To begin with Adrian stood, looking through the window of the coffee shop. It was well known as the place where humans with fae magic went if they hadn’t got into the school and from what he could see he was beginning to think the elders really had made a huge mistake. He’d already been certain it was a mistake – he just hadn’t know quite how bad it truly was. At least three people had real wings, not just glamoured ones, there were more people with shapeshifter blood in there than he’d ever seen before, and, thanks to his cousin Naida, he could see someone who was half-mer too. Sighing, he dropped his glamour, knowing it was how it would be accepted, before using a lightly shaking hand to open the door.
By the time Adrian had reached the short queue seven different people had smiled at him. Normally when he was showing his shifter blood no one smiled at him, apart from his friends, and they were total strangers. He didn’t know if anyone would still be smiling at him when they found out he was full blood fae, but Queen Willow had been correct. The elders were too focused on keeping the half bloods out to realise what was happening. She hadn’t been sure the elders would care even if they did find out. After a long conversation with her, Alder, and River, it was obvious that she cared. She cared more than she probably should about those who’d been left to deal with the changes alone, which was why she was working so hard to make certain they had someone who could help them, even if they did think it was too little too late.
Trying to seem nonchalant Adrian lent against the wall, taking in the different groups of people. The half-mer man was sitting with three of the shifters, a winged female, and two others who were using their magic to create illusions on the table. It wasn’t strange to see someone with fae blood creating illusions, because it was something they often did for fun, but to see the others there was. Most of the winged fae wouldn’t be seen dead around someone with mixed blood, even though having wings meant they had mixed blood themselves. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling.
“Hi,” a female voice said, startling him.
Adrian turned to look at the girl who was in front of him. “Hi,” he replied, taking in her cat ears and tail.
“I haven’t seen you here before.”
“It’s my first visit. Are you a regular?”
She smiled. “I’ve been coming here since before it became known as a coffee shop for mixed bloods.” She held her hand out. “I’m Phoebe.”
After a moment of worry Adrian took her hand and shook it. “I’m Adrian.”
“It’s nice to meet you. What brings you here?”
“I heard it was the place to come if you were a bit different,” he replied, finding a truth he could tell her. “I…” He trailed off, biting his lip. “My family aren’t comfortable with me being a half blood and I thought I might find people here I could relate with.”
Phoebe’s eyes filled with sympathy. “There are a lot of people who come here that have the same problem. A lot of them don’t have a home any more because they’re obviously not entirely human and no one seems to want to do anything about it. To the humans we’re the faes’ problem, but the fae think we’re the humans’ problem.” She sighed. “Matt, the mer-dude, lived in an orphanage until he was sixteen and then they kicked him out.”
“Why did they kick him out?” Adrian asked, as he glanced at Matt. He kept thinking of Naida, who could do with some more mer friends who were land bound. “Is that something that normally happens?”
“They kicked him out because they couldn’t cope with him any longer, and, even though it was illegal for them to make him leave before he turned eighteen, it was easy enough for them to say he’d run away.” Phoebe shrugged. “For anyone like us, with fae magic, it’s something that happens more often than it should, because they don’t know how to deal with us, and the fae, well…”
She sighed. “No one cares about us.”
“Where do you live?”
Phoebe looked at him. Adrian wondered what she saw when she looked at him, what she was thinking, and knew that all he could do was hope that she couldn’t somehow work out why he was there. No one really knew what sort of magics the half bloods might have, because fae magic could have evolved on Earth in a different way to how it had evolved on Kalinia. He did his best not to show how uncomfortable he felt.
“The places of magic are mostly warded, but there are a few areas that seem to have been missed,” Phoebe said finally. “I don’t know why, so it’s possible they might end up being warded at some point, and all I can do, every time, is hope that I’ll still be able to get there. It’s all we have.” She bit her lip. “Someone, I don’t know who, created a place where we could all sleep safely, although it’s really nothing more than a roof to keep us dry. If we didn’t have that I don’t know what we’d end up doing.”
Adrian wanted to reassure her, tell her that the fae were unlikely to ever ward those areas because they didn’t care any more, but he knew that would blow his cover. He knew that the Queen wanted as much information as he could get about the mixed bloods, so she could work out how best to help them. She had other spies out in other places where they congregated and soon they would do something. Until then he just had to keep his head down.
