A/N: Here it is, the last chapter! Thank you guys all so very much for the wonderful responses to this story, I was so overwhelmed I can't even begin to tell you! Thanks also to my beta Sheknitsnicely! You are so the best!
Disclaimer: Well, this is my last disclaimer for this story and it turns out there were so many more moments that I didn't get to mention, so this may not be entirely amusing, but I can't finish the story out without saying it. Here goes…
I don't own them, Alan Ball does, which is why: Eric didn't stake Longshadow (like he was supposed to), Eric didn't save Sookie from the maenad (like he was supposed to), Eric didn't save Sookie at Russel's mansion (like he was supposed to) and Eric didn't take Debbie's bullet for Sookie (like he was supposed to)! Oh and it's also why Bill didn't go to Peru this season and get eaten by a rabid Alpaca (like he should)!
As Eric and I walk through the woods, his Vampire eyes seeing in the dark so much more clearly than I could ever hope to, I just follow where he leads, trusting him to find the way. It only takes a few minutes and then we're back at the spot where the little stream that runs through my property empties out into a beautiful pool, the same spot where he found me in the woods the night of the full moon, the same spot where we first made love.
How can it be that it all happened just a few days ago? The things I feel for him, they don't match up with the number of hours we've been like this. I feel like we've lived an entire lifetime since I found him, lost and scared, on the side of the road. I feel like I'm a completely different person than I was that night.
In so many ways, I was scared and lost on that night too. I'd barely survived my trip to Faery and found out that the only family I had left were no family at all. I'd come back to find that I'd lost a whole year of my life while everyone else had moved on, given up on me, or just plain forgotten me.
The man who claimed to love me had become a King and lived a comfortable life, feeding and fucking anything he pleased, never even trying to find me. My brother had sold our family home right out from under me as though he'd actually seen my body being lowered into the ground, instead of not knowing what happened at all, and my friends lived their lives without really seeming to be affected by my absence.
I should have known when I saw all those things, when I saw how utterly I didn't matter to any of them, that I'd spent my life making a lot of bad decisions. I should have seen that I'd put my trust in and given my heart to the wrong people. I should have understood that there was so much more worth finding in the one person who never gave up hope, who never stopped searching or believing that I would come back. The one person who didn't just sit back and give up, or turn back to his own problems and forget, but who thought about me, missed me, who did everything he could to make sure that, when I did return, I'd have a home and a life to come back to. I should have, but I didn't.
Antonia was a truly bad person, a woman who'd been twisted and soured by the horrible things that happened to her until she was just as evil as the evil she claimed to hate and yet, if it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here right now.
It was her spell that changed everything. It was her act of evil that brought me the truest love I could ever have dreamed of. I don't know quite what to make of that. I don't know if I should thank her or curse her name. I don't know if I should say a prayer that her soul will someday find peace or if I should hope that it's been snuffed out, never to have the opportunity of returning and hurting others again.
But I do know that I wouldn't be here right now, under the stars with Eric, if it wasn't for her. Maybe it was chance or maybe it was fate that Eric would be cursed and that I would finally see the man who lay beneath his many layers of coldness and cruelty. I'd like to think that there is a plan for all of us, that our lives aren't for nothing, that we're put here on this earth to do something, even if that something is only to love another with our whole hearts. Because I do, as unbelievable as it would have been eight days ago, I do. I love Eric Northman with my whole heart, with my whole soul and with my whole mind. And right now I'm about to love him with my whole body.
"What are you thinking about?" He asks me as we stop in front of the little drop off, the water rushing into the pool below us.
"That I love you. That I can't believe that I love you, but that I do. I never really knew you, did I?" I ask him, as he drops my hand but pulls me to him, wrapping his arms around me so that we're touching along the length of our bodies. Eric smiles that genuine, beautiful, perfect smile that I didn't know he could smile until just a few days ago.
"Perhaps not, but then I was not letting you know me anymore than you were wanting to." The smile is all amnesia Eric, but the thoughtful perception is entirely real Eric. He's completely right, I needed to meet the one Eric to open myself to the other and he needed to lose the real Eric for a time in order to be vulnerable enough to show me the person inside him: the man whose heart, though un-beating, is every bit as beautiful as the body it lives in. "But you know me now. Everything that I am, everything that I have kept hidden for a thousand years, I've given it to you. I have given myself to you completely, Sookie." Eric looks deep into my eyes as he says that and the fire that starts to burn there is indescribable as he leans down, capturing my mouth with his.
