Eric POV Modern times

"Bye, Hunter!" she calls, smiling to the small child as she shuts the door behind him. We babysat Hunter for the weekend. She loves that little boy like he was her own.

Now she sits at the kitchen table as she does so many times after he leaves, her eyes filled with tears. Her head falls into her hands.

This is my fault. What Sookie wants the most is the one thing I can never give her. A child. She pretends very hard that she's okay with it, but she's not.

We've been married two years, and everyday with her is like our wedding day. The biggest (tackiest in my opinion) affair that Bon Temps had ever seen, complete with her brother, still terrified of me, and enough vampires to ridicule me for being falling the love. The one thing the "the Viking" would certainly never do. I suppose I deserved it.

We're so familiar with each other's bodies, we worship each other nightly, sometimes many times. She finds feeding me erotic, and every few days, I feed from her and she comes for me like a blossoming flower.

I love, love, love her. And it kills me worse than being wrapped in silver to deny her what she wants so much.

"Sweetheart", I say. She doesn't even turn her head. I go upstairs silently.

The distance between us is becoming frigid.

One early morning, at 4 am, when she's going to sleep, and I hold her as she does – I can't help but speak. "I think we should get a divorce." My voice cracks.

She turns quickly around in my arms, and touches my face. "What?! That's not funny, Eric. What's wrong? Never say that to me."

"I see how much you want a baby."

She looks away.

"You could have one with someone else", I tell her.

"You're the only man I'll ever love. I do want a child. But I'm not going to let that destroy our marriage", she says, pulling me close. "Don't say that word to me again."

I squeeze her as her breathing becomes deeper and I know she's asleep.

I can't compel her. But vampires have lots of tricks up our sleeves.

"Sleep, Sookie", I whisper. "Go back to when we could have been happy."

I feel a red tear roll down my own cheek.

Eric POV Sweden, early 11th century

I can hear nothing but the snow crunching beneath my deer skin boots. My mind is consumed by the thrill of the hunt. That buck was headed southeast. I point to the right, and my men, behind me, with bow and arrows, move slowly to the right. We're hoping to find a herd.

Moving through the forest quietly is difficult at all times, but when the trees are hard, when the branches, and vegetation crunch and crack beneath your feet, it's virtually impossible.

Rabbits scatter. A horny owl stops, and looks briefly into my eyes, and then hops back into its den. Today we are neither on the hunt for rabbits nor owls. Today we are on the hunt for deer and as many as possible. We're doing okay now, but we need a successful hunt.

My people need new shoes, roofs need to be repaired, blankets and furs need to be sewn, and of course, everyone is hungry. We have foodstuffs enough for now, but cannot wait until it gets colder to find more. If my village goes hungry, it's my fault. My fault and my father's – the King. But we're not speaking now, as usual.

We have very different definitions of responsibility. He wants me to sit for hours, like I was still a boy at lessons, and learn all about governing, all about other villages, other Kings, contracts and treaties. I think I have the rest of my life to learn that stuff. Certainly that's the least important? It's certainly the most boring. My people need food, they need to be happy, they need to be warm, and they need the gold we acquire every expansion season. They don't care about the affairs of Kings in faraway places.

And his desperation to get me to marry is ridiculous. "You can't spend your life between a woman's legs!" Every woman I've met has wanted me between her legs, and has complimented both my size and my prowess.

There's only one of me for so many women. Between a woman's legs is the only place worth spending your life.

We see something on the ground ahead of us, clearly alive. My men pull back their bows.

"Vänta!" Wait. They put their bows and arrows away.

"Eric, be careful!"

"I am always careful." Asgar, one of my brothers in arms, rolls his eyes.

I get very close, and push a loose fur away. It's a girl! A woman. The fur was a covering, and she's lying on the ground, unconscious, and half frozen to death.

"The hunt will wait", I say.

She lays on a pallet, having never awoken yet. My mother, the Queen, has sent servants scurrying for firewood, furs, broth…I could also help, but I won't leave her side. None of us have an idea who she is. She doesn't come from my village, nor a village nearby unless she has hidden herself away all her life.

I sit by her side, and push her hair off her face. She has a light tan, perhaps she's from the south. Maybe even as far away as Ireland.

She's beautiful. And so fragile, she could leave us at any moment.

My father bursts in the door and a gust of wind follows him. The burst of air ruffles her hair and I tuck her in more warmly, with yet another fur. I know he'll have something unpleasant to say. He booms into the room, all 6'3, 250 pounds of Viking King, with enough pelts around his shoulders to drag him to the ground.

"What is this I hear of a woman in the woods? May be a banshee for all we know." He always says something foolish when he's shocked. He is unable to deal with change at all.

He looks down on her for a moment. "Foolish woman to be going about in that", he says. She has on a dress, but it's very short, and has short sleeves. Appropriate for high summer, if it was…appropriate period.

"It's our duty to restore her to health if possible, bury her if it is not, and get her on way back to wherever she came from", he pronounces and leaves the room.

Maybe it was his big mouth, but she stirs.

"Mmmm", she moans and comes to life.

"Mamma, she's alive!" I shout.

Her eyes flutter open. Dark.

I touch her hand to comfort her.

Sookie POV

He's leaning over me, his face no more than 5 inches away.

"Eric, what the hell?!" I shout.

It's Eric, but it's…not. It is him, but he's…warm. And flushed. And human? The entire room and everyone in it is freezing, but his hand is on fire.

