It was sunny and brisk the next day and I was heading home from Merlotte’s. I’d done the workout regime that Pam had given me when I got up and, surprisingly, I wasn’t in near as much pain as anticipated. She would be over sometime after dark and I was looking forward to it. It was enjoyable knowing that I was learning to defend myself. Mostly I’d relied on others to come to my rescue, but that was changing with my training. This time I’d be the one to save Eric, well me and the merry band of buggered misfits. I chuckled to myself thinking about just how buggered we probably were. We were going up against most of Freyda’s retinue and no matter how prepared we were, we were still far outnumbered. Well, I thought, we would just have to be smarter.
I’d talked to Sam and he had just found out about Barry’s abduction. It seemed that Bernie hadn’t told him hoping that Barry had just headed back home. She was trying to get together some of the shifter community to get together to rescue him, but since they were a raggedy group of loners, it was looking unlikely. I pulled into my driveway, looking forward to a few hours of solitude before Pam came over and kicked my butt. Bubba was still staying with me since Karin wasn’t due back until tomorrow.
The house greeted me as it had my entire life, looking homey and cheerful. A twinge of sadness poked at me when I thought of my Gram and how much I missed her. There were times when I could really use her advice, but all that had changed when she’d been murdered. So much of my life had changed in the last few years. I wondered, from time to time, if I would change anything given the chance. If you had asked me a few months ago the answer would have been a resounding yes, but now, now I saw how much larger my world was. I would have stayed a small town girl forever if Bill had never walked into my life, and though things hadn’t always been easy, I’d lived more than I would have otherwise. Who knew if would have ever even left Bon Temps.
I changed out of my work uniform and into a pair of leggings, t-shirt, and running shoes. Pam wouldn’t take me by surprise tonight. I’d be ready for her. I had just brushed out my hair and pulled it into a ponytail when I heard a voice behind me and whirled around to face my intruder.
“Hi Sookie.” My jaw dropped to the floor and I stood flabbergasted and frozen in the middle of my bedroom. My cousin Claudine stood not five feet away from me looking even more stunning than I remembered. Her long dark hair and white flowing dress shimmered as if she were only a mirage. I rubbed my eyes disbelieving that she stood before me.
“You’re dead,” I managed to squeak out.
“Unfortunately yes, that is true,” Claudine sighed. “But yesterday you were thinking you needed someone to help guide you in your new found fairy powers and I was given the task.”
“Are you real? I mean are you really here or did I fall and knock myself unconscious?” I shook my head and blinked, still unable to believe she was standing before me.
She laughed and it was a soft tinkling of music that bounced around the room, surrounding me in love and beauty.
“Yes, I’m really here.” She smiled down at me. I rushed to her, covering the ground between us and crushing her in a fierce embrace. I had missed her so much.
“How is this even possible?” I asked unable to let go of her. She pressed me even more tightly as if she was as happy to see me as I was her.
“Well you remember that I told you I was working my way up? It seems that by sacrificing myself in battle I succeeded.” She held me at arm’s length and took a good look at me. “You look tired. I’ve been watching you and know that the last few months have taken their toll on you, but you are still as beautiful as ever.”
I exhaled slowly. She was still my fairy godmother and still keeping an eye on me. It was a relief knowing that somehow.
“Yes. Things have been difficult here, there’s no denying that.”
“And you’ve made some poor decisions in the meantime,” she interrupted, not cruelly, but definitely with an edge of cold hard truth behind her words. “But I see that you are taking steps to right those wrongs, which I am glad to see. Now, shall we take this out of your bedroom and perhaps to somewhere a bit more comfortable?”
I nodded, grabbing her hand, needing the contact with her, and lead her out to the living room.
“How long are you here for? I mean, can you stay?” I asked hoping that she’d be able to stay for a while.
“No unfortunately not my dearest. I was given enough time to get you started on your new path, but this is not where I belong anymore.” She glanced at me and I could see a bit of sadness flicker across her gaze.
I wiped a stray tear away and turned to her. “So you’re here to teach me. I’m not sure what powers I’m supposed to inherit.”
“Truthfully neither are we. You are something new. Since you’ve been mostly human your entire life we aren’t sure how your new powers will manifest themselves. I’m here to try and discover them with you. We are fairly certain that your telepathy will be enhanced, but we’re not sure how.”
I held up a hand and asked, “First of all who is this we?”
“Well that’s kind of hard to explain. We’re kind of like angels, but not. We’re fairies and other supernaturals who died helping others. We’re still helping others, guiding humans who need our help: sometimes seen, sometimes unseen,” Claudine responded and leaned back into the couch.
