A/N You will notice that towards the end there is a Swedish phrase that has been left untranslated. That is intentional. I promise you will find out in the future what Eric says to Sookie, but I ask for your patience in letting that be revealed in due time. I will not leave you hanging on that thread, I promise.
As per usual: Thanks for reading! Enjoy!
Until We Meet Again
I woke up surrounded by the early morning sunshine and wrapped in a very naked Viking. I stayed frozen in position because I wanted to memorize everything about this moment. It would never happen again. I would never again wake up bathed in sunbeams next to a sleeping Eric. His face was serene. There were no frustrated lines marring the space between his eyebrows though tiny crinkles radiated out from his eyes as he squinted in his sleep against the breaking day. His blond lashes reflecting the light that shone down on the two of them. I dared to raise my hand to linger on his relaxed shoulder, following the line of his arm that lay thrown over my hip. I traced over his eyebrows, down the bridge of his nose, and fluttering over his lips that were slightly parted, a tiny smile playing along the corners of his mouth. His eyelids flickered open and I lost myself in their fathomless blue ocean.
“Good morning my wife.” He reached up and caressed my cheek. My eyes closed and I leaned into his touch.
“Waking up next to you certainly makes it a good morning.” I took his hand in mine, forming a heart shape between our chests. Tiny kisses butterflied from his lips to my knuckles and warmed me to the tips of my toes which scrunched up in response, rubbing against his calf. “And how did you sleep my husband?”
“Better than I have in many a year, but your beautiful face was enough to assure that.” He kissed the tip of my nose and then my lips, then my neck to my shoulders to the line of my collarbone and dipping down into the valley of my breasts, which led to another feverish coupling, creating love out of joining.
My heart felt as if it was tethered to his. I didn’t want to get up, neither of us did, but the future must go forward. We couldn’t stay cocooned in our own private world forever, no matter how tempting the prospect was. Eric dressed me, his fingers lingering as the fabric fell over my curves. I did the same for him, strapping his belt over his hips, my eyes devouring his masculinity as he fitted his sword and knife firmly into place.
He once again held aside the bushes so that I could walk though, shattering the spell that had been woven around us. We walked back as we had come, hand in hand. I tried to pull mine back from his when we approached, worrying that somehow our attachment would hurt his position, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
“Eric, I don’t want to cause you any trouble,” I pleaded with him.
He stopped us from moving forward. “Hush, you are my wife even if I can’t shout it for all to hear and I will not let you go any sooner than I must. Unless you worry for your reputation?” His face took on a look of sad understanding. This time it was his turn to try and slip his fingers from my grasp, which tightened in response.
“I have nothing to worry about since I will have to leave and won’t be able to come back. I am proud to know you as my husband and I will stand next to you as long as I can.” His hand reached up cupping my chin and kissing me tenderly. I was used to his hurricane kisses, leaving behind my wrecked and heaving body. This was a whisper that stole my breath, no less intense and yet it was as if his love twisted down inside me and put down roots.
The village was just waking, fires being stoked into life, children yawning into tiny cupped palms, and mothers’ tired limbs stretching into usefulness. Eric settled me at one of the wooden benches and went about the business of the morning. Little Eiríkr, Alex, and Linnie stumbled out from the longhouse and sat down around me. Eric’s little girl snuggled herself onto my lap, a thumb in her mouth, eyes barely open. Eric came over and handed them all some bread, a wedge of cheese, and wooden cup of buttermilk, which they consumed in sleepy silence, and then did the same for me. Dahlia came out and kissed the children and her son good morning giving me a suspicious glance. She looked over her shoulder at Eric who shot her a warning look that told her to keep her thoughts to herself.
“Harumph,” she muttered and went about her morning rituals.
Other than the interaction with Eric’s mother, no one gave us a second glance. While some women ground corn into flour to make bread, others gathered eggs from the chickens, and the rest cleaned up after last night’s feast. Dahlia sent the children off to do their chores and I helped the village women clean up asking questions about where things went. A beautiful tall woman named Astrid collected the bowls and mugs into a basket and I offered to help her take them to the river for washing. I saw Eric smile as I fitted myself into the life around me. I kept my eyes open for the Doctor, but I still hadn’t seen him yet.
