A/N: My other story must be good for my brain because I'm just filled with ideas for new ones that won't wait! This one in particular got me all excited and I couldn't put off starting it.

This story starts during 'All Together Dead' on the night Eric and Sookie bond.

Even though the story is definitely AU, it parallels the last part of ATD and moves on into 'From Dead to Worse'. I'll be mentioning the things that happen in those books as they relate to the story, but I'm also assuming everyone has a decent memory of the major plot points in those books.

Also, because of where I chose to start I am inevitably, regrettably, forced to include Quinn in this story. Let me say right out I HATE Quinn. (I know not everyone does and that's cool. We're all entitled to our opinions, but that's where I stand on him.) I can't stand mentioning him and having to say anything even remotely complimentary of him makes me vomit in my mouth a little each time. But while Sookie is laboring under the delusion he's a good guy, I have to go with it- for a while. What happens in this story will be packing him up and moving him out well before his original expiration date in FDTW though, I promise.

This is an Eric and Sookie story!

Thank you SO much to my beta Northman Maille for jumping right on board for another story. Seriously, I work her to the bone and still she allows me to bask in her greatness! I'm a lucky girl!

Last note (and I promise there will not be an A/N this long for the rest of the story) I'm planning to update this story every Wednesday or Thursday, for the sake of consistency.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, again I just like messing with Sookie's head!

"This Thing That Builds our Dreams Yet Slips Away From Us"

Too tired for tears, to worn out for hysterics, Sookie lay down beside Quinn, allowing him to wrap his arms around her. The peace and quiet of the room, the strength of the arms that held her, she knew they were deceptive comforts, but she took them anyway…gratefully.

The night hadn't started out so bad. In fact, right there at the beginning it seemed like the evening would be one of celebration and happiness. Russell and Bart, two Kings who never expected to marry for anything other than political gain, had managed to make a real love match. True love had found a way to flourish even in the most cynical of wastelands. It gave her hope.

Granted she wasn't anywhere near ready to take the step Russell and Bart had tonight, but still…. She had a man in her life now who liked her for who she was, not for her telepathy and what it could do for him. He wasn't harboring a secret agenda and merely pretending to care for her. He wasn't cold and cut off from his humanity. He'd never treated her like a possession to be owned or a prize to be won.

Sookie didn't believe, right then at that very moment, she was in love with Quinn. They just didn't know each other well enough yet, but she felt it might be a possibility someday in the future. This was the first time since Bill she'd held out hope her relationship might go the distance, and if it did…. They could get married. They could have children. They could grow old together. They could have a real life together! She'd felt in such high spirits at those thoughts, more carefree and light than she'd been in a long time.

And then the night had gone to hell in a fairly large hand basket.

She'd been told about Quinn's past…by Jake. Why hadn't Quinn told her himself? He couldn't possibly believe she'd blame him for the things he'd been forced to do to protect his family! If anything they made her want to care for him all the more, to give him the tenderness and affection in which his life had been so lacking.

But hearing it from someone else…knowing Quinn hadn't trusted her enough, it raised questions about how much of himself he would really be willing to give her. If he didn't feel he could tell her the most basic things about his life, what else could he be hiding?

Reeling from Jake's revelations Sookie hadn't even realized she was walking straight into the path of trouble. Then, suddenly, Andre was dragging her out of the ballroom and into the deserted hall, intent on shoving his blood down her throat and forcing a connection between them Sookie knew there was no way she could live with.

And into all this mess had walked Eric.

He'd offered to save the day, to bond with her in Andre's place. She knew she should be grateful. To be honest a part of her was. But another part of her, the scared part, was screaming that bonding to Eric was just as dangerous to her well-being, in its own way.

Not because she thought he would cruelly enslave her to his will, but because it was one more layer of her defenses against him gone. One more weapon lost in the fight to always remember the man she'd loved so dearly, for that single solitary week, was not the man, the Vampire, who wore his face now.

That Eric, her Eric, had been as close to the man of her dreams as any man would ever come. She'd told him, when he stayed with her, what she felt for him wasn't love but it was close. She knew now she'd only said that to try and protect herself from the inevitable pain his remembering would bring. Lying to oneself though, was a difficult thing. You could say a thing over and over and over but that wouldn't make it true.

