The Age of Eric Contest

Title: Love is a Battlefield

Time Period: Civil War

Pen name: Missus T

Beta: A Redhead Thing

Characters: (AH) Eric, Sookie, Lafayette, Tara, Pam, Amelia, Copely Carmichael

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Charlaine Harris does. I just like to see what other kinds of trouble they can cause.

Be sure to check out all of the entries in the AOE Community: www(DOT)fanfiction(DOt)net/community/The_Age_of_Eric_Contest/83524/99/0/1/

A/N:

Thanks to A Redhead Thing, for putting up with more silliness from me than usual on this one. (I swear it was a momentary lapse, I really did know it. LOL)

And now, Civil War Eric...

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

April 1864

I had ridden out in front of my regiment to clear my head. Somewhere behind me, four wagons and twenty men followed. The Louisiana heat was stifling and my blue uniform only made it worse. I was exhausted when I came upon the farmhouse. It had a large lawn and was only a short distance from the river. It remained in good shape, despite the war, and would suit our purposes just fine.

A young black man was filling a bucket at the well, and I rode up close to him.

"Good afternoon. Is the family still staying in the home, do you know?"

He continued ladling water into the bucket. "Yank, what makes you think I don't live there?"

"I think that's entirely possible. Do you?"

"Why you askin'?" He sighed. "You gonna take it if'n you want it."

He looked up at me then, and I saw how absolutely tired he looked. I was sure that my eyes mirrored his exhaustion.

"Listen, I'm a surgeon with a hospital unit. It would be in your best interest to let us take over the home instead of some other regiment or ragtag group of deserters. We'll keep it clean and most likely the fighting won't come anywhere near us." I lowered my voice and added, "If there are any women here, they'll be safe. I can give you my word on that."

"Your word means nothin' to me," he spat on the ground. "And I ain't the one you need to convince."

As he spoke I heard a door slam in the distance. I turned towards the house, and my eyes stopped on the beautiful woman standing on the porch. Her long blond hair and soft curves were at odds with the rifle she held across her chest.

She walked down the steps, swiftly coming towards us, with her skirts swaying. She primed the gun and lowered it towards me.

"Lafayette, is he giving you trouble?"

"No, Sookie. He be fine. He wants to use the house as a hospital."

She snorted and kept walking towards us. She was fiery, that was for sure. I'd only seen a few women with this much spunk in the whole of the south.

"Ya'll can find a larger home just through the trees there on the other side of the cemetery for your hospital."

"Unfortunately, ma'am, it's already been taken over by another regiment. We truly are the lesser of the two evils though. We'll ensure your belongings are carefully stored as opposed to looted and burned."

The remainder of my unit caught up to me, bringing the wagons and equipment. I climbed off my horse and realized how small the woman really was. I stood more than a foot taller than her and, though she was thin, her curves were natural and her hips were strong and wide. She cleared her throat, and I realized I had been staring.

"I'm sorry. I'm the lead surgeon, Captain Eric Northman. You are?"

She huffed and stretched her arm out for a hand shake. "Sookie Stackhouse."

Sookie. It was an interesting name, and it seemed fitting for this colorful woman who shook my hand like the man of the house would.

"Miss Stackhouse, I'm sorry to have to meet you this way."

She glanced over her shoulder at the farmhouse and then back at me. "Will we need to leave? Lafayette and Tara and I don't have anywhere else to go."

"No, ma'am. If you have the room, I'd like a bed for myself and the other surgeons, but we can bunk together if need be. The cooks will take over your kitchen, and the men will set up tents on the lawn for rest of the regiment and the field hospital."

She nodded. "Lafayette. Let's go hide what we've got left."

"I can help you move anything that's too heavy," I volunteered. She may be fiery, but she was still a lady.

"Captain, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm no delicate flower. I've been here alone since before this war started." She turned on her heel and stalked back to the house.