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed,” Adrian replied.
“Thank you.” Phoebe smiled at him. “Where do you live?”
“I got… lucky, I guess. Somehow I found an entrance to the fae school, so they have to teach me how to use my abilities, but they aren’t happy about it. To the majority of the fae I’m everything that’s wrong with the unpure.” Adrian found himself smiling at the phrase. “I think it’s the shifter part they hate the most.”
Their eyes met. “I would never want to go to the school, but at the same time…” Phoebe shook her head. “I hate to admit it, because it would mean having to deal with even more prejudice, but I would love to go to the school just to learn how to be what I am.”
Hearing Phoebe say that made Adrian want to tell her the truth more than ever. The elders would never let people like her and Matt into the school, bu they couldn’t stop anyone from teaching them how to use their abilities outside the school, and he was almost certain that was at least part of what the Queen was planning. It wasn’t as though it hadn’t happened before, with Esra teaching her half sisters how to use magic and he didn’t doubt there were other fae out in the world doing the same thing. At the same time it was something Willow was also worried about, because she wanted the right people out there teaching them. With no one quite sure how things worked outside the places of magic she was certain there were some of the less savoury magic users out there helping people to be just as unsavoury.
“The school isn’t an easy place to be,” Adrian said, being as honest as he could be. “Anyone with mixed blood has a hard time, even though it is, apparently, a lot better than it was even five years ago. Some of the fae are beginning to understand that we aren’t going anywhere and we need to learn just as much as the pure blood fae.” He ran a hand through his hair. “There are also rumours that the majority of the pure bloods aren’t pure fae, but instead a mix of the fae and the other races who lived on the world they came from.”
Adrian had heard the story from Mara, who’d heard it from an ice dragon, and everyone knew that dragons couldn’t lie. He thought for a moment. The natural dragons couldn’t lie, but the Dragons might have been able to. Like all of the other fae born on Earth he’d never met a Dragon, because they’d disappeared instead of arriving on Earth the way they were supposed to, but he’d heard the same stories everyone else had. If they had managed to travel to some other world he felt sorry for whoever had inhabited it before the dragons arrived.
“Where did you hear the rumour?”
“It was something that went around the school. Apparently one of the human girls met a dragon and he told her, River, and one of the other pure blood fae about it. The elders have told everyone it was just a story, because they don’t want to believe that a dragon was on Earth or that they might not be pure bloods.”
“Wow. Do things like that happen often?”
“I wish. No, it was something I doubt will ever happen again, but it has got some of the fae thinking.” Like Quentin, which was a huge surprise. “We don’t know as much about our history as we should, in part because someone didn’t want us to know it. The only book I know survived was a book the Queen found in her father’s desk, which was written by the monarch at that time.”
“If the Queen knows, why doesn’t everyone?” Phoebe asked, before shaking her head. “The elders.”
Adrian nodded. “As far as they’re concerned it’s knowledge no one really needs to know, because we’re on Earth now. Even though it’s still possible we could use up all the magic Earth we came here in the hope that the presence of another race would make it unlikely. From what we can tell humans, somehow, emanate magic in such a way that it can either be used by the fae or the world itself. We’re not sure which and it’s probably something we’ll ever know.”
“How about the mixed bloods?”
“That depends on the mix of bloods. Mer fae don’t emanate magic in any way, normally, but in this world it’s not unknown for a mer fae to have a relationship with a human, and then their child might emanate magic. A human fae might emanate magic or might not, depending on which blood is the stronger of the two. Even human fae with very strong fae abilities might be more human than fae.” Adrian ran a hand through his hair. “Thankfully there are a lot more humans here than there are fae and as we’ve chosen to live in one country it’s not likely that there will ever be more fae here than there are humans.”
“Could the fae ever decide they want more than they have?”
“It’s always possible, but while the Queen and her descendants are alive they will argue against the suggestion that they should have more than we already have. She thinks they’ve taken more of this world than they should have, although that isn’t their fault, and she’s taught her children to appreciate what the humans given up so that they can have a home.”
Phoebe looked at Adrian. “How do you know so much about the Queen?”
