**A Couple of Years Before Chapter 1**
"I can't believe it. I just…you wouldn't…how could…why would you…"
"Sookie, honey, calm down. I know this is a lot to take in, but it doesn't change things. I'm still your Gran, you're still my Sookie."
"You cheated on Grandpa Earl!"
"Sookie, whoever I've taken into my bed is no concern of yours."
"There's more I need to tell you my dear."
"No, I don't want to know; I'm not sure I can take any more surprises right now."
"Hush, I've got more to tell you and you need to put on your big girl pants and listen. There's no sense in pretending we don't have enemies, that our lives are safer than they truly are. Fintan protects us, shields us from his world, but that protection won't last forever. If you're going to survive, there's a lot you're going to need to know."
Sookie pulled out a chair at the small wooden kitchen table to take a seat. Something told her she would want to sit down to hear this news.
When Sookie arrived home the night before, she had almost convinced herself that she had hallucinated the series of events that took place. It was easier sometimes for her to chalk things up to being crazy. It was her default mode to revert to the "crazy Sookie" – having been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child, a diagnosis that her Gran had spent years trying to undo the damage of. Gran had taught Sookie that the world was quick to equate "special" with "mentally unstable."
No one had wanted to even entertain the idea that Sookie could be a telepathic child, stamping her paperwork with a label before the ink had dried on the doctors' findings when she was just 6 years old. She was the youngest case of schizophrenia on record, and everyone knew as soon as the label was applied. Bon Temps parents refused to let their children anywhere near the crazy Stackhouse child, acting as if it was a communicable disease, that she might infect other children. Sookie's parents had not shouldered the town's gossip in stride – in fact, they debated whether trying to raise a child with Sookie's mental disabilities was worth it at all. They considered casting their little girl aside and focusing their efforts on Jason – he could do them proud; he was such a popular and well-liked little boy.
Sookie lived in constant fear of being taken away – gleaning from her parents' heads their desire to institutionalize her – and desperately tried to act "normal," not fully understanding what she was doing wrong – didn't everyone hear voices? It caused all manner of confusion and frustration for Sookie – and at times, she couldn't control herself, resorting to violent temper tantrums, screaming and throwing things, insisting with tears streaming down her face that she was no liar – that she had heard the things she heard. Sookie's parents responded by upping her medications to extreme levels. At one time, she could barely do more than drool, as the drugs drowsied her and clouded her mind.
When Adele Stackhouse, Gran, found out that the Stackhouses were plying her granddaughter with anti-psychotics, she had minced no words admonishing them for their negligence in handling a "special" child, for refusing to look for a second doctor's opinion. Gran offered to take Sookie then, but Michelle, Sookie's mother, took offense, insisting that she was not a bad mother, promising her mother-in-law that she would do right by Sookie – drop the dosage and instill normality into her daughter's life. Gran did not trust Michelle, calling child services in an attempt to remove Sookie from their care and gain custody. She had even enlisted the aid of a powerful lawyer, Desmond Cataliades, to file custody motions with the court. But every time a caseworker scheduled a visit to the Stackhouse residence, all they would see was how Michelle doted on and cared for Sookie, despite her mental illness.
It was a show that took place for over a year.
Whenever a social worker wasn't present, Michelle locked Sookie in her room, trapping her for days on end, leaving meals inside the doorjamb before Sookie woke in hopes of avoiding her daughter altogether. At first, Sookie had banged and screamed at the door that she didn't understand, but eventually Sookie had become silent – and her mother believed the solitude did her some good, made her stronger. On some level, Sookie's mother suspected that her child was a telepath – because the things Sookie said were in truth the things she had been thinking – but she was scared of having a daughter that she could not keep secrets from, like the fact she was cheating on her husband. Corbett, Sookie's father, was always a little too imbibed on the grain to care what Michelle did – plus he had a son to focus on, a son who he was grooming to be a football god. Corbett believed that sons were a father's problem, and daughters a mother's. He also could not understand why his mom cared so much about what happened with his troubled child.
On the night of the Stackhouse parents' death, Michelle had reached her wits end. Sookie had told her mother that Uncle Barlett had been touching her in her "special place" and that if she had to see him again, she would stop playing nice, that she would tell her dad and the social worker everything she knew. Michelle was taken aback by her daughter's accusation and her threat; everything was falling apart. She moved quickly, convincing Corbett that Sookie's life would be best if she became a permanent ward of the state. It would undo all of her mistakes, as far as she was concerned –and if Adele still wanted custody, she could fight the state for it.
Drugging Sookie with sleep medication, Michelle loaded her 7-year old daughter into the car, belongings in tow. She patted her husband on the arm as she reassured him that this was the only thing they could do for Sookie, for the family – reminding him they had tried to "handle" her as her mother-in-law had suggested, that his mother was in no better shape to care for a mentally deficient child. Corbett was easily swayed after a couple of beers, slipping behind the wheel to drive their daughter to her new life.