I found myself wanting to tell her to call me Eric, but I caught myself before I called after her. I'd been in the field for far too long.

The men began settling in around the house and on the lawn. Tents were erected and latrines dug in the tree line. I helped Lafayette move some larger pieces of furniture to the attic, but Sookie and Tara, whom I had yet to meet, were nowhere to be found.

Lafayette showed me two bedrooms that our surgeons could sleep in and asked that we refrain from using the second story of the house, where he, Sookie, and Tara stayed.

I unpacked and organized my supplies, then sat down to read through my case notes. The government had issued the Sanitary Commission Report several years earlier, and I was one of the few surgeons that I knew who truly believed that hygiene could save lives. Others were slowly coming to understand, but those who worked with me knew my standards were quite high.

If we were lucky we would have a day before a battle nearby would bring us any wounded. The regiment closest to us was under the command of Major General Taylor. He was frustrated by the lack of communication from his superiors, and the last intelligence I received from him hinted that if he didn't get orders from General Smith soon he would try to put a stop to Union armies advance on the Red River himself. It seemed only a matter of time before a skirmish or battle would break out.

There was plenty to do, however, even when the battle did not rage. There were always a few men with camp injuries like burns, cuts, or intestinal problems. After checking on a Private with an ax wound from chopping fire wood, I was enjoying the break from what would become a tornado of activity when the fighting started.

There was a swing on the front porch, and I sat there looking out over the yard watching the activity of my men and the sun setting, but my mind wandered back to the young woman of the house. Why had she been here by herself for so long? What family did she have? Was there a beau in the war?

The front door banged closed, and suddenly the woman I had been musing about appeared. Sookie stood at the top of the porch stairs, and after a moment, she sighed and turned to me.

"Captain, I wanted to apologize. I understand that having you here is much better than some of the things that could have befallen me, but I am having a hard time giving away the home that I have fought desperately to keep." She shook her head. "Just imagine if I came up north and walked into your family home and told you to hide your things because I was taking over. It's rather hard to swallow."

"You would have to go to Sweden to take over my family home, but I do understand. I'm not here to take your home away from you. You may carry on with whatever you normally do. We will stay out of your way."

She laughed at me. Full on, threw her head back and laughed like a man in a tavern after several pints of beer. When she finished, she shook her head.

"Carry on with what we normally do? We try to grow a garden which your men have practically destroyed. We fish over at the river, but the fish are running out because everyone is catching them. We ride the horse into town to barter with whatever we have left to trade, but I'll have to sell the horse soon." She met my eyes. "Normal is long gone here, Captain Northman."

I sighed, again wanting to ask her to call me Eric, but it wasn't the right time. I simply said, "I'm very sorry, Miss Stackhouse."

She sat down next to me on the swing and leaned back, exhaling loudly. "Sweden? Really? How did you get mixed up in this war?"

"I was born here, but my parents were not. They were never happy here. When they died, I returned them to Sweden."

"Oh," she inhaled. "I'm sorry about your parents. My parents died when I was young. I was raised here with my brother by our Gran, but she passed on a few years ago."

"I'm sorry for your loss. Your brother, is he a Reb?"

She laughed. "Jason's been a rebel since the day he was born, but if you mean is he enlisted? Yes. He's Cavalry."

"It must be difficult. Not knowing where he is or if he's alright."

"You make it sound like those things are related to the war. My brother left here the week after Gran died. I haven't known how, or where, he was for years. He comes to see me when he's in the area, but mostly we exchange letters." She paused. "Do you have any other family, Captain?"

"A sister in Pennsylvania and many other relatives back in Sweden."

"Ah, so you understand. Letters do not take the place of the sound of a voice or the footsteps in the hall."

Tentatively, I reached over and put my hand over hers. She didn't pull away, in fact, she sighed when my hand touched hers.

"No, Miss Stackhouse, it's not at all the same."