On so many nights since the one when Eric had regained his memory, she'd laid awake and cried, missing him. Hating herself for missing him. Hating him for making her miss him and not even knowing it. On one of those endless nights she'd finally given up the lie.

She'd loved him.

She'd loved him more than she would ever love anyone else, and now he was gone. Her Eric was gone just as surely as if he'd died, when the truth was, he'd never really existed at all. And in his place was someone Sookie hardly knew.

This new Eric wasn't even like the one she'd known before his amnesia. She couldn't trade sarcasm and laughter with him. She couldn't flirt with him, fight with him, feel easy in his presence. He was distant, sullen; angry with her for not giving up the secrets of their time together, even though she knew there was no way he could actually handle the truth.

He wanted her to lay all her cards on the table, but when she did she knew he wouldn't do the same. Or worse, maybe he would. Then she would have to face the truth, once and for all, he could never again be the man he was when he stayed with her. He would never be able to feel for her what she'd felt for him.

And now they were bound to each other. Now he would be able to feel every emotion she had and she would be able to feel all of his as well. How would she ever be able to live like this?

To put the fetid cherry on top of her rotted shit cake of a night, she'd managed to pick up a soda can bomb on her way to the Queen's rooms and nearly got herself, Quinn and Eric blown to tiny pieces. Oh and she'd had to stand in front of the Queen and calmly hear how said Queen couldn't care less if Sookie was angry about one of her servants attempting to abuse her on Sophie's own orders.

As her exhaustion finally won out over her stress, Sookie closed her eyes, welcoming the blissful oblivion of sleep. A few years ago she would have said tomorrow couldn't possibly be as bad as today had been. She would have thought no day could be as bad. But that wasn't true anymore. Since Vampires had come into her life, it seemed the fat lady didn't sing until someone took a shot at her. She'd need all the peace and rest sleep could give her and she knew it….

Drawing in a lung full of chilled air, Sookie savored the smell. It was so cold, so clean, she'd never smelled anything like it. Yet it was familiar.

She was running, running as though her life depended on it, her feet soundlessly taking the uneven, mossy floor of a vast forest, with the ease of person who'd been there many times before. As she traveled on sure legs through the brush and undergrowth her skirts swished around her ankles.

Looking down on them she was astonished by the sight. Her dress was long, made of a rough woolen material in a light shade of blue. Her feet were encased in what looked like crude leather boots. Lifting her eyes a little she found her dress was covered by a white apron, held together at each shoulder by metal broaches.

Stopping suddenly, Sookie found herself before a small stream that cut a path through the forest. She wondered if she should take the time to stop. She'd been running, but she didn't feel as though she were in danger. In fact she felt quite free and happy, and she was thirsty from all the exertion.

Making the decision for her, her legs took her over to the stream. Seeing the sunlight cutting through the trees to dance on the surface of the water, she bent down. The shocked gasp that tore from her lips was the first sound she'd made, as she froze, her hand suspended in the act of scooping water. She couldn't have helped it if she'd tried. The reflection that shone back to her from the water's surface was hers and yet…not.

She was a little girl again, not more than six or seven. She remembered her face looking like this in pictures from Gran's photo album, but that was the only thing about her appearance that was in any way familiar to her.

Her hair hung in a long braid which fell over one shoulder, nearly to her waist. On top of her woolen dress was a cloak in a darker shade of blue lined with white fur, the hood resting around her neck to keep the chill air from penetrating to her vulnerable skin.

She was herself, but dressed and in a place she had never seen before, yet somehow knew completely.

Startled and confused, though not yet afraid, Sookie reached out a slightly shaking hand to touch the water. Her fingers were not a millimeter from the gleaming surface when she was hauled off her feet by something larger than her and quite strong.

Screaming in real fright, Sookie began to fight, kicking her legs out, flailing her arms, and struggling to get free from whomever or whatever had a hold of her. She was nearly hysterical with her terror when she heard the sound of laughter behind her.

"Gotcha!" The voice said.

