Rock of Ages Past--

Part 11

Copyright(c)(1999-2000) Elaine L. Becker

All Rights Reserved

DISCLAIMER: This story is an original creation and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, real or fictional are unintentional. Any words to any songs or any poetry used in this story are attributed to their original artists in the story itself. Television and/or radio programs that are referred to in the story are not to my knowledge, real program content, but created by me solely for use in this story.

This story is about two women in love and may contain language or sexual scenes unsuitable for children or others who are easily offended by material of this nature. This is a story about same gender relationships. If you have a problem with same gender relationships, you should probably see your therapist. Hate is an illness that love can cure.

Comments or suggestions should be sent to:

Caer toiled in the warm, May sun. It felt soothing upon her strong back. It felt good to get her hands dirty. She had been so busy taking care of Loic that she had neglected her garden and her own household chores. But she had known there would be times like this, when she discovered and accepted her talent for healing. She never regretted for a moment, her choices.

'Thank the Goddess it's still early in the season,' she thought, as she bent over and pulled the intruding weeds from the earth, being careful not to disturb the roots of the young herb and vegetable plants, as she did so. 'Another cycle of the moon or less, and I would be out here working through the night battling these demon weeds.' Caer smiled as she plunged her fingers back into the earth, searching out the source of the weed. Working outside, amongst her plants, helping to create life, nurturing life; that's where Caer felt the most at peace; that and creating her music and words.

Her musings were suddenly interrupted when her fingers were stopped by something hard and smooth under the warm earth. Caer probed gently, being careful not to cut herself, lest it was something sharp. Occasionally, someone would find, when digging in their garden, a gift from the past; a gift from the Old Ones, in the shape of an athame, or perhaps a cup.

Whatever it was, it was a good size and was pointed, but not sharp, like an athame. Caer had to dig out a sizable area of earth in order to get to the object, when suddenly, through the earth, appeared two identical, glimmering, icy points. The sun peered over her shoulder, hitting the stone at just the right angle to cast thousands of tiny rainbows all around her on the brown earth. She felt embraced.

Caer continued to dig in the warm, moist soil until she had completely uncovered what she now saw to be a double, almost perfectly clear crystal. She picked it up gently, brushing away dirt and small pieces of leaves and sticks. Her garden duties, forgotten, she rose to her feet, aware of the slight vibration she felt in her hands. She headed across the small clearing for the path through the trees that would lead her to the stones and then to the well.

As Caer made her way toward the small opening in the trees at the bottom of druid's hill, she was aware that the vibration she had felt in her hands had become warm fluid, which flowed up her arms and she felt a gentle radiance settle over her. She actually felt as if she were glowing as she moved along the path through the trees.

She emerged into the small clearing and stopped. Closing her eyes, she silently asked for the Goddess' invitation to her sacred well. She opened her eyes as she heard the bubbling reply of the well. Caer closed the space of the small clearing with a few steps and kneeled respectfully at the edge of the gently, bubbling pool.

She thanked the Goddess for the lovely gift that she had bestowed on her, as she offered it up in her hands to be kissed by the breath of the air. Caer lowered her cupped hands into the gently flowing water of the Lady's sacred well, letting the cleansing water caress the translucent stone, as it washed away the remaining soil, revealing a cultivated gift from the earth.

Caer held the double crystal up to the warming rays of the sun and let Bel's heat dry the surface of the six-sided stone, feeling the energy flow through her. As Caer lowered the crystal, she noticed for the first time since finding it, the small, horizontal crystal that grew between the two larger ones. It was like a bridge between them. Suddenly, Caer saw Finian's face in her mind, and just as quickly, she was gone.

The small, blond woman made her way back down the path and toward her home. When she reached the back of her hut, she placed the shimmering stone on a stool near the edge of her garden, and returned to her work. She glanced up at the position of the sun. She would have to hurry if she were going to finish the weeding in time to water, before the sun got too hot.

Caer set the empty bucket upside down on the ground near the back of her hut and picked up the large, double crystal. As she did, she noticed that the face of each crystal had five sides. 'What a magnificent stone,' she thought as she carried it around to the front of the hut and entered the doorway.

Caer placed the crystal on the small table and went to get a mug of cool, herb tea. The coolness of her hut felt wonderful on her sun-warmed skin. Caer pulled a stool up to the table and sat looking at the twin crystal, as she sipped her tea. 'The crystal had to have been left here by the Old Ones,' she thought, 'stones like this do not just appear in the earth around here.'

She leaned forward and picked up the joined crystals. They were truly a gift from the Goddess. When she looked into the five-sided face of either of the twin crystals, it was like looking into the sacred well. She felt the essence of the Goddess.

