Written for the "I Write The Songs" Contest.

Alas, I am a judge, so I couldn't enter. LOL

Beta'd by the lovely and talented NorthmanMaille.

the inspiration of course was the song:

Your Wildest Dreams

by the incomparable Moody Blues

Your Wildest Dreams


Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

"You're not fully dressed," Sookie said, staring as Eric buttoned his shirt.

"Good evening to you too, my dear," he responded, giving her his most charming smile. "Did you sleep well?" He came to sit on the edge of the bed as he tied his shoes.

Sookie fidgeted with the ruffled lace on the duvet cover. "Are we alone?"

"Not at all. Pam is in the living room and someone must be in the kitchen because I smell cooking. I believe the plan must be for you to have steak for dinner." Eric stood and went to the window as Sookie sniffed the air. She smiled as she caught the scent of grilling beef.

He pushed the curtains to either side and gazed out at the view which had comforted generations of the Stackhouse family with a sense of home and belonging. It offered him no such comfort.

"Jason must be here," Sookie said happily. "He must be if we're having steaks. That's one thing Jason has always done really well. He's a marvel on a grill."

"Yes, he is," Eric said, without looking away from the window. "Sookie, do you remember when we came back from our trip to Europe? You said we should make an annual event of it and I agreed, but something seems to have come up every year to prevent it. Well, I think it's time for another trip. I've booked it. Anubis is sending a car later tonight."

"Anubis has very fancy planes, very comfortable," she answered.

"Yes they do," Eric said, chuckling at her response. Of all the things she'd brought into his life in the short time since they'd met, he liked this best, the way she could make him smile. "I'll go see if anyone needs help in the kitchen while you dress for the evening."

The curtain he'd been unconsciously holding fell back into place as he turned and went to the bed to gently pat her hand before leaving the room. As always, he was struck by how tiny her hand was in his. This small creature who had no idea how frail she was, had taken on everything the supernatural world could throw at her with the ferocity of a lioness and she had prevailed. She was his hero.

"I'll be waiting for you," he said as he left the room.

When Eric came into the living room Pam was sitting on the sofa with a newspaper. "Good evening, Pam. Did you have any trouble getting anything on the list I gave you?"

"I didn't have any trouble at all," she answered with a cocked eyebrow and a knowing grin. "I had a shopping service do it. They're very efficient. Customer satisfaction guaranteed."

"I hope so, for your sake," he said grimly. "Has everything been packed? Everything Sookie will need?"

Pam's grin momentarily shifted into something much less becoming, but she shook it off and held up her newspaper. "You should read Dear Abby today. She says we should all try and incorporate new things into our lives. She says it will make us happier and more well rounded."

"Do I not strike you as doing new things?" he asked. His tone was flat and utterly without emotion.

"I don't think what you're doing is exactly what she's talking about, Eric."

"I have no desire to be round."

"You don't seem to have any desire at all."

"You are mistaken. I have desires so great they defy description." For a moment his eyes flashed hot and bright, but just as quickly the moment faded. "I'm going for a walk. Don't allow the meat to burn."

Eric glanced over at the grill as he went down the back porch steps. He'd never prepared a meal when he was human, it was a little late in the game to start now. He walked past the tool shed and back across the expansive property behind the house.

He reached what Sookie called her thinking hill. It wasn't actually much of a hill, more of a slight rise of dirt. But if Sookie said it was a hill that was good enough for him. He sat, running his fingers through the soft grass and wondering what a young girl thought about when she was alone on her thinking hill.

He had asked her once, but she'd said if she told him then they wouldn't be her thoughts any more. He wondered if she'd ever sat here and thought about him? If she did, were they happy thoughts?

He'd been sitting alone with the stars for nearly two hours when he heard the car rolling slowly up the gravel driveway. That would be the limo from Anubis. It was time to go. He moved quickly to the back door and entered the house.

Pam met him as he got to the living room. "The car is here."

"I heard. Is she ready?"

"Yes. She's waiting in the bedroom."

He looked over at a stack of luggage near the front door. "Is that everything?"

"Except for her purse and carry-on bag, yes."