The morning began with the rumble of guns and cannon, and I knew that we needed to be ready. Major General Taylor had clearly given up waiting for orders and had taken things into his own hands. He would face the consequences of his actions when General Smith got wind of things, but I would face the consequences within the hour as the casualties began to mount.

I ordered additional fires started and hurriedly got more water on to boil. I sent my assistant, Maxwell-Lee, to the house to see if they had any tablecloths or muslin to spare. He returned with a large bundle of fabric, saying that Lafayette would be bringing more from the attic.

I didn't get a break after that until much later. I had busily stitched up gashes, removed shrapnel from bellies, shoulders, cheeks and legs, and amputated limbs. I fought diligently to save men that I knew stood no chance of survival and whispered prayers to Saint Luke and Saint Jude, the patron saints of surgeons and desperate situations. If there ever was a desperate situation, it was being treated in a field hospital.

A Confederate Brigadier General, Alfred Mouton, had been killed early in the fighting that morning as he led a Cavalry charge, but from all I heard that had been one of the best moments of the day for the Union. We were dead on our feet, and the injured continued to arrive.

Glancing over my shoulder at one point I saw a flash of blond hair and realized that Sookie had come to help. She and Tara were standing back to back helping the other two doctors in our unit. I turned back to my patient, focusing on cleaning blood off of his chest so I could get a better look at his wound.

A little while later, I noticed that Tara was gone and Sookie was sitting with a young man. She seemed to be talking quietly to him as she held his hand and gazed into his eyes. I was beyond impressed. Based on the sheer amount of bandages on the poor soldiers' body and the blood seeping through them, he obviously had very little time left. Her face betrayed nothing of his impending death, as she smiled sweetly and spoke to him as he drifted in and out of consciousness.

I returned to my work, forgetting about everything except the body in front of me and treated countless injured men throughout the day. I don't know how much later it was, when Maxwell-Lee had gone to fetch supplies, and I began to evaluate a soldier with a shoulder wound. When I pulled the makeshift bandage away I discovered that there was too much blood for me to examine him without additional help. I called out for an additional pair of hands and seconds later someone was pressing muslin against the injury. With the bleeding staunched I was able to locate its source and effectively treat his wounds. Maxwell-Lee had returned by the time I was finished, and I stepped back to allow him to re-bandage the wound for me.

When I looked up I realized that it had been Sookie standing at my side assisting me with the last patient. Her clothes were bloody and dirty underneath a surgical apron, and her hair was wrapped high on her head and tied in a kerchief.

"Miss Stackhouse," I said, surprised that she hadn't gone back to the house already.

"Captain."

"Thank you for your help. You were a superb assistant."

She nodded, and a slight blush moved up her cheeks. We left the tent and moved over to the hand washing area that was a requirement for everyone in my camp to use, frequently. There was a basin of water for wetting your hands, a bar of lye soap, and a pitcher of hot water to rinse away the soap.

As we washed our hands, I observed, "You did very well in there. It usually takes people some time to get used to all of the blood."

She snorted. "I started helping my Gran deliver babies when I was a little girl. You don't get much bloodier than that."

"I suppose you're right." I smiled at her, again amazed at her ease in dealing with things that most women would have been uncomfortable with. She looked exhausted as we walked towards the house. "The young man you were sitting with earlier, do you know how he's doing?" I hoped he survived, but it was unlikely.

"He passed on," she said quietly.

I closed my eyes for a moment; she was so strong, in ways that no one should have to be. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't have had to see that."

"Yes. That is the nature of war, Captain." She shrugged, but I had a feeling she was more affected than she let on. "Maxwell-Lee assured me that the dead would all receive proper burials."

"Of course they will." We continued walking across the lawn. "Your friend Tara, was it too much for her?"

She smiled faintly. "No, Tara went back to the house. She didn't want any Yanks dirtying up her kitchen."