Astrid and I chatted about her family and her husband. It reminded me of when my Gran’s friend would gather in the kitchen when I was younger. It seemed that life a thousand years ago was similar to the life I knew. There were differences like a nutty homemade soap instead of dishwashing liquid and a campfire rather than a gas range. It felt familiar and strange at the same time, but I fell into the rhythm of the day easily. We finished up with the dishes and headed back. Finally I caught sight of the Doctor, seated Indian style at Eric’s feet, and listening intently. Eric was gesturing wildly, his face animated, and I realized that he must be telling a story.
“I thought that I was destined for Valhalla. We were outnumbered, but we are warriors and would not give in to the English until either they or we were dead. Odin was on our side that day.”
“Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. Sookie, you would not believe the stories that Eric here has been telling me. Not that I usually go in for the violence thing, but hearing about the battles? Hypnotizing. It’s a wonder he’s lasted this long with the fighting that he’s seen, but there’s more Sookie, so much more. He’s been telling me about their expeditions as well. Exploration! Imagine it, seeing a land that no one has ever stepped foot on before.” The Doctor’s eyes were alight with childlike joy.
I smiled indulgently at the Doctor. There was something so innocent in his excitement, but his eyes expressed a much different story. Ancient memories assailed him and yet somehow he was able to keep his unbridled enthusiasm. I sat down next to him and listened as he and Eric told stories to each other and if I didn’t know better I would have thought they were trying to one-up each other, but they really were just that excited to be sharing. I shook my head in surprise, never having imagined that Eric could be like this. He was captivating.
The children joined us after their early morning chores were finished, eager to be a part of the stories that were being passed down from one generation to the next right in front of me. Living history breathing out in the present tense.
The Doctor leaned over to me at one point and asked if I minded if we stayed another day. “Are you kidding me? Absofreakinglutely.”
The look on Eric’s face told me that the TARDIS had been unable to translate the mash-up of my words, but he understood enough to know that we wouldn’t be leaving today. His face broke out in a wide grin and he pulled me to my feet, wrapping his arms around me and spinning us until we were both dizzy. He set me back on my feet and gave me a good sound kissing that had me swooning. I was fairly certain it wasn’t princely behavior, but I couldn’t find it in me to care. I had another day with Eric.
The three of us spent the afternoon with many of the others from the village in the fields helping to plant the crops for the coming season. Even the Doctor got his hands dirty. I felt, well, I felt useful in a way that was new to me. I never understood how my grandmother could love gardening so much, but out here sowing the seeds that would help the village survive for another year? It was the creation and survival of life. I was filthy by the end of the afternoon and it was wonderful. At one point it occurred to me that Eric, as the King’s son, probably wasn’t required to work in the fields, so I asked him about it.
“You are right, I could simply allow the villagers to work the fields, but I prefer to lead differently than most. I want my people to know that I am willing to do anything that they do. I am normally away at sea so I do not have the opportunity to help with the planting, but since I am here, I thought to join them.” He bent down so that he was eye level with me. “Besides, how could I resist a chance to enjoy the vision of you sweaty and on your knees?”
I laughed, thinking it was totally something that my Eric would say. “Eric you shock me,” I mockingly teased him. I covered another few seeds in dirt and shimmied forward. “Though I must say the feeling is mutual.” I dropped a few more seeds into the ground.
He came towards me, covering my hands with his. “I happen to know a place where we can get cleaned up after we finish here.” He waggled his eyebrows at me and I shivered.
“Is that so?” I teased, allowing his fingers to stroke my hands beneath his.
“It is.” He stood and walked away to break more ground ahead of me and I tried to shake off the longing that rippled through my body. I gazed at him, covered in sweat and utterly striking in the mid-afternoon sun. Sighing I went back to what I was doing, humming off-tune and completely happy.
Once we finished for the day he sent the children back with his mother, grabbed my hand, and we ran off towards our secret wooded alcove. Once hidden, we tore off our clothes and jumped into the stream. It was perfect as we splashed and wrestled and kissed and enjoyed our stolen afternoon.
“Eric!” I squealed as he picked me up and tossed me. My arms went wild as I plunged beneath the surface and came back up sputtering. “Oh. That is it. You are in for it now.”
I surged forward, wrapping my arms around his shoulders, and trying to pull him under. It didn’t work. He might not have vampire strength, but he was still well over six feet tall and made of nothing but muscle. He dipped one arm under the water, scooping me up, and pretending he was going to throw me again. I increased my grip on him, my legs scissoring, and splashing water in glittering arcs that dazzled in the sun. Smiling down at me, he brought his lips to mine, and released my legs, which I promptly wrapped around his waist. We stayed in the water and when our passion overtook us, he slipped easily inside of me, making love as the water flowed around us.