"Good," he said. "You get the luggage to the car and I'll get her."

As Eric turned to head up the hallway there was a knock at the front door. Pam answered it and she and the driver carried the luggage out to the car.

Eric rapped twice on the bedroom door before opening it halfway. He didn't enter, but spoke into the room. "The car is here. It's time to leave."

After a moment she emerged from the bedroom carrying a small straw purse and a carry-on bag. Eric took the bag from her with one hand and draped his other arm around her shoulders. "You look lovely," he said. "Shall we go?"

"Thank you," she answered. She sounded almost shy. It was a pleasant sound and Eric smiled as they walked out to the limo.

Once the world was new
Our bodies felt the morning dew
That greets the brand new day
We couldn't tear ourselves away
I wonder if you care
I wonder if you still remember
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

"Ta-da!" She came bouncing out of the bathroom in a pair of very well fitting designer jeans with red stitching and a lightning bolt embroidered across the left hip pocket; a pink stretch lace camisole peeking out from under a red, light sweater and whit Keds sneakers. She could have been almost any young woman from almost anywhere.

At least she would appear that way to a casual observer. But Eric wasn't a casual observer. To him she was something very special. To him, she represented everything good and worthy in his life; everything he wanted to hold onto; everything he loved.

"Perfect," he said, his smile displaying his approval as his eyes took in every detail of her standing there. She had dug through suitcases for nearly an hour before finding the exact outfit she was looking for and he had waited patiently, without complaint. He was happy he'd waited.

"So where are we going?" she asked, shaking her hands in hopes of releasing some of her nervous tension.

"To see some rocks," he teased and they were off. After stopping for dinner for her and a True Blood for him, they climbed back in the car and the driver pulled away.

She sat close to her door, happily staring out the window and watching the quiet English countryside roll by. When the driver brought the car to a stop, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, she turned to Eric. "Are we having a flat?"

He chuckled softly and said. "No. We're there."


"There," he said, pointing past her toward the middle of her window and out into the middle of what appeared to be an open field for as far as she could see. Of course it was dark and the middle of the night, so she couldn't see very far.

Then the clouds hiding the moon floated away and she could see, something out there. "What is it?"


"Really?" she asked excitedly. "Are we going closer?"

"We are," he answered and opened her car door. "After you." He followed her out and into the grass.

As they walked over the grass and she could see the great monolithic stones becoming larger she asked, "Are we allowed to be out here?"

"Did you see a sign saying we shouldn't be?"

"Well, no, but I don't see anyone else out here."

"Then no one will be in our way."

"Oh, wait, there's a fence." She sounded terribly disappointed. Her pace slowed and they trudged the last few steps. She exhaled heavily and stared through the fence.

"Come here," he said, extending his hand to her.

She stepped to him and reached for his hand. "You gonna throw me over the fence?"

That made him laugh out loud and when he'd recovered he leaned down close to her face. "I have a key," he whispered.

He grabbed her and shot straight upward, causing her to shriek. He took them over the fence and landed, as if stepping off a curb, right into the center of The Henge.

He sat cross-legged in the center and watched as she wandered, wide-eyed among the looming stones.

"Can I touch them?"

"If you like, but if you're thinking of pushing one over so the rest will fall like dominoes, let me save you the trouble. It won't work, I've tried."

"No way?" she laughed.

He pointed to a massive stone lying on the ground on its side.

She ran over to examine the stone, as much as a human woman could examine a stone with only the light provided by the sky in the wee hours of an English countryside morning. "You did not push this over," she challenged.

He chuckled and looked down to watch his hand trace shapes in the grass. "I assure you I did. I left my mark. There is a deep gash almost as long as your arm on the side where you're standing."

She groped around until she found the gash. "Anyone could have done this."

"True, but anyone didn't. I did."

He laid back, put a hand behind his head and gazed up at the night sky. Eventually she tired of winding around the monoliths and she came to lie beside him in the grass. He put an arm around her and drew her close.

When she fell asleep on his arm, he turned onto his side so he could watch the rise and fall of her breathing. He lowered his head so he could take in the scent of her hair.