His lips are possessive and hungry, as though the admission that he is completely mine makes him desperate to prove that I'm completely his as well. It's a war he's already won, but the way his lips and fangs and tongue feel against and inside my mouth makes me eager to let him wage the battle anyway.
When we pull apart, we're both breathless even though only one of us actually needs to breathe. Eric looks down on me with eyes that are positively molten, his gaze raking over me from the very top of my head to the tips of my toes.
"Take off your clothes." He commands me, in a voice that's lower and rougher than I've ever heard from him. My body's reaction to it is instant and complete. Without a thought or a word I begin removing everything, until I'm standing in front of him in nothing but the black lace bra and the tiny thong that matches it.
Without saying anything, Eric kneels down in front of me, so that his face is level with my chest, and tilts his head up, pinning me again with the intensity of his desire. Eric never breaks our gaze as his hands come up to cup my breasts, teasing and stroking my nipples through the thin fabric, making them harden into eager, needy peaks and ripping a desperate moan from my mouth.
He goes on like that for long minutes, his hands squeezing and stroking, fondling every inch of my breasts, making me squirm and cry out but never giving me what I most desperately want. Finally, I can't take it anymore and I cup his face in my hands.
"Please Eric." I plead with him. The smile that comes across his face is predatory and dark. It's a look that he's given me many times in the past, but where it once scared me, made me fear that he would do something I neither understood nor was ready for, it now sends a rush of wetness flooding into the tiny triangle of lace between my legs. I want him to claim me, take me, fuck me in every way possible. I want him to show me every single way there is to belong to him.
Eric brings a single finger from where it rests and pulls down the lace of my cup, exposing my breast completely, and leans in, blowing cool air over the already desperate peak and then letting his tongue dart out to tease it, once, twice, three times before taking it into his mouth, sucking hard and letting his teeth nip at it, making my knees go week until I all but collapse into him.
Eric catches me, my breast leaving his mouth, and takes me again in another hungry kiss. As his lips move over mine again, roughly, demandingly, his hands make quick work of the last of my clothes and the remnants of his and then we're naked together in the grass again.
Laying us down so that he covers me completely, Eric watches my face as his hands begin to wander over my body. Our eyes lock as one hand moves to once again fondle my tits, pinching my nipples, rolling them between his fingers, making me thrust up into his hand, and the other moves lower to the juncture of my thighs.
Letting his fingers explore, I feel him part the folds of my pussy and begin to rub along the length of me. I'm already wet and weeping for him and I know that I won't be able to take it much longer when I feel two of his long fingers slide into me, achingly slowly.
"I love watching you while I do this." He whispers to me as his fingers begin to pump in and out. "I love seeing the expressions on your face when any part of me is buried deep inside your beautiful body." His words are dark and I feel as though I shouldn't like them, but I do. I like everything that Eric does to me.
"I love you being inside of me. I never knew it could be like this." I tell him without shame, my hips beginning to lift, trying to drive his fingers ever deeper into me. "I'm so close." I tell him. "Please Eric, I want to come on your cock." Eric leans down and places one fast ferocious kiss on my lips before pulling away to drop heated little nips on every part of my face and neck.
As he kisses me, I feel him position himself at my entrance and push in, strong and sure. I cry out at the feel of him, long and oh so hard, stretching my body to its very limit. We've made love so many times already but the fullness I feel, the completeness, when he's inside of me is still so new, even unexpected. But it always feels so right. This is what was missing with Bill -this feeling that joining our bodies is only the last piece of the puzzle -it's what would be missing with anyone else. It's what I'll only ever feel with him.
After a moment, Eric begins to move, his rhythm passionate, nearly overwhelming. We're making love exactly the way we did that first night, in exactly the same place, and I know it's Eric's way of proving to me that, even though he's himself again, nothing will ever change between us. His love for me, his care, his gentleness will never change. No matter who or what else he might be, with me he will always be the man who first made love to me here, under the stars.
"I love you, Eric." I tell him, over and over again, as he thrusts deep and hard into me. "I'm yours and I always will be." His response is to rain more kisses down on me as his hips move faster and faster. I'm crying out now, my own hips lifting to meet him on every stroke, needing so desperately to come around him and feel him release deep within me, when he lifts his head from my neck and pinning our gazes together again, his eyes wild, almost crazed.
