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: Womynstar@aol.com
Caer carefully opened her eyes, mildly surprised when she felt no resistance and she was able to see a very faint glow coming from the back of the fireplace. As she started to sit up, she realized that she held her left hand clutched gently to her breast as if she were protecting something treasured. She looked down upon her empty hand and the tears started again as the scattering remains of a dream seemed to sow an image in her mind.
Her mind grabbed frantically at the remains of the dream, occasionally latching onto a piece and pulling it close to her as she searched for another piece. When she had as many pieces of the fading dream as she could gather and hold on to, she pushed herself to a sitting position and tried to put the dream back together so that she could hear the story it had to tell.
When she saw the image of the blood-red rose bloom in her mind as the dream was fading away, she had heard singing. Throwing her quilts aside and kneeling on the woven, straw mat that protected her from the damp, earthen floor, Caer took the long iron rod that leaned against the stone and poked at the embers until they glowed brightly. Throwing a handful of kindling wood on the hot coals, she stood up and retrieved her harp from its hanging place on the wall.
When she returned to her pallet, she placed three pieces of firewood on the now burning kindling and took her harp from it's leather case, letting her fingers rest against the strings as she felt the heat from the fire warm them both.
Closing her still swollen and damp eyes, Caer began to gently caress the strings, not knowing what she was going to play or why she felt compelled to do so before she had even had a chance to set water to boiling for her chicory.
Soon all thoughts of chicory or her sore and swollen eyes were displaced by the words that she heard in her head. She felt the music of the words flow from her heart down through her arms until it reached her hands where it became manifest in a hauntingly, beautiful euphony.
The rose that she had thought she held clutched in her hand, appeared again behind her closed eyelids, this time almost transparent. Behind the blood-red rose, Caer saw two sky-blue eyes that seemed to bore into her very heart and soul with supplication.
"Finian," she whispered as her hands slowly came to rest upon the still quivering strings. She repeated the words of the song over in her mind as she opened her eyes.
She stared at the fire. 'Did I observe her again in my dreams? Is that what this is? Is the rose I keep seeing meant for the other woman that I saw her with?'
She dropped her green eyes to her still empty hand, again feeling the disappointment. Caer was thoroughly confused by what had happened and what was still happening. The eyes that reached out to her from behind the rose had seemed to be pleading. Pleading at her. The feeling that had come over her when those azure eyes had bored into hers was one of quiet desperation.
Again, she thought back to the words that had led to the beautiful music that she had just played without fore knowledge or practice. Suddenly, the fire flared up and Caer heard a loud whooshing sound. As she watched, she thought she heard a whisper. She leaned forward, toward the fire, straining to hear the words that she somehow knew were being whispered to her. As she did so, she felt a warm breath of air lightly brush her tear-stained cheek.
"Accept the rose as a token of my love, Caer. It is you who holds my heart and soul. . . no other."
As suddenly as it had flared up, the fire settle back down to it's slow, steady burn and the small, blond woman sat back, clutching an imaginary red rose to her chest. The token she had been given, invisible to the naked eye, but planted in her heart, displaced her doubts.
After several moments, Caer forced herself from her pallet and threw one more log on the fire before putting her harp in its case and hanging it up. She placed a pot of water on to boil for her chicory and lit some candles before she set about preparing her breakfast and her food for the day.
As she was washing down her last bite of her biscuit with her last sip of chicory, she remembered the rain she had heard on the roof in the very early hours. She wondered, as she pushed herself away from the small table, if it had been part of her dreams. She had shed enough tears to form puddles, she thought, as she pushed the leather drape to one side and looked out.
She peered into the still duskiness of the dawn and was almost surprised to see small puddles in her dooryard. She looked up at the brightening sky and was glad to see the remnants of last night's rain being driven from the sky by Sol.
She didn't want to lose the ray of hope she had been given and felt the need to work out in her garden, warmed by the promise of eternity which the Great Mother showed her every day in the cycling of death and rebirth in her own garden.
She gave silent thanks to the God for the gift of the sun's rays on this day and dropping to her knees in the doorway, as the first of the sun's rays fell upon her golden head, she gave thanks to the Lady for her guidance and blessings.