“So you’re kinda like the Powers That Be on the TV show Angel? Sending people to help sometimes, and sometimes just setting people on the right path?” I asked unsure if I quite understood her.
“Well…that sounds about right. I’ve never seen this show that you’re talking about, but that’s the general gist of it.”
I continued with the rest of my thought. “So my telepathy…how do you think it will change?”
“It should be easier for you now to block unwanted thoughts. You’re mental shield will be stronger if and when you want it to be. Other than that, like I said, we’re not quite sure. We are thinking that you will be able to use your glamour better.” I tilted my head in an unspoken question and she continued. “You already have a natural resistance to vampire glamour, but we think that you will be able to use it more offensively when needed. It is not something we encourage, but with the situations you get into it is likely to come in handy.”
That was pretty cool I admitted to myself. “Okay, so what else?”
“So you know how I was able to change my appearance at will? We think you’ll also have that power.”
“Really? Like I’ll be able to change myself into a dazzling evening gown to sway a group of Were’s?”
She laughed at the memory. “Not just that Sookie, you’ll be able to change your physical appearance as well: To make yourself appear taller, or as a brunette or a redhead, or however you need to change your appearance, but it is limited by your gender, so you wouldn’t be able to make yourself appear as a man.”
Not that I’d ever want to do that, but the rest of it would definitely work in my favor. “Okay that’s a definite plus.”
“Practice when you’re alone. Simply think of what you want to look like and make it real. You’ll also be stronger, faster, and have better healing powers, which I’m sure you’ll concur will be convenient in the situations you find yourself in.” She paused as if unsure of whether to continue. “There is one last power that we think you will develop, though I must warn you that we trust you not to misuse this power.”
“Yup. It’s the whole ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ thing right?”
She stood, holding her hand out to me, and I rose with her. “Yes, but this is best tried outside where there is less to damage.”
I followed as she lead me through the kitchen and out into the backyard. We stopped in the middle of the open area and she stood facing me.
“Now Sookie, we think that since you are so connected to the sun that you will be able to harness the power of fire. It’s actually quite rare for any fairy to control this ability. It may not work, but you seem to be special in so many ways that it would not surprise me if you could. What I need you to do is hold your hands out in front of you and imagine a small ball of flame there. Think of the sun, the warmth and power that it provides. Tap into the energy that pulses through the land around you. Eventually you won’t even need that, but we will start small.”
I was skeptical, but I did as she asked. It helped that the sun was still just above the horizon and glowed in a vibrant red sunset. I closed my eyes, imagining what it felt like when I lay out in the summertime. I stood there and remembered the warmth enveloping me as I lay basked in its rays. I pictured a tiny sun, small and potent and I could feel the palms of my hands warming.
“Open your eyes Sookie.” Claudine said quietly, the awe evident in her simple words.
When I did I was surprised to see that I held a small shining ball cupped in my hands. I was so excited that it immediately started to dwindle.
“Calm yourself. Take a breath.” I followed her instructions and it grew again incrementally. “Now make it bigger. Imagine it developing.”
To my amazement it did just that. Slowly it swelled until it was the size of a softball.
“Now aim at one of the trees and throw it.”
“But won’t I hurt the tree?” I asked.
“No, it is part of the earth and the energy that you’ve called to yourself. That is why it is so powerful. It will not hurt the land.”
And so I threw it. It crashed into the tree that stood about twenty feet away, breaking into a thousand dazzling sparks.
She beamed at me. “Now do it again.”
I did. Over and over for the next hour, she worked with me; focusing my energy and helping me hone this newfound skill. It felt great to know that I wouldn’t be a hindrance, that I could help my friends for once.
“You are doing great Sookie. Just keep at it and you will get better until you won’t need to be outside, you will simply be able to call the energy to you. But unfortunately I have to leave you now.” Her eyes held a sadness there that no amount of time could erase.
“Can’t you stay just a bit longer? There is so much I would love to talk to you about.” Tears rose unbidden to my eyes and I folded myself into her graceful arms.
“I’m sorry, but no, I can’t. I must return to my place. This place is not my home anymore, much as I miss it.” She hugged me back and I could tell she was crying as well. “I am glad that they sent me to you. Know that even if you can’t see me, I am still there, watching over you, guiding you, keeping you safe.”
“I miss you all the time,” I said through my tears.
“I know dear one, and I you. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t check up on you.”
“I’m so sorry that you died trying to rescue me.”