"Tell me Sookie, tell me what you told him. I want to hear you say it again!" At first I'm too mindless to even understand what he's asked, no less figure out which thing he wants me to tell him, but then it clicks into place. Eric never ever thought that I could love him like this. He never truly believed that I would accept him when he returned to himself and, even though he knows now that I do, he still wants to hear my declaration again. I give it to him without hesitation.
"Eric, you are mine!" I tell him. The effect is immediate and I feel him thrust harder, pulling almost all the way out before pushing all the way back in, forcing my body into the soft grass beneath us in the most wonderful way.
"Again!" He commands me.
"Eric, you're mine!" I say again, wrapping my arms and legs more tightly around him, digging my hands into his hair, lifting my head to kiss him wherever I can reach.
"Again!" Eric's thrusts are just shy of brutal now, but it feels nothing but wonderful, I can't think, I can't see; I can barely speak the pleasure is so overwhelming.
"Eric is mine!" I yell one last time and then I'm falling over the edge again, crying and screaming and begging for more even as I feel the whole world collapse in around me.
Through the haze of my pleasure, I feel Eric thrust deep twice more and then he's spilling inside of me, his hips moving erratically, still trying to meld us together.
"And Sookie is mine." He says after one last violent shudder, his whole body collapsing against mine, caging me there in the grass, but not crushing me.
"Yes," I reassure him, petting him soothingly along the length of his back, "yes, I am. I've given myself to you completely too, Eric, and now I'm yours to keep for the rest of my life." I swear, through panting breaths. Eric responds by kissing me gently, softly all over my face before cupping my cheek in his hand and trapping my gaze once more.
"I swear to you, Sookie, you won't ever regret it." He declares ardently. I just smile in return and kiss him back.
"I already know that." I laugh gently, drinking in his happy smile. "C'mon, now we're both sooty!" I say, pushing him off me and taking his hand to 'help' him up. Eric looks down at the pool below us and, before I can even exclaim in surprise, he's picked me up and jumped off the little drop and into the cool water.
It's a shock to my system, but it feels wonderful and we stand there, the water up to Eric's waist and covering me almost to my shoulders, and gently wash each other of all the dirt and horror and stress of the last few days, stopping only to kiss each other now and then.
When we're both clean again, Eric takes me in his arms, lifting me up against him and slightly out of the water. I wrap my arms and legs around him and just stare at him under the slowly lightening sky.
It's so beautiful and peaceful here. I wish more than anything that we could just stay, that we could spend eternity here in this glade in the woods and never have to think about anything but each other, but I know that we can't. It's only about an hour before sunrise now and so we'll have to go back soon, have to go back to everything and everyone that awaits us in real life. It's something that makes me truly sad because, unlike other people, our real lives seem to be absolutely filled with danger and deceit and mayhem. Eric must see the sudden frown on my face, because he cups my cheek with his hand and lays a soft kiss on my nose.
"What is it?" He asks me in a whisper. I wrap myself around him tighter and bury my nose in the curve of his neck.
"I'm just…I wish we could stay here. I'm worried about all the things that will probably go wrong when we wake up tomorrow night. I'm scared about what new problem will rear its head next and I'm worried that, even after everything, Bill won't let us be. He tried to kill you tonight because Antonia convinced him that I was just wasting time with you and that, if you disappeared, I would go back to him. He really thought I still loved him." The hand holding my bottom against him squeezes me tight.
"You and I know the truth. If Bill is unable to accept it, he knows where to find me. I am not afraid of our dear King. Or maybe I'll just let my sexy, feisty, fiery little Fairy take care of it for me." He chuckles as he says the last and I can't help but join him. I guess I was something to see tonight.
"Do you really like me like that? You aren't afraid of me? I'm kinda afraid of me." I say, sobering slightly when I really start to think about it. I've never been less Human then I was tonight and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Eric pins me with a serious gaze, letting me know that he means everything he's about to say.
"I love you like that. I love you every which way you are, Sookie. Every part of you makes you who you are, and you are the only woman who has ever convinced me to give her my heart. So yes, I like you like that. Besides, I don't plan on ever doing anything that will make you angry enough to point those beautiful, lethal hands at me!" His eyes and mouth break out into a beautiful, amused smile, but I know he means what he says.
"Never!" I swear to him, kissing his neck and jaw and finally his lips. When we pull apart I can see from Eric's eyes that he wants to ask me something else, but he's unsure. "What? Tell me." I prompt him. Taking a deep, unnecessary breath he answers me, his voice soft, unsure of how I'll take what he has to ask.