Lafayette was in the parlor when we entered the house, and he immediately began clucking about the state of Sookie's dress. He carried on about bringing her a hot bath and putting her clothes to soak.

Heading for down the hall, I was anxious to get out of my own bloody clothes and rest before it was time for dinner.

"Captain," Lafayette's voice surprised me. "You get outta those bloody rags, and I'll get them washed up."

"Thank you, Lafayette, but I can take care of them."

"No, sir. You jus' get changed and I'll put ev'rythin' in a big tub for soakin'."

I thanked him, and when I reached my room, stripped out of my clothes and left them on a chair. I ran a wet cloth over my face and neck before I stretched out on the bed, covering myself with a cool sheet, and closed my eyes.

I woke to the sound of someone knocking on my bedroom door. Running a hand through my hair, I sat up and realized that not only were my clothes gone, but the sun was beginning to set outside. Clearing my throat, I answered the door and was surprised to see Sookie peek her head in.

She blushed at the sight of me, and I realized that the sheet had slid down, leaving my chest and torso uncovered. After looking down my body, her eyes settled on the floor near her feet.

"Dinner is almost ready, Captain. I thought you would want to know."

"Thank you. I'll get ready and be right out."

We enjoyed a decent meal of salt pork and potatoes, with greens that must have come from the Stackhouse garden. My fellow surgeons, Russell Edgington and Hoyt Fortenberry, joined us at the table. They made small talk but didn't seem comfortable with Sookie's forthrightness. She asked questions about their families and wondered out loud how so much killing could be the solution to anything. As I listened, I found myself comparing Sookie to my sister Pam, and I imagined the two of them would get along, after initially challenging each other.

After dinner I took a lantern to the hospital to check on my patients. I was tired when I returned to the farmhouse but felt myself gravitating towards the porch swing again. I listened to the peaceful night sounds and the rhythmic creaking of the swing. Not long after I sat down, Sookie came out to the porch and looked over at me with a smile.

"You've found my favorite place."

"I have?" I chuckled. "I hope you don't mind sharing it during our stay."

She laughed and took a seat next to me. "I suppose I don't have a choice, so at least you are pleasant to talk to."

I stopped the swing with my foot, feeling insensitive. "I'll go inside. I'm sorry to disturb your peace," I said with sincerity.

Her hand came down on my wrist before I could stand. "No, Captain, I like talking with you."

My eyes focused on her warm hand and how tiny it looked near mine. I raised my eyes to hers. "Please, call me Eric."

She put her hands in her lap but didn't take her eyes from mine. "Only if you call me Sookie."

I nodded, and we sat smiling at each other for a few minutes, before she turned to look at the moon and began asking me about my life in Pennsylvania.

That night before we retired, I asked what I had been wondering since I laid eyes on her. "Sookie, are you betrothed? Or do you have a beau in the war?"

She laughed. "I think my Gran wanted me to marry William Compton from across the cemetery, but Gran's gone, and no one's heard from William since the day he rode off to war."

"I'm sorry. You believe he's passed on?"

"Anything is possible with William. He could be in the middle of the fight, he could be dead, or perhaps he fled to Europe."

I looked at her strangely for a second, and then chuckled. "You don't seem to have a high opinion of Mr. Compton. I'm not entirely sure the two of you would make a good fit."

"Oh, no. We were not a good match. I wouldn't wish anyone dead, but I can't say that I'm sorry that he has not come back. What of you? You are a dashing young man. Is there someone at home waiting for you?"

"Only my sister. I thought I was quite happy living as a bachelor before the war."

"And now?".

I met her gaze. "I'm not sure that I truly was happy."

"Interesting," she said quietly.

"Yes. Yes, it is."

We remained on the Stackhouse property for just shy of a month. More often that not, Sookie came to the hospital tent during the day to talk to the patients or help them write letters. I spent almost every night on the porch swing talking with her. I looked forward to our talks, to learning more about Sookie and simply being close to her.

