effort. It was rather amusing.
I got up and switched on a soft light on the nightstand. In what was becoming a regular occurrence, I glanced around looking for my garments. Eric seemed to delight in undressing me and tossing my clothes around with complete abandon. I had to say he was quite a bit more skillful than Bill however, as he rarely ripped or damaged anything of mine. But then he knew convincing me to accept replacement clothes, or really anything as a gift, was a significant challenge. It was maddening that, in spite of taking extra care, this man still could get me out of clothes faster than they must be able to change models at one of those runway fashion shows.
After locating my slacks, my sweater, my shirt and panties and finally finding my bra tossed in a far corner of the room, I piled them on the corner of the bed. I padded over softly to Eric's side of the bed and needlessly pulled the down comforter over him. He was on his stomach, his arm still stretched out toward where I had been only moments ago. It was a king sized bed and it looked as if he must have pulled me toward him, on his side of the bed before he 'died', as they called their falling asleep. That really touched me. My heart just swelled when I looked at him. I stroked his hair into some semblance of order, kissed his cold cheek. I walked back and turned out the light, then padded out of the room, closing the door firmly behind me. The hall was dark but I made my way toward the other end, and opened the door of what I was still having trouble calling "my room."
Two weeks had passed since my great-grandfather's visit and the moment when I could finally admit out loud that I really loved Eric Northman. In that time I felt like my entire life had changed gears. I still wasn't used to the changes. After putting my dirty clothes into the white wicker basket, I pulled open the dresser drawer and set out a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and fresh underwear, on the bed. Then I opened the bathroom door to head toward the shower. Eric's bathroom was epic. I joked that it was larger than my bedroom at my house. Although there were no windows (and I was quite thankful for that, considering some of our goings on in this bathroom) it was luxurious, warm and inviting. It was, other than "my room", one of the only rooms in the house without red. Soft dark veined peach marble complimented the dark wood cabinets. A huge peach marble tub with whirlpool jets was in the center of the room, sunken into the floor. The glass-walled shower, which was easily large enough for two, filled the wall opposite the bathroom's long counter and twin sinks. There were mirrors everywhere, just in case I wasn't getting enough of a view of what we were doing together in the shower or the bathtub, or... I was certainly getting a lot of interesting exercise these days, I thought with a smile. I wasn't too used to that, either.
After showering off, I toweled myself off with towels that were made of the softest black cotton. I glanced at myself in a mirror, noting that it was hard to see even the slightest mark on my body. I still had a slight bruise on my left outer thigh. I actually think I got that one at work, though, bumping into something. Eric was very determined not to leave any marks on me. I got the feeling that he didn't want me to resemble a fangbanger in any possible way. I sighed. To this end, I was getting doused with at least small amounts of his blood every single day we were together, but there were also the somewhat larger doses, not applied to my skin. And these, I thought looking at myself, were my biggest concern. I shook my head and thought I really didn't want to think about it right now. But I knew I was going to have to face it. And soon.
I walked back into my room, got dressed and after glancing back at the door to be sure it was closed, I carefully slid a dark glass panel back from one of my windows. Sunlight filled a swath of the room and I sighed with the pleasure of it on my skin. Outside, the day looked a bit gray but there was sunshine. The snow was gone, but it still looked chilly. I didn't have to be at Merlotte's until 5 pm today, and I could envision just sitting here in the light, in my armchair, reading a book and listening to music on my new bright red iPod. Eric and the gifts. Of course, the iPod was from Eric but he claimed it was actually my Christmas present so I had trouble refusing that one. This room, however, was something else. I plopped into the soft blue and white chintz covered chair and swiveled around to look at "my room". With three books now in the bookcase, it was becoming more mine. I glanced around a the soft sky blue walls, soft white wooden furniture, white and blue drapes and upholstered chairs, and the most beautiful bed linens that I'd ever seen. The white silk bedspread was embroidered with blue and pink chrysanthemums. Laura Ashley, Pam told me. She was careful to inform me that Eric chose everything. The entire room was Laura Ashley. And it was a big room. I had gasped the first time I'd seen it, two weeks ago. My thoughts went back to the night my whole life started to change and how I had ended up in this room.
After Niall had left and Eric and I had had several hours of frolicking, Amelia and Octavia had returned around 10:30 pm to the house. They were pleased to find that I was not in tears, and was, in fact, all smiles, watching An America Werewolf in London on TV. I was bundled up in what Eric calls the most hideous quilt in Louisiana, looking snug, with Eric's arms around me. He loved it when I jumped because of scary scenes and would laugh at me. (It was rather funny, considering I was sitting in the arms of a six foot four inch vampire, when you think about it.) After the movie finished I asked Amelia and Octavia about what they had sensed pervading the house when they had returned from their holiday travels in early January. Although Eric had got the gist of it the day before from Amelia, he was interested, as well.