Afterwards, we pulled ourselves onto the bank and collapsed satisfied in each other’s embrace. He ran his fingers through the wet tangles of my hair and when he finished, I settled myself behind him so that I could braid his hair like I had done for him in my own time. I knew how much he would like it since his future self already expressed the sentiment. It was interesting to me that future Eric didn’t remember meeting me, since all of this occurred in his past, but then my brain got a little confused thinking about it so I simply settled myself into his lap and let his hands roam absently over my body as we talked.
There was one thing I was curious about though. I had done enough reading to know that Viking men usually had beards. It had always confused me as to why he was clean-shaven. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and couldn’t imagine Eric all scraggly faced, but still. “Eric, can I ask you something?”
“Of course my love.”
“Well, I don’t want to offend you or anything.” He raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “But I was wondering why you don’t have a beard? I mean you don’t have to answer if you don’t want, you know, if it’s offensive or something, I was just curious.”
The laugh that exploded out of him startled me. “Do you not think me a man without one Sookie?” I shook my head vehemently to assure him that there was not even remotely an option. “I’m just teasing you. When I decided not to go to sea for the season I shaved it off. The wind is quite brisk on the water, but here on land, I am unused to the warmth on my face. I know that I am a man and any woman who might doubt that would be sorely mistaken. Must I remind you of my virility?” With a quickness I was on my back and pressed into the earth, my body trapped beneath his.
“Ahh no, I have no doubts on that subject,” a subject which was definitely making itself known, “but if you’d like to show me again, just to make sure I’ve learned that particular lesson, I promise to play close attention.”
He spent the rest of the afternoon teaching me.
When we had finished with each other, it was time to head back, unfortunately. I could spend the rest of my life naked laying in the woods with Eric, but reality intruded. When we arrived back in the center of things, the village was bustling around getting ready for the evening. As soon as she saw me, Dahlia called me over to help with the evening meal. Though the dishes we prepared were unknown to me, I enjoyed cooking and set to work happily on every task I was assigned. I watched as Eric practiced swordplay with his oldest son, while Alex sat off to the side, his attention riveted by his father and older brother. Linnie came over and asked me if she could help and since she was too little, I simply allowed her to sit next to me while I told her stories of growing up with my grandmother.
The Doctor and I, as well as Eric and his family, sat around the fire as we had the night before except that we were a much smaller group. The others had retired to their family’s living spaces, and although I had loved the camaraderie of evening before, I reveled in the chance to watch the interactions between Eric and his children. I listened mesmerized as he told the story of Beowulf and Grendel, a story he had picked up in his travels. It made me think of my Gran again and her Descendants of the Glorious Dead meetings. She would be in heaven hearing the stories firsthand that Eric told as if they were the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
When their eyes started to flutter closed, Eric and I took the children in and settled them into bed. I was just kissing Linnie on the forehead when her little hand reached up, tugging me down onto the edge of her small bed.
“Tell me a story please Sookie?” She asked in a sleepy voice.
“Of course darling. Let’s see. Would you like a story about a beautiful princess?” Her angelic golden-haired head bobbed up and down. “Once upon a time there was a girl whose momma and daddy died when she was very young. Afterwards she had to live with her wicked stepmother and two stepsisters,” I had to trust that the TARDIS would translate well enough since I wasn’t sure if the idea of step families had been invented yet. I snuck a peek over my shoulder and Eric was sitting on the bed with the two boys listening to the story as well.
“Was she very beautiful?” Linnie asked.
“Yes she was, more beautiful than anyone had ever seen.”
“Like me?” She asked quietly.
“Oh yes, although I think that you might be just a little bit prettier than her. But her stepmother and stepsisters were jealous of how pretty she was and treated her like a servant, making her clean everything, and sleep among the ashes in front of the fire. But then the handsome Prince decided to throw a big party and he invited all the ladies in the kingdom. Cinderella worked very hard to make her dress the prettiest that anyone had ever seen, but her stepsisters were jealous and ripped it to pieces.” Her eyes widened as I continued the story, telling her about Cinderella’s fairy godmother made everything better and how she had finally found her Prince Charming who loved her very very much. Her eyes tried desperately to stay awake until the very end. “He didn’t care that she was poor and he brought her to the castle and married her so that in the end she became a Princess and they lived happily ever after.”
Her tiny hand reached up and patted my cheek. “Thank you Sookie,” she said as she leaned up and gave me a little peck on the cheek before her eyelids became too heavy for her keep open any longer and she snuggled down into sleep. I pulled the covers up under her chin and turned to head back out to the campfire and Eric was standing right behind me.