Caer returned inside and busied herself cleaning and straightening up her small living space, while she waited for the sun to rise high enough in the sky to be able to tell the weeds from the young plants.
Finished with her chores and food preparations for the day, Caer poured the last cup of chicory tea into her cup and went outside her small hut to enjoy the sounds of morning. She could hear the baby birds' cacophony, as they waited impatiently high in their nests, for their parents to return with their morning meal.
"You won't have long to wait, little ones," she said softly as she watched the adult birds swoop low to the ground in front of her a scoop up the worms that the rain of the previous night had coaxed to the surface.
'But, if the timing is true, and true it must be, for as much as we know, the veils are only thin enough for a human to pass through at the half marks of the year, I still must wait the passing of a few cycles of the moon to have my hunger satisfied,' she thought as a twinge of hope and longing squeezed her.
The young birds quieted down as their parents returned to the nest and gave them each a taste, as a promise of what was to come. Caer decided to make her move while the adult birds were up in the nest feeding their young, so not to disturb their feeding ritual. She slid quietly into her hut, got her gardening basket and her digging tools, and slipped just as quietly back out around the side of her hut.
Caer glanced around her garden before going in and her eyes fell on the rosebush that was closest to the back of her hut. It was still in the shadows where the sun's early morning rays had not yet reached.
'What a strange shadow is being cast upon that rosebush,' she thought as she started toward the small bush, 'or a very large insect,' Caer shuddered with distaste at the thought.
The small woman's heart almost stopped as her feet did, when she got near enough to the small rosebush to see that what she had seen from across the garden, was not a shadow at all, but a blood-red rosebud that was just beginning to unfold.
"My promise of what is to come," she whispered as she fell to her knees in the damp soil and the tears fell unbidden from her eyes.
Caer crept slowly forward on her hands and knees toward the small bush, her eyes never leaving the image of the rose in front of her or the image that mirrored it in her mind.
When she was within half an arm's length of the rose, she stopped. She could smell the sweet, heavenly scent of rose. It was much to early in the season for her roses to be blooming, especially this one. This little bush had been struggling along, not growing the same way that the others were. The leaves on its branches were sparse and small and as of the day before yesterday, there were no signs of any buds on the small plant or any others in her garden.
Caer closed her eyes as she felt the hands of the Goddess brush her cheek with the lightness of air and she was blessed with face of her anamchara. The raven-haired woman was singing the song that had come from Caer's harp that morning. And they were meant for her. She knew without a doubt that this perfect, little rosebud was more than a gift. It was the mark of their covenant. The Goddess's own blessing.
Flowers are sacred to the Goddess as tokens of love, but especially favored in the Mother's heart, is the rose. The red rose being the symbol of lovers, as it is the color of the heart's blood. Songs and stories throughout time had and continued to herald the red rose as a token of the bond between those who the Goddess placed together for all time.
Caer opened her eyes and reached out her small hand to touch her gift. She hardly noticed, and quickly forgot, when her finger was punctured by the small, sharp thorn near the top of the stem, and started to bleed. She was transfixed on the small, blood red bud in front of her eyes as she brought her hand slowly up and caressed the side of the slightly opened flower. As she drew her hand lightly across the top, a drop of blood slipped from her finger into the center of the rose.
Bringing her hand slowly away from the rose, she noticed for the first time, the blood dripping from her third finger. 'I felt nothing cut me,' she thought as she reached into her pocket for the piece of clean linen that she always carried there. She wiped the red liquid from her fingertip and tore a small strip off to wrap around the now sore puncture wound.
Finished with her small self-nursing chore, Caer took the rest of the piece of linen and used it to shield her hand from the sharp, little thorns. With her other hand, she again reached into her pocket and retrieved her small knife. Grasping the small flower gently and carefully, she cut it from it's stem and, dropping the knife to the ground, she brought it to her breast, gently cradling and lightly caressing the blossoming wonder.
Caer was roused from her reverie when a voice broke the silence of the morning. She got to her feet, still clutching the small rose to her chest with her linen-clad left hand, and attempted to brush the damp soil from her gardening breeches, as she turned to see Tara approaching.
