Chapter 5: Blessed Is The Dreamer

With a heaviness in his heart, Eric watched Sookie through the windows of her house, a creature of the night gazing longingly upon the warmth within. She oscillated back and forth between reading a book and tidying things, a restless circuit that may have amused Eric, were he in a lighter mood.

As it was, he fought with himself, searching for courage, rummaging through the dusty halls of his conscience to do what he knew was right. The vampire in him urged him to go forward, to claim what was his, though the right path may lay in quite the other.

The right path may lay in letting her go, and it was a thing that frightened Eric, more than anything had in centuries. He feared the pain that would come in such a loss; for when he'd not been looking, this little woman slipped in the backdoor of his heart, made a place for herself without him even realizing.

The right thing would be to go away, right that moment. From this farmhouse, from Louisiana, even. Leave her to Godric, who would without a doubt be good to her. Better than he could ever be.

Despite of it all, Eric found one foot placing itself in front of the other, until slowly, his long legs brought him across the yard, nearly to the front porch. Sensing his approach, Sookie quickly went out to meet him upon the stoop, a beatific smile upon her lips that caused his ancient heart to pound, a tingle running its course down his spine. Sookie wore a thin white nightgown that did very little to conceal the curves beneath it, its lace trimmed skirt lifted gently by the wind against her thighs.

"Eric," she breathed as a whisper, and he could not resist her as her arms slid around his neck, pulling him close in a warm embrace. She stood a step above him, and still could not match his towering height.

Please don't say my name that way.

He could not bring himself to say it aloud.

"It's been so long," she sighed. They had not seen each other since their interlude in the meadow, nearly two and a half weeks ago. Business as sheriff had pulled him away, and he resented every moment of it.

Even more, he resented the orders Sophie-Anne sent with him. "Sookie," he sighed against the curve of her neck, burying his nose in the warmth of her hairline. Her scent was that of a night blooming flower, delicate, mysterious, ever-so sweet. "We must talk."

There, a step in the right direction. Perhaps soon the rest would jump on the bandwagon. Perhaps he would do the right thing, even if he had to trick himself into it.

"As you like." She pulled back to search his expression, detecting something in his tone, some note of uneasiness so uncharacteristic of her confident Viking. "Come see what the carpenters have done," she invited. She'd caved to his insistent demands, allowing him to send repairmen round to spruce up her family home. He had noticed the outside of the house glowed with a particular luminescence in the moonlight, a fresh coat of paint. Now, with her before him, it all seemed paltry in comparison.

"You are happy?"

"Yes," she admitted shyly, blue eyes glancing away. "But not just…" Her gaze rose to meet his. "It makes me happy, because it's a gift from you," she explained. "So, thank you." And she kissed him gingerly, a brush of lips that drew forth a rumbling groan from deep in Eric's chest. She seemed to approve of the sound, moving to kiss his cheek. "Thank you." And Eric sighed as her lips touched his ear, whispering, "Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet," begged Eric quietly, hoisting her in his arms in an effort to duck away from that enchanting little mouth, and all the ways he wanted to press his own to it. She giggled as he carried her up the steps as though she weighed no more than a feather, setting her down upon her doormat only at her insistence. She took his hand, and began to lead him towards the stairs.

Eric longed for that long coveted area of the house, just as he feared he would betray her, were he allowed within that night.

"Show me the kitchen," he insisted, tugging upon her hand in the opposite direction.

He'd given orders for all new appliances to be installed, and new cabinets and fixtures to whatever Sookie's desires may be.

Sookie, however, could not for the life of her fathom why Eric, a vampire, would have any interest in the place where human food was prepared. Her expression, one blond eyebrow quirked high, a questioning smile in place, conveyed as much. "Are you avoiding my bedroom, Eric Northman?" she asked, clearly amused.

Caught red handed in a scenario he'd never dreamed possible, Eric confessed, "I fear I will not say what needs saying, in that room I have desired access to since the moment I first laid eyes upon you, Sookie."

There was a gravity in his gaze, a weight to his words, that caused the playful light in Sookie's eyes to fade. The sight caused a pang in Eric's chest, a true physical pain, that unnerved as much as it annoyed him.

"Oh no. What now?" She'd hoped the days of difficult vampire politics to be behind them; but perhaps she and Godric dreamed just a bit too much beneath their blanket of stars.

No she scolded herself. Perhaps she and Godric were dreamers, but she didn't want to live anymore without the beauty of their imaginations. The possibility that some of their plans could come true. She believed in the ancient vampire, the way she'd only believed in her Gran. Love could be a truly powerful thing, and Godric's ran deep and vast as the oceans.

A heavy sigh escaped the vampire. "Sit, lover." He handed her into one of the kitchen chairs, barely noticing the state of the kitchen and dining room, the shiny new feel of the fixtures and trappings. Kneeling before her, he clasped her hand, dwarfing it in his own. "Godric told you of Bill Compton, and the way the Queen sent him here to collect you."