“River, her eldest son, teaches at the school. He doesn’t make it obvious who he is, because he wanted a chance to be normal before he becomes the King, and we’re friends, so we’ve had a lot of conversations about what the future might hold.” Adrian smiled. “Without him I wouldn’t have made the choice to leave the wards behind and see the world. It would have been so much easier to accept what the elders wanted to tell me about the humans and the mixed bloods, even though I am mixed myself. Now…” He ran a hand over his ear, still trying to get used to them being out in somewhere so public. “River and I are friends, but he is pure fae and he can’t understand what it’s like to see disgust in your own brother’s eyes when he looks at you without a glamour.”
“I went home once, after I found out who my parents were, and when the woman in the house saw me on her doorstep…” Phoebe blinked, as though she was trying not to cry. “The disgust in her eyes was more than I could cope with. Before she even had a chance to say anything I ran.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you, Phoebe,” Adrian said, knowing at the same time he was reminding himself of the same thing. Whenever he forgot to create his glamour when he walked into the house his parents called home he had to deal with the same disgust. “People just have trouble dealing with things that are different and it’s worse now because of the fae and humans living together. Humans aren’t comfortable with the fae, the fae aren’t comfortable with humans, and people who are a mix of both…” He shook his head. “Even though it seems like no one wants to take responsibility for you there are some fae who do think it’s past time that we did something.”
“Maybe they do, but do you think that we’d find it easy to trust any fae?” Phoebe brushed a hand through her hair, looking uncomfortable, and then sighed. “I’m sorry, Adrian, I know you’re part fae, and it sounds like you want to help us, but we’ve all been affected by the choices the fae made, as well as the choices our human parents made. Here we have a place we feel comfortable, safe, and thanks to the hard work of the other mixed bloods who created this place we have a chance at having a life.”
“I can’t imagine what you’ve all been through and I can’t possibly understand the way you feel, but I do have some idea of how hard it can be to trust someone after you’ve been treated as though you shouldn’t exist. It’s something I lived with every day until I started at the school, although even then there were some students who looked at me in such a way that told me they’d been taught by their parents to look down on people like me. Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to make some really good friends from such a mix of backgrounds that I’ve learnt my only option is to take everyone I meet at face value.”
“You’re the first person I’ve met who’s been lucky enough to go to the school.” Phoebe glanced at his ears. “Does that mean you have purer blood than I am?”
“Honestly, Phoebe, unless I had a chance to learn more about your family tree I wouldn’t be able to compare us. Technically, due to my family lineage, I am legally a pure blood. I’m not as pure as some, but the blood of shifters is so far back in our family tree that we can’t even remember when it happened.” Adrian rubbed a hand over his ear, smiling. “It’s only if you can trace your lineage back to a shifter, a mer-person, or a human that you’re legally a mixed blood, and even now there are debates about how different mixed bloods should be defined. The Queen thinks a mixed blood is a mixed blood, so there need be no other definition, but others are arguing that anyone under a certain percentage of fae blood should be legally defined as whatever the rest of their blood is.” He shook his head. “From what I’ve heard she’s arguing that it doesn’t matter how fae someone’s blood is, because someone with a low percentage of fae in their lineage can be a stronger magician than a pure blood fae.”
“Why is that?” Phoebe asked.
“There are theories, but no one is certain.” Adrian sighed. “When it comes to the fae, and magic, that seems to be the way of things, unfortunately.”
“I’d like to hear them, if you’re willing to tell me.”
“Of course I am.” Their eyes met for a moment. “Currently the most likely one is that it has something to do with Kalinia, because the fae lived through a time when magic was failing and that had an effect on everyone who survived it, although the younger fae dealt with it much easier than the older fae did. That’s why Willow and Alder’s children have always been strong, but that might also be due to how strong the magic within their families has been.” He brushed a hand through his hair. “My father was, from what I know, born on Kalinia, he was relatively young at the time, and yet none of his children have anywhere near as much magic as one of the mixed blood girls my brother is currently sharing classes with. I know that as we were all at the school together. Tamara…” He shook his head. “We know that she’s related to one of the current elders’ brothers. He came to Earth long before the decision to leave Kalinia and stayed here, because he was happier here than he was there, but then we ended up following him.