Watching Sookie sleep was still among his favorite activities. It never got old.

She was still sleeping when dew began to form on him and the grass around them. The dawn would follow soon. He carefully picked her up and carried her to the car for the ride back to the hotel.

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time

Eric popped open the lid of his travel coffin and took a quick look around the room before stepping out. He was alone. He heard the automatic light tight panels roll back and he went to draw the drapes. Two glass paneled doors opened onto a terrace large enough to accommodate a dinner-for-two setup consisting of a table and matching chairs as well as a good sized potted plant. It seemed so small.

"More than enough space," he said aloud to no one. "Here, she was completely happy." She had told him, that night and several times since, the happiest and most exciting night of her life so far had been the night they spent in Paris when they went to Moulin Rouge.

He remembered that night too. He'd never seen her smile so much. In over a thousand years he'd not seen anything to quite compare with being there when someone saw Paris for the first time. And when that someone was the woman you loved, well, the experience was magical. He looked out at The City of Lights and hoped to feel that magic again tonight.

He dialed the concierge desk to confirm the limo to pick them up for the late show. The show was different from the one he had previously seen with Sookie, but he had seen several of their shows over the decades and all of them had been entertaining and energetic. There was no reason to believe this one would be any different.

In mid-conversation he heard the key in the door. She came in with one towel wrapped around her and drying her hair with another. She'd been to the pool. Seeing he was on the phone, she smiled and went into the bathroom to take a shower.

The Moulin Rouge didn't disappoint. It was as rousing a performance as Eric had ever seen there. And she had enjoyed it with all the enthusiasm of a child. On the ride back to the hotel, Eric held her tight against him as she hummed music from the show to herself.

As they approached the hotel, Eric leaned forward. "Nous deposer au parc," he said to the driver.

She pulled back a bit. "What did you say to him?"

"I asked him to drop us off at the park."

"It's almost four in the morning."

Eric couldn't help but laugh. "You needn't worry. The hotel is right across the street and I am prepared to personally guarantee your safety." He squeezed her tight and gave her arm a reassuring pat.

The car pulled over, he tipped the driver and they got out.

"Beautiful night for a stroll, don't you think?" Eric asked as they stood on the sidewalk. "A clear sky, a lush park, a beautiful girl, what more could a man ask for without being selfish?"

"You don't have to do this, you know?"

Eric pointed to the hotel. It was less than a hundred meters away. "It's a short walk. I can carry you if you're too tired."

Her giggle was like the chiming of tiny bells. "No, I mean you don't have to work so hard to seduce me."

He wasn't sure how to respond. Luckily, the approach of another man saved him from having to come with anything.

"Monsieur, excusez-moi," the man said, looking up expectantly at Eric as he stood in the grass with his hat in his hand.

"Que voulez-vous?" Eric responded, more than a little grateful for the interruption.

The man seemed overly anxious about something as he shifted from one foot to the other and back again. "Êtes vous prêt?"

"En quinze minutes. Oui." Eric reached into his inside breast pocket and produced some money. He didn't count it. He simply transferred it directly from his pocket to the man's hand.

"Merci beaucoup, monsieur," the man said with a small nod and a huge smile.

"Merci," Eric repeated.

"What was all that?" she asked as the man turned and walked briskly away from them, stopping along the way to pick up some kind of case from behind a tree before continuing.

"A beggar," he answered in a less than completely convincing tone. "Let's get back to the room." He placed a hand in the middle of her back and almost propelled her along.

"So now you're in a hurry?"

"It's cooler than I thought. I don't want you to catch a chill."

"I'm not cold."

"Are you sure?" he asked as he led her across the street. "Let me give you my jacket."

She reached up and grabbed his arm before he had his jacket completely off. "No, please. I'm fine, really. Look, we're here, just a few more feet."

Eric adjusted his jacket back on himself and they went back to the room with no further communication.

He hung his jacket and called room service for champagne, True Blood, and a fruit tray. As he turned to go to the terrace, he caught her reflection in the mirror. She was changing into a red negligee.