She was fearless in conversation, discussing agriculture, travel, and politics, among other things. She wanted to travel and was jealous of my life in both Sweden and Philadelphia. It was her belief that everyone should have a say in the leadership of their country. She made great arguments for women to be allowed to own property, using her own life as an example; Jason had already told her that he didn't intend to ever live on the farm again, but it could never be hers.

The last night that I sat with Sookie on the swing was torture. I had grown overly fond of her. Honestly, I was half in love with her, but we had never talked about our feelings or futures. Finally, after a long uncomfortable silence, I turned to her on the swing.

"Sookie, I can't make you any promises, but I would like to come back here when the war is over."

"Louisiana is a fine state, Eric."

I held her eyes. She had to have known that was not what I meant.

She sighed. "Eric, you are right. You can't make me any promises. You can't tell me that either of us will still be alive when this war is finally over."

I would have given anything to have been able to tell her that I would return, come hell or high water, but reality was much too uncertain. I reached forward and cupped her cheek. She sighed, and put her smaller hand over mine. It was the most intimate touch we had shared, and I closed my eyes, memorizing the feel of her soft, smooth face against my fingertips and her warm, tiny palm on my the back of my hand.

Her quiet voice brought me back to reality, and my eyes found hers.

"Please let me remember our nights here fondly. Don't tease me with a return that may never happen."

I searched her eyes, knowing she was right, and nodded, stroking my thumb along her cheek.

She stood, but her hand remained holding mine, stretching as she walked away. "Goodnight, Eric. Godspeed."

I closed my eyes again, not willing to watch her leave me there alone. My regiment rolled out before dawn, heading north, following the war.

00ooo000ooo000oo00

July 1866

We stepped out of the carriage in front of the Carmichael home, and my sister, Pam, smoothed her hands over the front of my jacket, and then adjusted my collar.

Copely Carmichael was the money behind Welsh and Robb Publishers, who had just purchased the Daily Age newspaper. Pam and I had been invited to the party, as we were to many of the Carmichael events, because my father had once saved Copely's life. They were in a pub by the docks when Copely began to choke. My father was able to save him, and they became close friends. When my parents died, Copely attended the memorial service, and extended his friendship to Pam and myself. He remained a sort of father figure, although we only saw him a few times each year.

"Copely will be here tonight, correct Pam?"

She tossed her long hair over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow at me. "Yes, Eric. He will be here. He is hosting the party."

"He's the only reason I'm here."

"Yes. You would rather sulk in front of the fireplace. I'm well aware. What do you think about all of the time?" She shook her head. "Never mind. I don't want you to answer that. Chin up. Be on your best behavior, and you will charm Cope into money for your hospital."

When I returned to Philadelphia during the final months of the war, I began working at German Hospital. It had been a military treatment center during the war, and was in the midst of transitioning into a facility that would serve the general population. I was one of the few doctors that would be staying on, which also meant I was one of the few doctors who were already aware of the shortcomings of the hospital.

There had been damages to the building during the war, and the military had moved in and used the place like it was their own. It was the same thing that we did in the field, taking over a location and using all of the resources before leaving the place a used up shell when we moved on. I was hoping that Copely would be interested in supporting the hospital, as it was being opened to the public who purchased his daily paper.

Pam and I entered the house together, but I soon broke off and went to the refreshment table. Pam was already in conversation with her husband-hungry friends, and I made my way to a group that held a mixture of Veterans and local businessmen that I knew. They were observing the crowd, discussing the women and their dresses, well, their cleavage, and the need to get certain women on their dance cards.

I sipped my drink, making my own scan of the crowd. My eyes paused on a head of beautiful, wavy, blond hair, the way they usually did after my days in Louisiana. I did a mental comparison to Sookie and was surprised to think that it could possibly be her. She wore a pale blue gown with cap sleeves and a bodice that was tight around her waist. The woman was the right height, and the cock of her hip was familiar, but from the back I could not be sure.