“Hush now, it was my time, and I got what I wanted, though it came sooner than I wished. I wouldn’t change a thing.” Claudine stepped away from me and I felt emptier without her arms around me.
“Will I see you again?” I asked tremulously.
“We’ll see. There is no telling what the future holds, for either of us. Until then, stay strong, protect those you love, and stay true to what you know is right.” She clasped my hands one last time and said, “Goodbye Sookie. I’m glad I got a chance to talk to you again.”
With that, she slowly dissolved like a thousand fireflies dancing off into the night. I stood there for a long time after she left until Bubba came to join me in the backyard.
“Who was that Miss Sookie?” Bubba asked quietly as if sensing my mood.
“That was my cousin Claudine Bubba. She was a great woman who died protecting me and now she’s sort of an angel. She was here teaching me about my new fairy powers.”
“Yup. Guess who can throw fireballs?” I smiled up at his innocent face thinking Claudine was right. It was my duty to protect those I loved.
“Cool,” he said in amazement.
“My thoughts exactly Bubba.” I laughed and it was a free laugh, unhindered by what I had experienced before and not controlled by what was to come. I couldn’t wait to show Pam what I’d learned tonight. Wouldn’t she be shocked?
He put his arm around me and we sat silent for a time. After a while I headed back into the house, grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge, and waited for Pam to arrive. I didn’t have to wait long and I heard her pulling up to the front.
She knocked and came straight into the house. “So you ready for me to kick your ass again Princess?”
“Oh well, I wouldn’t be too sure about that one Snark Queen. I had a visitor tonight who taught me something knew. Why don’t you join me out in the backyard? Also some good news, evidently my new fairy powers will be leveling the playing field. In other words, I should be getting stronger and faster, not to mention, my bruises are already healed from last night. But come on I’ve got something to show you.”
“Alright, but this better be good.”
I snickered and said, “Just you wait.” She was gonna be in for a huge surprise.
We walked out into the moonlight and I repeated the steps that Claudine had taught me earlier.
“Anytime now Sookie. I really think you’re just stalling…” But she was stopped dead in her sentence when I threw a fireball across the lawn. “Holy shit! Did you really just do that? Or am I hallucinating?”
“Nope. I definitely did that.” I glanced at her and she looked, dare I say it, impressed.
“Now that is a skill that is going to come in handy. Do it again.” She hunkered down as I proceeded to do just that.
“So looks like I won’t be the weak link after all.” I said with a bit of pride. I knew that she thought I was weak, but I really wasn’t anymore.
I could tell she was thinking, adding this new skill to our plans. “We’re gonna have to work this into our training sessions. This adds another point for our team. Freyda will never see this coming and you are going to stun Eric with this. His is going to be more than a little impressed with his little fairy princess.”
I looked her full in the face. “Do you really think so? I really want him back here and safe with us. Not to mention I’d really love to have a reason for him to forgive me.”
“Are you kidding me? You’ll be lucky if he lets you up for air for the next millennium. It’ll probably make me sick, but I’ll learn to deal.” She glanced at me to see my reaction. “You really have no idea how highly he thought of you, do you?”
I shook my head. “I know he was thankful for what I could do for him.”
She stopped me. “God you can be so dense sometimes. If you had been just another pretty face he wouldn’t have looked twice at you when you came into Fangtasia. It wasn’t just that or your telepathy, and it won’t just be this new talent of yours. You are strong and brave and more than a match for him. It’s your heart Sookie. It’s the belief you have that you can stand up to those who should be able to wipe the floor with you. You are fearless and he respects that about you. It makes him love you more than he knew possible. Do you get it now?”
“Well when you put it that way, doesn’t seem like you’re giving me a choice.”
“Oh don’t mistake me, you’ve always had a choice. That’s just it, you’ve always chosen to fight. He’s a warrior and so are you. Even more so now. Eric wants an equal and you are that equal, much to my dismay.” She smirked at me. “Good lord, when did I become a fucking fairy therapist?”
I laughed at myself when I realized she was right. How long had I been selling myself short? “Alrighty then. Let’s get to it. Don’t we have some training to do or something?”
“Don’t you want to hug and paint each other’s toenails now?” She glanced slyly in my direction and I shook my head. “Thank god. Now come here so I can kick your ass.”
We worked until I couldn’t stand anymore, but I could tell that my new strength and speed were starting to kick in and I didn’t lose quite as badly as I had the night before. It was late by the time she left, assuring me that she’d be back tomorrow evening for another round. I was already looking forward to it.