"Caer, good morning" the taller woman greeted her from the edge of the garden, "Gregor has asked me to come to tell you that Loic was escorted safely home. Gorlas and Aden returned last evening."
The two women met in the middle of the garden and before she could respond to the other woman's announcement, Caer saw Tara's brown eyes drop to the small prize that the young woman held cradled in her hand.
"A rose? So early? The leaves are just beginning to spring forth on my own." Tara looked at the green eyes that rose to meet hers. They looked misted and far away.
"Caer?" Tara reached out her hand and placed it on the shorter woman's shoulder. "Are you ill?"
Then, noticing the while linen wrapped around Caer's hand, she asked, "Are you injured? Let me look."
As Tara reached out to take Caer's hand, the blond woman quickly stepped back, as if protecting her treasure, shaking her head slightly and blinking her sea-green eyes as she did so.
"Tara, good morning. I'm sorry. No. I am fine." She dropped the rose slightly, so that her hand rested on the leather belt that went around her waist, hoping that Tara wouldn't focus on the small flower.
Again, the taller woman let her eyes drop to Caer's hand.
"Such a delicate little bud. You have always had a special way with growing things. I am not surprised that the first rosebud of the season would come to you." Tara smiled.
Glad to leave Tara believing that her green thumb was responsible for the prize she carried, she turned the conversation back to Gorlas and Aden's return.
"I am glad that Gorlas and Aden have returned safely. I am sure that Loic was pleased to find himself at home and that his people were glad to have him."
Taking a breath of the fresh morning air, Caer asked the question she had tried not to think about since the three men had set off for Newgrange. The small woman's voice dropped as she leaned closer to Tara.
"Did they return with news of what we spoke of on the eve before their leaving?"
"They returned with a word from Lore Master, Logan," Tara, had also softened her voice. "May we go inside and talk?"
The two women sat at Caer's small table, each with a mug of steaming chicory root tea in front of them. Picking up her mug and taking a sip, Tara began.
"The Lore Master has told us that he will be sending word to all of our folk within riding or walking distance of Newgrange, that there will be a gathering of the clans at the foot of the Tor on Samhain eve." Tara picked up her mug and took a long draught of the rich, dark, beverage.
"Then he must not feel that there is any great threat to us, at least, yet." It was half statement, half question. Caer felt a mild discomfort rising in her gut.
"Gorlas and Aden informed him or our concerns and he had audience with Loic about the attack. Logan does not seem to see things as Loic has seen them." The older woman paused for a moment.
"The High Lore Master has relayed to us that he has seen no measurable increase in the number of people leaving than what is usual when brothers and sisters have learned what they came there to learn and move on. As for Loic's attack and the murder of his companions, Logan feels that it was a random act because the only survivor of the attack was badly injured and can not make a positive identification of his attackers, so he sees no proof that the attackers were Protesters."
Caer sat sipping her drink, carefully listening to what the other woman was telling her. She thought she could feel the other woman's annoyance, or was it anger, because of their High Lore Master's seeming lack of concern for what appeared to be happening around them.
She thought of Loic. There was no doubt in her mind and she knew there was no doubt in Gregor or Tara's minds that something was happening around them that needed watching closely. Loic had much more interaction with the people on an every day basis than the High Lore Master did and even though he was badly injured, he had maintained steadfastly that the men who attacked him identified themselves to be Puritans. She also knew that Tara and Gregor were both aware of those facts as Tara's irritation bled through into the conversation.
"I am feeling that you and Gregor do not readily agree with Lore Master, Logan's action or lack of. Does Gregor have another plan?" Caer asked with mild trepidation.
"He wouldn't pack up the village and move on without the High Lore Master's knowledge, would he?" The blond woman was finding herself becoming more tense as she let the implications of what was happening in her homeland, merge with her inner knowledge that her anamchara was coming to her at Samhain.
She couldn't leave here and go to Newgrange at Samhain, even if Gregor decides to wait that long to make a plan for their departure.
'And what if he chooses not to wait, and moves our small village to a more secluded, remote area out of the way of the skirmishes? How will she find me if I am not at the circle when the gate opens?'