I exhaled, feeling ridiculous for even hoping. Of course it wasn't her, it couldn't be. I had been back from the war for a long time, almost a year, and I was still miserable; I needed to make a decision. I was killing myself, sitting in the house I shared with Pam, thinking about Sookie night after night, and imagining that I saw her everywhere I went. I could continue the way I was, or return to Louisiana, hoping that she was still there and that she would welcome me back.

After an hour of mindless discussion with some friends and a few dances with the usual women at these gatherings, I found an opportunity to speak with Copley. He was making his way across the room for the refreshment table, and I slid into the crowd behind him. I purposely reached for the same cup as he did and feigned surprise when our hands touched.

"Copely, hello."

"Northman. Good to see you. Is Pamela here this evening?"

"Yes, sir." I glanced around and located Pam in the crowd; her height made her hard to miss. "She's with your daughter and their lady friends."

Amelia Carmichael was a beautiful young woman, but she was headstrong and opinionated. She was trouble with a capitol T, and I got into enough of that on my own.

"Having serious conversations, no doubt."

"I wouldn't hazard to guess, sir."

"Eric, I've told you before, drop the sir. Call me Cope."

"Of course." We stepped away from the table and walked casually towards the doors leading to the patio and gardens.

When we reached the corner of the patio, he leaned against the railing and turned to face me. "I saw you earlier tonight. You looked as though the weight of the world was on your shoulders, son. Is there anything I can do to help?"

I chuckled; leave it to Cope to recognize my mood before I could even ask for a favor. "Perhaps you can. You've heard that the military is pulling out of the hospital?" He nodded. "I will be staying on, and things there, well, they have been better."

"Meaning?"

"There has been damage to the building from the fighting and supplies are sorely lacking. I wouldn't want anyone I know to have to go there." Truthfully, not many people I knew would go there, they would have a private physician come to their home, but I knew he would understand.

We talked quietly and he seemed willing to consider supporting the hospital or hosting an event to raise funds. That was the best I could hope for, as the whole city, the whole country really, was still recovering from the war.

Returning to the ballroom I saw Pam on the dance floor with Tray Dawson, an old friend that I hadn't seen since before the war. Amelia was still standing where I'd seen her before, with several ladies, including the woman that I had mistaken for Sookie earlier. I decided to join them, hoping to collect Pam when she finished her dance and make our leave.

As I approached, Amelia looked me up and down, not hiding her interest by any means. She was telling the group that she would be dancing with Dawson next, and that she intended to take him for a walk in the garden to do more than admire the flowers. I cringed slightly at her forwardness; men spoke this way all too frequently, but it was jarring to hear from the mouth of a lady.

I tried to clear the images of Amelia and Tray Dawson from my head and then heard Amelia say something that stopped me cold.

"Have you met anyone you fancy tonight, Sookie? Or are you still pining for that man you met during the war? You really should just forget him."

How many women could be named Sookie? Was it really my Sookie? And when my brain caught up to what Amelia had said, I wondered who she was referring to. Had Sookie met someone else? I had to know. I began walking again, taking the last steps to join the group of ladies.

"Ah, Sookie. Here's the most sought after bachelor in the city! He's even a doctor!" Amelia said like I was a prize to be won.

My heart was pounding. It couldn't be her, but it had to be. She turned her head and our eyes met.

"Sookie." It was almost a sigh.

"Eric?" she gasped.

"You know each other?" Amelia's harsh voice drew Sookie's eyes from mine.

"We. He." Sookie glanced at me and grinned, shaking her head, and then looked back at Amelia. "Yes. We know each other."

"Excuse me ladies, Miss Stackhouse and I have some catching up to do." I took her arm and drew her away from the crowd. I had questions for her, and there were things to be said, but certainly not in front of Amelia and the other ladies. There was murmuring behind us, but I didn't care and from the grin on Sookie's face, neither did she.