Caer looked closely at the small crystal that formed a bridge between the two larger ones. It grew inside of each crystal and was pointed on both ends. Caer knew from her studies and from seeing it used that, clear crystal was utilized to aid in communing with the god and Goddess, as well as being an aid in transitioning to the otherworld. Crystal, as well as other stones, was also used by some, to enhance healing energies.

Somewhere, in the back of her mind, there was a song or a poem flittering around that was trying to find its way to her consciousness. She couldn't quite grasp it so she stopped trying and returned her full attention to the crystal.

Caer turned the crystal slowly around in her hands, tipping it and tilting it, so that the light from the open door would hit it and cast rainbows around the interior of her small hut. Suddenly, she stopped in mid-tilt. She peered closely at the face of the crystal that was facing her. There were little triangle shapes all over the face of the stone. Caer was mesmerized by the many, perfectly shaped three sided figures. She immediately thought of the triple Goddess: the maiden, the mother, the crone and the ancient wisdom they held, waiting to share with those who were willing to learn and know. Suddenly, the poem that had been floating elusively around her consciousness came to her.

My darlin' came from far away

From where, she did not say

But in her hand, she held so tight

A stone come from the clay.

I met her on one moonlit night

The stars were in my eyes

I didna see her first appear

Seemed she came from out the sky.

The standing stones were all about

Their radiance I felt

I felt her presence near to me

As the stones appeared to melt.

I asked her then from whence she'd come

She smiled a beaming grin

From o'er the hills of time not yet

To be with you again.

In later years when we did talk

Of the wonders of that night

She shared with me a piece of stone

That helped her on her flight.

She told me how she held it close

And said aloud, my name

As she saw my face inside her head

And stepped into the flame.

She told me of the other stones

She had with her that night

But none were e'er more radiant

Than that piece of glim'ring ice.

When she was finished with her tale

I told her one of mine

I reached into my pocket

And showed a stone so fine.

I'd had a dream before she'd come

In it, my lover came

She held me gently in her arms

And whispered out my name.

One day while outside wandering,

I caught a glimmering shine

I bent close down upon the earth

An ice rock I did find.

When I held it close within my hands

Her name it spoke to me

The Goddess gift I can't forget

It led her here to me.

Caer ran the words over in her head a few more times. She didn't know if the original creator of the piece were a man or a woman, but she was sure that someone had experienced a meeting like hers and Finian's and had written a tale about it. And it sounded like the two people had each carried a stone like the one she had found today, though perhaps not as large. Reciting the poem again, Caer lifted the twin crystal to eye level. At first, she saw her own emerald eyes reflected back at her, but as she let her focus relax, she envisioned the strong, angular face of the woman from her dreams.

She felt a slight vibration emanate from the stone and lightly caress her face as she sang into it. The energy that she felt coming from the crystal was strong, yet feminine and she opened herself to its touch. She closed her eyes and was carried away by the flow of energy as it moved back and forth between herself and the stone.

The energy became Finian's arms embracing her and caressing her. She felt tendrils of energy, like fingers, reach out to her chin, lifting it ever so gently until her eyes came to rest on blue. She imagined for a moment that she heard the sound of the sea in the distance. Soon, all thought was lost to her as the finely sculpted, flawless face above her, lowered to meet her. She felt herself melt when full, moist lips met her own. She felt a part of her open. A part she had never fully allowed to open before. She felt pure, unattached love coming to her and she opened her heart.

Suddenly, her mother's face replaced that of her dream lover and Caer was shocked back to reality. She quickly placed the crystal cluster she held, back on the table and placed both hands, palms down, her thumbs wrapped around the edge, gripping it tightly. She took deep breaths as she held onto the table to steady herself. She remembered something that she had learned a long time ago, but had forgotten. Caer tended not to use stones in her healing, finding that most of the time, her hands and her prayers were enough. Those few times that she felt she needed a little extra help, she had not hesitated to use the stones. But this aspect of the stone was not often called upon.

Caer looked into the translucent twin stone that sat before her. She allowed the energy of the crystal to lull her back in time. She had just turned four. It was her first real memory of her mother; until that day, her mother had left her to the nanny, except on very rare occasions. The nanny had taken her outside to run around in the large, enclosed garden. Young Caer loved to run along the paths through the beautiful flowers, smelling their exotic scents, and every now and then, stealing a petal or two.

The nanny had never noticed that whenever they returned to the cottage and retired to the loft that housed Caer's and the nanny's beds and Caer's small play area, that the child's tiny fists were clutched tight. Young Caer had managed a hiding place for her treasured petals inside a nesting doll set that her father had brought her from one of his travels. Sometimes, in play, when the old nanny was snoring in the rocking chair, Caer would pretend that the petals were healing potions, and she would try them out on her dolls.