"She knows my name! Where do you know me from, woman?" he asks.

"Did you just call me "woman?"" I ask.

They're speaking Swedish, but the bizarre part is that I am too. This must be a dream.

"Is that not what you are?" a huge man, asks, crashing into the room.

"Father, out!" Eric shouts. "You're scaring her."

"Even my own Crown Prince does not speak to me…"

"Stillhet!" A woman comes into the room – tall, blonde, regal looking. She looks down at me and smiles. She told them to be quiet.

"Ulfrick…sometimes you do more harm than good. Do not scare the girl!", she orders. The older man grouses but silences.

It seems she has them both in hand.

"Her eyes", he says, with amazement.

"Are", the woman adds.

"Dark", Eric finishes. "I have seen such eyes in the British Isles."

"She must have come from there then. Send her south", Ulfrick announces.

"Ulfrick, we know nothing about her!"

"Vallandra!" he shouts.

I don't know what to do. Or who these people are.

Eric is wearing big furry boots that reach to his knees and his legs are bare from knees to mid thigh. Fur…I dunno, looks like a skirt to me….starts there and ends at his waist. A tunic starts there and covers his chest, also covered in numerous furs. His legs are dirty, his face is dirty, and he is absolutely amazed.

"Eric, what's going on here?" I ask. He jumps. Am I scaring them? Seriously, I'm scaring these two huge guys?

"How do you know my name, woman?" he asks again.

"I was told to ask for someone named Eric", I say. There ya go. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

"Who told you?" Ulfrick asks.

"She wouldn't speak our language so well if she was from the British Isles", Vallandra says.

"What is your name?" Eric asks. I've never seen that look on his face. He loves me, but this…this man's face is lit up with joy even though we're merely looking at each other.

"Sookie", I answer.

"I'm not familiar with a name like that", Ulfrick says.

"It's beautiful", Eric says, smiling, and moving a strand of hair from my forehead. I already love him, so looking at him like that is pretty darn easy for me.

Branches snap in a roaring fire just feet away, but I'm still shivering. It's frickin cold here.

"Are you cold?" he asks, grabbing another blanket, and taking a fur off his own shoulders.

"No, no, I'm fine", I said.

"But you're shivering", he says. I noticed his mother is standing back, staring at us, with her mouth hanging open.

"Where is your husband, woman?" Ulfrick asks.

"Not married."

"Your father nearby?"

"He's dead."

"Brothers?"

"No."

"Your mother at least?"

"She's also dead."

"An orphan! Perfect!" he yells, "Another mouth to feed."

"Ulfrick, I think our son has this under control", she says, pulling her husband back out of the room.

"Huh? He's a future King, not a nursemaid, though he behaves like a child…"

"She'll be under your care, son. Frieda!" she shouts, "Broth for the girl. You're safe, child." She reaches down and touches me on the shoulder.

"Eric", I whisper.

"Sookie", he says. He puts his arm under my head, lifts me up, propping me up with pillows. "First, we need to get some food in you and keep you warm. When you can get up, my mother can give you some proper clothes."

I'm smiling. Eric, human and warm. He doesn't know me, but I'm longing to throw myself into his arms. Dammit, he's going to think something's wrong. I'm trying hard not to burst into tears. I HAVE to hear his heartbeat. I have to. Even if it's a dream, it doesn't matter.

"Are you afraid?" he asks."I promise to keep you safe, Sookie."

"I believe you, Eric", I say. I feel frozen and dizzy.

A girl around 20, in a plainspun wool dress, comes in, balancing a bowl of soup in one hand, a piece of bread, and water in the other. Her hair is the color of wheat, and she smiles knowingly at Eric. He doesn't notice. Ah, another of his many conquests. Not surprised. I smile at her. She knows I've seen her mooning, so she hands him the bowl, and runs away. Poor girl.

"Thank you, Frieda", he says, but she's gone. There is a wooden spoon the bowl, he picks up some soup, and blows on it. "Nice and hot", he says and takes the spoon to my lips. He looks thrilled when I swallow it. "You'll be well soon", he says, "I promise."

Dreamy. He's my Eric, but….missing that thick wall he keeps around his heart. He has the emotions he trained himself to lose. He's shyly flirting at the same time that he's trying to get me to eat soup. My stomach is flip flopping too much to eat.

"Do I…do I know you from somewhere?" he asks.

"I was going to ask the same thing", I say.

I take the bowl from him and he seems thrilled I'm eating it. He hands me a chunk of bread and I dip it in the soup. Um, bones. Bones in the soup. I suppose this broth is the real deal, boiled meat, skin, and bones. I'm about to gag, but try hard not to think about it. I am actually pretty darn hungry.

He takes the empty (but for bones) bowl from me. He helps me drink some water and then lowers me back until I'm lying down.

"Sleep now, Sookie, I'll be nearby." He touches my face. If I can't touch his heart yet…I take his hand, and press his wrist tight again my face. Ga gung ga gung. Oh my God. I can't breathe. He's alive.

I press a kiss against his pulse. I know he'll wonder about my sanity, but I don't know how long this dream will last.

He breaks into a brilliant smile. When he lost his memory, I could feel what he felt. But never, never, in all our time together, have I seen THAT. He presses a kiss to my forehead. "I'll be right outside…um, Sookie."

He's nervous. Flirting and nervous about it. When I wake up, I'm never going to stop kissing him.

I close my eyes and give into the exhaustion. See ya in a few, Eric.