Author's Note & Acknowledgements: I especially wish to thank Corvis and Mandorin, without whom this story could not have been conceived or completed. Also, I am well aware that the nature of the leanan sidhe is different from how it is portrayed in this story. The nature of this particular kind of fae has been twisted to suit my purposes, but I assure you that no fae were harmed in the making of this story.
Devon McKensie glared balefully at the blank word processor page on the screen for a moment; then took her black, wire-rimmed glasses off and threw them on her desk in disgust. The blank computer screen looked better slightly fuzzy - the cursor didn't mock her by blinking quite as much when she had to squint to see it do so.
She sighed heavily, then leaned back in her computer chair and ran her hands through her long red tresses. "What am I doing wrong?" She asked herself despairingly. "Why can't I write any more?" She stopped her hands halfway through her hair and tugged on what she had gathered, hoping that the slight pain from the pulling would help her organize her thoughts. They seemed to be increasingly difficult to gather lately, and utterly impossible to put on paper. Or the computer screen that she normally preferred. She'd tried both lately.
In fact, she'd tried just about anything she could think of to rid herself of the terrible case of writer's block she seemed to have suddenly acquired in the past six weeks. She'd tried to put all of her unfinished projects out of sight and out of mind in hope that inspiration would suddenly strike and she would want to write again. She'd tried searching for inspiration in other places and things by listening to various kinds of music and going for long walks to watch the activities of people around her. She'd tried furiously pacing the floor, in the hopes that the mindless activity would spark her brain into overdrive when it came to words and ideas. She'd tried typing a steady stream of drivel on her keyboard to kick-start her creativity. She'd even tried to meditate and calm herself to the point where the ideas would just come to her.
But none of it worked. Not one, single, ridiculous thing worked and Devon hadn't written anything worth allowing others to read in six solid weeks. Forty-two days, six hours, 21 minutes, 17 seconds, and counting. In all that time, she hadn't produced one iota of printable work. Hell, she hadn't even done anything worth printing out on her own printer and giving to the neighbor, who was housebreaking a puppy and in constant need of something other than the carpet for the puppy to piddle on.
Taken all together, Devon was at her wits' end. Her publisher was expecting the next book in her fantasy series soon, and it was currently only 3/4ths finished with no end in sight. Devon's fertile imagination, lacking as it had been lately in the writing department, had no problems in coming up with what would happen when she went to her publisher without a finished novel. Her publisher would likely drop her in favor of more prolific clients who could make them money; she'd become destitute; have to sell her small, but perfect, house; find an apartment; a job unrelated to writing, that probably involved Wal-Mart or a grocery store; and to top it all off, the apartment she'd be forced into wouldn't allow cats and she'd have to give up her beloved Fiona to some nasty shelter that would probably euthanize the poor thing.
Faced with such daunting and unpleasant prospects, Devon resorted to doing what she had always done as a young girl - she ran to her grandmother, her Mamó, for comfort and advice. Since Mamó currently lived a good three hours away by train, (having retired to run a little shop in Livingston, New Jersey) picking up the phone and calling her was the next best thing. Not to mention more immediately gratifying.
Lifting the cordless phone from its base on her desk, Devon pushed the 1 and waited for the speed dial to kick in and connect her to her beloved Mamó. It rang once, twice, three times... and then, just as Devon started to worry, she heard a cheerful, if slightly breathless, voice say, "Dia duit!"
"Oh, Mamó," Devon sighed mournfully, not even bothering to respond politely to her grandmother's hello. "I don't know what to do anymore!"
"Tell your Mamó what's wrong, cailín, and I'll do what I can to ease your troubles," her grandmother replied calmly.
Devon smiled at the warmth that seemed to flow over the phone lines on her grandmother's voice. She always liked the way that Mamó called her girl in Irish. The slight Irish lilt was always present in her tone, even though she'd spent all 73 years of her life on American soil. She'd stubbornly refused to let go of her Gaelic, and continually peppered her speech with little Irish words, as if she was likely to forget them after seven decades of near-continuous use.
"I can't write anymore, Mamó," Devon began explaining. "I've tried everything I can think of and nothing helps at all! I'm almost ready to give up on the whole thing all together and begin life anew as some dull drudge in a boring office. I still have my excellent typing skills, after all. But when I try to create, I just can't! I sit and stare at the screen and nothing comes to me. It's horrible Mamó. Help me?" Devon's voice ended on a broken plea, upset beyond words at her inability to do something that used to be so simple and brought such joy to her life. She had always been happy to write before, that now her inability to do so was making her utterly miserable.
"There, there, cailín," her grandmother soothed, "Let Mamó cure your troubles. And haven't I always done just that? Now... You say there's no reason for your writer's block? None at all?"
Devon could practically feel her grandmother's gaze through the telephone; the one that urged her to think and carefully tell her the truth. That was the look that had always had Devon confessing to any sin she'd recently committed, including the ones Devon hadn't thought were wrong. Even now that she'd reached the advanced age of 26, she was still cowed by that look, even imagined rather than in person. So she thought carefully before responding, "No, there really isn't any rational reason I can see for my writer's block, Mamó. I was writing at my usual pace and then, suddenly, I just couldn't write a single word further on anything I had unfinished."
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Finally, Mamó said, "I hate to tell you this, cailín, but I think you've got yourself a Leanan Sidhe."
"I've got a what?!?" Devon's tone was unabashedly skeptic, with a hint of astonished curiosity. "What would one of the Fair Folk want with me? And what kind of fae is a Leanan Sidhe, exactly? I've never heard of that one before."
"A Leanan Sidhe is bad news, cailín. Typically, they're female, although they can also be male. They're vampiric fae who like to steal the creativity from artistic types - poets, painters, writers, and the like - because they've none of their own. They're nasty little things, they are. And they look just like regular people to you or me, save for the fact that they can't stand the touch of cold iron upon their skin."
Devon removed the phone from her ear and stared at it as if she could broadcast her incredulous stare through the receiver, if only she looked hard enough at it. After a moment, she snapped out of it, knowing that there wasn't much chance of it working to begin with and said, "Okay, Mamó. Say I believe you. What would I have to do to find it, get my creativity back, and be rid of the nasty fae for good?" At this point she was willing to try anything - even searching for faeries she didn't really believe in, if it would help her start writing again.
"Well, after you figure out which one of your friends is fae, you'll have to trick them into revealing that they've stolen your talent from you. Once you have, they are obligated by Fae custom to return what they have stolen and trouble you no more."
"Okay," agreed Devon, "That sounds good. But how do I test my friends to see if they're really a faery in disguise? They're going to look at me like I'm crazy if I just come out and ask them. And the one who's really the one to blame would just lie and then leave. Then I'd never see that friend again, or get my creativity back."
"Getting them to leave should be fairly easy, cailín. When you trick the Sidhe into revealing that they have stolen your writing talent, it will be obliged to return what it has taken and leave you in peace. As for a test... hmm..." Mamó thought for a moment. "I bet I know what would work. Do ya have that gilded spike your mother gave you on your 18th birthday?"
"Yes, I use it as a paperweight usually because it's fairly heavy and reminds me of my family. Why do you ask, Mamó?"
.... There is more of this story ...