“That was a very beautiful story Sookie. Most women won’t have the chance to marry the man of their dreams, but I have always sworn that, whether rich or poor, my Linnaea would marry for love. I will see to it.”
I sighed, thinking of how that would never happen, but I forced myself to smile up at him as his wound his arms around me. “That’s because you are a good father. I can tell how much you love your children. They are very lucky.”
He leaned down and pressed his lips softly to mine; taking my hand and leading me back to the fire. The Doctor had disappeared again and I worried briefly for his safety. Vampires could be dangerous, even for nine hundred year old Time Lords, but I figured if even half of the stories he’d told over the last few days were true he would be able to defend himself. Dahlia had fallen asleep; her head lolling to the side and Eric went and gently nudged her shoulder to wake her. She stumbled into the longhouse, leaving us alone. The firelight flickered across his face and I silently thanked the universe for giving me this chance to get to know Eric as a human.
We sat there for hours, listening to the crackling fire and the settling of the cinders. I curled up under his arm, my fingers running lightly over every inch of his skin. He tried to memorize by touch every strand of my hair. We couldn’t plan for the future, so we spoke of the past. He told me of his older brother, Sören, and how he used to follow him when he trained with his father just waiting for the day he was old enough to join them. It was why he never left Alex behind. I spoke of Jason and how he always protected me from the cruelty of the other children. Eventually silence fell between us, words incapable of filling a lifetime we would never have. We made love next to a dying fire in the small hours when the sun had just begun to peak over the horizon and fell asleep only when we could stay awake no longer.
Only a few hours had passed when I opened my eyes and found myself, one last time, in the arms of my Viking who was not yet a vampire. He was already awake, gazing down on me, and as I stretched in the circle of his body, he whispered that the Doctor had already been here and was waiting by the stones for us. Eric asked if I wanted him to wake the children to say goodbye.
“Let them sleep.” I answered simply. “There is no reason to leave them with sadness, but please give them my love. And thank everyone for their hospitality.”
We walked as slowly as we could, retracing the footsteps we had taken only two days ago. I needed more time with him, but I realized that we would always need more time. Where there is love there is never a good time for goodbye. We stopped to kiss several times along the way, both reluctant for our time to come to an end. When we finally reached the standing stones the Doctor shook Eric’s hand and thanked him for his hospitality. He told me he would wait for me just over the ridge and out of sight. It was time. I knew I would see him again, but it didn’t make it any easier.
Eric cupped my face in his two large hands, his blue eyes electric, full of love and heartbreak. “Sookie, my wife, my only love, I will miss you until we meet again and when I see you I will know you by your smile. I will pray to Odin for your safe return to those that need you, but I will wish every day that our lives were our own. When I sleep I will dream of a life where there is no need for parting, where I see our children grow to adulthood, and when I die I will seek out your soul for it is the other half of mine.”
He reached down and slipped something into my hand and I opened my palm to see a simple silver ring made of three interwoven bands. I slipped it over my finger and noticed that he wore one that matched my own. Tears streamed down my face and his thumbs reached up to wipe away the streaks they left behind.
“Eric, I will not say goodbye to you because I know we will meet in another time and another place and when that happens I will fall in love with you all over again. No matter how many lifetimes separate us, no matter what we have to go through, I will make you remember that you are my husband. I love you Eric with everything that I am.”
“I could never forget you,” he whispered and clutched me to his body. His hands raked up into my hair, forcing my tear-filled eyes to meet his own. “Du är mitt hjärtas önskan.” I didn’t know why the TARDIS didn’t translate his words, but it didn’t matter.
The sun broke the horizon as he brought his lips to mine and the rest of the world melted away. The kiss was tender at first, barely a sighing touch. My arms lifted and my fingers tangled in his long blond hair, the kiss growing urgent, the sweep of his tongue, the nibble of my teeth, our mingled breath as we tried to pack a lifetime of kisses into one last fleeting moment. When our lips finally parted he bent his forehead to meet mine, tears falling now from both of our eyes. I reached up taking his hands in mine and clutching them between our chests.
We would not say goodbye and so we simply whispered, “I love you.”
I brought my lips to his one last time, a fleeting instant, then turned and walked towards the Doctor. When I reached the edge of the ridge, I turned back and Eric was still standing there bathed in the sun, one hand on his sword, the other over his heart, and I knew it was a memory I would never forget.