Rain began to fall as they drove hand in hand to the mental institution in Shreveport. Neither Stackhouse would admit out loud that they had no intention of ever visiting Sookie – that they were abandoning her in every sense of the word. The rain began to fall faster, beating on the windshield of the car. Corbett ripped his hand from Michelle's to steady the wheel as their worn tires failed to grip the sloshy road. He turned the wipers to their maximum speed, discovering they did little to increase his line of sight in the torrential downpour. Slowing his speed, he kept the course, Michelle babbling in the passenger's seat about how they were doing the right thing, protecting their family the best way they knew how.
As the thunderstorm became more intense, the car became almost uncontrollable, hydroplaning across the lanes with every gush of wind. Corbett suggested that they stop – take the bad weather as an omen – but Michelle insisted that they keep going; she had already decided that come rain, hell, or high water Sookie was not going to spend one more moment in their house. Michelle was no longer willing to tolerate the little troublemaker drugged in the backseat; she had made her choice.
As the wheels lost traction, veering the car off of a small bridge and into the water, Michelle Stackhouse cursed at her sleeping daughter – this was all her fault; if not for Sookie's illness, they would have never had cause to make the drive. As the car sank slowly into the water, both Stackhouses had fought frantically to free themselves from the vehicle giving little thought to saving their own daughter. They were ultimately unsuccessful, drowning in the cold river water, unable to break free.
Sookie, however, had been extracted from the car by an unknown force, taken back to her home, and placed gently on the bed in her room; her belongings returned to the closet. She woke the next morning to her brother shaking her awake, telling her that their parents had died in a late-night drunk driving accident. No one – not the police, Gran, or even Fintan – ever knew the truth of what had happened that night.
It wasn't long after, with the help of her lawyer, that Gran had become the caretaker of Sookie and her brother Jason, working quickly to address all of the traumas that Sookie had experienced in her young life, helping her to understand her gift.
Sookie steeled herself for her Gran's next admission.
"You remember the man I brought over, to help you with your telepathy?"
"Mr. Cataliades. He was your lawyer, right?"
"Yes, that's right. He helped me to get custody of you and Jason after your parents died, and he is a telepath, like you."
"That's how he was able to help. I don't understand Gran; where are you going with this?"
Gran sighed deeply, aware that she was about to shatter her granddaughter's perceptions about the world. She had wanted to shield Sookie from this, from the other world that had haunted her doorstep for years. Fintan had always done so well to keep it at bay, but he had informed her, before Sookie woke up, that he had to some extent failed, that Sookie would need to know at least enough to keep herself protected from his family.
"Desmond, Mr. Cataliades, he's the one who gave you your gift, at Fintan's behest. They both agreed it would be best."
Sookie sat motionless; she didn't even know what to say. But her thoughts were moving at a mile a minute. Fintan had mentioned some other gift – her curse, did he mean her curse? She waited patiently while her grandmother continued.
"Fintan, your grandfather by blood, is a fairy."
"Not exactly, dear."
"Gran, you've got to understand how crazy this all sounds. You're telling me that you cheated on your husband with a fairy, and that because of that I was cursed to hear people's inner thoughts?"
"Don't call it a curse! You know how I feel about that. But, yes, to an extent; although there's more to it," She paused momentarily, "Your telepathy isn't a fairy thing; it's a demonic trait. I…drank demon blood, Desmond's blood. It affected you because you have what's called the fairy spark. No one else in our family has it – except for Fintan, of course."
"What the hell does that mean?" Sookie slapped her own hand over her mouth; she couldn't believe she had just said "hell" in front of her Gran. Gran ignored it; she understood how overwhelmed Sookie must have felt in that moment – she had used her own share of expletives the night Fintan had explained his world to her.
"It means you have magic, baby girl. It probably won't manifest for a couple more years. From what Fintan's told me fairies usually get their powers around twenty-five years of age."
"So I'm a fairy with demon telepathy and in a couple of years I'm going to have magic?" Sookie shook her head, "Gran, you…just…this…it's all too much."
"I know honey. And I'm sorry I never told you before this. It's not a secret I wanted to keep from you."
"What else then Gran? What else is there? I've got to know, just tell me everything – I'll sort it all out later."
"Nothing else that I'm aware of. There are fairies and demons. I swear to you Fintan's never told me about anything else."
"So Witches? Vampires? Werewolves? All those things are just bunk?"
"Sookie, I promise you that as far as I know those things are just creatures in children's fairytales...There's still more I need to tell you."
"Yes, more. About the gift Fintan gave you last night."
Sookie ran her thumb across the item in her hand. She felt drawn to it – now she understood it contained magic, fairy magic. It explained the electricity she felt when she touched it.
"Fintan and I made it. From what he told me, it's a love token of sorts. I don't know what it does, but he said it's precious and that he would give it to you one day. And that on that day, I should explain how it was made. Years ago, Fintan tied his life to mine to cloak our family, to keep us away from his family, creating the gift you hold in your hand. His family…won't like us. They're our enemies Sookie. You need to know that once I die, Fintan will also die and that item will be the only thing that will keep you safe. You can't ever tell a living soul what I've told you, including Jason. No one can know of your lineage – that you're part fairy; it's imperative to your survival."
"Okay, Gran, I'll keep pretending I'm normal."