"No, not the red," he said softly, reaching out to touch the delicate lace on the shoulder of the garment. He smiled for her to ease the sting she may have felt from his correction before going on to the terrace. "The blue tonight. Please."

When she joined him on the terrace he took her hand and spun her slowly around, taking in ever curve of her body and every eyelet in the lace. "Splendid," he finally whispered.

There was a knock at the door and when she took a step toward the door he stopped her. "Allow me. You stay here and enjoy the view." He tipped the waiter and returned to her with the room service cart in tow.

"Are you hungry?" he asked as somewhere in the distance a violin started playing Rachmaninoff's Vocalise.

"Thank you, no," she answered, looking over the terrace, searching for the source of the music. "It's so beautiful, but so sad, like someone's heart is breaking."

"Yes." He poured her a glass of champagne and opened a bottle of True Blood for himself. Handing her the delicate fluted glass he gestured to the right. "The Eiffel Tower is there."

She spun to her right. "Oh my god, it is!" she said as if she would start jumping up and down and clapping any moment.

Eric stepped in close behind her and pulled her into him. A light breeze blew past them and through her hair. The scent seemed to catch in his nose and course through him until he was filled with her. He reached for the open bottle of True blood and closed his eyes as the music swelled behind them.

"I can't believe how beautiful it is here," she gushed. She gently placed her hands over the hand he had on her stomach. "It's like this is a perfect place."

"Shhhhh," he hummed into her ear. He gulped the bottle of True Blood and sat down, pulling her into his lap, both of them still facing the Tower.

When the violinist changed tunes a soprano joined him for another haunting melody. Eric put his empty bottle on the table and lowered his head until his face was buried in her hair.

For over an hour they sat without speaking, being serenaded as the lights of Paris lit the vista around them. When Eric felt the familiar beckoning of the sun he squeezed tight once more. A last embrace before he was torn from her yet again.

"I will love you forever, Sookie," he vowed. "The only perfect place is where you are."

Once beneath the stars
The universe was ours
Love was all we knew
And all I knew was you
I wonder if you know
I wonder if you think about it
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

Before he'd even opened his travel coffin he knew where he was. This night, there would be none of the usual momentary disorientation associated with travel. He was in the land of his kinsmen. He clicked the latch and was immediately surrounded by the air of his homeland. Somehow it felt different on his skin than it always had before. It was his homeland, but it was no longer his home.

He clicked the latch and stepped out into the small, light tight chamber adjoining the hotel suite and heard the high-pitched giggling and chatter of female voices. He closed his eyes and smiled to himself.

Sookie had been shopping. Of course there were no malls in Jukkasjärvi, only a few gift shops. Perhaps the guide he had engaged for her had taken her to nearby Kiruna. A line of credit had been arranged with a Kiruna bank for just such a purpose. Nights were short here in the early spring. She would be spending two long days alone or with a stranger. It was necessary to provide her with the means to keep herself amused.

He stepped through the door into the bedroom. He could see the two women in the sitting room, laughing as they unpacked her bags of purchases. They hadn't noticed him.

He dressed for the evening in clothing reminiscent of his Viking days. Garments sewn from reindeer skins and fleece, though silk linings were certainly an improvement since he was human.

"Good evening, ladies" he said as he entered the sitting room. "Did you enjoy your shopping?"

"I hope it was okay. She said it was okay."

"Yes, Mr. Northman, I take full responsibility," the guide began.

Eric held up a hand. "Please. The line of credit was in place for exactly this. Now, show me what you bought."

The excited smile he got was worth the cost. He sat back on a reindeer skin thrown over a sculpted shelf of ice to pass the time before they left for their outing. "What do you think of The Ice Hotel?"

"That successfully diverted her attention from spending guilt. She gushed for at least ten minutes before bouncing behind a room divider to wiggle into round one of her display.

The guide introduced herself as Lena and took a seat beside Eric to watch the fashion show. It was a sort of reverse strip, since the show basically consisted of watching her get dressed one layer at a time, though admittedly they were lovely layers. It ended with her nervously walking from behind the room divider in a stunning black cashmere cape trimmed in white fox fur with matching Zhivago hat, muffler and gloves.

