“The supernatural is the natural not yet understood.”—Elbert Hubbard
PREVIOUSLY: Leonie tilted her head a bit and smiled at Sookie. Once again, the fairy’s green eyes captivated her.
“My ability does not work on you,” the elder fairy said with a wide smile. “It never worked on Fintan either.”
“Ability?” Sookie asked.
“To mesmerize. It is akin to a vampire’s glamour. Few fairies have the ability anymore. Of my grandchildren only one, Claude, has the gift. I was trying it on you just now, but obviously you are immune to it; so was Finn. It makes me wonder.”
“Wonder what else you are.”
“What else are you?” Leonie questioned again—though seemingly asking herself.
“What else?” Sookie asked fearfully. The last thing she wanted to be was more than a fairy-human hybrid. She broke into a cold sweat as she imagined goblins or hobbits or pixies or yetis or freakin’ Big Bird coming out of the woodwork to claim her as a long-lost relative.
Sookie felt Leonie entering her mind again and realized that her shields had slipped down with her anxiety. She quickly erected them again.
“I do not believe there was ever a race of large yellow birds, dear,” Leonie laughed heartily. “And I did not mean to make you afraid. Humanity has always had its own strains of the supernatural, though those strains have become harder to find and tend to skip many generations at a time.”
“Huh?” Sookie asked inelegantly.
Leonie gave her a kind smile. “In this realm, magic is different than in the Fae realm. And, in a way, it is much more—alive,” she said, her own eyes enlivening. “In a sense, magic here is inherited—as it is in Faerie—but it will manifest in the souls of only those whom it deems worthy,” she shared. “Given the fact that both Fintan and Dermot always seemed to have more magical essence that just their Fae sparks, I believe that Niall’s beloved Adira was more than met the eye—though she, herself, may not have manifested any magical gifts.” Leonie tilted her head as if coming to a sudden realization. “You cannot be glamoured either—can you?”
“No,” Sookie responded in a quiet voice. “I figured that was because of my telepathy or—uh—the fairy thing.”
“Fairies can be glamoured—at least to a certain extent,” Leonie informed. She laughed. Not that many vampires have ever tried! Vampires tend to be trying to eat us, not to glamour us.”
Claudine giggled, though Sookie couldn’t find the humor in the moment.
Smirking, Leonie continued, “Fairy minds allow us to recognize what is happening and resist—at least to a certain extent. However, we cannot indefinitely prevent ourselves from falling into a vampire’s glamour. The same is true for mesmerizing. Other beings can be brought under my influence; however, as with glamour, fairies would recognize my presence, and their minds would attempt to repel me—unless I was welcomed. Like all other fairies I know, your mind recognized my attempt to invade it. But—instead of resistance, which I could have overcome with time, your mind literally ejected my attempts. Fintan’s mind was the same.”
“Why do you think we—uh—came out different?” Sookie asked with trepidation.
Leonie shrugged. “It is either a beautiful evolution of the Fae, brought about by the mixing of Niall’s and Adira’s essences—Fae and human DNA—or there was some kind of dormant supernatural blood in Adira. Either way, I do not think you have anything to worry about regarding hobbits and yetis. They are not real, though Mr. Tolkien’s stories made me like the idea of hobbits.”
“Me too,” Claudine said, even as she picked up a piece of cheese and popped it into her mouth.
Leonie continued. “And Goblins cannot mate with humans, so you need have no fear of them either.” She winked at Sookie. “In truth, I have always posited that Adira might be part nymph, for they were known in myth to resist the influence of even gods and goddesses. And you—like Finn—can certainly resist other Supernaturals.”
Leonie nodded. “Yes, according to the legends of this realm, nymphs are tied to nature. For instance, a nymph might be associated with a certain river, and will live as long as that river flows. But those stories are not exactly true. Most nymphs were simply humans who carried with them the magic of the natural world. That magic made them have longer than average lives. Other nymphs, however, could enchant humans with their beauty or their grace. Some were prophetesses and could see glimpses of the future. And a few were telepaths. All were known to be able to resist other supernaturals—if they chose to.”
“Telepaths,” Sookie whispered. “But fairies are telepaths too—right?”
“Telepathy is a gift that many fairies have,” Leonie responded. “But yours is different from other fairies’ telepathy, as was Finn’s. In many ways, it is more like a demon’s telepathy, but I would be able to sense demon blood in you since demons and fairies have common ancestors. Of course, the difference may be because you are part human. However, being human does not seem to have diminished the scope or the strength of your telepathy. Tell me,” she sat forward a bit, “has vampire blood made your gift grow stronger?”
Sookie contemplated for a moment. “I think so. I’m not sure though. When I met Bill, I was able to kind of latch onto the silence of his mind. Actually, vampires’ minds are like little voids to me—places where I know a mind should be, even though I can’t hear a thing in them. They’re almost like little black holes that I can rest inside of. The first time I ‘rested’ like that with Bill, I was able to make the shields around my mind a little stronger. And that was before I took his blood.”
Leonie nodded. “Yes. When I tried to mesmerize you, I felt the things that you call your shields. Can you describe them to me?”
Sookie was confused by Leonie’s question, but humored her anyway. “I think of them like little walls I can build between others’ thoughts and my own. I use them to keep myself from hearing people.”
Leonie shook her head. “No—actually you are using them to keep other people’s thoughts from invading your mind. You choose not to delve into the minds of others.”
Sookie shook her head. “I don’t know if I understand the difference.”
Leonie explained, “Your telepathy, like Finn’s, is of a different nature than mine and that of other Fae.”
