Authors: Bonnie Lamer
When I’m just a few yards from the tree, I say in a loud whisper, “Go away you stupid bird!” The raven continues to stare at me. I pick up a stick and throw it up into the tree forcing the raven to move again. If ravens could give people dirty looks, this one would be. Its annoyance is clear as it flaps its wings and fluffs out its black feathers as it lands on a higher branch. Looking around, I find a bigger stick and I throw that one with perfect aim and I actually hit its wing before it has time to fly to another branch. I smile smugly at him again and then I look for another stick.
When I turn around prepared to throw it at it, the air begins to shimmer and the raven’s body begins to elongate and change until it once again becomes Kallen sitting on the branch. Kallen who is still very much naked. “Good lord, will you please put some clothes on?” I complain.
Kallen gives me an eye roll but the air around him shimmers again and he is wearing a pair of black pants that fit him snugly from his waist to his feet. He leaves his chest and feet bare. “Are you planning to throw things at me all night?” he asks haughtily.
“Are you planning to stare at me all night?”
Looking indignant, he says, “I am keeping watch in case Maurelle and Olwyn decide to return.”
“Then shouldn’t you be watching the woods instead of me? You won’t be able to see them if your back is too them,” I counter.
“I do not need to see them; I will feel their presence when they are near. I am more concerned that you will do something foolish and cause yourself to be in even more peril than you already are.”
“Gee, thanks. Glad to know you think so highly of me.”
“I did not say I think highly of you. I think you are rather foolish and naïve.”
With a frustrated sigh, I say, “I was being sarcastic.”
“And I was being honest.”
“Yeah, well, you can keep your honesty to yourself. Why don’t you fly off and go look for those other two crazies and leave me alone.”
“It makes more sense for me to wait where they are sure to come than try to find them in a sea of trees. If you had any common sense, you would have figured that out on your own.”
“Do you always talk like that?” His lack of contractions is getting on my nerves.
Looking confused, he asks, “Like what?”
“Like you’re going to get an E in English if you don’t speak as properly as possible.”
“I have no idea what you are going on about. My English is nothing less than perfect, as is my grasp on all Cowan languages.”
“You speak other languages?”
He eyes me with disdain. “It is important to the Sheehogue that we are able to communicate with all lower life forms whereas most Cowan only care to communicate with those in their immediate vicinity.”
Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes. “Will you stop with this Cowan and lower life form crap?”
“How would you rather I respond to your questions if you will not have me speak the truth?”
“It may be your idea of the truth but it’s not mine. Here on earth, we believe that everyone is born equal.”
He smirks. “Your history does not uphold your claims. And where do you believe the realm of the Fae to be if not on this earth?”
“Actually, I don’t want to know where the realm of the Fae is, I just want you to go back there.”
“And leave you with only a Witch as protection? That would ensure the destruction of the Cowan.”
“Again with insulting my mother? She seems to be able to keep you at bay so what makes you think she can’t keep those other two away as well?”
He looks at me as if I’m the stupidest creature on earth. “Fairies are able to attune themselves to the magic of Witches. It is only a matter of time until I am able to shake off the effects of this flimsy shield and walk right up to your house as if it is not even there.”
Wow, that actually sounds kind of cool. But if he’s serious, then safety could be a huge concern. If I choose to believe all this nonsense, that is. So, that must be why Dad wanted Aunt Barb to take Zac down to Denver. He knows that the Fairies are eventually going to be able to get to the house. I wonder why he didn’t want me to go, too, then.
“Xandra!” my dad says sharply from behind me as if thinking about him made him appear. I jump feeling as if I’ve been caught doing something bad. “You need to come back inside.” Looking at Kallen, he adds, “Leave my daughter alone. She wants nothing to do with your kind.”
Kallen is looking at Dad with surprise on his face. “A Cowan spirit.” Looking back at me, he says, “Your mother’s magic may be stronger than I initially believed. It takes a powerful Witch to bind two souls to this plane.”
I want to ask him more about that but Dad is getting impatient. “Xandra, go inside right now.”
Reluctantly, I do what I’m told. With a last look over my shoulder at Kallen, I walk past my Dad and go back into the house through the door instead of my window that I crawled out of. Dad follows a second later.
“What were you thinking conversing with that monster?” he asks as I take off my coat and boots.
“I don’t think Fairies fall under the category of monster, Dad.”
“Xandra, don’t be smart with me. Your mother and I are very worried that this
has found you. You need to be more careful.”
I’ve had it with them treating me like I should know what the hell is going on and then expecting blind obedience from me. I yell in frustration, “You know, it probably would have been easier to deal with if I hadn’t been hit with everything in one day. I’m so confused I don’t know what to believe and
about the fact that my parents who always expect me to tell the truth have been lying to me my entire life! At least that
doesn’t seem to have a problem with answering my questions and telling me the truth even if I don’t like what he’s saying!”
Dad looks taken aback. “Your mother and I may have kept things from you but we’ve never lied to you.”