"This was really expensive, but it's so pretty."

Eric got up and took her hand, kissing it tenderly. "Money well spent. You look amazing."

She blushed deep red as her grateful smile overtook her face.

"Much better," he said. "Shall we go then?"

At this point Lena began a running monologue which continued until they reached their vehicle for the evening.

"I'll be riding up front with your driver to give directions and just in case you decide on any last minute changes, but the back of the vehicle is completely enclosed, soundproof and light tight in case of an emergency. It is a four-wheel-drive limo, not a stretch, in case we encounter poor driving conditions, but let assure you the inside is every bit as elegant as a stretch and it affords ample room for any activities you may be normally accustomed to enjoying in a limo."

"Thank you, Lena," Eric said as they climbed into the back of the vehicle.

When the vehicle stopped, Eric pushed the switch to open the sunroof. When had slid open he stood and lifted himself onto the roof. He then extended a hand back into the car. "Come," he said, pulling her up and placing her next to him.

"Oh my god," she whispered as she stared, awestruck at the dancing curtains of light in the sky. "It's incredible."

"Yes, it is."

"I've never seen anything like it."

"Nor are you likely to. When I was a boy the men would tell tales passed down to them by their fathers and their father's fathers about seeing the norörljós, the northern lights. It was seen as a bad omen that our people had not seen the norörljós for many years. Within the last century human researchers have discovered the lights move, following the magnetism around the pole, not the omens or the gods."

"What difference does it make what they follow? They're so beautiful."

"Beauty is relative. When I was here last, brilliant golds and reds cavorted on the waves of blue and green. I can remember watching their reflection in a pair of perfect blue eyes."

She looked up at him and noticed the oddest thing. His eyes were closed. She reached up and touched his cheek.

His hand was immediately over hers as his eyes closed tighter. She pulled her legs up and got up on her knees, not attempting to pull her hand away from his grip. She leaned in and softly kissed his lips.

His reaction was immediate and dramatic. In a flurry of moves designed to get him away from the Limo and keep her in it, Eric sprang away from her. "Get back in the car!" he bellowed. "Lena!"

From the top of the limo she cried, "What did I do?"

"Back in the car, now!"

Lena scrambled out of the front seat and came around to stand, terrified by the front of the car. "I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Northman. What has happened? What can I do?"

Eric was pacing with his fists balled tight in his pockets. He wouldn't be able to stand here and talk to these people much longer without losing what little control he had left. "We're leaving. Take her back to The Ice Hotel and get us packed. I'll get myself back. I want us to be in the air headed home within the hour. Do whatever you have to do."

He propelled himself into the air and had disappeared from their view within seconds.

And when the music plays
And when the words are
Touched with sorrow
When the music plays
And when the music plays
I hear the sound
I had to follow
Once upon a time

Pam heard the car as it pulled onto the gravel driveway. She came out on the front porch to meet it since she wasn't expecting anyone before eleven and it wasn't ten yet. She was doubly surprised to see the limo.

Eric bounded out of the car and across the yard. "How is she?"

"The same," Pam answered. "What are you doing here? I wasn't expecting you for another two nights."

"Change of plans. Has she asked for me?"

"The afternoon nurse told me she said you fluff her pillows better than anyone else."

Eric chuckled at that. "I fluff them one-handed and hold her up with the other arm."

"I'll have to remember that," Pam said with a grin.

He laughed out loud. "She puts her hands on my chest. I think she thinks she's sneaking a feel."

"Well, I guess that plan's out the window then. I never could get her to look at me that way. You boys spoiled her before I had a chance." Pam looked around the yard then at the car. "Where's the girl?"

"I told her to stay in the car until I was inside the house. Take her in to get anything she left here and get her out. The car will wait for her. Everything out there with her she can keep. Any news which won't wait?"

"No. Nothing Earth shattering," Pam answered and Eric disappeared into the house.

Pam sauntered over to the limo and opened the rear passenger door. "I think it's relatively safe to come out now," she said to the blonde woman sitting on the other side of the back seat.

"Is he in the house? It's hard to see through these windows."