Caer almost missed Tara's answer to her questions; she had become so lost in her own personal dilemma which now lay tangled with this larger one.
"Gregor has agreed, although not happily, to reserve making any decisions about moving the village, until the gathering at Samhain." The dark haired woman reached her hand across the small table and placed it gently upon Caer's,
"Caer," she waited until the green eyes met her brown ones. "Though I do believe that Lore Master Logan may be taking Loic's attack and the slaughter of his companions and other events that are happening around him and our people, with more indifference than is safe, I do not feel that the visions the Goddess showed to both you and I at Beltaine, were urgent messages to prepare to leave. I do believe that we were shown what is coming, but the Lady has not yet told us to prepare for our departure." Tara smiled across the table at the younger woman in an attempt to ease the obvious fear and tension she saw etched on Caer's delicate-looking face.
"The Great Mother will send us a message when and if it is time to leave here. In that I am confident." She squeezed Caer's hand gently before letting go and bringing her own hand back to her now empty mug.
"Now I must get to the school before the lassies decide that because Lore Mistress Tara is late, it is a good day to frolic in the sun instead of practicing their lessons."
Tara stood from her stool and moved across the small room toward the open door. "Don't worry, Caer, the Goddess will protect us and see us through as she always has."
Caer managed to smile back at her friend and teacher, as she too, rose from her stool and walked to the door, placing her hand on the taller woman's shoulder and giving it a slight squeeze.
"I have faith in the Lady, Tara, and with you, I will await her bidding. For there is nothing more to do until we are given further direction, as you have said. In the meantime, I will tend my garden, heal those that may be in need, gather, and hunt, as the rest of us will. When the Mother speaks, we will listen and follow her charge. The thought of rebellion and war and trying to escape with our lives, is a fearsome one and I know you saw those fears dance across my face this morn. But, worry not, Tara, I am a child of the Goddess and will always have perfect trust in Her guidance."
Caer suddenly felt a tiny twinge of guilt when she remembered just how recently she had faltered in her faith and trust, when she feared she had lost the blue-eyed woman of her dreams, the keeper of the other half of her soul.
"We are only human, Caer, and we have human fears and concerns and questions. It is human nature to want to be prepared and the reason that we so fear the unknown. The unknown can never be fully prepared for."
Caer nodded her head in agreement as she let her hand fall from the other woman's shoulder, glad that the Lore Mistress did not pick up on the other reasons for her concerns. She wasn't ready to try to explain Finian to anyone other than Loic. She had this strange obsession to want to keep her all to herself. Part of her knew that she would be sharing the tall, beautiful woman with the others soon enough and that it wouldn't be all pleasant.
"Gregor also asked me to give you an invitation if you would like to talk with him about what we have just spoken." She smiled at Caer from outside the door, "He says he knows how we women get when we start talking, and wanted to make sure that you got all the information."
Green eyes sparkled out at her from the dimness of the hut as the sun rose in the sky behind her.
"Tell, Gregor, I thank him for the invitation for personal council," Tara saw the other woman's teeth flash in a smile, "but I understand woman speak very well."
Tara waved her hand as she made her way through the few trees and across the common area toward the path that would lead her to the small school. Caer dropped the leather curtain across the doorway and lit a candle, thinking as she did so, that she would have to make some soon.
She went to the sideboard and took the mug with the small rosebud in it, from it's dark recess, where she had placed it, hoping that it would stay unnoticed by her visitor. She carefully carried it to her pallet and placed it on the stool that served as a bedside table and also held the twin crystal she had found buried in her garden.
Caer carefully moved the stool to the other side of her pallet, so that it was between her and the fireplace, which served as the main source of light in this area of her hut at the moment. She sat down on the pallet and stared at the two objects in front of her. Reaching out her left hand, she plucked the small rosebud from its makeshift vase, and carefully brought it to her lips, mindful of the sharp, little thorns on the short, thin stem.
She let her eyes close as the sweet, light aroma of the young flower reached her senses. The small, blond woman sat breathing the rich, sweet essence until she felt dizzied and light headed and thought she would inhale every bit of scent from the tender bud.