I led her to the patio, seeing Pam exiting the dance floor and looking at me curiously, but my step didn't falter. When we reached the corner of the patio that I had recently stood on with Cope, I stopped and turned to face her, putting my hand on her cheek like I had the last night in Louisiana.

"You're really here?"

She laughed and put her hand over mine again. "I could say the same thing. I didn't realize you had come back to Philadelphia."

"I live here. What are you doing here?"

Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight. "Are you glad to see me?"

I didn't hesitate. "Yes."

"Good. I was looking for you." She grinned.

"You were?" I laughed. "I have to say that I'm glad. I'm surprised, but glad."

She bit her lip. "Well, Jason sold the farm to Mr. Carmichael, and instead of putting me out on the street, he invited me to stay with them for a while. I think he was hoping I could tame Amelia."

"I'm not sure anyone could tame Amelia."

"No, it seems unlikely."

I put a hand on her hip and pulled her closer to me, as I stepped into the shadows. "I don't really want to talk to you about Amelia Carmichael."

"You don't?" she whispered and stepped towards me.

"No. In fact, I'd rather not talk at all, but that would not be appropriate."

"Do you remember who you're talking to?"

"Yes," I whispered, my hand sliding from her cheek and into her hair.

Our faces drew together and I pressed my lips to hers. She sighed, and I took advantage of the moment to taste her, stroking my tongue along her teeth, and into her mouth. She hesitated for an instant, reminding me how innocent she was, and then she moved her tongue against mine.

I stepped back and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself."

She laughed. "I think that I can forgive you."

I sighed, shaking my head. "I thought I saw you earlier this evening, and I began to question my sanity."

She laughed and put her head against my chest. "I've done the same thing. It's been worse since I headed north."

"We're quite a pair," I laughed. "This evening I realized that I needed to give up your ghost or return to Louisiana to lay my heart on the line."

"I guess I saved you the trip then."

"Yes, you did."

"So what now, Captain?"

I raised an eyebrow at her. "Why, I shall court you and win your heart, Miss Stackhouse."

She took my hand, placing it over her heart. "You already have it."

"Then perhaps a short engagement?" I said quietly.

"Not if that is how you are asking me." She jokingly huffed.

I laughed and kissed her again. "I'll have to come up with a romantic proposal."

"I look forward to it."

A throat cleared, and I saw my sister on the patio. We were just outside the lighted area, so that our silhouette could be seen, but not our identities.

"Eric, is that you? Amelia is looking for her friend. I believe I saw you escort her out here."

Wide eyed, Sookie whispered, "Who is that?"

She was suddenly worried about the propriety of our embrace and began to disentangle herself from my arms. I chuckled, kissing her on the forehead.

"It's my sister, Pam."

"Oh, my." Sookie continued trying to move away from me, but I put my arm around her, placing my hand on her lower back and stepped into the moonlight where Pam could see us.

"I'm sorry Pam, we needed a moment." I smiled. "Sookie, meet my sister, Pamela. Pam, this is Sookie. She is what I sit in front of my fire thinking about."

It was Pam's turn to be surprised, which didn't happen often. "Oh, my."

"Miss Stackhouse, may I have the next dance?"

"Captain Northman, I would like nothing better."

"You tease me," I joked, thinking of things other than dancing that I would like to do with her.

"All is fair in love and war," she laughed.

"Then we shall fight side by side, lover."

"The two of you are disgusting," Pam sneered.

Sookie and I laughed as I escorted her back into the party, before taking her into my arms for the first of many dances to come.

00oo00oo00oo00

A/N:

Again, gigantic, humongous, I can't explain how big, thanks to A Redhead Thing for dealing with my stupidity and apparent ignorance of the Confederacy. ILYSFM Rach.

Thanks to all of you for reading. You know how it goes, tell me what you think! I'd love to hear from you!