You are cordially invited

To Christmas Dinner

December 25th

6:30 PM

The Stackhouse Residence

No gifts, you are gift enough.

Sookie had mailed the invitations the week before Christmas. Christmas had always been her favorite time of year. Even though she would often spoil her gifts because people get excited and project their thoughts more. She had never thrown a Christmas Party before so she was extremely excited. She had to admit to herself that besides loving Christmas, she didn't want to be alone. She wanted her 'family' around her. Amelia and Octavia had moved back to New Orleans the week before Halloween and she found herself extremely lonely. Eric texted or called at least once a day, but she hadn't seen him face to face for over two weeks. Because of her bonded connection with Eric, Bill stopped by less and less. She sighed as she turned on the mixer. Sookie added the eggs and sugar and tried to shake her holiday melancholy. She had gone to church this morning and was grateful for something to do. Christmas morning with no one in the house was a little depressing. She added some butter and turned the mixer on high. She looked at the clock and smiled. 4 o'clock. Her guests would be here soon.

The house smelled wonderful. Turkey, Gran's dressing recipe, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, green beans, macaroni and cheese, corn and real biscuits. She had cooked for the past two days and loved every minute. She even pulled down one of Gran's chaffing dishes from downstairs and had two dozen bottles of TruBlood warming. Everything was in pots or dishes on the stove and on the counters. This was going to be just like the family meals she remembered. Sookie absently wiped her hands on her jeans before hurrying to the living room to plug in the tree. It wasn't a real tree, but it had been the tree her Gran, Jason and she had used for as long as she could remember. She put it up the day after Thanksgiving. Eric had showed up in a panic because he could feel her overwhelming sadness as she sat on the floor surrounded by all the homemade ornaments. She smiled at the memory of the two of them decorating her tree. She found a Santa hat in one of the decoration boxes and he wore it the whole evening. He kept asking her to sit on his lap and tell him if she'd been a good little girl. She could feel the blush creeping to her cheeks when she remembered what happened when she took him up on his offer. The doorbell brought her out of her memories and she flushed with excitement. She practically skipped to the door.

"Evening, Sookie." Bill smiled hesitantly. To say he was shocked at her invitation would be an understatement. He looked nice in his dark brown pants and deep green button down.

"Merry Christmas!" She smiled and hugged him tightly. He inhaled deeply and returned the hug. She tugged him by the arm into the living room.

"Your house looks lovely. Something sure smells nice."
"Thanks." Before they could think of anymore small talk the door opened and Sam and Terry walked in.

"Merry Christmas!" Sam laughed as Terry shrugged off his coat. She offered Terry a warm smile and he returned it with one of his own. The holidays were tough on Terry. It took Sookie's gentle prodding to get him to accept. Sam had offered to pick him up so he agreed.

Soon the house was filled. Pam, Eric, Bill, Sam, Terry, Amelia, Octavia and even Bob had decided to come. Everyone was milling around socializing when the door opened. Sookie saw the concerned look on everyone's face when they saw Jason. Sookie didn't say a word. She walked over to the door and stared at him for a moment. He allowed a small crooked smile to flicker across his face before he stepped forward. She met him halfway and the two stood in the door and hugged. Jason buried his head in her neck and then looked around the room. He pulled away and wiped at his eyes for a second.
"Hey, ya'll." He waved at the room full of people. Various hellos drifted through the room and Sookie let the warm contented smile spread across her face.

Eric caught her eye and he offered her a warm smile. He moved across the room until he was standing behind her with his arms around her waist.

"You are happy." He stated.

"Yes. So are you."

"Yes." He leaned down and kissed her neck. She turned in his arms and smiled up at him. "Time for supper. Can you gather everyone up?"

"Me?"

"Your voice carries more than mine." He chuckled and stood to his full height.

"May I have everyone's attention? Sookie would like us all to move to the kitchen for the meal."

Everyone smiled and started gathering around the kitchen table. She felt an overwhelming sense of peace settle in her chest. Jason had moved to stand beside her and all eyes focused on the two of them. She cleared her throat and looked at all the people gathered around her.