Suddenly Sookie was free. Stumbling a few steps, now she was all of a sudden expected to support her own weight again, she turned around to find out who had grabbed her. It was a boy.

He was only a few years older than her, she didn't know how she knew this but she did, and very tall. His blond hair, the exact same shade as her own, was long and wild, floating around his face and falling to just past his shoulders. His clothes were a match to hers, a woolen tunic over leather pants, the same type of crude leather boots and a vest made of fur to keep him warm, tied at the waist with a leather belt, a large metal buckle adorning it.

He was the most beautiful boy she'd ever seen and when he laughed again, in triumph at having caught her, Sookie's eyes were drawn to his. She gasped again when she saw them. Not because they were the color of the ocean during a storm. Not because they were large and finely shaped. Not because they were rimmed in the most lovely, long ashen colored lashes, but because she knew those eyes. She would never, could never, mistake them.

"It's my turn now." She heard herself saying.

She hadn't meant to speak, hadn't even thought about it, but it was as if her mouth was working independently of her mind. When she turned around and walked over to a tree, hiding her face against the cracked bark and closed her eyes, she realized her whole body was in fact, working independently from her brain.

"One, two, three…." She counted to thirty and then her eyes popped open.

Turning around swiftly, her long braid whipping out in an arch and flying until it fell against her other shoulder, she cried out loudly.

"Hiding or not, here I come!"

She began to move swiftly and soundlessly through the forest once more. Somehow she knew where he would be, in the hollow of the old tree that had fallen two winters ago during the snowy season. He loved that spot and it wasn't far off.

Quiet as a mouse she snuck up on the tree, knowing if he saw her and took off at a run, with his long legs, she'd never be able to catch him. Picking up a rock from the ground she threw it to the left of the tree and sure enough she heard the sound of her playmate running out of the log towards the right.

He had just a hand out of the log when she jumped in front of him, throwing her arms around his waist.

"Gotcha!" she said, smiling smugly up at him.

The scowl on his face lasted only a second before he tipped his head back and laughed loud and long again, his arms wrapping tight around her. He was never a sore loser. In fact he seemed to genuinely like that she was the only one who was smart enough to challenge him at games like this.

"One more round?" he asked letting her go after a moment.

Sookie found herself shaking her head, her smile fading a little. She wanted to stay out here with him. She loved running free in the woods, smiling and laughing with him. But she knew if she stayed longer she'd be in a world of trouble.

"I have to get back. I still have chores to do."

His scowl was back.

"Just tell them you were with me. They can't get mad at you. You can tell them I commanded you." His voice suddenly took on an imperious tone.

Sookie shook her head and found herself rolling her eyes as she pushed past him, her feet again seeming to know where she was going even if her mind didn't.

"That isn't going to work oh wise and mighty Prince. Some of us have responsibilities." She teasingly scolded him.

She heard him snort from behind her and turned.

"You could help me?" she offered.

She hadn't actually expected him to accept. Why would any boy, but especially him, want to help her feed chickens and goats. Maybe if she were setting traps for the rabbits in the woods…. But to her astonishment he smiled wide and nodded his head, closing the gap between them in three long strides and then taking off past her at a run. Huffing in indignation she called after him.

"Hey, no fair! Wait for me. Eric!"…..

Sookie's eyes snapped open. She gasped for air as though she really had been running as fast as she could to catch up to someone. She'd had vivid dreams before but never like this one. She'd never felt like she could smell the air, taste the cold, feel the ground beneath her feet like that.

It felt real. It still felt real!

Looking around, trying to orient herself, she found she was exactly where she'd fallen asleep the night before: in Quinn's hotel room, in Quinn's bed. Only the sun was shining brightly through the open curtains now and she was completely alone. Turning to the clock on the bed she saw it was late in the afternoon. Quinn must have taken pity on her after the night she'd had and let her stay asleep even though he had to be up and taking care of things for the trial.

He was always such a gentleman, so kind and considerate of her.

Shaking off her strange dream, Sookie slipped back into her clothes and shoes and made her way to her room to change. She could only hope, in vain probably, that today would be better than one before it.