Her lips brushed the soft, silky, outer petals of the rose with a kiss that spiraled into a parallel world and settled on the faraway cheek of a sleeping beauty. The words that she whispered were carried on the waves of time, to reach the ears of the one that stood at the other end of the only passage that led to her heart and soul.
None from her own world could make journey along that path. Her soul was home only to one, and a man-made barrier such as time could not keep separate, the two souls that were created one for the other.
The scent of roses, that just a few moments ago, had made her feel light-headed and dizzy and Caer let the sweet ambrosia lull her back along her spectral path, and into the body that still sat clutching the tiny rose.
Slowly, green eyes opened and gazed upon the twin crystal that still sat on the stool in front of her. Reaching forward with her free hand, she picked up the clear stone and held it beside the small rose. She felt the warmth and comfort of her spiritual bond with the blue eyed woman, but at the same time, her body ached to reach an end to the physical separation that still existed between them.
Holding both of the items close to her gave her the only physical connection she had right now. She imagined that she felt the raven-haired woman's essence emanating between the stone and the rose and extending outward to her own heart. It was as if the spiraling sensation she had felt earlier had reversed and was now coming to her instead of spiraling outward.
Caer felt the warmth begin to fill her chest, becoming more like a flickering flame that licked at her insides, as it traveled downward, causing her body to erupt with small shudders, as the fire settled at the base of her spine and began to feed on needs, secret even from herself.
The memory of her lips brushing the silky petals of the rose, caused her eyes to close of their own accord and the fire that burned within her fed an image to her mind that caused her fair cheeks to redden as her body responded in ways that she had only heard the other girls whisper about.
The small blond woman clutched her hands closer to her chest as her breathing started to come in small gasps. Involuntarily, her legs came together, trying to hold back the waves that threatened to wash over her. A small moan escaped her throat, as she forced her eyes open against the passion that was flowing through her body. The intensity and seeming impulsiveness of her physical responses unsettled her, and she rose on shaky legs, to her feet.
She quickly turned away from the fire, facing into the cooler part of her home, forcing herself to slow her breathing down and willing her body to composure. She forced her thoughts to her garden and the chores that still awaited her there. She thought of the stew that was cooking on the hearth, filling the small space with aromas that she forced herself to smell. She thought of anything she could force into her mind that would keep her attention away from the tingling that lingered throughout her body.
Suddenly, she remembered the small rosebud and the crystal stone that she still held clutched to her chest. Turning around, she walked back to the stool and placed the small rose, gently into the mug of water. Picking up the mug, she carried both of her treasures to her small kitchen table and placed them side by side.
Caer walked to the door of her hut and pushed the leather curtain to one side, fastening it to the peg that jutted out of the wall. The late morning sun welcomed itself inside, casting its rays over the small table, causing the clear crystal to pick up the reflection of the rose and cast tiny red sparks of light about the dark, interior walls of her hut.
'Just as my heart shall be, until we are reunited, in pieces,' she thought as she looked away and moved through the small doorway into the bright light of late morning.
Caer stood in her small yard for a moment, watching the movements through the sparse line of trees that separated her hut from the main common area. She watched for a moment as people went about doing their normal, daily chores and wondered at the peculiar turns her own life had taken in the past weeks.
As she turned to walk toward her garden, she wondered how many of her people heard the songs and poems of times long past, as anything more than myths and legends. Would anyone other than Da'an and Loic believe that what she knew was happening, was actually possible? Enya would listen to her, she knew, and wouldn't argue or actually tell her she didn't believe her, but she wasn't sure the older woman would be able to comprehend the reality of someone stepping through a doorway in time.
Caer was still thinking about how she was going to explain Finian when she came, when she knelt down in the cool, damp dirt and began pulling the mischievous little weeds that seemed to spring up over night.
'Much like Finian will appear,' she mused as she plunged her fingers into the moist earth.
She had fallen asleep to the words of the poem that she had recited to Caer, and was wondering if the flaxen haired woman had received her gift, as she slipped over the edge of the abyss into unconsciousness.