"I'm so glad you all came. Christmas is about family. Ya'll are my family." Sookie's voice cracked and Eric squeezed her hand. "Now, who wants to say grace?" Eyes widened and she couldn't stop the laughter spilling from her lips. "Oh, right. Right…I'll do it." She took Jason's hand and he instinctively reached for the person's beside him. Pam looked at Eric and then to Jason's hand now holding her own. Eric looked at the floor and tried not to let Sookie see his amused expression. Everyone joined hands, knowing it was for Sookie, and respectfully waited while she said her quick blessing.

"Amen." She smiled at Jason and then to Eric. "Grab a plate and help yourself."

Sookie stepped back against the counter and allowed her guests to pile their plates high. Pam served the warm TruBlood to Eric and Bill before enjoying a bottle for herself.

Sookie watched silently as her 'family' moved through the house sitting on chairs and couches, balancing plates in their lap, enjoying sweet tea and wine with all the heavy holiday dishes. Compliments were lavished on her through mouths filled with food. Laughter filled the house as stories were told and memories were recalled. She wiped at the corner of her eye and moved to the stove. She checked the burners and made sure nothing was getting cold or scorching on the bottom. She felt his hand snake around her waist and sighed happily at the feel of his touch.

"You're not eating." Eric admonished softly.

"I'm too excited, I think."

"Everything looks wonderful." She turned to look out into the living room at all the people gathered.

"It really does." He hugged her tightly and kissed her cheek. He could feel her happiness and love for the people around her through the bond. He couldn't help but share her joy. Eric prodded her to eat and the both of them settled in the living room with the rest of the guests.

It was almost 11:30 when Pam and Amelia left. Eric stood in the kitchen and waited for Sookie.

"You outdid yourself." He complimented.

"I'm glad everyone came. It really meant a lot to me." Eric kissed her softly and pulled her by the hand to sit in front of the Christmas tree. She snuggled into his lap and rested her head on his shoulder.

"Lover?"

"Hmm?"

"Would you like to open your gift now?" She leaned away from him and grinned.

"I thought I said no gifts on the invitation."

"But it's Christmas. I can tell how much you love the holiday." He patted her on the bottom to get her to stand. She stood and watched as he pulled something from the pocket of his coat hanging by the door. She slid the drawer on the end table open and pulled a neatly wrapped gift from its contents.

"I see you didn't follow your own rule." He laughed as she handed him the gift and she accepted his. He chuckled quietly as her eyes danced with anticipation.

"You first." She commanded playfully. He quickly divested the box of paper and opened the hinged lid. He looked at her and then frowned down at the platinum watch.

"This is expensive." He didn't like the idea of her spending money on him. She felt his frustration through the bond and laughed.

"Now you know how I feel all the time!" She nudged his shoulder and he allowed her amusement to comfort him. "Besides, what do you get a Viking vampire? Look on the back." He took the watch from the box and turned it over in his hands. He felt his chest tighten and was a little alarmed by the emotions.

For all time –S

She smiled as he removed the watch he was wearing and put the new one on. He leaned in and kissed her deeply. She had to make an effort to pull away but Eric wanted her to open his gift to her. She removed the paper and gasp as the contents of the box. Then she frowned.

"You didn't."

"I most certainly did." His grin was smug and she tried to muster enough anger to glare at him, but she just couldn't do it.

"But I told you…"
"Come, let's go outside." Eric lifted her into his arms and carried her to the porch. She couldn't help the excitement building in her chest. He glided down the steps with ease and placed her gently on the ground.
"It's so big!" She marveled. "Can I even drive it?"

"You'll get used to it. Besides, you need something safe. Your penchant for little cars bothers me."
"You drive a Corvette." She reminded him.

"But I'm a vampire. You are too mortal to drive in such death traps. Besides, it's a hybrid."

"Really?!" He pulled the keys from the gift box and pressed the button to disengage the alarm. She ran to the driver's side and waited for him to hand her the keys.

"Do you like it?" He asked as she slid behind the wheel.

"It's too much, Eric. I told you not to buy me a car." Her words said one thing but the sparkle in her eyes and the excitement on her face said another.

"Ah, but it's a Christmas gift." She turned to laugh at his smug expression. She shifted in the seat and pulled his face to hers.

"I love it…I love you." She kissed him and could feel his joy through the bond. He pulled back slightly and looked at her face.

"I love you, Merry Christmas, my dear one."

"Merry Christmas, Eric."

End