Amelia told me from the moment she drove onto the property on January 1 that she sensed something was wrong, and she thought at first that someone might have tampered with her wards. I was fast asleep, and she had thought it rather odd to find me in my bed at 2 pm in the afternoon. She put it off to being a nap because of my working a late night New Year's Eve bash at Merlotte's. She proceeded to check her wards, all of which, surprisingly, appeared intact. Try as she could, she could not find the source of cool energy that she felt all over the property. It seemed to extend out much farther than her wards, as she noted when she walked around at the edges of her coverage. She was concerned enough to phone Octavia. After a few suggestions, she decided since the wards were intact, that she would await Octavia's return to look into things further together. I arose around 4 pm and she had noted that I was not quite myself. I seemed moody and distant but unwilling to talk about anything much. We made dinner, watched a movie and then I stayed up late reading.
When Octavia returned the following day, she was dismayed to be sensing exactly what Amelia had felt. She described it as a "dampening field" that extended almost half a mile around the house, which frankly, she thought was next to impossible to even conceive of, because of its size. Over time, they managed to get the idea that Niall had been there over the holidays, and initially they thought that the "field" might be serving a good purpose. It was fading, slowly. Octavia was amazed at the magic necessary create such a thing and the fact that it had originally likely been much stronger. They got less impressed over time, however, since I got more and more moody. Maybe it wasn't Niall but some malevolent person? Since they didn't know who to ask about it, they simply started deconstructing it. It took several days. When the field finally dropped, my mood went with it, into an immense downward spiral. They really didn't know what to do then, or who to talk to about it. Octavia had actually gone to stay with several witches in Shreveport in order to brainstorm the situation when I went into my big depression. Amelia was beside herself, but felt odd saying anything to Eric about it when he called because she didn't know if Eric was part of the reason I was upset and she also didn't want to admit they'd taken down this big energy field around my house and it had made me worse. By the time she talked to Pam a few days later, everyone seemed to know something was very wrong with me. She confided a bit in Pam, but then bailed by the dusk and took off with Tray. She felt really guilty about that. But she said that in the end, she trusted that Pam, and especially Eric, would get it sorted.
I learned about the events following my departure from Fangtasia from Pam, who was amazingly, for a vampire, loquacious on the subject. (Yes, loquacious was my word of the day, January 22.) I found out that Eric had marshaled the troops, after practically reaming Sam for not having told him right away when I started acting oddly. I now know that he had actually had Sam watching over me for months, in repayment for the Charles Twining bartender loan. Eric was unwilling to accept Sam's reasoning that I'm my own person and he wasn't going to mention every little concern to Eric. Then Sam had pointed out that the last time he called Eric when I was upset, about Calvin Norris, that Eric had got me upset and I was already crying and he didn't want to make things worse. Pam said that Eric kind of went ballistic at that point and said some "rather harsh things" to Sam. Eric's still not too forgiving about it. Sam has fallen all over himself apologizing to me about it since, though.
So Pam had culled just about every interesting phone number off my cell phone when she had my purse that fated night and she had programmed them all into Eric's phone while I was sitting numbly on Eric's office couch, drinking ginger ale. After I left, Eric had called Amelia and Bill right away, making arrangements so that I would not be left alone. After talking to Amelia and then considering my overall state, his suspicions immediately turned to Niall. He was certain that whatever had happened was fae in origin and Eric was determined to get it fixed as soon as possible.
Eric called Claudine, who was dismayed by the description of my emotional state and said she would check on me immediately. She popped over to me in Bon Temps and found there really was a "serious" problem. She was totally dismayed that she had had no idea I was "so bad off" according to Amelia. When she had seen me right before New Years Eve she had come to the bar and I was busy working and she just thought I was just stressed by my customers. I still try to envision how bad off Claudine must have thought I was if she thought it was serious. There was that time I almost got killed in a Were pack war, for instance, which she'd barely blinked at. Anyway, she called back Eric to say that I really needed "treatment" and that the problem was indeed magical in origin and that it would take her just a bit of time to "cook something up". She was heading back to Monroe. She mentioned that the whole house felt odd to her. She discreetly suggested that maybe they ought to ask Niall about what was going on. Well, he now had Niall's contact number straight from my phone.
According to Pam, Eric contacted Niall, met him nearby and proceeded to have a horrible argument with him and had even gone so far at one point as to shout that if he ever wanted to come near Sookie again he had better reveal what he had done immediately to Claudine so she could get to fixing it. And furthermore, he had better damn well show up at the house the following evening to apologize to Sookie, explain it and undo any remaining effects of whatever the hell he had done. He told Niall not to even bother going to the house, or near me, until Eric himself was there with me, and that only Claudine was to go near me until then. Pam relished telling me that she had never, in the entire time she had known Eric, seen him quite so angry and not kill someone. And so angry over something done to a human! He was so angry in fact, that she had to gently ask him to leave the bar later because it was bad for business and he was even scaring the staff. The vampire staff. I cannot imagine how mad a thousand year old Viking vampire could get. I really don't want to think about it. I have to say though, that when Pam told me about it later, I was rather miffed that Eric seemed to think he could keep me from seeing Niall if I wanted to. But it made me even more impressed with how calm Eric managed to stay the following night when speaking to Niall in front of me.
That following night, it seemed so many things changed. I felt happier, I felt secure. Eric and I loved each other. I'd say I felt completely happy and secure for about eight hours.
And then, my world started falling apart.