One afternoon, as Caer and the nanny were returning a little later than usual because Mrs. McClaren had fallen asleep in one of the garden chairs, they met Caer's mother in the kitchen as she was preparing tea and biscuits for some lady friends who had stopped by. Little Caer, happy for a chance to see her mother, forgot about the flower petals in her hands and dropped them as she ran to embrace her mother's legs.

Caer would never forget the coldness she felt when she made contact with her mother. The strawberry, blond woman looked down at the smiling child with distaste and started disentangling the child's arms from around her. She pushed Caer away with such force, the child fell on her backside. "You are a dirty, nasty child, and you have evil ways. You are not normal, like other little girls." She pointed to the flower petals on the floor and cast her pointed chin up at the nanny, "She told me that she has seen you cast spells upon your toys with those dried flowers from the garden."

Her mother glanced quickly over her shoulder, ensuring that the ladies in the next room were not within hearing distance, and bent down close to the child's ear, so that only she would hear. "I prayed for a child, for a perfect little girl, to prove to your father that I was a woman. But look at you." Young Caer looked down at herself. Her frock was soiled, her little hands were dirty, and her stockings were hanging down over her shoes, exposing her entire leg including her ankles. "You are an embarrassment. When I dress you up and try to present you in public, you can not keep your mouth closed and your hands still. Everyone looks at you and you become the center of attention. You are a precocious child and I cannot tolerate you." With that, the blond woman stood up and motioned for the older woman to take the child away. "And don't forget to clean up that mess on the floor."

Back in the loft and bathed, and the nanny busy in the corner mending, Caer had sat on her bed and finally let the tears fall. Her four-year-old mind replayed what had happened when she had tried to love her mother. She so seldom got the chance to see her or spend time with her, and when she did, her mother was always busy or there were other people around and she was expected to be non-demonstrative, but polite and to behave a certain way. Which her mother had pointed out very clearly, she didn't accomplish very well.

Her mother didn't understand her interest in healing, and neither did Mrs. McClaren. They thought it was evil. Caer didn't know how she knew, but she did, that her interest in making people well was not evil.

The only time she had seen a spark of interest in her mother's eye that may have been for her was the day she had wandered away from her at the dressmaker's and her mother had found her at the Luthier's shop next door. But her mother had never mentioned it, and Caer had placed in the realm of wishes.

It was shortly after the incident in the kitchen, that Caer was informed by the nanny that she would be going to live with her mother's cousin in the village of Sloane. Caer didn't really mind, in fact, she thought of it as an adventure. She didn't have any emotional ties to anyone here since the day in the kitchen and the village sounded warm, somehow, to the child's ears.

Caer had gone to live with Enya in the small, remote village and had gone on to study in the small school, excelling at her lessons and her practices. Enya tried hard to be a mother to young Caer. She was loving and open and accepting. But Caer would not allow herself an emotional connection. She was fond of Enya and felt the closest she had ever felt to anyone, but it wasn't safe to open your heart completely. There was always that fear of being pushed away, not loved. The one person in the world who should have loved her and accepted her had pushed her away and out of her life. Caer had decided at a very young age that there was something unlovable about her and she could not risk letting anyone see that again. She didn't know what it was or where it was, but her mother had seen it when Caer opened her heart to her.

Caer had found her attraction to members of her own gender at an early age. For a few years she was unhappy with her lack of attraction for men and her attraction for women. She often thought that if she were attracted to men, at least she would have a chance for love. Her father may not have cared for her much, but he had never physically pushed her away. She knew that she would never allow herself to try to get close enough to another woman to be hurt the way her mother had hurt her.

She had tried to get interested in a few of the young men in the village, but the spark just wasn't there. She didn't much have to worry about the other aspect. There were no girls in her village that showed even the slightest interest in her, other than friends. But, no matter how she had tried to change her interests, it hadn't happened and Caer had accepted that she would remain alone with her music and her healing and do what she could with both, to teach and help those she could.

Caer was suddenly aware of her chilled skin. She turned her attention away from the crystal and toward the door. The leather was still pushed to one side and a cool breeze blew in from the darkness outside. Caer got up quickly and went to lower the leather skin that served as her door. She then went to stoke the dying embers in the fireplace, hoping that she could find enough to ignite the kindling. Caer placed some small sticks on the coals and blew gently at the base. Tiny flames started to lick at the twigs, as the fire caught hold. Caer waited until the kindling was going strong then added a log.