"Sookie, bond with me? Permanently. I want us to be each others' completely. I want to be one with you for the rest of our lives." It's not a total surprise, what Eric is asking me. We were bonded in the future Claudine showed me, but it's something I hadn't expected him to ask me so soon. After all, he just got his memory back last night. I thought he'd want at least some time to adjust, but his face tells me that he has no doubts about it whatsoever.
I know that I love Eric more than I've ever loved or ever will love anyone, and I know that what he's offering me is the greatest commitment a Vampire can make to another. Bonding with him permanently would mean that we would belong to each other for the rest of my life and that my life (if Claudine was right) would continue for a very, very long time.
The thought of living for centuries on end has no appeal to me on its own. Seeing those I love change and grow old and die as I endure feels as though it would be heartbreaking. But on the other hand, I almost lost Eric tonight. What would I have felt, what would I have gone through, if he had died?
I think that I'm a strong person, but losing the man I love so soon after finding him…it might very well have broken me. How much more horrific would it be to watch as the person you love dies slowly in front of you. Because that's what I would be doing: every day, every night that goes by I would be dying just that little bit more right in front of him. I can't do that to Eric any more than I could watch him do it to me.
But then of course there's the fear I've had since that night in Dallas, when Eric tricked me into drinking his blood, that what I feel will be nothing more than consequence of his blood.
Somewhere deep down I know that the blood is the reason that Bill believed I would go back to him if Eric died. He was sure that, having gotten more of it down me, I would assume that what I felt for him was genuine, instead of just a chemical reaction and that I would cave to it and believe that I had made a huge mistake in leaving him and run back.
It's all so confusing to me, but when I look in Eric's eyes and see him waiting patiently for me to figure out what I want, waiting instead of pushing, giving me the time to work it out on my own, I realize something.
I had Bill's blood on the night I met him. Not just a drop or two but a whole heck of a lot. It's entirely possible, probable actually, that everything I felt for him was based on the blood and, even if it wasn't, I'll never have any way of knowing. He never gave me the chance to find out.
But with Eric, the one drop of blood he tricked me into taking in Dallas, what did it do? It gave me wonderful, terrible, amazing, nasty dreams that were sometimes the highlight of my otherwise dull night and sometimes made me want to hunt him down and kick his ass when I had to stop and actually think about whose name I should be calling out in bed, but they didn't make me believe that I was in love with him, or make me leave Bill and rush to his side. In fact, I was still throwing how much I couldn't ever love him in his face not two weeks ago.
It didn't stop me from giving him hell at every turn, or yelling at him when I thought he deserved it. It wasn't even the cause of my attraction to him. I can admit now that the attraction started the night we met. That drop of blood might have made my sleeping moments steamier, but it never controlled my waking mind.
And every other drop I've had was more than consensual. I took Eric's blood while he was cursed, because I wanted it. I wanted him. I wanted him to be a part of me like I was part of him, I wanted to feel him inside of me the way he felt me. I want that again. I know that my feelings for him, my love for him, is real, and I want to be one with him even more now than I did that night.
"Yes." I say finally, and see Eric give me a questioning look in return. "I mean it." I assure him, and I know that I've already had enough of his blood that he can feel my determination. I've made my decision. Not wasting a second more, Eric's fangs snick down.
"Bite me, Sookie." He says, as his fangs sink into my neck for the second time tonight. The feel of them is always so staggering, but I don't let myself get lost in it until I turn into Eric's throat and bite down hard.
When his blood starts to flow into my mouth, I let go, and I become lost in the sensation of us taking and giving to each other at the same time. We've never done this at the same time before and the experience is indescribable. I feel like I'm floating on a sea of pure light, with only Eric as my anchor. I feel powerful and beautiful and complete. I feel as though every wrong that has ever existed is suddenly right. When Eric pulls back from my neck after having sealed my wound, I know that he feels the same thing, and I realize that what I'm feeling is both my own feelings and his combined. It's amazing. It's perfect. It's right!
Where before our exchange seemed to lead us into a blood-high induced Fairy winter wonderland, what I see before me now is completely different. We're still in the woods, the sun is even closer to coming out, but everything is more. I can see every color of the spectrum in the low light that breaks through the trees, like rainbows breaking through the branches. I can hear every little rustle and chirp for miles around and I can feel the water and the air as though they're silk and satin on my skin. My mind feels both muddled and happy and sharper than it ever has before. And my heart… my heart feels whole.
