Sookie woke up in frustration, angry at whatever had disturbed her dream with Eric. When she realized that it was Hadley crying out in her sleep, her anger was immediately washed away, and she reached out for her cousin, hugged her tightly, and rocked her.
Niall approached and sat a few feet away. Sookie could tell from the way Hadley was looking at her great-grandfather that the fairy was speaking into her head.
Hadley calmed down quickly but kept a tight hold on Sookie.
Niall smiled, “I have arranged for both of you to have some new clothing.” He gestured to Claude, who brought it over.
“How long did we sleep?” Sookie asked.
“You slept for about four of your hours.” Niall winked at her, “Your operation went well―I assume.”
Sookie looked at Niall angrily, but tried to keep her tone even for Hadley’s sake, “I asked you to stay out of my head.”
“I did. I assure you,” Niall grinned. “You just look―happier. Also, I am able to feel your bond and the power of your magic. I’m afraid that I could not keep that out even if I wanted to. It is a trait of the Sky Fae to be able to feel the magic in others. You, for instance, have always been able to tell when someone’s thoughts seem different, but that was also your magic intuiting the magic in them.”
“Sky Fae?” Sookie asked. “How many kinds of fairies—um Fae—are there?”
Niall chuckled. “Three—corresponding to your conception of the elements: earth, sky, and water.”
“What about fire?” Sookie asked.
Niall stiffened just a bit. “Yes there are those too. However, that race was long ago ostracized and expelled from this realm, I’m afraid. It was many generations before my birth. They are known in your realm as demons.”
“Jesus is a fairy too?!” Sookie exclaimed with wide eyes.
“Yes,” Niall nodded with a little smile. “Your demon friend’s ancestors and mine once shared this realm until prejudice forced them away. It is not a page of Fae history that makes me proud.”
“I guess every world has those kinds of pages,” Sookie said sadly.
Niall nodded. “The Fire Fae found a new realm to settle in, which caused them to evolve differently than the other Fae did; however, they too were eventually drawn to your realm and were able to mate with humans, just as other Fae were.” Niall paused and smirked. “Demons have an extremely useful evolutionary trait that other Fae lack, however.”
Sookie quirked a brow in question.
Niall chuckled. “Their blood is repellant to vampires.”
Sookie laughed. “Well that’s handy.”
“Indeed,” Niall agreed. He looked at Hadley and then back at Sookie. “Well, my lovely great-granddaughters, I suggest that you have a bath in the pool and get changed. After that, Claude will bring food for you.”
Claude tentatively handed Sookie the bundle of clothes he had brought, careful to keep back from the still-wary Hadley.
Niall spoke softly, “Dear Hadley, this is Claude, and he is my son. He would never hurt you.”
Hadley nodded a little. “Okay,” she said in a whisper.
Claude smiled, “It’s all right, Hadley.” He bowed and gave Hadley a little smile. “I understand why you might fear me, but my father is right. I will not allow harm to come to you.”
Hadley smiled tentatively back at him.
Sookie looked at Claude. “Did you get them—the other hybrids?”
Claude nodded. “Yes. There were thirty-one waiting for me when I got there.”
Niall spoke into her head. “After Claude explained the time differences between our two realms, three of the hybrids decided to return to Mab’s territory. Claude brought seven here so that they can decide whether they want the severing spell. The others had been in Faerie for a day or longer. And that means,” he began.
Sookie gasped and thought toward Niall, “That means that they have lost their whole lives.”
Niall nodded sadly. “And their children’s as well—if they had them.”
“Where are the ones you brought here?” Sookie asked in her head as she looked around.
Niall gestured toward a tent-like structure a few hundred feet away. He continued speaking into Sookie’s head. “They are in that dwelling. I asked that they stay inside for a while so that you and Hadley could bathe in privacy. I have already shown each one his or her remaining family in the pool, and some are taking time to decide what they will do next. Others are,” he paused, “grieving together.”
Sookie nodded sadly and then looked back at Claude. “Thanks, Claude, for all your help in getting them.”
Claude smiled at her. “No, Sookie. Thank you. It was your power that convinced Mab to release them. You have prevented a new war.” The younger fairy bowed to Sookie, gave Hadley a compassionate look, and then walked away.
Sookie picked up a stray thought from Claude’s head as he looked at Hadley, and her eyes widened.
Niall spoke into her head, “Yes―it seems that my son has developed something of an infatuation for Hadley. He finds her very beautiful and her essence calls to him.”
Sookie thought back at Niall, “But he’s related to her. He’s like her half-uncle―or half-great-uncle.”
Niall responded, “Things like that are viewed differently here, Sookie. Though brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons generally do not marry or mate, it is common to find cousins marrying here, for example. The code of what enlivens a fairy is not like your DNA; it is the magic of this place—worked into a distinct combination—that makes us who we are. We―fairies―are all related to that source magic in the same way.”
“It’s still―just yuck,” Sookie transmitted.
“Even in your own world, it was not uncommon to see cousins marrying even a few hundred years ago, especially in royal families.” Niall was smiling now as he continued speaking directly into Sookie’s head. “Claude is kind and sensitive. And his wife was lost in the war long ago. He has long grieved. And it is nice to see him interested in another. Plus, his most outstanding quality is his patience.”
Sookie thought, “Does he know?”
Niall nodded slightly and continued speaking to her telepathically, “He can sense the child in her. As I said, fairies are all connected, so he feels a kinship with the child—just as I do. And—as I said—her essence calls to him.”
“What do you mean by essence?” Sookie asked telepathically.
Niall gave her a sly smile. “Claude can feel the kind, loving person buried under Hadley’s years of pain and scars. He senses the beauty within her—the spark that has never before been lit inside of her. Fairies do not choose a true mate based on looks; they choose based on the feeling they get when their own essence touches and seeks to link with the essence of another. In our language, it is called ‘hindala,’ which in your language could be described as a kind of ‘pulling’ toward another. In our world, a pull like this is rare and coveted. It is what I felt when I first saw my Viola. Did you not feel this when you met your own mate?”
Sookie nodded. “Yes,” she whispered out loud and then continued in her head. “I felt something stirring in me―pulling me to Eric―when I first saw him, but I tried to fight it.”
Niall chuckled in Sookie’s head. “Even your stubbornness would have had a difficult time staving off the hindala, my dear.”
“It did,” Sookie smiled.
“So,” Niall said aloud, “you two girls can bathe here in privacy. We’ll be close by in case you need us, but no one will see you.”
Hadley nodded even as she clung to the thin nightgown that was covering her.
Niall smiled kindly and then got up to move away. “After you are finished, Sookie, just summon me.”
“How?” Sookie asked. “Do I just think of you?”
“No,” Niall answered. “Think at me. Call me in your mind.”
“I don’t know how to do that,” Sookie said.
Niall chuckled, “Am I correct that you just managed to call a vampire into your dream even though you are in different realms? And am I right that you were able to keep him there with you for quite a while?”
Niall shook his head and smiled kindly. “Sookie, if you can do something like that―something that I could not even fathom happening before and could never do myself―then you can certainly call me. And I will be listening for you.”
“Oh,” Sookie said, still blushing a bit. “Wait―what about soap?”
Niall chuckled again, “The pool itself is cleansing, and when you step out, you will be dry.”
“Okie Dokie,” Sookie said with a shrug.