"When I need to look through limo windows, I usually push this little button and they slide down. Like magic." Pam pushed the window control on the armrest in the door. "Of course everyone's entitled to do it however they want, but whatever. Get out and come get your stuff you left here."

The woman got out on her side of the car and stalked toward the house, but just before she reached the porch she turned back to Pam. "I didn't leave anything. Not on purpose anyway. He told me not to bring anything of mine. I had to use and wear only the things that were already packed for me."

"Didn't they fit?" Pam was tempted to pretend to yawn, but she was afraid the irony would be lost on this human and she hated it when people didn't get her jokes.

"They fit perfectly, but that's not the point!" the woman said without missing a beat.

"Oh god, there's a point." The urge to fake a yawn was quickly being replaced by the urge to drain the woman dry. "Make it fast. I have to get things ready for the night nurse and I like to take my time."

"Hell yes there's a point! Did you know he packed a schedule with the clothes telling me what to wear when and whether or not to change clothes after we went someplace and what to change into?"

"I wouldn't have thought it was unusual for clients to make wardrobe suggestions to a woman in your profession. I'll have to call my friends. Some of them should probably be tipping more. Anything else? You don't appear to be injured."

The woman lowered her voice and leaned in closer. "I would have had to jump out a window to get injured. He never touched me except to hold my hand or put an arm around me. He hardly ever even looked at me unless he had to, not at my face anyway. It was kind of creepy."

"Yeah, well, we're creepy people. And right now I'm a busy, creepy person. So if you'll run along inside and gather up whatever it is you have inside, we can send you on your way and you won't be around us creepy people any more."

The woman went up the steps with Pam trailing after her, but she stopped short of going inside. "Just because I'm curious. What was the deal with dressing me up and telling me what hand lotion and shampoo and everything to use?"

"You look like his wife," Pam stated flatly. It didn't matter. She'd glamour it away when she returned the woman to the limo.


"Well, you don't look exactly like her, but you're the right height and body type, the right hair and eye color. You don't actually look a thing like her now, but you bear a pretty good resemblance to how she looked when he first met her nearly sixty-five years ago."

The woman didn't speak again. Making Pam wish their conversation had started with the woman asking, why her. There wasn't much of hers in the house. Her purse, a make-up bag, and the clothes she'd worn there and changed out of shortly before they left.

Eric sat in a chair beside the bed they'd once shared and watched Sookie sleep. He found it no less fascinating now than when he'd done it for the first time. In fact sometimes it was much more interesting. When her sleep was restless and she stirred more than usual, watching her wrinkles move her skin into different shapes reminded him greatly of watching for shapes in the clouds.

He had always thought he wouldn't be able to bear watching her grow old, but he'd borne it without so much as a thought. This was the difficult weight. Knowing he would wake one evening soon to a world which had decided it no longer had room for her.

As had so often been the case these past few years, she rescued him from his thoughts by waking. "Good evening, Sookie. You are as beautiful as ever. Did you sleep well?"

"No, I didn't," she complained. "I don't think I slept at all. I couldn't get comfortable for a minute."

"Let's see what we can do about that," he said softly as he stood and pushed the chair back from the bed. "Here, let's try fluffing your pillows and see if that helps."

Standing on the right side of the bed, he tenderly slipped his left arm behind her back and pulled her close to his chest, closing his eyes and pausing for a moment as she placed her frail hand on his chest. With his free hand he picked up each of her pillows one at a time and shook them until they were plump and soft.

When he had held her for as long as he dared without causing her to suspect her nurse was trying to molest her, he placed her a bit higher in the bed so she was in a slightly sitting position. "There. Better?"

She fussed with the duvet, arranging it more to her liking. "Much better, thank you."

"Is there anything I can get you? Are you hungry?"

"I'd like a glass of water. Can I have a glass of water?"

"You may anything you wish, Sookie. You need only ask," he said as he took some ice from the pitcher on the bedside table and filled a glass then opened a fresh bottle of water and poured it over the ice. "Here you are."

She brought her hands to the glass, but he didn't let go.