She sat there watching the fire take hold of the log and thought how a fire had also taken hold of her. She wondered that a woman she had never, Caer corrected herself, a woman she had not yet met in this lifetime, could break down the barriers that she had so carefully constructed. Barriers so deeply set and well hidden, that even her best friend Da'an didn't know about them. And for most of her life, until now, they were barriers that she wasn't even aware of by reason of ignorance. She had chosen to live her life quietly and alone, and her lifestyle gave no reason to visit her pain.

Caer had ignored that part of her for so long, it had ceased to exist, until a certain blue-eyed woman had appeared in her dreamscape. For the first time in her life, she had felt her soul open and felt love. The Goddess was offering healing.

Caer again brought her mother's image to her mind. This time with the eyes of the adult instead of the child. Caer saw her mother's face, the wild-looking gray eyes that had no depth. The wrinkles of disquiet on her brow, even at the young age she still must have been the last time Caer had seen her. She remembered the looks she had seen on her mother's face when her father would return from one of his journey's and bestow gifts on the young Caer.

Caer suddenly saw a jealous woman, who had no love for herself. A woman who thought a child would bring her the attention she had so desired from her husband. When that hadn't worked, she had no use for the child. The child got in the way of her seeking attention elsewhere.

Caer finally understood that it wasn't about her. It was her mother's weaknesses and not her own lack. It wasn't anything inside of her that was unlovable or evil. It was her mother who couldn't love. Caer offered up a prayer to the Goddess for the woman who had given her birth and followed it with a prayer of thanks.


Caer arose from where she still knelt in front of the fire, wincing a bit as she straightened her stiff knees. She tossed another log on the fire and headed to the kitchen to satisfy her grumbling stomach. Tomorrow was community day, when everyone in the village who wasn't too young, too old, too ill, or tending one of the above, was in the common fields, working together, tending the crops that they would all share, come harvest.

Community day was held every four days, once the crops were in the ground, until harvest, when everyone would work together for as many days as it took to get the harvest in and prepared and stored for winter. The days in between were spent on tending individual gardens like Caer's, gathering herbs and berries from the woods, sewing, dying, milking, or whatever individual talents and needs called for.

Caer was glad that she had at least gotten her garden tended to today. She hadn't gotten any cooking done and hadn't gone to milk, so she didn't have much in her cupboard to offer her begging stomach. After some searching, the small, blond woman found some days old biscuits and a jar with some dried apples and rose hips.

She put some fresh water from the clay pitcher on the floor, into the iron pot and hung it over the fire. She broke the hard biscuit into pieces and let them fall into a shallow, wooden bowl. She sprinkled the apple pieces and rose hips over the biscuit and while she waited for the water to boil, she ground up some of the chicory root and placed it in a mug.

Her hunger sated, Caer snuggled down under the thick quilt and watched the flames dancing in the hearth, the warmth on her face, lulling her quickly to sleep.

The small, blond woman/child stared into the crystal clear water of the sacred well. She saw her own, angelic face staring back at her, framed by wavy, flaxen hair that fell to just below her shoulders. Her green eyes reflected back at her, appearing like emeralds, shimmering up from the depths.

She was eleven and this was her first trip to the Lady's well alone. They had all been brought here before and versed in the Goddess' ways and had been shown the ways to use the sacred waters, for scrying, for healing, for guidance or to just give thanks.

On this day, Caer had been sent to the well to see her destiny. On the day of their first moonblood the girls were sent to the sacred well to commune with the Goddess. If the Goddess chose to grace them with her presence on their maiden voyage it was considered a great blessing. Most of the young girls were too fearful, still, at the tender age of puberty, to tap the power of the Goddess. Caer on the other hand was anxious to experience the full embrace of the Mother. Her gift that day, she now knew was a glimpse of her destiny. At the time, she had been confused by what she was shown in the well, and had chosen not to relate her experiences of that day to Lady Tara.

As she remembered, no one on that day came away from the sacred well with a special vision, so Caer felt she had made the right choice in keeping silent. Her reason for keeping silent, besides her confusion, was her empathy for the other girls and the hurt she knew they would feel, if only she were to relate a special experience at the well. They would think her something special and place themselves apart from her. And Caer didn't feel special, she just felt lonely.

Young Caer stared at her own image in the bottomless well for what seemed an endless time. "Great Mother," began her still childish voice, "I feel a piece of me is missing. When I came here to this village, I found more love and acceptance than I had ever had before and a great need was filled. But there is still a hole inside that does not seem to be filled by anything here. On this day, Mother, you have blessed me with the gift of womanhood and I would not be so ungracious as to ask for more. If it is so, that the emptiness I feel inside of me is my destiny and will not be filled, I would only ask for your guidance, that I may become strong enough to put the ache to rest for this lifetime. So Mote It Be."

