Hadley gripped Hunter strongly in her arms. “It’ll be fine, Hunt,” she said, though she was crying just as hard as he was. “You’re gonna live with your daddy and all of your family there, and I’m gonna live in Faerie.”
“But, Mommy, if you live there, it will be so long until I see you.”
“I know,” Hadley said. “It may be a long time, but I will always be thinking of you, and I’ll keep an eye on you in the pool when I can.”
“Why can’t you just stay here, Mommy?”
Hadley shook her head no as she continued to sob, “I have to make a life for your new baby sister, Hunt. But I want you to always remember that I love you so much.”
“Then why are you leaving here?” Hunter asked as big tears rolled down his face.
Sookie looked at the pair with tears in her own eyes. Hunter had made his decision about an hour before, and things had been going well. Hunter had been sad, but he’d also been sure of himself. And, to her credit, Hadley had encouraged his choice. However, things had changed when Niall and Eric left so that Hunter could have a private goodbye with his mother.
Unfortunately, Hunter’s telepathy was more advanced than Claude had accounted for, and though her tanu had taken over from Niall to keep Hunter from Hadley’s more troubling thoughts, he had “heard” her plans to go to the ‘in-between place’ for the first time.
Clearly, Hunter had not thought about that happening, and clearly that thought had upset him very much.
As tears continued to drip from his beautiful brown eyes, Hunter shook his head in a resigned, but forceful way. “What if there are mean fairies where you are going? I can go with you, Mommy. Daddy has helped me learn swords, so I can protect you.”
“But you already made your choice, Hunt. And I think you made the right one. You are happy in Bon Temps with your daddy.”
Hunter sobbed and buried his face into his little hands. “Don’t you want me, Mommy? Want me like you want the new baby?”
Sookie’s heart was breaking for him. She felt like she was five years old again, wishing that her own mommy could love her like she loved Jason.
Hadley hugged Hunter closer to her. Their goodbye had been moving in circles like this for the last several minutes. She knew that Hunter was upset because he’d “heard” she would be going into Faerie proper soon. In fact, she was planning to leave that very day to start her new life.
She also intuited that he was stalling so that he could increase their moments together, and part of her—the part that had been capable of taking drugs while he’d been inside of her and the part that had not been able to put him above herself—was telling her that she could make him stay with only a single word. All she would have to do was agree to his pleas and ask him.
But there was another part of her which had now gained preeminence. It was the part that had told Eric that Sookie was a fairy, despite Sophie’s displeasure and the influence of her blood. It was the part that had tried to keep Hunter safe for a year. It was the part that had lived when Joren had wanted to kill her spirit. It was the part that could love a child that had resulted from her being raped. It was the part that wanted to do right by Hunter, despite the many errors she’d made in the past. It was the part that was not going to ask him to stay—no matter how much it hurt her to deny him.
The mother in her knew—with absolute certainty—where Hunter would be happiest, and she knew it was not with her. She could feel that from him, even as he was begging to stay with her.
She could feel it, and it was tearing her apart.
Hadley pulled away from Hunter slightly and looked at him closely. “You need to go home—I don’t want you to leave the human realm. You have too much to live for there—too much you’d miss.” She was trying to sound almost stern, hoping this tact would work with him.
Hunter only sobbed louder, “Mommy, why don’t you want me to stay with you? You don’t love me? I’ll be better, Mommy. I promise.” He begged. “I won’t be bad anymore. I promise.” His sobbing grew louder. “I’ll pray and try to be normal. I’ll be better, Mommy. I won’t be bad anymore. I promise. I promise. I promise.”
Sookie sobbed as she listened to Hunter’s words. She’d said almost exactly the same thing when she was about his age too. She also sobbed because of the way he was saying them. Every ‘R’ had become a ‘W’ again. Hunter’s mind was all hurt, all pain, and all confusion.
At Hunter’s words and pleas, Hadley completely fell into tears―her resolve to do what was best for Hunter becoming muddled with her desire to give her son immediate happiness.
Claude was having to expend all of his energy to keep the little boy from his mother’s overpowering thoughts. Tears were also flowing from his hazel eyes as well.
Sookie was weeping silently as she continued to listen to Hunter’s thoughts. He felt like he was being rejected. He also felt so guilty for picking Eric. And, most heart-breaking of all, he felt like he didn’t deserve the happiness he’d had for the past year. He felt like he was “broken” and “wrong.” He felt like he needed to make up for his perceived deficiencies. He felt like it was wrong of him to love his daddy more than his mommy. He felt like he didn’t deserve to be loved by his daddy. He felt like it was wrong for him to be loved at all.
Hunter’s turmoil broke Sookie’s heart. Hunter wanted to go home to Bon Temps, but he was literally feeling ripped in two. Hadley also was in great turmoil.
All Sookie wanted to do was to take Hunter in her arms and hold him, but she knew that she was not who Hunter needed.
So she instinctively called the only person who could make it better for the beautiful little boy crying in front of her. She called Eric.