Lifting me out of the water, Eric carries me through the woods, our tattered and dirty clothes once again forgotten, until we reach my house. When we get there he leads me down to the cubby and pulls me into the bed, on top of him. I don't hesitate to go with him. I wouldn't sleep anywhere else anymore: where Eric is, is where I belong.
Dawn is only a few minutes away, but it doesn't stop us from making love one last time. After the way we joined in blood in the woods, it feels imperative to join in the flesh too.
I kiss every inch of Eric's body: his eyes, his cheeks, his lips, his neck right where I bit him, his beautiful chest, his sculpted stomach, and don't stop until I come to 'v'd' muscles that lead down to his beautiful erection. I never thought that a man's cock could be beautiful, but Eric's is. It's long and thick and hard and it's positively commanding me to taste it, so I do.
This is something that I've never been very good at: it's not something I've done often, but it's something that Eric's made me love. I want him in my mouth almost as much as I want him in my pussy. I want to drive him insane with it and, from the sounds he's making and the feel of his hand fisting into my hair, caressing me roughly, I know that I am.
"Sookie, please!" He begs me as I squeeze his base and nip the tip of his head at the same time. "Please, I want to come inside of you." He begs. Looking up at him, his head still in my mouth, I can see his desperation. Eric's control might be legendary, but for me he's near breaking.
Letting him go with one last gentle suck, I crawl up his body, straddling him as he lays on the bed. Never letting his eyes go, I take him in my hand, rubbing him along my slit and then lower myself on to him. Eric groans long and loud as I take him in completely, his size making it a close fit.
His hands go to my hips, and he begins to help me move up and down on him, as he thrusts up into me from underneath. I cry out when he reaches one long finger down and begins to rub circles on my clit, bringing me to join him on the edge of the cliff.
It only takes a few thrusts more and we're both coming hard for the second time tonight, crying each others' names and babbling incoherent words of devotion to each other.
When the very last bit of pleasure has been wrung from us both, I collapse on top of him, laying my head over his heart, tightening my legs around his thighs and clutching his biceps as though they're the only thing keeping me anchored to this world.
"I love you." Eric whispers, just as the dawn takes him under. I can only hope that, if he didn't hear my reply, he knows deep down to his very soul that I love him with everything that I am. It's my last thought before the stress of two nights of terror and pandemonium, combined with no sleep, overcomes me as well and I'm pulled into a deep oblivion.
When I open my eyes again, there's someone in the cubby with us. At first I'm terrified and I bolt upright, ready to try to protect my sleeping Vampire with every Fairy weapon that I have at my disposal, but then I see who it is.
"Claudine!" I say, blinking and looking again to make sure that I'm not dreaming, although if Claudine is here then I suppose that I am. Claudine just smiles at me, holding out her hand.
I suddenly realize that I'm stark naked and still lying astride Eric, but, since it doesn't seem to bother Claudine at all, I decide I can put aside my prudish sensibilities one more time in twenty-four hours and just go with it. I'm dreaming after all.
"What are you doing here?" I ask her, getting out of bed and walking over to her. She just smiles and hugs me, and then looks past me to the bed and the sleeping Vampire resting there. When I turn to look as well, I see that I'm actually still there, sleeping peacefully, blissfully on top of Eric, who has a beautiful, genuine smile frozen on his lips.
"I just came to say goodbye to you, Sookie. You've made the right choice, and now I'm free to move on. I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. This was the love you were always meant for. Eric was always the one you were meant to have, but I couldn't tell you that before. I could help you along a little, but ultimately the decision had to be yours.
You did well, little cousin, and I promise you that, though the road ahead of you both may never be easy, it will be filled with the kind of love that few people in any of the worlds ever get to experience. Be safe, protect your Vampire and love him and your life will be a long and fulfilling one. Goodbye Sookie." With that, Claudine kisses my hair and then she's gone in a ray of light.
When I try to reach for her, I realize that I'm back on the bed, still wrapped around Eric. It was just a dream. Looking down on him though, I know now that neither of them where just dreams, and I feel a sleepy contentment radiate through my bones. Kissing Eric's chest, I lay my head back down and fall back to my dreams. Dreams filled with Eric and all the wonderful, naughty things we'll do to each other when we both wake again!