The slight, young girl waited for a few more moments, for something to happen. She didn't know what she was expecting, but nothing had changed. With a heart growing heavier, she began to rise up on her knees, away from the pool. As she rose, she forced herself to let go of all expectations. 'Expectations lead to disappointments,' she thought as she felt the weight of her expectation and disappointment begin to leave her. She smiled down at the image in the well and prepared to thank the Goddess for the gift of insight.

Suddenly the two emeralds were replaced with sapphires, the flaxen hair with black. The round, soft features of an angel were replaced by the angular, sculpted features of a young god. As the young girl sat transfixed, the face became clearer. Caer realized that it was not the face of a god she looked upon, but the face of a girl. Though her hair was cut short, coming to just below her ear, with bangs, which hung down to her dark eyebrows, Caer could feel the feminine energy radiating from the pool.

She kneeled closer to the edge to get a better view of the face. The dark-haired girl smiled up at her from the depths of the well and Caer heard bits and pieces of a childish song as if coming from behind and around the blue-eyed girl. Suddenly, Caer realized that the smiling lips were moving, as if speaking. Caer bent down closer to the water. She thought she caught the words, "I'll come home and marry you," as the vision began to fade.

Caer quickly and without will, slipped from that very real dream sequence to one, it's exact opposite. In this new one, she ran through the woods, her eyes darting everywhere, watching where she ran and looking, searching around the bottoms of the tree trunks, under low hanging bushes, and behind clumps of dead leaves. If she could catch the fairy, she would grant her a wish. Caer scampered around, trying to catch the elusive little glimmer. Suddenly, instead of trying to catch the fairy, she was collecting rocks. Small rocks, all different. She had picked up seven of them when she was whisked away to yet another, much stranger dreamscape.

Caer woke to the chill of the late May dawn. She quickly scrambled out of her warm bed and poked at the coals in the fire before adding some pieces of kindling and two small logs. After using the chamber pot in the corner behind her pallet and washing up in a small basin of cold water in the same corner, Caer set about making some simple biscuits with the barest of ingredients and a large pot of chicory tea. She reminded herself to go to the storehouse on her way back from the fields and get some needed items.

As she cleaned up the soiled dishes from last nights' scant meal, she recalled a dream memory of seeing the face of the young girl in the sacred well, when she was a child. She closed her eyes and conjured up the face from the depths of her memory. When she had a strong image in her minds' eye, she summoned another, more recent picture, this time of a blue-eyed woman's face. She looked at the two faces, side by side in her bard's mind and saw that they were the same. Their only difference; time.

Her attention was quickly pulled back by the smell of the biscuits teasing her nose. She hurried to the fire and protecting her hand with a thick piece of linen kept nearby for just this purpose, grabbed the iron bail, lifting the large, heavy pan out of the coals.


Caer hurriedly fixed her breakfast and wrapped two biscuits and a piece of hard cheese in a clean piece of linen and tucked them in the pocket of her mantle for later. She filled her mug with the remaining chicory tea and draping her mantle over her square shoulders, headed out the door to join the voices she heard gathering in the small clearing.

The sky was just beginning to lighten over the eastern horizon as she made her way to the small gathering. Children rubbed their still tired eyes and the adults mumbled in sleep-tinged voices. She greeted people as she milled around the group while they waited for the latecomers to join them.

Just as they were starting to assemble into an uneven line to begin their passage through the small copse of trees to the open space beyond, Da'an rushed through the trees from her hut to join them. Caer waved her hand in the semi-darkness and Da'an fell in beside her. The two friends drifted to the back of the group and were the last to enter the path that would lead them through the trees to the southern planting fields.

Da'an peered over at her friend as they made their way through the darkness. The dawning light of the new day had not yet reached through the treetops to light their way, and Da'an could just barely make out the blond woman's features.

Something about her friend seemed different. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but Da'an sensed more seriousness around Caer. That's the only thing she could think of to call it at the moment.

"Seems to be moons since I've seen you, Caer," she smiled at the shorter woman.

"It has almost been that long," Caer turned her head slightly and smiled back, "it has been near three weeks since we met at the stone and had a visit."

"Yes, and for you, those three weeks have been very busy ones, if my senses do not deceive me."

Caer saw her friend wink at her in the semi-darkness and felt her fair cheeks start to warm against the chill, early morning air. The quick-witted woman recovered immediately, "Yes, having Loic here has kept me quite busy, as you saw yourself several days ago." Caer beamed an overly sweet smile back across the path at the slightly taller woman. "And, since he was well enough and left us, I have been trying to catch up with all of the things that were put aside while I nursed him."

Da'an knew that Caer had never showed any real interest in any of the young druids in the village, but had not seen her show any serious interest in any of the young women, either.