“Really, Dad? Then how come I have black hair and green eyes when the rest of you have blonde hair and blue eyes? You’re the one who taught me about genetics. I probably should have figured it out then but I was a little slow on the uptake because I stupidly assumed that you and Mom had told me the truth about you being my dad.” The pained expression that washes over my dad’s face stops my tirade and makes me want to shrivel up and die. Yeah, I’m angry and hurt but I don’t need to take it all out on him.
“There’s more to being a father than genetics, Xandra. In all the ways that matter, I am your father,” he says quietly.
I don’t think I could feel any worse and I desperately wish I could take my words back. Sighing in aggravation, I say, “I know, Dad. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” I really wish I could hug him right now because words just don’t seem enough to make him believe that I really truly am sorry. “You’ve been the best dad in the world and I didn’t mean to imply that you weren’t. I’m just scared and confused. But mostly, I’m angry that no one told me any of this stuff before now. Not that I really believe it all, but still, it’s a little much to have thrown at me all at once.”
Dad smiles sadly. “I know it is, honey. And yes, we should have told you sooner but it just never seemed like the right time.”
Mom, who must have heard me yelling, floats next to him. “We are sorry for that,” she says quietly. “If you must be angry with someone, be angry with me because I have been the one so reluctant to tell you.”
My anger is beginning to quiet and curiosity is taking its place. “What I don’t understand is why this is happening all at once.”
“It’s because of your seventeenth birthday,” my mother explains and I look at her blankly until she continues. “When a Witch is born, his or her powers are bound because a child using magic is a very dangerous thing. It’s wild and uncontrolled magic and the risk is too great so each child is bound until the age of seventeen. This is the year that signals the last year of childhood and the move into adulthood. This is when one’s maturity has reached the point of being able to control the magic. And the reason the Fairies have waited so long is because they knew this as well. They need your Witch magic to be unbound for it to work with your Fairy magic to open the Fae realm for it was Witch magic and Fairy magic that locked it away.” She is having trouble meeting my eyes as she continues. “I was stupid and naïve believing that we wouldn’t be found. I had no idea that the Fairies were just lying in wait for your birthday to come and go.”
She looks so miserable that I can’t be mad at her anymore. “It’s okay, Mom. But what do we do now. He,” I say pointing outside towards Kallen, “said that it would only be a matter of time before he can walk through the shield or whatever it is you put up.”
Mom nods. “He’s correct. I am a very powerful Witch but even my magic is not strong enough to keep the Fairies at bay forever.”
“Then what are we going to do?”
“Your father and I have been discussing that. I had always assumed that I would be able to protect you but my powers are diminished by being a spirit. We need to come up with a better defense and I’m not sure yet what that is.”
“You can let me go,” Dad says quietly. “Keeping me here is a drain on your power.”
“No!” Mom and I both cry together. “Dad, that can’t be the answer.” Looking at Mom, I ask, “What about my power? You say I’m half Witch and half Fairy. Doesn’t that mean that I should have some sort of abilities to defend us against the Fairies?”
Mom shakes her head. “Your powers are too new. You need to grow into them and learn to use them as they come.” Turning to Dad with eyes burning with love, she says, “I will keep you here as long as I am here. I could never let you go.” I didn’t know until now that it was Mom keeping them both here as ghosts.
The depth of emotion passing between them is both beautiful and uncomfortable to watch. “Isn’t there anything you could teach me?” I ask breaking into their moment.
Mom turns her attention back to me. “I have given you some protection. The bracelet and the amulet you are wearing will provide some defense against the Fairies.”
I nod my head. “The amulet glowed when the Fairy touched me. He acted like it burned him.”
Mom looks pleased. “Don’t take either of them off. The amulet was forged long, long ago by some of the most powerful Witches who ever lived.” With a grimace, she adds, “If I had heeded my mother’s direction when she told me that then all of this never would have happened.”
I wonder if she really means that. “Then I never would have been born.”
Mom looks shamed by my words. She lays her ghostly hand on my cheek and the coolness of it feels good against my bruise and she says in a strong voice, “I would not change a thing. I would choose the exact same path as I did before to bring such a beautiful, intelligent and loving daughter into this world.” I’m not sure that I believe that but I appreciate her saying it.
“Xandra, will you please go make sure that Zac is getting ready for bed? Your mother and I need to talk.”
I look at Dad warily. “You’re not going to try to convince her to let you go, are you?”
Mom shakes her head. “You needn’t worry. He would never be able to convince me of that.”
Looking at them both skeptically before I leave the kitchen, I go off in search of Zac. He’s in his room and he already has his pajamas on. “Hey, munchkin. It’s time for bed.”
“Already?” he whines.
“Afraid so. Mom will be in in a little bit to say good night but I’m going to tuck you in tonight.”
“Okay,” he says as he climbs in bed. “Are you going to sing to me?”
I smile. “Sure, anything you want.” I spend the next twenty minutes with him singing and telling stories until his eye lids start to get heavy. Mom finally comes in and she looks worried but she’s smiling for Zac’s sake. I let her say good night to him and I slip out of his room and go to mine. I grab some pajamas and decide a hot shower might be able to calm my nerves a bit.