“When he found out the sort of person his brother had become… well, that changed things between them, although I don’t think their relationship was very good to begin with, and since then they’ve been fighting for the elder’s seat. I’m not entirely surprised that it happened, not after the reaction the elder had to finding out his brother had mixed blood children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but it has meant that he’s taken a step away from his three families, in an attempt to protect them from the worst of it all. If Tamara hadn’t found the school I don’t think she would ever have been told who she was related to. Unfortunately, in these sorts of situations, that is normal. Finding out who you’re related to is far more likely to happen there than it is anywhere else, as you have a chance to meet so many people.”
“Some days I can’t help wondering who I might be related to, but I doubt that they’d want to meet me if they found out that I existed.”
“Honestly whether or not they would does depend a lot on who you happen to be related to. There are fae who wouldn’t want to meet you because of what you are; others who’d make the same decision because they wouldn’t want it to make things harder for you; and then there are those who’d push aside any worries and meet you anyway.”
“Make things harder?” Phoebe looked around the coffee shop. “Most of the people in here are homeless, they have very little income, and if it wasn’t for the kindness of whoever created this place we wouldn’t have anywhere to go at all.”
“You might not think it, but it can really do that. I’ve see it happen before, to mixed bloods who were in the same sort of situation, because once they found out who their magical parent was it created a connection between them that would affect the rest of their lives. Not knowing can be simpler.”
“I guess.” She didn’t sound convinced. “I can’t help thinking it’s just one of those things I can’t understand, because it’s never happened to me.”
“Tamara, actually, is a very good example. Finding out that she’s related to someone important has made some things harder for her at the school. There are those who want to get to know her now they believe she will have some true power when she graduates, but if they hadn’t found out about her grandfather they would have kept away from her because of what she is. Fortunately she has good friends around her who are helping her to make the right decisions about those people. Others have now made it their mission to make certain she never graduates, including, as much as I hate to admit it, two of my own sisters. They hated Tamara from the moment she started at the school.” Adrian laughed. “They hated me too, but then that was inevitable.”
“Be honest with me, Adrian. Why are you really here?” Phoebe studied him. “You seem not to think of yourself as one of the fae, even though you legally are one of them, and as you went to the school there seems to have been very little reason for you to come here. If I’m going to introduce you to the people I care about I need to be able to know I can trust you.”
For a long time Adrian was silent. “I wasn’t meant to tell you until I was certain I could trust you, but I think it’s far more important to do this the right way. For a lot of my life I have felt like an outside. The majority of my family have pretty much always hated me, because of my shifter blood, so I’ve never truly felt like I’m a part of them. A couple of my siblings aren’t like that. One of my older sisters had a daughter, my niece Naida, who’s mer-fae, like Matt, so I know how hard things can be for him. I’ve always been closer to Naida than my own siblings.” He sighed. “When I graduated I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life. River asked me to help his family with something they believe is important, and I agreed to have a conversation with the Queen about it all. She asked me to come here, to see what things are like, and help you if I could. I don’t know how good a teacher I could be. I’ve never tried. However I am willing to do what I can, because you need a chance to learn more about what you are and what you are capable of.”
Nodding, Phoebe smiled. “I thought it was something like that.” She glanced around the coffee shop. “I think you’ll find a number of people who’d be willing to take you up on the offer, but I want you to do one thing before we announce why you’re here to everyone.”
“Go to the Queen. Tell her what it is like for us. If she’s truly willing to do something to help us, which I want to believe she is, then I’d like a chance to meet with her, to tell her about the other places people like us gather.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I think I am. I want to do the right thing for the people I’m close to, for the people who need the help, and you seem to be my way of making that happen.”
“Then I’ll do it.” He glanced at the counter. “I’m happy to leave straight away, if that’s what you want.”
“How about I introduce you to a few people first? You can get to know us, and tell the Queen about those who gather together in places like this. As you’ve said she wants to learn more it would be useful for you to go back with something more than you have now.” Phoebe shrugged. “Plus it wouldn’t really be fair of me to ask that when you’ve been waiting so patiently in line. I know how good those muffins are and that will give you an excuse to come back another day.”<<< The Fae World: Earth: Tamara: The Dorm***The Fae World: Earth: Hayley: A New Arrival >>>