Finian moaned softly in her sleep as her physical body responded to the warmth that began filling her as the deep, rhythmic breaths of slumber and the slow, steady beat of her heart, merged, releasing her ki from the physical confines of her body.
Her unconscious body shuddered as her expanding ki met and merged with an essence that sought and found its complement. That part of her being that was timeless, ageless and beyond her physical or conscious control responded to the soft lips that brushed her cheek. As her physical body reacted to her spirit, she reached up to try to catch the ethereal kiss and her ears captured whispers from the night.
" Your heart, like this flower
I hold to my breast,
are gifts from the Goddess.
Our souls have been blessed."
The soft, sweet Irish lilt and the sensuous caress on her skin set the largest organ in her body ablaze from within and without, as she recognized the ki that merged with her own. It flowed through her, setting off little explosions that caused her to tremble, as it undulated up from her root chakra to her crown and released itself through the top of her head, causing bright red sparks behind her closed eyelids.
She immediately felt the energy of the other woman lessen and begin to retreat. There was a physical jolt to her body that threatened to toss her back to wakefulness when Caer's energy left hers and she clutched the large pillow closer, trying to stop the separation.
Her ki was pulsing with the unexpected retreat of its familiar and in its unrestrained state, it followed the glimmering ripple that Caer's ki left in its wake as it crossed the void to return home.
Instead of spiraling up to consciousness, the sleeping woman was pulled deeper into the void as her ki whirled out into the vastness, and found a miniscule point of light that served as a beacon. Finian's body convulsed when her ki flowed through the twin crystal directly to the center of the small, blond woman who was sitting on a mat, holding a small, red rose.
Finian sat up abruptly, gasping for air, her nightshirt soaked with sweat. She wrapped her long arms around herself as her heart threatened to beat its way out of her chest. She squeezed herself tighter as she tried to quell the spasms that kept soaring through her body. She tried to squeeze her legs together tightly; to cut off the source of the waves that caused her body to tingle from top to bottom as they washed over her. She was shocked when her inner thighs slid freely against one another, making it difficult to keep her legs together.
She slung her long legs over the edge of the bed and headed for the bathroom, the first conscious thought that she could form, being that the wetness between her legs was her period. She let her mind focus there, preferring not to think about the other physical sensations she had awoken to.
The tall woman stumbled in the darkness as she realized the strong limbs that usually supported her had turned to floppy rubber. She forced herself to slow down, regaining shaky control of her body, and made it the rest of the way through the dim opening she had been aiming for.
Her body shuddered when the soft tissue came into contact with her highly sensitive skin and she quickly pulled her hand away, glancing down, before she let the white square drop into the water.
'White,' her mind registered as she again fought for control of her body. 'Not my period.'
Finian stood up, pulled the wet nightshirt over her head, and let it drop to the floor. Leaving the bathroom light on, she walked to her dresser and found an over-sized tee shirt that she quickly slipped on and left the room.
While she waited for the coffee to brew, she went to her small office and booted up her computer. She tried to keep her mind occupied with thoughts of her upcoming teaching schedule and the work she still needed to do before the short semester began in a few days.
She did not want to think of how she had awakened and the things that her body had felt and how it had responded. She did not remember ever feeling anything like she had felt tonight. The power that she had felt coursing through her body had frightened her. It was passionate and alluring; and her body, always under her control, had responded to Caer in a way that her body had never responded to anyone or anything before, in this lifetime.
Finian drew her breath in sharply and shook her head against the thoughts that threatened to release another wave of spasms through her body. She rose quickly from her desk and lurched out of the small room, as if trying to physically escape her thoughts.
She carried the steaming cup of fresh, strong coffee back into her office and after taking a careful sip of the very hot beverage, she placed it on the desk to her left and began typing. It wasn't long before her mind started wandering and her fingers came to rest, idly on the keyboard.
She didn't seem to have any control over where her thoughts wanted to go, so for perhaps the first time in her life, Finian began to allow herself to think about the physical and intimate aspects of a relationship. Tonight's experiences were enough to tell her that whether she was ready for or wanted an intimate relationship really wasn't up to her. Her body would respond to her soul's bidding.
Continued in Part 15
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