"Tell me how busy you have been with that young man," Da'an threw back at her, mistaking the slight falter she had heard in Caer's voice for something other than it was. "No one saw much of you the time that he was here. Did you and the young man become friends?" Da'an emphasized the last word. " He was not a bad looking man, from the twittering I heard from some of the young girls who caught glimpses of him the times that he was outside."

"Da'an," Caer looked over at her friend, this time with a face void of a smile or any sign of joking, "Loic is a very nice young man, and yes, we did spend a great deal of time together and have become friends, but no, I am not interested him in the way that you are suggesting."

For a moment, Da'an was taken aback by the curtness and finality in Caer's voice. "I suppose I was just hoping that you would find your anamchara and thought that perhaps he had come to you, as he is certainly not a resident of our village."

The two women walked in silence for a while, neither one of them quite knowing how to break the thin layer of ice that seemed to suddenly slide between them. Caer wondered at her reaction to Da'an's suggestion that she was romantically interested in Loic.

She had never intimately discussed her lack of interest in men with Da'an. There had not seemed like any need. Whenever, Da'an had made comments in the past about her lack of a love interest, Caer had always been able to fend them off with a joke or by changing the subject. This time was different. Da'an's suggestion that Loic may be her anamchara, had put her on the defensive. Somehow, she felt that Da'an was in a sense, not accepting her, by discarding and not remembering the dream/vision she had experienced. She suddenly knew that it was her own guilt at not being completely honest with her friend that was causing this reaction. She realized not that she had expected her friend to figure it out, without ever really giving her a clue.

Caer knew that her friend did not remember anything about the message that the Goddess had delivered through her on Beltaine and she had not really discussed it with her. Da'an's only memories of their meeting that night were of Caer relating a strange dream of a mystery woman.

"Remember when we met at the stones on Beltaine, before your union with Kenet? Caer spoke softly as she glanced at Da'an to gauge her acceptance of Caer's voice. She saw the other woman visibly relax.

"Yes, the other day when I stopped by your hut, you promised to tell me more about the dream woman . . ." Da'an's voice dropped off as the realization hit her.

Caer moved slightly closer to the taller woman as they walked. "Da'an, there is much I have to tell you and much of what I have to say, I should have said to you long ago."

The dark-haired woman looked down at her friend. "Caer, I'm sorry. " Da'an had changed her joking tone and had replaced it with concern and compassion. "I didn't mean to upset you with my questions and jokes about Loic. The other day, when we spoke outside your hut, you seemed distracted and carried a glow about you that often belies one in love. I thought that perhaps you had taken an interest in him."

Da'an took Caer's arm lightly and slowed them both down to a stop and urged the shorter woman to turn toward her. "Caer, you never gave me reason to think otherwise. You told me that the Goddess gave you a message that night, but we you didn't talk about it. I have been your friend for many years, Caer, and I saw that glow around you the night at the stones. I just didn't associate it with the dream. I'm sorry. I am a priestess and I should have been aware enough to see that, especially on Beltaine."

"Da'an, I expected and assumed too much from you, priestess or no." Caer looked directly up into the taller woman's hazel eyes. She flashed back to her earlier realizations of her relationship with her mother. "I did not truly believe I would still have your love and acceptance if I told you that I was not interested in men," she blushed slightly as she continued, "but that it was women that turned my head. One woman."

Da'an smiled over at her friend as they resumed their walk through the trees. "Then you have a lot of telling to do, so you had better work close to me today," she winked as she turned her face back toward the path in front of her.

Caer heard the change in Da'an's voice and caught the quick wink and grinned back. "Remember, Da'an, to be careful what you ask the Goddess for, you know how I like to talk."

The sky suddenly lightened as the group started approaching the end of the thick copse of trees. When everyone had emerged into the newly lit sky, they split up into pairs, each person taking either side of a row of plants to weed and water.

Da'an and Caer chose a row of young potato plants to start with and set about their work. The two young women worked faster than those who worked the rows around them did and soon they had pulled far enough ahead so that they felt it was safe to talk without being overheard, and Caer began her tale.

When the warm sun overhead approached the midday position, the small band of gardeners marched out of the large planted field and found soft spots on the new grass in the shade of the tall trees that surrounded them.

Caer and Da'an sat with their backs against a huge cedar tree and for a few moments, sat in silence enjoying the aromatic scent of the wood. The morning had passed quickly and the work had seemed to flow with ease as the two women talked. Da'an, true to her word, had many questions and Caer had been able to answer all of them with some sense of confidence, except for one.

The blond, green-eyed woman did not have any idea where Finian was right now or where she would be coming from. She had no doubt that the woman was real and just not a figment of her dreams. There was a small amount of doubt surrounding whether or not they would meet in the flesh and that doubt came from not knowing where Finian was.