"I had the wildest dream last night," Sookie said in a far away voice as he returned the glass to the table.

"Did you? Let's hear it."

"You were in it," she said with a sly wink.

"Now you have my attention," he chuckled, coming to sit on the bed beside her. "Was I a good guy or a bad guy?"

"You were my night in shining armor," she said, her smile pushing the tiny folds of her face until they formed deep ridges across her cheeks.

"Really?" Even now, her smile is radiant, he thought. " I think I might like this dream. Tell me more."

Sookie's face scrunched up as she worked to force the recollection. "I was in a hospital, just like now. I was frightened and alone and something was after me."

Eric couldn't move. His every nerve and tissue was screaming for him to run. Leave the room before another wound which would never heal was slashed into his heart. "You remember me in your nightmares," he said softly, trying not to reveal the rising panic in his throat.

Sookie adjusted herself on her pillows and reached out to him. He gently took her hand in his and held it, stroking the tops of her fingers with his thumb.

"It was almost a nightmare, but you came and carried me away."

"On horseback?" he kidded. She was remembering being in Dr. Ludwig's clinic after being tortured by Neave and Lochlan. As much as he wanted her memory of him to return, it was happy memories he wanted restored to her, not the hell of torment and torture. "If I'm to be a proper knight, I must insist I be on horseback. Running about in shining armor would be exhausting without a horse."

Sookie laughed and stared happily at him and for just a moment he saw love in her eyes, their love. It was these moments he lived for now. The tiny shards of recognition which reminded him she was still here. She was trapped inside this time worn body and her mind was enclosed in a curtain of fog he couldn't penetrate, but sometimes, for a few seconds she would break free and he would see her again.

"Sorry, no horse. You did have a sword!" The brightness in her eyes faded as the fog thickened and muddled her train of thought. "Or maybe it was a big knife. I can't seem to remember it now."

Eric glanced at the clock, five past ten. Her next medication wasn't due until midnight. "Sometimes our wildest dreams aren't meant to be remembered. The important point is I was there for you. I will always be there for you, Sookie." He smiled and closed his other hand over the one already holding hers.

He felt an excruciating rip across his chest as she pulled her hand away from him. This was the added cruelty of her dementia reserved for him alone. The price he paid for their bond, for having made her his woman, the physical pain.

Once upon a time
Once when you were mine
I remember skies
Mirrored in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you
Think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams

Most of the time, when she simply didn't recognize him and thought he was merely one of her nurses, it was a dull ache moving slowly from one part of his body to another and often coming to rest in his stomach for varying periods of time.

But when her feelings for him turned to fear, it was different. There was nothing dull about this pain. This was his flesh being flayed from his chest in strips. This pain drove him from her side. The combination of his physical pain and the torment in her eyes when she looked at him and was afraid was more than he could bear and he was reduced to crumpling into a heap in the hall outside her door and waiting for her dread to pass.

"Eric!" Pam shrieked as she came up the hall and knelt at his side. "Eric, you have to stop laying here when this happens. Come into the kitchen so it's less intense, or better yet, go outside, take a walk in the woods until her mood changes. It doesn't take very long."

"And leave her alone to her suffering?" he asked through gritted teeth. "I only leave the room so she is not forced to witness this." He curled into a fetal position as a new wave hit. "Leave me. Go to her."

Much as it grieved her to leave him like this, Pam was obedient. She stepped over Eric's feet and into the bedroom.

"Is everything alright, Sookie?" Pam asked gently as she pulled the chair close to the bedside and sat. "I thought I heard you call out."

Sookie's eyes were wild with panic as she sputtered her response. "I was napping and I woke up and there was a strange man in here. Very tall. I don't know what he wanted."

Pam looked around the room as if she was taking Sookie's concerns seriously. "I didn't see anyone when I was coming up the hall, but let me check the bathroom, just in case. You stay right here while I look." She patted Sookie's hand, got up and went in to the bathroom.

She made a production of loudly opening the cabinet under the sink and pulling the shower curtain back to check the tub. When she came out, she went to the window and looked around there.