"Yes." She could speak of it now with little regret, Bill seemed such a distant part of her past now. Her love for Godric filled her nearly to bursting, and Eric easily took up the rest.

"Well now…" Eric groaned with the thought, which shifted to a growl, his temper rising as he heard Sophie-Anne issue her royal decree, even if only in his memory. She would spoil this for him - steal the purest love he could ever chance knowing, for some twisted design of her own. He pressed his forehead to Sookie's hand, seeking the calm she brought him. "Now Sophie-Anne has ordered me to bond you, Sookie. She would have you this way, through me…but I will not allow it. As much as I want you-"

Sookie's breath caught in her throat, as Eric turned flashing blue eyes up to her, their artic intensity shocking her as a lightning bolt. Perhaps she was immune to vampire glamour, but Eric's beauty ran deeper than that; at times she felt certain he could peer straight into her soul, and the thought frightened as much as it titillated.

"I want you to drink Godric's blood," Eric went on. "As soon as possible. I will report you were already taken, and Sophie will have no claim upon you. She cannot challenge Godric, and he has sworn no fealty to her."

Sookie sat stock still in the chair, her heart pounding in her chest, even as she feared it might be breaking.

She had not realized how much she'd hoped to be a part of Eric as well as Godric, until this moment, as he knelt before her and swore it could not be so. She pressed her lips, as she pressed Eric's palm to rest above her heart, inhaling a rattling breath. "No," was all she could force past the tightness in her throat.

Eric too felt a suspicious tearing sensation deep within his chest. "Sookie," he coaxed, even as something deep within him revolted against the idea of letting her go. It roared and paced, clawing the ground in protest. "It must be so."

"No," she insisted once more, voice stronger, yet her hands shaking as she raised them to cup Eric's face, tracing noble features with her thumbs. She scooted closer in the chair, the thin lace hem of her nightgown riding high upon svelte thighs. "Don't leave us, Eric. I need you. I need you both."

A small, if not tragic smile pulled at the corner of Eric's mouth; his greedy little Sookie, she would demand it all.

"It is best this way, lover," he insisted, even as it hurt him to force the words past his mouth. "I am doing this for you." And because he could stand the stinging longing in her eyes for not one more second, he rose to his feet, caressing Sookie's cheek with the blade of his thumb. "You'll be safe," he promised. "I swear it."

Sookie jumped to her feet to follow the Viking as he reluctantly walked towards the door, long legs closing the distance in too little time.

"Eric!" she pleaded, and the Viking froze in his tracks, the raw quality of her tone freezing his legs in place. "We've come so far. Don't walk away now, now that I could…"

Slowly Eric turned, daring to meet her eyes as a breath he no longer needed still caught in his throat. "Could what, Sookie?" The question came as a low rasp, his large hands closing over her narrow shoulders. He wanted to shake her for being so headstrong; he'd nearly made it to the door, but something alarmingly tender in him couldn't refuse her, when she was in pain.

Sookie too suddenly found it hard to breathe, and she covered his hands in hers, gripping them to give herself some anchor in a world that seemed unsteady under her feet. The words proved shy, caught upon her tongue; why could such truths be spoken so easily with Godric? That four-letter word, love, they exchanged so easily. But with Eric, it was a dangerous thing, a potentially volatile situation. She wondered who she trusted less at that moment to do something foolish, to ruin it all; herself, or him.

She swallowed hard.

She steeled herself to the truth.

She hoped, and it was the best she could do, as she finally admitted, "I could love you, Eric Northman, if you would give me the chance."

Eric closed his eyes at the sound of such powerful words; for a moment the Viking truly felt dizzy, slightly weak at the knees. "I deserve neither you nor Godric. I am a wicked creature, Sookie. My heart is a black and twisted thing - let me go."

Sookie would nor could do any such thing.

"You are a complicated vampire, Eric, I won't argue that. And you can be scary at times. I know you can kill without a second thought - yet I also know you are capable of staggeringly profound emotions. I see it every time you look at Godric. And I want you to look at me that way. I hunger for it. I hunt for it in my dreams, when I close my eyes every night."

"What if you're wrong, Sookie? You wouldn't be the first woman to think me a better man than I really am - - and you can't change me."

"I want to know you, Eric. It's different. Very different."

Eric looked down upon this small woman, who stood so fearlessly before him, and found he himself no longer possessed the strength with which to fight her.

My, how the tables had turned, and he wrapped an arm around her waist as he stepped closer.

"You blessed dreamer. I'm going to take you upstairs now," he informed her.

"Finally?" she quipped cheekily, as he steered her towards the stairs.

"I'm going to love you until you can no longer move a muscle."

"Good."

"There's no turning back now, Sookie Stackhouse. Do you understand?"

"Prove it."

The predator in Eric suddenly returned, and leaning down to devour her with kisses, Eric swept her up into his arms, taking the stairs two at a time, with every intention of doing just that.

A/N: Thank you, THANK YOU, everyone for the overwhelming response to this fic! I hope to continue it soon. Meanwhile, I have EXCITING news! If you enjoy my writing, check out my profile page for news about an original project.