Da'an had given Caer a few suggestions to try in order to get a clearer picture on Finian's surroundings, so that when the time came, Caer could help focus and center the energy to help her crossover. The twin crystal she had unearthed from her own small garden would be the perfect tool to reach out to her anamchara.

The two women ate their mid-day meal in relative silence and returned to the field with the rest of the group to finish the days work. They talked more as they worked about when Finian would come and how.

Caer told Da'an about the song she had sung at the sacred well asking Finian to come to her after her message from the Goddess and how Finian had answered her.

"She will come at Samhain, then," Da'an said with a certain nod. "You must be at the stone where the mid-day sun shines brightest on Samhain."

Da'an stopped for a moment as if listening to something that only she could hear. "You must be prepared to be at the stone from mid-day when Bel lights up the stone, until she comes. The thinning of the veil will be at its least at the height of the moon. That will be the easiest time for her to cross through."

Caer nodded at her friend. "I'll be there to meet her," she smiled shyly.

"Just remember, Caer, we don't know where she is coming from, so she may not come through at the height of the moon here. The stories we have about this kind of thing happening, are just that. Stories. You, nor I, nor anyone we know has had any real-life experience with anything like this. So, there is no way for us to know how this will happen or when. We can only narrow it down to twenty-four candle marks, the amount of time that the veil will be thinned."

"She has to come," whispered the short blond woman, "or I must find the way to her."

Da'an stopped pulling weeds for a moment and looked at Caer.

She watched a tear slip down the fair-skinned woman's cheek.

"Caer," Da'an said in a commanding, yet gentle voice, "She will come. The Goddess has affirmed it and told you how and when. You, yourself have convinced me of that. You only have to be there with your harp to call her through."

Caer wiped at her cheek with the back of her hand. "I just get fearful sometimes that it's not true. That it has all been just dreams and nothing more than my over-active imagination conjuring up something that is missing from my life. Like a wish that will not be fulfilled. And when I honestly sit down and think about how she is suppose to come, part of me does not believe it possible."

"Caer?" Her friend's voice had taken on a questioning tone. "Do you have any thought as to why Finian is coming to you instead of you going to her? Your statement about if she does not come to you then you must find the way to her, makes me question this. What is it that makes you sure that it is she who is coming here?"

Caer stopped for a moment and stared at the ground, the answers becoming cohesive in her mind. As the answers pulled themselves together, she felt her resolve strengthen. She didn't need to know how it would happen. She only needed to know that it would. She remembered the dream of the ship.

"Da'an," Caer started as she raised her head and looked over at the dark-haired woman who was watching her across the row of young potato plants, "I forgot to tell you about a dream I had in which Finian and I and a group of others were on board a ship. We were leaving our home here and going to America to begin a new life away from the influence of the crown. In the dream, I had the distinct impression that Finian was taking us to her homeland."

Caer stopped talking as a thought flew through her mind. "America. Da'an, that's it! Finian is coming from America. I knew at the time of the dream that it was not just a dream, but a message from the Goddess. When I related the dream to Tara, she confirmed that it was a message, for she told me that my dream had similarities to the message she had received from the Goddess on Beltaine. I was shown all of us on board that ship with Finian. If I were to go to her, the vision would not be so. Another reason being the song that came through me at the sacred well inviting her here and her confirmation that she would come"

Da'an smiled. "So, you have answered the question of where she is coming from and you have also found that your fears will be unrealized because of your faith. When you listen to the Goddess, Caer, you will not be led astray."

Caer nodded and the two continued working in silence. Caer silently chastised herself for her momentary weakness. Ever since her first dream about the beautiful, dark-haired woman, she had felt slightly vulnerable, somehow. She had always felt so in control, but the first time her eyes had connected with the deep, blue eyes of the face in the lake, her control had been shaken. She had felt the control that she had worked at for years to gain over her emotions, just fall away whenever she saw or thought of Finian. The walls that she had built to keep anyone from getting close enough to hurt her were non-existent when those piercing, blue eyes looked at her. If somehow this all turned out to be cruel joke that her mind and imagination were playing on her, she thought that she would not have the will to survive.

The young woman was so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't noticed that they had come to the end of the row and that people were leaving the field. Caer looked behind her and saw the older children carrying buckets of water up from the creek that ran along the eastern edge of the field. The wooden buckets were passed along from hand to hand until they reached the garden to water the young plants.

Some of the adults lounged in the shade of the tall ash and stately elm trees that lined the western edge of the field, while they waited for the children to finish their part of the gardening chores. Others made their way to the opening in the trees that would lead them back to their homes and their own chores.