“You said that before, but what do you mean?” Sookie asked.
“Sookie, I do not have shields, nor do I have the capacity to make them.”
“Me neither,” Claudine piped in, though her mouth was full.
“But . . . . Huh?” Sookie asked with confusion.
“I cannot keep others out of my mind,” Leonie clarified. “That is what your shields are currently doing. They do prevent you from hearing others, but only because they keep others out. Your own telepathy is simply not active at the moment; however, you could keep your ‘shields’ raised and seek out my thoughts at the same time. The two actions are different.”
Sookie furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.
Leonie smiled. “Let me explain this differently. Every time I have tried to invade your mind since I got here—either with my telepathy or mesmerism—you have noticed and then have actively pushed me out. That is not a Fae trait—at least not one I have come across before—except with Finn.”
Sookie shook her head again. “Maybe I’m slow, but I’m still not getting what you’re trying to tell me.”
Claudine, now finished with almost all the plate of snacks, spoke, “My telepathy is a choice, cousin. If I wish to hear another’s thoughts, I simply stretch out my mind and listen to them. I never pick up the thoughts of others ‘accidentally’—as I believe you do.”
“Dermot’s telepathy is Fae,” Leonie said. “He can stretch out his mind into another’s. In truth, fairies don’t generally use our telepathy for much beyond communication. We do not, for instance, use it to gain an advantage over enemies and the like. We have laws and traditions against such things. And we can tell when others are listening for such a reason. In many ways, our telepathy is little different from humans’ speaking aloud. We often communicate that way, but our interior thoughts stay our own.”
“But Uncle Fintan’s telepathy was different—like yours,” Claudine picked up. “Others’ thoughts seemed to seep into his brain without him trying to hear them.”
“Yes,” Leonie continued. “When he was a child, he learned to keep away others’ thoughts by constructing something like your shields. But even when his shields were up, he could speak with me telepathically.”
“So—you go lookin’ for other people’s thoughts? They don’t just come to you?” Sookie asked for clarification.
“Exactly,” Leonie and Claudine stated together.
“I can go into other people’s thoughts,” Sookie said, “but I usually try not to. But if I don’t stop them, other people’s thoughts invade my own head. When I was little, I couldn’t keep them out.” She cringed, and a thick tear trailed down her cheek. She wiped it away quickly, angry that she was feeling sorry for herself.
Leonie and Claudine exchanged a pensive glance.
“No wonder you thought Niall a monster,” Leonie said.
“Huh?” Sookie asked.
“Regarding Hunter—Hadley’s child,” Leonie responded. “You worry that Hunter’s experience will be difficult and filled with pain, like yours.” The elder fairy looked sorrowful. “I am sorry. In the end, Finn did not tell us that your telepathy was like his; he rambled through his fever for the most part, speaking of only his love and loss.” She sighed deeply and bent onto her knees before Sookie. “I must beg your forgiveness, child.”
“Um—for what?” Sookie asked.
“For not helping you develop your shields. For not anticipating that you would be like Finn. I assumed that his particular type of telepathy was an anomaly—one of a kind.” She sighed. “And he was able to master his shields at a very young age, but—then again—he was surrounded by those who could help him. We did not anticipate your troubles until long after Niall had dampened your spark. We did not know—until it was too late—how much you suffered from your gift.”
Sookie let out a sob, not knowing what to say.
“I have visited Hunter myself,” Leonie said soothingly. “Niall sent me to gauge his spark. His telepathy is not like yours and Finn’s, Sookie. He need not listen unless he chooses to, and it will not take him long to understand that.”
“So—uh—he’s not like me?” Sookie asked.
“He is a telepath, but his ability is not like yours. To hear thoughts, he will have to actively seek them.”
Sookie bit her lip. “Eric has sent Hunter a teacher, a half-demon who will help him with his telepathy. But Mr. Cataliades said that Hunter was doing fine and that his father, Remy, hadn’t really noticed that Hunter was that different from other kids.”
Leonie returned to her seat. “Your vampire did this for you?”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah. I asked him to—before Niall tried to take me to Faerie, before we knew about the Fae bond.”
Leonie nodded. “You doubt your vampire’s love for you—because of the Fae bond?”
“Yes,” Sookie admitted. “It was born of a lie.”
“A Fae bond does not lie!” Leonie said forcefully—almost angrily.
Sookie sighed and then spoke sarcastically. “And a Fae bond cannot be formed by someone with only one-eighth fairy blood. And it can’t form between a Fae and a vampire. But here we are.”
“I see your point,” Leonie relented.
Sookie sighed. “Whether our love is based on a lie or not, Eric has shown me who he is. He may have chosen to show me his true self because he was influenced by the bond to do so, but I have seen who he really is nonetheless.”
“Is he worthy of you?” Leonie asked in the tone with which a concerned parent might ask the same thing.
“Yes,” Sookie answered simply and without hesitation.
“He worries about completing a vampire bond with you?”
“Yes,” Sookie responded. “However, he wants the vampire bond because he thinks it will bring a kind of balance to what we have. He thinks it will help him to know what his true emotions are versus what is coming from the Fae bond.”
Leonie looked at her knowingly. “And what do you think?”
Sookie shivered. “I think I might not be able to keep him from knowing . . . .” Her voice trailed off.
“That you truly love him,” Leonie finished.
Sookie nodded. “Yes,” she responded. “I love him, but he won’t believe me if I tell him that. He’ll think it’s a lie—caused by the Fae bond. And—if he loves me back—he’ll think that’s a lie too.”