"There's no one in the bathroom and the window is locked up tight. Are you sure it wasn't just a really vivid dream?" She came back to the bedside and sat, taking Sookie's hand in hers.

Sookie looked confused as she considered Pam's suggestion. After a moment, she said, "I suppose that's possible, but it seemed so real. Like I could have reached out and touched him."

"You said he was very tall. Maybe you were dreaming about that good looking nurse you like so much," Pam teased.

Sookie blushed deep pink and a smile crept across her face, crinkling her eyes to mere slits. "I bet he has more girlfriends than he can count."

"Oh, I don't know," Pam said, "a man like that, who can be such a devoted nurse. I imagine he's married to a woman he worships."

"I once told Sam, Eric worshiped the ground I walked on," Sookie whispered.

"And what did he say?"

"He said, "he's not the only one who ever attended services in that church." I always liked Sam, but I just couldn't love him. No matter how much he wanted me to."

"Would you like to come out into the living room for a while? I'll get your chair and we can go fast down the hall. I know you like that."

The crisis was over. Her mind had moved on to other things, real, imagined and odd combinations in between.

Eric got up and went into the kitchen to make coffee, one of his many skills acquired since Sookie's mind began deteriorating. However he had adamantly refused not to learn to sweep a floor or use a dustpan. Sookie had always taken such pleasure in teasing him about not being able to do it. In keeping that flaw, he felt he was keeping a part of her. Something stored with him the dementia couldn't take.

When Sookie was situated in the living room with a cup of coffee, Eric pulled Pam aside. "Call the night nurse and tell her not to come tonight. Not now anyway. Tell her to come at sunrise."

"But Eric, it's almost eleven now. She'll be here any minute."

"She has a cell phone. Call her. Then you take the night off too. Sleep in Shreveport tonight. I'd like to spend some time alone with Sookie. I don't get to do that often enough any more."


"Good night, Pam. Make the call."

"I'm taking your car," she snapped as she huffed into the living room and grabbed her purse.

Eric settled into a chair beside Sookie and they watched a movie. Well Sookie watched a movie anyway while Eric brushed her hair and rubbed her feet and smiled as he enjoyed watching her enjoy the show. At one point she fell asleep and he enjoyed that too.

After a while, he picked her up and cradled her in his arms as he walked around the house as if holding a giant infant. When the house began to feel too confining he took the afghan from the sofa. He wrapped it around her and carried her into the warm spring night.

"Where are we going?" she asked with a yawn.

"Not far," he said with a soothing smile. "Would you prefer to go back inside?"

"No, no, I like it outside," she assured him. "As long as we don't go too far. Gran doesn't like us to go off too far from the house. She thinks there are boogey men waiting to get us." The childish giggle which followed, almost broke his heart. Such joy and innocence was captured there.

When they reached her thinking hill, he stopped and sat down in the grass, arranging her and her cover comfortably in his lap.

For more than an hour they sat and chatted and laughed as if they were children; best friends who had snuck out of their respective bedrooms to tell tales and just have fun away from the watchful eye of their families. It was the happiest hour Eric had spent in several years.

When at last she fell silent, Eric closed his eyes and listened to her softly snoring against his chest

"Eric," she said suddenly. "It's almost sunrise."

"Yes, it is." He'd heard a slight panic in her voice, but there was no pain, so it was not due to fear of him.

She reached up and touched his cheek. "Please say you're taking me with you, my lover. You can't leave me behind and alone."

Eric looked into her eyes. The all-consuming fog had lifted. It had given him this moment of clarity at the end. He wouldn't waste it.

"Sookie, my love, how could I ever leave you?" He kissed her, as passionately as he had when she was young and his kisses were driven by an almost uncontrollable lusty desire for her. She was his woman and they would be together forever. When his lips released hers, she smiled for him, held his hand as tightly as her waning strength would allow and laid her head to the side.

He struck as he felt the first twinges of the call to sleep, drawing long and deep until she lay lifeless in his arms. "I'm coming, my lover," he whispered to her before the scream wrenching its way up his throat forced his head back as it was released.

In the subsequent moment, the sun broke free of the horizon and gave him passage to begin his new eternity, with her.