When they emerged from the green duskiness of the path into the full light of the common, the two women embraced and promised to see one another soon.

Caer strode across the common toward her hut. She had a few things she needed to do before she could prepare anything substantial to eat. She hung her mantle up on the peg inside her door and retrieved her two largest baskets from the top shelf of her cupboard.

After returning from the storehouse, her baskets laden with flour, apples, potatoes, parsnips, onions, and a variety of other items, the young woman busied herself storing her supplies in the clay jars and baskets she had so painstakingly made over her years in the small village.

Once all of her foodstuffs where properly stored, she went out to the back of her hut where her small smokehouse was and taking the large knife from its sheath hanging on the wall, cut a piece of mutton from the small shank that hung from the low ceiling.

Caer started a pot of stew cooking over the fire before grabbing the clay pitcher and heading for the barn at the edge of the meadow where the cattle and goats would be just coming in to be milked. It would be good to have fresh milk and freshly churned butter for the biscuits.

Fully sated and completely relaxed after her leisurely supper and a soak in the round, wooden tub, Caer picked up the twin crystal from the table and carried it with her to her pallet. She placed it on the floor in front of her, facing the fire and staring into the crystal, began pulling the tortoise shell comb through her long, flaxen hair. As she did, she thought about one of the suggestions that Da'an had given her earlier.

The repetitive movement of her arm drawing the comb through her hair lulled her into a light, trancelike state. She was unaware of when her hand stopped pulling on the comb and dropped slowly to her side, still holding the comb.

Caer focused on the crystal just as she did the clear water at the sacred well. She used the same techniques as she used when calling upon the Goddess, except this time she was calling upon her lady from the lake. She put her energy into the crystal, gently, not probing not invading, just observing.

If the beautiful, blue-eyed woman noticed her, that would be fine with her, she thought and just as quickly chased the invading image away and refocused her energy.

She closed her eyes as the image began to come to her. She no longer needed the crystal to stay connected to the energy that was quickly becoming very familiar. This was her first forced connection to Finian. All of the others had been spontaneous, mostly dream-induced.

The crystal served as a point of focus, the twin crystals representing the two women and the energy flowing between them. Once the energy connected, there was no longer any need for assistance.

The picture that had begun in the crystal became clearer in her mind and as it did, she felt a difference in the energy. All of the other encounters with Finian, except one, had taken place in a dream or dream-like state. She realized as she tried to focus on the scene in her mind, that this time, like the time they had danced, the dark haired woman was not alone.

As the vision in her head became clearer, Caer saw Finian sitting at a square table. A candle flickered from inside a green glass holder casting a green glow across the red and white tabletop.

Caer held her energy inward. For some reason she didn't quite understand, she didn't want her presence known. She only wanted to observe, she told herself, as she allowed her self to look closer.

Sitting across the table from Finian, was a short, blond woman. Caer felt an involuntary intake of breath as she realized the similarities between herself and the woman sitting across the table from Finian. Caer suddenly forgot about why she was there observing the dark haired woman. What she was seeing was causing all kinds of alarms to go off in her head and heart, making it hard to keep the picture in focus.

The two women sitting at the table were talking and smiling back and forth at one another. Caer watched with dread as the smaller blond woman reached across the table and rested her hand on Finian's, looking into the tall woman's eyes, smiling tenderly.

Suddenly, Caer was back in her body. Her eyes flew open and she sat staring into the fire, stunned by what she had seen. She was aware of a tightness in her chest and a sick feeling that was beginning to settle in the pit of her stomach. A picture of what she had just witnessed began to form in her mind and with it came all of the emotions that she had thought were behind her; fear, shame, jealousy, anger, and rejection.

'It's not me,' Caer's thoughts wailed, 'I've been intruding in on her dreams of someone else, someone who only looks like me, but is not.' Caer could not bring herself to even think Finian's name. Her sense of loss was so great, so consuming that she knew if she allowed herself to voice Finian's name either aloud or silently, she would lose hold of her last vestiges of control.

The small, flaxen-haired woman's mind flew in all directions. She avoided looking at the twin crystal and her eyes darted around the dimly lit room, coming to rest on her harp. Her mind went immediately to the sacred well. She had never doubted the Goddess before. She had never been led falsely. But she did not understand what she had seen and it frightened her.

Could the Goddess have been mistaken and led her to the wrong anamchara? The anamchara of a look-alike? Could it be that she wanted so much to be wanted and loved and connected to someone, that she had forced her own energy into the physical body of someone who looked like herself, and had mistaken the feelings that the raven-haired woman had for the short blond woman who sat across from her at the square table in the dimly lit room, as meant for her?

Continued in Part 12

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